Why We Must Speak of “Science”

We are without illusion: the programme of La Décision Philosophique risks arousing the anger of the philosophers without earning us the lack of unreserved support of the scientists. The next letter will particular address itself to the latter; scientists address themselves in priority, but not exclusively, to philosophers. By attributing to the “empirical” sciences an autonomous thought in relation to philosophy and even a transcendental function that philosophy denies to them; by submitting, in a way that is felt as sacrilegious, philosophy to a science – a science of philosophy which would not be its “History” – we prepare ourselves for a type of combat which has no equivalent in the war that the philosophers wage amongst themselves. We attack the philosopher’s credo at its base, its spontaneous confidence in its way of thinking; we say that it is a Transcendental Illusion. This is not the theoretical refutation of the project that we fear – it is the tension, the rejection without nuances, the avoidance drive, the refusal of theoretical examination: resistance to be honest. We put our finger on the most painful point, quite another thing than a putting to the test through critique and deconstruction, through the Other and the Undecidable: the inevitable constitution of philosophy on a scientific continent.

Philosophy does not really come to science. It is necessary that science comes to place itself before it and unmask its epistemological avoidance. Philosophy only tolerates science as technical, operative, deprived of meaning, and objectivating – justifiable of an epistemology. The worst wound which can be inflicted on philosophy, which unbinds its resistance, is to render autonomous not such and such particular science, but the very essence of sciences.

This resistance is neither a theoretical error nor an obstacle: we must take support on it to rigorously analyze the operations of the Philosophical Decision. Yet, if we give the appearance of wanting to found a psychoanalysis of philosophy, it is on condition to found it immediately as a science and articulate its critique on its science. Deconstructions (Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and Derrida) are still partially philosophical decisions, namely that they do the inverse: they are only a science as much as they are especially a critique. It is why the still assume valid what can no longer be so for us: the philosophical sufficiency to determine the real, the confusion of effectivity of philosophy with reality. The deconstructions have instituted and re-enforced by the same token the Principle of Sufficient Philosophy. They have not destroyed it.

Some words of explication can perhaps induce within the philosophers a local weakening of resistance and lead what had to be among some of us the equivalent of an auto-analysis, of a process through which we discovered that we never “entered” into philosophy and that philosophy never determined the essence of man nor the essence of science. Discovered and “suffered”…Because if everything exits from an attempt to the rethink the One for itself independently from Being, a hurtful surprise awaits us: the thought of the One was nothing other than what humanity, philosophizing or not, called science, and even what the theoretical scruffiness [laisser-aller] of today designated as “the” sciences…Also, rather than avoiding this word “science” which secretly hurts philosophers so much as it is the object of their lust and repulsion, we start here by explaining the necessity of the word. Several reasons converge and overdetermine this word.

Some essential theoretical reasons which hold to the object itself.
1. Let’s suppose a way of thinking: a) which produces knowledges, namely representations which immanently claim to be those of the real itself and not only those of properties and phenomena; b) a way of thinking which, to do this, accesses by principle or by nature the real in an absolutely certain because immanent way, with this immanence guaranteeing it the objectivity of its object and the certainty of its knowledges – the immanence of its theoretical and experimental criteria; c) a way of thinking which is ordered to the real and is content with descriptively “reflecting” it – were it in the last instance alone – without claiming to transform it through its knowledge. Then, if the concept of science must and can have a meaning and a truth, it is in this way of thinking or it never corresponds. If it must have a specific use, distinct from its philosophical use, it is here or never that it is pertinent and necessary, because despite appearances, these traits are excluded by philosophy: a) it does not access to the real in itself alone, but to difference or the “decision” of the real and phenomena, substance and accidents, etc.; it is the simultaneously the knowing of the real and ideality, their blend; b) it does not access the real through the sole posture of immanence but also and simultaneously through the posture of transcendence or decision; its theoretical criteria cannot be radically immanent; c) it claims consequently to transform the essence of the real through its representation; and modifying the order of the real by modifying the order of its thoughts. We must oppose the spontaneous idealism of the Philosophical Decision with a postural realism of science, even if it is a realism “of the last instance,” obviously not a realism of perception. Science is not a question of decision (= philosophical), it is a question of posture, namely an “attitude” [tenue] or “bedrock” [assise] realized in themselves through the sole means of immanence.

