Alienation and Its Antidotes


Alienation and Its Antidotes:
Anthony Paul Smith on the thought of François Laruelle

Ffirstlightrançois Laruelle is one of the most trenchant thinkers today. With his “non-philosophy,” he offers us explosive techniques for ferreting out the self-alienating forces at the very heart of our thought and world. His method, however, is not yet another exercise in personal actualization and social positivity. It may sow seeds of utopianism; but its seeds are soaked in a clear-eyed pessimism. It may reveal a universe of promise; but it is an unmistakably black universe. The overall effect is of a strange yet acutely vital form of life, thought, and practice.

Anthony Paul Smith, Ph.D., is the preeminent translator of Laruelle’s French works into English. He is assistant professor in the Religion Department of La Salle University, in Philadelphia. As indicated by the title of his recent book, Ecologies of Thought: Thinking Nature in Philosophy, Theology, and Ecology, Anthony works at the intersection of several disciplines, including philosophy, non-philosophy, theology, religious studies, and scientific ecology.

The workshop will combine presentation of concepts with lively group discussion.

Time: September 23, Saturday, from 10am-3pm.
Cost: $95
Place: Cultureworks, 1315 Walnut St, Suite 320, Philadelphia, PA 19107


5 thoughts on “Alienation and Its Antidotes

  1. For me, Anthony Paul Smith’s recent publication “ Laruelle’s Principles of Non-Philosophy, A Critical Introduction and Guide” has been indispensable in helping get a grip on Laruelle’s often difficult territory—this is essential reading, especially for any new readers interested in Glenn’s Non-Buddhism project.

    @ Glenn–SNB got a face lift… I like it, looks good–the font seems larger, more clear, easier on my tired eyes. Thanks.

  2. Thanks, Danny. The old WordPress template that I was using was long outdated and no longer providing updates or offering support. So the change was long overdue.

    Yes, Laruelle is very difficult, so we need all the help we can get. Of all of Laruelle’s explicators, I find Smith the most valuable. Even in a book like Laruelle’s Principles of Non-Philosophy, he goes beyond explaining Laruelle’s thought to doing something creative with that thought. And doing something is, after all, the entire point. I am working through Laruelle’s Principles of Non-Philosophy pretty intensely at the moment for my book. I think there are a couple of crucial but easily overlooked or misunderstood aspects that serve as rough keys to his thought. One is that it is, as he says, “non-epistemological.” He is not making claims about reality, truth, meaning, and being. He is making claims, rather, about what philosophy says about those matters, or better how philosophy thinks about them. Specifically, he is exposing the ways in which any given x-system, posing as a form of materialism, like science, and hence claiming knowledge in those areas, eventually lapses into a system of perpetually self-referential idealism. I am using his thought, for instance, to show x-buddhism’s relationship to its self-articulated real, or knowledge of things as they are. Another key, I think, is to recognize the importance of the axiomatic function in Laruelle. Laruelle believes that the only way to avoid lapsing into the circularity that defines such thought is to permit the real of some system (things as they are or whatever) to be given without the endless and endlessly determinate network of postulates that aims to give it. In working with x-buddhist “real” concepts like emptiness, no-self, dependent origination, desire-pain, etc., I am discovering just how disruptive, transformative, and fertile this move is. This is the third key to Laruelle’s thought, I think: it has to be applied to, unified with, another system of thought. It might be interesting and valuable in certain ways in and of itself, but it doesn’t come alive until connected or “conjugated” with some other form of thought. It is this aspect, the “buddhofictional” aspect, I think, that has never been fully developed on this blog. Some solid steps have been taken in that direction, but there is still a lot of work to do.

    Anyway, thanks for your participation on the blog.

  3. Hi Matthias,
    Schön von Dir zu hören. I’m afraid not. I am very old-fashioned when it comes to education, or even just to dialogue and conversation. I find the presence of even the tiniest technological contraption to be an obstacle to intense and sustained engagement–with the material and with one another. To give you a sense of the degree of my distaste, I mean even pens and paper, markers and a white board, often even lights. This attitude, or maybe it’s a neurosis, has limited my offerings for a couple of decades now, I know. Sorry about that. I myself have participated in a couple of online seminars and found them cold and soulless. Thanks for your interest, though. Too bad you’re not in the Philadelphia area. We’re having a great time in these seminars.

  4. It is interesting that there is enough non-philosophy in x-buddhism’s own literature. Concepts are actively destructed, as a practice.

    It all boils down to end-goal(s), though. Either with laruelle’s or x-buddhism’s. It is recognized it is all made-up-stuff, one way or other. The key is, what made up stuff captures/solves all the questions/confusions. What framework answers all questions, with no room for doubts…when one uses critical thought. Not because someone says.
    Is there such a state one can arrive at, where one is perfectly sane/logical, yet 100% without any doubts? Even if such a state is illusion, if one could abide in it 24/7 it is omniscient.

    Confusion, particularly the unknowing/cluelessness is horrible to live with. Even some religious bigots have it better.

    Where is laruelle going, if he does not have a view on epistemology. Or rather, what are his views…let them bare and let us apply his own framework on his ideas.

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