Elsewhere on the web, Jim Chamberlain (a former IPS member) posted a link to the work of Quentin Meillassoux, an emerging new voice in Continental philosophy and a former student of Badiou.  It looks interesting and worth checking out.

 

After Finitude

 

And this Amazon page has some interesting reviews.

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Just a quick comment this morning. Rayburn's review at Amazon said:

"Guided by Badiou's use of set theory, Meillassoux argues that Hume's probabilistic reasoning rests upon the dubious assumption that the set of possible outcomes of an event can be totalized. Probability as a metaphysical fact is undermined by Cantor's discovery of "transfinites"--that is, the multiplicity of infinities that cannot be gathered into a single 'meta-set.'"

This seems to be related to my prior critique of holarchical complexity?
Here's an essay which gives a pretty good overview of Meillassoux's work. I'll copy the first half of it here:

QUENTIN MEILLASSOUX
A NEW FRENCH PHILOSOPHER

This article is a review of Apres la finitude, the remarkable debut book of Quentin Meillassoux.1 In my estimation, this work is one of the most important to appear in continental philosophy in recent years, and deserves a wide readership at the earliest possible date. An English translation by Ray Brassier will be published by Continuum in the near future.2
Meillassoux's book is written in a lucid and economical style, covering abundant terrain in just 165 pages. It offers bold readings of the history of philosophy-Aristotle is not realist enough, Hume not skeptical enough. It shows bursts of scathing wit, as when drawing wry parallels between the anti-Darwinian reveries of creationism and major schools of presentday philosophy. Most importantly, Apres la finitude offers a ruthless attack on virtually all of post-Kantian philosophy, now labeled as "correlationism," and proposes an original "speculative" solution (though not in Hegel's sense) to the Kantian impasse. Meillassoux proposes nothing less than a return of philosophy to the absolute, which for him means reality in itself apart from any relation to humans. The critical portions of the book strike me as definitive: much of what we know as analytic and continental philosophy looks rather different following his assault on correlationism. Meillassoux's own ideas, plausibly described as the mere antechamber to a larger and still unpublished system, lie open to possible objections. Nonetheless, his appeal to an "ancestral" realm prior to all human access succeeds in defining an unexpected new battlefield for continental thought. Barely forty years old, he seems likely to emerge as one of the important names in European philosophy in the decades to come.

We should begin by situating Meillassoux among the more established contemporary thinkers. For many years, continental philosophy in the Anglophone world was dominated by Heidegger and Derrida. Neither of these figures will soon disappear from radar, and Heidegger is now celebrated as a classic for the ages even by mainstream analytic thinkers. But since the miH-1990s, the HeideggeroDerridean brand of continental thought has faced increasing competition from new trends: initially from the books of Gilles Deleuze, and more recently from the heterodox tag team of Alain Badiou and a resurgent Slavoj Zizek. While major works by these "new" authors have been available for many years, what is more recent is their increased momentum among the younger generation of continental philosophers. In terms of background and orientation, Meillassoux is not difficult to place among these currents. He was a student of Badiou, and the preface to the book is written by Badiou himself, who can barely find sufficient words to praise it-by fusing absolute logical necessity with a radical contingency of the laws of nature, Meillassoux is said to "open in the history of philosophy... a new path foreign to Kant's canonical distribution between 'dogmatism,' 'scepticism,' and 'critique.'"3 Furthermore, despite the absence of set-theory notation and other known Badiouian flourishes, there are obvious points of similarity between teacher and student: the major role for mathematics, including the anointment of Georg Cantor as a pivotal figure for philosophy; the fondness for step-by-step logical argumentation; the absence of any especial interest in Heidegger or the phenomenological tradition. Both authors also display grand systematic ambitions of a kind that seemed unthinkable in our field a short time ago.
Nonetheless, Meillassoux's vision of the world is not Badiou's, and certain aspects of the former even cut against the grain of the latter. According to published information, Meillassoux was born in 1967 in Paris, son of the economic anthropologist Claude Meillassoux (19252005), an intellectual maverick in his own right. He is a graduate of the Ecole Normale Superieure, and has been employed at that institution for the past decade. Although Apres la finitude is Quentin Meillassoux's first book, anecdotal evidence suggests that he was generally known and highly regarded in Paris well beyond Badiou's circle even before the book appeared.

