F. Laruelle. “Programme.” La Décision philosophique 1 (1987): 5-43.
translated by Taylor Adkins 7/2/20
- A science for philosophy
Let’s suppose that we will formulate a project and that it will be necessary to exposit a program, this would be the manifesto: don’t do like philosophers, invent philosophy! Radically change its practice! Multiply its potentialities! Treat it experimentally as a whatever material! Is this possible? We are posing the problem otherwise: this is real.
We have the means to substitute a non-philosophical practice of philosophy for its “philosophical” practice, to thereby open it to a new career, and, at the same time, to disconnect philosophy from philosophers alone and to give it to man. Against Plato and the Greco-dominant tradition, we can demonstrate that “the multitudes are philosophers.”
Then who are we, we who call ourselves “every man” and “multitudes.” We are only the subjects (of) science. Having ceased being the subjects of philosophy, by it and for it, we finally have the power and the right to treat it as a whatever object and to draw effects from it that philosophy had refused us until then…
We all know this, but philosophy spoke in our stead and substituted its knowledge for ours: there is a form of thought even more primitive than the philosophical, an image of things even more just than it—science. It is not a question of the sciences taken in the regional particularity of their objects and their methods, nor of science [la science], which corresponds to them as this abstract generality that here and there one would like to substitute for philosophy. We recognize it neither in its epistemological transvestism nor in its bad positivist absolution, and we refuse its philosophical image in general. This is a question of “Vision-in-science,” i.e. a question of what every science as such gives and requires of the real in an autonomous way. By the name science, we understand two things. On the one hand, its essence: for it has an essence proper, rigorously distinct from philosophy’s. On the other hand, the science of this essence of science: a particular science located alongside others, yet whose object is their essence-of-science, what we call a transcendental science. Such is the discovery: there is a vision-in-science more primitive in its access to the real than philosophical vision, and a transcendental science that has the power to constitute philosophy into its object without thereby destroying it or transforming it in this operation. Let’s add another effect: it finally delivers us from philosophical falsifications that make science sometimes into a sub-philosophical knowledge, sometimes into a simple substitute of philosophy…We therefore possess a new point of view anterior to philosophy itself. And we can freely draw from this vision effects for philosophy, effects of secondarization, loss of authority, and practical gain.
Several tasks can now be specified. First, and to follow a pedagogical order, to introduce philosophers to the experience of science rather than to impose this new point of view on them, we characterize the ancestral authority of a certain Principle of sufficient philosophy that founds the philosophical Authorities in general or the unitary, Greco-unitary, style in thought.
Then we elucidate the internal reasons that make science into a paradigm of thought completely distinct from the philosophical paradigm, anterior to it and irreducible to its “epistemological” effects. We draw the conclusion from this that, without being dismembered or devalorized, philosophical Decision can fall under a special science and that it constitutes one of the last (if not the last) of the scientific Continents.
Finally, we are describing the other extremity of the program through which it opens onto a radical future: the possibility of an unlimited pragmatics of philosophy. If there’s still a finality, more apparent qua finality than real, it is in fact this: only a radical science provides the foundation and the right of multiple non-philosophical usages of philosophy. Not only does it give the possibility of regarding it (if not from elsewhere, at least from within the optics of a finally rigorous knowledge); but also, freeing its practice from the authority of the Principle of sufficient philosophy, it makes possible a pragmatics finally adapted to philosophical Decision itself. No longer being a sub-product of Decision but founded on science, it is open by definition to non-philosophical possibles. No doubt this means: rather than philosophizing on right, art, science, etc., you can do the inverse and treat philosophy as a jurist, an artist, a scientist, an architect, a man of the people, etc. But on the twofold condition—you can do it now and by way of this science—of respecting the nature and specificity of its operation, and of not injecting it under philosophical authority with simple objects and simple metaphors taken from elsewhere. Science has already programmed this, and you have always done this without knowing it: you come too late, which means you are only philosopher. It is no doubt a question of experimentally treating philosophy based on your needs, your practices, your syntaxes, but on condition of proceeding in a truly “scientific” and consequently “experimental” manner, on condition of really freeing yourself from the grip and bewitchment of the Principle of sufficient philosophy and not circularly reintroducing objects or methods you have already, at some other point, selected for it.
To summarize this opening: insofar as science precedes philosophy and relieves it of any hope of returning, it alone gives you the foundation to treat philosophy in a maximum of distance and in an alterity that you will finally not be given by an arbitrary decision (like philosophers do) but that you will have received as ordinary man, what you are as subject (of) science. This Other-than-philosophy on which you will now be able to ground yourself comes from you, who are from the start nothing but this subject (of) science. It will take on an essential property from science, a property definitively non-negotiable for philosophy, which is namely the property of being uni-lateral and of uni-lateralizing philosophy. This is why, rather than a question of “secondarizing” philosophy, it is a question of uni-lateralizing it or displacing it outside its authority and its spontaneous practice even before it is to be displaced. Philosophy does not have to be displaced, it already is displaced—by you as man. That’s what you guarantee science, but what as philosopher you ignore.
We will establish the economy of this program, its gains and losses, later on. On the losses side, it already fully implies renouncing this dominant auto-referential practice (like the history of philosophy and the labor of texts) or practicing them in a completely different way. Traditionally and in its naïve or spontaneous practice, philosophy, far from being treated within a science and a pragmatics that would result from it, is simply related viciously to itself just as it gives itself the right to do. This auto-philosophical prejudice is called philocentric Faith or Authority and must be unmasked: in general, obviously, but also in its main method, which is the historicizing and textual relation to philosophy. The history of philosophy is not prohibited, but it no longer founds and limits the practice of thought. The most elaborate forms of this naïve practice, like the deconstruction of metaphysical texts, do nothing but lead back to philocentrism and must in turn be founded in science, since the Other-of-philosophy is finally elaborated in its essence and in its reception by the subject qua subject (of) science and stops being supposed arbitrarily as every philosophical Decision left to its natural “play” does. The scientific foundation of philosophy’s deconstruction implies the abandonment of the philosophical forms of deconstruction. And in general, the radical renewal of philosophical practice passes through the scientific abandonment of philosophical Faith and the downfall of the Principle of sufficient philosophy.
On the gains side, this displacement of Decision—insofar as it is acquired by science before philosophy can give a hallucinatory reality to its authoritarian pretention—already opens a field of unlimited experimentations on philosophy, a future without logical restriction, without logos or futurologos.
If we want something…it would first be to put philosophy on its only real base, that of science; to constitute it into the object of a science, for science implies by itself that knowledge is worth more than faith and must take faith as its object; to thereby detach it from itself, its history, and its bewitchment (critique of every philosophy’s transcendental Illusion); finally, to make possible a generalized pragmatics that is connected to philosophy itself.
We will finally know why we philosophize, for we certainly do not know as of yet: for the 2,600 years that there have been thinkers who have done nothing but philosophize “ahead” of the research of a problematic reality, none have been able to give ultimate and rigorous, non-circular or non-philosophical reasons for its endeavor, which remains authoritarian and absurd to the extent of this absence. Philosophizing with awareness of the cause, we will finally do so for positive reasons rather than because of a so-called “need to philosophize” or because of a “call to think” that do nothing but express about man the seduction and prestige of a certain “objective philosophical Appearance”…
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