Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge: Issue 36 (2020)

Post-Continental Naturalism: Equipollence between Science and Ontological Pluralism

Review by Ekin Erkan
The New Centre for Research & Practice

James, Ian. The Technique of Thought: Nancy, Laruelle, Malabou, and Stiegler after Naturalism. University of Minnesota Press, 2019.

Ian James has carved a rigorous analysis of four philosophers—Jean-Luc Nancy, François Laruelle, Catherine Malabou and Bernard Stiegler—who not only engage with the limits of thought through variegated, albeit embedded, disciplinary tendencies but have also, arguably, spearheaded a critical reorientation of continental philosophy, slowly opening the doors for transcending the traditional terms of the analytic-continental divide by engaging with a pluralized understanding of the sciences. A parallel plexus of American naturalist philosophy accompanies James’ analysis, as he stakes the claim that these four thinkers engage with pluralist ontologies and the limit-conditions of the real to stoke a proximal entanglement between philosophy and science. However, The Technique of Thought is by no means a synoptic account of Nancy, Laruelle, Malabou and Stiegler, as James surveys discourses in philosophy of mind, quantum gravity, causality and biosemiology to index various recent horizons of thought and their developments. The rigor and deft with which James approaches scientific-realist perspectives produce a rich picture of post-metaphysical thinking.

Speculative Naturalism: Jean-Luc Nancy

As James demonstrates, Nancy's account of the experience of thought privileges the experience of the limit. Nancy does not merely reinvite the distinction between knowable phenomena and unknowable noumena in neo-Kantian fashion nor does Nancy examine scientific empiricism(s) but, instead, illuminates the relationship between the ongoing experience of thought and its relation to the ungraspable condition of “freedom” (James 22). For Nancy, the performative thinking of existence produces a kind of singular plurality conditioned by transimmanent sense; as James notes, “[w]hat is at stake is an experience that exceeds the power of the (rational subject) and attests to its limits and to an excess over those limits (the excess of freedom and of freed existence)” (24). Nancy centralizes the experience of failure of thought in locating or grounding cognition within the transcendental (moment).

Nancy’s image of thought relates to relational, worldly existence, or “singular plurality,” which is always primordial or anterior to any possibility of the severing relation of self-sufficiency or autonomy. In Nancy’s The Experience of Freedom (1993)—and as we will see radicalized with Laruelle’s radical immanence and its negation of Being—philosophy is not treated as a discourse concerning the foundation of Being. Rather, it is through the experience of thought wherein “there is no longer any possible thesis on being” (Nancy in James 2019, 25).

For Nancy, “sense” is the function of potentiality regarding relational existence that yields intelligible structured organization, arranging meaningfulness via potentiality. For Nancy, “[a]ll that is, is or makes sense, and it does so in the absence of any unifying ground, each and every time singularly, and always in a network of relation to a plurality of other singular existences” (Nancy in James, 62). Nancy's ontology does not emphasize sense-restriction as it pertains to human apprehension and this emphasis on the human-independence of sense demonstrates the extent to which Nancy, as early in 1993, was attempting to think outside of what Meillassoux would term “correlationism” in After Finitude (2006).

According to Meillassoux’s thesis, the human–world relationship is the sole relation to which we have direct access—this relationship mediates all of our thinking such that cognition necessarily corresponds to being. Correlationism is fundamental to the Kantian-Copernican thesis on finitude, where we can only know the world through our human-transcendental a priori intuitions and categories. Accordingly, despite the fact that Kantian correlationism concedes that we can never know of noumena, the “thing-in-itself,” it also produces an identity-relation, contending that we will know (and can only know) the correlation between the “thing-in-itself” and ourselves, or the correlation between thought and being.

By naming being as sense, Nancy's postphenomenological position attempts to move beyond Kantian correlationist finitude by naming sense as the “there is,” whereby the “is” illuminates sense in and by itself, independent from the phenomenological hook or the “being-there-ness” of Dasein. Nancy's naturalism maintains a realist vision “insofar as it incorporates human being into the natural world of relations that constitutes it” (65). Nancy's vision of Being is relational, a “being-to”/”being-toward,” where sense indicates an excess of phenomenal disclosure (an absolute exteriority with regard to phenomenal appearance). Nancy exploits the polyvalence of the French term sens, which refers to sensible contact, direction or meaningfulness as a disposition towards intelligibility. It is in this mode that Nancy cultivates a posthuman rapport where “things have their being as sense only insofar as they are constituted as such in their relations with one another, in the relational movement of the sense of things to each other, and in their differentiation from each other in just such a movement” (65), with this relation including both human and nonhuman entities. For Nancy, philosophy after Kant’s critique of the ontological proof (of God) must do nothing other than receive contingency from the world; thus, Nancy’s ontology finds itself designated on and by the other of absolute alterity.

Here, James creates a prudent comparison between Nancy's sense and James Ladyman and Don Ross' ontic structural realism (OSR), which is also known as information theoretic structural realism (ITSR). On the basis of quantum mechanics, Ladyman and Ross' eliminativist doctrine regards self-subsistent individuals as part of a “relational structure” that is “ontologically fundamental,” conceiving of individuals as part of a nexus of relations in which they stand (66). Nancy's ontology, in contrast, is non-eliminativist with regard to “things” and qualitative sensible experiences. Nancy understands being as sense, which allows for his relational vision of the world to be articulated as a series of distinct differentials and therefore as necessarily multiple or heterogeneous. Nancy focuses on the spatio-temporal quality of matter-cum-differentiation qua multiplicity whereas Ladyman and Ross utilize physical science to talk of matter in terms of mass, energy and information. As Nancy’s position conceives of the understanding as relational and without substance in and of itself, in OSR Ladyman and Ross privilege reference to the authority of science. To create a bricolage, James’ comparison requires transmutating Nancean sense into scientific thought—this is, undoubtedly, a significant conversion because, as James concedes, “the use of the concept of information in physics does not appear to be reconcilable with the use of the term sense in Nancy's ontology” (75).

Culling Canguilhem's work on genetic information and biochemist Nick Lane's research on structuration, James further ushers Nancean “sense” into scientifism. According to Lane, there is no dividing line between the material structure of a geologically active planet and the structuring of a living cell. Accordingly, in The Vital Question (2015) Lane demonstrates how “geochemistry gives rise seamlessly to biochemistry” (Lane in James, 86). Lane's work also aligns with Canguilhem’s concerns on biological continuity qua organology, where biological life is conceived of as the self-organization of matter, which requires both the coding of genetic information and the thermal disequilibrium of energy-flux across biophysical structures to generate and sustain itself. Despite Canguilhem retains the notion of the living organism as a center of reference where genetic code is inscribed materially, the “individuality of the living” is not circumscribed to an ectodermic border any more than it is framed by cell walls. For Canguilhem, information is expressed in generative biological processes of interaction within a surrounding milieu (and, therefore, it is inter-relational). In Canguilhem’s organology, gene expression and physical/biochemical structuration are ontologically razed to the status of purely informational processes: “[t]here is no ontological separation here between the material structure of life and the physical processes that govern it on the one hand and the qualitative experience of the living organism's interaction with its material milieu on the other” (85). While organology will also inform Stiegler’s conception of technical systems and ontogenesis, for Nancy it explicitly refers to the qualitative relation of contact, touch and sensing through which the shared world is opened up for living organisms and to the material differentiation that constitutes “the being” of all entities as such. Nancy understands both nonliving matter and material life as relational structures that are liable to sense, whereby there subsists ontological continuity between that which is qualitatively lived and materially inscribed.

Through Canguilhem, we see how Nancy's natural-material world of entanglement, structures and relations illuminates that sense not only corresponds to the anti-correlationist world of human-independent processes “as it would be outside of man,” but that sense can also describe “the place of humans within the natural world and the continuity of the human with all other nonhuman things” (87). Nancy's ontology posits that any living thing is equivalent to the sense of its relations, whereby its “being-to” constitutes ontological and epistemic entanglement. Thus, much like Michel Henry's notion of “auto-affection” vis-a-vis subjectivity, for Nancy it is the figure of “touch” or “contact” that achieves decisive importance. Within Nancy's haptic ontology, human cognition is privileged precisely because it arises from the spatiotemporal specificity of these relations of sense, all of which inscribe a surrounding (relational) milieu.

