Review: Mystique non-philosophique à l'usage des contemporains

Hugues Choplin, trans. Sylvia

Mystique non-philosophique à l'usage des contemporains, by François Laruelle, Paris: L’Harmattan, 2007, 283 pp.

            Non-philosophical mystique: François Laruelle here invests non-philosophy’s device—finalized in Principes de la non-philosophie (1996)—in a specific object: mystique. His problem is not to requalify mystical experience or to establish a new mystical philosophy: this would be, from his point of view, to remain a prisoner to the law of Philosophy [la philosophy]: the couple of contraries. How to therefore work on mystique—a material here composed by “Christian mystique, Neoplatonist philosophy, and gnosis” (4th cover)—without leading back to the constitutive couple of philosophizing and, as it happens, the couple of the soul and God? How to therefore liberate mystique from the very regime of philosophy? From Laruelle’s non-philosophical point of view, the only possible solution consists of relating not directly to mystique (in philosophy’s manner) but to the very couple (or circle) that constitutes philosophy and mystique, to propose a practice itself non-circular or uni-lateral. Such are the stakes of this work.

            These results will surprise those who do not know the liberty of the non-philosophical practice. Does Laruelle not come to describe “the new Christ-subject” (p. 25)? Does he not designate philosophy itself as Hell? We will carefully keep from too spontaneously interpreting these concepts and, in particular, from reattaching them to a new type of faith or a new version of Christianity that would come to be opposed to philosophy. If they have the color of Christianity or mystique (but only the color!), these concepts are, in effect, essentially structured by the “non-philosophical formalism” (p. 12) and by the uni-lateral relation that it renders possible between a specific subject, here described as Christ-subject, and philosophy itself, here considered as Hell—but other, less provocative, descriptions would be just as legitimate from the very point of view of Laruellian non-philosophy.

            What does this work therefore bring to the latter? Maybe mystique allows it to account for the dilation of the subject operated by non-philosophy. Like many contemporaries, Laruelle finds in religion the occasion of instituting a new (Christ-)subject, but its specificity is, in effect, due to the instance in face of which it is instituted: no longer self (Henry) or the Other—as the other person [autrui] (Lévinas), call (Marion), or event (Badiou)—but Philosophy itself (and therefore the philosophy of the self and the Other).

            It remains that the work is probably worthy, firstly, by the personal practice that it should be worth. By testifying to the various materials that Laruelle privileges (mystique is thus combined with psychoanalysis and quantum mechanics!) and the multiplicity of his conceptual inventions (“micro-mystique”, “iclone”[1]…). Perhaps the writing of the work finally engages a musical practice of the philosophical and mystical material—a musical practice of Hell! —: “barely ‘a’ book, just an open rhapsody of fictioning [fictionnantes] free variations…” (p. 30).


[1] [trans.]: portmanteau of icon (icône) and clone