One of the central problems throughout Mullarkey’s Post-Continental Philosohy: An Outline is if everything is immanence then it would only make sense that a philosophy of immanence itself would be, well, immanent. After having read Deleuze, Henry and Badiou and showing how each has a blind spot with regards to such an understanding of immanence, error and explanation–Badiou’s pure quantity and Henry’s pure quality supplement each other but end in monism, for one example–Mullarkey turns to examine the “non-philosophy” of Francois Laruelle, a figure whom I’ve never read a word until now (and which vacillates between very interesting/novel and sheer nonsense). This chapter is far more forgiving then the three previous chapters dealing with Deleuze, Henry and Badiou. Here’s Mullarkey quoting Laruelle from an article in Angelaki, “What Can Non-Philosophy do?”:
Non-Philosophy is not an intensified reduplication of philosophy, a meta-philosophy, but rather its simplification. It does not represent a change in scale with respect to philosophy, as though the latter was maintained for smaller elements. It is the “same” structure but in a more concentrated, more focused form (138).
Somewhat reminiscent of Foucault, as Mullarkey suggests, is one of Laruelle’s central claims: all philosophy/philosophical positions are ultimately circular because they rest upon a decision through which its whole structure is given all at once. For Laruelle, all of the terminology, grammar, neologisms etc of a philosophy show themselves all at once tautologically, rather than as an argumentative series. This circularity can only be overcome vis a vis non-philosophy, a move which literally draws out the movement of philosophy all the while “bracketing” philosophy. Continue reading →
Continuing with my newfound interest in Michel Henry via Mullarkey’s Post-Continental Philosophy, I was able to dig up one of Henry’s translated books over the weekend, I am the Truth: Toward a Philosophy of Christianity. In fact, the text I was actually trying to find in translation, The Essence of Manifestation, retails for $307, an $88 savings on the cover price, the translation of Marx: un philosophie de l’economie is equally un-affordable (the French version published by Gallimard is a far more affordable falling in the $30 range), ack. Stanford University Press published a relatively affordable translation of Genealogie de la psychoanalyse: Le commencement perdu—The Genealogy of Psychoanalysis—in the 90s in which Henry argues (according to the blurb) “the Freudian unconscious, far from constituting a radical break with the philosophy of consciousness, is merely the latest exemplar in a heritage of philosophical misunderstanding of the Cartesian cogito that interprets “I think, therefore I am” as “I represent myself, therefore I am” (in the classic interpretation of Heidegger, one of the targets of the book).” To this end, I found an interesting conversation with Henry from 2001 in Psychomedia:
Following his phenomenological thinking, the author shows how Freudian theory of the unconscious is actually the point of arrival of a long process of European thinking that began with “Cartesian doubt” and with Descartes’ idea that one’s sense of the “I” is the only certainty. This process, which combines reflections on the subject and a philosophy of life, basically continues in Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and in phenomenology. Starting from an analysis of Freud’s Project for a Scientific Psychology-to be considered a theory of subjectivity-the Author examines the role Freud gave to life drives: the foundations of the subject lie not in representations but in affects. He also underlines the “Schopenhauerian” limits of Freudian theory: Freud appears to have put too much emphasis on psychic representations instead of putting it on affect as the ultimate truth of the subject. The Author then concludes by examining the common ground between Freud and Marx, insofar as both insist on individuality and on the subjectivity of human life.
Finally, to continue all of this somewhat annoying but hopefully informative front matter/qualifications, Henry–as Mullarkey discusses for a couple of pages in Post-Continental Philosophy–apparently also published a book about Kandinsky as well. Anyway. this all seems very interesting. Onto more considerations of the “radical phenomenology” of Michel Henry… Continue reading →