Ludic Philosophy, 2



“James Clifford once described [Hayden] White as an ‘anarcho-formalist.’ The formalism was more visible than the anarchism but no less important. White was not naive enough to believe that thinkers were free to imagine any damn thing they liked, thereby recreating the world according to their desires. As he saw it, thinking tended to fall into a narrow range of forms, tropes, narrative structures. As critical as he was of history’s pretensions to be an objective science, there was more than a bit of the scientist, even the mad scientist, in his investigation of thought’s inescapable formality.”1

“The function of this center was not only to orient, balance, and organize the structure—one cannot in fact conceive of an unorganized structure—but above all to make sure that the organizing principle of the structure would limit what we might call the play of the structure.”2

“[O]ne must think not in terms of essential properties, but in terms of design, boundary constraints, rates of flows, systems logics, costs of lowering constraints.”3

“When information is put at play, game-like experiences replace linear media. Media and culture in the Ludic Century is increasingly systemic, modular, customizable, and participatory. Games embody all of these characteristics in a very direct sense.”4

Non-thetic Transcendence (NTT) … is the real kernel of transcendence that is the basis of every philosophical decision.”5

It is in this abyss of an absolute contingency that can never be partially filled in or closed up that we must go to look for the ultimate reasons of philosophy in general in the strict measure that it takes the form of a decision—hallucinatory, at that—on the authentic real or the One; or of Difference in particular and the strange rapport maintained among its diverse systems. The struggles and conflicts internal to Difference are made possible—but not commanded—by this ‘logic’ of non-positional transcendence which is a veritable principle of real choice, more precisely: of choice as such.”6

“It is clear that this diversity, radical that-ness or in itself of NTT, a diversity that is absolutely indifferent, grounds, unlike the One, an absolute or indifferent choice and thus an absolute limitation of philosophical choice or a positive annulment of philosophical decision. There is no possible decision as regards this diversity; it is too indifferent to offer any reason for choosing, too absurd and contingent in its existence even to offer a reason for its existence.”7

“NTT is even an absolute principle of choice, the principle of choice. Not of any particular and exclusive choice … [but] the essence of choice, of absolutely any choice possible whatsoever without any limitation. It is a matter of neither a strategy, nor a logic, nor an economy of choice, but of a transcendental possibilization that frees choice as possible.”8

“Let me commence with the following notice: there is no Truth in diagrams, nothing sacred in geometry … But [the diagram] is the out-line of philosophy … the pre-philosophical, meta-philosophical and ante-philosophical all in one—the moment between being exclusively outside or inside philosophy—not the subject leaving philosophy but unforeseeable subject-matters becoming philosophical. And it works as a drawing, a process, a procedure, a temporary moment in between; not the shape of a thing but the outline of a process (of thinking). Hence, dia-grammes should be always seen as moving forms, whether or not they are static.”9

“The world deploys itself as a game. That means that it refuses any sense, any rule that is exterior to itself.”10


  1. Bruce Robbins, “Emancipation from the Burden of History: On Hayden White, 1928–2018,” n+1, March 8, 2018,

  2. Jacques Derrida, “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences,” in Writing and Difference, 351-70, trans. Alan Bass (London, UK: Routledge, 2001). 

  3. Donna J. Haraway, A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century (1985), repr. Manifestly Haraway, 3-90 (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2016), 30. 

  4. Eric Zimmerman, “Manifesto for a Ludic Century,” Kotaku, September 9, 2013,

  5. François Laruelle, Philosophies of Difference: A Critical Introduction to Non-Philosophy (1986), trans. Rocco Gangle (London, UK: Continuum, 2010). 

  6. Laruelle, Philosophies of Difference, 203-204. 

  7. Laruelle, Philosophies of Difference, 206. 

  8. Laruelle, Philosophies of Difference, 206. 

  9. John Ó Maoilearca, Post-Continental Philosophy: An Outline (London, UK: Continuum, 2006), 157. 

  10. Kostas Axelos and Stuart Elden, “Mondialisation Without the World,” Radical Philosophy 130 (March/April 2005), 28,