(Edited version of paper presented at the Deleuze Studies Conference in Rome, July 2016.)
1.1 From ‘What is Philosophy’ to ‘Where is Non-Philosophy’?
While Deleuze and Guattari’s What Is Philosophy? begins and explores the question of its title, charting the planes and operations of philosophy, science and art, the last chapter of the book might be read as shifting towards another question. In bringing up ‘nonphilosophy’ near the book’s end, Deleuze and Guattari ask, it seems, not what but where is a non-philosophy? Here they speak of the non-localizable interference between the disciplines and their corresponding ‘non’, saying that: “Finally, there are interferences that cannot be localized. This is because each distinct discipline is, in its own way, in relation with a negative” and that “the plane of philosophy is prephilosophical insofar as we consider it in itself independently of the concepts that come to occupy it, but non-philosophy is found where the plane confronts chaos.” (WP, 218, my italics). Deleuze and Guattari’s pre-philosophical plane here does not consist of the historical concepts of philosophy, but is a plane not yet inhabited by philosophical concepts. They therefore make the distinction that a pre-philosophical plane is not a non-philosophical plane. A non-philosophy is still somewhere else. It is not on the planes of science or art; it is not in chaos either. Instead, they situate non-philosophy in a non-localizable place. While not localizable to a plane, it is also not completely ‘non-localizable’ either. As they point out, non-philosophy is located where the plane confronts chaos and so is located on the edge of philosophy, dangling off in an interstitial space (a space but not a plane) between philosophy’s plane and chaos.
Here is where they then put the footnote about François Laruelle as being engaged in one of the most interesting projects of contemporary philosophy, his project of non-philosophy. Laruelle’s non-philosophy, however, is in spatial disagreement with Deleuze and Guattari’s map at the outset. The non-philosophy of Laruelle is not located in a space between the edge of philosophy and chaos. While initially, this cartographic disagreement is useful for a comparison of their non-philosophies, this paper looks further to how Laruelle not only redraws the map of philosophy/non-philosophy, but also to where he performs inverse operations to Deleuze’s philosophy of difference. I look not only where Laruelle departs from Deleuze, but where he connects and then engulfs, deforms, and debases Deleuze’s difference. In order to do so, this paper explores a few aspects of Laruelle’s non-philosophy and his concept of the gnostic matrix as an inverse operation and sublimation of Deleuze’s difference-itself. Ultimately, I think through the re-shaping of difference itself into a repetition of gnostic matrices.
1.2 Not ‘Where is Non-Philosophy,’ but ‘Where is Philosophical Interference?’
Laruelle not only draws a different map than Deleuze and Guattari’s non-philosophy but also erases the outline around the plane of immanence; he does not so much ‘deterritorialize’ Deleuze and Guattari’s version of immanence as outright reject it. One of the main tenets of Laruelle’s thought is a critique of philosophy’s claim to be able to philosophize immanence, calling “this bewitched belief, which philosophy has known quite well . . . the Principle of Sufficient Philosophy (PSP)” (‘Non-Philosophy’, 98). Within Laruelle’s critique of the system of sufficient philosophy, immanence has been proclaimed by philosophers in which they “distinguish between themselves by a system of diversely measured mixtures of immanence and transcendence, by these infinitely varied twists and interlacings” (‘Principles’, 17). This mixology, or in Laruelle’s term amphibology, is the manner in which philosophers are always self-assigning their authority to describe the real, and merely creating an ad hoc combination of immanence and transcendence as exercises of performative authority.
Laruelle therefore neither agrees with Deleuze and Guattari on what the nature of philosophical ‘interference’ is or what it entails. Where for the latter, there is an interference pattern between the plane of philosophy and chaos, and an interference between the planes of the disciplines of art and science, for Laruelle the amphibology of a sufficient philosophy is already the philosophical interference. Philosophy itself has an interior interference pattern produced by its decisionism; it is the finitude of philosophy’s own decision that interferes with philosophy as a part of its planar design (a design bolstered by Deleuze). In this way, we need not draw an outline around the plane of immanence that separates it from an outside chaos. Amphibology is chaos. In a letter from 1988, Laruelle tells Deleuze, “By chaos, chora, or (non-)One, I describe an absolutely infinite and indivisible receptacle, containing an infinity of philosophical decisions”(‘Decision,’ 396). As such, Laruelle moves Deleuze’s chaos from its outside place and shapes it instead into the infinite garbage can containing philosophy’s decisions. Laruelle draws a philosophy receptacle that is already filled up with chaos.
