For a Real Critique of Pedagogical Reason

François Laruelle, trans. Sylvia

from: Le Cahier (Collège international de philosophie), No. 5 (avril 1988), pp. 83-6


I — On Diagnosis

            At the bedside of philosophy, of the philosophy of teaching, of the teaching of philosophy—innumerable ones are doctors. It is Gérard Granel’s turn to let the diagnosis fall: this time it is hopeless…

  1. Perhaps it would have been possible to distinguish between the (“nihilist”, but also “counter-nihilist” or affirmative) dissolution of the great pedagogical objects or relationships; and their deconstruction­—affirmative as well, at any rate. More nuanced, the diagnostic would have been less hopeless. But the problem is yet another…

  2. Is the doctor’s hopelessness not a priori, anticipating the diagnostic, guiding the choice of symptoms, accumulating the most heterogenous proofs? If the teaching of philosophy—philosophy therefore—is a bad health, is the diagnostic itself borne in a healthy manner? Impossible here, since the doctor and the patient are, as philosophers, the “same”. The philosophical circle, more or less open, gives lieu to a therapeutic circle: a doctor-philosopher represents a patient-philosopher for another doctor, etc. Everything is an indication [indice], nothing is proof; everything is presentiment and suspicion, nothing can be demonstrated nor really raised to the state of symptom and analyzed: it is thus that the philosopher-doctor achieves destroying the patient and undermining themself. But the problem is yet another…

  3. Believing to describe the real state of the teaching of philosophy, invoking Marx as a reality principle is the description—philosophy itself like all of the therapeutic circle—that is a symptom in another view. All these phenomena are nothing but the auto-description of the malaise on the mode whereof philosophy is exercised and lives. They all prove at most that the doctor is more or less unwell [malade] than the patient [le malade].

            From philosophy, always more philosophy… Here is without doubt the true danger. But is it a political, or “productical” (philosophy reduced to the simulation of politics) danger? or indeed simply the most internal law, the secret of the world, i.e., the world of philosophy? The golden age of spontaneous philosophy and all-philosophy is in front of us…

            We who are so hopeless, what have we done with philosophy? What have we done by philosophizing? As much as not being born, would it not have been better to not philosophize? But the problem is yet another… Since this description supposes what is now in question: philosophy’s allegedly “unavoidable” validity for thinking the real, the real state-of-affairs of teaching, of the teaching of philosophy…; this strange sufficiency that is disguised by the name of “philosophy” …


II — Critiques of the Diagnostic’s Presupposeds (Philosophy as Science)

  1. Every “philosophy”, not only the contemporary ones, has always wanted to be a “science” and has always defined a finally univocal or unitary concept of science. But it is not sure that science accepts being an under-philosophy or tolerates being thought by it. The philosophical ideal of becoming-science is an illusion: becoming-science has never been authentic “scientificity”.

  2. The will to appresentation without remainder is the philosophical ideal of science, it is not science itself. Science does not manifest through presence or transcendence, but through the immanence alone reduced to itself; and it does not manifest without remainder or on the mode of the “total” but on a mode described elsewhere as that of the “individual”.

  3. The distinction of the formal and the historical-material, of the categorial generality and determination where the real is comprehended in a historical mode, is itself interior to philosophy and should be displaced by the deployment of the most radical phenomenal reality of determination. If this should be in effect sought from the Marxian side, it is our task to render it finally really irreducible to any possible philosophy and capable of determining the philosophico-pedagogic circle through and through. Science is this instance of an absolutely real or “individual” determination.

  4. Whatever their relations be (interiority, exteriority, and their combinations), philosophy and teaching are inseparable. Philosophy is even the only experience of thought that elevates teaching to the state of essence of the real or of an ingredient of this essence. Teaching, i.e., the aid to transcendence as decision in view of knowledge and as identification to knowledge. In contrast, to the essence of science, i.e., sciences, teaching does not belong.

