Speculative Realism, or What’s On in Philosophy

From the transcript of the “Speculative Realism” workshop at Goldsmiths, in the latest issue of Collapse:

Iain Hamilton Grant: … So I think there can be no liberality at that level, and realism can’t be regionalized, as it were, nor said to be realism if it is dependent on the willed suppression of some external condition. An ethical realism is precisely not a realism, in the same way that a political realism is not a realism. In the same way, in fact — and I know this is contentious, but it seems to me a point that needs to be made — a critical materialism is not a materialism. Fundamentally, it’s a materialism oriented, driven, steered, designed, by critique. In other words, it’s a theory of matter held by people with some use for certain bits of it and none for others. How is it possible for critical materialism to think that there can be a difference between what matters and crude matter, you know, things like plants? So I think there can’t be any liberality at that level, that would be my answer. And the very fact that such positions are perpetuated is the reason why this needs to be done again.

Graham Harman: I can guess what you think of Marxist materialism.

IAH: Love it! No, it’s simply wrong. The idea that it’s possible to invoke a diminished realm, as it were, for matter and to condemn whatever does not fulfill the economic, teleological purposes of certain types of agents to a sphere of ‘merely crude matter,’ where it has absolutely no effects whatsoever, where it’s left to one side of the philosophical and the political problem, seems to me a recipe for disaster. If you’re trying to do politics, if you’re trying to work out, ‘we need to do x, how are we going to do x, we need a strategy,’ and so on. What’s the first thing you do? You take account of the environment, and so on. What’s the first thing critical materialism does? ‘I want a theory of matter, what am I going to do? I know, I’ll ignore half of it.’ That’s not good metaphysics, fundamentally. It’s not a good way of approaching reality, it seems to me.

Peter Hallward: But what about cases where you do will something to be true, though, or to be the case? I mean, just banally, holding a promise, making a commitment. There are cases in which something comes to be because you will it so, and politics would be completely disarmed if you lost that.

IHG: There’s the Spinozist response to that: what I think of as my freedom is my incapacity to explain the cause of the event that I’m trying to describe. I move my arm because I will it so, or do I just not know the causes of my arm moving? That’s the Spinozist answer…

PH: And like I said, that disarms, well, that is the disarming of politics.

IHG: Yeah, yeah it is. I think…fundamentally it seems to be a question about consistency of effects, at one level. It’s possible that a series of actions can be maintained despite having, let’s say, punctual conditions of production. So there seems to be a consistency of events, and they’re all tending in one direction. I want to raise my arm because I want the bus to stop. So I stick my arm out and the bus stops — a triumph for transcendentalism! I have achieved the stopping of the bus by means of my will alone. Let’s say that happens. It really does seem to be about a question of consistency, and the problem from the perspective I come from is how to explain the consistency, and I do acknowledge that’s a problem. But do we explain it any more by saying that it’s an act of will? I don’t think so. I think the reason we move our arms is because we have arms to move, first and foremost, and because there are certain contours of the world that make that a possible gesture and a significant gesture: naturalistically possible and socially practical. It has outcomes. But the question of whether we should hold ontology ransom to political expediency seems to precisely represent the problem of transcendentalism, in so far as the latter concerns ‘what are the spheres of my legitimate autonomy, over what I can legislate?’

Ali Alizadeh: Action and will do not only belong to the practical realm of philosophy. They go back to Descartes, in a sense, because will and action are the very necessary elements of thinking itself. Without willing to think there is no thought — so before it becomes the practical element, it’s epistemic.

IHG: Again, this is a solution, I think, that’s often tried. Let’s say we’ve accepted the point that in order to think I have to will it, yes? And let’s say I’m not thinking yet, but I will to think. I will to think, and then comes the thought. How can I will to think prior to the thought that I will to think being there? I can’t. So the idea that there is a will that thinks thought for me makes sense if and only if that will is outside me, is nothing to do with me. So it’s not my will that causes the thought to occur. If we call it ‘will’ that presumably serves some additional ontology, some additional metaphysics — let’s say the Fichtean one, which does subsume epistemology, the theoretical under the practical. Let’s say that’s the aim. Then it begins to make sense to do that, but only given those caveats. Fundamentally, however, I don’t think it’s true that my thinking is caused by my will. Would that it were! For God’s sake, then practical problems like writing papers late at night would disappear!

AA: But you don’t have any criteria for the intensity of the receptivity of sense data here — that is, whether or not I’m aware of the intensity of what I’m receiving, reinforcing that data, and that I’m not just receiving it in a kind of semi-unconscious state…

IHG: Yeah, put it in the form of a question: What is the impetus to thought? Where does thought come from? If you can answer that question, then we can say what the source of the thought is. And the necessary answer, I would contend, is that it comes from nature.

Cecile Malaspina: And where does nature come from?

IHG: What’s the ground of the ground? — absolutely. Why is there this nature rather than another, and so on? That’s the principle of sufficient reason, that’s the problem of ground. That’s why I think it’s an important question.

GH: … ‘Speculative Realism,’ first of all, is a very apt title, because realism, of course, is very out of fashion in philosophy. And I think one of the reasons it’s out of fashion is that it’s considered boring. Realism is the philosophy of the boring people who smack down the imaginative ones and force them to take account of the facts. G.E. Moore supposedly held up his hand and said: here it is, external objects exist. Yes, but that hardly exhausts the field of reality! And as yesterday’s Lovecraft conference indicated, realism is always in some sense weird. Realism is about the strangeness in reality that is not projected onto reality by us. It is already there by dint of being real. And so it’s a kind of realism without common sense. If you look at the work of all four of us, there’s not much common sense in any of it. The conclusions are very strange in all four cases. In Ray’s [Brassier] case you have a reductive eliminativism, and you end his book with the husks of burnt-out stars and the meaninglessness of everything. That’s not something you usually get in G.E. Moore and those sorts of realists! In Iain’s book you have a pre-individual dynamic flux that somehow meets with retardations and becomes encrusted into rivers and mountains. In my work you get objects infinitely withdrawing from each other into vacuums and only barely managing to communicate across some sort of qualitative bridge. And of course in Quentin’s [Meillassoux] philosophy you get no causal necessity whatsoever. Everything’s pure contingency. These are not the sorts of notions one usually associates with realism. Metaphysics is usually thought to be concerned with wild, speculative sorts of ideas, and speculation is usually not considered a form of realism. You hear ‘speculative idealism,’ not ‘speculative realism.’ Another obvious common link is a kind of anti-Copernicanism. Kant is still the dominant philosopher of our time. Kant’s shadow is over everyone, and many of the attempts to get beyond Kant don’t get beyond Kant at all. I think Heidegger is a good example of this. Heidegger’s a great example of the ‘correlationist,’ in Meillassoux’s sense. Obviously, we all think of Kant as a great philosopher. But that doesn’t mean he’s not a problem. It doesn’t mean that Kant is the right inspiration for us, and in fact, I hold that the Kantian alternatives are now more or less exhausted.

Quentin Meillassoux: … The realist always has to posit more concepts to prove he has accessed pre-conceptual reality. The situation seems desparate: how could you refute that whenever you think something, you think something? That’s why the realist, conscious that his reasoning is apparently in vain, has generally renounced any attempt to refute the correlationist and has adopted what I call a ‘logic of secession’ towards him. This secession is a blunt refusal addressed to the correlationist: an ‘I won’t discuss with you anymore, I will rather discuss about you.’ This is a logic of unbinding, of independence, but this independence is not the originary independence of the Real towards the correlation but that of the realist towards the discussion with the correlationist. The logic of secession, it seems to me, takes two principle forms in modernity.

The first one consists in fleeing voluntarily from the discussion in order to discover the richness of the concrete world. Schopenhauer said that solipsism was a fortress impossible to penetrate, but also pointless to attack, since it is empty. Solipsism is a philosophy that nobody can refute, but also one that nobody can believe. So let’s leave the fortress as it is, and let’s explore the world in all its vastness! The first strategy of the realist, similarly, concerns the fortress of correlation: ‘If you want to stick your plaster on me, please do, but then leave me alone; I have so many interesting realities to investigate!’ This is what I call: ‘The Rhetoric of the Rich Elsewhere.’ The realist disqualifies the correlationist argument as uninteresting, producing arid idealities, boring academics, and pathological intellectuals. ‘Let’s stop discussing, and let’s open the windows: let’s inhale things and feel the breeze.’ This is an attractive and sometimes powerful rhetoric — not a pejorative but in a Nietzschean sense. A rhetoric of the fruitful concreteness of things, the revenge of descriptions and style on repetitive quibbles. Latour, sometimes, severs all links with correlationism in such a way, and does so with much talent and humor. It must be added, of course, that he also uses other elaborate instruments to fight the circle. But in the case of the ‘Rich Elsewhere’ rhetoric, it is clear that it is not an argument, but a disqualification of he who argues: the sickly and boring correlationist.

The other method of disqualification used by modern realism is a more fundamental one: it brings out the implicit logic of the ‘Rich Elsewhere,’ which consists in replacing the discussion with the correlationist with an exposition of his motivations. We no longer examine what he says, we examine why he says what he says. It is the well-known logic of suspicion that we find in Marx, with the notion of ideology, or in Freud, with precisely the notion of resistance. The realist fights every form of idealism by discovering the hidden reasons behind these discourses — reasons that do not concern the content of philosophies, but the shameful motivations of their supporters: class-interest, libido, etc. In this way, the realist explains in advance why his theories must be refused by those who are unable to see the truth for such and such objective reasons. Hence he will neutralise any refutation as an already-described symptom of social or psychological resistance, unconscious resistance which is, according to the realist, often unavoidable. But what is interesting, from my own point of view, is that this well-known strategy of suspicion can be understood as the necessary result of an inability to rationally refute the insipid and implacable argument of the correlationist. And we could say the same about the Nietzschean suspicion of the sickly Kantians of the University.

I refuse suspicion because realism, in my view, must remain a rationalism. The circle argument is an argument and must be treated as such. You don’t refuse a mathematical demonstration because the mathematicians are supposed to be sickly or full of frustrated libido, you refuse what you refute! I clearly understood the calamitous consequences of the notion of resistance when I heard an astrologer, answering placidly to a skeptic, that the latter’s incredulity was predictable since he was a Scorpio!

What is at stake, consequently, is to build up a realism released from the strategy of suspicion: a realism which doesn’t need to disqualify the correlationist because it has clearly refuted him. I want that easy and implacable refutation to be transferred to the other side, from correlationism to realism; and, conversely, the argument of resistance to become the last possible defense of correlationism itself. But I don’t want to refute only to refute and win the discussion. As we shall see, I’m looking for a creative refutation. That is, a refutation which discovers a truth, an absolute truth, inside the circle itself. That’s why I propose an access to the Real not grounded on an axiom, but on a demonstrated principle — the principle of factuality that I’m now going to set out.

I call ‘facticity’ the lack of reason of any reality; that is, the impossibility of giving an ultimate ground to the existence of any being. We can reach conditional necessity, but never absolute necessity. If definite consequences and physical laws are posited, we can claim that a determined effect must follow. But we shall never find a ground to these laws and causes, except eventually other ungrounded causes and laws: there is no ultimate cause, nor ultimate law, that is a cause or a law including the ground of its own existence. But this facticity, this ultimate ungrounding of things, is also proper to thought. The Cartesian cogito clearly shows this point: what is necessary in the cogito is a conditional necessity: if I think, then I must be. But it is not an absolute necessity: it is not necessary that I should think. From the inside of the correlation, I have access to my own facticity, and so to the facticity of the world correlated to my subjective access to it. And this because of the lack of an ultimate reason, of a causa sui, able to ground my existence.

Facticity so defined is, in my view, the fundamental answer to any absolutisation of the correlation, for if correlation is factual, we can no longer say — as the idealist does — that it is a necessary component of any reality.

(see also quotes pertaining to realism in fiction here).

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163 Responses to “Speculative Realism, or What’s On in Philosophy”

  1. lecolonelchabert Says:

    I suspect Quentin Meillassoux’s project is histrionic to a point. He is deliberately quixotic. He seem purposefully to provoke certain responses from his heideggerian colleagues while all the while posing as sort of gleaming eyed and quite convinced he will be able to overcome them with his “demonstration” of their “error”. A little like proposing to refute a Beethoven symphony. Or prove with mathematical irresistibility that Angelina Jolie is not beautiful and can’t act.

  2. traxus4420 Says:

    and yet in the world of philosophy it might actually ‘work,’ that is, actually provoke (response papers) and not be laughed out the room — which is what would happen in the case of those 2 counterexamples.

  3. lecolonelchabert Says:

    ” provoke (response papers) and not be laughed out the room ”

    but he was laughed out of the room, basically, as he himself anticipated with foreshadowing. His opponents said Meillassoux is a naive young man, who has misread, and misunderstood, and doesn’t know we covered all this in the thirties, etc. He has not made a single convert from the correlationists. And I think the excitement of his performance depends on this, on his sort of character protagonist pose as believing – like quixote – he is in one kind of environment (science-like) while his authorial persona knows that everyone around him is in another world. He even writes the lines for the correlationists’ resistance in advance of real external ripostes.

    Isn’t the drama that the refutation will not succeed? That none of the heideggerians will say “‘oh, gee, you’re right” but instead will all perform as the astrologer he offers (in advance!) as their caricature?

  4. lecolonelchabert Says:

    I mean part of the performance of his refutation is the prolepsis…some will say this is merely a lacunae etc…then this is actually the response he gets. Isn’t he trying to show exactly this? It’s almost like a re-staging in postmodern style (like Badiou’s Ahmed le Subtil of Molmière) of Horskheimer’s The Social Function of Philosophy; Meillassoux assigns himself one role from that play, and assigns all the other parts too, and depends on his colleagues playing them properly, which, in fact, they do.

  5. lecolonelchabert Says:

    Molière, Horkheimer

  6. lecolonelchabert Says:

    I mean:

    “provoke (response papers)”

    yeah, it did of course, but look at them. What do they say?

    And what do we then, the jury, the audience, get out of the spectacle of the debate?

  7. lecolonelchabert Says:

    the effort to sideline ideology is dramatised; he says, you can’t confront this product as ideology, you have to take it as the product of disinterested rationality and judge it as such and refute it according to accepted scientific procedures. So, he does. He refutes it. The refutation is irresistible! But, everyone nonetheless resists it. The procedures and criteria of proof it turns out are not accepted here in this environment. This, then, the irrational, post-refutation, obstinate clinging to the refuted product of disinterested rationality, to the product that is shown (according to criteria borrowed from another discipline) to be in error…can this too be dealt with without consideration of ideology? This is where Meillassoux takes us; that’s the situation he has created at the moment.

  8. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “Confrontés à l’argument de Meillassoux concernant l’archifossile, les partisans du corrélationisme
    n’ont pas tardé à élaborer une contre-offensive. Dans un supplément à la prochaine traduction anglaise
    d’Après la finitude, Meillassoux récapitule les deux objections les plus fréquentes et y répond. La défense
    corrélationiste présente deux niveaux. D’abord, Meillassoux est accusé de transformer exagérément un
    phénomène inobservé en une négation de la corrélation, alors qu’en fait il ne s’agirait que d’une lacune de la
    corrélation. Puis Meillassoux est déclaré coupable de confondre naïvement l’empirique et le transcendantal.”

    Confronted with Meillassoux’ argument concerning the arche-fossil, the partisans of correlationism wasted no time in launching their counter offensive. [!] In an addition to the English translation of Après la finitude, Meillassoux rehashed the two most frequent objections and responded to them. The correlationist defence has two levels: first Meillassoux was accused of exaggeratedly transforming an unobserved phenomenon into a negation of correlation, when it was really nothing more than a gap in correlation. Next Meillassoux was pronounced guilty of naively confounding the empirical and the transcendental.

    Brassier

  9. lecolonelchabert Says:

    Here is The Social Function of Philosophy conveniently at marxists.

  10. lecolonelchabert Says:

    (” I clearly understood the calamitous consequences of the notion of resistance when I heard an astrologer, answering placidly to a skeptic, that the latter’s incredulity was predictable since he was a Scorpio!”

    of course it is not very likely that Meillassoux ever heard an astrologer talking to a sceptic; nobody is so foolhardy as to argue with astrologers; besides that joke was around before Meillassoux was born. This is rather a reference to François Laruelle’s reply when Derrida denounced him as a terrorist.)

  11. traxus4420 Says:

    sorry it’s taken me a while to respond

    “Isn’t the drama that the refutation will not succeed? That none of the heideggerians will say “‘oh, gee, you’re right” but instead will all perform as the astrologer he offers (in advance!) as their caricature?”

    i agree with this, but if he was really unthreatening they could have just ignored him, right? anyway, i think the people he catches on with are the younger crowd which appreciates how he makes the elders look silly.

    “This, then, the irrational, post-refutation, obstinate clinging to the refuted product of disinterested rationality, to the product that is shown (according to criteria borrowed from another discipline) to be in error…can this too be dealt with without consideration of ideology? This is where Meillassoux takes us; that’s the situation he has created at the moment.”

    yes, well put, this is what i find interesting about the whole exchange. that and the idea of refuting philosophy with a single super-move is awfully fun, even if i find the solution somewhat bizarre. but perhaps its oddness merely reflects the oddness of what it attempts to refute. anyway i don’t mean to suggest that meillassoux’s faux-revolution will succeed as what it pretends to be, but i do think it has a good shot at changing the local vocabulary. the test will be if he finds a worthy kant to his hume.

    i’m reading what may be a precursor to such a thing, ray brassier’s book nihil unbound where he throws the continentals in with the ‘neurophilosophers’ (churchland, dennett) and plays them against each other — not far into it yet but he has a chapter critiquing dialectic of enlightenment as another product of meillassoux’s ‘correlationists’ (it’s not just heidegger he’s after but post-kantian philosophy as a whole) — though so far it seems only to go after the authors’ hegelianism, as if that were the only substance of the argument.

  12. traxus4420 Says:

    “i do think it has a good shot at changing the local vocabulary”

    something that, for whatever it’s worth, horkheimer or any marxist would be incapable of doing.

    oh yeah, laruelle — i guess i can buy the astrology joke is a reference to that talk, it certainly has everything in common…do you know anything about laruelle? the little translated bits i’ve read haven’t impressed me quite as much…

  13. lecolonelchabert Says:

    ” if he was really unthreatening they could have just ignored him, right? anyway,”

    if he were not the protégé of alain badiou, the son of claude meillassoux, breveted and licensed, they could have. what he wrote is probably not what necessitated reply.

    ” i think the people he catches on with are the younger crowd which appreciates how he makes the elders look silly;”

    certainly – but this is “discussing about” or “giggling about”, not discussing with/”refuting”.

    I think his actual intention is to accomplish what critical theory attempted, but dramatically and theatrically. He elicits confessions. It’s not just the yootz he’s charming. the elders are not just doddering fools. If there is a moment where the young think them silly, it lasts only a heartbeat, because the result is not to dismiss kant and everything after as silly or to reduce the stature of that work – rather the stature is raised or at least bolstered against its tendency to decline. The result is the construction of an inescapable wedding of two kinds of levels of posture, and an exercise in inhabiting them simultaneously – here is a philosophy product that is perfectly fatuous as philosophy and perfectly irrefragable as rhetoric based in ordinary rationality. At once, and actually unproblematically. It serves. To play his game (which disallows critique, and disallows scrutiny of motives or pressures external to the genre) and remain in the discipline one must accept that a) Meillassoux naively confuses the empirical and the transcendental (as there can be no reason to suppose disinterested rationality could err so uniformly accross trained professionals on this matter, and there is no other possible explanation, no psychological or ideological explanation permitted) and b) his demonstration of the error of product deploying the distinction is impeccable nonetheless (because he says so, and is also qualified to judge the matter, and has enough supporters to legitimise it). At the same time.

    Badiou wrote polemics which pitted rationality against irrationality, reason against fancy, Science (the purest form of ordinary rationality) against Art as ‘divine’ madness). Meillassoux’ non-polemic, his theatrical, shows that these are not in fact the antagonists of importance – the battle is between Reason and Authority, between Science and The Inquisition.

    And his theatre also shows that while there is in philosophy an institutional preference for the Inquisition, the rank and file who sit in the bleachers with everybody else, have already chosen Science in advance, and ultimately Authority claims, explicitly or beneath a veil of disavowal, their support.

    “do you know anything about laruelle?”

    yeah he’s very persuasive I think; the astrologer caricature is (i think avowedly) a strained analogy in the effort to close off the courtroom, the first gesture of certain kinds of order-loving intellectual procedures. This move is I think consciously a revival, a self conscious revival of modernism brought back as (postmodern) pastiche, I think, (the difference between the original and the postmodern pastiche is only detectable in the figuring and deployment of randomness and chance, otherwise I think you couldn’t tell it’s not butter) which unites a lot of work in different genres.

  14. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “to accomplish what critical theory attempted, but dramatically and theatrically”

    (while delegitimising and disqualifying it as well – it is the chief astrologer)

  15. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “ray brassier’s book nihil unbound where he throws the continentals in with the ‘neurophilosophers’ (churchland, dennett) and plays them against each other — not far into it yet but he has a chapter critiquing dialectic of enlightenment as another product of meillassoux’s ‘correlationists’ (it’s not just heidegger he’s after but post-kantian philosophy as a whole) — though so far it seems only to go after the authors’ hegelianism, as if that were the only substance of the argument.”

    I haven’t read that; I would think going after adorno and horkheimer’s hegelianism in 2008 is coming a little late to the party. But I noticed all these guys seem to have one trick in common which is a proceeding which resembles the way DAs in the US argue before a grand jury – that is, they really take advantage of this ability to detour and to build a vision of a criminal environment which taints everything in it. You get a long long story about some elaborate credit card fraud scheme…many characters, lots of bits of evidence without explanation of how it was obtained, evidence which in itself is nothing criminal (and character C had six thousand dollars in his bank account on such a date…) all kinds of thick detail, weaving a sense of suspiciousness around ordinary things, and then, they ask for an indictment of someone who is not mentioned throughout this long story, who is introduced just to be indicted. Who has some completely flimsy association with some minor character in this long story – like the sister in law of the guy who played some small part in the story.

  16. Well, what an exceedingly odd little discussion I seem to have ambled into here! I must confess, have no idea where you folk are ‘coming from’ with these comments (literary criticism, perchance?), but do you always discuss philosophical disputes in such explicitly ‘theatrical’ terms (‘histrionic’, ‘quixotic’, ‘performance’, ‘protagonist’, ‘re-staging’, ‘play’, ‘parts’, ‘dramatically’, ‘theatrically’, ‘spectacle’ etc.)?!

    While Meillassoux’s book is admittedly deliberately polemical and (arguably: overly) rhetorical in its characterization of ‘correlationism’ in the opening chapters, you seem to altogether neglect to note that it also provides some sustained and heavy-duty *arguments* against the ontological and epistemological premises of a broad cross-section of post-Kantian philosophy (and, in this respect, at least, it is surely a good deal *less* ‘histrionic’, ‘theatrical’ etc. than vast tracts of what has passed for philosophy in France over the past century, where rational argumentation has all-too-often been neglected in favour of fashionable literary experimentation, hermenetical inventiveness, and quasi-religious obscurantism).

    But what I find most peculiar (disturbing, even) about the little discussion above — apart from your seeming penchant for egging each other into a cosily dismissive consensus by virtue of little more than the piling on of theatrical metaphors — is your apparently cocksure and supercilious disdain for the very idea that it might be possible to furnish anything approaching “refutations” in philosophy. Are you seriously suggesting that when the likes of Husserl and Heidegger put forth theses which purport to disclose the “essential nature” of being, human existence, consciousness, temporality, embodiment, history, or whatever, that to treat said theses as cognitive claims which are open to challenge or confutation is to fall foul of some egregiously naive hermeneutical blunder or category mistake? When Husserl claims that all being is necessarily and constitutively correlative with acts of transcendental consciousness, or when Heidegger claims that there was no time before human Dasein, do you really think that taking issue with such pronouncements by showing them to be empirically false is analogous to attempting to furnish a mathematical demonstration of the non-beautifulness of a Hollywood actress? How, exactly, is pointing out that the phenomenological dogma of the essential correlativity of subject and object, or of Dasein and Sein (a correlativity which is NOT restricted to a purely methodological or epistemological status, but is given an unambiguously fundamental-ontological one), is shown to be false by the fact that the Universe antecedes the advent of human consciousness by 13.7 billion years — how is this supposed to be analogous to attempting to furnish a refutation of a Beethoven sympathy?