Nevertheless, Laruelle’s non-philosophy is in a similar phase-state as Deleuze and Guattari’s in terms of its initial appearance, as both admit to be born out of a recognition of the condition of a philosophical interference. Whether from outside or from within, non-philosophy seemingly begins with the recognition of an interference. This condition is hinted at already in Deleuze and Guattari’s statement: “They [science, art, philosophy] do not need the No as beginning, or as the end in which they would be called upon to disappear by being realized, but at every moment of their becoming” (WP, 218). They thus point out that the ‘no’ of a philosophy would be at every point of the becoming of a non-philosophy, and not at a crossing of a threshold or at an edge. The No is neither the end of philosophy because of a realization of philosophy, but is a constant and corollary no — the becoming of a non. Indeed, they are here moving towards Laruelle.
In Laruelle’s letter to Deleuze however, he further unhinges the state of non-philosophy, stating: “a thing, a philosophy, will be called free when it exists as cause of itself … when it is at once determinate and determinant itself. On the contrary, a thing will be called constrained when it is determined by another to exist and to operate”(‘Decision’, 397). A ‘No’ is a constrain. A non, however, is a free radical. In this way, Laruelle also gets rid of their ‘No,’ His distinction of ‘constrain’ versus ‘free,’ directly addressed to Deleuze, allows instead for a non-philosophy which is not relational to a position to philosophy, is not between a philosophical plane and the chaos outside, and is now neither a ‘no’ in relation to ‘a philosophy.’ It is determinant from its own structure and instead uses philosophy as a material. We might then better compare Laruelle as making another Deleuzian-Guattarian ‘pre-philosophical plane’ rather than a version of their non-philosophy, but without the outlines of a plane. There is a constrain without constraint of another, or is self-constraint, in a non-positional space. The determination of non-philosophy is more radical, akin to a free radical or a doppelgänger to philosophy. Put another way, Laruelle’s non-philosophy is face to face with philosophy, not hierarchically above philosophy, not dangling at its edge, nor taking it from behind.1 Non-philosophy approaches philosophy from multiple angles, collides into it, re-mixes it, eats it. Looking further at an example of Laruelle’s non-philosophy as a doppelgänger in the act, I look to Laruelle’s repetition of a gnostic matrix as facing Deleuze’s system of difference and how Laruelle ultimately sublimates Deleuze’s repetition of difference.
2.1: Insubordinate Difference as Difference In-itself | Deleuze
In Difference and Repetition, Deleuze argues against the concept of difference as a destructive and ‘evil’ force as it appears throughout philosophy, asking, “it is obviously difficult to know whether the problem is well posed in this way: is difference really an evil in itself? Must the question have been posed in these moral terms? Must difference have been ‘mediated’ in order to render it both livable and thinkable?” (DR, 30). Deleuze moves from the concept of difference as ‘evil mediation’ to the concept of difference-itself as a productive force, as a thing itself that shapes things. He thus begins with an effort to liberate difference from its status as a subordinate operation of ‘difference from.’ The problem of ‘difference from’ is that it necessarily frames difference as a negative operation by which things are compared to a transcendental sameness, or is an operation in which representation is what mediates from an original (the copy versus the original), and in which the mediated differs from a transcendental original by degrees of destruction.
For example, Deleuze gives Plato’s distinction between the original and the image, the model and the copy, where “the model is supposed to enjoy an originary superior identity (theIdea alone is nothing other than what it is: only Courage is courageous, Piety pious), whereas the copy is judged in terms of a derived internal resemblance” (127). Deleuze, however points out that it is not only the copy that is subordinated to the Idea, but that difference itself as a concept must come second to comparing two similar things, “[i]ndeed, it is in this sense that differencecomes only in third place, behind identity and resemblance, and can be understood only in termsof these prior notions” (127). Getting away from the Idea and difference as a comparison to itssameness, Deleuze constructs a system based on the primacy of difference, or difference itself,that henceforth prevents a system of comparisons of sameness orsimilarity. Difference itselfbecomes neither the description of a relation nor the comparison of the Idea and its mediated forms, but is the condition under which all things are subjected or through which they are produced. Liberating difference from its secondary nature of the Idea, Deleuze constructs asystem of differentiation and differenciation, a dynamic system that follows from difference itself. Difference is therefore no longer a secondary term that denotes comparison, but becomes the inherent function of the system. As Deleuze describes:
Difference is not diversity. Diversity is given, but difference is that by which the given is given, that by which the given is given as diverse. Difference is not phenomenon but the noumenon closest to the phenomenon. It is therefore true that God makes the world by calculating, but his calculations never work out exactly [juste], and this inexactitude or injustice is the result, thisirreducible inequality, forms the condition of the world. The world ‘happens’ while God calculates; if the calculation were exact, there would be no world. The world can be regarded as a ‘remainder’, and the real in the world understood in terms of fractional or even incommensurable numbers. Every phenomenon refers to an inequality by which it is conditioned (241).
Difference as a noumenon of the phenomenon is an internal function of the phenomena by which all things are the result of that functional kernel. What makes difference perform its function and produce what is in the world via its inequality? It is God tied to a calculator that endlessly unevenly calculates, and it is the calculator that performs the function of difference-itself. Deleuze therefore makes it so difference is not repetition of variations of a transcendental same— because only that which differs via difference is what constitutes what is in the world.Difference-itself is the primary function that repeats, and the world is the garbage can for thejetsam of God’s calculator.
2.2 The Debasement of Sameness | Laruelle
Deleuze’s gesture of thinking through difference is intimately connected to the gesture torethink the Idea, or to take it from behind. While on the one hand, the problem of representation of the Idea is framed as a mediation (the evilness of a difference negatively framed), Deleuze also describes that the ‘innate good’ of the Idea is also still a problem on the other side of thecalculator. He says: “The very conception of a natural light is inseparable from a certain valuesupposedly attached to the Idea – namely, ‘clarity and distinctness’; and from a certain supposedorigin – namely, ‘innateness’. Innateness, however, only represents the good nature of thoughtfrom the point of view of a Christian theology”(146). Deleuze, then speaks of the restitution of the Idea via not only difference on the one side, but also the explosion of the Idea with a Dionysian value. The priority of a difference-itself and the Dionysian destruction of the innategood are both parts of a two-pronged way to solve the problems of the innate ‘clarity and distinctness’ of the Idea and the evil of a negative difference.
For Francois Laruelle, however, we do not need to destroy the Idea with Dionysian value nor make difference a primary function — something else can be done. In his text, Christo- Fiction: The Ruins of Athens and Jerusalem, Laruelle seemingly gives an answer to Deleuze’s remark above on the concept of ‘clarity and distinctness’ as inseparable from innateness. While Laruelle similarly aims to remove the innate so-called goodness of Christian theology tied to theIdea, he instead speaks of “a gnostic-type knowledge” in which “it is possible to clarify a secret in a quantum-theoretical manner without absolutely destroying it”(‘Christo’, 5). For Laruelle, we do not have to destroy, or rectify the Idea with Dionysian value in order to clarify a secret. Laruelle switches thus from innate clarity of good knowledge, the Idea, to the ‘secret,’ and gives a method that is neither difference itself nor destruction, but a quantum theoretical limit point.Laruelle reminds us of the Heisenberg principle — that “it is a known principle that, in quantum theoreticalterms, to clarify a supposedly given or existent secret is automatically to undetermine it in and through this very knowledge” (5). In other words, Laruelle aims to generalize “the quantum ‘law’ of that phenomenon” in order to draw out an uncertainty principle of any ‘given secret’ — a principle of under-determinancy that is no longer only for quantum physics butclaimed as a non-philosophical principle. Instead, ‘the quantum manner’ is made into a conceptual principle of the necessary preservation of the unknownability of two states at once — a concept of simultaneity that functionally undermines both the innate stability or clarity of the Idea and also Deleuze’s difference-itself.
Laruelle henceforth, I argue, plays out the non-philosophical doppelgänger to Deleuze’s difference itself, and thinks through its inverse. Instead of the rectification of difference from its negative and evil mediation role, it is a debasement of the sameness of the innate that Laruelle puts forth. This takes the supposed good value, clarity and distinction away from innateness at the outset, not by constructing a difference-itself, but with the quantum as a non-theological innateness of uncertainty. As Laruelle states, “[w]ith new means, of nontheological provenance and of what we shall call a ‘quantum-oriented’ order, we have won the right to be atheist religious leaders—that is to say, atheists capable of taking religions from the side where they are usable, and of relating them to that special ‘subject’ called ‘last instance’” (CF, x). Similar to his description of the principle of sufficient philosophy, Laruelle frames theology in the same manner, naming a Principle of Sufficient Theology (PST). More so than a theological work, his text implements the method of non-philosophy in the context of theology and the context of theodicy. It is a non-philosophical free-radical facing both philosophy and theology, taking them from the side at the same time. As Laruelle emphasizes, the text “is not written so as to enrich the treasury of theological knowledge” and that “our problem is not that of traditional theology and christology. . . they are first-degree disciplines or symptomal material, like the philosophy with which they are impregnated” (vi). Laruelle makes clear that he is taking direct nonphilosophical aim at the philosophical decision of the innateness of the Idea with theology as his material. As he claims that all of philosophy contains an inner ‘christic kernel,’ the innate good clarity that Deleuze calls ‘natural light’, Laruelle goes on thus to take the concept of Christ (as Idea) and subtracts God from the equation. As such, we leave Deleuze’s God-with-a-Calculator, and go forward in an inverse reciprocal manner as Laruellian quantum atheists with christwithout-god.
3.1 The Repetition of the Gnostic Matrix
While perhaps strange to think of ‘the quantum’ and ‘Christ’ together, Laruelle does so in order to establish the mode for an atheism of christ, a non-religious and godless christic thought — in order to take aim at philosophy. He does so by using the ‘gnostic’ as a sort of uncertainty principle inserted instead of god. In this way, Laruelle uses the gnostic uncertainty principle (a ‘gnostic orientation’) as a method of “bracketing out the theological point of view as thedominant point of view”(5). Thus, where Deleuze redeems difference, or makes difference-itselfa positive or primary function in order to take out the ‘evil’ of difference while leaving the rest of philosophical decisionism intact, Laruelle resurrects the gnostic, making the christ-without-god, a positive force of heresy that preemptively leaves behind the evilness of difference. This christ without god is able to pre-empt the ‘evilness’ of difference because rather than destroy the Idea, it newly deforms it with uncertainty and debasement. The Idea itself is reformed as it is hollowed out and pulled down by Laruelle into a basement where it becomes a generic messiah dwelling in quantum uncertainty. As such, introducing the gnostic is neither destruction nor redemption of difference, but a lowering of innate good into a generic hole.
Laruelle poses the gnostic and the quantum christ, I stress, in order to work in a nonphilosophical manner that aims to remain always insufficient, where ‘we have on one side a Principle of Sufficient Theology, and on the other side (the side from which our struggle is prosecuted) a necessary but nonsufficient faith’ (xii). This is where he interchanges nonphilosophy and gnostic theology in which “Christ is simply the name of the science of Christ, that its other name is gnosis, and that ‘gnostic theology’ therefore means that theology is abased (without being completely negated) as object of gnosis—nothing in these radical axioms belongs to any known Christianity” (3). The gnostic orientation and the christ-without-god replaces philosophical decision in the form of a “messianic wave” that is “a vector, and not a circle” because, as Laruelle emphasizes, “the immanence of that which does nothing but come messianically must be sought in the greatest depth of the “without-return” or of the Resurrectionof Christ” (173). This is the method in which Laruelle redrafts the notion of ‘return’, refashioning it as resurrection, which is not cyclical but operates like a wave function and a vector (i.e., it moves in one direction). Such is how he puts forth ‘immanent resurrection’ as a replacement of Eternal Return.