  5. Philosophy, that wants to be the indivisible and sometimes offers itself to the undecidable, is by essence divided and duplicated [dédoublée]; and teaching as well. Science does not proceed by division, but is founded on the radical experience of indivision as “individual”.


Man and the Principle of Sufficient Pedagogy

            Within the sphere of philosophical determination, there is only a relative Unteachable. It is called “thought”, as an exit outside the pedagogico-centric circle and an entry into its essence. There is never the really absolute impossibility to teaching. The deconstruction of the pedagogical relation continues to presuppose that the pedagogical illusion (here, that of the teaching of philosophy) belongs as “unavoidable” to the reality of philosophy and its pedagogy. Such an “interruption” of the pedagogical or therapeutic circle remains included in its unitary and sufficient becoming. The blockage of the power-to-teach and the will to appresentation without remainder or the idealization of the pupil [élève] supposed knowing is said “absolute”, but it dissimulates that it is only relative-absolute and that, in any event, it still works in an ultimate manner under pedagogico-philosophical authority and sufficiency. Even when pedagogy is hopeless and overwhelms its “small equipment”, it remains placed under the authority of a Principle of sufficient pedagogy, and pedagogical sufficiency supports all its tries at auto-limitation. Philosophy has the hobby of cultivating the poisonous beauties of pedagogical ressentiment, and of enjoying the bitterness that accompanies the de jour failure of every teaching—its failure, i.e., its manner of continuing even when alleges this “absolute” unsuccess.

            The dissolution or deconstruction of the pedagogical relation is “real” in its order. But these are phenomena of the “superstructure” if we can say. They should be related to their determination, this time absolutely real: scientific and no longer philosophical. The pedagogical relation is not only originary, autoposed and therefore unavoidable like the real itself, as philosophy believes: it is the unitary illusion, that of the existence of an unavoidable pedagogico-centrism. It is firstly determinable by the last instance, i.e., by science: not by its local historical knowledges, but by its “posture”, that of a radical access, but in the last instance only, to the real. It is under this form that it really determines and transforms this relation, i.e., outside of its historico-metaphysical effectivity. It is the veritable “exit” out of the deadly pedagogical relation: the discovery that there is no exit to be made, that the essence of man was never determined by it, that teaching is always “second”, unreal or unilateralized in relation to man as subject of science; that they will never have been a pedagogical animal, but that they will have been real before their disjunction into master and pupil. Real causality or order no longer have the form of a relation, but of a last instance, and they are of man themself over the pedagogical relation, over their disjunction and their suffering rather than the inverse.

            What can I learn? What can I teach? What are my interests in the pedagogical relation? These questions are fundamental for a philosophical critique of pedagogical reason, they are no longer so for a real and not only philosophical critique of this reason. The usage maxims of pedagogical reason in view of man as the last end are in reality content with once again submitting man to philosophical teleologies and the “interested” goals of pedagogy. Through their essence at least, man is perhaps not interested in pedagogy and philosophy. They are rather the “last instance” that really determines the decisions and positions that make the circle of pedagogical reason.

            In lieu of alleging to transform man by education—an old philosophico-occidental chimera that gives lieu to all the slippages, failures, and violences—we would do well to firstly transform the modes of learning and teaching, as a function, not of “man” in general, but of their radical finitude that makes it so that they do not have their essence in something else—“education”—but in themself, i.e., as a finite subject of the scientific posture, and that, from there only or in the last instance, determines pedagogical Reason by bearing it in the form of a “non-pedagogy”, of a non-pedagogical “relation” where the pedagogical relation is not more than a particular determination. We will thus suspend the Principle of sufficient pedagogy, i.e., the pretention, of a philosophical origin, that education has the power to really determine man in their essence. There is a pedagogical form of the division of labor—it is the master-pupil division—, this does not entail denying it, but putting it back in its place, which is second, and in its order, which is derivative.