Laruelle on citation, why non-philosophers hate citation

While I was at my program I found a passage in Philosophie non-standard which finally offered an insight into why non-philosopher’s hate citation and more or less disclosed the official position of non-philosophy towards citation. Now that I have had some free time I finally got around to translating it. I’m a total noob at translation and made not-so-insignificant use of google translate and linguee (but only as a last resort to the extent that I could). I had particular difficulty with the passages on method [moyen], memory [mémoire], and remembrance. Anyways, straight from the horses mouth:

A poet, Daumal, has given a key to this work if we are to understand our word “superposition” in a quantic manner: “to be human is a superposition of vicious circles.” We will take this unique citation for ourselves merely adding that humans debate themselves in the circles of hell to try to break themselves free. What the hell is the scope of this text? We will note a harrowing lack of exactly these citations and of a bibliography as well as a harrowing excess: that of an exceedingly complex vocabulary. Further, there are theoretical means and terminologies, mobilized with as little citation as possible, which are practicable and useful. Hyper-information and hyper-communication have rendered them pointless and impractical—totally without relevance. Still, this systematic lack which we have established, that prefers objects to citations, is perceived as solipsist and irritating and something to be resisted. Besides that it is a university technique of staging [mise en scène] and exhibiting knowledge which serves to assure a certain recognition and position in research, this “taking stock” is privileged in lieu of invention, it represents the aspect of wasteful and unbridled consumption of theory often undertaken by weak academic research. We do not practice the ecology of preserving memories, the precocity of philosophical utterances and the caretaking [gardiennage] of high words. We care for the products of philosophical terroirs only to the extent that their arrangement is in accordance with our style and that we can enjoy original “products” from their being-thought. Citation is a secondary method and its sole purpose is to demand consumption. But it is diverse, the culture has several ways of burying its deaths and exhibiting them as “last minute” testimonies. There is the academic trampling of the past, lazy and scholarly, its form mastered by Deleuze and Derrida who have been known to make this into a real technique of thought which leads philosophy to a nostalgia for its end, but perhaps there is  also a procedure of continuous transformation of its problems, our method. The generic procedure of forcing that we practice underdetermines all these sources, merely occasional, of discourse and does not attach to them anything in particular. It is less interested in their memory, a remembrance which in this context is not a method or means, which in the future-to-come arrives and (re)establishes these methods. Rather, it is more tempted by the hermeneutics of the problems in these texts which carry the old spirit of religious observance. The choice is arbitrary and menaced by a citational explosion, which is another reason for its rejection. Assailed by the multiplicity of possible references, we will otherwise take pains to go beyond these grand names which we serve to highlight their anchoring in the ocean of metaphysics and to the rigor of a “fixed sky.” We have therefore cabotaged along these coasts only when it suits our needs, firing a broadside for the sake of recognition here and there, sometimes to Kant, now to Nietzsche or some other solitary navigator, past loves and recent admirations as well like Deleuze or Badiou. Regardless, we are ready to recognize our debts which a certain army of creditors is entitled to demand of us. However, if they want to become known, if they want to identify themselves, this crowd will probably become discouraged by their own accord. (Philosphie non-standard, Laruelle, pp. 9-10.  compare to the original version here.)

Obviously everything within reason. The going standard of non-philosophers seems to reproduce philosophical concepts through explanation and translation of philosophical “material” into non-philosophical language rather than citation followed by analysis. Dualysis and cloning are the specific methods of rendering philosophical material as a way of “deactivating” it, i.e., divorcing it from its systematic presentation, divesting it of its ontologizing or objectivating powers, and disabling its persuasive efficacy. This “under-determines” it and lets it accord to its “determination-in-the-last-instance” which is roughly the philosophical term or concepts least common denominator or generic signification. On the internet, scientific and mathematical concepts are explained with hyperlinks to relevant articles. In print, explication is typically done at the debut of the text in the form of a short glossary, something I find quite appealing and facile but the diversity of such glossaries and the inconsistency of the definitions is a little startling. However, hermeneutics and analysis are simply interdit. The ONPHI has a very minimal glossary of approved(?) terms considering the maddening profusion of non-philosophical terms that appear to be created on the fly by Laruelle without definition, especially in his later works (e.g. determination-before-the-first-humaneity, the various principles of insufficient or sufficient something or another). Whatever.

