Laruelle tries to liberate the real and the one – terms he mostly uses as synonyms – from any determination by philosophical being. If the One is not a synonym for being, it cannot be realized in it either. The One should also not be equated with existence, it is neither being nor pure being. (Cf. Laruelle 2012: 29ff.) And to anticipate it right away, the real/one and reality do not agree for laruelle, but the concepts are also not separated and related to each other in the manner of Lacan. If one first assumes that reality is an economically, culturally, aesthetically, socially, politically coded milieu of consistency or a zone of fact, then for Lacan the real is the unattainable hole that points the evidence of reality to its ontological uncertainties and fragilities. If Laruelle would perhaps not completely contradict this definition of reality, he would certainly not contradict the Lacanian definition of the real, which does not escape the absence syndrome, although the real can never be stripped off. Surprisingly, it was Jean Baudrillard who saw the denial of the real as the characteristic feature of consumerism generalized by mass communication, as we know it from Baudrillard, as the unquenchable curiosity for the combinatorics of signs that corresponds to the synthesis of abundance and calculation. (Baudrillard 2015: 52)
For Laruelle, the One must also be distinguished from the Absolute. Laruelle introduces the one as a first term. Laruelle is about the one of which one can say “the pear”, “the glass” or “the east”. This is definitely not the One in the sense of Hegel’s Absolute, in which all terms are relativized according to the Absolute. And even if one could still say that the One is absolute, it is far from being the Absolute. It is also worth mentioning that there is no problem with the appearance or manifestation of the One. The essence of the One is the detachment from any conventionally thought relation, but this does not mean that it can be held as the quasi-theological Other or as the reason of being. It is neither decoupled from the relations of manifest individuals nor does it escape being, rather it is merely the One that is indifferent. Or let’s say it differently, it is simply given (without giving) because it has nothing to do with the world. (Laruelle 2012: 33) But what does the world have to do with him now?
Even if one assumes that the One is a finite object, this does not mean that it can be subsumed as real under an a priori scheme of objectivity. This is not the point, rather the One itself gives the answer to objectivity, which consists in indifferent self-indexing of its meaning and its being. If it does not problematize itself, this does not mean that it does not participate in a uniform way (in the world). And that as a negative possibility. If with it the One is not exclusively given-without-gift, but is also generated transcendently as a negative possibility (every possible existence and every object of experience is conditioned), then it is still given as a finite object, but as something, whatever. The one is given-without-gift and at the same time transcendental is set as a negative possibility that stands for every “graspability” of objects and for the rigorosity of thinking – for the object that ceases to be empirical and for thinking that ceases to be philosophical or scientific. (Laruelle 2015: 23) In short, it is about the One that is not (negative possibility), but is real (given-without-gift).1 (Laruelle 2012: 32)
Philosophy is always about how to find the right approach to the unknown object X. Or to put it another way, the relation of the subject to reality is always at stake. How does Laruelle treat or circumvent the problem of relation? By first understanding the “object” of his discourse as the one-in-one or as a direct given as such. This means that there is no particular or general content (object, ego, being) that is directly given. The “object” is always directly in one, is given-without-gift, but finally no longer even given as such, insofar as one can speak here neither of an objective nor of a logical form, which could be filled with any contents: there is the determined finite mode of the One as the modality strictly determined by itself, i. e. its finiteness, which is limited solely and solely by itself (one-in-one), and there is indistinguishably the transformation of all forms of relation and correlation in the light of this strictly separate finiteness, and nothing else is called uni-lateration. (ibid.: 36) Even the difference still appears in one, but without completely losing its relational, correlative or differential structures. It is simply (not)-one.
The transcendental setting of the One is a simple analytical truth (one-in-one), and such a One is not only everywhere, it is also somewhere and somehow, it is something, whatever. And the One is definitely not given by the fact as a given-without-giveness. (ibid.: 33) One is simply in one and the one by which fact is given is simultaneously in one. So the One is not only true for that which is given, but also for every mode of fact. The One is the given and stands for all modes of the given (as negative possibility, as far as it remains indifferent), or, to put it another way, the One is not related to any thing due to its indifference, but nevertheless determines every thing uni-laterally. In one is the unified term that transcendently makes possible the question of access to all that is given, without the One being determined by this question itself. This is a strictly unidirectional condition that makes Laruelles a description of the One both transcendental and real. The One is simply in one qua its essence and this implies that it does not emerge in the sense of Plotin, it does not immanate or differentiate, and it also subtracts nothing. (Not)-one is then everything that is not the One, but is ever transcendental in one.2
The one and the real, although determining precisely because of their indifference, remain insufficient and in non-philosophy also possess the status of co-determination. If a distinction between the One and the Real is possible at all, then it refers to the “dimensionality” of the determination in the last instance. While the One appears at the level of language, insofar as a non-philosophical decision is indicated, the Real by no means appears as part of language and its ontological claim, which consists in capturing the Real. Rather, the real is characterized by its radical isolation from language and thought. The real is thus not a sphere or instance, insofar as it does not belong to the world or the world of ideas by definition. The real remains closed to idealism, it is simply given-without-gift; real experience that is indifferent to knowledge and is therefore outside any reciprocal relation with knowledge, but is not absolutely exterior or transcendent to knowledge (it is also the uni-lateral and negative possibility for it) and therefore has the capacity to determine knowledge. The real determines thinking by making itself its ground-through-immanence. It plays the structural role of a negative possibility for the objects and for thinking, it is irreducible to any idealization and conceptualization and therefore determines thinking as a negative possibility.
