I’ve diligently read through F.H. Jacobi’s 1785 Letters Concerning the Doctrine of Spinoza in Conversations with Lessing and Mendelssohn and K.L. Reinhold’s 1789 The Foundation of Philosophical Knowledge over the last two days. From here I’m going to proceed to G.E. Schulze’s 1790 Aenesidemus essay, which harshly challenged the claims of Kantian-Reinholdian philosophy from the perspective of Humean skepticism. After that I can finally advance into Fichte’s and Maimon’s contributions to the fate of the Critical philosophy in the 1790’s.

Nothing really new from me today. But you can expect something along these lines in the next couple days. I’m quite confident that this study I’m making will prepare me well for an inquiry into François Laruelle’s notion of “the One.” Perhaps a comment on the new Speculative Heresy blog is in the works.

In the meantime, however, I’ve received the latest revision of my paper on Spinoza and Leibniz from Boston University’s Arché magazine for undergraduate philosophy. This piece will appear in the forthcoming issue. Check out the current articles on their site, however; they have an interview with Jaako Hintikka!

From Kant’s Critiques to the “Spinoza Controversy”

Today I finished reading Kant’s Critique of Judgment.  This was my first reading of this work in its entirety; it has been my goal (now accomplished) in the last three weeks to read all three Critiques from start to finish, chronologically, interrupted only by reading his essays “What is Enlightenment?”, “Perpetual Peace,” and “Speculative Beginning of Human History.”  While all these works are excellent, the third Critique might be my favorite.  Kant didn’t even realize how good it is.

Now I plan to begin exploring in earnest the famous “Spinoza controversy” that involved Lessing, Mendelssohn, Jacobi and others in the 1780’s and, along with the presentation of Kant’s critical philosophy, dominated the philosophical scene therein.  As a preliminary measure, I’ve been brushing up on Spinoza’s Ethics.  From there, I hope to finally familiarize myself with Jacobi’s work from this period.

Quite happily, my reacquaintance with Spinoza might complement nicely the project that I have been asked to join with regard to Laruelle’s notion of “non-philosophy.”  In revisiting Spinoza’s concept of the One, I might better be able to understand Laruelle’s non-philosophical emendation pf it.

Speculative Heresy

Taylor Adkins from Fractal Ontology has invited me to participate in a new blog, Speculative Heresy, which will deal with issues of non-philosophy.  “Non-philosophy” refers to a position that has been expounded in the last few decades by prominent French thinkers such as Laruelle.  Authors from the blogs Naught Thought and Accursed Share will be contributing to this effort as well.  I am excited to have received this opportunity, and hope to do my part in this collaboration.

Thoughts on François Laruelle’s Preface and Introduction to Principles of Non-Philosophy (as translated by Fractal Ontology’s Taylor Adkins)

Taylor Adkins, from Fractal Ontology, has graciously shared with me some advanced rough drafts of his continuing translations of François Laruelle’s work from French into English. This morning I read one of the more introductory, programmatic pieces he sent — the preface and introduction to Principles of Non-Philosophy. This outlines in broad strokes Laruelle’s notion of “non-philosophy,” which, from what I gather, is one of the central themes of his work. The work exhibits an uncommon originality in its interpretations of traditional philosophical (and extra-philosophical) problems, accompanied by a casual erudition which appeals to my tastes greatly. Personally, I do foresee problems (or at least significant obstacles) which will present themselves to Laruelle’s enterprise, which may be dealt with more or less adequacy. Given the competence and ingenuity he displays in this short piece, however, I have no doubt that he will make an honest go of it. It would be ridiculous, in any case, to demand an exhaustive treatment or solution to these problems from a work which he openly admits is propaedeutic in its function (i.e., it only aims to be “the most complete introduction to non-philosophy in the absence of its realization”).

What follows are my initial thoughts in response to this piece. I will refrain from idle speculation into those sections which exceed my topical familiarity at present, and focus mostly on some of the references and implications which I take to be most plainly evident in the text. In this way I might perform some small service of gratitude to Taylor for offering his work for discussion, contributing the occasional insights my background makes available for those who are interested. It is quite possible that my own take on what Laruelle is trying to say is mistaken; aware of this fact, I welcome criticism and correction from all sides.

Departing from the continental orientation toward questions of ontology (the logic of Being) and its differential corollary of alterity which has predominated in recent years, Laruelle grounds his exposition of “non-philosophy” in its (ontology’s) traditional rival, henology (the logic of the One). This classification is misleading, however. For Laruelle’s conception of the One is highly idiosyncratic. It differs in many respects from the object of the classical Platonic, Stoical, and Spinozistic henologies — the One(s) which philosophically ground(s) the order of appearances in their modal correspondence and community with one another.

On this point we may elaborate. Specifically, Laruelle seems to take issue with the place the One occupies within philosophies and mystical tradition, as something which is accomplished or realized through the relation of its subsidiary modes. This holds whether the One is reached by speculative/dialectical ascent (as in transcendental and Hegelian logic) or through revelation or religious vision (as in mysticism). This is why categorizing Laruelle’s thought as henological is potentially confused, because any “logic” which is thought to articulate the One cannot be conceived as literal. It can appear only in scare-quotes, since the One “is immanent (to) itself rather than to a form of thought, to a ‘logic.’”

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François Laruelle

François Laruelle —

This contemporary French philosopher has been brought to my attention by Fractal Ontology’s Taylor Adkins, who has apparently taken up the task of translating some of his works. This is a generous labor for the philosophical community at large, since practically none of his thought has been rendered into English. I must say that my interest has been piqued; Taylor informed me that Laruelle is influenced by J.G. Fichte, a philosopher whose work is largely skipped over or mentioned only briefly in the history of thought. Several translated sections of his work have appeared on the Fractal Ontology blog ( here, here, and here) , which I hope to read in some depth.

Taylor has expressed an interest in discussing Fichte’s work in its relation to Laruelle’s philosophy with me, an opportunity which I welcome enthusiastically. I think we might learn a lot from one another, since our research seems to be developing along similar lines.