    Do you also believe that creationism is irrefutable by evolutionary theory and modern cosmology? Are you seriously suggesting that it is only “in the world of philosophy” that such an attempted refutation would not be “laughed out of the room”? Do you really think that those who believe it to be possible to furnish scientific refutations of cognitive claims made about the Universe — whether these claims be made by astrologists, creationists, or Heideggerians — deserve no other response than ridicule?
    Has your relativism really gone so far that you believe that it’s not possible to employ “criteria borrowed from another discipline” in order to criticize statements issued within the walls of the philosophy department? Would you have academia divided into cognitively incommensurable cells, with truth always indexed to a different set of disciplinary criteria and institutional parameters?

    And, although it’s too early to say (he book is still very recent), so what if ultimately does indeed turn out that Meillassoux fails to make “even a single convert” amongst the Heideggerians or correlationists. Does the fact that creationists refuse to accept the theory of evolution somehow entail the falsity of the latter? Of course the vast majority of Heideggerians will refuse to admit that Meillassoux has refuted their master’s doctrines — but the very fact that *nothing* could, for them, count as such a refutation is precisely what makes Heideggerianism a matter of dogmatic *faith* or religion, not philosophy.

    In effect, in your assumption that certain modes of discourse about the world are incommensurable with and thus uncriticizable by others, and that the attempt to refute a philosophical position from the point of view of scientific knowledge is risible, you are doing nothing other than buying into the “FIDEIST” dogmas which Meillassoux so brialliantly exposes in his book. You are, in effect, doing nothing but helping to make the world safe for religion, superstition and irrationality.

    What I advise you to do is to read Meillassoux’s book again, while taking a slightly less haughtily dismissive attitude: he may even help you to escape from the correlationist circle you are evidently tied up in, and thus ultimately rid you of the pernicious relativism which you so smugly espouse in your comments above.

  17. Okay, a quick comment to qualify (even: retract) some of what I said above (it’ll have to be very quick, because I’ve tried writing what I want to say at length three times just now ands the electricity keeps getting cut off and I lose it! – I’m writing from my workplace in Mexico City, where this happens often).

    Just after posting my comments, I then re-read your comments somewhat less hastily than the first time (which had been very cursory) and realised – to my embarassment — that I had misinterpreted the bulk of what you were saying. Having now re-read them (i.e. read them properly), I’m much more interested in what you’re saying (although some of it remains quite obscure and elliptical): especially the point you seem to be making about how Meillassoux’s critique of ‘correlationism’ (Heideggerianism etc.) inevitably misfires and is predictably ineffectual inasmuch as it takes correlationism to be a rationally disinterested thesis to be refuted by like means rather than an ideological position which, as such, is not susceptible to such purely rationalistic methods of refutation. In this I have some sympathy with what you say, and think that the most serious lacuna of Meillassoux’s book is that it fails to provide any kind of aetiology (i.e. genealogy) of the ‘correlationist’ disease which he identifies as being rife in post-Kantian philosophy which he and attempts to eliminate. Whether or not correlationism or Heideggerianism are to be regarded principally as theoretical theses, religious ideologies, or whatever, there can surely be no hope of extirpating them “root and branch”, as it were, without a serious examination of those very roots. Thus, even if Meillassoux turns out to be right that what he calls ‘correlationism’ is, first and foremost, a metaphysical thesis, one can surely not understand it fully without (minimally) a serious examination of the problem-situation from which it historically took rise or the question(s) to which it offers itself as an answer.

    I actually don’t think (i.e. my reading of the history of philosophy doesn’t suggest to me) that the roots of “correlationism” are “ideological” in any meaningful sense, but I do think that Meillassoux is guilty of having conflated a number of quite distinct philosophical, epistemological, metaphysical and religious theses in an unhelpful way — theses which, to be fair, have at various times also become almost inextricably entangled in the history of post-Kantian philosophy itself – and that only a properly detailed and scholarly historical study can disentangle the threads (and thereby perhaps recover the grain(s) of truth in ‘correlationism’). I also do think that Meillassoux will find “a Kant worthy of his Hume”, and that there are extant varieties of Kantianism which are capable of withstanding his challenge, but that’s another matter …

    I’ll have to cut this short because all these power cuts have meant that this has taken far longer than I would have liked it to, but I’d be interested in any clarifications of your positions on all this. I’d also be interested to hear anything more about the reception of Meillassoux’s book – you seem to speak as if Meillassoux has established (or is in the midst of establishing) a new orthodoxy in certain philosophical circles (“that’s the situation he has created at the moment” etc.), whereas I am entirely unaware of any responses to his work, and thus oblivious to any such ‘impact’, but would be intrigued to learn more about the kind of response Meillassoux’s work has been getting (e.g. in France) …

    Apologies again for my earlier, hasty and clearly quite mistaken accusations and criticisms … Should you be interested (and if I haven’t been too rude in the way I interrupted your conversation!), I’d be interested in pursuing some of this at more length when we all have the time …

  18. that’s ok Martin, you seem like a decent fellow. you’ll have to forgive chabert’s rather unorthdox way of reading philosophy. rest assured we’re all realists here who believe in good solid empirical facts and rationality, despite sometimes preferring the discourse of melodrama. the argument (what little there was before the egging-on commenced) was simply about what meillassoux’s influence really is in his field, why, and what effects on the discipline can reasonably be expected, given what we know about the commitments of most European philosophy departments. the few brits i’ve read seem to greet him with a warm reception, but our conclusion generally seems to be less hopeful.

    I’ve only read some short essays by Meillassoux, I posted this because it was one of the first things I’d read and I thought it was interesting. I’m really a dilettante when it comes to philosophy. I can’t speak for chabert though she is much more up on French things. As I said earlier, I’m reading this Ray Brassier book right now, I might have something to say about it later.

    what kantianisms do you think can ‘withstand the challenge?’

  19. sorry traxus that you are held a little responsible for my tone.

    martin – first, “theatrical” is in no way an insult in my view. I’m sure Meillassoux, whose mentor is a playwright, would not automatically assume that noticing the historionics in his or any culture product was contemptuous, or smearing a real aristo as plebian, or anything of that sort. Philosophy producers appear not infrequenly on french television talk shows.

    “the situation” – I didn’t mean that philosophical debates had become a big concern, just referring to the situation created by Meillassoux for those few thousand people in the world whose attention is directed at his product. The product is openly and obviously identifying itself as lodged in a situation, as part of a dispute with identifiable parties. At this point in the story, Meillassoux has advanced an argument which aims to refute existing assumptions that have a flavour of orthodoxy, and some partisans and producers of the arguments refuted have replied. Brassier sums up the main responses above, but there are others. Their theme is disqualification, not rebuttal: Meillassoux is accused of doing substandard philosophy – he confuses concepts, he exaggerates, he misreads and misunderstands, he’s naïve. What we can’t help but notice is that Meillassoux knew in advance this would be the response. It is not as if his elders and wisers have pointed out to him some flaws in his performance he was not already aware of, and sent him back to the drawing board. The responses are part of the performance Meillassoux is staging, (you should pardon the expression). They are necessary to it. Or so it seems to me.

    ” In this I have some sympathy with what you say, and think that the most serious lacuna of Meillassoux’s book is that it fails to provide any kind of aetiology (i.e. genealogy) of the ‘correlationist’ disease which he identifies as being rife in post-Kantian philosophy which he and attempts to eliminate.”

    Well here’s the thing: his product does not fail to do so, it refrains, it refuses to do so, on the grounds that doing so is an illegitimate tactic, characteristic of the producers of what you call the “disease”; he openly attempts to set rules for philosophical debate which forbid the provision of such an aetiology (whether historical, psychological, sociological-institutional, ideological…). This has the air of announcing he will fight them with one hand tied behind his back. But also, it is an attempt a genre/disciple realignment. That is, he sets fire to all the bridges to these adjacent discourses and disciplines, and instead asserts that philosophy’s only legitimate neighbour, which is actually its sovereign, is science; it is only to the court of science (as the purest form of ordinary rationality) that philosophy can appeal for verdicts on matters its own courts cannot resolve. He insists that the courts of art and politics, of psychoanalysis and theology, have no jurisdiction over philosophy.

    Okay, so, is this gap, this lacuna, really a flaw? It depends on what you imagine Meillassoux is trying to do. There is a straightforward sort of annoucement – he’s going to refute, like a mathematician – but…I wouldn’t take this at face value. Clearly there is more going on. Clearly two hundred years of an extremely diverse and broad range of the most prestigious philosophy product is not simply going to be refuted as he promises, in a couple hours reading. There is hyperbole here; it is rhetorical not naïve (or at least we have a lot of hints that it is and reasons to believe that it is). His undertaking is very grand mission – his target for refutation has an enormous bibliography that no single person on earth has read the entirety of. This is what I mean by the quixotic stance. That is the stance adopted by “the refutation” itself. There is however additionally a consciousness, a narrator, in a frame, around the argument itself, who knows that the argument will “fail” in the grand task it has assigned itself. The subject of “the refutation” is a marionette whose strings are manipulated by another subject in Meillassoux’ texts, the same subject who tells us about the astrologer.

    “I do think that Meillassoux is guilty of having conflated a number of quite distinct philosophical, epistemological, metaphysical and religious theses in an unhelpful way”

    Okay an unhelpful way. Someone is not being helped to do something here. But who and what? Does everyone agree on a goal? Is “unhelpful” a helpful designation? I think – I suspect – this is precisely what Meillassoux is trying to tease out. In the process of this argument he has incited, something is definitely thrown into relief which is not usually so starkly visible, and that is the dreadful lurking monstrous spectre of “a matter of opinion”. Does Meillassoux “naïvely confound the empirical and the transcendental”? If this (something so fundamental) is in the end a “matter of opinion” – if we cannot appeal to the court of science for a final and satisfying verdict here, if we are driven to sociology, to ideology critique, to psychoanalysis to help us decide this question, then – it seems to me Meillassoux suggests – this discipline is weaving a shoddy cotton. Which implies rather than explicitly describes what he envisions philosophy to be, or what he is trying to produce and encourage. It is something which one feels should be frankly describable, and yet it really isn’t. Why not? Abdicating this obnoxious role of psychoanalyst (the astrologer), getting out of the analysts chair, situating himself in the field itself, Meillassoux seems to be adopting a certain strategy for the realignment of disciplines without authoritarian gestures; the rationality and science he is advocating is located, by his drama, outside and above him; he is not its representative (he is not taking any position of authority), but assuming it sort of looming above (where the audience is, socially producing it). This is what I meant by staging the contest between reason and authority; all the responses to him adopt the shrink’s chair or professor’s podium. He doesn’t, he ostentatiously refrains. He recuses himself. If his opponents cannot do the same, regardless of whether you accept this or that of their judgements (he unhelpfully confuses things)…if they can only deliver judgements from some institutionally provided throne, and can only make these kinds of judgements, then he’s accomplished what seems to me to be a demonstration of something, of the situation of reason and authority in this genre and this discipline, which cannot be accomplished via similar judgements and pronouncements from another such throne.

  20. “Thus, even if Meillassoux turns out to be right that what he calls ‘correlationism’ is, first and foremost, a metaphysical thesis, one can surely not understand it fully without (minimally) a serious examination of the problem-situation from which it historically took rise or the question(s) to which it offers itself as an answer.”

    okay yeah. but what Meillassoux’ specific dramaturgy does is attempt to stage an investigation of this in a new way which reveals the invisible status of reason, and in which he acknowledges he is not the protagonist and judge, that there is a kind of social jury who has to get involved here and supply a lot in this procedure for it to really be convincing. That is to say, okay, we have to have a “serious examination of the situation from which it historically took rise” – we can proceed in some traditional ways, we can hypnotise correlationism and ask it questions under hypnosis, we can interpret its dreams, we can debunk it as superstructural flower, we can dissect it, all these models of “critique” – which have a certain common situation, a certain form of the asymetrical duet which is the preferred dramatic form of the “disease” itself – all of which Meillassoux from the outset disqualifies. Why does he do that? I think it’s hasty to dismiss it as an error; all the good stuff here really arises from this decision. Otherwise its really kind of frivolous, another round of dispute about a question no participant actually wishes to see resolved.

  21. “Do you also believe that creationism is irrefutable by evolutionary theory and modern cosmology? ”

    actually yes of course it is irrefutable. That’s indeed a perfect example of irrefutability. That’s what makes it irrational and unscientific. One evolutionary theory can refute another; mathematics cannot refute religious or aesthetic or moral beliefs; everyone who has ever tried to convince a friend that their lover is bastard knows reason cannot refute articles of faith and the convictions of emotion. Chemistry cannot refute the premises of culinary arts. That’s the point. That Angelina Jolie is beautiful and a brilliant actress is strictly irrefutable Meillassoux would like to investigate whether “correllationism” is irrefutable in the same way. And so far, its looking like it might be, but the jury is still out.

  22. Apologies, but I’ve been too busy to reply till now.

    Well, traxus, as you suggest, to ask “what Meillassoux’s influence really is in his field” is obviously a wee bit premature just now, especially in English-speaking philosophy where the book is still awaiting translation. Even in France it’s still only a little over a year since the book was published, and even though it’s a relatively short text (esp. by the standards of ‘Continental’ philosophy, in which most ‘classic’ texts range to well over 500 pages), it’s also a demanding one, and it will take a while for folk to fully digest it. (As I said in last post, I’m unaware of what kind of impact it has had in France, but would be interested to learn: Chabert keeps hinting at such a reception, but unfortunately doesn’t cite any examples.) However, we should remember that it’s also intended to be a prolegomenous work, and is replete with promissary notes for unsupported claims which will supposedly be redeemed in a forthcoming systematic ‘speculative materialist’ treatise (though I can’t say I’m exactly awaiting it with baited breath, given it’s horrific title: something like ‘Divine Inexistence and the Virtual God’: what is it with French philosophy and religion?!). Anyway, I’m quite sure that this work will well exceed the standard page-count quota for tomes in the Continental tradition (indeed, it will certainly *have to* if it’s going to come even remotely close to redeeming those aforementioned promissory notes in AF, given their grandiosity).

    So it’s still very early days in terms of evaluating the reception of his work, but I agree that it’s interesting to speculate about what effects we might expect AF to have in ‘Continentalist’ circles — which, of course, can by no stretch of the imagination be identified with what you call “the discipline”, at least if by that you meant mainstream academic philosophy, which will surely simply ignore it should it even become aware of its existence. But there are a number of reasons why I expect it to create something of a splash in ‘Continental’ circles, though I don’t agree with Chabert that the principal such reason will prove to be that people will feel obliged to read him because he’s an ex-student of Badiou. Whereas fans of Badiou will of course read Meillassoux’s book, I’m also pretty sure that it (and especially the aforementioned arche-fossil argument) will also provoke a fairly significant response from phenomenologists (who have by and large ignored Badiou), simply because they are the principal target of its criticisms. It may not ultimately convince many of them, but I definitely think it will force a good deal of them to rethink their fundamental commitment to the idea that phenomenology is ontology enough, and – more importantly – — once the correlationist rejoinders have spun themselves out and exhausted themselves in the way that Meillassoux pre-empts – should also ultimately serve to clarify the status of said commitment as an article of quasi-religious faith rather than a defensible cognitive claim (which is what it has long presented itself as). In this regard, the fact that Meillassoux “even writes the lines for the correlationists’ resistance in advance of real external ripostes” hardly amounts to a sleight of hand, nor does it any way suggest that Meillassoux is merely staging a drama for which the denouement is known in advance, and it puzzles me that Chabert should make so much fuss about it. While it may not be a common practice in other disciplines, where there is less premium on rational argumentation, to anticipate and pre-emptively refute objections is, in philosophy at least, a common way of bolstering an argument by making it as robust and watertight as possible. To suggest, as Chabert does numerous times above, that this turns a rational debate into some kind of pantomime or pointless spectacle seems, to me at least, exceptionally odd. Moreover, I don’t quite see why Chabert insists that the ‘drama’ which Meillassoux stages is an exercise in futility because he knows in advance that the Heideggerians (et al.) will not admit they’ve been refuted. If, as Chabert admits, the refutation which Meillassoux furnishes is indeed “irresistable” – i.e. rationally persuasive – and yet the refuted continue to refuse to accept the fact, then, at the very least, an important service has been done in terms of forcing a widely represented group of intellectuals to betray the irrational basis of their fundamental commitments. What in effect Meillassoux would have succeeded in doing thereby would be to have extracted said discourse from the domain in which theoretical and cognitive claims are contested and exposed it for what it is: namely, an optional Weltanschauung, a substitute for religion, or what Lange (and Carnap after him) called “Begriffsdichtung” or “conceptual poetry”. This is indeed an attempt at disciplinary realignment, then, but scarcely a pernicious one – that is, at least, if it’s really true, as traxus suggests above, that “we’re all realists here who believe in solid empirical facts and rationality”.

    To respond to some of Chabert’s other comments:
    As far as I understand you, you seem to disallow from the outset the very idea that what is ‘really taking place’ here is a rational debate in which certain epistemological and metaphysical claims are at stake, instead preferring to exercise a hermeneutics of suspicion which would ‘unmask’ the ‘real’ motivations lurking behind the façade of sincere philosophical dispute. Instead of ‘naively’ taking Meillassoux at his word, you refuse to enter into the substance of what he is saying and instead take up a point of view fully outside the content of the debate itself the better to pronounce upon it as a mere stage-set or spectacle or dramatization. I’m not sure how to respond to this, (except perhaps to say: ‘How very postmodern of you!’), but let me try to reply with a few things anyway.
    It seems to me that the basic thrust of most of your comments is to attempt to disqualify (rather than refute) what you see as Meillassoux’s a priori disqualification of “scrutiny of motives or pressures external to the game” — that is, in Meillassoux’s own terms, disqualifications rather than refutations – by virtue of, precisely, scrutinizing the motives and pressures external to the game which you take Meillassoux to be playing. In other words, your intention is to counter what you take to be Meillassoux’s attempt to “set rules for philosophical debate” which would forbid recourse to extra-philosophical (e.g. sociological, ideological, psychoanalytical) modes of analysis by exposing the extra-philosophical conditions for the setting of those very rules themselves, thereby unmasking the ‘illusio’ (in Bourdieu’s sense) which would serve to prevent the participants of the game from seeing it as such, i.e. from coming to terms with its purely conventional and ultimately arbitrary nature.

    Well, that’s a very pretty game itself that you’re playing there, but I don’t intend to follow your lead by attempting to unmask the investments you might have in it, nor do I really want to get embroiled in a discussion about the merits and pitfalls of sociological reductionism just now. Rather, all I want to suggest is that, in your seeming intention of turning the tables of Meillassoux, you may be guilty of having read rather too much into what Meillassoux was actually saying. (I realise, of course, that your hermeneutics of suspicion explicitly aims to do just that – i.e. to go beyond what is actually said in order to uncover its supposed concealed motives or the conditions of its production etc. – but even in terms of that I think your interpretation of what is ‘really going on’ is unwarranted and hugely overstated.)

    Based on nothing more, it seems, than the passages quotes above, you take Meillassoux to be attempting to enforce certain rigid rules for the conduct of rational discourse which would disallow any provision for analysis of extra-rational motivations or exigencies. Far from buying into this, this provokes in you a suspicion that Meillassoux must himself be involved in some kind of motivated cover-up of his real motivations: “I wouldn’t take this at face value. Clearly there is more going on.” This, in turn, it seems, leads you to take no interest whatsoever in the actual content and substance of the debate itself.

    Well, allow me to suggest a different interpretation, one that I think is actually warranted by what Meillassoux says (which, after all, is all we have to go on here), even if it does ‘naively’ take this at more or less “face value”:

    Quite simply, what Meillassoux is saying in the passages above is that there is a certain style of argument which has been propounded by philosophers for several centuries and which purports to rationally establish the thesis that it is impossible for human beings to know anything about the world as it is in itself. Anyone who propounds this argument Meillassoux calls a “correlationist”. He then suggests that philosophers, having tried and failed to refute said argument, have standardly resorted to various modes of *disqualifying* it instead: thus adopting what calls a “logic of secession” towards the correlationist. Such disqualifications typically take one of two basic forms: either fleeing from the discussion in order to rediscover the richness of the concrete world; or attempting to unmask the correlationist’s motivations. But for Meillassoux such *disqualifications* amount to a kind of capitulation, an admission of failure to refute the correlationist by rational means, and should only be employed as a kind of last desperate resort once every method of rational refutation has failed. And, very simply, his claim is that he has devised an argument capable of rationally refuting the correlationist which has hitherto not been tried, a refutation which would, moreover, demonstrate the falsity of correlationism not on the basis of external premises (which the correlationist might be free to reject), but rather immanently, on the basis of a deductive demonstration following from the correlationist’s own fundamental premises. This, in sum, is what the bulk of those two hundred pages of his book attempts to do, and he presents the argument in a much more succinct form in the presentation from which passages have been extracted above.

    Now it seems to me that that the only evidence which Chabert evinces to support his suspicion that Meillassoux is up to some kind of sleight of hand, that he is merely staging a kind of pantomime, is that he *knew in advance* that his argument was destined to “fail” – that is, that his demonstrations would fail to convince any correlationists. Moreover, given that Meillassoux already knew this, isn’t it somewhat suspicious that he insists on sidelining the issue of ideology? After all, doesn’t the fact that reason and science hold no sway with the correlationist (“the procedures and criteria of proof … are not accepted here in this environment”) – again, something which Meillassoux already knew in advance – doesn’t this make it abundantly clear that the proper arena for confrontation with the correlationist is that of ideology rather than logic or science? Why, then, does Meillassoux attempt to impose a set of discursive rules which would disallow from the outset any such inquiry into “motives or pressures external to the game”?

    Well, let’s return to the analogy with creationist which I introduced in my earlier post, and let’s substitute, say, Richard Dawkins and Victor Stenger for Meillassoux. Both of these authors have recently published books replete with a priori arguments and scientific evidence which definitively refute and shred just about every argument that has ever been forwarded for creationism. Now, it’s fair to say, and indeed they themselves readily admit, that the vast majority of religious believers will refuse to acknowledge that their belief in creation has been refuted or falsified. Now, does that mean that said authors are being somehow dishonest, or that they are merely staging a drama or spectacle, merely going through the motions, since they already know that their attempted refutations will “fail”? Does the fact that they confront religious believers with rational arguments and empirical evidence rather than attempting to unmask the extra-rational motivations for their belief suggest that they’re wasting their time, or that they’re being naïve, or that they’re concealing their real motivations?

    I would hope that this analogy alone should suffice to make my point and that you can go ahead draw the appropriate conclusions yourself, but then the comments you made about the “irrefutability” of creationism lead me to doubt this, so let me just suggest where you’re going wrong there. You wrote:

    “actually yes of course it is irrefutable. That’s indeed a perfect example of irrefutability. That’s what makes it irrational and unscientific. One evolutionary theory can refute another; mathematics cannot refute religious or aesthetic or moral beliefs; everyone who has ever tried to convince a friend that their lover is bastard knows reason cannot refute articles of faith and the convictions of emotion. Chemistry cannot refute the premises of culinary arts. That’s the point. That Angelina Jolie is beautiful and a brilliant actress is strictly irrefutable Meillassoux would like to investigate whether “correllationism” is irrefutable in the same way. And so far, its looking like it might be, but the jury is still out.”

