A sincere question (about Meillassoux)

I raised this question on Twitter yesterday, and I’m still curious: Does Quentin Meillassoux represent such a sea-change in philosophy he needs a book introducing his, er, one book, and handful of articles? Really, I’m not being sarcastic or snarky, but am asking this question in good faith because I’m genuinely perplexed.  Here’s the blurb:

…a unique study of the fastest-rising star in French philosophy since Derrida in the 1960s: Meillassoux. He discusses a broad range of his work, which includes After Finitude, and some of his remarkable yet unpublished work, such as L’Inexistence Divine, all of which assure his prominent position in the London-based speculative realism movement. Continue reading

Space/Time Thought Experiment

Since Meillassoux’s so-called “arche-fossil” argument against correlationism is so popular with the kids (even though it’s not as essential to the argument of the book itself), I’ve always wondered what sort of philosophical response can one give to the following questions: Continue reading

Toscano on Meillassoux

Infinite Thought has a paper by Toscano on Meillassoux, a good read:

Without dwelling on the under-determined and exceedingly allusive references to contemporary fanaticism which lend Meillassoux’s claims their charge of urgency, as well as on the rather dubious claims made about the relation between Christianity and Western reason, in the rest of this presentation I want to challenge the plausibility of Meillassoux’s Enlightenment reloaded, as I mentioned by a detour through Colletti’s Marxism and Hegel. I want to put forward two inter-related arguments. First, that attending to the distinction between Kant and Hegel as formulated by Colletti, allows us to cast doubt on the very possibility of a speculative materialism, and provides a qualified Marxian defence for weak Kantian correlationism as a component of a genuine materialist thinking. Second, and much more briefly, that Colletti’s related discussion of hypostasis and ‘real abstraction’ demonstrates the weakness of Meillassoux’s attempt to revitalise the Enlightenment attack on fanaticism. Behind these two claims lies the conviction that, despite its undeniable subtlety, Meillassoux’s attack on the idealist parameters of correlationism is ultimately idealist in form, a problem which also affects it attempt to ideologically intervene, through a recasting of the Enlightenment fight against fanaticism, in the contemporary ‘return to the religious’. 

Read the rest.

Kralechkin on Meillassoux

Дмитрий Кралечкин рецензирует Мейясу:

Спекулятивный абсолют и порочный круг философии

[Квентин Мейясу. После конечности. Эссе о необходимости контингентности» Квентина Мейясу // Quentin Meillassoux, Après la finitude : Essai sur la nécessité de la contingence, Seuil, 2006, 178 p.]

«После конечности. Эссе о необходимости контингентности» Квентина Мейясу (Quentin Meillassoux) – несомненно, наиболее значительная работа последних лет на французском языке, из числа относящихся к жанру «чистой философии» (если не брать несколько более ожидаемой «Логики миров» А.Бадью). Выпущенная в 2006 г. издательством Seuil, книга приобрела значение культового произведения для достаточно обширного международного сообщества сравнительно молодых англо- и франкоязычных философов, образующих течение так называемого «спекулятивного реализма» (этот термин отдельно вводится в «После конечности»).

Интересно отметить, что явный нарциссизм Грэма Гармана (не Грэхема, господин Кралечкин – см. Грэм Грин) будет удовлетворен упоминанием его блога: Continue reading

Meillassoux’s Claim About Kantian Counter-Revolution.

I don’t know if this is relevant information for those reading Meillassoux, and since everyone is now, then so am I. I have to say that his final chapter – “Ptolemy’s Revenge” – is a bit annoyingly suggesting that no one ever before Meillassoux thought of either phrasing it this way or posing the issue this way. I happen to know because I wrote a paper about it, not Meillassoux, but interpretations of Kant’s claim to a “revolution,” so just to set the record straight, although Meillassoux might have come up with all it himself, there’s a body of literature dealing with the precise significance of Kant’s revolution and his claim to “Copernican Revolution” – take, for example, N. R. Hanson’s classic (and short) essay on the topic: “Copernicus’ Role in Kant’s Revolution,” Journal of the History of Ideas, 20:2 (1959), 274-81.