2. Yet the precedent description is not, above all not, an “idealization” of science: it is the description of its reality, namely its essence, of all sciences. All of these traits are explained and are grounded together in what we call the One or the vision-in-One. Not the philosophers’ One (the Neo-Platonists – and all philosophers) but the One in which we have here and there described as the non-decisional and non-positional essence (of) oneself. Science reposes on a principle – the One – that is absolutely heterogeneous to philosophy’s principle – Being (with what it implicates and denies of the One of science). Science is ante-ontological – and yet it “thinks” even if it thinks in a posture of opacity or unreflection that philosophy confounds with the most primary of unconsciousness. Even the sciences called “empirical” participate in this essence or this transcendental structure of the One which assures them in the last instance both the immanence of their theoretico-experimental criteria and the reality which forbids philosophy from dissolving them into “possibility” and “interpretation.” This non-epistemological redescription of the sciences – of all sciences – grounds their truthful re-evaluation and implies a redistribution of the transcendental and the empirical in the very interior of each science and no longer between philosophy and the sciences. The rest of the aprioritic structures of scientific objectivity is deduced from this posture of immanence, but it is not our object here to describe it.

Some philosophical and historical reasons
1. There is traditionally a claim of philosophy to be a science, but an absolute and not empirical one; a claim to ground and distribute the reasons of scientificity. We oppose to this the task of retrieving the pre-philosophical Identity of the sciences (which has nothing to do with the false problem-symptom of inter-disciplinarity). Science was “in” philosophy and philosophy did not know it…What matters here? Philosophy makes science its Other because if science reposes in itself, in its own posture, and if it is what transforms philosophy into its Other, is the proof that philosophy is animated towards it from a more profound denial than any denial of an already constituted Unconscious: a transcendental denial of philosophy that illusorily constitutes science as an Unconscious. The sole adversary of the philosophical is not what it calls the “non-philosophical” and not the Other of the philosophical or its “margins” (the political, the economic, the textual, the sexual, the technological, etc.). The sole adversary of the philosophical is the ante-philosophical, science, that philosophical sufficiency transforms into its Other. It is inevitable to pose the problem of a science, rather than a deconstruction, of a philosophy. For us, the non-philosophical is no longer as it is for the “deconstructions”: an unelucidated Other. The non-philosophical is the product or the result of a science.

2. The problem, “faith and knowledge,” is crucial. It is outlined in history (the Gnostics, Hegel, Marx, Husserl, etc.) by attempts of the subversion of philosophical sufficiency. Philosophy is of the nature of decision and faith: neither positive faith nor positive knowledge; rational faith at worst, transcendental faith at best; a faith with aspects of knowledge, but certainly not a science. By contrast, science is only a knowledge without decision; it thus knows in an even more immanent or transcendental way that it is more primitive and more simple than philosophy and that it can become a science of philosophy.

Some strategic reasons or conjunctural reasons
The less interesting reasons. However, at the moment where philosophy consumes itself in an auto-consumption of its texts, its past, its “non-philosophical” conditions, the moment where it manifests its conformity and its historical and textual consumerism, it becomes plausible to want to constitute it on a scientific continent, even though these conjunctural reasons cannot form the sufficient reason of a science of the philosophical decision.

Must we end by making an allusion to a misunderstanding, those which parade at the birth of an Idea and which are induced, through resistance, in theoretical appreciation itself? Here are a few:

1. Scientism and Positivism! Yet are scientism and positivism another thing than science put in the exact place of philosophy by philosophy itself which hides and denies them, while a science here auto-describes itself and rather “em-places” philosophy? Scientism only knows the philosophical concept of science, its type of universality and domination, not its radical transcendental concept.

2. Transcendental Realism! Yes, except that what Husserl rightly called a “philosophical misunderstanding” is realistically of the order of a decision, thus both transcendent (perception) and transcendental, while here reality is nothing-but-transcendental. The One is not found in the World or on the margins of the World like the Other which philosophy proves; the One is definitively proven before the World and philosophy.

3. Philosophy judged by a science exterior to it! A Will to Leap outside of the philosophical! No: this is a fantasy just as absurd which expresses the so transparently resistant that it can only dwell in the head of a philosopher. Let’s repeat: it is not science which is the Other of philosophy as philosophy would like it to be; it is philosophy which is the Other – here its contingent object – of science. Does quantum mechanics leap outside of the quanta? At most, science is in a posture of knowing and criticizing their false representations.

What is to be done with philosophy? We must continue to philosophize, but within the interior alone of the suspension of philosophical sufficiency, and to invent, on this basis of the ante-philosophical essence of the sciences, a particular science of philosophy. What we globally call “non-philosophy” is not the negation of philosophy (another misunderstanding and which sums all misunderstandings up). Non-Philosophy is the destruction of its sufficiency alone, its illusory authority, its fetishism – the ultimate auto-philosophical fetishism which still grounds its “deconstructions” ––; Non-Philosophy is the real transformation of philosophy on the basis of the scientific posture. Of course, this project would just be a “vulgar” philosophical misunderstanding if we did not succeed in first tearing science from philosophical legislation and to give science back the rigor and depth of its non-epistemological concept…

translated by Jeremy R. Smith

taken from here

Foto: Slyvia John

Scroll to Top