    Quite simply, you’re confusing the inability to refute an argument (which is a purely rational or logical matter) with the inability to persuade someone that their argument has been refuted (which is a purely psychological matter). Whether someone is prepared to accept that a given argument has been refuted or that a given hypothesis has been falsified has absolutely no bearing on whether or not said refutation or falsification does in fact succeed. I won’t risk insulting your intelligence by labouring this point, but I hope you can see that there’s a pretty important distinction here!

    Re your point about how “there must be something more going on here” in view of the fact that Meillassoux’s critique takes as its target for refutation “an enormous bibliography that no single person on earth has read the entirety of”, I just don’t follow this. There is also an enormously vast literature of theology and creation science and astrology and alchemy etc. etc., but do you mean to suggest that it can’t be refuted unless someone reads it all or that anyone who attempts to so refute it must be suspected of having ulterior motives? The point about Meillasoux’s thesis is that he thinks that all correlationism basically hangs upon a single, simple argument and a shared set of premises, so that if you can refute that argument, and especially if you can do so on the basis of a demonstration which takes those same premises as its own, you can indeed refute correlationism: is that really so suspicious?

    Whether or not Meillassoux is right about all forms of correlationism being based on the argument he presents from Fichte in that paper, and whether his refutation of the same is in fact successful, are of course quite separate matters – and, in fact, they are in my opinion the far more interesting matters than the ones we’ve been discussing here, so it’s shame I’m now not going to have time to get into it! But, very briefly, I think that his statement in that paper that correlationism stands or falls with the argument from performative contradiction he finds in Fichte is utterly ridiculous. Firstly, that argument was already the core of Berkeley’s idealism; secondly, it can be refuted in one sentence by simply saying that it’s not possible to derive a valid non-tautological conclusion from tautological premises; thirdly, I think his own refutation of correlationism at once conceeds too much to correlationism and fails to refute it nearly as definitively as it can be refuted. But obviously, all that’s too much to get into here now.

    So, to bring this to a swift and abrupt close, I am entirely in agreement with Meillassoux with regard to the opinions you impute to him: i.e. with regard to the importance of attempting to realign philosophy with the sciences, that disciplines such as art, politics, psychoanalysis and theology have and ought to have no jurisdiction over philosophy, and that if philosophy is driven to sociology, ideology critique etc. in order to resolve metaphysical and epistemological disputes it is weaving a shoddy cotton — absolutely! My only real disagreement here – and it’s a massive one – concerns the methods that Meillassoux chooses to employ in order to bring philosophy back into alignment with science. But anyway, is there a criticism here? Do you think that psychoanalysis and theology ought to have jurisdiction over science and philosophy in such matters. Well, if so, I think we have nothing further to say to one another.

    Anyway, I must take my leave …

  23. lecolonelchabert Says:

    I need some clarification before I reply:

    “The point about Meillasoux’s thesis is that he thinks that all correlationism basically hangs upon a single, simple argument and a shared set of premises, so that if you can refute that argument, and especially if you can do so on the basis of a demonstration which takes those same premises as its own, you can indeed refute correlationism: is that really so suspicious? ”

    I believe you described it as “unhelpful” and I described it as “dramatic” and “quixotic”.

    Why is this so unhelpful?

    To whom do you mean to impute this judgement of “suspicious”?

    And why do you suppose I know this person well enough to answer for him?

    “Whether someone is prepared to accept that a given argument has been refuted or that a given hypothesis has been falsified has absolutely no bearing on whether or not said refutation or falsification does in fact succeed.”

    And what does have bearing on whether the refutation succeeds? no need to be cagey – an audience deemed adequate by the standards of a profession.

    pure rationality and logic, goodness me. Well then – did Meillassoux’ refutation succeed? Or not?

    If you don’t know, just let me know who does have that information, and I’ll get it.

    If it did succeed, but the “correlationists” addressed refuse to recognise this, then I am afraid you have to explain how that could be so.

  24. lecolonelchabert Says:

    sorry hadn’t read the whole thing.

    and I haven’t read the collapse issue.

    So: Meillassoux’ refutation did not succeed and was indeed “ridiculous” and furthermore rehashing 18th century arguments (very much now in fashion to do so).

    Well. Good to know.

    But even for you, it doesn’t really matter that the refutation failed and was both ridiculous and hackneyed. These are indeed evidently the qualities that makes it a “serious rational argument” and pointful etc..

    You must see

  25. lecolonelchabert Says:

    De la sorte, nous n’avons pas positivement établi que le possible était intotalisable, mais nous avons dégagé une alternative entre deux options – le possible constitue/ne constitue pas un Tout – dont nous avons toute raison de choisir la seconde : toute raison, puisque cette seconde option nous permet précisément de suivre ce que nous indique la raison – les lois physiques n’ont rien de nécessaire – sans nous embarrasser davantage des énigmes inhérentes à la première option. Car celui qui totalise le possible légitime l’implication fréquentielle, et donc la source de la croyance en une nécessité réelle dont nul, jamais, ne comprendra la raison : il soutiendra et que les lois physiques sont nécessaires et que nul ne peut savoir pourquoi ce sont ces lois et non d’autres qui existent de façon nécessaire. Celui qui, au contraire, détotalise le possible, peut penser une stabilité des lois sans la redoubler d’une énigmatique nécessité physique. On peut donc appliquer le rasoir d’Ockham a la nécessité réelle : puisque que celle-ci devient une “entité” inutile pour expliquer le monde, on peut s’en passer, sans autre dommage que l’abolition d’un mystère.

    Is this a rational argument? about what? what’s the relationship of this argument to science?

    It’s an appeal. (always inflated i noticed in third party summaries to a claim). skirting the edge, as he says elsewhere, of sophistry. philosophy must be inventive, it’s model neither the logic of sciences nor “well reasonedness”.

    So what is this really? It’s a claim that an attitude is preferable to another. The actual grounds for the preference (relieving thought of an enigma is not self evidently good; depends on the cost) are offstage – they are, I suspect, a combination of a political commitment, not to do with philosophy, and a penchant of a sort, a guiding mission of professonal intellectuals, as a wise man once said, in our society devoted to grounding human freedom and thus opportunistically hostile to every hint of determination.

  26. lecolonelchabert Says:

    Alright sorry, needed coffee.

    Martin your position is that Meillassoux has been ill treated by me, insulted with an accusation of writing text equipped with what most people call “subtext” which you refer to as “suspicious ulterior motives”. In your view, “dramaturgy” and “rhetoric” (whose meaning and relation to ‘rational argument’ you seem unaware of) is a synonym for “pointlessness”. “Pointless” the “rational arguments” of Meillassoux are not, you insist, though what their point might be, you don’t say. In your view the merits of Meillassoux’ argument are that it is “ridiculous”, unoriginal, outdated and “can be refuted in one sentence.” This ridiculousness is “far more interesting” than anything it might reveal about anything of the least earthly significance, like intellectual culture in france, and the ridiculousness and unoriginality is deserving of yet more pointful time spent taking it seriously, though it cannot be taken seriously, because while serious and rational it is absurd, while logical it is illogical, while simple it is unhelpful, it escapes any bar on contradiction.

    Ridiculous arguments that can be “refuted in one sentence” I confess do not intrigue me. Call it a quirk. But if you are going to try to batter someone into respecting and paying attention to your favourite ridiculous easily refuted two hundred year old elements of some text product, you might soft pedal your opinion that it is a piece of shit that an undergraduate can definitively debunk, as well as find unhelpful, in a blog comments box. (By the way, the remark of mine you claim not to understand is my conceding to you for the sake of argument your judgement of the “unhelpfulness” of the broad range of product concerned – you changed your mind about its unhelpfulness between your posts, or you are just ranting indignantly for some reason I cannot divine.)

    There are interesting things in his book and other essays and talks I know, in my view. I think it is interesting, for example, that the stance against sufficient reason seems to contradict the implications of the archefossil and more interesting that this does not disturb the coherence of his text, which manages this with what is by now a traditional reliance on a kind of symbolist poetic logic.

    BTW: If Richard Dawkins writes a book refuting alchemy and astrology, not only will I suspect an ulterior motive, I’d be able to express it mathematically.

  27. lecolonelchabert Says:

    oh as for the replies, I am relying mainly on Meillassoux’ own account of them – I am not his secretary. But here, you have contributed another, in this same vein (the argument is substandard philosophy). There are numerous sources on the internet, if you read french, to see what the general buzz is, but the responses of importance are those Meillassoux himself recounts, describes, and responds to in turn. They are even more important for my point if you are correct in your allegation that he’s made them up himself, and that no one has ever in fact replied to him as he asserts “the correlationists” have.

  28. Okay, clearly it’s not going to be profitable or interesting for either of us to continue this. I’m afraid the contractictions and changes of mind you think you have found in my posts come down to your inability to follow what I was saying, not any failing on my part (I believe that I wrote in very clear sentences).

    Very briefly: What I suggested was “unhelpul” was that Meillassoux failed to make as strong a case as he could have done because he conflated numerous different philosophical arguments and traditions in order to reduce them to a kind of lowest common denominator position called “correlationism”. In other words, I think he made things too easy for himself and at the same time made it too easy for phenomenologists et al. to get themselves off the hook by saying that their own position is far more sophisticated and that his “correlationist” is merely a straw man. Instead of attacking a lowest common denominator position, I think Meillassoux ought to have confronted the most sophisticated forms of “correlationism” (and yes, there really ARE such forms!), since if his arguments held water against the latter they would surely a fortiori take care of the cruder versions too. I also think that Meillassoux should have been more careful to distinguish between different kinds of idealism/correlationism/transcendentalism/critical philosophy and to include in his account a consideration of the problem-situations from those different positions took rise (this is all I meant by “genealogy”). This is important, I think, because a philosophical position is always an answer to a question, and if you don’t know the question it is attempting to answer you neither fully understand the position nor therefore will be able to extirpate it “root and branch”, as I suppose Meillassoux would like to do with correlationism. (All of this would have meant a much longer book, of course, but then it’s not as if there’s any shortage of time or paper.) Instead, Meilloassoux thinks that he is able to single out a single set of premises and a core argument which all varieties of “correlationism” share and, by furnishing a refutation of that argument on the basis of its own premises, overcome correlationism once and for all. What I suggested was “ridiculous” was the idea that this core argument could be identified with the Fichtean (actually, Berkeleyan, though Meillassoux seems not to be aware of this) argument from performative contraction: i.e. the argument, in a nutshell, that because we cannot conceive of an independent reality without conceiving of it , we cannot conceive an independent reality — and it is this argument that I said could be refuted in one sentence (by pointing out that you can’t validly derive a non-tautological conclusion from tautological premises), not Meillassoux’s. What’s “ridiculous”, in my opinion, is the idea that post-Kantian philosophy stands or falls with that argument, as if no-one had yet got beyond Berkeley.

    Even more briefly, on some of your other points:

    (1) I didn’t say that Meillassoux’s argument succeed in refuting correlationism, I merely said that *if it is accepted that it has done so* (as you yourself seemingly conceded by saying “He refutes it. The refutation is irresistible!”) and yet the correlationists refuse to accept the fact (“the procedures and criteria of proof … are not accepted here”), then Meillassoux would have done a useful service in terms of exposing the irrationality of correlationism, just as Richard Dawkins and others regularly expose the irrationality of Christian apologists in the media. Of course, it would be naively optimistic to think that things could ever be so simple or straightforward in philosophy (especially in Continental philosophy, where obscurantism is rife), but I do think that the arche-fossil argument at least has the potential to force the worst offeners of correlationism (i.e. those who take it to be an ontological rather than an epistemological thesis) into a very awkward corner where they will have little choice but (minimally) to admit that their position is irreconcilable with the findings of modern science (something which they typically refuse to admit).

    (2) I don’t think that rhetoric is synonymous with pointlessness. My comment about pointlessness was in response to you saying things like “so what are we the audience supposed to get out of this spectacle?” and your suggestion that Meillassoux was merely going through the motions of a pre-rehearsed drama of which he and everyone else already knew the denouement. To reiterate, while Meillassoux may well have good reason to suspect in advance that most correlationists will refuse to accept that they have been refuted, I do not think that this makes his attempt to furnish such a refutation “pointless” any more than I think that Hume ought to have refrained from getting his Dialogues on Natural Religion posthumously published or that Copernicus and Darwin ought to have with-held their respective theories on the grounds that not many people in their day would have been prepared to accept them — obviously, it often takes time for ideas and theories to become widely accepted, but that is no reason to think them “pointless”. It will always be necessary to apply reason and science against irrationality, however ineffectual it often is in terms of weening people away from their superstitions. (The comparisons between Meillassoux and the likes of Darwin here are of course extremely far-fetched indeed in terms of relative acheivements, but the principle is the same). However, what I took you to be saying was that Meillassoux knew that his attempted refutation would not succeed in converting many Heideggerians, and that it would therefore be a futile exercise, and my pount was simply that the latter simply doesn’t follow (for reasons just recounted).

    (3) On the issue of what counts as a successful refutation, I’m still puzzled that you don’t get the point, but let me try to make it as simple as possible for you by returning to the example of creationism: Let’s say that a good number of Christians believe in the literal truth of the biblical hypothesis that the world was created by a benificent deity around 10, 000 years ago. Now, modern science has definitively refuted and falsified this hypothesis on the basis of enormous amounts of scientifically compiled mutually corroborative evidence stretching across dozens of disciplines which show that the Earth is several billion years old and the Universe considerably older than that. Now, the fact that religious believers will refuse to accept that the biblical creation story has thereby been falsified says absolutely NOTHING about the truth of the matter: the hypothesis has been refuted all the same. Is that really so hard to understand? I really hope not!

  29. Sorry — I fogot to respond to your silliest comment yet: the one regarding the passage you cite from Meillassoux.

    The passages is taken from a very long and detailed argument which makes up Chapter 4 of Meillassous’s book. You ask: “Is this a rational argument? ” Yes it is. “About what?” Well, short of a detailed commentary, it has to do with the question of whether it is possible to totalise possibility as a numerically determinate whole in order to legitimate certain claims about the necessity or stability of the laws of physics, and Meillassoux draws upon Cantor to make the argument that it is not. I won’t go into details, since (1) you can read Chapter 4 of the book if you’re really interested (Brassier also summarises it admirably clearly and rigorously in the section entitled ‘The inconstancy of nature’ in his chapter entitled ‘The Enigma of Realism’ in Nihil Unbound, a shorter version of which appears in Collapse Vol. 2); (2) I know you’re not really interested, and that you’re only citing it in order to make a (frankly, idiotic) rhetorical claim, this being in line with your exclusive interest in philosophical debate as pantomime, dramaturgy or spectacle; (3) Frankly, it’s beyond your ken.

    You also ask: “what’s the relationship of this argument to science?” Well, again, that issue is quite complicated, but if you get hold of that issue of Collapse (Volume 2: Speculative Realism) it contains a paper by Meillassoux which applies this argument to modern cosmology and also a very long discussion with an Oxford astophysicist about precisely the issues discussed in the passage you cite in relation to cosmology, probability theory, anthropic reasoning, quantum physics, string theory etc.

    I’m afraid your diagnosis of the passage as being mere sophistry, a claim that one attitude is preferable to another on the basis of concealed political commitments and so on, are about as badly off-target as it’s possible to get. The question of whether or not it’s possible to attribute concepts of probability to the Universe as a whole, or to the boundary conditions of the Universe/the fundamental constants of the Standard Model, is a question at the heart of modern particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology, and is presently being hotly debated amongst string theorists and quantum cosmologists. The fact that you can see in all this nothing more than sophistry, arbitrary preference and political ideology only confirms my original suspicion that you are a deeply confused victim of postmodernist bullshit.

  30. lecolonelchabert Says:

    – No hypotheses about “the subject” and “the thing itself” are falsifiable, for the obvious reason that these are conceptual abstractions which cannot leave the holodeck of philosophy. “The subject” is not another name for the consciousness of a physical human being, and “the thing itself” is not another name for physical matter. You seem to confound these unhelpfully.

    – Is there a distinction between the ability to convince the majority of brevetted professional producers of hypotheses about “the thing itself” that “the subject” can have knowledge of it and the ability “”to refute an argument (which is a purely rational or logical matter)” to the contrary? Can you describe this distinction?

    – Did Kant attempt to refutate Hume? Did that refutation “succeed in fact”?

    – “Well, let’s return to the analogy with creationist which I introduced in my earlier post, and let’s substitute, say, Richard Dawkins and Victor Stenger for Meillassoux.”!!!! “Both of these authors have recently published books replete with a priori arguments and scientific evidence which definitively refute and shred just about every argument that has ever been forwarded for creationism.” Actually no, because there has never been “an argument forwarded for creationism” – it is founded in faith and revelation. What Dawkins does is demonstrate that creationism is indeed nothing other than what it advertises itself as, which is a description, not a refutation. As others have noticed, among them Badiou – “Mathematics provides philosophy with a weapon, a fearsome machine of thought, a catapult aimed at the bastions of ignorance, superstition and mental servitude…The other sciences are not so reliable in this regard. Quentin Meillassoux has convincingly argued that physics provides no bulwark against spiritualist (which is to say obscurantist) speculation, and biology – that wild empiricism disguised as a science – even less so. Only in mathematics can one unequivocally maintain that if thought can formulate a problem, it can and will solve it, regardless of how long it takes.”

  31. My final comment: couldn’t resist one last comment on this:

    “So what is this really? It’s a claim that an attitude is preferable to another. The actual grounds for the preference (relieving thought of an enigma is not self evidently good; depends on the cost) are offstage – they are, I suspect, a combination of a political commitment, not to do with philosophy, and a penchant of a sort, a guiding mission of professonal intellectuals, as a wise man once said, in our society devoted to grounding human freedom and thus opportunistically hostile to every hint of determination.”

    Guessing about the motives for someone making an argumentive claim of course makes things easier, since it doesn’t even require you to understand the claim itself (as you have here demonstrated), but instead of wildly guessing about Meillassoux’s motives (“It’s obvious why he prefers that option: He’s just scared that physical determinism threatens human freedom! It’s all transparently political!), you may want to try and actually read his book in which he makes very clear his reasons — reasons which having nothing whatsoever to do with the issue of determinism and freedom and a lot to do with closing down the spaces in which fideism, irrationality and obscurantism may flourish.

    But I know you haven’t and won’t read the book — wish only makes me wonder why on earth you would presume to pronounce upon it in the first place.

    Now I really must bow out of this pomo dungeon …

  32. lecolonelchabert Says:

    Martin martin martin. You’re not a very good reader.

    It is not my claim about sophistry, it is Meillassoux’, as you know.

    “However, what I took you to be saying was that Meillassoux knew that his attempted refutation would not succeed in converting many Heideggerians, and that it would therefore be a futile exercise, and my pount was simply that the latter simply doesn’t follow (for reasons just recounted).”

    No if you look above you see I said that Meillassoux knew that his attempted refutation would not succeed – as does Dawkins know of his own, in fact he notes he anticipates “unchristian” lying – and you said that Meillassoux’ argument must therefore be “pointless”, while arguing exactly the opposite about dawkins’ doomed confrontation with those he openly ridicules as mendacious.

    “Guessing about the motives for someone making an argumentive claim of course makes things easier, since it doesn’t even require you to understand the claim itself (as you have here demonstrated),”

    he doesn’t finally make a claim regarding the contingency of the laws of the universe. What he does is define a properly philosophical position in favour of contingency, and he gives reasons for preferring this assumption to – explicitly, and in meaningful contrast to – the position appropriate to objective sciences, and in this way he isolates philosophy’s proper content as distinct from the content of other genres.

    It says, at the conclusion of the argument:

    We have not positively established that the possible is untotalisable, but we have uncovered a choice between two options – the possible constitutes/does not constitute an All – of which we have every reason to choose the second: every reason, because this second option permits us precisely to follow what reason suggests – physical laws have no necessity – without further bother from the enigmas inherent in the first option.

    So what is the relation to physical sciences? You say this is “quite complicated”, yet it is perfectly explicit, in the book we have both read, and in even this paragraph , so there is no need to go to the Collapse issue.

    Science, as your friend Dawkins is fond of noting, additionally thrives on enigmas and mysteries. Solving them, not avoiding them, is its pursuit. Meillassoux’ argument from Cantor offers an option for philosophy which involves a choice one can make only if one restricts the considerations from which one is choosing. What Meillassoux’ argument from mathematics has done is define the properly philosophical content of this problem, that is distinct from the scientific. That is, defining the terrain, genre, and discpline of philosophy is the principal product of this argument; the specific claims or positions (which may or may not convince, which may or may not be retained even by their producer over time) are means to this broader end, of a commitment to which Meillassoux makes no secret.

    ‘reasons which having nothing whatsoever to do with the issue of determinism and freedom and a lot to do with closing down the spaces in which fideism, irrationality and obscurantism may flourish.”

    And fideism, irrationality and obscurantism are objectionable why exactly? For reasons have nothing to do with either human freedom or politics? You take it on Dawkins’ authority that obscurantism and irrationality are evil and will drag you to hell? Or might there be some grounds – political, ethical, aesthetic, something – for a preference for rationality over irrationality?

    “Guessing about the motives for someone making an argumentive claim of course makes things easier”

    I am not “guessing about the motives”, I am reading Meillassoux and paraphrasing:

    Alors il faut bien comprendre que l’intérêt pour moi de penser le chaos de cette façon, c’est que seul un tel chaos cesse de receler en lui une énigme: l’énigme que le temps soit ainsi plutôt qu’autrement. Seul un tel chaos représente un temps libéré de la contrainte du principe de raison: rien n’y a plus de raison d’être ainsi plutôt qu’autrement.”

    If you don’t recognise in this an issue with principally political implications, hashed and rehashed since the night of time explicitly as such, mused upon at endless length by Meillassoux’ mentor and every other member of that generation of french intellectuals, I can only assume it to be some eccentricity of your own.

    “Si l’on pense avec Nietzsche que toute philosophie est une idiosyncrasie, je dirais qu’un tel chaos ontologise le sentiment d’idiotie que j’ai toujours ressenti en lisant une métaphysique: c’est-à-dire mon incapacité à comprendre comment un philosophe pouvait savoir que les choses devaient pour toujours être telles qu’il le disait- fixe ou en devenir. Mais mon pari est universaliste, car je pense que l’ idiotie n’est rien d’autre que l’intuition intellectuelle: c’est-à-dire la capacité à saisir que rien n’a de raison d’être, que rien n’est nécessaire. Le monde est devenu aussi hésitant que nous, en tant que nous sommes tous capables d’idiotie.

  33. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “Let’s say that a good number of Christians believe in the literal truth of the biblical hypothesis that the world was created by a benificent deity around 10, 000 years ago. Now, modern science has definitively refuted and falsified this hypothesis on the basis of enormous amounts of scientifically compiled mutually corroborative evidence stretching across dozens of disciplines which show that the Earth is several billion years old and the Universe considerably older than that. Now, the fact that religious believers will refuse to accept that the biblical creation story has thereby been falsified says absolutely NOTHING about the truth of the matter: the hypothesis has been refuted all the same. Is that really so hard to understand? I really hope not!”

    The belief of creationists is not that there does not exist “enormous amounts of scientifically compiled mutually corroborative evidence stretching across dozens of disciplines which show that the Earth is several billion years old and the Universe considerably older than that.” The belief of the creationists differs from your belief as to the origin of all this evidence, the origin of your ability to interpret and evaluate it – you attribute this to something you call “pure” rationality, of mysterious origin – and to this question, the evidence itself has nothing to say whatsoever. Is that really so difficult for you to understand? Are you misled by Dawkins as to what creationists actually believe? They don’t believe there is any scientific evidence to support the bible story; they believe it is the word of God. A God capable of having designed all this evidence and much else.