The very title After Finitude will be enough to startle present-day continental thought, since human finitude has been perhaps the central credo of the field from the time of its birth. The book consists of two opening critical chapters followed by two longer and more systematic chapters, closing with a short fifth chapter that harks back to the opening critique. Since Meillassoux himself agrees that Chapters 1, 2, and 5 can be taken as a unit,4 quite apart from whether the reader accepts the philosophical standpoint outlined in Chapters 3 and 4, the present review is organized according to this schema. Beginning with Meillassoux's onslaught against the Copernican Revolution of Kant, I will move to his more challenging attempt to establish a mathematical ontology that abandons the principle of sufficient reason, before closing with a brief assessment of the book as a whole.

Against Correlationism

One of the typical features of recent continental thought is its contempt for so-called "naive realism." The human being is now firmly established as the point of entry for all serious philosophy, even if redefined as a pure ego, linguistic agent, embodied animal, subject of power-plays, or historically rooted Dasein. The notion of an objective world-in-itself seems to elude our grasp. Nonetheless, few authors have faced this predicament with full-blown absolute idealism a la Berkeley-if not quite "naive," such extreme idealism strikes most of us as gratuitous and bizarre amidst the undeniable blows of the world. This leaves philosophy in an ambiguous position, neither realist nor idealist.
The obvious roots of this ambiguity lie in the Copernican Revolution of Kant, still the basic philosophical horizon of both the analytics and the continentals. Meillassoux's book ends with the daring claim that Kant's Revolution is in fact "a Ptolemaic Counter-Revolution (163),"5 one that makes philosophy revolve around humans at the precise moment when modern science had plunged into the world itself. In the wake of Kant's genius, we are too clever to believe in direct access to things in themselves, but also too sober to construct wild solipsistic theories that reduce the world to nothing but our own production. The favored middle-ground position for philosophers has been what Meillassoux calls "correlationism" (18). The correlationist holds that we can neither conceive of humans without world, nor of world without humans, but must root all philosophy in a correlation or rapport between the two.
The term "correlationism" strikes me as a devastating summary of post-Kantian thought. On the continental side, we find Husserl pleading for objectivity against psychologism while also defending ideality against the natural sciences; we have Heidegger claiming that reality neither exists nor fails to exist in the absence of Dasein; more recently, we see Zizek describe the Real as solely a gap in the world posited by the mad human subject, even while denying that he is an idealist.

On the analytic side, there is the "as if of Blackburn's quasi-realism; the internal exile of Putnam's internal realism; and Davidson's refusal to take the realism/anti-realism dispute seriously. All these positions, and countless others, join in allegiance to what Meillassoux calls the "correlational circle" (19). As he wonderfully puts it: "we will henceforth term correlationism every current of thought that upholds the uncircumventible character of the correlation understood in this way. Thus, we can say that every philosophy that claims not to be a naive realism has become a variant of correlationism" (18). The correlationist argument, often left vague or entirely unstated, holds that any attempt to think reality-in-itself automatically turns it into something not in-itself-since, after all, we are now thinking about it (17). On this basis, there is supposedly no way to reach the world an sich, but only a global correlation of human and world. Philosophy has lost what Meillassoux calls Ie Grand Dehors, "the Great Outside." In its place, we find that "this space of the outside is hence only the space of that which faces us, of that which exists only on the basis of a vis-a-vis with our own existence.... We do not transcend very far beyond ourselves when diving into such a world: we are content to explore the two faces of something that remains a face-to-face" (21 ). This correlate need not take the form of the old subject/object dualism. Indeed, most present-day philosophers unite in heaping scorn upon the antiquated model of subject and object. But this does not prevent them from remaining locked in the modern dance-step of correlationism. In particular, Meillassoux cites Heidegger's supposedly "more originary" correlation of being and thought in Ereignis as an example of how the rejection of subject and object does not quite get us off the correlationist hook (22). As Meillassoux sees it, all postcritical philosophy is correlationism (23)-or else a relapse into metaphysics, as with Whitehead and perhaps even the vitalism of Deleuze.6 Before Kant, philosophers dueled over who had the best model of substance: was it perfect forms, individual beings, prime matter, atoms, or God? Since Kant, these "naive" disputes have been replaced by combat over who has the best model of the human-world correlate: is it subject-object, noesis-noema, Dasein-Sein, or language-referent? In Meillassoux's eyes, "co" has become the dominant particle of the philosopher's lexicon (19), just as "always already" (21 ) has become the beloved phrase of those who grant extra-human reality only when we ourselves posit it retroactively. Yes, they tell us, the world exists in itself-but only for us (26).

