Nietzsche’s Idealist Vitalism. Non-Philosophical Objections to a Politics of Difference

TALK at Friedrich Nietzsche Conference 2018, September 20th 2018. 11.30 am

In Laruelle’s analyses in Philosophies of Difference, he lines Nietzsche’s und Deleuze’s vitalism up with idealism, insofar as all actual existence is judged by an immaterial principal – life or becoming – and therefore ideality and reality become identical. Nietzsche reaches this point by ontologizing the affirmation against the reactive forces in the Will to Power and then instates the Eternal Return as the transcendental. The epistemological justification of the reality of forces as self-determining and non-objective qualities through Nietzsche‘s generalized semiotics is supported by the claim of a transcendental necessity for non-identical repetition. This however can only be guaranteed, if being is reflected onto and by itself in the act of the choice. Nietzsche and subsequently Deleuze thereby take up the divide between the empirical and the a priori structure of life into the transcendental in favor of the later. The result of the transcendental deduction from the metaphysical premise of Nietzsche thereby presupposes itself and subordinates the discrete being under the continues becoming. This radical priority ideal difference gets translated – according to Laruelle – into the primacy of the virtual in Deleuze’s philosophy, making it inapplicable to politics or ethics, because it constantly destabilizes any political subjectivity or position, simply making it a theory of extinction.
Though Laruelle’s critique cannot be accepted without questioning his own stance, I will argue that it has merit and provides useful insights into the inner workings of Nietzsche’s vitalist ontology. More specifically does his concerns strike at the heart of Deleuze’ reading of Nietzsche as a philosopher of difference and the specificity of the philosophical with respect to other practices.
The paper will therefore first briefly introduce Laruelle’s idea of non-philosophy as a methodological tool, to then recapitulate his not yet well-known critique on Nietzsche-Deleuzeian philosophy of difference (as idealist vitalism), subsequently evaluating his non-philosophical arguments and try to draw consequences for a politics of difference.