Speculative Realism is synonymous with the rejection of ‘correlationism’, or the Parmenidean Axiom, which claims that thinking and being are irrevocably bound. The formula of correlationism, according to Meillassoux, is that ‘to be’ always means ‘to be for-thought’ or ‘to be given to thought’. This rejection can take the form of a rigorous immanent critique of this formula, as it does in Meillassoux, or of a flat-out denial of this problem as poorly stated, as with the approaches of Levi and Graham.
How does non-philosophy deal with correlationism? Like Levi and Graham, it also rejects correlationism as a false problem, yet it does so on rigorous grounds. For non-philosophy, correlationism is merely an intra-philosophical contention, whereas the former is more broadly concerned with the structure of philosophy in general, be it correlationist, object-oriented, or whatever.
The target of non-philosophy is not primarily the correlation or amphiboly of thought and being, but rather, what Laurelle calls the Principle of Sufficient Philosophy, or the philosopher’s spontaneous faith. The structure or formula of this principle, which is also called the Philosophical Decision, is far more complex than that of correlation, and attempts to provide an explanatory hypothesis for all philosophical thought. What is this complex structure?
It can roughly be broken down into five elements or ‘levels’, within which immanence and transcendence are hybridized or ‘mixed’:
Structure of Decision
1) Immanence 1: Ontic-Empirical level – physical, phenomenal, a posteriority; empirical datum.
Philosophy begins by taking the given world, the immanence of the world, as its object.
2) Transcendence 1: Ontological-Metaphysical level – ideal, a priori condtions of the empirical; transcendental faktum.
Yet philosophy does not passively or uncritically take the given immanence of the world at face value, merely dwelling within it or ‘taking it for granted’. Rather, the first properly philosophical gesture occurs when we attempt to account for the givenness of the given, or the conditions under which the given is given. Immanence here is made immanent to a transcendent set of standards that are not themselves immanent in the world.
3) Immanence 2: Transcendental Synthesis – immanent synthesis of these two levels, their reciprocal givenness in a third term.
Yet philosophy would do no better if it ceased here, feeling comfortable that it has discovered the conditions of givenness. The problem now is of accounting for the relation between empirical and a priori levels. Otherwise, it is hard to understand why the conditions of the given are more than generalities or statistical regularities derived from the given, or ‘traced from the empirical’ as Deleuze says. Philosophy now must posit a reciprocity or bilateral givenness of condition and conditioned, their mutual immanence or co-implication. Here, the immanent datum and transcendent faktum are the terms of a transcendental synthesis such that immanence and transcendence become inseparable moments of a dyadic unity or unification. In this synthesis, the empirical datum or given is taken as presupposing its a priori condition, while that condition or faktum posits that which it conditions. The empirical, in this way, is self-given or auto-donated by way of presupposing that which gives it, while the ideal is self-posited by way of positing itself as presupposed, insofar as it posits the given object as given-by-way-of its conditioning or givenness.
4) Transcendence 2: Transcendental Indivision – transcendent unity of the third term as absolute, unlimited by the synthetic relation.
Here, however, philosophy must own up to its own hybridization of immanence and transcendence. Philosophy began within the immanence of the given, which it then bound to transcendental givenness. Yet in order to perform this amphibolation, philosophy had to posit a second immanence that tied together immanence and transcendence, and this is the immanence of transcendental synthesis. This third ‘synthetic’ term, as co-immanence of empirical and ideal, is taken as both the intrinsic synthesis of these terms, and an extrinsic unity that they divide, but which remains indivisible or is in other words not exhausted by this division. The immanence of immanence and transcendence is at once immanent in their division and transcendent to it. Here we face the proper moment of the ‘absolute’ or without-relation, which is expressed in the relations of given and givenness but which is already-given without these dyadic separations. It is the One that takes no heed of philosophy’s separating and synthesizing activity. Whereas the first immanence remains immanent to the hybrid or mixture, the second immanence is transcendent to this mixture, even in giving it.
5) Decision – the philosophical separation and synthesis of transcendence and immanence as sufficient to immanence as-One or transcendent unity.
It is only in this final moment of Decision that philosophy is properly consummated as such; yet this moment is also co-constitutive of the others, which do not formally coalesce until this final moment. This final element is far simpler than the others, and amounts to the philosophical gesture of claiming authority to speak of the absolute as-One, or claiming the sufficiency of philosophical thought to that absolute. This sufficiency does not necessarily take the form of the arrogant claim to have ‘access to the absolute’, nor the ‘weak correlationist’ claim that we cannot know the absolute even while we can think it, nor the ‘strong correlationist’ claim that there is no being without-relation to thought, or in other words, that thought itself is absolute; although these are all instances of Decision. Decision can equally take the form of the claim that thought can think the world as it would be or as it is without-relation (in other words, realism). The characteristic gesture of decision is the hypostatization of the absolute, the implicit or explicit claim that the without-relation is indeed something without relation to other things, especially thought. This nonetheless implies that the absolute has a relation to itself, or is something with a definite unity or ontological consistency, whether or not we can directly ‘know’ or describe this consistency. By way of this gesture, philosophy poses as the true witness of the absolute, in its presence or in its withdrawal, and thereby limits its activity through this criterion of sufficiency. Philosophy, by way of decision, claims to give the absolute, even if this mode of givenness is unknowability or the closure of thought upon itself. Philosophy falls short of thinking a radical immanence that is given-without-givenness, that is One-without-unity and Separate from the transcendental amphiboly without being given as separate by this amphiboly. Philosophy betrays its insight into a radically separate and already given immanence at the fourth level, by making this immanence nonetheless given by way of philosophy.
Non-philosophy begins by separating radical immanence from its hypostatization in philosophical sufficiency, claiming that as without-relation, it is not therefore a self-same, self-given and self-posited unity or entity, but rather One-without-unity; it claims that philosophy is incapable of giving us the absolute in any mode of givenness, be it knowable or unknowable, thinkable or unthinkable; individual objectality or preindividual field; the same or the different. Yet this suspension of the sufficiency of philosophy in giving the absolute allows us to posit philosophy itself as given by Real immanence, or the One.
If it is not yet clear, non-philosophy is aiming at more than a ‘critique’ or ‘rejection’ of correlationism. Correlationism is but one mode of many taken by Philosophical Decision, and non-philosophy aims to suspend Decision in general, not one amongst others. Realism is as much a ‘target’ of non-philosophy as correlationism. Yet here we must qualify what we mean by ‘target’: non-philosophy is certainly not, for all that, a ‘critique’ or ‘rejection’ of philosophy itself in favor of some crude scientism or vulgar materialism, positions which themselves rely upon Decisions. What non-philosophy aims to do is not to eliminate but to liberate philosophical thought, to raise the restrictions or limitations imposed by Decisional sufficiency. The most obvious form of such limitation is that every great Philosophical Decision rejects or invalidates all previous Decisions as sufficient unto the Real. It may appropriate or integrate elements of prior Decisions, or critically restructure them, but a given Decision is always monolithic; it always redefines what ‘counts’ as legitimate philosophy.
What non-philosophy does is put all Decisions on equal footing, such that their elements – concepts and their architecture and strategic deployments – become equivocal and non-exclusive materials for thought. Non-philosophy, rather than allowing Decision to exclude and reject the force of thought and its various creative manifestations, opens thought to a radically egalitarian theoretical praxis capable of working with radically incompatible philosophical materials. All concepts are welcome, so long as they leave their implication in Decisional sufficiency at the door.