The work of Quentin Meillassoux is meant as a clean break with all forms of correlationism, and he approaches the task with unusual boldness. He begins by drawing up a table of actual scientific dates (known to Heideggerians as "mere ontic information"): 13.5 billion years since the Big Bang, 4.45 billion since the formation of the earth, 3.5 billion since life began on our planet, and just two million years since the appearance of homo habilis (24).
He asks us to consider the status of statements about ancient events predating the relatively recent appearance of human beings, those pampered tyrants of correlational philosophy. For those entities that exist prior to all human life, Meillassoux coins the term "archifossil," and describes them as having "ancestrality" (24-26). In his view, the correlationists will always be at a loss when trying to deal with the ancestral archifossil. Their likely maneuver is a predictable one: the correlationist will not admit that a being actually exists prior to being given to humans, but only that it is given to humans as existing prior to such givenness (32). They will say that "the physical universe is not really known to precede the existence of humans, or at least the existence of living creatures; the world has meaning only as given to a living or thinking being" (33). They will try to reduce scientific statements about ancestral stellar explosions and mudslides to the means of scientific givenness of these events, just as in positivism or verificationism. "We can therefore say that the statement is true... without naively believing that its truth results from an adequation with the actual reality of its referent (a world without givenness of world)" (ibid.).

This correlationist attitude toward science is at the same time both modest and condescending. For on the one hand it leaves nature entirely to the sciences, laying no claim to the objective world for philosophy at all. But simultaneously, it holds that there is something more in the world that science cannot grasp (cf. Heidegger's "science does not think") -- a "logical" priority of statements about the world over the "chronological" priority of ancestral events themselves (32). In so doing, correlationists play the game of pretending that they do not interfere with the content of scientific statements. Yet interfere they do. For if scientific statements about the archifossil are not taken literally, they lose meaning altogether. The statement that the earth was formed 4.5 billion years ago means exactly what it says. It does mean what the correlationists claim, namely that "it is not ancestrality that precedes givenness, it is the present given that retroactively projects a past that seems ancestral" (34). For this is no longer the same statement as that of the scientists, and its supposedly agnostic attitude toward the real world cannot hide a form of crypto-idealism, since it tacitly dismisses all forms of realism as naive. Although Meillassoux's book does not openly equate correlationism with idealism, he does give an important hint along these lines: "faced with the archifossil, all idealisms converge and become equally extraordinary" (36). Insofar as Berkeley, Hegel, Heidegger, and Derrida all have equally little to tell us about events on the moon fifty million years ago, they all look like extreme idealists as soon as the archifossil rears its head. Just as some creationists claim that God planted pseudo-ancient fossils in the ground to test the Biblical faith of scientists, Meillassoux suggests acidly that his notion of the archifossil may serve to "test the philosopher's faith in the correlates, even in the presence of data that indicate an abyssal gap between that which exists and that which appears" (ibid.). For this reason, the problem of ancestrality is capable of overturning everything in philosophy since Kant (37). Moreover, as Meillassoux states at the close of his book, this problem would not disappear even if humans and the world had been created simultaneously-for in this case it still might have been otherwise, and hence the archifossil could still be reflected upon as a possibility (156-57). In passing, it should be said that this reformulation is perhaps too limited. It seems to me that the correlationist circle would be threatened not just by archifossils dating to before the emergence of the human species, but equally so by "extrafossils" lying outside current human access, such as objects locked in hidden vaults or refrigerators, or unknown oil reserves trapped beneath the ocean floor. After all, events unfolding right now in the core of Alpha Centauri actually happen inside that star, and not in the core of Alpha Centauri "for us."

