Laruelle’s ‘Criminally Performative’ Thought: On Doing and Saying in Non-Philosophy

John Ó Maoilearca


François Laruelle’s ‘non-philosophical’ practice is connected to its performative language, such that to the question 'what is it to think?, non-philosophy responds that thinking is not “thought”, but performing, and that to perform is to clone the world “in-Real”’ (François Laruelle, ‘What is Non-Philosophy?’ in From Decision to Heresy [2012], 233).

Non-philosophy is equally described by Laruelle as ‘transcendental practice’, an ‘immanent pragmatics’, or a ‘universal pragmatics’ that is ‘valid for ordinary language as well as for philosophy:’ He insists that we look at ‘that-which-I-do-in-saying and not just what I say’ – for the latter is simply what happens when thought is ‘taken hold of again by philosophy.’ Resisting this hold, non-philosophy performs re-descriptions of philosophy that, in doing so, produce effects on how philosophical texts are seen. Of course, whether these effects are always desired or are merely nominally considered ‘effects’ such as any description might create (misunderstanding, disbelief, dismay, boredom) is entirely debatable (and a matter for this paper). In accordance with this, however, it is notable that Laruelle objects to the focus on activity within the concept of a speech act, and instead emphasizes the ‘descriptive passivity’ that an immanent pragmatics obliges. Laruelle calls this a ‘Performed-Without-Performation’ which would be an action of the Real: philosophical language seen as a performed, but without a ‘we’ – or any others – performing (or ‘cloning’) it. It is this notion of the performative without either active human or philosophical adumbration, which is the topic of this paper.

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Copyright (c) 2015 John Ó Maoilearca

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