"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?
"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.
"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."
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...
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.
Not being a mathematician (not even close!), I'm sort of at a loss with many mathematical references, but this entry suggests that Meillassoux is up to something similar to Spencer-Brown's efforts, at least in ways of working if not conclusions (I'm too unclear on Meillassoux's work to speak to conclusions)...
"The point of disagreement between Hegel and Meillassoux is contradiction. To obtain a philosophical system of endless becoming and relating, Hegel sacrificed the Aristotelian principle of non-contradiction, so that anything objectively contains its dialectical opposite which makes it develop further, from inside as it were. Contradiction’s diffusion across all beings immediately turns Being into Becoming. And objective, real contradiction was the principle that made from Hegelianism a radical tradition, from Marx to Mao to Marcuse.
"For Meillassoux, however, the concept of contradiction entails a form of necessity which he will not allow. For if there were an entity that was contradictory, it would have to give up absolute contingency, being 'tied' to its non-being or its opposite and hampered in its development by this link (here Deleuze would concur). More abstractly, if non-existence and otherness are already attributes of the contradictory entity (it is and it is also not; it is its own other), it cannot really move between what it is and something else: 'a contradictory entity could never become other than it is now, for it is already ‘other than itself ’ as it exists now,' as Brassier clarifies about Meillassoux’ position. 'Since it remains self-identical in being-other than itself, it cannot pass into or out of existence. Thus it exists necessarily, since it is impossible to conceive of it as not existing.'"
1. I don't much like the activity of thinking and what little of it I have done has generally been a disservice to my life; it is not particularly entertaining for me and rarely gets me where I want or need to go. But because we have just returned to Vla. from a 3-month helter-skelter, dashed-plan journey across one third of the USA and one third of Canada in a marginally functional, but thunderously powerful, '93 GMC conversion van, I am decompressing here in the tropics and giving my instincts and habits for impulse a necessary rest. So I sank to the level of thinking and thus welcomed the novelty of Meillassoux. I have not read After Finitude but absorbed almost everything I could find about it on the web. Apparently coming from a different source than Edward I found the essay by Arun Saldanha to be quite clear, direct and balanced and the most helpful review of those sampled.
2. I firmly appreciate the idea that contingency is the only absolute. Now that was a stroke of genius. Likewise for the perception that the Great Outdoors is chaos exempt from even probabilities. Both fit my experience especially the last three months of it that began with the eventually successful pro se work to quash an arrest warrant that had been issued for me in Arizona in 2005.
3. In Meillassoux I have finally found a contemporary writer to whom I can refer for the justification of my statement: : "The fact that so many smart people appreciate Kant really creeps me out."
4. Saldanha touches cursorily on Meillassoux' refutation of parts of Rorty's works, a refutation to which, within the limits of Saldanha's brevity, I disagree. My reading of the situation is that Meillassoux, a Continental philosopher much concerned with "what is," does not have the cultural perspective to sufficiently contextualize Rorty as an American political theorist focused on "what works."
5. I like this quote:
"The subject is transcendental only insofar as it is positioned in the world, of which it can only ever discover a finite aspect, and which it can never recollect in its totality. […] That the transcendental subject has this or that body is an empirical matter, but that it has [stronger still, it is] a body is a non-empirical condition of its taking place—the body, one could say, is the ‘retro-transcendental’ condition for the subject of knowledge.” (AF, 25)"
6. I agree with Kela and Edward that there isn't much of a correlation between the works of Meillassoux and Marks-Tarlow. Although they both call on mathematics for back-up, they are writing on two different topics. Parenthetically, I can appreciate Marks-Tarlow's application of a borrowed vocabulary to throw a novel light on long standing theory. If it helps to get her clientele through their troubled nights then it is more than worth all those difficult words.
7. In my research on Meillassoux I came across references to his fellow "Speculative Realist/Materialist," Ray Brassier. He is quoted in his Wikipedia bio as writing: "Philosophy....would do well to desist from issuing any further injunctions about the need to re-establish the meaningfulness of existence, the purposefulness of life, or mend the shattered concord between man and nature. It should strive to be more than a sop to the pathetic twinge of human self-esteem. Nihilism is not an existential quandary but a speculative opportunity." Yes! There is hope for humanity.
8. To the extent that the greatest "spiritual" event of my life was a six-week-long ecstatic revel at the realization of the total meaninglessness of human existence, I have a profound respect for the anti-humanism of Meillassoux and Brassier. My own modest nihilistic speculation is that those of us who care to can, from the depths of the abyss and for the sake of doing something cosmically unlawful, counterfeit an unabashedly arrogant faux humanism (is arrogance ever anything more than faux?) an live on in the joy of our own inauthenticity.
9. I again found nothing in this thread that has anything to do with spirituality, but that is just as well because I have noticed that whenever anyone posts anything in IPMS that is even vaguely spiritual it is immediately derided as naïve and the thread dies an early death.
Me: We also discussed Meillassoux in sections of the real and false reason thread, pp. 4, 5 and 6. Here is one of my comments from p.6: