The Arena Under the Dome


Matthias Mauderer


My first encounter with the non-buddhist project was a traumatic experience. After a long  struggle to find a spirituality that suits my needs, I began to settle in to some sort of naturalized buddhism. The settledness felt good, for I was relieved of constantly thinking about a way of life for myself. I should have known better. Since my teens, I always had a hammer with me which sooner or later smashed my ideological dreams. There were times when the hammer hanged on my belt but I could not find it, just like searching one’s glasses when they are in fact on the nose.
But at that time, the non­-buddhist project reminded me implacably of my hammer. I used it cautiously but constantly. So, did this experience liberate me of my constant search for a safe haven? Wide of the mark! I first turned to Christianity (yes, you read it correctly) and soon jumped on the philosophy bandwagon, hoping to find my safe haven in an atheistic naturalism. While deeply hoping for quietude, everything I established was smashed again, leaving me in more than ruins, something like a black hole lurking beyond the ruin. Nothing was left.
And that’s where I am now, trying to live my life without living beyond my means. I am still haunted by a lot of questions: How should I live my life? Should I engage socially and  politically? If yes, what should be my compass? Do I need a worldview like naturalism? Isn’t everything relative in the end?
To engage these questions, I am trying to put into practice ideas from Laruelle’s nonstandard philosophy. In what follows I will try to explain how they are of help to my engagement with life.

The Arena Under the Dome

Awakening from a deep slumber, I find myself in an arena abundant with ideas, philosophies, religions, thoughts. But something is different than in the haven of my slumber. Here, in the arena, it is impossible to project one’s immanent thoughts to the outside. All ideas created in its inside share the fate of not being able to break through the dome canopying the arena.
And what naturally comes along with a multitude of ideas under a black dome is the fact that  those particles not only bounce into the dome (only to bounce back), they also bounce into each other. It is important to realize that these two kinds of events have different effects.
Hitting the dome effectuates a bouncing back. That’s it. But when particles are hitting each other, something intimate happens. Their shells get liquefied and begin to exchange their contents with each other. Once those particles have come to realize that getting intimate with each other is much more fruitful than mindlessly bouncing into the dome, the practice begins.


To make clear what this practice could look like, I will use some examples from my own experience under the dome (which may be, in Laruelle’s language, the border to the black universe).
As I said in the introduction, I gave Christianity the opportunity to become a safe haven for me. It did not succeed. There is tons of literature in my library (I am exaggerating a little) on the rationality of theism, respectively, atheism. But despite my willingness to let both views bounce into each other, it was the view of atheism that convinced me more. I would like to emphasize that in the last instance, echoing from beyond the dome, both of these views are equal. They are equal in being both immanent thoughts with the lack of transcendental safeguard.
So have we arrived at relativism? No. Maybe a relativism of sorts. Relating beyond the dome, both theism and atheism are made relative. But within the immanent grounding of the arena, we have immanent tools (like rational, critical discourse) that obviously give us the possibility to choose between the one or the other view. Another example would be the diverging views of naturalism and creationism. By looking at my experience of the world, I simply cannot make sense of a transcendental designer. What I am seeing and experiencing can best be explained by evolution.
So yes, I am taking sides, but in a disempowered style. I am open to new findings, arguments, experiences, observations, always expecting to be surprised at what may break into the immanence of my thoughts.
I don’t know if I got Laruelle’s idea right. Maybe I failed. But from my point of view it seems to be imperative that when modeling all the stuff in the arena, we have to choose models that make sense to us and put them to use.
Always reminding ourselves that we should not live beyond our immanent means.

Matthias Mauderer is a man who does not want to tell much about himself. He tries his best to make it through life, always having had problems to determine exactly who he is respectively to see a meaning in such a determination. He simply is who he is, holds down a job as social pedagogue, loves making and hearing music, is fond of thinking about everything else and spends as much time as possible with his family.