In any case, Meillassoux holds that correlationism and naive realism are two separate ways of dodging the question of ancestrality (38). By contrast with his detailed analysis of correlationism, his arguments against naive realism are somewhat sketchy throughout the book, though this can perhaps be explained by the limited number of naive realists practicing philosophy today. Meillassoux insists that philosophy must seek nothing less than the absolute, abandoning its fixation on the transcendental conditions of human experience (39). Nonetheless, "we can no longer be metaphysicians, we can no longer be dogmatists. On this point, we can only be the heirs of Kantianism" (40).

[Continued]
The great failing of metaphysics, for Meillassoux, is that it always seeks some particular necessary being; in this respect, he seems in accord with the Heidegger/Derrida critique of ontotheology. As can be seen from the history of ontological proofs for the existence of God, metaphysics holds that at least one being must be necessary. The Leibnizian principle of sufficient reason goes even further, entailing that all beings are necessary. But for Meillassoux, "the rejection of dogmatic metaphysics means the rejection of all real necessity: and a fortiori the rejection of the principle of reason, as well as the ontological proof (46). What disappears in his argument is the Heideggerian appeal to the limits of finitude, or the postmodernist's agnostic uncertainty as to whether there is any necessity out there or not. As we will see below, Meillassoux holds that the laws of nature must be absolutely contingent. In this manner, without relapsing into the dogmatic tradition he loathes, Meillassoux restores a style of absolutist argument to continental philosophy that has been absent for decades, if not centuries.

Setting the table for his own position, Meillassoux draws a convincing distinction between "weak" and "strong" versions of correlationism. A good example of a weak correlationist is Kant, for whom the things themselves cannot be known, but can at least be thought. Kant's critical position "does not forbid all connection of thought with the absolute" (48). By contrast, strong correlationism (which includes most continental thinkers of the present day), holds that "it is equally illegitimate to claim that we are able, at least, to think [the in-itself]" (ibid.). The strong correlationist and the full-blown idealist agree that things themselves are not even thinkable. But whereas the hyper-idealist holds that we gain the absolute through the very conditions of all human thought, the strong correlationist refuses to follow, and is resigned to the facticity or finitude of human experience, devoid of all reference to the absolute. In other words, strong correlationism abandons Kant by holding that "just as we can only describe the a priori forms of sensibility and understanding, we can only describe the logical principles inherent in any thinkable proposition, but not deduce their absolute truth" (53). The result is a philosophy of facticity, which "is concerned with the supposed structural invariants of the world-invariants that can differ from one correlationism to another, but which play in each case the role of a minimal prescriptive order for thought: the principle of causality, the forms of perception, logical laws" (54). These invariant forms are taken as a purely given fact of which no change is ever experienced, but they are not thereby taken as something absolute. They are merely found and described-the basic Kantian method still used by strong correlationism in our own time, as in Heidegger's existential analytic of Dasein. Breaking with this tradition of factical description, Meillassoux wants to turn facticity into absolute contingency: "contingency signifies the fact that physical laws indifferently permit an event either to occur or not to occur -- permit a being to arise, endure, or perish" (ibid.).

Meillassoux notes a close link between facticity and the postmodern brand of philosophical religiosity. Stripped of all access to the absolute, the philosophy of fmitude seems impeccably modest in its claims about the world. But this attitude is by no means harmless, since it really allows us to make any statements about the absolute that we please. As he puts it, "the end of metaphysics conceived as a 'de-absolutization of thought' thus consists in the legitimation by reason of any religious (or 'poetico-religious') belief in the absolute whatever" (64), on the sole condition that no one claim to give rational grounds for such belief. The end of metaphysics, in banishing all traces of the absolute from philosophy, has in fact opened philosophy to the dominance of an exacerbated form of religiosity-in which philosophy becomes the handmaid of a correlationist theology of the shapeless Beyond, unfettered by even the barest logical constraints. Whereas a Christian disciple of Kant at least needed to demonstrate that the Trinity is not logically contradictory (60), even this minimal obligation has now vanished. Strong correlationism's apparent modesty toward the absolute has in fact opened the gates to every possible form of arbitrary belief. As Meillassoux puts it, in what may prove to be the most popular phrase of his book: "the better armed thought is against dogmatism, the more powerless it seems to be against fanaticism" (67). Stripped of all logical armament thanks to the strong correlationists, we are left with nothing but meager critiques of fanaticism in purely moral terms, reduced to complaining about the arrogance or bad practical effects of whichever fanatics we happen to dislike (65).

Against this empty fideism (which is found even in self-proclaimed atheists), and against violent fanaticism as its key historical symptom, "it is important to rediscover in philosophy a touch of the absolute" (68). This appeal to the absolute has not been heard in continental philosophy for a good long time, but Meillassoux is serious. Despite his obvious admiration for Kant, he refers to "the Kantian catastrophe" (171) in philosophy, by which he means the correlationist catastrophe. The great hope of Meillassoux's book, as proclaimed in its final sentences, is that the theme of ancestral things themselves might awaken us from our "correlational slumber" (178). Against the post-Kantian assumption that philosophers must "content [themselves] with showing the general conditions of givenness of phenomena" (174), ancestral events must be regarded as existing in themselves, not just as events for us. Instead of the transcendental idealism that silently dominates philosophy in our time, Meillassoux advocates a "speculative materialism" (169). While this phrase is little developed in the present book, it is sufficiently apt as a description of his standpoint that I would expect it to return in force in his future works.

But Meillassoux does not leave us hanging with these critical arguments against correlationism. He also gives us a considerable taste of his own philosophy, in which "it is a matter of holding firmly to the Cartesian thesis that whatever can be mathematized can be absolutized, without reviving the principle of reason. And this strikes us as a task that is not only possible, but urgent" (175). The essential criteria of all mathematical statements will be transformed into necessary conditions of the contingency of every being. This notion harks back to the opening words of Meillassoux's book, deliberately unmentioned until now: "The theory of primary and secondary qualities seems to belong to a hopelessly out-ofdate philosophical past. It is time to rehabilitate it" (13). secondary qualities, of course, are those held to exist only in relation to a perceiver, whereas primary qualities are those that exist outside of all perception. While strong correlationism gives a de facto endorsement of Berkeley's view that all qualities exist only in their relation to a perceiver, Meillassoux restores to the world "a touch of the absolute" by arguing that "for anything in the object that can be formulated in mathematical terms, it is meaningful to speak of it as a property of the object in-itself" (16). In short, Meillassoux's speculative materialism is an attempt to fuse absolute mathematical necessity with an equally absolute contingency of beings in the natural world. We will now examine the way that he reaches this strange hybrid position.

Meillassoux's Speculative Position

Chapters 3 and 4 give us the heart of Meillassoux's argument, and presumably the seeds of his future work as well. We have seen that correlationist philosophy undercuts naive realism by holding that humans and the world (or their more sophisticated variants) make sense only as codependent terms. Yet by reducing ancestral reality to reality-for-us, correlationism fails to do it justice. One approach to this impasse would be a kind of subjective idealism. Namely, we could decide that the facticity of the human/world correlate gives us a new kind of absolute, one that comprises a novel form of the an sich. We would then have an actual new form of knowledge, not just a limitation on knowledge; the an sich would no longer lie in some inaccessible beyond, but would be unveiled from the structural features of the correlate itself (72).

Meillassoux rejects this option, since it is no better suited than strong correlationism to describing the ancestral independence of the world. Instead, in the key maneuver of the book, he shifts our focus from the conditions of the correlate back to the things of the world: "the supreme necessity of the correlational circle is going to appear to us as the contrary of what it seems: facticity will be revealed as a knowledge of the absolute, because we are going to put back into the things that which we have mistaken for an incapacity of thought" (72). What Meillassoux intends is to transform the disavowal of sufficient reason from a poignant limitation on finite human knowledge into a positive principle of contingency in the things themselves. As he boldly puts it: "the failure of the principle of reason, from this perspective, thus results quite simply from the falsity (the absolute falsity, even) of such a principle. For in truth, nothing has a reason for being and for remaining as it is rather than otherwise" (73). In place of the famous Leibnizian principle, Meillassoux offers a new principle of absolute unreason in the things. The correlationist will respond, of course, that we cannot be sure that things themselves are contingent, but only that they are contingent insofar as we know them. Against this predictable objection, Meillassoux demonstrates that correlationism itself already presupposes the very principle that he advocates. 'To oppose [the correlationist], there is only one way to proceed: we need to show that the correlational circle ... if it is thinkable, itself presupposes the tacit concession that contingency is absolute" (74).

Throughout the book, Meillassoux displays an almost Hegelian gift for counterposing multiple arguments, turning them around from various dizzying angles, and finally selecting a winner for the clearest and subtlest of reasons. Hence, it is no wonder that the central argument of his book hinges on an imaginary discussion between five separate philosophical characters. As if he were setting up a dirty joke or a Brunoesque dialogue between philosophers and clowns, Meillassoux relates the following scenario: two dogmatists-a Christian and an atheist-are arguing about the afterlife, and along comes a correlationist. Each of the dogmatists (I like to imagine them as wearing, respectively, a bishop's outfit and a Jacobin liberty cap) is absolutely sure of his views. Either there is a God who preserves the soul after death, or there is not. The correlationist now walks up and counters both dogmatists with a strict form of agnosticism: for how can either character be so sure of reality-in-itself, given that we are limited to our own human access to the world, unable to penetrate to a world-in-itself lying beyond (75)? But along comes yet another character: a "subjective idealist," who "declares that [the correlationist] upholds a position just as inconsistent as those of the [dogmatists].
For all three think that there could be an in-itself radically different from our present state: a God inaccessible to natural reason, or a pure nothingness" (ibid., my italics). Since the subjective idealist makes the human-world correlate utterly absolute, he regards it as impossible even to conceive of its destruction by death: "since an in-itself different from the forms is unthinkable, the idealist proclaims it to be impossible" (ibid.). Of all four characters, Meillassoux holds that the agnostic correlationist is closest to the truth, since it is only he who realizes that things might well be otherwise than we think. After all, each of the dogmatists is trapped in a particular positive doctrine, and the subjective idealist is trapped in an undogmatic but still prison-like correlate. Only the agnostic acknowledges that death and the afterlife are both thinkable without turning them into dogmatic proclamations.
With the field reduced to a sole survivor, a new rival appears: the speculative philosopher (i.e., Meillassoux himself).
This novel figure proceeds to dethrone the correlationist by showing that our possible destruction by death reflects not just the agnostic's limited knowledge, but rather an absolute possibility. How so? The argument runs as follows. Note that the correlationist's agnosticism has to allow for the possibility that one of the two dogmatisms may well be correct. For if he disallows the possible truth of any dogmatism, then he is effectively stating that the correlate is an absolutely unsurpassable horizon-and the subjective idealist wins. Put differently, each of the three other characters allows for only one absolute solution: for the Christian it is the afterlife; for the atheist it is annihilation; for the subjective idealist it is the unsurpassable correlate itself. Initially, it is only the agnostic correlationist who leaves open the possibility that any of these three absolutes may be correct. The speculative philosopher merely adds an additional twist: namely, if the correlationist is to avoid becoming a subjective idealist, he cannot allow the openness of possibilities to be just one possible option among others. The agnostic correlationist's entire argument hinges on replacing absolute Christianity, atheism, or subjective idealism with an absolute openness. And for this reason, he is forced to throw in his lot with Meillassoux's speculative position. After all, the very possibility of distinguishing between a for-us and an in-itself at all requires that it be absolutely possible that there is more to reality than is currently visible in the correlational circle. In short, the agnostic is not an agnostic when it comes to agnosticism, but must be absolutely agnostic.

Another way to view the situation is that there are really only two options. Either we emphasize the contingent facticity of the correlate and thereby remove its absolute status, or we disavow this contingent facticity in order to turn the correlate itself into absolute reality, and thereby become subjective idealists. No middle ground is possible. Meillassoux chooses the former path, arriving at his speculative position by simply radicalizing what the correlationists already presuppose -- namely, the possibility that there might be something in-itself different from what appears to us. If we fail to accept this possible difference, then we either absolutize subjective experience (like the subjective idealist) or plunge into our preferred dogma (like the Christian and the atheist). The irony is that Meillassoux goes beyond correlationism by radicalizing its own internal conditions; this has possible implications worth considering at the end of this review. But for anyone who concludes too quickly that this leads him to a metaphysics privileging human being, Meillassoux has a ready counterargument: "we do not contend that it is necessary that some specific being exist, but rather that it is absolutely necessary that any being is capable of not exisiting" (82, my italics). If it were otherwise, we would have metaphysics in the bad sense, a humanized ontotheology, whereas "[my] thesis is rather speculative -- one thinks an absolute without being metaphysical -- one thinks nothing (no specific being) which would be absolute. The absolute is the absolute impossibility of a necessary being" (ibid). The principle of sufficient reason is replaced by a global unreason, an inherently negative term later replaced by the more positive "factuality." Whereas the facticity of a situation points to its sheer contingency, the very structure of facticity is not itself contingent, and this non-facticity of facticity itself is what is given the name "factual" (107).

