A Strange Subject

A Strange Subject

EscherAugust 25, Tuesday, 6-9 PM EST

Glenn Wallis

This seminar is for members of Incite Seminars. To become a member, please visit our Patreon page. If you have any questions or concerns, email us at inciteseminarsphila@gmail.com. Thank you!

Are  you interested in discourse that takes as its theme notions such as “liberation,” “enlightenment,” “awakening,” and “wisdom”? If so, you will be happy to learn about a contemporary thinker named François Laruelle (born 1937). In this workshop, we will explore concepts such as radical immanence, unilateral duality, the real, decision, the principle of sufficient X [fill in virtually any system of thought], the axiomatic, and the stranger subject. More importantly, participants will take elements from their own beloved worldview or ideology, and will work with, will do things with, these concepts. In the end, Laruelle offers not a system of knowledge, but a form of experiential practice.

There is a problem, though: Laruelle is exceedingly difficult to understand. Starting with the enigmatic name for his project, “non-philosophy,” Laruelle’s thought “sticks out, like an unwanted tangled root or an unmovable stone waiting for philosophers and theorists to trip up on,” as his translator Anthony Paul Smith puts it. Laruelle’s general strangeness is a stump well enough for such a tumble. If that doesn’t get you, his audacious experimentation in formal and methodological invention and conceptual innovation probably will.

But what trips readers up without fail is the unclassifiable nature of his thought— unclassifiable, that is, “within the now familiar and moribund debates” (Smith). Laruelle is not interested in dethroning prior philosophical systems and installing his own superior version. He is not maneuvering to outflank the generals of philosophy arrayed on the battlefield of contested thought. Neither is he a guru, enrapturing us with gnomic utterances on the meaning of life or compassionately pointing out the mysterious presence of primordial consciousness. That he engages in none of this is disorienting because the normal procedure for figures like Laruelle—ostensible paragons of Wisdom— is precisely to do these kinds of things. Yet, somehow, Laruelle still manages to be exceptionally insightful and, pardon the pun, inciteful. Certainly, for anyone struggling to defuse the hidden munitions ticking within authoritative systems of thought, his work proves to be a toolbox of surgical ordnance.

In this seminar, we will tinker with loaded Laruellen weaponry.

Reading: A Reader with excerpts from Laruelle’s Principles of Non-Philosophy, and “A Summary of Non-Philosophy” will be provided on registration.

FacilitatorGlenn Wallis holds a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University. He is the author of several books, including Cruel Theory/Sublime Practice and Basic Teachings of the Buddha as well as numerous articles, chapters, and essays on various aspects of Buddhism per se and Western Buddhism in contemporary society. His most recent work, A Critique of Western Buddhism: Ruins of the Buddhist Real, employs the “non-philosophical” methods of François Laruelle. Wallis has taught at Brown University, Bowdoin College, and the University of Georgia. He is the founder of the blog Speculative Non-Buddhism.

Time: Tuesday, August 25th, 6pm-9pm. Online.
Cost: We don’t want you to think of it as paying money for a seminar. We do hope that you will, rather, enable our work, will replenish the ruins in which we are struggling to create education and learning community anew. The idea of mutual aid originates with anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921). Simply put, it means: we voluntarily provide one another with the material means necessary for each of us thrive, or, sometimes, simply to go on. Incite Seminars will continue to create seminars for you as long as we are able to do so. However, to continue to be able to do so, we need resources to pay for our infrastructure, labor, and facilitators. We have created this tiered ticket structure through a great deal of discussion and experimentation to prioritize our commitment to access and fair compensation.

True Cost Ticket ($45): This is the true cost to put on a seminar. 2/3 of the cost goes to pay our facilitator, while the remaining 1/3 supports the labor of Incite Seminars.

Patreon Supporter Ticket ($30). If you are an Incite Seminars Patreon supporter at any level, you are eligible for a discount. The full amount of your ticket will go to paying the seminar facilitator. We greatly appreciate your continued support!

Generous Supporter Ticket ($90). Please consider buying this ticket if you have financial privilege. A portion of the ticket will enable us to provide access to those unable to afford the cost of the session.

Solidarity Ticket (Pay what you can $1+). We are committed to offering access to knowledge and community to those who are eager to learn but cannot afford the cost of the session. We invite you to donate any amount you are able at the time (the minimum allowed by Eventbrite is $1) to join the seminar.


Please register at Eventbrite. If you have any questions or concerns, email inciteseminarsphila@gmail.com.


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