Riera review of Meillassoux

I missed Gabriel Riera’s review of Meillassoux’s After Finitude in the NDPR a couple of weeks back. Riera sums up and contextualizes Meillassoux’s argument succinctly. Here’s his assessment, more allusive than concrete, but certainly accurate:

The book’s meticulous argumentation is not for the logically faint of heart. There are passages of logical exasperation that at times may work against its own objectives, thus reinforcing a reactive skepticism. In spite of the absence of resolution to the absolutization of mathematics, the book succeeds in articulating the problematic and in mapping a new field of inquiry. For this reason, After Finitude will certainly play a central role in ongoing debates on the status of philosophy, on questions pertaining to epistemology and, above all, to ontology. It will not only be an unavoidable point of reference for those working on the question of finitude, but also for those whose work deals with political theology, and the status of the religious turn of philosophy. After Finitude will certainly become an ideal corrosive against too rigid assumptions and will shake entrenched positions.

Although the book is written with clarity and consistency, it presupposes a familiarity not only with dogmatic metaphysics, post-Kantian critical philosophy, phenomenology and post-Heideggerian philosophy, but also and above all with Alain Badiou’s materialist ontology, and more specifically, with his ontological re-formulation of post-Cantorean set theory, as well as his conception of the event as what exceeds the grasp of an ontology of being qua being. Contingency, Meillassoux’s crucial concept, is inextricably linked to Badiou’s conception of the event.

I guess I’m not logically faint of heart because I don’t remember being too exasperated when I read it, but really sometimes logical exasperation is better than dealing with the endless equivocation of many of those deconstructionists, though such logical exasperation often results from reading some of Plato’s dialogues, at least according to my students.

Read the full review here

Very (very) Fast Collisions: Recreating the Big Bang

The mad scientists at Geneva’s CERN will be running an experiment tomorrow in the Large Hadron Collider which begins an effort ever to shed some light on the fundamentals of the universe.  The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will fire particles around its 17-mile tunnel. It will then smash protons — one of the building blocks of matter — into each other at energies up to seven times greater than any achieved before.   As I undertand it, scientists are hoping to reveal why most sub-atomic particles have mass (probably signalled by the appearance of something called the Higgs particle),  reveal why nature prefers matter over anti-matter, and maybe even overturn the Standard Model, a collection of theories that embodies all of our current understanding of fundamental particles and forces.  Cool.  I wonder if this will have any philosophical consequences, I’m especially thinking of the correlationist/anti-correlationist distinction Meillassoux draws in After Finitude (see here).  Hopefully, the LHC won’t create a black hole that will suck up the world as we know it.  Anyway, if it works as planned there will be some rather exciting things to talk about.  The Telegraph has a nice article about the experiment (see here).  Here’s some science smarties commenting (also from the Telegraph): Continue reading

Meillassoux, Contingency, and Kantian Catastrophes

By the end of Chapter Three of Meillassoux’s After Finitude we are left with a rendering of the world reminiscent of Monadology, expect with some rather big differences.  Meillassoux has described a world of chaos wherein each entity is at once self-contained, completely contingent and not connected to any one thing or another vis a vis a principle of reason etc.  Naturally, this leads to a chapter long consideration of Hume, but Meillassoux insists “one unavoidable consequence of the principle of factiality is that it asserts the actual contingency of the laws of nature” (83).   In the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Hume writes:

We have said that all arguments concerning existence are founded on the relation of cause and effect; that our knowledge of that relation is derived entirely from experience; and that all our experimental conclusions proceed upon the supposition that the future will be conformable to the past. To endeavour, therefore, the proof of this last supposition by probable arguments, or arguments regarding existence, must be evidently going in a circle, and taking that for granted, which is the very point in question.

…It is impossible, therefore, that any arguments from experience can prove this resemblance of the past to the future; since all these arguments are founded on the supposition of that resemblance…Let the course of things be allowed hitherto ever so regular; that alone, without some new argument or inference, proves not that, for the future, it will continue so. Continue reading

More Monotonous Musings on Meillassoux: Factiality

And now another alliteration, anyhow, to continue with my (monotonous) reading of Meillassoux’s After Finitude, I’ve just now reached the end of Chapter 3, “The Priniciple of Factiality” and have read through Ch 4 “Hume’s Problem,” but I will focus on the former for the most part. There was a section that really caught my attention towards the end of Ch. 3, in which Meillassoux writes:

Philosophy is the invention of strange forms of argumentation, necessarily bordering on sophistry.  To philosophize is always to develop an idea whose elaboration and defense require a novel kind of argumentation, the model for which lies neither in positive science–not even in logic–not in some supposedly innate faculty for proper  reasoning.  Thus it is essential that a philosophy produce internal mechanisms for regulating its own inferences (77)…

This is no more evident than in the middle chapters of After Finitude. Continue reading