  34. traxus4420 Says:

    late to my own party again, as usual — this argument seems to have played itself out. that is, if martin stays loyal to his promise never to return to this ‘pomo dungeon.’

    i would have thought one would be disabused of the idea that ‘reason’ has the power to straightforwardly rule on everything it is possible to think after having spent some time with Kant’s 3rd critique. though i suppose that does require reading for ‘subtext.’

    the Dawkins/Dennett/Hitchens (the last i’m assuming, having not read it) attacks on religion i think can only be read as embarrassments to their authors unless one reads them as political tracts. not, obviously, because they aren’t factually correct but because they would have to be hopelessly naive.

    chabert –

    “What he does is define a properly philosophical position in favour of contingency, and he gives reasons for preferring this assumption to – explicitly, and in meaningful contrast to – the position appropriate to objective sciences, and in this way he isolates philosophy’s proper content as distinct from the content of other genres.”

    on this point i’m tempted to agree with martin. as i said i don’t have that book, but the articles i’ve read from him in collapse as well as brassier’s account have lead me to be skeptical of the idea that the position he’s staking out is best described as ‘properly philosophical.’ the theoretical sciences worry about contingency and probability (in a universal sense) all the time. perhaps a better way of putting it would be ‘properly theoretical.’ if he is trying to limit this mode of questioning to philosophy it seems to me he’s illegitimately excluding a lot of material. am i missing something?

    i actually have a hard time figuring out exactly what philosophers — understood as readers of and commentators on primarily philosophical literature — are supposed to do with themselves in the wake of meillassoux’s critique, assuming just for a second that it is ‘successful.’

  35. lecolonelchabert Says:

    thanks traxus – properly theoretical, I’ll agree, I don’t mean he is taking a position already agreed to be properly philosophical, but one which he is himself defining (implicitly defining philosophy) as such. To make his argument properly theoretical as a model for philosophy. So not “trying to limit this mode of questioning to philosophy” but trying to limit philosophy to this. (It’s already limited to philosophy.) “Speculative materialism” has to distinguish itself on both ends; speculative materialism, speculative materialism, ni, ni.

    The point is, the preference is based on evading the enigma – and as he says he wants to think this way “the liberate things from cause” and this is the only way. (Even though there’s no guarantee his lead witness will say the same thing tomorrow.)

    It’s not clear that “contingency” is really the same thing in all the contexts he moves it through; this is what he refers to when speaking of coming up against sophistry – his argument about contingency comes up against deconstruction when he uses the mathematical demonstration to elaborate that to which it does not literally refer (that is, anything other than number).

    Theoretical sciences worry about contingency all the time, yes. But for different ends (not only to explain or characterise but to facilitate the manipulation of the material world) and unable to exclude the empirical. As chuckie k reminded everyone somewhere, with logical inference, Hegel proved that lightning could not be caused by electrical charges in the air. Meillassoux wants to dispense at long last with a metaphysical conviction which doesn’t vanish but only goes in disguise after Leibniz. Get rid of these closet Deists (who are Dawkins are well as Derrida). But it is in politicophilosophical language only that contingency becomes “contingency” as the absence of God or god’s secularised substitutes, that its implication is “nothing is necessary” in that sense, the philosophical sense of necessary.

    “i actually have a hard time figuring out exactly what philosophers — understood as readers of and commentators on primarily philosophical literature — are supposed to do with themselves in the wake of meillassoux’s critique, assuming just for a second that it is ’successful.’”

    Maybe though he is delivering a kind of epilogue to a drama that has already ended, that he had no role in ending. What are they supposed to do with themselves? What are they doing now? But again I think there is a pretence of believing this is all irrefragable in order to provoke something, just to shift the frame of critique rather than to actually delegitimise the practise of critique.

  36. lecolonelchabert Says:

    I think its really hard to go down this Carnap road and escape positivism. Privileging mathematics to isolate thought from certain interference allows for this precision but then the next step, leaving mathematics, is subject to caprice. Badiou is more careful to acknowledge this quarantine of mathematics and the limits of the object to which arguments there may apply, than Meillassoux. Meillassoux seems to sort of “work” an ambiguity provided by the “correlationist” assumption about the status of an abstraction like “contingency”, and to create (with borrowed sophistical methods) an environment in which contingency dispells an enigma which it continues to represent elsewhere.

    While Meillassoux sets his scene in the late 18th century, I think the real echoes are to the responses in philosophy to the cosmological and political revolutions of 1917. It’s interesting that Einstein and his fellows really hated academic philosophy, hated positivism, hated Husserl, they liked the oddballs, Kierkegaard and Stirner. Russell tried to chat with Einstein but said of him and his circle they could never find common ground or common language and “even though they’re Jews and exiles they’re really all so German” or something like this.

  37. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “the theoretical sciences worry about contingency and probability (in a universal sense) all the time”

    tho the non (logical) necessity of physical laws Meillassoux demonstrates is the preoccupation mainly of Christian theology, isn’t it? This is evidence of the contingency [dependence] of human rationality on a superior divine rationality…which in Meillassoux is found in the “intellectual intuition” of metaphysicians that “nothing had/has to be this way and not otherwise” (another way of naming one popular version of divine creativity). He is exploiting homonymy in a sophistical way I think in this demonstration.

  38. Sorry to have called your blog a “pomo dungeon”, traxus: it wasn’t intended as a comment on your blog in general (I haven’t even looked at any other pages from it), it’s just that while reading Chabert’s comments the other day I had the distinctly unpleasant feeling that I’d locked myself away into a dark room with some kind of condescending postmodernist/adornian stockbroker-type person and I needed to get out for some fresh air …

    Anyhow, since Chabert is evidently intent on digging herself ever deeper into that pit of moronic sophistry and relativistic incoherence that she began to dig for herself with her very first comment, I guess it won’t do me any harm to give her another helping hand in lowering her further down into it.

    Firstly, Chabert accuses me of having framed the whole issue in terms of the “philosophical abstractions” of “the subject” and “the thing itself”, and, furthermore, that I’m guilty of having confounded these with “the consciousness of a physical human being” and “physical matter” respectively. Now, apart from the fact that the latter two expressions are just as much “philosophical abstractions” as are the former two, it will be clear to anyone who bothers to read the exchange above that Chabert’s attribution to me of such a confusion is simply yet another product of her overactive hermeneutical imagination (are stocks and shares really that slow at the moment?). Thus, here as elsewhere, there is no case for me to answer.

    Secondly, and similarly, she suggests that I am guilty of contradicting myself in that I supposedly said that Meillassoux’s argument would be “pointless” if it wasn’t able to convert any Heideggerians “while arguing precisely the opposite about dawkins doomed confrontation with those he openly ridicules as mendacious”. Here, once again, anyone can verify for themselves whether or not I am guilty of any such incoherence by simply reading what I actually said above: they will find, of course, that my line on this issue has been entirely consistent throughout.

    Regarding the notion just quoted that Dawkins confrontation with religious believers is “doomed”, please forgive me if I allow myself to be just a little less pessimistic: While of course Dawkins’ efforts (and similarly those of Dennett, Harris, Stenger, Hitchens, and many others) will not succeed in convincing the vast majority of religious folk any time soon, it is surely unduly pessimistic to pronounce their efforts to be inevitably “doomed” from the outset. Indeed, it is allegedly the case that Dawkins and Hitchens have received nothing short of rapturous welcomes in many venues even on the US Bible Belt, and I think that the fact that both books were best-sellers in dozens of countries at the very least indicates that their efforts have not been a waste of time. To draw another (again, possibly somewhat overstretched) comparison, one would surely have said that Copernicus’s or Galileo’s or Hume’s or Darwin’s confrontations with religion were “doomed” during the times in which they were written – which surely indicates that it’s always too early to judge the extent to which scientific ideas might ultimately come to be accepted (the history of science at least gives us reason to be cautiously optimistic here).

    With regard to your claim that “there has never been an argument forwarded for creationism”, I can only assume that you’ve spent your life on another planet, because on planet Earth there have been thousands of such arguments going back at least 2000 years (cf. e.g. Cicero): please refer to the Dawkins and Stenger books I mentioned above for refutations of many dozens of them, and I can send you a bibliography of sources where you can find hundreds of others if you’re still in doubt. But really, have you honestly never heard of, for example, William Paley or the “argument from design”? There’re really quite famous – though, to be fair, one wouldn’t really expect your average stockbroker to be acquainted with such recondite matters.

    Your comment beginning with the words “As others have noticed, among them Badiou …” is really exceptionally eccentric, even by your unusually high standards of quirkiness. Do you really think that citing a philosopher citing one of his own students repeating one of his own most bizarre claims without any supporting argumentation is going to convince me of a claim which I have already rejected several times when you made it yourself? The idea that modern physics and biology provide no bulwark against religion and obscurantist speculation is demonstrably false. However, since you keep insisting on it, allow me to try just one more time to explain it to you (bear with me, I know this isn’t going to be easy for you – I mean, my seven year old daughter gets the point, but then I guess she is a little on the precocious side).

    You try to support your claim that “there has never been an argument forwarded for creationism” by adding that “it is founded in faith and revelation”, as if that were some kind of definitive clincher of an argument. But what does that really amount to? Does it amount to anything more than saying “I believe this and I’m never going to stop believing it no matter how much evidence you keep piling up in front of me which seems to falsify and refute it”? But the idea that it’s possible to make empirically irrefutable cognitive claims about the nature of the Universe which are unfalsifiable simply by virtue of the fact that some people obstinately refuse to relinquish their irrational faith in them is patently ridiculous.

    Let me introduce a more homely analogy which hopefully won’t prove too much of a stretch for you to understand (it’s actually the same analogy as you introduced above about how people often refuse to believe that their beloved is a bastard):

    Imagine that you tell me that you are 100 percent certain that your husband is the most loyal and faithful man in the world, and that you are absolutely sure that he will never cheat on you. Now, imagine that I then bring you several volumes’ worth of photographic, audio, genetic and other kinds of concrete evidence showing that your husband is indeed having an affair. Imagine further that, despite all the evidence, you continue to refuse to accept the evidence, insisting that it must have been fabricated by some malicious person, and so finally I take you to a house where you can see with you own two eyes your husband fornicating with another woman. Now if, in spite of all this evidence, you continue to maintain that your husband is not having an affair on the grounds that you believe that all this putative evidence was planted by an omnipotent God for some inscrutable reason, what do you think people ought to conclude? That you are insane and in need of psychiatric help? Or that your belief in your husband’s fidelity is unfalsifiable?

    Well, to make things as clear as possible, allow me to point out that this is precisely analogous to what you say here:

    “The belief of creationists is not that there does not exist “enormous amounts of scientifically compiled mutually corroborative evidence stretching across dozens of disciplines which show that the Earth is several billion years old and the Universe considerably older than that.” The belief of the creationists differs from your belief as to the origin of all this evidence, the origin of your ability to interpret and evaluate it – you attribute this to something you call “pure” rationality, of mysterious origin … They don’t believe there is any scientific evidence to support the bible story; they believe it is the word of God. A God capable of having designed all this evidence and much else.”

    I must say, the fact that you seem so confident in presuming to speak for all creationists and religious folk, despite the fact that you so patently misrepresent their positions, leads me strongly to suspect that what we have here is in fact a confession of personal conviction, but I will refrain from further exploring that suspicion since I would prefer this not to descend to a merely ad hominem level. But are you really trying to suggest that there’s some kind of equivalence between the findings of the sciences and the claims of creationism here? Well, it certainly sounds that way, given that you counterpoise the “beliefs” of the one against the “beliefs” of the other. (It seems that I really ought to reinstate my previously retracted original accusation of you as a relativist after all.) Can you really not tell the difference? Do you really think that the hypothesis that God created the Universe 4, 000 or 10, 000 years ago (or yesterday, or two seconds ago), dinosaur fossils and all, is an hypothesis that has a plausibility comparable to that of the theories of modern geology, biology, and cosmology?

    As for your suggestion that Christians “don’t believe there is any scientific evidence to support the bible story”, once again, I’m afraid this claim is just patently, demonstrably false. While there are of course those who go along with Gould in saying that science and religion are “non-overlapping magisteria” (although religious believers themselves really ought to be wary of scientists bearing gifts, since Gould’s patronizing gesture entails robbing religion of the right to make any claims about the world whatsoever and reduces it to a kind of primitive ethical philosophy), as Dawkins asks, can you seriously imagine ANY Christian remaining indifferent to an announcement by genetic scientists that forensic DNA evidence taken from the shroud of Turin had proven that Jesus really didn’t have a biological father? To paraphrase Dawkins: Can you imagine religious apologists simply shrugging their shoulders at this and saying ‘Who cares! Scientific evidence is completely irrelevant to theological questions. Wrong magisterium!’?

    The fact is that a huge amount of money is constantly being invested by Christian organizations in order to try and make it look as if modern science furnishes evidence for creation (the most popular argument recently forwarded in this vein relating to the putatively ‘fine-tuned’ nature of the fundamental cosmological constants of particle physics – an issue which, of course, is intimately related to the issue concerning the legitimate range of application of probabilities which so exercises Meillassoux in AF and elsewhere).

    As for your constant refrain about how I have a blind faith in “pure rationality”, again, any intelligent person reading the above exchanges will note that this accusation also completely misfires. What I in fact said is that whether or not an argument is valid is “purely a matter of logic” whereas whether or not someone accepts an argument is “purely a psychological matter”. If you actually think that the validity or soundness of an argument rests on some other criteria than those of formal logic, all I can really suggest is that you try to enroll in your local University to take a class in Logic 101 and see how you get on when trying to persuade your instructor that logical validity is in fact something that ought to be assessed in ideological, sociological or psychoanalytical terms.

    You also suggest that I attribute the origin of the human ability to interpret and evaluate the scientific evidence which falsifies creationism to “something you call ‘pure’ rationality, of mysterious origin”. And yet, yet again, I said nothing of “pure rationality” (as just clarified), nor (a fortiori) did I say anything about what I think its origin to be, much less that I think that origin is “mysterious”. As a matter of fact, while there is undoubtedly still a great deal of work to be done in cognitive science, AI, neuroscience, linguistics, teleosemantics etc. in order to fully clarify and explain the precise nature and origins of human cognition, I have no doubt whatsoever that these disciplines are well on their way to achieving that goal and that there is nothing constitutively “mysterious” or scientifically intractable involved.

    Anyway, I’ll perhaps get back to you on some of your other (very silly) points (about e.g., evading enigmas, Kant and Einstein) another day, but for now I really must have a coffee and check on how those shares are doing …

  39. lecolonelchabert Says:

    Egad, that’s the third and the longest divagation into the same irrelevant topic so far.

    Creationisl is not what Meillassoux claims to refute. It is CORRELATIONISM. a lot of letters in common, I know.

    The question I asked you was specifically about correlationism. It was:

    – Is there a distinction between the ability to convince the majority of brevetted professional producers of hypotheses about “the thing itself” that “the subject” can have knowledge of it and the ability “”to refute an argument (which is a purely rational or logical matter)” to the contrary? Can you describe this distinction?

    Not creationism, as you see.

    Now, you said you were wary of insulting my intelligence by describing this obvious distinction which any child can see. Well, never fear, I won’t mind being insulted – just write down in simple, plain english a description of the distinction that you alluded to and that I inquired about. Another bad analogy no matter how “long and detailed ” – length and detail, contrary to what you seem to think, do not necessarily persuasiveness make – to creationism is not going to answer the question I asked you. I am only asking you to support your own claim.

    “I’ll perhaps get back to you on some of your other (very silly) points (about e.g., evading enigmas, Kant and Einstein) ”

    yes you’ll have to wait I think until the book you haven’t read is published in English. Meanwhile you can stall with long disquisitions about Dawkins’ upcoming refutations of surrealism. After all, as you said, in the discussion of Meillassoux, what Richard Dawkins says in his war with intelligent design “is all we have to go on.”

  40. lecolonelchabert Says:

    ““Is this a rational argument? ” Yes it is. “About what?” Well, short of a detailed commentary, it has to do with the question of whether it is possible to totalise possibility as a numerically determinate whole in order to legitimate certain claims about the necessity or stability of the laws of physics, and Meillassoux draws upon Cantor to make the argument that it is not.”

    You can actually know this all from the quoted paragraph itself, as you see. This is why I quoted that paragraph.

    ” I won’t go into details, since (1) you can read Chapter 4 of the book if you’re really interested (Brassier also summarises it admirably clearly and rigorously in the section entitled ‘The inconstancy of nature’ in his chapter entitled ‘The Enigma of Realism’ in Nihil Unbound, a shorter version of which appears in Collapse Vol. 2); (2) I know you’re not really interested, and that you’re only citing it in order to make a (frankly, idiotic) rhetorical claim, this being in line with your exclusive interest in philosophical debate as pantomime, dramaturgy or spectacle; (3) Frankly, it’s beyond your ken. ”

    Actually you won’t go into details because you can’t, you are basing what you say on Nihil Unbound. Is that not so? I wouldn’t have guessed until you oddly insisted I hadn’t read the book while seeming yourself clearly not to recognise references to what it actually says.

    So this accounts I think for you not knowing what was meant by “sophistry” and seeming to think it was a kind of insult, and indeed for most of your incomprehensible misreading here. If you do read the book, you will understand better the points I have made. You may still disagree of course, but you will recognise that to which I am referring at least.

    “Can you imagine religious apologists simply shrugging their shoulders at this and saying ‘Who cares! Scientific evidence is completely irrelevant to theological questions. Wrong magisterium!’?”

    What I can and can’t imagine does not impact upon what exists and what doesn’t, something you ought to learn about yourself. You get impressions from Dawkins and professional propagandists who are paid to try to trip up evolutionary biologists and all this absurd circus. But you don’t have to rely on this silly sources. Charles Strozier wrote an interesting book about pentacostals and whatnot. There are others. Taking what these paid – and mendacious as Dawkins never tires of noting – propagandists say as representative of anything is just plain stooooopid. These people do not believe what they say. Those who concocted “intelligent design” do not believe it, pat robertson doesn’t believe in God – it’s a business, you childish fool.

  41. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “can you seriously imagine ANY Christian remaining indifferent to an announcement by genetic scientists that forensic DNA evidence taken from the shroud of Turin had proven that Jesus really didn’t have a biological father? ”

    can you seriously imagine any atheist remaining indifferent to such an announcement from genetic scientists? Scientists who study genes say idiotic irrational unfounded things all the time…mostly about “race” covertly or overtly. You can perhaps recall some recent headlines. What have you learned from who remained indifferent, and who did not? Anything?

  42. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “I must say, the fact that you seem so confident in presuming to speak for all creationists and religious folk, despite the fact that you so patently misrepresent their positions, leads me strongly to suspect that what we have here is in fact a confession of personal conviction, but I will refrain from further exploring that suspicion since I would prefer this not to descend to a merely ad hominem level. ”

    Actually you entered here on a merely ad hominem level, as you must recall. I don’t know why you should have done so – you came in, uninvited of course, and announced loudly you were offended and were leaving.

    So.

    I am a victim of postmodern bullshit and a creationist? Or has one hypothesis replaced the other? Or do you see creationism as postmodern?

    What has set all this off Martin? How can you get so overheated about my applying to Meillassoux work, which you have not read, some entirely inoffensive adjectives? Based on what you’ve said here, I actually find it hard to believe you will buy Meillassoux’ argument that necessity is solely a property of the contingency of beings, which is influenced quite a bit by some (both poststructuralist and other) “sophists”. Why you should continue to shriek in defence of a book you haven’t read, an argument you do not know, and will not finally I think be persuaded by, just because I said it involved “theatrical” and “rhetorical” features designed to provoke a response in a certain environment, I cannot divine.

  43. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “Chabert accuses me of having framed the whole issue in terms of the “philosophical abstractions” of “the subject” and “the thing itself”, ”

    Now see Martin, I didn’t accuse you of that. I was referring of course to Meillassoux’ argument against correlationism and if you were familiar with it, you would have known that. “Correlationism” – which is neither the same as, nor particularly like creationism – is characterised by Meillassoux as the contention that “the subject” can have no knowledge of “the thing itself”. You claimed that Meillassoux’ argument “falsified” or potentially could “falsify” “correlationism”. I was pointing out that “correlationism” cannot be submitted to an empirical test.

    The difference between “the subject” and the consciousness of a physical human being and “the thing itself” and physical matter is not that the former are abstractions while the latter are not, it is that the former, as I said cannot leave the holodeck of philosophy – as they are used in “correlationism” they are terms specific to philosophy, with specific meaning in philosophical language – while the latter are terms of ordinary language. Numerous hypotheses regarding physical matter can be, and are routinely, falsified. Hypotheses about “the thing itself” – in the philosophical sense – cannot be falsified.

  44. lecolonelchabert Says:

    Neither the production of persuasive rhetorical refutations nor sound logical demonstrations should be unhelpfully confounded with falsification. Was the point.

  45. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “What I in fact said is that whether or not an argument is valid is “purely a matter of logic” whereas whether or not someone accepts an argument is “purely a psychological matter”.”

    The problem here is neither of these things are true. Not because logic does not exist, or psyches, but “purity” is a fiction. And surely whether or not someone accepts an argument may be, almost certainly will be, due to many things existing in very complex relations about which it is impossible to generalise. Whether a legal argument, for example, is valid is hardly “purely a matter of logic”, and whether it is accepted by an individual is unlikely to be a purely psychological matter. Meillassoux’ argument is not entirely based in logic and its “validity” cannot be assessed entirely on the basis of logic. Ethical arguments are not usually predominantly logical. Most arguments appeal to much more than logic to make their cases. Logical inconsistency can harm an argument but logical consistency alone cannot help one.

    On these matters, the historian Carlo Ginzburg is an excellent writer, especially The Judge and The Historian, and the lectures printed in History, Rhetoric and Proof.

    Here’s a little bit from the first:

    The relations between history and law have always been extremely close: this has been the case since, two and a half thousand years ago, the literary genre that we call ‘history’ emerged in Greece. If the word ‘history’ (historia) derives from the language of medicine, the argumentative capacity it implies perhaps derives from the juridical tradition. History as a particular intellectual activity is constituted (as Arnaldo Momigliano reminded us a few years ago) at the crossroads of medicine and rhetoric: it examines cases and situations, seeking the natural causes according to the example of the first and following the rules to the second – an art of persuasion born in tribunals.

    In the classical tradition, to historical exposition ( as, elsewhere, to poetry) one brings, in the first place, a quality the Greeks called enargheia, and the Latins called evidentia in narratione: the capacity to represent persons and situations vividly. Like a lawyer, an historian is obliged to convince with the use of an efficacious argument involving to a point the creation of an illusion of reality and less with the production of proof or the evaluation of proof produced by others. These latter are the proper activities of antiquarians and scholars, but until the second half of the 18th century, history and antiquarianism constituted intellectual environments entirely independent of one another, populated by a different set of individuals. At the time when a scholar like the Jesuit Henri Griffet, in his Traité des differentes sortes de preuves qui servent à établir la verité de l’histoire (1769), equated the historian with a judge who evaluates various bits of evidence and testimony, there was already manifest a requirement then unsatisfied, albeit remarked upon by few intellectuals. This was to be realized a few years later with Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the first work to successfully combine history and antiquarian scholarship.

    The analogy between the historian and the judge was destined for a great career. In the famous remark, first uttered by Schiller, Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht, Hegel condensed, in the duplicate sense of Weltgericht (‘world tribunal’ and ‘universal justice’), the essence of his own Philosophy of History: the secularization of the Christian vision of Universal History (Weltgeschichte.) The accent here falls on the verdict (with all the ambiguity with which it is pronounced): but it falls to the historian to judge people and events on the basis of a principle – the overriding interests of the State – tendentiously estranged as they may be either from law or from morality; In Griffet, on the other hand, the accent falls on that which precedes the verdict, that is on the impartial evaluation of proofs and testimony on the part of the judge. At the end of the century, Lord Acton, in his address spoken on the occasion of his nomination to the position of Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge (1895), insisted on both one and the other: historiography, when it is based upon documents; has to erect atop them a structure and become ‘a recognized tribunal, before which all are equal.’

    […]

    For many historians, the notion of proof is out of fashion, as with the notion of truth, to which it is tied by a strong link historically (although not a necessary link). The reasons for this devaluation are various, not all of an intellectual order. One reason is certainly the hypertrophic status on both sides of the Atlantic, in France and in the United States, achieved by the term ‘representation.’ Given the use made of this, it ends in creating in many cases an insurmountable wall around history.

    […]

    We know very well that every testimony is constructed according to a determined code: to attain to historical reality (or to reality) in a direct way is by definition impossible. But to infer from this an ultimate unknowability of reality is the result of a radically lazy scepticism which is at once unsustainable from an existential point of view and contradictory from a logical one: as such, the fundamental choice of the skeptic is not placed beneath the methodical doubt that he declares himself committed to.

    For me, as for many others, the notions of ‘proof’ and of ‘truth’ are in contrast constitutive of my method as an historian. This does not imply, obviously, that non-existent phenomena or false documents are irrelevant historically: Bloch and Lefebvre taught us the contrary. But the analysis of representations must not be permitted to obscure the principle of reality. The non-existence of the band of brigands [ of the French revolutionary period, which Lefebvre studied in La grande peur] renders yet more significant (because more profound and revealing) the fear in the French countryside in the summer of 1789. An historian has the duty and the right to remark a problem there where a judge would have to dismiss the case for lack of evidence.

  46. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “““Is this a rational argument? ” Yes it is. “About what?” Well, short of a detailed commentary, it has to do with the question of whether it is possible to totalise possibility as a numerically determinate whole in order to legitimate certain claims about the necessity or stability of the laws of physics, and Meillassoux draws upon Cantor to make the argument that it is not.””

    oh and not to nitpick but that’s not quite right; the deployment of cantor is against kantian arguments for the necessity of the universe. The stability of the laws of physics is another thing. And – i don’t know why you keep ignoring this – he does not at all establish that it is not possible to totalise possibility. He establishes, from Cantor, only that there exists an alternative – the possible either constitutes or does not constitute an All. He prefers the second – for two reasons, extra logical but nonetheless compelling, plainly stated above.

  47. lecolonelchabert Says:

    I don’t think that argument is “beyond your ken” by the way, but I do see it is at present beyond your actual acquaintance.

  48. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “what do you think people ought to conclude? That you are insane and in need of psychiatric help? ”

    So your contention is that Quentin Meillassoux is insane and in need of psychiatric help? This is your idea of being interested and serious and properly modernistly paying attention to the “long and detailed arguments” he has made for the inability of physics to serve as a bulwark to spiritualist and obscurantist speculation? Have you even read these arguments? If not why do you offer an opinion? And these completely naive point missing rants? On what grounds do you conclude he is “insane”? Do you have any specific objections to his proposals on this question? Do you have a tactic of argument apart from bogus diversionary analogy and ad hominem insults?

    okay, i am freed from my desk now…thanks for helping me stay awake.

  49. lecolonelchabert Says:

    on and traxus

    “as ‘properly philosophical.’ the theoretical sciences worry about contingency and probability (in a universal sense) all the time. perhaps a better way of putting it would be ‘properly theoretical.’ if he is trying to limit this mode of questioning to philosophy it seems to me he’s illegitimately excluding a lot of material. am i missing something?”

    I missed I think the point of your question – you ask why is Meillassoux’ choice philosophical as distinct from scientific.

    I just meant, clearly it’s distinct from math – in math, there is the alternative. That’s as far as the math can go with what it has at present – it can’t decide. This is where the math takes the philosopher, to this crossroads, and drops him off on the side of the road.

    If math wants to decide if this totalisation is impossible, it must show that it is impossible. (any day now the state of things could change, and its not impossible a philosophical inspiration would move a mathematician to seek something, as theories of physics can inspire the developmet of the math they need). Physics doesn’t choose about the necessity of the laws of the universe – it doesn’t proceed even with the same concpetion of “laws” as philosophy (inheriting its question from theology). Everyone in the world accepts that the laws of the physics are logically contingent. Meillassoux’ project is uniquely philosophical – that is, an exercise of a specific kind, assuming one possibility and drawing out inferences and consequences for philosophical concepts (“contingency”, “necessity”) which are not identical to their homonyms in sciences.

    It’s worth bearing in mind a context for all this, which Badiou once called something like “Sartre vs Althusser: The Cause vs. the cause.” That was the last major querelle in that environment about structural causation, agency and the aleatory, also of course preoccupied with nauseous epistemological uncertainties. The current situation and what Meillassoux sees as its verbalist and “correlationist” defects arose from that moment. I think this is the grass on the field to which Meillassoux has invited his (worthy) adversaries to battle, rather than idiotic American televangelism and canned cocachristianity.

  50. lecolonelchabert Says:

    also part of context for Meillassoux is the similar issues going on in history around holocaust denial (especially in europe where there are actually laws criminalising it). Agamben has in recent years provoked responses from historians, philologists and literary studies people, (LaCapra, Ginzburg, Mesnard, della Torre) who would not dignify holocaust denial (i guess this is the european counterpart to the US creationism problem, though obviously distinct in many ways, sharing important features) by arguing with it (you could profitably ponder that choice, Martin) but the work is actually located in philosophy, and historians have taken the opportunity to blame philosophy in general for the environment encouraging this and for generally infecting intellectual culture to the point where it was unable to produce adequate responses to holocaust denial. Though I think the consensus assessment is that in social sciences and history the “disease” has gone into remission for some years now. There was a very revealing and thought provoking debate among historians about this concerning a proposed italian law much like the french one, which in the end was not enacted due to the opposition of historians like Ginzburg.

  51. lecolonelchabert Says:

    Maybe what Meillassoux is trying to do is rob radical scepticism of the Nietzschean dash and unearned glamour it has enjoyed, this air of ultraleft rebelliousness which attracts students, which has for a long time rested on various irrational appeals, the appeals of irrationality, and th characterisation of the object of critique (enlightenment, etc) as fuddy duddy christianity in disguise. So he’s made a product with everything valuable in rationalism but which specifically takes for itself the brand identity of ultra rad antitotalising liberatory deleuzian etc.. Not the arguments but the brand identity features. Contingency! Chaos! another world is possible. But this chaos and contingency situated in such a way as to not trouble the sort of forgotten adult pursuit of cumulative knowledge and organised deliberate action, which all agree a certain intellectual climate has been unsuitable for or even discouraging to in recent decades.

  52. “thanks for helping me stay awake”

    De nada.

    Well, I’m afraid I have a very busy day today and obviously it will take me some time to respond to all this, but let me quickly respond to your desperate, last-ditch attempt to extract a confession from me that I’ve actually never read the book and so haven’t a clue what I’m talking about.

    Firstly, yes, it’s true, I read Brassier’s long chapter on the book in Nihil Unbound before I read AF itself — and frankly, given the exceptionally lucid, detailed, rigorous and accurate nature of Brassier’s commentary, even if it were true that I were solely relying upon this, it would have equipped me quite well enough to engage in this discussion in an informed way (after all, it’s not as if we’ve actually touched on much of the content of the book — if only we had, this conversation might have actually had a chance of being interesting!). However, I’m afraid to have to inform you that I have also subsequently read the book several times and have made copious notes and criticisms in the margins of my copy of the text.

    As evidence that I have not read the book, you mention my “incomprehensible misreading”, yet the only example that you’re able to cite is in fact based upon your misunderstanding of what I said. In the post above in which you cite a passage from Meillassoux’s Chapter 4, you then ask: “is this a rational argument? about what? what’s the relationship of this argument to science?” I was really quite taken aback that you would ask these questions — especially because, as you later admitted, the answer to them is obvious simply from reading the chapter itself. It’s for this reason that I suspected that YOU had not in fact read the book (especially since I’d also noticed that this exact passage appears in a review of the book on the internet). Strangely, after I had briefly answered the above question about the relation of the passage to science, you then responded by saying that you’d known that all along — which puzzled me even more. If you already knew the answer to the question, and if, as you later said, it was already “perfectly explicit” in the passage you quoted, why on earth did you ask the question in the first place?!

    Anyway, my impression that you in fact originally thought that the relation of the passage to science was either deeply obscure or else non-existent is strongly confirmed by the fact that you suggest in the sentence immediately following that said passage amounts to nothing more than a politically-motivated preference which “skirts the edge of sophistry”. Now the fact that you are paraphrasing Meillassoux here in no way implies that my response to your comment was based upon a misreading of the text, since evidently what you were insinuating was that Meillassoux’s argument — far from being rational or having any close relationship to problems with which science has to do – were sophistical in the sense of being motivated by political commitments which are “opportunistically hostile to every hint of determination”. I have already corrected your misreading on this last point (since Meillassoux is absolutely clear and explicit about his reasons for opting for the Cantorian position that the possible does not constitute a totality even in the passage you cite: viz., because the application of Ockham’s razor dictates that the hypothesis of metaphysical necessity is superfluous to the requirements of scientific explanation and because it avoids the absurd teleological anthropism resulting from the argument from the misapplication of probabilities in the frequentialist option), and your most recent suggestion that I have confused necessity and stability (when, as we both know, that distinction is absolutely essential to everything Meilassoux is arguing in that chapter), is again badly off-target: my use of “or” in the expression “stability or necessity” was meant to express a disjunction rather than equivalence, though I admit that might have been unclear (but then I was writing a very quick comment on a blog rather than an academic paper!)

    But on the sophistry issue: yes, it’s true that Meillassoux says somewhere that sophistry is philosophy’s “dark structural double” and that philosopher’s invent strange forms of argument “necessarily bordering on sophistry”, but the fact that he also uses the term in a pejorative way in many cases (I can cite examples if you like) makes it clear that he is NOT suggesting that this proximity of philosophy to sophistry is a desirable thing, much less that he would endorse your opinion that his own arguments against the legitimacy of applying probabilistic reasoning to the laws of nature in order to make a mystery of their putative metaphysical necessity are sophistical. (I actually think that there are better and more definitive arguments available to establish this than Meillassoux’s Cantorian one, but I certainly wouldn’t accuse the latter of being sophistical either.)

    Anyway, I must say that I welcome your recent intimations above that you may, after all, be interested in discussing the actual substance of Meillassoux’s arguments rather than attempting to divine his hidden political agenda or treating his text purely diagnostically as symptomatic of contemporary French intellectual culture (ooops: please forgive me for using the word ‘purely’ there: as good postmodernists such as yourself are in the habit of constantly reminding everyone, such a facon de parler is inadmissable given that everything is always already contaminated by everything else — and especially by politics). As a matter of fact, and as I have stated several times, the content of the argument is what primarily interests me (my very first comment, you will remember, basically just expressed my puzzlement about the fact that that you seemed to wholly neglect the same) …

    But anyway, I must get back to work now so that I can attend a Joy Division festival in Mexico City this weekend. I may get time to respond to your other comments and accusations (none of which I concede, by the way) at some point, but frankly this is getting quite tiresome and I have better things to be doing (such as, writing a long critical review of Meillassoux’s book).

    Have a nice weekend.

  53. Damn, I can’t let this go for a whole weekend without a quick response to weirdest comment yet:

    “So your contention is that Quentin Meillassoux is insane and in need of psychiatric help? This is your idea of being interested and serious and properly modernistly paying attention to the “long and detailed arguments” he has made for the inability of physics to serve as a bulwark to spiritualist and obscurantist speculation? Have you even read these arguments? If not why do you offer an opinion? And these completely naive point missing rants? On what grounds do you conclude he is “insane”? Do you have any specific objections to his proposals on this question? Do you have a tactic of argument apart from bogus diversionary analogy and ad hominem insults?”

    How you can POSSIBLY have concluded from what I said that I was contending that MEILLASSOUX is insane is absolutely beyond me. I was responding to your utterly ridiculous contention that creationism is irrefutable/unfalsifiable by giving you a simple analogy (and a perfectly apt one, in fact). I don’t know what I can do to make what I said any clearer, so I won’t try but can only suggest that you re-read it.

    Plus, to ask me “Have you even read these arguments?” is really incredibly rich coming from someone who in the very same breath claims that these arguments are intended to demonstrate “the inability of physics to serve as a bulwark to spiritualist and obscurantist speculation”!!!!! Allow me to refer you to Chapter One of the book, in which he makes the case at great length that the findings of modern empirical science (cosmology, astrophysics, geology, evolutionary theory, genetics) provide precisely such a bulwark against the obscurantist (idealist/correlationist) contention that the idea of a world subsisting in itself, in the absence of human beings, is an absurdity. (In the forthcoming addendum to the English translation, he also explicitly likens correlationism to creation in this respect.) If you won’t take it from me, and you’re incpable of following the argument, take it from the very same author (Badiou) that you’re paraphrasing here: in the same anthology from which you take the above quote (viz. Theoretical Writings, translated by Brassier and Toscano), Badiou also calls this argument (viz., Meillassoux’s argument from the arche-fossil) “irrefutable”.

    As for offering opinions about Meillassoux’s argument, I have already offered several above (albeit briefly); and yes, I do have very many specific objections to his proposals, objections which I intend to write and publish something about (although don’t look for it under the present pseudonym: my mother would never have called me “Martin”).

    I’ll have to see on Monday whether I think anything else you’ve said merits a response, but I’m inclined to suspect that your need to have the final word, your inability to follow simple arguments and your refusal to concede anything even when you’ve clearly been nailed, means that this exchange will end up being frustratingly interminable if I don’t bow out now, so don’t hold your breath for any more contributions from “Martin”.

  54. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “he is NOT suggesting that this proximity of philosophy to sophistry is a desirable thing”

    la philosophie est l’invention des argumentations étranges, à la limite, nécessairement, de la sophistique – qui demeure son double obscur et structurel. Philosopher consiste en effet toujours à déployer une idée qui, pour être défendue et explorée, impose un régime argumentatif original, dont le modèle ne se trouve ni dans une science positive – fût-elle la logique – ni dans un art du bien raisonner supposé déjà-là.

    “Philosophy is the invention of strange methods of argumentation, at the limit, necessarily, of sophistry – which remains its shadowy and structural double. To philosophise consists in effect always of deploying an idea which, to be defended and explored, imposes an original argumentative order, the model of which can be found neither in positivist science, that is logic, nor in an art of well reasoning supposed to be already given.”

    I don’t suppose you will accept this passage as throwing some doubt upon most of what you have been screeching, or that it will really inspire you to reconsider the wisdom of your initial tantrum. As someone less prejudiced would however see easily, Meillassoux is describing “philosophising” as a dramatic art and a creative practise which is not latched to your infantile dawkinsian religiosity of the “purely logical”. You will dismiss this I think as easily as you dismiss Meillassoux’ plain unequivocal statements regarding “what interests him” in “thinking chaos in this way”, that is, that it is the only way “to liberate history/things from cause/reason”. You will continue to insist that “all we have to go on” to know Meillassoux’ text is what Dawkins has written. God Dawkins, his prophet Meillassoux, you the postmodern creationist fanatic of this religion, obstinately blind and deaf to evidence.

    Damn, I can’t let this go for a whole weekend without a quick response to weirdest comment yet:

    “So your contention is that Quentin Meillassoux is insane and in need of psychiatric help? …? Do you have a tactic of argument apart from bogus diversionary analogy and ad hominem insults?”

    How you can POSSIBLY have concluded from what I said that I was contending that MEILLASSOUX is insane is absolutely beyond me.

    Have a look at your dictionary for “mockery”, reread your comments, and then try to connect the dots. If you can’t, I’ll help you.

    Badiou called the argument “irrefutable”.

    Yes.

    But you entered here insisting Meillassoux would meet his Kantian match, that is, that you believed there would in fact be a compelling refutation advanced. Do you believe an argument can be refutable and not refutable at the same time? Are you an irrational insane person incapable of recognising an irrefutable proof? Or is Badiou? Is one of you insane? Or is this not that clear cut a question? Or might it be that Badiou’s “irrefutable” was….you should pardon the expression… rhetorical, and that such an argument has more than one register on which it might be challenged, and that in this realm in fact, this particular discourse – this is after all what is under examination, finally, a thing called “correlationism” which is the product of a finite industry – “irrefutable” is indeed perhaps impossible, certainly rare and its criteria may even change, being dependent on, if not entirely reducible to, consensus which is overdetermined.

    It is not necessarily “relativist” to claim that relativism exists.

    What you have refused to consider, what you have indeed declared an offensive “postmodernist” “relativist” “creationist” suggestion, is that the central issues of QM’s arguments (plural) and proposals (pl) are at all serious or meaningful so that they may be the object of something more than the most childish policing for superficial consistency. But they may be, or some might see them as, socially and politically meaningful; they exist in an historical context which conditions them and which they react to, and it is not a question of fighting the dragons of creationism on behalf of physical sciences and certainly not one of vindicating the kind of product produced by a Dawkins (on the contrary).

    For one thing there is the avowed mission to push all idealisms, including the rationalist variety, into retreat in favour of materialism, and in doing so to create a materialism not yet seen. This materialism will have a certain, restricted, aspect of “ the passivity” of consciousness from pre-Marxist materialism (Leopardi as well as the french 18th c) but it will not have the usual accompaniment (mechanistic determinism or the like), but it will be somehow distinguished from the already existing extensive tradition of materialism. In what way is it really new? I’m not sure. If you were to break the rules, and stand in social sciences to view it critically, you might suggest that it was a kind of eulogy belatedly pronounced over analogue (“impressions”) and its accompanying epistemic régime, by the digital materialist(maybe) philosopher, with his code-assisted access to “the thing itself” (we can translate the facticity of the necessarily contingent beings into the code that is the mental habits of our rationality) and his reified shell of contingency (that’s a long discussion requiring close reading), with some trappings of a cabbalistic mysticism which set theory comes to resemble when treated this way, in the tradition of Lacan (devotee of Benamozegh accorded to Gérard Haddad) who started that.

    Beyond this, there are imagined to be things of moment at stake in how one feels about Kant. A professional illusion. You mentioned Bourdieu, you may recall what he said about all the cultural capital of philosophy stemming from Kant in Heidegger’s day; not so exclusive now perhaps but still the (very predictable) generational challenge that Meillassoux is undertaking is obliged either to fight over Hegel or Kant, again. As if thought could not be thought, without another exegesis of these scriptures. As if there were no proof that thought had even occurred were these texts not read yet again. One more time.

    But recall it was Kant, and these very arguments of Kant addressed by Meillassoux, who was used by Lyotard to undertake the disastrous, non-trivial irrationalisation of political thought from within the very midst of the circle of Socialisme ou Barbarie. This strain of post Kantian Kantianism, so those who think intellectual culture matters (those who produce it usually do), has real blood on his hands. It has been the means by which the bourgeois left has justified its accomodation to the truly extremist barbaric reaction that is known as neoliberalism. In Sarkozy’s France the catastrophic disarray of the left is not a laughing matter, and it is common – perhaps justifiably – to believe that the condition of intellectual culture is partly to blame or at least a reflection; that the irrationalism and political pessimism of postructuralism has turned the centre left over to the likes of BHL (whom you probably adore) and these other Enlightened Civilization Hometeam characters who are far worse than the most extravagant of the poststructuralist sophists (who are not philosophers typically, but in France this word philosophe is used promiscuously to refer to all academics who produce theoretical work, certain psychoanalysts, and even for journalists).

    Denying any of this is relevant to an evaluation of Meillassoux’ book, you take up the position instead of grading it, like an amateur schoolteacher, circling with a red pencil, rather than explaining it, engaging it as if were worth anyone’s attention. Admittedly Meillassoux’ rhetoric about critique may encourage if not license such a stance; this is a pity, I would call it a major flaw, and one not destitute of implications. Still, you are approaching all this in the most childish manner, looking for little logical gotchas (you can’t derive a non tautological…could you miss the point more glaringly?) That’s your prerogative but you should know you appear a caricature of a film school student obsessed with cataloguing continuity errors.

  55. So there are two points which still interest me in the above:

    “This is what I meant by staging the contest between reason and authority; all the responses to him adopt the shrink’s chair or professor’s podium. He doesn’t, he ostentatiously refrains. He recuses himself. If his opponents cannot do the same, regardless of whether you accept this or that of their judgements (he unhelpfully confuses things)…if they can only deliver judgements from some institutionally provided throne, and can only make these kinds of judgements, then he’s accomplished what seems to me to be a demonstration of something, of the situation of reason and authority in this genre and this discipline, which cannot be accomplished via similar judgements and pronouncements from another such throne.”

    i mainly re-quoted this down here just so i wouldn’t lose it. but the difficulty i still have with figuring out what meillassoux is up to is, if he is planning to shift rather than replace critique (and this is what i think his kant will have fully accomplished, unless he manages to do it himself), if his project is to rebrand the hip ‘radical’ philosophy away from pomo/poststructuralism such that “this chaos and contingency situated in such a way as to not trouble the sort of forgotten adult pursuit of cumulative knowledge and organised deliberate action” can take place, what is he accomplishing for his mistress philosophy other than a new, harmless sandbox where these sorts of pretensions to ‘unbridled rigor’ can go on without disturbing anyone else? this is the level at which the bloggers seem to be appropriating ‘speculative realsim’ in general (so harman, brassier, grant as well as meillassoux) — as an opportunity to play without guilt (‘weird realism’ and the rest of it). but how could this be at all a desirable goal for a philosopher who is ‘serious’ in the grand post-68 french tradition?

    i think it all hinges on this:

    “Everyone in the world accepts that the laws of the physics are logically
    contingent.”

    i’m still not sure that’s true. in fact i’m quite sure einstein believed in logical necessity (and his views on the subject weren’t limited to the popular dice quote). my point is that at the higher levels of physics the usual scientific allegiance to empiricism is suspended, and the discipline becomes more compatible with the philosophical idiom. more recently, you have the whole computational universe movement (wolfram, fredkin, etc.) who find the analytical model presented by mathematics to be inadequate in dealing with certain higher-level complexity — systems so complex that they can’t be ‘externally’ theorized or predicted, where you just have to follow the information algorithm as it runs. the idea is that the universe at its most fundamental level just IS information, as is human cognition. this has ‘philosophical’ implications that scientists have taken seriously, and critiqued, as science. it would seem to break down the distinction between logical necessity and logical contingency, and the whole idea of ‘logic’ as a meaningfully separate category from ‘nature.’

    Oh, and Martin, if you manage to decide whether you’re coming or going, you might want to check out this from Badiou, who you seem to respect somewhat, on philosophy’s relationship to history and social theory:

    “But if the philosophical act is formally the same, and the return of the same, we have to take into account the change of the historical context. Because the act takes place under some conditions. When a philosopher proposes a new division and a new hierarchy for the experiences of his time, it is because a new intellectual creation, a new truth, has just appeared. It is in fact because, in his eyes, we have to assume the consequences of a new event in the real conditions of philosophy.”

    http://www.lacan.com/badrepeat.html

  56. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “i’m still not sure that’s true. in fact i’m quite sure einstein believed in logical necessity (and his views on the subject weren’t limited to the popular dice quote). ”

    Well, err, this gets to the incompatibility of the discourses. He believed the “laws of physics” (unknown) were “necessary”, yes in the sense that the universe coterminous with God, spinozist etc.

    Not that the laws of physics were logically necessary. In logic, the laws of phyics are contingent. But logic is not physics. Logic, like math, tells us about thought. It’s relation to stuff is not known. That’s the issue.

    Like most physicists he understood the appearance of defiance of “laws” (of the established behaviour of matter) to be straightforwardly subjective – marking the limitations of what we know.

    But he did not think a new formal logic was required to deal with new physics.

    (And he’s no longer living.)

    I really hesitate to talk about physics because I am not a physicist and obviously I don’t know it. But…theory of everything continues to be pursued and bigger supercolliders built to try to see whether its going in the right direction.

    About the universe (of which our consciousness is a part) as information; well this, in a very vague way, is what I think Meillassoux is echoing in the language of another genre, but as if handicapped by generic obligations, like undertaking this in the form of another reading of Kant. But also, he is committed to non determinism and at least covertly to agency. So one cannot go whole hog in the direction of those today taking computer programmes as a metaphor for the universe as the watch served others in the past. Ultimately Meillassoux, like Badiou, wants this all to have some relevance to human affairs in the qtuotidian sense.

    In the process, anyway, of Meillassoux thing, contingency and necessity are reified, manipulated in that test tube state, and reinserted in a new context. It’s not a dialectical approach so they come out simply reduced to the nuances (purified) their content had gathered over time (in theology and theology based philosophy), sort of like an inside out deconstruction, without the specific content that gathered these nuancesin the first place. Or that was my impression.

    “what is he accomplishing for his mistress philosophy other than a new, harmless sandbox where these sorts of pretensions to ‘unbridled rigor’ can go on without disturbing anyone else?”

    but he has picked up from Badiou the belief that this practise of philosophy is an eternal battle with the sophists. I agree it looks like he’s trying to abolish philosophy (finish it) thus leaving sophists the field, because sophists have many interests apart from the one they contest with philosophy, and only philosophy (in the grand style, ontology) has just this one thing, which it fights about with sophistry. But he seems to be counting on not succeeding. I mean, if we imitate him, we accept that we have here an alternative – he’s convincing or he isn’t convincing. You’re preferring “let’s say he’s convincing”. I’ll be Meillassoux and say we have every reason to prefer the second choice (let’s say he’s not convincing) because it’s more fun and productive (of text, of meaning…).

    So he’s counting on a reply. That’s what I meant before. He’s counting on provoking something. The ‘refutation’ is only a part of the work;, the earnest ‘scientific’-like part (there’s more than one appearance of this character); its embedded in another dramatic argument and scene. That is, even in the text itself it’s in a context producing irony; in the context of the text, another level of irony.

    But the upshot is, and he knows in advance, the only direction the reply can lead to is away from what is apparently the dispute (can the subject know the object itself) to “what’s wrong with this genre, this institution, the scene of this dispute?” That is, to critique of both sophistry and philosophy (to first of all questioning this distinction; again.) It’s like Martin, he says I’m leaving! and slams the door, but while still inside the room. Maybe this is not the intention, I don’t really know, but to think like him again for a second, if it isn’t, as you say, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that his intention is to put an end to his own profession – unlikely.

  57. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “if his project is to rebrand the hip ‘radical’ philosophy away from pomo/poststructuralism ”

    oh this was a second thought actually, just occuring then, not stemming from what i’d said before.

  58. lecolonelchabert Says:

    but like the rebranding of the word “facticity” hints at something like that – this choice of word, because its not out of the blue here, because in the course of the various levels of clash of civ blather, french militant atheists have redisovered their native materialists. Like the guy whose always invited on tv to be the atheist against the communitarian barbarian backward menace is Onfray, whose own work is La Mettrie+Nietzsche. So “facticité” is pilfered from resigned and depressing unromantic preromantic materialism and jazzed up. And the result is something from romantcisim – something young! something we like about romanticism – but you know, not embarrassing, take its hash pipe and trances away, instead kind of clean shaven, “rigorous”, brainy, nerd cool.

  59. lecolonelchabert Says:

    Oh and, I’ll mention why I see his game like this; in one of these horrible pieces in the paper here, nouvelobs or something, don’t remember, about Badiou, on the publication of a new book, there was a snippet from him, interviewed, askd about Badiou as mentor, his politics, sort of like are you a zombie acolyte of this madman, he said something like “well I don’t see the Terror as emancipatory.” and then went on to say he QM, is interested in creating a system, and badiou is so great because he shows the way, etc.

  60. lecolonelchabert Says:

    I thought of a good illustration I think.

    Imagine for a second this text was a challenge written to Deconstruction. calling deconstruction out. (really the King of Sophistry, as close to a distilled essence of sophistry as text that is still intelligible could get).

    Now we know exactly what deconstruction would do with contingency and necessity in a text of rationalist philosophy.

    But Meillassoux writes to deconstruction basically “necessity is nothing other than the identifying characteristic of contingency.”

    Deconstruct that!

    See what I mean?

  61. lecolonelchabert Says:

    (it would have to come clean, it’s own legitimacy entirely reliant on necessity (necessitating another kind of contingency, another necessary contingency, another determined caprice) that rests on nothing but Authority, the very thing…etc etc)

  62. “Oh, and Martin, if you manage to decide whether you’re coming or going …”

    Well, I prefer to think I’m coming *and* going. There’s no contradiction here, given that the two event take place at different temporal intervals. Think of me as your own Socratic gadfly, buzzing in and out, pestering the hell out of sophists and exposing them for what they are. But, frankly, I’m also getting quite a kick out of wathcing Chabert’s increasingly inept attempts to squish me with her primitive fly-squat, bad aim, and pathetically slow handspeed …

    “It’s like Martin, he says I’m leaving! and slams the door, but while still inside the room.”

    Are you, perchance, confusing me with Richard Rorty? Now *there’s* someone who never tired of slamming the door on philosophy whilst remaining in the room! On the contrary, I don’t want to slam the door on philosophy — I just want to re-adjoin that door to the faculty of the natural sciences.

    “Oh, and Martin … you might want to check out this from Badiou, who you seem to respect somewhat, on philosophy’s relationship to history and social theory:

    “But if the philosophical act is formally the same, and the return of the same, we have to take into account the change of the historical context. Because the act takes place under some conditions. When a philosopher proposes a new division and a new hierarchy for the experiences of his time, it is because a new intellectual creation, a new truth, has just appeared. It is in fact because, in his eyes, we have to assume the consequences of a new event in the real conditions of philosophy.””

    Oh damn you, you pesky sophist! That’s the second time I’ve been refuted recently by someone quoting Badiou at me without any supporting argumentation!

    But really, it seriously puzzles me that you think the above quote somehow challenges anything I’ve said above. This may surprise you, but the notion that philosophy has a history and that it is conditioned by extra-philosophical situations is actually *not* news to me. As a matter of fact I have published on this issue, arguing both that the way in which the history of post-Kantian (esp. 19th- and early 20th-century) philosophy is typically written and taught inevitably distorts it inasmuch as it fails to connect it with the contemporaneous history of the sciences (which often provides the relevant context for making sense of it), and that the most promising way for philosophy to overcome its present impasse of intraphilosophical sterility is to rediscover its once intimate relationship with the problem-situations of the natural sciences. Ideed, it’s actually because I hold this conviction that Meillassoux’s books interests me, because he attempts to force philosophy to be answerable to the findings of the natural mathematical sciences. However, surprisingly, I do tend to agree with Chabert that Meillassoux is for the most part “echoing in the language of another genre” a discussion which is already taking place elsewhere (e.g. amongst cosmologists, string theorists and their opponents, and philosophers of science), but that he is doing so “as if handicapped by generic obligations, like undertaking this in the form of another reading of Kant”. Yes indeed! Not that I think that re-reading Kant ought to be an obsolete practice, of course, but in this case there are far more direct ways of proceeding, especially given the fact that few physicists these days hold that there are good reasons to concur with Einstein’s (Spinozist) conviction that the laws of nature are eternally, metaphysically fixed and that there is therefore only a single unique mathematically consistent theory of the whole Universe (so here I agree with Chabert yet again!) In fact this is now even a conviction amongst growing numbers of string theorists (including some of its founders, such as Leonard Susskind), whose entire project was designed to find such a unique solution but who have by now had to resort to various kind of muliverse theories according to which the laws of our universe are only “local bylaws” and are busy attempting to explain how this might be in terms of theories of cosmological natural selection (e.g. Smolin), anthropic selection effects (e.g. Susskind) etc. (Again, I recommend reading the very long interview with the Oxford astrophysicist from Collapse Vol. 2 on all this).

    In this regard, Badiou’s comment in the paper you’ve just quoted from that “every philosopher thinks that his or her work is completely new. That’s only human” is especially appropriate here (although I’d prefer to substitute “French philosopher” for “philosopher” and “French” for “human”), since cosmologists have been making some of the central points in Meillassoux’s book for many years. To pick just one example, consider the following passages from a book published by a cosmologist about 15 years ago (which I think, make many of Meillassoux’s claims for him only with far, far greater concision and without the philosophically obligatory detour via Descartes, Kant et al.):

    “If that theory [viz., a single unique mathematically consistent theory of the whole universe] were found, we would simply have no choice but to accept it as the explanation. But imagine what sense we could then make of our existence in the world. It strains credulity to imagine that mathematical consistency could be the sole reason for the parameters to have the extrordinarily unlikely values that result in a world with stars and life. If in the end mathematics alone wins us our one chance in 10 [followed by 229 in superscript] we would have little choice but to become mystics … because then even God would have had no choice in the creation of the world … The only other possibility is much more mundane. It is that the parameters may actually change in time … The values they take may then be the result of real physical processes … This would take us outside the boundaries of the platonist philosophy, but it seems nevertheless to be our best hope for a completely rational understanding of the universe, one that doesn’t rely on faith or mysticism.

    … We usually expect a phenomenon to be contingent only if we see that it changes from instance to instance. If asked to justify this, we would say that something that is universally true cannot rest on contingent circumstances, which can vary from case to case. This makes sense, but it is an example of the kind of argument that works well only as long as it is not applied at the scale of the universe as a whole. When we are dealing with properties of the observable universe we no longer have any reason to insist that if something is true in in every obseravble case, it cannot at the same time be contingent. One reason is that we have no justification to assert that the universe we see around us represents a good sample of all that exists, or that has existed, or that might in principle exist. There is in fact no logical reason to exlude the possibility that some of the facts about the elementary particles [for example], which appear to hold throughout the observable universe, might at the same time be contingent.”

    Meillassoux’s principle arguments in a veritable nutshell, you might say!

    So, to clarify, my *interest* in Meillassoux principally concerns the way in which his work opens up the problems of philosophy onto problems in the natural sciences; but my *misgivings* about his book relate to the fact that he doesn’t go far enough in this regard, as witnessed by the fact that his discussion takes place exclusively with the likes of Hume and Kant rather than with modern physicists, cosmologists, or even philosophers of science. Plus, while I appreciate the way in which Meillassoux (albeit very superficially) draws upon astrophysics etc. in the “arche-fossil” argument in an attempt to awaken contemporary “correlationists” from their idealist slumbers, I do not share Badiou’s apparent opinion that the sole reason for drawing upon modern science and mathematics is in order to wield them as “a catapult aimed at the bastions of ignorance, superstition, and mental servitude” or in order to don them “like a coat of armour” in order to fend off the slings and arrows of religionists, sophists etc. While I wholly agree that philosophers, and indeed all rational people, ought to draw upon the findings of the sciences in order to do battle with superstition and ignorance of all kinds, it’s not enough to superfically acquaint oneself with these findings in order to fashion rhetorical weaponry. Rather, what I envisage is a far more intimate relationship of philosophy with the sciences — the kind of intimacy we witness in the works of Kant, Helmholtz, Poincare, Russell or Cassirer, for example.

    (And by the way, Chabert’s comment that “Einstein and his fellows really hated academic philosophy, hated positivism, hated Husserl”, preferring “the oddballs, Kierkegaard and Stirner” is quite patently silly. As the work of the likes of Michael Friedman, Don Howard and Thomas Ryckman have shown at great length, Einstein was intimately acqainted with academic philosophy and both his principal theories and his philosophy of science were heavily influenced not only by Mach but also by (e.g.) Helmholtz, Poincare, Duhem, and various neo-Kantians (but not, please note, by Kierkegaard or Stirner!!). He also spent many decades debating the philosophical significance of special and general relativity (etc.) with the likes of Schlick (whose 1915 paper on the philosophical significance of general relativity he called “the cleverest thing I have read in a long time”), Cassirer, Reichenbach and Carnap. And as for “his fellows”, do you mean, for example, Herman Weyl, probably Einstein’s closest associate, the first to have a go at realising Einstein’s dream of a Theory of Everytying by unifying general relativity and electronmagnetism, and yet who based virually his entire philosophy of science on Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology?)

    Finally, to quickly return to Badiou’s point (cited against me by traxus) about philosophy being conditioned by problems in the sciences and other fields: it is not so much something I concede as something I insist upon. However, it is a conviction that I held even before I had so much as heard of Badiou, and was already quite persuaded of it when I read Popper many years ago. I quote (btw: I don’t know how to do italics here so the bits between stars are meant to serve that function: if only I *did* know how to use it, then maybe I could come across as patronizing as Chabert!):

    “My first thesis is that every philosophy, and especially every philosophical ‘school’, is liable to degenerate in such a way that its problems become practially indistinguishable from pseudo-problems, and its cant, accordingly indistinguishable from meaningless babble. This, I shall try to show, is a consequence of philosophical inbreeding. The degeneration of philosophical schools in its turn is the consequence of the mistaken belief that one can philosophize without having been compelled to philosophize *by problems which arise outside philosophy* — in mathematics, for example, or in cosmology, or in pilitics, or in religion, or in social life. In other words my thesis is this. *Genuine philosophical problems are always rooted in urgent problems outside philosophy, and they die if these roots decay.” (Popper, Conjectures and Refutations)

    So once again, we see the wisdom of Badiou’s point in the paper you cited about the eternal return of the same in philosophy, but this time with regard to Badiou’s own core thesis!

  63. traxus4420 Says:

    i’m no physicist either, so i think we’ve come as far as we can on this point. BUT, re: this:

    “Logic, like math, tells us about thought. It’s relation to stuff is not known. That’s the issue.”

    not known, but still debated, and not only in ‘continental’ philosophy departments.

    this is from einstein (who is dead, yes, but not so long ago):

    “I believe that every true theorist is a tamed metaphysicist, no matter how pure a ‘positivist’ he may fancy himself. The metaphysicist believes that the logically simple is also the real. The tamed metaphysicist believes that not all that is logically simple is embodied in experienced reality, but that the totality of all sensory experience can be ‘comprehended’ on the basis of a conceptual system built on premises of great simplicity. The skeptic will say that this is a ‘miracle creed.’ Admittedly so, but it is a miracle creed which has been borne out to an amazing extent by the development of science.”

    and here’s kant:

    “In this manner, our previous proposition, which is the result of the entire Critique, remains: ‘that reason, through all its a priori principles, never teaches us anything more than objects of possible experience alone, and of these, nothing more than what can be cognized in experience’; but this limitation does not prevent reason from carrying us up to the objective boundary of experience — namely to the relation to something that cannot itself be an object of experience, but which must nonetheless be the highest ground of all experience — without, however, teaching us anything about this ground in itself, but only in relation to reason’s own complete use in the field of possible experience, as directed to the highest ends. This is, however, all of the benefit that can reasonably even be wished for here, and there is cause to be satisfied with it.”

    so both these tamers of metaphysics have their ungrounded reasons for the choice against a simple one-to-one relationship between the objects of thought and the objects of experience. the question of unobservable entities in physics does i think present this same choice as you find in philosophy. kant wasn’t purely hypothesizing or interpreting scripture, he was against those activities. he was familiar with the science of his day and started from its limits, not the church’s. he chooses his version of the ‘theological option’ and free will as part of an antinomy. as you say, most physicists will take ‘laws’ as marking the limits of what we know, thus siding with einstein and kant — it’s the same enigmas that are avoided. but people like wolfram seem to come down on the other side of the antinomy and say the universe is non-metaphorically computational. information as the real relationship between thought and world. as you say, vaguely similar, or in the same ballpark at least, to meillassoux’s necessary contingency (trying to escape the subjective bubble). maybe this POV is minority but it is still taken seriously.

    all i’m really trying to say with this is that the discourses of theoretical science and philosophy are not, and i don’t think have ever been, incommensurable. it seems to me the difference depends on how much evidence the philosopher in question is willing to admit, and not the problem itself.

    your illustration of deconstruction vs. speculative realism is very good.

  64. traxus4420 Says:

    note: my comment is unaware of martin’s comment. don’t have time to address that discrepancy right now.

  65. That’s alright, must run myself, but I just need to quickly qualify a couple of things I said:

    “Badiou’s core thesis” should have read “Badiou’s core metaphilosophical thesis”.

    And with regard to the quote from the cosmologist: Meillassoux would of course disagree on the first point he makes here about the parameters of the Standard Model being “extraordinarily unlikely”, since the whole point of his argument from Cantor is to rule out the application of probabilities to the laws of nature. However, this is extremely controversial, and Meillassoux’s case is not helped by the fact that he seems unaware that this issue is currently being hotly debated by philosophers of science, atrophysicists, string theorists, quantum cosmologists etc. Once again, the interview with the atrophysicist in Collapse goes into this issue in some depth, and from what I remember of it a case is made therein that the application of Bayesian probabilities may be capable of getting round the problem. It’s also pretty clear that Meillassoux’s arguments in one of the Collapse papers against “anthropic reasoning” fails to distinguish between the various forms such reasoning might take, and therefore misfires (also an issue discussed in the Collapse interview). But anyway, apart from this, the points made in that passage very cleary strongly anticipate Meillassoux’s arguments, and given that there are in fact now good *empirical* reasons to doubt that the laws of nature are necessary, this again illustrates why Meillassoux would do well to acquaint himself more with actual science rather than riding the a priori high horse as if nothing had happened in mathematical natural science since Leibniz and Newton (bar Cantor) …

    Anyway, must run …

  66. traxus4420 Says:

    very quickly –

    “since cosmologists have been making some of the central points in Meillassoux’s book for many years.”

    given this and other things you’ve said, martin, i am still confused as to why you think meillassoux is interesting, or why you try to defend him against those who would try to discern what else is interesting about meillassoux beyond the assigned reading.

    PERHAPS the reasons you don’t like his theories are because he is trying, in some surreptitious way, to recuperate through critique something like free will and human agency. i’ll repeat chabert’s point that it is unlikely he’s trying to finish philosophy, or turn philosophers into cosmologists.

    “maybe I could come across as patronizing as Chabert!):”

    PLEASE, martin, since your arrival here you’ve been 10 TIMES as patronizing as chabert, completely without the benefit of HTML.

  67. lecolonelchabert Says:

    very quickly (more later):

    “but people like wolfram seem to come down on the other side of the antinomy and say the universe is non-metaphorically computational. information as the real relationship between thought and world.”

    It is tempting – it will be tempting predictably to certain people – to say “well if it wasn’t before, it is now.

    “not known, but still debated, and not only in ‘continental’ philosophy departments. ”

    yes agreed. but philosophy goes one way, philosophising science another in pursuit of the question. I also think one has to distinguish between the philosophising of scientists and the practise of science, though obviously there’s no fine line.

    “PLEASE, martin, since your arrival here you’ve been 10 TIMES as patronizing as chabert”

    no small feat, and deserving of a medal.

    He (Kierkegaard) made a powerful impression on me when I wrote my dissertation in a parsonage in Funen, and I read his works night and day. His honesty and willingness to think the problems through to their very limit is what is great. And and his language is wonderful, often sublime. There is of course much in Kierkegaard that I cannot accept. I ascribe that to the time in which he lived. But I admire his intensity and perseverance, his analysis to the utmost limit, and the fact that through these qualities, he turned misfortune and suffering into something good…

    – Niels Bohr

  68. “yes agreed. but philosophy goes one way, philosophising science another in pursuit of the question.”

    at least in regard to physics and Theories of Everything, doesn’t metaphysical philosophy (of the non-phenomenological type) just specialize in one stage of the problem? much like the New Critics and literature. different but not totally incompatible.

    “I also think one has to distinguish between the philosophising of scientists and the practise of science, though obviously there’s no fine line.”

    this, as far as i know, is the form the debate takes within science (and analytic philosophy of science, and science studies).

    for the record, i am (probably for the same reasons you are) skeptical of the computational universe people. i only brought it up as an example of where the magisteria appear to intersect. i’m not really equipped to make endorsements.

    “no small feat, and deserving of a medal.”

    well you haven’t been patronizing ME any…

    ok, 50 times!

  69. Well, since even Chabert is well aware of her deeply patronizing tone”, let me let you both in on a little secret: When I posted my initial response, I had no idea who “Chabert” was, and had never come across anything by him (or as it turned out — by her) before. However, just after I first promised to bow out of the discussion, a little bird told me via email that Chabert was the most condescending and deeply patronising creature our dear Lord had ever ventured to let loose in the Milky Way, and egged me on to take her down a peg or two with some doses of her own medicine: the results, it was suggested, would be very entertaining for those many recipients of her own condescension who might happen to read the exchange. So, never one to refuse a little bird a favour, I returned to the discussion with some deliberately very patronising comments (“Now, I know this is going to be difficult for you to understand …. My seven year old daughter gets this …” etc. etc.) precisely in order to rile Chabert and thereby entertain members of our silent audience. But then surely Chabert of all people wouldn’t hold the use of such crude rhetorical tactics against me — after all, philosophical debate is all just a matter of amateur dramatics, rhetorical mudslinging, and sophistry, isn’t that right Chabert?

  70. “”since cosmologists have been making some of the central points in Meillassoux’s book for many years.”

    given this and other things you’ve said, martin, i am still confused as to why you think meillassoux is interesting, or why you try to defend him against those who would try to discern what else is interesting about meillassoux beyond the assigned reading.”

    Well, I believe that I’ve expicitly stated several times what I find interesting; if you’ll allow me to quote myself from the same post you’re quoting here:

    “Meillassoux’s book interests me … because he attempts to force philosophy to be answerable to the findings of the natural mathematical sciences … So, to clarify, my *interest* in Meillassoux principally concerns the way in which his work opens up the problems of philosophy onto problems in the natural sciences …”

    And as for why I’m critical of him, I’ve also stated that very clearly in the same passage:

    “my *misgivings* about his book relate to the fact that he doesn’t go far enough in this regard, as witnessed by the fact that his discussion takes place exclusively with the likes of Hume and Kant rather than with modern physicists, cosmologists, or even philosophers of science.”

    So in short, I’m keen to see Continental philosophy assume its obligation to be answerable to the findings of the natural sciences, and Meillassoux’s book happens to be one of the very few which attempts to force it to do precisely that (Brassier’s Nihil Unbound being another). As I’ve also stated many times above, I’m also interested in bringing philosophy back into intimate conversation with the sciences, and this is where I’m perhaps most critical of Meillassoux, because he seems to limit himself to a rather superficial acquaintance with or gloss upon science and seems not to be interested in any actual dialogue with either actual scientists or even philosophers of science.

    So, in summary, if your suggestion is that I ought to just fuck off to the cosmology or physics department and leave Meillassoux alone as fodder for postmodernist ideology critique or critical theory or hermeneutics or deconstruction, my response is that I see Meillassoux’s work as a potentially important one in terms of working towards the kind of dialogue between philosophy and the sciences which I would like to see transpire. This also means that I think it would be a great shame if the only reception Meillassoux gets is either hand-waiving ad hominem dismissals of the sort Chabert mentions (that he’s a “naive young man” etc.) or the kind of diagnostic approach whose only interest in the text is as a symptom of French intellectual culture and his arguments as the acting out of a drama or spectacle which Chabert practises. And when it comes to the issue of “correlationism”, I’m also keen to prevent the epistemological/critical baby being thrown out with the metaphysical/ontological bathwater, since I believe that if this happens philosophy will risk once again hermetically sealing itself off from the sciences — as Einstein was fond of putting it, “epistemology without contact with science becomes an empty scheme; science without epistemology — insofar as it is thinkable at all — primitive and muddled.”

    Hope that clarifies things a little. But if you want to know my “real” (i.e. poilitical) intentions and motivations, you’ll have to consult Chabert, who apparently knows such things about people better than they know them themselves.

  71. “the results, it was suggested, would be very entertaining for those many recipients of her own condescension who might happen to read the exchange. So, never one to refuse a little bird a favour, I returned to the discussion with some deliberately very patronising comments (”Now, I know this is going to be difficult for you to understand …. My seven year old daughter gets this …” etc. etc.) precisely in order to rile Chabert and thereby entertain members of our silent audience.”