James further recalls physicists Lee Smolin and Roberto Unger’s work on temporal naturalism, where the unidirectionality of becoming is fundamentally introduced so as to structure the universe. Consequently, Smolin and Unger reject presentism and eternalism, maintaining a position akin to Bergsonian durée or Husserlian protention. James bridges Nancy's relational acosmos with Nietzschean eternal recurrence, which rejects the chronological linear succession of the present and self-present instances (as well as static substance and essence) in favor of the flux of becoming. For Nancy, the relation that precedes successive duration is what allows for spatialized and temporialized relations to be retrofitted. Despite the fact that all three thinkers proffer an acosmology, for Nancy this is directed by sense, while in Unger and Smolin it is informed by temporal naturalism and a complete “Theory of Everything.” Nancy's relational vision of the cosmos facilitates a speculative naturalism that remains in proximity with the limits of natural science, as it approaches nature by securing ontological or metaphysical foundations.

Axiological “Naturalism”: François Laruelle

According to Laruelle, difference (i.e., the necessary conditions between moving from particulars to universals) and transcendence produce the inaugural operation of philosophy—thus, philosophy is always engaged in an attempt to “capture” the real. For Laruelle, the real does not tolerate any operation as it is antecedent to all such operations (and is not an operation itself). Laruelle rejects the Hegelian position of “conceptual determination,” where the ideality of any concept or representation is determined via the negation of the immanent real and its sublation into a higher (transcendent) abstraction. For Laruelle, the resulting synthesis/fusion/mixte of transcendence and immanence (i.e., exteriority and interiority) not only “does violence to the real” but co-constitutes the real in the form of “known Being” (30). Laruelle's robust immanence undoes Being.

The “philosophical decision” bestows upon philosophy the authority to position “so-called primitive knowledge of the real or of being and thereby legislates for its own ability to legislate over knowledge in general” (31). Following Laruelle, science is “non-thetic,” as it represents “something that is real” without making a claim about the real; vis-à-vis non-thetic givenness, objects of science are “constituted in a field of dispersed multiple singularity that, while not representing the real are […] nonthetic reflections of the real itself” (138). Contra Heidegger's claim that science “does not cognize,” Laruelle seeks to demonstrate that science facilitates its own “authentic and consistent thought” (Laruelle in James, 16). Laruelle's central insight here is that the sciences are nonphilosophical—however, as well will see, this does not mean that we have access to or can operate within such science(s).

Like Nancy, Barrau, Smolin and Unger, Laruelle separates science from the inherited metaphysical prejudices which have historically characterized and overdetermined its image. However, Laruelle goes further than Nancy by suggesting that we no longer have sight of what immanent science “truly is,” or how it is radically distinct from philosophy. In Theory of Identities (1992), Laruelle argues that, through objectivization, philosophy has conflated science with its own operations and, by way of epistemology, philosophy “has instead projected a possible image on it,” circumventing it into a transcendental science (Laruelle 2016, 75).

Science is not in need of a philosophical foundation—as Laruelle expresses in En tant qu'un (1991), whereby science, as an immanent cause, “has no need of a philosophical foundation, it is without foundation because it has a cause: the One, the real-as-Identity; not only an immanent cause, but a cause-by-way-of-immanence, the causality of radical immanence itself” (Laruelle in James, 27). Philosophy, in contrast, autopositions itself as universal knowledge of the real understood as Being, world or existence by performing an operation or a “cut” onto the real, dividing it into instances of interior immanence and exterior transcendence which are subsequently mixed and synthesized into representational and conceptual unity.

According to Laruelle, unlike philosophy science does not operate via synthesis/division and leaves the real unrepresented—however, science is unilateral and nonreciprocally “determined-in-the-last-instance” by the real. That is, science “does not posit itself in order to be, but is determined in the last instance by the real that is here (the) cause (of) itself rather than an auto-positional subject” (Laruelle in James, 124). For Laruelle there are no objects of the real but, instead, immanent causes:

[a]ny possible philosophical objects (phenomena, noumena, etc.) and any possible scientific objects (subatomic particles, atoms, molecules, cells, organisms, etc.) have an Identity as their immanent cause, and this Identity is never and can never be an object of knowledge or a determination within the field of knowledge. (130)

James carves a schematic representation of this irreversible dualysis, a unilateral line of immanent causality where anterior terms determine/cause what follows without being determined in return:

(immanent real) Identity → (theoretical) real object → object of knowledge. (135)