While the One still possesses the traditional philosophical character of the transcendent, the negative and the unknown, i. e. it is thought of from the side of being that is to be revealed, Laruelle thinks the One more strongly from the side of the existing (positive, immanent and recognizable), at the same time being capable of determining qua transcendental setting (but this from the point of view of philosophy, not as the One itself or as the thinking that takes place in One). In Laruelle, a shift from “there is” to “is” is to be reported, from “being” to “being” to be noted. The real knows no declensions or cases, and the one knows no before and after, it is simply real and the next to us. And in radical contrast to the transcendental standard model, according to Alexander Galloway, the real is to be understood more as a “prevent” than as an event, with which the operator “virtualization”, which is contained in the term “negative possibility”, is even more strongly emphasized. (Galloway 2014: 217f.)
After all, how can one avoid mixing or exchanging the one-in-one with “being” or reality? The laruellesche One stands neither for a first mover nor for a first substance (of being). Conversely, the laruellesche One is rather the “last” mover, a finite and an immanent real. The One is real immanence or unilateral individuality without presupposing a point or a level for itself (it is a radical and not an absolute immanence); as interiority it cannot fold back into itself either. For Laruelle, the One is radically immanent, it is not convertible with anything, and that also means that there emerges out of itself like something in Plotin in order to enter into a relation with something, but it can only establish an inauthentic relation to the historical or logical or structural. (From the perspective of the object, the One is not a thing, from the perspective of the relation it does not form relations, and from the perspective of the event it does not occur and is not actualized.) In its immanence, Laruelle radically understands the One as identity: it is identity or communality with itself (one-in-one). (Laruelle 2012: 31f.) It is one-in-one, and this not as a relation to itself (in the sense of the folding of the subject of self-care, as Foucault conceived it), or, to put it another way, it is only recognizable and given within the One, and thus already in one. Laruelle calls the One the In-One, to further emphasize that it cannot be synthesized with other things or thinking. The One is not hermeneutic because it does not open to interpretation. In this sense, the indivisible One has no holes either, and it cannot be linked to anything else and grasped by anything else that might perhaps restore a synthesis.
The immanent One also calls Laruelle the indivisible, it is without divisibility or the non-interpretable and thus the unattainable. Its identity, however, does not refer, as one might prematurely assume, to the individual, but to the heterogeneous (it is something, whatever), which in turn is the prerequisite for any relation of the common. The heterogeneous here is by no means to be understood as a collection of different things, but as pure differentiation. Laruelle does not say that the real is virtual, but it must be borne in mind that while it remains immanent in itself, it is at every point and therefore virtual to every point. And the more radical immanent it is, the more universally it determines in the last instance philosophy and the philosophizable, i.e. the world.3
Uni-materiality is the essence of the one-in-one, which remains separated from philosophy and science by its own immanence and thus asserts its unilaterality as determination. Accordingly, the real is immanent-without transcendence, it is simply identity, and through it the real determines precisely philosophy. At the same time, it must be noted that both the sciences and philosophy maintain relations to themselves, and therefore the determination must also be transcendental or conceived as a determination-in-the-last instance. (Laruelle 2015: 41ff.) From this point of view, laruelle is concerned with a radically new way of thinking about the real, and not merely with attempting to reflect the real differently than before, or to reflect on the real in order to get into a game of mirror games again. On the contrary, one would have to look at a mirror without reflection, and this requires the affirmation of the radical immanence, the uni-lateral duality of seeing the real. The real or the seeing-in-one can never be completely inscribed in language, the best way to bring it into a (linguistic) form is to call it “unilateral duality”. According to Laruelle, the autoreferential use of philosophy and its language, its Logos (the historical-systematic structure of the Logos), must be radically transformed into a new theoretical practice that recognizes a real that is irreducibly presupposed to the Logos; it requires the theoretical practice of uni-lateral identity that has an axiomatic (real) and a theoretical (transcendental) aspect. (Laruelle 2012: 45ff.) The utterances deduced from the one-in-one and its causality are not or do not concern objects4 (not even Althusser’s cognitive object), themes or instances of philosophy, but rather possess the power of a theoretical style or imply a function other than … is philosophical. And this includes contingency: The signs are what they are, but they could also have been different. They are 1 without 0, where 1 is not a number that can be compared with 0, but a sign whose difference is immanent and which directly expresses that what is is only insofar as it could have been different.
The demand that non-philosophy or non-standard philosophy makes of thinking can only be speaking/thinking according to-the-one, with which no relation, synthesis or fusion can be brought about between the real and language, the one and being.5 It is a matter, if already a relation, then one that is determined by a non-relation, i. e. unilateral duality, which is determined by the completely impoverished relation of the real to everything else. Philosophy likes the eternal play with prepositions that display linkages and relations, while Laruelle tries to avoid as far as possible those prepositions that imply a link or affiliation, such as with, from, against, for … Laruelle prefers clearly non-relational links that often have enough structures of parallelism in which the entities remain separated, even though they somehow belong to each other. They do not exchange each other, or to put it another way, their parallelism is so radically superimposed that the entities attain a mutual immanence. The corresponding prepositions would be here: in, as, through, according to, without … In a sense, Laruelle persistently searches for a relation that takes place without exchange. (ibid.)
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