Copyright link for the photography:

6 responses to “The Arena Under the Dome”

  1. Matthias Mauderer Avatar
    Matthias Mauderer

    The most interesting section for me on which I’d like to think deeper about is the ‘practice’ – part. My choice for naturalism and atheism in a disempowered manner of course leaves room for other views. And there is, as I said, no transcendental safeguard that I am right. But as I am saying above, I cannot deny that both naturalism and atheism make more sense to me from my experience and my (critical / rational) thinking about it than other views like theism and creationism.

    I am not really sure if in this move I remain dedicated to the non-philosophical style. So at least for me it remains an open question how diverging philosophical views may be put into practice in a lived non-philosophy.

    I think every human being also holds views that after reflection make more sense than others.

    So my main question to readers is if it is inappropriate for a lived non-philosophy to (maybe lightly) be more convinced by certain philosophical views. My answer would be that only in the last instance, all views are equal. No view has a sole access to the Real. But in the instances before the last instance, where the great feast happens, it is imperative to have different views, and this entails that some views/models (philosophical or otherwise) convince us more than others.

  2. dgozli Avatar

    I could relate to this essay. The way Mauderer describes his relation to Christianity, Atheism, and Buddhism has the quality of wanderer looking for home. The desire is for a place that is good enough to settle in. Is there a belief system (or a form of life) that can bring this home-like quality to us wanderers? There seems to be a (relatively concealed) discourse–the wanderer’s discourse–working behind the scenes. We look at the Christian discourse, the Atheist discourse, the Buddhist discourse, but all these explicitly sought and formulated discourses are embedded within the wanderer’s discourse. Isn’t it exactly this wanderer’s discourse that renders Christianity, Atheism, Buddhism optional? Isn’t it the wanderer’s discourse that subjects those other discourses, those other belief systems, to such difficult (perhaps impossible) criteria? The worst-case scenario(?), for the wanderer who is searching for a home, is that s/he will have to continue wandering. But this worst-case scenario is, in fact, the preservation of his/her form of life as a wanderer, as someone who cannot settle.

  3. Matthias Mauderer Avatar
    Matthias Mauderer

    Dear Davood,

    thanks for or comment. At first I’d like to ask for clarification. You write:

    „Isn’t it the wanderer’s discourse that subjects those other discourses, those other belief systems, to such difficult (perhaps impossible) criteria?“

    Do you mean by this that the wanderer searching for home-like qualities in belief systems expects too much of these belief systems (like Christianity, Buddhism etc.)? I think everyone settling in a belief system (and there are many who are able to do this, or at least claim that they are able to do this) thinks having found such home-like qualities.

    I will use your metaphor of the wanderer to point in another direction. The wanderer’s discourse could be exactly the attitude Laruelle’s non-standard philosophy is about. The wanderer’s discourse disempowers all overshooting discourses who claim to represent the Real. So being a wanderer is an attitude, a refutation not to settle somewhere for the sake of absorbing the Real. So the one searching for home-like qualities, not being able to find them in any belief system, is on the preliminary stage to become a wanderer.

    You write:
    „Isn’t it exactly this wanderer’s discourse that renders Christianity, Atheism, Buddhism optional?“

    Here the subject is already in the wanderer’s attitude as outlined above (being a wanderer is an attitude, a refutation not to settle somewhere for the sake of absorbing the Real). This attitude renders all those systems (Christianity, Atheism, Buddhism) optional (relative) in relation to the Real.

    I hope this makes some sense.

  4. Matthias Mauderer Avatar
    Matthias Mauderer

    Just in case someone is interested in some older stuff I’ve written:

  5. Mark Avatar

    Hi Matthias, thanks for sharing. I’m confused by your remark “Relating beyond the dome, both theism and atheism are made relative.” Isn’t one point of non-philosophy to clarify that everything is within the dome, including transcendental claims? I wonder if the categories of articulated and unarticulated knowledge could be useful in keeping an eye on standard and non-standard philosophical claims.

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