The functional behavior that Laruelle describes of this immanence is that it moves outfrom the ‘greatest depth’ of the ‘without return,’ or as a function that seems to come up from the depths of sameness (from the basement upwards). It is a ‘sameness’ function which undercuts the Deleuzian system of difference-itself that moves from virtual and actual in reciprocal entanglements, pointing out instead that “[t]he messianic wave… is not conflated with the closed-up oscillatory, with the symptoms of divine transcendence”(172), and also that “[t]he Resurrection is not a new creation… the determination of the order or the Last Instance is the Son who rises or ascends and brings down the Father . . . above all it does not form a plane of immanence like a secularized form of the plan of salvation” (210, my italics). Laruelle emphatically underdetermines the Idea and here specifically aims at Deleuze’s system of
difference, transcendental empiricism, and the notion of the plane of immanence. With underdetermination, or ‘undergoing,’ the function of a wave-vector from the basement of sameness wipes out Deleuze’s God’s calculator of difference.
Undergoing is functionally equivalent to Deleuze difference-itself, but by other means, via a repetition of sameness. It is a part of what Laruelle describes overall as a matrix: “If you must have a governing thesis or a principle then here it is, in all its brutality: the fusion of christology and quantum physics “under” quantum theory in its generic power, and no longer under theology. This is called a matrix” (14). A repetition of the gnostic matrix is a repetition of under-determined sameness, which repeats the same under-determinancy. The gnostic matrix and its orientation is an undoing of the decisionism of innateness and difference (of philosophy and theology at once.) To rephrase, the gnostic matrix itself produces a known uncertainty (a cognizant gnosticism) that proceeds with the repetition of sameness. It is in this way that undergoing is the inverse of difference itself: it too decouples difference from an ‘evil’
comparison to an ideal, but does so by placing both under the cognizance of its axiomatic parts and within a matrix of uncertainty.
Thus a gnostic matrix empties out or discards both innate clarity and difference from the Idea. It does not claim a description of the real, but gets rid of the philosophical self-assignment that compares innate ideas and representations or differences thereof in order to move forward instead with an underdetermined state as the case: “Gnosis cuts down [the] absolute will to knowledge, and radicalizes or differentiates between knowledge and the cognizance of this knowledge”(10). As such, Laruelle reframes the problem that Deleuze sets out in the beginning: it is not difference attached to an Ideal that is the wolf at the door, but rather, it is the privation of the cognizance of knowing the decision of the Ideal which threatens. The cognizance afforded by the gnostic matrix is the manner in which we then “find some way to make intelligible its unintelligibility and its unlearned character” and “discover the means to conserve and manifest its secret without destroying it qua secret with an inadequate, rationalist light” (4). The gnostic matrix that repeats is then the form that gives us, not innate light, but an inadequate rationalist non-light. The repetition of the gnostic matrix can thereby underwrite the function of Deleuze’s difference in-itself, as its matrixial uncertainty allows us to move away from innate light altogether, making the Idea always a perpetually inadequate sameness repeating. Laruelle specifically lays out this notion, again in relation to Deleuze, stating:
Negative theology and philosophy…whether affirmative or negative, they form mélanges, in the name of the All or the Absolute, of conceptual atomism and wavelike fusion, sometimes in real oscillatory machines (Deleuze). This mélange supposes the two styles to be separate and unitarily unified, whereas the quantum point of view also utilizes both of them, but without mixing or identifying them, rendering them indiscernible as superpositions.” (170)
What Laruelle here critiques of Deleuze is his ‘mélange,’ or the amphibology of the mixture of absolutes and oscillations of difference, because such is not cognizant of its own decisionism.Thus it requires a move away from mélange towards matrix, which does not mix but maintainsaxiomatic parts.
3.2. The Sublimation of Difference: or Difference placed inside a Matrix that Repeats
What then does the gnostic matrix repeating do when we look back to Deleuze? Ultimately out of the scope of this paper to cover all implications, my aim has been to explore one manner in which Laruelle’s non-philosophy does not simply break from Deleuze’s philosophy, but opens an inverse operation of difference. The repetition of the gnostic matrix does not preclude or prevent the notion of different itself, but rather, reformulates it as non primary. Instead of the primary mode of production of all things in the world (i.e., the remainders of God’s calculator), what does difference in-itself become in light of a gnostic matrix repeating under-determinancy?