    You failed to do this, Martin. However smart you may be, you are silly as well and seemed at least as ridiculous as Chabert, who has been entertaining in the past. We watched you but found you impressive for only one or two posts’ worth; after that, you were seen to be someone submissive and whose time could be easily wasted. Your outing of her drunkenness, i.e., ‘whoever…in need of psychiatric help’ was a fairly good effort. Otherwise, you just seem stuffy and smug and with a sort of Schnappes-and-cookies sort of sense of humour.

  72. Knowing nothing of Meillassoux, I haven’t followed this too closely, but this gave me a laugh:

    a little bird told me via email that Chabert was the most condescending and deeply patronising creature our dear Lord had ever ventured to let loose in the Milky Way

    So who was the little bird, d’you think? Statler or Waldorf?

  73. traxus4420 Says:

    “When I posted my initial response, I had no idea who “Chabert” was, and had never come across anything by him (or as it turned out — by her) before. However, just after I first promised to bow out of the discussion, a little bird told me via email that Chabert was the most condescending and deeply patronising creature our dear Lord had ever ventured to let loose in the Milky Way, and egged me on to take her down a peg or two with some doses of her own medicine:”

    this is fucking ridiculous. i was wondering where all that ‘stockbroker’ snark came from. i thought maybe you had been up to some internet stalking. but no, it’s worse than that, you’ve allowed yourself to become a tool, and not in the heideggerian sense. fortunately this revelation comes just before you’ve proved yourself to have nothing further to say of any interest, so though you may not have what it takes to fuck off to the physics department, you are certainly welcome to fuck off out of this blog.

  74. But if you want to know my “real” (i.e. poilitical) intentions and motivations, you’ll have to consult Chabert, who apparently knows such things about people better than they know them themselves.

    Yes, I think I will consult Chabert on that, because you’re so woefully bereft of self-awareness, there’s little chance you’ll offer any enlightenment on the matter.

  75. Ha! Ha! Ha! you fucking birdshit assholes! 3 days he fucked your heads!

  76. Pardon me! It’s more like 8 days, you fucking turkeys! It couldn’t happen to better shitheads! Go fuck yourself in hell!

  77. lecolonelchabert Says:

    Wow.

  78. traxus4420 Says:

    ‘nick’ = ‘jonquille’

    this just gets better and better. it is really astounding how far up one’s asshole it is possible for individuals to get. god bless the internet.

  79. lecolonelchabert Says:

    Yes, I think I will consult Chabert on that

    Well once upon a time, Saint Martin, a vessel of Reason untrammelled and pure, set off on a mission to rescue a Meillassoux text, which had been imprisoned in a dungeon in a gloomy fortress in a sinister land called France, where it was destined to be submitted to a friendless fate as fodder for the thought criminals who had seized it from the garden of its father’s castle in the Kindgom of Dorkins. But while passing through a dark and – he did know it, but enchanted – forest, he was waylaid by the most pitiable sound of lamentations, and unable to pass on without inquiring into their cause and offering what succor he might, discovered upon a low hanging branch a nest of wounded birds who extracted from him, with a tale most moving, a promise to avenge their wrongs and also entertain them until such time as the vengeance had been completed. Unbeknownst to the innocent Saint, these birds are none other than beelzebub and belfagor, who once having aroused his sympathy, which lulls to slumber the vigilant sentinel of Reason, took possession of his body and also of the magic keyboard he had won in last week’s episode. Whereupon these fiends made their own words issue from his mouth, and appear upon the misted mirrors of alchemists and astrologers across the evil land of France and the wholesome and peaceful Kingdom of Dorkins both, and by such diabolical powers as they possessed subdued his rare great powers of ratiocination, and vast store of knowlegde, as the instrument of their nefarious designs.

    Happily, after not too long, someone said: “Basingstoke”.

  80. Ha!

    “Basingstoke”:
    Hmm. Is this the same good knight that once fought in the Crusades in Tehran, and vanquished the evil Supernanny?

  81. ‘nick’ = ‘jonquille’

    this just gets better and better. it is really astounding how far up one’s asshole it is possible for individuals to get. god bless the internet.

    I’m glad you finally found your way up their–I mean the internet, that is, where you are stuck forever. You’ve a ways to go still before you find your asshole, being it.

  82. Splendidly entertaining exchange. Hats off to Martin, whoever he is and whatever his motives, for he has achieved something truly remarkable here: he has managed to manoeuvre two absurdly supercilious poseurs, i.e. mrs traxus and chabert, into exposing their bottomless vacuity: “philosophy product”, “Einstein is Kierkegaardian”, “anti-correlationism=anti-philosophy”: thank you mrs. traxus and chabert for these and countless other gems. Keep on plugging the “philosophy product”!

  83. Seriously, though, anyone who actually follows the relevant philosophical issues point by point here should be able to see that Martin demolished Chabert’s claims.

  84. percy Q liquor Says:

    Oh Gawd! methinks I really am senile, as I must have been the ‘little bird’ after all. Someone just told me I might have been, I don’t think I can remember more than 2 weeks at this point–I had forgotten because I’d used slightly different description. And here Mrs. Traxus and Chabert knew all day yesterday that either I, statler, or waldorf had done it, which was clever given their abilities to understand the Hilton Family and Their Family of Hotels….more philosophy product indeed!….my bottomless and depraved appetite remains unfulfilled….pretty damn cool, oh yessir, that is not bad for internet, even though a mite crazy …until Martin strikes again, I must have more philosophy product and , until that urban time, I shall now watch the Kirov version of ‘The Sleeping Beauty’, although whether I will know just by looking whether it’s pre- or post-glasnost I don’t yet know.

  85. Percy, statler and waldorf are the two critics in the balcony in the Muppet Show.

  86. lecolonelchabert Says:

    so, as epilogue: Meillassoux was on tv, emphasising that fixed universal laws and/or divine destiny are depressing and causes of despair.

    Quentin Meillassoux :”Dois-je désespérer du monde si je suis athée, dois-je désespérer de Dieu si je suis croyant ? Ce dilemme, en fait, il a à voir avec le rapport des vivants et des morts… Et je n’ai trouvé de soutien ni dans la religion ni dans l’athéisme. Au lieu que l’espérance messianique s’appuie sur un Dieu actuellement présent dont la justice est infondable pour espérer l’avènement d’une justice future, je propose que l’exigence messianique espère l’émergence même du divin comme cette justice excédentaire des possibilités du monde physique.”

    Must I despair of the world if I am an atheist, must I despair of God if I am a believer? This dilemma in fact has to do with the relations between the living and the dead…And I found support neither in religion nor in atheism. Instead of the messianic hope resting on a God of incomprehensible justice existng now for the hope of a future justice, I propose the necessary messianic hope for the emergence itself of the divine as that surplus justice of the possibilities of the physical world.

    Alain Badiou :”Quentin Meillassoux a cette particularité saisissante de faire une thèse qui, au lieu d’être une thèse d’histoire de la philosophie, sur un créneau porteur dans un petit coin, est une proposition philosophique extraordinaire, totale, rigoureuse et provocante, un véritable système de métaphysique, une chose dont on n’avait vraiment plus tellement l’habitude, et ce système de métaphysique qui soutient que tout est absolument contingent, absolument livré aux hasards essentiels culmine dans une thèse extraordinaire qui est la promesse de la résurrection des morts, mais une promesse de la résurrection des morts entièrement laïcisée et dépourvue de tout destin religieux.”

    Quentin Meillassoux has that startling rare ability to produce a thesis which, instead of being a theory of the history of philosophy, one corner of a thriving niche of the market, is an extraordinary philosophical proposition, total, rigorous and provocative, a genuine metaphysical system, the kind of thing one really doesn’t see anymore, and this metaphysical system which maintains that everything is absolutely contingent, absolutely given over to pure fortune, culminates in the extraordinary theory which promises the ressurection of the dead, but a promise of the resurrection of the dead completely secularised and stripped of all religious destiny.

  87. a few points

    1.Meillassoux isn’t a ‘disciple’ of Badiou – literally all he takes from Badiou is the Cantorian argument.

    2.He’s never pretended that his philosophical position had a bearing only on the status of science – the ‘arche-fossil’ argument in AF is as Martin said prolegomenous to his major thesis. He’s never pretended otherwise, and it’s not his fault if this is the only aspect the article referred to in the post picked up on (nb. http://blog.urbanomic.com/urbanomic/ Collapse Volume IV (May 2008): Quentin Meillassoux on infinite mourning and the virtual god)

    3._Nevertheless_ that does not prevent it being a conceptually sound philosophical argument, or at the very least worthy of being evaluated as such. It problematises a significant tendency within modern european philosophy and, as Martin said repeatedly, rather than proposing a blithely ‘scientistic’ or ‘positivistic’ point of view, as Chabert seems to imply, locates extremely precisely a point of decision for philosophy in regard to its relation to the sciences. The ‘point’ of the argument is not simply to ‘refute’ people and establish some sort of logical hegemony. Once the decision is taken against correlationism, and the thesis of the necessity of contingency is accepted, a whole series of consequences flow from it which will form the substance of the work Quentin will publish later on.

    But anyway Chabert, who obviously has more interest in cultivating this minor form of self-publicity than in philosophy, has studiously avoided this question all along by hallucinating ‘theatricality’ (really, can one imagine a less ‘theatrical’ writer than Meillassoux??? oh, of course, you haven’t read him), then this totally imaginary socio-intellectual scenario about him and his elders (lies and supposition), and then some sort of suspicious underlying motives which – if we really _have_ to play the therapeutic game here – seem to suggest Chabert projecting her own neuroses onto something that’s unnerved her: having written off the very possibility of careful and patient philosophical thought, and having assumed she could safely take refuge in the vague pseudo-conceptual manouevres of self-righteous postmodern sneering, thereby also giving herself a sheen of ‘political radicality’ even though the height of her political activism so far amounted to uploading a jpeg of some brown people being shot at, from her desk on Wall Street … Now she finds there are actually people still (how hopelessly naive!) thinking out there, still modest enough to imagine that all problems aren’t solved by amateur psychoanalysis plus pseudomarxism …. What to do then? Well, why not address Meillassoux’s precise and integrally _anti-obscurantist_ argument in high obscurantist fashion – okay, there’s admittedly a touch of genius to that level of obtuseness. Ultimately, I really don’t think Chabert understands the first thing about what Meillassoux is saying, she certainly doesn’t understand what ‘correlationism’ even means (still! after all Martin’s efforts.)

    ‘Martin’ whoever s/he is evidently understands far more about the history of philosophy and hence about the real stakes of Meillassoux’s argument (which incidentally many intelligent members of the French, and increasingly anglo-american philosophical community take just as seriously as it merits), than Chabert – who merely comes across as a petulant idiot blindly spiralling in the ever-decreasing circles of her post-modern comfort zone but congenitally unable to shut up (ok, off you go, little chab, have the last word…)

  88. and I can’t believe that Mullins is now pretending to be nick, lol.

  89. lecolonelchabert Says:

    ‘Martin’ whoever s/he is

    ah yes, so… someone said: ‘Basingstoke’. Whereupon Martin awoke from his trance, realised he’d been talking other devils’ drek, and ran off to read some Meillassoux to see just how ludicrous he had been. Having discovered then indeed he was wrong, and his antagonist right in her characterisation, he slunk back to the scene, disguised in petticoats and a wig, to try to erase with his magic keyboard all he had asserted, and claim instead to have been holding forth his opponent’s position which, he having repaired his previous ignorance of the matter, now seemed quite obvious to him. But alas, the thread remained there for all to see. Enraged and desperate, he was reduced to another attempt to create a great noisy diversion of indignation, flinging borrowed insults about “brown people” and “wall street” on the virtual walls like excrement in a playpen – lowly squalid matters indeed compared to “people who still think!” – and so, his last efforts at face saving only making matters worse, he cued me, little chab, for the epilogue, and made his escape for the eighth time slamming the door loudly and vowing never to return. The epilogue, that is, the last word, being that which we see sticking up briefly out of the water as the shark turns and swims away.

    But there can of course always be yet another Jaws.

  90. I didn’t say I wouldn’t be back.
    You didn’t address any of the points I made.
    if you think I’m Martin you’re wrong. I’ve never been to Basingstoke and Martin lives in Mexico. (Traxus can confirm all this from our IP addresses.)
    Is this ‘Basingstoke’ thing because Brassier’s book was published by Palgrave in Basingstoke? Thats the only possible connection I can see, but how is that free-association at all relevant?
    This would-be arch irony continues to expose the classic delusional state of the blog-fuelled sociopath. You enjoy being ‘proved right’ that one really can’t hope to discuss the world except through a shitfight driven by infantile jealousies. Filthy creature who, having lured us into your malodourous den through your infuriating displays of complacency, now glorifies in the knowledge that its dank confines are the very limits of possibility : ‘go on, admit it, admit it, you’re trapped too, you’re just as abject as me, you don’t think either, you’re trapped here with me’. But remember, for the rest of us this corner you have backed us into is just a momentary diversion; it’s you who has to LIVE there (if you can call that a life). This evidently places severe limits on your ability to participate in and your enjoyment of philosophical thought and that if you are really interested in it,rather than taking satisfaction in perpetuating these pointless competitive displays, you should just read some of the books you affect to dismiss.

  91. lecolonelchabert Says:

    Your points:

    – You said I could have the “last word.” Which is ‘fin’.

    “isn’t a ‘disciple’ of Badiou”

    Why is this word in quotation marks? It appears nowhere in the thread except as a typo for “discipline”.

    “as Martin said repeatedly, rather than proposing a blithely ’scientistic’ or ‘positivistic’ point of view, as Chabert seems to imply, locates extremely precisely a point of decision for philosophy in regard to its relation to the sciences”

    you’ve gotten us backwards, look again. Martin said “the cosmologist” gave “Meillassoux in a nutshell” – which is nonsense – I said, in contrast, more than once, tht Meillassoux’ rides math to a crossroads where precisely for philosophy there is a decision, which he makes, etc etc.

    “The ‘point’ of the argument is not simply to ‘refute’ people and establish some sort of logical hegemony. ”

    I said this too, many times, and in fact it seems to be what you object to. I said: The “refutation” (the demonstration that “correlationism” is self contradictory, “you would never think to divide…had you not already conceved your mortality” etc etc) is effectively one character or voice within another argument, surrounded by an argument which renders its quixotic attitude (the adopted and dramatic belief that this revealed self contradiction will both convince and trouble those who hold one cannot consider subjectivity and objectivity seperately) ironic, and for a purpose, or more than one.

    “Once the decision is taken against correlationism, and the thesis of the necessity of contingency is accepted, a whole series of consequences flow from it which will form the substance of the work Quentin will publish later on.”

    Yes, as I said at least twice. What you miss of course, in your obstinacy and bad faith, that the text is richer than you will allow – this is your limitation, not Meillassoux’. Two things happen here – the thesis is accepted, from which flow consequences, and the thesis is refused, from which flow other consequences, the ones which justify the other decision on varied grounds as a relation to these consequences. Simultaneously. The refusal actually takes up more of the book – the confrontation of correlationism and dogma, etc.. This is what is theatrical in the work itself (not what I meant to refer to, but since you mention it), and probably why every reviewer in France practically has used some terms borrowed from theatre to describe it.
    So “really, can one imagine a less ‘theatrical’ writer than Meillassoux??? ” yes I can, and not only imagine but name many many, but I suppose if you pay no attention to argumentation, to rhetoric, to the manner of “tracking” the thought of the archefossil “through the secret tunnel….”, all the things Meillassoux is himself interested in, and which those who write about his book with interest focus on, you would miss it. If you want to understand him a bit better on some of these matters – doubtful, but what the hell – which he has emphasised for years now, watch this.

    Thanks for the diagnosis and the advice; you can send the bill to my office.

  92. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “Is this ‘Basingstoke’ thing because Brassier’s book was published by Palgrave in Basingstoke? ”

    Is it indeed? Serendipity.

    I was not aware. It’s a reference to Ruddigore, by Gilbert and Sullivan.

  93. lecolonelchabert Says:

    Your further points:

    – “self-righteous postmodern sneering, thereby also giving herself a sheen of ‘political radicality’ even though the height of her political activism so far amounted to uploading a jpeg of some brown people being shot at, from her desk on Wall Street ”

    Well, where to begin. “Uploading a jpeg of some brown people being shot at” from “my desk on wall street” is advanced here as so obviously an inferior or depraved use of time compared to “really thinking” or seriously reading and discussing the work of Quentin Meillassoux and other normaliens that no explanation of why this should be is advanced. As if it were just too plain. “Some brown people being shot at” – since you don’t specificy who these “brown people” are, its clear you mean to deploy “some brown people being shot at” as a cliché and an image – any brown people, all the same, always being shot at anyhow, what difference could it make – which is assumed dismissible, the image of all that is trivial and contemptible in comparison, specifically, to you, to your concerns, your boasted depth and seriousness about “philosophy”. You and your favourite books are put forward as simply obviously more worthy of anyone’s serious attention that “some brown people being shot at.” (The “desk on Wall Street” is an outburst of ressentiment, which explains your tireless malice.) So here you are engaging in (familiar) exhibitionism, self portraiture, demands for attention and praise: you set a scene for your own appearance, and demand simultaneously pity for your wrongs (which I’ve inflicted on you by posting here in reply to traxus’ post) and applause: you are the moral worthy being, whose moral worthiness is founded in this purported seriousness about philosophy, and you stage yourself flanked by your inferiors: social – “some brown people being shot at” (evoked as the image of all that is insignificant and unreal, spectres existing only “on a jpeg”) – and moral, those with “desks on Wall Street” who are depraved and oppress you. Between these images you place yourself, naturally multipled as a fascio – “rest of us this corner you have backed us into ” – with a single voice, you the spokesman for a group (since you must portray yourself as defending the commonweal), victimised by the existence of a conversation you do not approve, but still inwardly superior, provided with a rich inner life by “philosophical thought”.

    But you are so blinded by resssentiment and rage, in your haste you – or dishonesty – you misconstrue what I’ve remarked here about Meillassoux as “dismissal” when it is clearly, as anyone less biased and blinded by obsession would see, is appreciative: “theatrical” “exciting” “dramatic” could be insults only either to someone so invested in his own persona as the morose threadbare student suffering for Philosophical Thought as to require that only such terms as describe him be deemed complimentary, or to someone who is so impatient for an opportunity to vent his petty personal grudge, about a topic (my personality) of interest to no one, that he skims without comprehending and jumps the gun.

  94. and I can’t believe that Mullins is now pretending to be nick, lol.

    I would never ‘pretend to be nick’. Traxus immediately identified me as Mullins, and I didn’t deny it. I just used ‘nick’ as for ‘nickname’ because I get deleted by traxus. The ‘nick’ really named that is one of the few good writers on the internet and has started telling us about his new bood.

    I’m also Percy Q Liquor who is the friend of Mistah Watusi Jenkins and her ex-wife Betty Butterfield and who also attend the Studs Tomkat Club in West hollywood in they spare time…

    Of course, I know who you are in some of the places. All ‘little birds’ arenot bluejays. Some of them have babies to cover up for the fact that they would have done as well with just marrying a wetnurse (but what would the neighbours and contributors think?)

  95. “You enjoy being ‘proved right’ that one really can’t hope to discuss the world except through a shitfight driven by infantile jealousies. Filthy creature who, having lured us into your malodourous den through your infuriating displays of complacency, now glorifies in the knowledge that its dank confines are the very limits of possibility : ‘go on, admit it, admit it, you’re trapped too, you’re just as abject as me, you don’t think either, you’re trapped here with me’. But remember, for the rest of us this corner you have backed us into is just a momentary diversion; it’s you who has to LIVE there (if you can call that a life).”

    No, now that I see this, I can see that Martin’s ‘supposed demolition’ is not all that impressive after all. I thought briefly that it could be Nick himself, which is why I used the moniker. But it is not like him to write things like ‘for the rest of us this corner you have backed us into is just a momentary diversion’ , which is quite as much an admission of failure as anything either of the ‘supercilious poseurs’, as you (possibly accurately despite all) term them. You are yourself a ‘supercilious poseur’ and somehow ran into money all of a sudden, whether by marrying it I don’t know, but it allows you to persevere in the appearance of not suffering from known clinical depression. You have not the detachment you claim, only a sophomoric sort of obvious condescension. As such, it is even lower than traxus and chabert, and proves you cannot leave the place alone. What grotesque and desperate admission of failure. At least traxus and chabert are ‘doing what they’re doing’. You’re not.

  96. Yes, as I said at least twice. What you miss of course, in your obstinacy and bad faith,

    Of course she is hardly one to talk, being the purveyor of much bad faith of myriad varieties, but she is nevertheless right about your own bad faith. You would have simply ‘won the battle’ and left if alone if you had any class. As it is, you had to tell the ‘victims’ about the material workings of your own clever smug plan, which in your indolence (and the apparent fact that you ‘can afford beef now’ on a regular basis), you don’t see that you’ve merely proved yourself a laughingstock. It’s true that Nick would never do something this lower-middle-class, and I never really thought he would spend first 8 days, and then 2 weeks continually coming back.

    It’s interesting, though, because as you had last left it even, you had made a fairly effective impression. By now, you have, as usual, done something which just cause even greater unhappiness and depraved melancholy than you have even on the usual quotidian basis.

    Your star moment is waning.

  97. “which is assumed dismissible, the image of all that is trivial and contemptible in comparison, specifically, to you, to your concerns, your boasted depth and seriousness about “philosophy”. You and your favourite books are put forward as simply obviously more worthy of anyone’s serious attention that “some brown people being shot at.” (The “desk on Wall Street” is an outburst of ressentiment, which explains your tireless malice.) So here you are engaging in (familiar) exhibitionism, self portraiture, demands for attention and praise: you set a scene for your own appearance, and demand simultaneously pity for your wrongs (which I’ve inflicted on you by posting here in reply to traxus’ post) and applause: you are the moral worthy being, whose moral worthiness is founded in this purported seriousness about philosophy, and you stage yourself flanked by your inferiors: social – “some brown people being shot at” (evoked as the image of all that is insignificant and unreal, spectres existing only “on a jpeg”) – and moral, those with “desks on Wall Street” who are depraved and oppress you. Between these images you place yourself, naturally multipled as a fascio – “rest of us this corner you have backed us into ” – with a single voice, you the spokesman for a group”

    Oh well, as much as I hate to admit it, Arpege dear, this is extremely good. He went too far in his glee at admitting like a spoiled child every tinker-toy trick he’d so cleverly employed. I think even you know who this is now. But the real Nick would never be caught dead writing about ‘lofty philosophy though’ or whatever shorthand would suffice since it is NOT worth it to expend effort on, and the only reason I would have ever confused them is that I skimmed, not giving a fuck about Meillasous’s ass nor of his hole in the ground.

  98. The ‘nick’ really named that is one of the few good writers on the internet and has started telling us about his new bood.

    should be :”the ‘nick’ really named ‘Nick’ is one of the few good writers on the internet and has started telling us about his new book.’

    As usual, this protagonist has merely embarassed himself.

  99. “But remember, for the rest of us this corner you have backed us into is just a momentary diversion;’

    This you could prove by not returning. Could you leave a blog-fuelled sociopathic situation alone, being one yourself?

  100. patrick j. mullins Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    February 28, 2008 at 6:38 pm
    (I should just place my actual identity here for the record. All the ‘nick’ postings were mine and I think there is one ‘percyQliquor’ that is mine as well. All of the several other names ‘joxter’, ‘billy’, etc. are either the same entity as Martin, of course, or his little operatives in the lines-of-flight ‘n’ banking businesses (or other silly and worthless amateurisms) as they continue to ‘wear the veil’ as a challenge to their Midwestern backgrounds.)

    I put this here, because I am still officially banned, and this might go through. Otherwise, I am sure I shall die due to delayed blog-fuelled non-gratification and diversion-deprivation techniques.