[Read the rest of the essay here.]
It seems to me that the likes of L&J's embodied realism avoids the correlational divide, as it is grounded in pre-human, environmental and biological "ancestrality."
Yes, I was thinking along those lines, as well -- that enactive, embodied cognitive models avoid a number of the problems he identifies with correlationism. I'll need to get more familiar with his overall thesis, but my impression is that while he appears to target (and possibly dismantle) several of the conceptual supports of postmetaphysical (and integral) approaches, his approach is in other ways in accord with the thrust of an "integral enactive postmetaphysical" philosophy (arguing, for instance, for the value of a grand synthesis, and tackling the performative contradiction of strong relativistic correlationism head-on). Based on my initial (very cursory) impression so far, I am not sold on the direction he has taken, but I think it represents an interesting challenge.
I like this edited excerpt from the above summary of Meillassoux's work:

"What Meillassoux intends is to transform the disavowal of sufficient reason from a poignant limitation on finite human knowledge into a positive principle of contingency in the things themselves.... In place of the famous Leibnizian principle, Meillassoux offers a new principle of absolute unreason in the things. The correlationist will respond, of course, that we cannot be sure that things themselves are contingent, but only that they are contingent insofar as we know them. Against this predictable objection, Meillassoux demonstrates that correlationism itself already presupposes the very principle that he advocates.

"The speculative philosopher merely adds an additional twist: namely, if the correlationist is to avoid becoming a subjective idealist, he cannot allow the openness of possibilities to be just one possible option among others. The agnostic correlationist's entire argument hinges on replacing absolute Christianity, atheism, or subjective idealism with an absolute openness."

We pondered some of this before, that the pomos have a hidden absolute in the "contingency of the things in themselves." Of course this had led to the charge of performative contradiction. Pomo tries to get around this charge but why not, as M suggest, just admit this absolute at the heart of the matter? Of course this absolute isn't metaphysical but rather only an "openness to possibilities." But like our prior discussion of transitional strucutures it has to replace the other views with a strong claim of its'own, not merely negate the others and leave us in suspended animation.

All of which reminds me of several threads discussing Derrida as doing exactly this through his undeconstructable messianicity aka the wholly other.
Here's a blog post from someone writing a book about Meillassoux discussing the six key pillars of M's argument. An interesting excerpt:

"Meillassoux is interested in the contingent relations between events across time, and has no discernible interest in the emergence of wholes from parts in any given moment."
I just read Caputo's interesting review of a book about a debate between Millbank and Zizek. Here are some excepts highlighting my point from the next to last post, and related to what I've read so far about Miellassoux:

"The core theoretical debate in this book goes back to Hegel, about which Milbank and Žižek share considerable agreement. For Hegel, the fundamental motor of time and becoming is dialectical reconciliation of the members of a binary oppositional pair in virtue of which each one tends to pass into the other on a higher level. But Žižek rejects Hegel's invocation of "reconciliation" of opposites in a happier harmony. For Žižek the next step, the negation of the negation, does not mean a step up (aufheben) to a higher plane of unity but instead a more radically negative negation in which we are led to see that this mutual antagonism is all there is and that we are going to have to work through it. The unreconciled is real and the real is unreconciled. The only reconciliation is to reconcile ourselves to the irreconcilable, to admit that there is no reconciliation, and to come to grips with it. The negation of the negation leaves us with a deeper negation, not with an affirmation. It is not that the spirit is first whole, then wounded, then healed; rather such healing as is available to it comes by getting rid of the idea of being whole to begin with. The antithesis is already the synthesis (72).