At some point I’ll present my thoughts on dualysis and cloning after I finish The Principles of Non-Philosophy.

Edit, 10.1.14: Rocco Gangle’s excellent introduction to Philosophies of Difference: A critical Introduction to non-philosophy also has great commentary and certain “rules of thumb” for dealing with non-philosophy (which for someone who is not Laruelle seems to be limited to adequate translation).

Laruelle’s style involves–for key theoretical, and not merely idiosyncratic, reasons–a rejection of the standard scholarly apparatus of citation and reference. After all, a new form of thought creates its own distinctive conventions and practices. Rather than attempting to overcome or remedy this essential aspect of Laruelle’s thought, I have avoided interposing any second-order commentary that would purport to clarify and explain Laruelle’s frequent allusions and references. I take it that Laruelle says what he means and means what he says; there is no need to supplement his critical analysis of Difference and his outline of a non-philosophical theory of philosophical decision with additional explanatory notes or commentary. These would only clutter a thoroughly clear albeit difficult exposition. Thus I have in effect duplicated Laruelle’s own practices of taking over certain technical terms from the philosophers he engages–Derrida’s ‘strictions’ for example, or the ‘historial’ in Heidegger–without further discussion. I have made every attempt to use terms in each case that are current in the relevant Anglophone scholarship. Laruelle’s claims are explicit and his articulations exact, his argumentation highly compressed and yet nearly always precisely adequate to its ense. There is little room for synopsis or explanation that would not misrepresent or over-simplify (not to say overcomplicate) the real difficulties of the matter at issue. I have aimed at nothing more than providing an English version of Philosophies of Difference and its internally consistent textual and conceptual practices. (Philosophies of Difference, p. xi)

Alright, if you say so. I think this commentary is extremely rigorous and Gangle’s translation is obviously superb–he is much smarter than me–but I can’t help but remember Laruelle punning off of Lyotard and Derrida’s name in Philosophy and Non-Philosophy to produce “Derritard” and then asserting that this had some sort of transcendental meaning. This might be Taylor Adkins’ doing, bringing out a more ludic aspect of Laruelle, but it is there all the same, and it is wonderfully obscene.


3 thoughts on “Laruelle on citation, why non-philosophers hate citation

  1. As a non non-philosopher or an amateur non-philosopher or even a non- amateur- non philosopher (I have no academic education in philosophy ) I wander through the labyrinths of academia seeking what I need, like a greedy child grabbing up sweets (some of which are poison no doubt ) I find many more edible ones in footnotes and by hunting down citations, which almost always turn out to be more relevant to my quest. I call this the hunter gatherer style of doing philosophy.
    Anyway your texts here and your papers on Academia edu are great resources for me, if intentionally short on citations. Thanks for including my effort among the posts you like. I am very pleased.

  2. Thank you! My resources are very sparse right now, I’m in the midst of the same process of “hunting and gathering” sources. My writing strategy at the moment is to try to not leave a trail of recyclable citations that other people can use. I much prefer hyperlinks because it cites in the manner of a proper name that obliges the reader to expand their knowledge on a person or a subject. Its somewhat vengeful but I think it obliges summary, exchange and explication on the part of people who truly want to engage. It allows for a kind of “literalism” and a more flat, encyclopedic or anti-hermeneutic reading.

    Danial Whistler talks about this new literalism and trend to go against citation in his essay “The New Literalism: Reading after Grant’s Schelling” (you can find it on, I would post it here but wordpress seems weird about links…). He has a very interesting idea of a “tautegorical” reading of philosophy. I haven’t read the article in its entirety yet but it raises some interesting questions about what it even means to interpret and critique (also dead) philosophically.

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