We might see the repetition of the gnostic matrix, its under-going, as not only an inverse function of Deleuze’s difference itself but further as a type of sublimation of it. Deleuze describes of difference, “It is mediated, it is itself mediation, the middle term in person. It is productive, since genera are not divided into differences but divided by differences which give rise to corresponding species” and also that “it is attributed to the species but at the same time attributes the genus to it and constitutes the species to which it is attributed. Such a synthetic and constitutive predicate . . . has one final property: that of carrying with itself that which it attributes” (DR, 31). As such, difference itself has an inherent structure that determines its own divergent-ness. Whence the divergent-ness of difference itself? What is the structure of it as a predicate that can be both mediated and itself mediation, carrying with it its own attributes? Might this instead be thought more specifically as a matrix? A matrix structure that is able to describe difference that itself contains difference in a skeletal and under-determined structure, and thus as its own container separates axiomatic parts that are simultaneously a containment of the whole matrix. Difference as a matrix is in this way not only difference itself as a function of its structure, but describes further the axiomatic condition of difference containing in itself what it attributes. John Protevi bolsters this claim in his suggestion that “you could replace the title Difference and Repetition with Structure and Genesis: structures are differential, and genesis produces repetition: different incarnations of the same structure” (Protevi, 39). Seen as different incarnations of its ‘structure,’ difference as within a matrix becomes not differential but a matrixial form that contains difference. It is thus the structure of the matrix that repeats, which is a sameness of repeating, and is what Laruelle describes. In this way, difference is sublimated to the matrix (‘structure’), albeit in an undetermined skeleton and uncertain form, and this underdetermined sameness of the matrix is what repeats. The quantum theology of the gnostic matrix is the manner that allows for indiscernibility to be the condition of an underdetermined Idea and is what difference itself is then contained within.
4.0 Conclusion: The Shadow of the Matrix of the People to Come
Looking back to where I began on the last page of What is Philosophy, after Deleuze and Guattari say that every philosophy needs a non-philosophy, the last two sentences of the book go on to say: “if the three Nos are still distinct in relation to the cerebral plane, they are no longer distinct in relation to the chaos into which the brain plunges. In this submersion it seems that there is extracted from chaos the shadow of the ‘people to come’” and that “It is here that concepts, sensations, and functions become undecidable, at the same time as philosophy, art, and sciencebecome indiscernible, as if they shared the same shadow ”(WP, 218, my italics). Deleuze and Guattari point out here that when chaos is no longer on the outside, when it is inside and across planes of thought instead, we begin in an indiscernibility, in line with what Laruelle says of chaos itself as philosophical disturbance rather than at philosophy’s edge . The indiscernible does not dangle at a threshold in a place between philosophy and chaos, because it is within and extracted from chaos. For Deleuze and Guattari, it seems we can extract a shadow from it, not as a shadow differentiated through intensity or by the function of difference itself, but through a shared sameness of indiscernibility. What is this other non-process for the extraction of Deleuze and Guattari’s shared same-shadow? But this is where the book ends.
Where Deleuze and Guattari end, Laruelle continues. A shared shadow is a shared repetition of sameness, not the shadows of Plato or simulacra. It is a shared basement, a debasement, the generic sameness condition repeating. In this way, a shadow extracted from chaos begins out of a non-philosophy. The shared shadow of indiscernibility is the shadow of a gnostic matrix.
Lastly, on the people to come: the repetition of the generic gnostic matrix allows for us to say two things. That immanence is living the generic same shadow, and that transcendence is a ‘fallen-into-immanence’ without having fallen from a Ideal into an extension of a shadow (CF, 172). It is in the gnostic matrix, out of which we do not philosophize in decision, or as Laruelle says, it is “not a conceptual or discursive entity, an atom in the transcendent sense, but a discreteand indivisible quantum of messianity. It is at once a drive, the raising of a cry … the exclamation of a mystic” (CF, 154). ‘The people to come’ from Deleuze and Guattari, when out of a shared shadow thus come differently. They are now Laruelle’s messiahs that emanate. As implied by Deleuze and Guattari as well, what is to come is thus not by the repetition of the structure of difference, but with an underdetermined repetition of sameness. It is the shared shadow of the gnostic matrix in which the people to come will be matrixially repeated.
1 Deleuze wrote in ‘Letter to a Harsh Critic’ about his method of “sneaking up behind” a philosophical concept and producing a monstrous offspring, “I saw myself as taking an author from behind and giving him a child that would be his own offspring, yet monstrous.” (Negotiations, 4)
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taken from here
Foto: Bernhard Weber