What worries me is this strong focus on philosophies to what I take to be the detriment of philosophy. Now, like Derrida, I am not denying that in engaging with philosophies in this way Laruelle is doing “something more” than simply analyzing philosophies. But I still find this focus on philosophies to be problematic from an institutional perspective. It seems to me to risk more of the same sort of cloistered philosophical practice that we’ve seen in Continental philosophy for the last forty years where we endlessly talk about the texts of the tradition that preceded us as if there were nothing more to philosophy. The impression I’ve gotten from my readings of Laruelle is that he all too easily appeals to a number of bad habits among Continental thinkers.
But again, I could be mistaken. I think what Laruelle needs is, above all, a good apostle or advocate. Nate from “What in the Hell” suggested something along these lines over at Larval Subjects. I’d like to know what Laruelle can do. I’d like to know what one can do with Laruelle. I’d like to know how Laruelle assists me in theory building. And I’d like to know the specifics of the theory that he’s building or developing. That’s all.
When I first started reading Deleuze it was a painful experience. I’d throw Difference and Repetition and The Logic of Sense across the room in fits of frustration and irritation. I finally began to get a foothold in his thought with What is Philosophy?. The hook that got me in that book was the idea of philosophy not as a representation of the world, but as a construction and creation of concepts. Deleuze’s philosophy told you that you could do something with it. In addition to that, it was evident to me early on that Deleuze was doing metaphysics and that he was thinking about relations, complex systems, becoming, emergence, etc. These were all things I wished to understand or think about more, so I dealt with the pain of reading Deleuze and trudged on.
The case was similar with Lacan. I first started with Ecrits. Big mistake. It struck me as a bunch of nonsense and I put it down for a long time. However, a year or so later I happened to pick up Zizek’s Sublime Object of Ideology and Fink’s Lacanian Subject. Zizek showed me what could be done with Lacan and how Lacan could help me both to understand all sorts of things about the social and political world and other persons, but also how Lacan could help me to understand all sorts of trends in French Continental theory. So given that hook, I trudged through Lacan and gradually began to make sense of his work. This has been my problem with Laruelle so far: I haven’t found an answer to the “what is it for?” “what does it do?” questions. Without that telos it’s difficult to see how the concepts are organized and what they’re doing.
What you are saying is critical of philosophy, at least certain practices of philosophy. Some of them have gone in unproductive directions, and you don’t want to follow them. Some have done things you want to emulate in your own way. Figuring out what you want to do as a philosopher requires you to do that. Therefore, it seems to me that your discourse, too, is about philosophy. And that insofar as Laruelle is trying to figure out a way to get past certain recurring impasses in philosophy, you have something in common, even if his particular method of doing so doesn’t convince you.