Review: Une Biographie de l'homme ordinaire. Des Autorités et des minorités by François Laruelle

Serge Valdinoci, trans. Sylvia

from: Revue de Synthèse, IVe S., No. 2 (April-June 1987), pp. 306-8

François LARUELLE, Une Biographie de l'homme ordinaire. Des Autorités et des minorités. Paris, Aubier-Montaigne, 1985. 13.5 x 22, 256 p. (« Analyse et Raisons »).

            After Le Principe de minorité (1981), F. Laruelle this time synthetically, “systematically” (p. 5) presents his Philosophy II. In lieu of going to the One, he proceeds to the One “in its non-Greek test” (cf. cover jacket). It is not here a question of summarizing the work which is presented as a “treatise of human solitudes” (ibid.). Nevertheless, an absolute foyer appears with neatness from the first reading: Laruelle is the anti-Greek. And anti-historical more generally, we will see. How to conceive that unilaterality “may cease to be a relation to […] that it may become an in itself”, here is the nerve of the work (p. 63). What is more, it is not a question of anesthetizing this “immediate given” in returning to Parmenides, etc. Since the One is “unilaterality or irreversibility” (p. 63). Laruelle’s thought exits from philosophical historiography, more profoundly it excludes next history of philosophy. In effect, the One is only a principle in an irreversible sense, where the principle does not pose, does not re-flect, does not re-give hallucinatorily in the mirror of its consequences which are the world, History, language, State, etc.—i.e., the “majorities”. The principle is thus deprincipialized.

            F. Laruelle thus radically sheds light on the philosophical “decision”—Greco-occidental philosophy's decision—whose blind puissance governs all of the history of philosophy: it is this decision that imposes the reflexive vicious circle, a mixed in which in the name of a principial arché, “facts and givens” come reflected in their essence (p. 27). The empirico-transcendental circle is only the last figure of the “decided” philosophical circle, which so viciously works all the majoritarian universals. The circle is “the unitary” mixed of the “logical” genre (p. 37) which is abouched to politics, to sex, to language itself; the “logical” fabric of the unitary with the faith of the coalman. And the unitary is not the One (cf. the Unary in Principe de minorité). A “rigorous science of man” (Introduction) should know to disperse, retrieve the individuel, i.e., the commencement, or finite subjectivity as One. The test of Occam’s razor is, we see, absolute.

            The originality of the proposal is highly great: Heidegger, the last, has researched the Greek arché in which the intrinsic decline of our times rings. This arché is still nevertheless thetic and only difficultly hides the cultural projection of the metaphysical synthetic a priori—prohibited from the city by Kant. F. Laruelle is beyond ontological differences and repetitions. The unary unilateral statutorily precedes the theses, the secondary and lateral returns.

            This step authorizes the edification of the idea of “transcendental science of individuals” (p. 5). Ordinary man is the finally uni-vocal truth of the Husserlian Lebenswelt (lifeworld): in Husserl, the man of the lifeworld is both last and to be transcendentally reduced (it is a natural man). So Laruelle clarifies the equivocal and orders a rigorous science of man. But the scope of his proposal can be expressed otherwise: against the reflexive and circular space of representation where the subjective attitudes of nominalism, conceptualism, and realism are “decided”, Laruelle founds a transcendental realism: an irreflexive of the “last instance”; it is thus the stature of the transcendental of the moderns finds its absolute measure in the “real” or “in the” finite “One”. Such is, it seems to us, the focus of the book of Laruelle, a book at a time magistral and ceaselessly rebounding, philosophical in his antiphilosophy. Une Biographie de l'homme ordinaire's introduction although contains in it alone a first version of the book and one should carefully meditate on it commencing by the five theorem-porticos which legitimate the radical Indifference (p. 7) of ordinary man, this mystique by ir-reflection, athetism, and in-division of self (p. 66).

            We forgive ourselves, in this report, for not rendering justice to the four chapters that succeed. We will have wanted to exhibit before all in-division against partitions; that which is, in sum, respecting the author's “decision” of the author. We continue thus briefly in indivision: chapter I “describes” (p. 7) “who the minorities are” (p. 38) while chapter II distinguishes “the authorities” (p. 83) from the horizon of the World, which is not an illusion (p. 110). But the world denies the One and this by the efficiency of the (not) One which follows in truth of the One (p. 114). The point of view of finitude always pre-cedes authority. After this putting in place, chapter III (“Ordinary Mystique”, p. 103) examines, by the righteousness of a “real critique” (p. 144) the figures of the illusion. There is here a veritable treatise of the hallucinations where the effective real consequently is derealized in patho-logy. Finally, chapter IV (“Ordinary Pragmatics”, p. 179) is a strong attempt to think mystical acting which pre-cedes, absolutely. The undivided One, after having been disengaged from the unitary illusion as world, is essentially given (p. 225) in finite practice as non-thetic transcendence, non-positional Other (p. 224). There is an immanent principle of acting, irreflexive—unduplicable—, the World, which is not an illusion, is the signal/support (p. 235) of sense (p. 243) or of the non-thetic Other.

            It is assuredly a great book that fully justifies the author’s warning: “There is ‘matter to be critiqued’, but one wishes that it does not dissimulate the reality of the enterprise” (p. 6). The critique should justify as much as the work it will target, under pain of hallucination. What is more, the writing is sober, racy. The ensemble anyway respires puissance and serenity; these rendered totally effective by the most acute theoretic internal vigilance and exigency, the most sceptral, the “realest”.