Arguably, James’ most interesting scientific junctures involve Laruelle. Nonetheless, while Laruelle’s logic of determination-in-the-last-instance is able to affirm scientific-realist accounts that emphasize mind-independent epistemic conditions represented by conventionalism, logical positivism, critical rationalism, historical epistemology, postpositivism, realism, instrumentalism, constructivism, and so on, all are rendered equal in relation to the Identity of the real which is, ultimately, non-identifiable. For instance, James maps Laruelle’s work onto the anterior real of theoretical physicist Bernard d'Espagnat’s notion of “veiled reality” while also carving linkages to philosophers of science such as John Dupré and Nancy Cartwright, broadly mending ontological plurality with realism. One of the most interesting comparisons is demonstrated by Laruelle's close collaborator, Anne-Françoise Schmid (whose literature, unfortunately, has mostly yet to be translated into English). Schmid’s work on scientific modelling demonstrates how heterogenous modeling necessarily invokes mathematical, chemical, biological and computational specialisms, producing an intrinsic plurality (175). Schmid's work is highly related to Cartwright's metaphysical nomological pluralism, both of which one can map onto Laruelle's non-epistemology quite engagingly, as, for Cartwright, the “doctrine that nature is governed in different domains by different systems of laws not necessarily related to each other in any system or uniform way,” suggests “[a] patchwork of laws” (Cartwright in James 152). Rather than reducing universality in their research on modeling and nomological machines, Schmid and Cartwright respectively demonstrate the dappled and plural localizability of enclosed regions, suspending the concept of a universal law of nature. For Cartwright, under particular circumstances lawlike regularities can be constructed from regularities, although these are underpinned by “capacities” whereby, in Laruelle-like antecedent determination, the laws of nature are directed by a structuring force non-identical with (its) universal laws. For Schmid “modelling” demonstrates how complex notions fit within the Laruellean schema of Identity—the real/scientific object and the object of knowledge thus understood via Unilaterality.

Laruelle’s most recent work explicitly instrumentalizes the superposition state of quantum theory, according to which constituent particles exist in different states simultaneously and are thus superposed (as intact/decayed) at the same time. This is reified in the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment and the Everett many-worlds interpretation of quantum theory, which posits the real existence of parallel physical worlds (therein suggesting that there exists an innumerable and unlimited multiverse). Accordingly, as soon as a quantum system is observed, there is a reduction of the wave packet and this quantum system performs a measurement-induced reduction—such is decoherence of the “superposition.” Non-standard philosophy affirms a similarly multiplicity of the real outside of philosophical teleology; unlike Nancean limit-conditions, Laruellean “[i]mmanence, being radical, offers no dialectical mediation between experience and the real [....] losing its transcendence and thereby falling into immanence, experience is added to the real as its border, but without affecting or touching it in return” (167). This operation is what Laruelle, drawing from algebra, terms “gnosis” or “idempotence,” as experience will never know the immanence that is its cause.

Epigenetic Naturalism: Catherine Malabou

Despite the fact that they do not engage with the debate between Paul Churchland's eliminative materialism and David Chalmers' (and Andy Clark’s) naturalistic dualism of the “extended mind,” Malabou and Stiegler both engage with scientific discourses to pursue distinct forms of naturalist thinking qua embodiment. Unlike the American naturalists, however, both Malabou and Stiegler also inherently reject the physicalist materialism/eliminativist opposition.

As a Hegelian post-phenomenologist, Malabou (following neuroscientists such as Antonio Damasio and Joseph Ledoux) conceives of the neural self through dialectical relations, synthesizing anti-empiricism via materialist insights. In What Should we Do With Our Brain? (2004),  Malabou renders neural synaptic connections as a map that, vis-à-vis neuroplasticity or epigenetic becoming, is materially changed through relational capacities (e.g., learning, memory and experiential exposure). Unlike mechanistic functionalists, Malabou rejects a “simple transparency between observable brain activity and the intentional states of consciousness to which they can be correlated,” for this outpouches the continuity between the “neuronal and mental, biological and cultural” (James, 189-190). For Malabou, neuroplasticity is dialectical, as the passage from the neural to the mental is one of conflict and negation. However, when such continuity between the mental and the neuronal is understood as dialectical/conflictual it also invariably produces an ontological rupture. In the epiphenomenalist/physicalist philosophy of mind debate, a critical query appears here regarding whether this “passage” is empirically observable (in the brain) or, instead, if that which is “experienced” as qualia/epiphenomena can be relegated to the realm of intentional consciousness. Malabou, however, does not engage with these more sensitive problems in philosophy of mind, nor does she attend to the “hard problem(s) of consciousness” that deal with how qualia is produced as a bottom-up scaffolding.