"Žižek provocatively suggests an odd kind of 'positive' unbelief in an undead God, like the 'undead' in the novels of Stephen King, a 'spectral' belief that is never simple disbelief along with a God who is never simply dead (101). God is dead but we continue to (un)believe in the ghost of god, in a living dead god. If atheism ("I don't believe in God") is the negation of belief ("I believe in God"), what is the negation of that negation? It is not a higher living spirit of faith that reconciles belief and unbelief but a negation deeper than a simple naturalistic and reactionary atheism (like Hitchins and Dawkins). Belief is not aufgehoben but rather not quite killed off, even though it is dead. It is muted, erased but surviving under erasure, like seeing Marley's ghost even though Scrooge knows he is dead these twenty years; like a crossed out letter we can still read, oddly living on in a kind of spectral condition. Things are neither black nor white but shifting, spectral, incomplete. We have bid farewell to God, adieu to the good old God (à Dieu), farewell to the Big Other, Who Makes Everything Turn Out Right, Who Writes Straight with Crooked Lines, who maketh me to lie down in green pastures. Still, that negation of negation does not spell the simple death of belief but its positive mode in which belief, while dead, lives on (sur/vivre). This unbelief would be the 'pure form' of belief, and if belief is the substance of the things that appear not, Žižek proposes a belief deprived of substance as well as of appearance. Žižek mocks Derrida mercilessly, but when spaceship Žižek finally lands, when this buzzing flutterbug named Žižek finally alights, one has to ask, exactly how far has he landed from Derrida's 'spectral messianic.'"
Interesting. That does seem close to D's messianic notions. But I'm not sure how that lines up with Kegan's work (on the unfolding of orders of meaning-making and world-negotiation), which I find more compelling than what I understand Zizek to be saying. It seems to me that Zizek is describing a particular turn, not the necessary shape of every turn.

Jim tells me he's reading After Finitude in preparation for reading Nihil Unbound by Ray Brassier (who is the one who wrote the summary I quoted above, I believe). The thesis of Nihil Unbound is a strong eliminative materialism -- not my cup of tea, but I may check it out based on Jim's recommendation.
And it seems to me that M questions the kind of Hegelian holarchical "meta" synthesis* necessary for the likes of Kegan. And that the likes of a Zizek or Derrida accept contingency as an "absolute." As M says, this isn't a particular turn but the ontological nature of the things in themselves.

* Recall: "Guided by Badiou's use of set theory, Meillassoux argues that Hume's probabilistic reasoning rests upon the dubious assumption that the set of possible outcomes of an event can be totalized. Probability as a metaphysical fact is undermined by Cantor's discovery of "transfinites"--that is, the multiplicity of infinities that cannot be gathered into a single 'meta-set.'"
Yes, I understand. What isn't clear to me is whether this completely invalidates the evolution of meaning-systems that Kegan describes, or whether it just undermines the "closure" we might expect any new emergent meaning-making system (including a meta-system like Kegan's) to exhibit. In other words, while we may speak of a holotropism in the movement of meaning making -- a movement towards wholeness -- there is no single meta-set of meaning that ever "arrives." I know you've studied and thought through this more carefully than I have, so I might be missing something, but it still seems to me that the "move" that the likes of M or D or Z make isn't "open" to everyone; it won't make sense to everyone, they won't be able to "see" it (apparently apart from a degree of development).

If contingency is taken at an extreme so that there is no possibility of speaking of "systems" at all, then one wonders how Brassier could speak of the "predictable" responses of correlationists...
Like you I'm not sure that it invalidates the evolution of meaning making, only that evolution in this case likely doesn't follow the trajectory of biological evolution (transcend and include). That is, I'm not so sure that the evolution of worldviews, for example, is of the "developmental" variety but rather much more contingent to specific environmentlal and cultural conditions. Even some Gebserians see worldviews not as continuous but as completely irruptive "mutations" with prior views, much more contingent to conditions and X factors. Hence we get the feeling of plurality in M, that his absolute is not a metaphysical singularity with any specifc goal. Or even a more general goal like "progress" or " increasing complexity" or "wholeness" etc. This seems to be the same issue in Jospeh's thread on evolutionary spirituality.

As to M/D/Z's views being avaiable to anyone, of course not. But it might be more a matter of learning and understanding than of progressive development? Granted the learning process itself is in some ways developmental but perhaps not entirely, especially after a certain point? I don't know, just fishing.

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