Twelve Rules to Orient Thought

by Tristan Garcia

I Let be
Maximize the possible. Entertain the possibility of material things, of real as well as
imaginary things, of each part of every thing, of each occurrence of every thing
throughout time, of contradictory things, of impossible things;
Treat each possibility equally;
Make free and equal possibilities the element of thought.

II Map the situation of thought
Tell great theoretical accounts, so as to understand our situation: e.g., the emergence
of modernity, and its decay;
Ascertain the principles that circumscribe a situation of thought: classical concepts of
the absolute, the eternal, the in-itself, authority; modern concepts of autonomy,
presence, intensity, emancipation;
Understand how each concept is the hidden alliance of an image and an idea.

III Locate the cardinal promises of thought
In learned thinking, in popular cultures, seek everywhere and always for the concepts
that undergird an era or culture as its principles;
Find the initial sense of a thought’s promise, and the image that first struck the mind to
allow an idea to direct life (e.g., the image of electric current, which has paralleled the
modern idea of intensity and of “intense living”);

. Identify the advantage of a radical bias: what it alone can allow you to see and think (i. what comes through thought. IV Take seriously any idea that orients a thought Learn to familiarize yourself with any idea. Do not conflate an idea with its defenders. as in: what is gained for what is lost. the advantage of idealism. rather. failure. rather than resist. Nothing that can be thought is foreign to anyone who can think: engage as thoroughly as possible in the ethical and internal criticism of any thought. the advantage of realism). Demonstrate nobility and never belittle an antagonistic idea. . exhaustion.Set thought’s promises against their longterm effect on life: fulfillment. V Never set one principle against another Avoid moral and external criticism of a thought. foreign. though it seems distant. resistance. such criticism does no more than object to consequences.e. antagonistic. VI Determine the advantage and the cost of every thing Establish the inverse functions of the thought in question. show yourself capable of making it your own as well. Strive to augment. and what is lost for what is gained.

classes). genres. we must draw distinctions. by eliminating all categories (species. which condemn the indistinction of all things to which late modernity has led. VIII Draw a new line of thought that is distinct but equal. Above all. the ones that put the most strenuous. Work always with the most radical thoughts. Be not cowardly but courageous in maintaining a line of thought that evades all camps.Estimate the price to pay for adopting a bias: the blind spot of a lucid thought (what idealism lacks with respect to realism. reply the following: You are correct. To modern and postmodern minds. Use the arguments of one side against the other. until one shows the other to be wrong. reply: you are correct. but you seek to equalize by making everything indistinct. we must equalize. Pay heed to extreme ideas. but your purpose in drawing them is to reintroduce hierarchies. Allow one to illuminate the failings of the other. equal but distinct Find a line of balance. a ridge. do not seek a compromise between or hybrid of the two positions or otherwise negotiate an intermediary solution. which condemn the introduction of hierarchies in all things. and vice versa. Do not claim that each side has its share of the truth but. from which to consider the most opposed camps at an equal remove. opposing stretch on the field of thought. what realism lacks with respect to idealism). To classical and reactionary minds. that the one and the other are completely correct. Accept without the slightest pathos the tragic irreconcilability of the situation. rather. VII Set the most radical biases back to back Find and raise the watershed ridge between two thoughts oriented by two radically opposed ideas. .

and refuse to take part on either side: like the world itself. you biases). Draw no legitimacy from a mere sense of being in the minority and misunderstood:always envisage the moment when what you think becomes the majority opinion. XI Keep thought from legislating over life. Neutralize in advance the authority effects of what you think. Build your thought to be a space where future minds can freely dwell. your values.In all areas of thought. . and acknowledge that our idea will become that of a school of thought. make do by observing at the same time both the need for distinction and the need for equality. especially the paradoxical domination effects inherent to the most liberal and emancipatory ideas. Rather than deliver content to serve as a lesson in thought. make your thought into an exemplary gesture. X Resist the future domination effects of your own thought Behave in such a way as to change your ideas as little as possible when a dominated idea becomes dominant. not to reunify the world but to transform the no-man’s land between enemies into a new locus of thought for others one day to settle. split yourself between antagonistic ideas. which others can imitate in their own way. and keep life from determining thought Do not think for the defense of your life (your tastes. IX Transform a current non-place of thought into its future locus Have the patience to linger long in a fallow middle ground of thought.

including. Hold to thought as to a non-living part of a singular. and seek concord with all that thinks. and that what lives is always choosing and sacrificing possibilities. the lesser the power. Think so as to render possible. live so as to render powerful. He is the author of over a dozen books. that never feels or suffers. suffering living organism. developed by the human species as well as by other animal species: the part of life that escapes—or tries to escape—life. Imagine thought as the sole irenic place. and Form and Object. Imagine thought as an organ of the universal. novelist and essayist. Hate. sensitive. A Treatise on Things (Edinburgh UP. equally. 2011). for what lives everything is linked and everything varies. Distinguish the possible from power (what renders possible or impossible). 2014). . and distinctly possible. Consider that he who thinks is dealing with anything that is possible. Imagine that life by the same token escapes thought. in English.Do not live for the defense of your thought. In thought anything is freely. the lesser the possibility. A Romance (FSG. XII Render powerful Do not forget that the purpose of thought can be anything: that the purpose of life is whatever matters to life. Acknowledge that the greater the possibility. where each of us can try to escape the interests of our life. a part that is universal. that the greater the power. CONTRIBUTOR Tristan Garcia TRISTAN GARCIA is a philosopher.