In Heideggerian fashion (and antithetical to Laruelle), for Malabou being is nothing but mutability and metamorphosis. Malabou engages with plasticity through originary ontological mutability and transformability via ontological difference, where being—necessarily nothing in and of itself—indexes the convertibility of different ontic primordial economies of change, modification and exchangeability (196).

This groundlessness, or the “fantastic,” is the locus of “originary (ex)change” that, for Malabou, “[c]an only ever be invested with images” but also needs to be considered in conjunction with the plasticity of material forms (Malabou in James, 196-197). Nonetheless, this concept of groundlessness vis-à-vis material change does not resolve the problem of ontological continuity. That is, biological/neurobiological physicality is always challenged by transcendental/phenomenological conceptions of subjectivity. Here, Malabou somewhat recalls Nancy's relational structure, as formlessness foments relational spacing and differentiation, where “[t]he ontological groundlessness of both the neuronal and the mental indicates that neither is a self-sufficient substance in itself” (198). This absence of foundation, a void, will later inform Malabou's “epigenetic transcendental” in Before Tomorrow (2014) where, rereading Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, she attests to the “epigenesis of reason” as the a priori that undergirds rationality’s self-invention of form out of a necessary and non-privative “lack.” For Malabou, the absence of a foundation is a resource and does not fit within the understanding of Lacanian lack (a dis-mediation)—therefore, the resource of absence undergirds Malabou’s epigenetic transcendental (Malabou in James, 199).

Organological Naturalism: Bernard Stiegler

For Stiegler, the originary co-constitution of human embodiment and technics is premised upon a constitutive lack. More specifically, human thought and consciousness are premised upon an emergent and material dimension, an organological conditioning that relates to philosophy’s role as seeking to repress this “originary lack.” As a Derridean, for Stiegler it is the “forgetting” of technics which is identified with the genesis of Western philosophy and the constitutive role played by originary technics qua the Promethean figure. The image of philosophy that Stiegler presents, as with Laruelle, necessitates a redrafting of the conditions of knowledge and a concomitant questioning of the distribution and interrelation of different modes of knowing. Stiegler presents an image of philosophy that, as with Nancy, engages in an experience of ontological groundlessness and deals with the limits of philosophy itself. However, for Stiegler this image is organologically tethered to processes of recursive feedback qua the ontologization of grammatization.

The latticework of consciousness in both subjective and intersubjective experience is, for Stiegler, noetic (derived from the Greek noesis and Aristotle's nous). Steeped in Simondon, Stiegler's concept of the human as a psychic individual is co-constituted through the machine's technical individuation. Much like Laruelle, Stiegler is privy to co-opting scientific terms, albeit for Stiegler these serve a much more idealist and socio-politically aspirational role. In Stiegler's most recent literature, for instance, he plucks the term “negentropy” to articulate the positive valuation and affirmation of life and becoming. In Nick Lane's The Vital Question (2015), Lane revisits Schrödinger’s What Is Life? (1944), where the term “negative entropy” first appears, to examine the role played by biological life and energy as that which resists entropy. This resistance is also central to Stiegler’s normatively positive political idealization of noetic dreaming.

Consequently, biological life's maintenance of disequilibrium is conceived of as that which resists decay, death or apoptosis. Contemporary biologists and mathematicians such as Giuseppe Longo, Maël Montévil and Francis Bailly have formalized the correlation between anti-entropy, as it is used in thermodynamics, with order, organization and bio-complexity. Stiegler extends this to human technicity, opposing the equilibrium of the cosmos to the disequilibrium of technicity in the age of the Anthropocene. Rather than artefaction qua tool-building, it is specifically the thermodynamic machine that, for Stiegler, reveals the human world as one of fundamental disruption, as it “inscribes processuality, the irreversibility of becoming and the instability of equilibrium of thought” (Stiegler in James, 206).

As evinced by macro-economic ecological communal living propositions such as Internation World, Stiegler is concerned with confronting and mending the disruptive role of modern technicity as it unconceals being. In Stiegler’s work with Antoinette Rouvroy, for instance, there is a marked attempt to reveal how algorithmic governmentality/calculability (e.g., predictive policing) affirms an organological logic. Veering clear of technopessimism and attempting to stoke transindividuation, Stiegler’s projects on general ecology, general economy and general organology are attempts to form such circuits of noetic fulfillment (Stiegler 2020, 49). Much like Deleuze remarks in his 1990 “Postscript on the Society of Control,” Stiegler regards such technologies as pharmakon—that is, both poison and cure, introducing new psychosocial repressions and novel political possibilities. Nonetheless, as James notes, Stiegler's use of “neganthropic” (a portmanteau of negentropy and Anthropic) is notably deracinated from its scientific origins and serves as more of an idealist beacon or telos.

