(Loose remarks on Laruelle and Badiou)
Dated: March 26, 2017
For Alain Badiou, the One is not, because the one is always the result of the count of a multiple. Why? Because the only access to being is through the multiple. Being presents itself, in the first place, as an inconsistent multiple, what is called a pure multiple-presentation. However, this inconsistent multiple is unthinkable, precisely because thought takes place in a situation, and a situation already implies the operation of counting-for-one. The situation is structured such that every presented multiple belongs to it and can be counted as “one” element of the situation. Only retroactively can we say that, “upstream” of the situation, there is only inconsistency, and that presentation is an inconsistent multiple. “Downstream” there are consistent multiples, i.e., multiples that count for one, the many-ones that make up the situation which structures them.
The radicality of Laruelle’s approach is perhaps best illuminated when set beside this equally brilliant, though differently conceived, thought of the one. Non-philosophy stakes everything on the axiomatic posture it takes. At the simplest level, this posture posits that the undivided One is given without any operation of givenness – without any mediation by presentation, appearance, reception, or being. Vision-in-One means that all thinking about being and presentation, ones and multiples, the appearance and transcendence of the world, subjectivity and affectivity, takes place in-One, in the One as immanent a priori: the immanent real-One which causes thought in-the-last-instance, whereas thought never causes it or even thinks it, properly speaking. Here, the multiple is not thought with a view to being-qua-being or the count, but according to the One-in-One. The multiple could only be the One-in-superposition, the One that “remains” One without leaving itself.
As is appropriate, Badiou’s undertaking concerns the non-One. His aspiration to think the ontological situation, the presentation of presentation, the non-one, the operation of “there is”, etc.—all considerations deemed philosophical. The wager of non-philosophy is that thought is given the immanent One prior-to-priority (or “in-prior-priority”). Given-without-being-given, the One thought via axioms by non-philosophy is not at all equal to what-is-presented, to the regime of beings, or even to the situational operator “there is.” The One of the last instance even “impossiblizes” the ontological situation Badiou wants to think. It weakens the situation’s structuring power, its count-for-one operations, radically under-determining the “there is.” Vision-in-One presents the paradox of a non-ontology and a non-phenomenology which is nonetheless a lived cognizance of immanence. To pair up two unthinkables, we could say: non-philosophy thinks inconsistent multiplicity (pure multiple-presentation) via the immanence of the undivided One.
Laruelle’s Anti-Badiou, though overly polemic in the first few chapters, provides in later chapters a wonderful lens into non-philosophy’s transition to the quantic phase of non-standard philosophy. However, it is anything but an adequate confrontation with Badiou’s thought, nor does it draw from it as non-philosophy could. For example, it is my hunch that the supernumerary “ultra-one” of the evental caesura could be fruitfully compared with the immanent One [cf. Being and Event, “There is thus no need to be horrified by an un-binding of being, because it is in the undecidable occurrence of a supernumerary non-being that every truth procedure originates”]. Likewise, the Badiousian Two of the decision—whether to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the event, to pursue its consequences—is not so dissimilar from the axiomatic “choice” to assume the stance of the Last Instance, upon which non-philosophy’s in(ter)ventions hinge. Both also imply radical transformations of what is called a “subject” and both conceive it as prior to or subtracted from the World-All, from Being, through a declaration of some sort (the nomination of an event, the flow of oraxioms). Simpler still is their shared “recoil” (however conceived) from the world-frame (the All or Totality), and the stress placed upon the invisible, the inexistent. This touches on the all-important issue of fidelity, which both elaborate in great theoretical detail [cf. Christo-fiction, pp. 233-247; Being and Event, 391-409). Compare for example: “Radical faith, the fidelity-in-the-last-instance permitted to humans, has an immanent effect that alone is the generic transformation of the world” (CF, 42) and “thought in its non-being—as operation—a fidelity is an infinite procedure adjacent to presentation. A fidelity is thus always in nonexistent excess over its being. Beneath itself, it exists; beyond itself, it inexists… In the last resort it means: let’s be faithful to the event that we are” (BE, 235-6). It is to Badiou’s credit that he focuses on what it means for a truth to force itself into a world that, in the beginning, had no room for it. It is to Laruelle’s credit that he focuses on an a priori True-without-truth of immanence which brings down the frame of the world-present as such.
The temptation for non-philosophers is to think that Vision-in-One somehow solves all our problems, or lets thought off the hook, as if it were simply a matter of reiterating a few core protocols of thought (radical immanence, unilateral duality, determination-in-the-last-instance, etc.). But one has to wonder what drove Laruelle to write 30 plus books, each of them more innovative than the next, trying to articulate non-philosophy and to “share” a certain cognizance of immanence (what is “sharing” in non-philosophy?) that can save humans. What does it mean to recall or restore to humans the knowledge they “are without knowing it”—a knowledge as radically past as it is futural-virtual? That, owing nothing but the materials to the situation, nonetheless flows underneath the situation and underdetermines it? What is the “generic drive” and why do both Badiou and Laruelle place it at the center of their projects? Let us never forget the salvific aim of non-philosophy—to save humans from the harassment of transcendence, or from what Badiou calls the “state of the situation,” the order of the merely constructible—for this will help us to find points of contact with all other bodies of thought and free non-philosophy from its terminological enclosure without sacrificing anything of the rigor of Vision-in-One. I close this brief note with a potential parallelism:
“The One is no longer considered as transcendent real but as radically immanent. It is now a drive or a flux that forms a non-Platonic, unilateral coupling with the instance of the multiple or of the Other who anticipates or pre-designs the subjects operating in the name of the drive [plusion]. This is the drive as generic or the generic as drive refusing every philosophical triangulation. It is irreversible, and the multiple subjects who ride it are no longer “cuts” in the flux; they never return upon themselves, never overtrump it in a circle, be it the infinity of the eternal return. It goes ahead, always in front of the event-world that it impossibilizes thanks to the Other. This coupling, so little Platonic, sub-Platonic in all rigor, is what we also call messianity. […] Messianity throws subject-journalists to the event for the first time, but they, one shall have understood, create the event and penetrate the philosophical cloud that covers the world. This is why as subjects to messianity their person is already Good News, in a non-Christian sense, through which they justify their existence. It is in them that the messenger blends into the message. […] The generic journalist is never the subject of the world he would report, the included or excluded or even marginalized subject who judges the world in the name of the world and who is judged by it. This problem in no way excludes every deontology but includes it and transforms it into a generic political alliance of the “new” multiples and the New-One independently of every organization.” —Laruelle, Les trois journalismes
“The fact that a generic procedure of fidelity progresses to infinity entails a reworking of the situation; one that, whilst conserving all of the old situation’s multiples, presents other multiples. The ultimate effect of an evental caesura, and of an intervention from which the introduction into circulation of a supernumerary name proceeds, would thus be that the truth of a situation, with this caesura as its principle, forces the situation to accommodate it: to extend itself to the point at which this truth—primitively no more than a part, a representation—attains belonging, thereby becoming a presentation. The trajectory of the faithful generic procedure and its passage to infinity transform the ontological status of a truth: they do so by changing the situation ‘by force’; anonymous excrescence in the beginning, the truth will end up being normalized. However, it would remain subtracted from knowledge if the language of the situation was not radically transformed. Not only is a truth indiscernible, but its procedure requires that this indiscernibility be. A truth would force the situation to dispose itself such that this truth—at the outset anonymously counted as one by the state alone, pure indistinct excess over the presented multiples—be finally recognized as a term, and as internal. A faithful generic procedure renders the indiscernible immanent.” —Badiou, Being and Event