Stiegler also identifies the logic of scientific naturalism and cognitivism with the computational model of thought and algorithmic rationality (James, 212). However, what James does not detail is that this is specifically due the limits of Stiegler’s system, wherein generative grammar’s logic is treated as equipollent to the formation of an “externalized language.” As Stiegler notes:

digital technologies now effect calculations on transindividuation operating in light-time. In so doing, what is being played out, with industrial reading and the economy of expression as implemented by Google, changes the conditions of linguistic becoming at a planetary level. (Stiegler 2020, 118)

In opposition to Chomsky, Pinker and biolinguistic accounts, Stiegler conceives of language, much like writing, as involved in the recoding of prelinguistic cerebral functions (communicational and cognitive categorization functions), maintaining that language cannot exist prior to this recoding. This is, however, inattentive to the possible presence of a more primary metalinguistic scaffolding inherent to thought-formation and inferential semantic possibility. Stiegler mistakes Fodor for an innativist who posits that language is dormant in how it is imbued “within us.” For Fodor, however, thought precedes spoken language and, therefore, language is not prior to thought. Thought is more primitive than discursive cognition because it has a syntactical structure that mirrors much of natural language (and even some formal languages). Stiegler’s system subordinates psychic individuation to techno-social individuation.

Unlike Malabou, Stiegler's concern with technical plasticity is in relation to how neuronal plasticity is not a unidirectional causal determination of superstructural supervenience but, instead, an interaction between the inorganic technical field and the psyche. Neither a biological reductionist or technological determinist, Stiegler employs technical retention to describe how this plane is immanent to experience yet also anterior to conscious experience. As I have argued in my own research, for Stiegler, technical objects index a similar ontogenetic functor as Laruelle's consideration of scientific objects, with the primary distinction being that in Stiegler's system noetic activity and technics proffer positive feedback loops whereas, for Laruelle, the Identity of any immanent cause is fundamentally foreclosed. Where, for Malabou, plasticity and the paradigm of epigenetic transcendence is stilted upon the ontological void, which recalls Nancy's image of relational sense, for Stiegler, our encounter with radical immanence—shaped by the limits of philosophical thought and empirical knowledge—affirms ontological continuity “while confirming an irreducible epistemological discontinuity” (James, 218).

Post-Continental Thought

Ultimately, James presents us with a rigorous confrontation of a new mode of post-deconstructive and post-continental naturalism that simply cannot be aligned with poststructuralism’s shadow, Deleuzean machine ontology, new materialism or speculative realism. In the tradition of American naturalism, we can retroactively remark upon how the totalizing science of Sellars, Quine and Lewis conceived of a naturalism homologous to an “image of philosophy oriented towards a horizon of totality and unity” (223). Subsequently, with Ladyman and Ross' ontic structural realism, Wallace's multiverse theory, Hawkin and Mlodinow's “Theory of Everything,” Papineau's “complete physics” and Patricia Churchland’s “unified grand theory of the mind brain,” we have seen the emergence of a tendency to render reality exhaustible and scientific knowledge as fundamentally totalizable. Unlike their predecessors in the continental French philosophical tradition, Nancy, Laruelle, Malabou and Stiegler do, to some degree, suggest a resolute naturalist tendency despite the fact that each philosopher simultaneously orients an image of philosophy that eclipses totality and horizons of completeness. Bypassing metaphysical foundationalism and rejecting mind-body dualism(s), all four thinkers encounter the real as an experience of relating the plurality of thought to immanence, whether in terms of loss, limitation, void or antecedent determination. James illustrates this newfound philosophical modality with an admirable combination of rigor and lucidity.


James, Ian. The Technique of Thought Nancy, Laruelle, Malabou, and Stiegler after Naturalism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019.

Laruelle, François. Theory of Identities. Translated by Alyosha Edlebi. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016.

Stiegler, Bernard. Nanjing Lectures: 2016-2019. Translated by Daniel Ross. London: Open Humanities Press, 2020.

Cite this Review

Erkan, Ekin. “Post-Continental Naturalism: Equipollence between Science and Ontological Pluralism.” Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge, no. 36, 2020, doi:10.20415/rhiz/036.r04