  101. “clearly, as anyone less biased and blinded by obsession would see, is appreciative: “theatrical” “exciting” “dramatic” could be insults only either to someone so invested in his own persona as the morose threadbare student suffering for Philosophical Thought ”

    Good of kind, relatively speaking, as it were….but this type of ‘threadbare student’ is now in stage of wearing the occasional suit and evolving toward the usual English Tweedery, while ‘remembering to feel the pain’ of those he left behind, if not in the blog-fuelled lands of the sociopath, then in the weak lands he’s left behind, ‘unable to continue eating the savoury Chrissy puds of yore’. In other words, just ‘not comfortable with those people any more.’

  102. lecolonelchabert Says:

    and joxter, since your assertions and concerns, apart from the expression of your personal malice, seem to be confined to the empty celebration of some vague depth and seriousness of some people discussing Mallarmé and Kant again, why don’t you put some of this “real thinking” on display here? Instead of the amateur psychoanalysis, how about some of this promised philosophical thought? What do you think about Après la finitude? What do you find interesting about it? Why is it of significance to you? Why are “some people discussing it on a blog” more worthy of attention, automatically more noble and dignified, than “a jpeg” of “some brown people being shot at”? And why are you sure there is no possible connection – or overlap – between some people “really thinking” and some people “being shot at”? Is it that nobody who “really thinks” is ever shot at, or nobody who is “brown” really thinks, or what? What is the danger, in your view, posed by the dogma or scepticism against which “correlationism” offers no adequate defence in this genre? What implications does this inadequacy of defence have for anything apart from this genre? Why do you consider a suggestion of the work’s cultural and political concerns so insulting to it? What’s so admirable about indifference to politics etc?

  103. Chab, that posting photographs on a blog is inconsequent says nothing about what the photographs depict; your blog is not, any more than your righteous outrage above, going to be of the slightest help to said people. Nor do I claim that my ‘pastimes’ are any more worthwhile. It’s merely that, in so far as you spend a lot of time typing about a text which goes to great pains to construct a logical argument, it would have been more interesting, in discussing it, to have gone beyond a mode of discussion premissed on its being eclipsed by ‘textual strategies’.

    A philosophical argument can and should be understood and evaluated on its merits, not by trying to decipher it as a move in some sort of elaborately-staged social pantomime involving the writer and his peers or elders. Of course to say that it can be so evaluated is not the same as saying the argument is correct (therefore, no contradiction or suspicious shift there in Martins position – it would have been more dishonest to withhold his doubts and not to try to get that obviously too fine distinction across to Ch.).

    Ch. says it is built into QM’s position that his argument will fail – surely ‘theatrical’ was therefore meant a denigratory sense i.e. either QM doesn’t mean what he’s saying, his position is adopted in order to put on some kind of show (‘a re-staging in postmodern style’…’a trick like the way DAs in the US argue before a grand jury’, etc.). Or he means what he’s saying but knows that it’s pointless to say it. No, he is putting forward an argument, he means it; whether he is listened to we don’t yet know, there’s no point pre-empting this.

    I have no problem agreeing that Meillassoux’s work is ‘dramatic’ or ‘exciting’, but the drama is not empty, it comes from the fact that he is making a real and significant intervention in the debate, relevant both at the philosophical and the institutional level (which is not to say the two can be conflated). His ‘staging’ of the conditions under which people working in this field find themselves today is not in the least fictional or exaggerated – it is indeed the case that scientific realism is seen, in ‘continental philosophy’, as a discredited and absurd position, equated with a want of interpretive subtlety – exactly the position Ch. seems to have taken here, in suggesting QM’s position is like ‘trying to prove with mathematical irresistibility that Angelina Jolie is not beautiful’ – which I took as an accusation that he was guilty of a certain outrageously naive positivism, or at least a ‘quixotic’ rehearsal of such positivism – arguing logically/mathematically in the face of something which was not susceptible to such treatment.

    But again, a distinction must be made here between arguing a position which is bound to be unpopular and arguing a position which is simply incoherent or wrongheaded. The observation that Meillassoux is doing the first should not be allowed to slide into the claim that he is doing the second and therefore must be either naive or devious.

    His argument is indeed a ‘dramatisation’ in the sense of a logical extrapolation of an insufficiently clarified position (correlationism), and a it into direct confrontation with the alternative which its insufficient clarity served to ward off (scientific realism). Meillassoux doesn’t set out to ‘refute’ correlationism as self-contradictory, but to show that by maintaining it whilst holding in suspense the completion of its agenda, philosophers have held as the pinnacle of philosophical sophistication an impoverishing and necessarily internally-obfuscated position which, when pursued to its end, has a significant logical affinity with positions which most philosophers would find absurd, i.e. fideism, creationism, ptolemaism. This is a ‘dramatic’ conclusion but it is not produced through stage-dressing, it is deduced.

    Now, Meillassoux may well suspect that those who have most heavily invested in this position aren’t easily going to come around to his argument, but I don’t see how that makes him ‘histrionic’, and seems all the more reason for him to pre-empt their criticisms so as to make it difficult for them to squirm their way out of their predicament in typical hermeneutic-deconstructive style without making them look like what they are, posturing aesthetes who have abandoned all rationality.

    Ch. says : ‘The responses are part of the performance Meillassoux is staging, (you should pardon the expression). They are necessary to it. Or so it seems to me.’
    if this is to be of any significance at all it must be premised on the notion either that there is no logical argument here, or that it reveals some significant supplementary dimension. But on the contrary, ALL thinkers pre-empt possible criticisms within their texts, and since QM has spent a decade formulating his position, and for the reasons noted above, he has naturally tried to pre-empt as many as possible (although in his book Brassier – certainly not a correlationist strawman dreamt up by Meillassoux – does formulates new objections, as has Martin above).

    All of this doesn’t make it a ‘performance’, except in a sort of obvious, vacuous sense which says nothing specific about Meillassoux’s argument, and could be applied to any conceptual presentation without enlightening us at all as to its content or philosophical significance. By drawing attention to these supposed ruses as if they somehow invalidated or postponed examination of the arguments themselves, nothing has been added to the discussion, nothing has been revealed that we didn’t know before, there is just mere mystification and a dragging of conceptual thought down into suspicion-laden hermeneutical manouevring. Just the type of tactics Meillassoux’s line of argument exposes as occulting the real pressing problem, which ultimately concerns the auto-rustication of philosophy into a quasi-literary backwater where it can deconstruct its own textual navel endlessly and inconsequentially.

    ‘we can proceed in some traditional ways, we can hypnotise correlationism and ask it questions under hypnosis, we can interpret its dreams, we can debunk it as superstructural flower … all of which Meillassoux from the outset disqualifies. Why does he do that? I think it’s hasty to dismiss it as an error’
    Well, doesn’t he avoid those methods because he’s pursuing a logical argument. And why on earth would it be dismissed as an error? it is indeed a premeditated approach – extremely bold, by the lights of contemporary philosophy – which attempts to ground his argument upon a logical reconstruction of the foundational decision of a widespread philosophical position. The reasons why he takes that approach, and the question of whether people heavily-invested in obfuscating the question are going to be ‘convinced’, have no bearing on whether the effort succeeds or fails – the latter needs to be determined through careful examination of the argument itself. Only this will show whether it turns out to be ‘irrefutable’: Meillassoux has put his argument forward for such testing, and it’s up to others to attempt to demonstrate that his neglect of historical, psychoanalytical, deconstructive, dialectical or other forms of argumentation in favour of logical ultimately invalidate this argument. One can’t destroy his position by complaining that he has ruled such methodologies out; it would be necessary to show that this decision in favour of logic and mathematics actually invalidated his demonstration. As yet, historicism, psychoanalysis, deconstruction and dialectics have not yet displayed the ability to invalidate logic and mathematics, nor to account for the inordinate traction the latter seems to have upon reality. This is why they have had to quietly brush science under the carpet, which is exactly Meillassoux’s point and what he sets out to expose.

  104. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “it would have been more interesting”

    a wonder you could not bring yourself to ignore it, joxter. perhaps we disagree on what is interesting. I really don’t mind you’re not being interested in “some brown people being shot at”, but evidently you do have some inexplicable concern with what interests me, and telling me what ought to interest me, and what I ought to see as contemptible. After all “‘brown people being shot at” was your choice of foil for your own fabulous white self “really thinking”, not mine. That says a great deal about you you know. After all uou could have said “a jpeg of a fat baritone singing to his coat” and been actually accurate. Instead you fantasised what you thought was really lowly, setting up, all on your own, all from your imagination, and your own obsession, a comparison from which you imagine your fabulous white self “really thinking” must emerge in all its wondrous glory.

    “A philosophical argument can and should be understood and evaluated on its merits,”

    Well go ahead then. Evaluate. Enough of the teasers already. Let’s see it.

    “Well, doesn’t he avoid those methods because he’s pursuing a logical argument. ”

    Funny you should ask; someone else did. Do you recall what he said?

    OKay, you’ve typed and typed and typed your objections to my adjectives. Fine.

    Have you anything at all to say about Meillassoux argument? Can you evaluate it on it’s merits?

    “One can’t destroy his position by complaining that he has ruled such methodologies out”

    I didn’t mean to “destroy” it, not did I “complain”; on the contrary I meant, as anyone half literate can see, to defend it against Martin’s misconstruction as mechanically dawkinsian, and praise it for the innovative cleverness of this tactic, which disarms his targets but more importantly immediately exposes underlying assumptions which are very difficult to expose.

    Now please, let’s see this “evaluation” “on its merits”. Does he prove that correlationism is internally contradictory? If so how? If not why not? Does this paradox at the heart of it make the insistance on the “dialectic” relation of subject and object less compelling? Are the consequences he enumerates really consequences? (are they, you should pardon the expression, necessary?) Is one of these moves “naive” as has been noted widely? What about this late appearance of “defective” as part of the characterisation of correlationist positions on rationality? Does this narrow the application of the demonstration?

    “As yet, historicism, psychoanalysis, deconstruction and dialectics have not yet displayed the ability to invalidate logic and mathematics,”

    I’m sure “invalidating logic and mathematics” is not an aim, claim, or task of historicism, deconstruction and dialectics, or too much psychoanalysis, so this can’t be a surprise to anyone. As sure as I am that mathematicians don’t usually make the claims of the ontological implications of what is and is not mathematizable that Meillassoux makes.

    “the question of whether people heavily-invested in obfuscating the question are going to be ‘convinced’,”

    are you one of these people? if not, why are you obfuscating the question? You’ve taken a detour into an objection to some adjectives which I doubt Meillassoux himself will object to. It’s odd for you to declare your interests to lie in exactly what you are avoiding mentioning, which is this book, its arguments, its content as a whole, how it fits into Meillassoux’ other published work. Have you anything whatsoever to remark about those topics?

  105. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “Just the type of tactics Meillassoux’s line of argument exposes as occulting the real pressing problem, which ultimately concerns the auto-rustication of philosophy into a quasi-literary backwater where it can deconstruct its own textual navel endlessly and inconsequentially.”

    yet you characterise precisely this contention, that this indeed is something he intends to expose and to some degree shake up, as ” imaginary socio-intellectual scenario about him and his elders (lies and supposition)”. Are you deliberately engaging now in lies and supposition? Or this challenge to a condition in his profession – “a pressing problem” – in fact entirely obviously among his aims? To the noticing of which you only object because of your wholly unrelated desperation for some opportunity to vent about your victimisation from all sides and your superiority to “some brown people being shot at”?

    Are you capable of a) the least honesty and b) anything other than diversionary ad hominem kniptions?

  106. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “And why on earth would it be dismissed as an error?”

    you’ll have to ask Martin, whose dismissal of it as an error* I was replying to.

    * Martin: ” I…. think that the most serious lacuna of Meillassoux’s book is that it fails to provide any kind of aetiology (i.e. genealogy) of the ‘correlationist’ disease which he identifies as being rife in post-Kantian philosophy which he and attempts to eliminate. Whether or not correlationism or Heideggerianism are to be regarded principally as theoretical theses, religious ideologies, or whatever, there can surely be no hope of extirpating them “root and branch”, as it were, without a serious examination of those very roots. Thus, even if Meillassoux turns out to be right that what he calls ‘correlationism’ is, first and foremost, a metaphysical thesis, one can surely not understand it fully without (minimally) a serious examination of the problem-situation from which it historically took rise or the question(s) to which it offers itself as an answer.”

  107. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “This is why they have had to quietly brush science under the carpet, which is exactly Meillassoux’s point and what he sets out to expose.”

    That’s grossly distorting, really incorrect actually. And I wonder you could consider such a project at all worthy of attention – clearly it would involve a straw man caricature rather than the “correlationism” which QM defines for examination, which is not a tradition of thought that was ever notable for denying the “traction” that logic, math or the physical sciences “have upon reality”. I have this feeling that you too, joxter, have little or no acquaintance with Meillassoux’ work, but are basing everything you say on Brassier’s account, or synopses of that sort.

  108. M. Meillassoux has chosen to promote his work as “speculative materialism”. It’s quite openly “heterodox materialism” or “materialist heterodoxy”. It seems odd, to say the least, to insist on this hushed reverence for this work when the author absolves if not encourages dissent from his positions.

  109. >lowly
    as I was suggesting when I made the remark, what I find lowly and odious is ‘political’ bloggers communal technicolor delectation of murder and violence in the service of ‘radical thought’.

    >Are you deliberately engaging now in lies and supposition
    As I said the argument is operative at ‘the philosophical and the institutional level (which is not to say the two can be conflated)’ which was what you seemed to me to be doing

    >in fact entirely obviously among his aims?
    yes, obvious rather than being surreptitiously smuggled in or acted out (as suggested by your imaginary socio-intellectual scenario about him and his elders). My repeated point is that it’s evident in Meillassoux’s work but that this is no revelation and that his stand against his targets is strongly argued.

    I believe I did address precisely the topics you mention; and if I were to make a serious contribution to the debate around QMs work I think this wouldn’t be the place to do it, since this exchange is increasingly seeming pointless and frustrating, and I have other things to do.

  110. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “auto-rustication of philosophy into a quasi-literary backwater where it can deconstruct its own textual navel endlessly and inconsequentially”

    and this of course reminds me to ask you again what is consequential, in your opinion, in Meillassoux’ contribution to the bibliography of that quasi-literary backwater. Can you name some consequences?

  111. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “I believe I did address precisely the topics you mention;”

    your belief is unfounded.

    ” and if I were to make a serious contribution to the debate around QMs work I think this wouldn’t be the place to do it,”

    then why are you insisting that a serious contribution to the debate is the only thing you consider appropriate for precisely this place. Thus your tantrums in which you insist that what has been written here is not such a serious contribution to the debate.

    It would actually be perfectly possible to discuss these matters you claim to wish to discuss, in the manner you insist is the only valid, worthy, interesting, etc, and yet will seize every excuse and tactic to avoid discussing.

    Show you cards now. Let’s see what you’ve got.

  112. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “communal technicolor delectation of murder and violence in the service of ‘radical thought’.”

    you are referring to all the opera clips I post, I assume? Or the documentary about the milosevic trial? or what?

    ” what you seemed to me to be doing”

    well now you’ve been corrected.

    what you seem to be doing is engaging in infantile insult, shameless dishonesty, irritating purposeful misparaphrasing, and – naturally! – bluffing.

  113. “a jpeg of a fat baritone singing to his coat”

    And should have, actually,since he’s married to the successor of Dolora Zacik as Azucena. She’s the one wears the pants in THAT family. He’s not even trying to hide his identity anymore, and anyway, I introduced you to him on that other blog last year, you know who you’re dealing with. Not that you couldn’t stop arguing yourself, of course.

    ‘and if I were to make a serious contribution to the debate around QMs work I think this wouldn’t be the place to do it, since this exchange is increasingly seeming pointless and frustrating, and I have other things to do’

    He always says this, no matter how many times he contradicts it–of course the disdain is thereby cancelled out. He’s now even using his trademark signals with the >’s all over the place.

    Probably just happy he can watch Angela Lansbury again. Really the most thoroughgoing thin-skinned person I’ve nearly ever run into. It could be really only one of 3 Britons, but Dominic would never do this kind of ruse, and I only included him because he once referred to me as ‘mullins’. But he also doesn’t use ‘lol’ and I doubt has the time for such silly masquerades, and has never done so to my knowledge, Andrea Dworkin Sex notwithstanding.

    With Nick’s new and surely brilliant new book coming out and powerless to stop the interest in it this time, he’s resorted to new desperation.

    Mais, continuez, s’il vous plait. You’re hardly a prize yourself, dear.

  114. lecolonelchabert Says:

    jonquille admit you only turned against him when he revealed his cultural illiteracy about theatre in his haste to vent abuse.

    This hints at why your philistine creature insults QM’s work grotesquely by denying its literary qualities. Even his talks are charming – The Two Games Of Billiards should be a chamber opera, with corps de ballet, video and bluescreen.

  115. lecolonelchabert Says:

    really what a dreadful person. Demands to have a certain kind of discussion, and only that kind, in very narrow parameters, right here, right now, and then immediately upon agreement, says this isn’t the place and he hasn’t the time. Plenty of time to rant about the obscene word ‘theatre’, “some brown people”, “wall street”, “postmodern comfort zones”, “quasi-literary backwaters”, “obscurantism” and the sufferings of his downtrodden klan at the hands of terrorists who are somehow — “congenitally” alas – empowered to interfere with their ability to “really think”, that is realise their true, “congenital” mission.

    What he contends about the book is rather limited: that it contains an argument, the argument is logical and long, I wouldn’t understand it, and he hasn’t the time to explain it, and anyway this would not be the place. Oh and it’s not very well written, its unoriginal, its ridiculous, “extremely” bold for being doggedly traditional and logical, easily refuted, and that’s all a very good thing by gum. Nothing like those odious Schlegel sisters with their artistic beastliness.

  116. ‘jonquille admit you only turned against him when he revealed his cultural illiteracy about theatre in his haste to vent abuse.’

    Well, that of course was at least half of it. But since I hadn’t the patience to go through a discussion of a writer I’m as unfamiliar with as he is with Larissa Lezhnina or Diana Vishneva or Eva Marton as Leonora, probably even Pavarotti in Don Carlo, I first thought I might have been the ‘rude little bird’, but I had described you not as ‘condescending’, but rather as ‘insidious’ (lol), and to someone else! As noted, that’s why I couldn’t figure out who it was for awhile. He tries to do sub specie aeternitas (or whatever the phrase is) just as he accuses his ex-teacher of doing the same thing but here’s where it is much as you say: That is the same mind-set is unimportant, what is important is that he determine how this attitude must be employed (as with here–where he must argue about Meillasoux however depleted the forum is, given his wonderful ability to be toffee-nosed about something he totally embraces as well; now why this does not make him just jump out of his skin is anybody’s guess…) His former mentor, on the other hand, is doing a ‘wrong version’ of this, he is going on and doing what he wants to with his career and this does not sit well with the former etudiant. I confess I did not think he would make such a brazen poo of his whole project here.

    But in any case, since I know who he is now but didn’t when I first said I might have been ‘the little bird’ (and wasn’t–this has almost as many twists as Fritz Lang’s wonderful old film with Joan Fontain and Dana Andrews and the divine Barbara Nichols ‘Beyond a Reasonable Doubt’, which Jack and I watched yesterday), I now know that it can only be half true that his ‘cultural illiteracy’ offended me at that moment, because his cultural illiteracy had already offended me a year ago! And by the time his cultural illiteracy offended me this time, it could only do part of the job because, in addition to that, I already had many more things for which I must be offended by him as well!

  117. “real pressing problem, which ultimately concerns the auto-rustication of philosophy into a quasi-literary backwater where it can deconstruct its own textual navel endlessly and inconsequentially.”

    That is disgusting to the point of being distinguished enough to be given exposure on a weekly feature of a blog…

    God, I just LOVE to auto-rusticate philosophy, and that is probably what Deleuze was talking about when he stopped the ‘being-horse’ at the ‘becoming-horse’ level–because it is difficult to maintain that a normalien can auto-rusticate philosophy even when, and especially if he is also determined that he must do so…or philosophy might stagflate…

  118. lecolonelchabert Says:

    ” has a significant logical affinity with positions which most philosophers would find absurd, i.e. fideism, creationism, ptolemaism. ”

    pas du tout. Primo, this question is not part of the “refutation”, which concerns only the self contradictory nature of correlationism, but is the exposure which happens in another act, the encounter, staged, between correlationism and dogma. He shows that correlationism can serve only to critique a specific dogma, not that it has “a significant logical affinity” with dogma but that “Le corrélationisme ne fonde pas positivement une croyance, mais sape effectivement toute prétention de la raison à délégitimer une croyance au nom de l’impensabilité de son contenu.” This goes then for plenty of dogmas not of the type you list. It’s an important distinction to make. Admittedly, when isolated, that point could sound like an anti-pomo cliché, most common twenty five years ago at the height of radical scepticism when the “disease” threatened to infect neighborhing disciplines, and whose targets are not really always or usually within the “correlationism” QM defines, and I suspect is what Brassier deals with in his synopsis. But the “refutation” of correlationism is the section of the work which concludes that the “‘idée même de la différence entre l’en-soi et le pour-nous n’aurait jamais germé en vous, si vous n’aviez éprouvé la puissance peut-être la plus étonnante de la pensée humaine — être capable d’accéder à son possible non-être, se savoir mortel.”

  119. lecolonelchabert Says:

    This discovery of the contradiction in correlationism is the refutation. The tendencies of “correlationism” (or that correlationism which emphasises a “defective” rationality) to slide into relativism and scepticism, etc., are not the objects of a ‘”refutation” clearly, since they do not take up the question of validity and they do not reply to the claims about the en-soi and the pour-nous, objectivity and subjectivity, the thing in itself and the subject, of which “correlationism” actually consists.

  120. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “since they do not” should say “since the examination of them does not…”

  121. lecolonelchabert Says:

    the hypocrisy of this person really blows my mind. He does nothing but repeatedly insist on the same characyterization of the “textual strategies” – logical logical logical – says absolutely nothing else, but insists that this is not enough, that it is criminal should any discussion occur here that does not ‘go beyond’ characterisation of “textual strategies”, demands a serious encounter with the arguments, demands they be evaluated right here on their merits, writes lengthy disquisitions about what is and is not appropriate to describe the textual strategy, what is and is not an appropriate textual strategy of a blog comment, insists again that textual strategies are inappropriate subjects, then invited to go beyond this characterising of textual strategy, to address the content, or anything except repeat that “the textual stratgey is logical argument”, says this is not the appropriate place for anything but a repetitive description of the textual strategy.

    Between this and the gratitude to Dawkins for saving him from the creationist temptation, I sense he might be a recently deprogrammed fundie of some sort, with all those scripture thumping, worshipful, hell and damnation habits intact, denouncing others for the debauchery he himself cannot resist, for giving in to the very temptations which torment him excessively and thus surrounding him with irresistible lures. This would explain creationism=postmodernism here anyhow, and all the febrile fundie language and fear of diabolical seduction by “congential” evil…filthy, malodorous, profligate aethetes, “we” the righteous cornered, whispers of “you are damned as I am!”, dank confines, and finally the repeated insistence on being himself saved (A LIFE!). I suspect jonquille, correct me if I am wrong, that we have here a former churchgoer and speaker of tongues, not quite adjusted to the secular world, feeling it is rather more fragile than it is, and still hearing now and again the devious otherworldly voices which threaten the sleep of reason and production of nightmares and religious madness.

  122. Oh well, I can get through as ‘nick’, even though I tried to go back to PercyQLiquor, so I’ll try and see if it goes through this way.:

    (I’ve decided to go back to PercyQLiquor, since I just asked Watusi if we could tet together for an eggnog next Xmas…)

    You know, I don’t think that it is that, although I can see why you might think so. On the other hand, a very clinging attraction to various figures both in the past and present, that he does know personally and never has known, and that he also knows distantly is sometimes in evidence with him. There is some real suffering, make no mistake about it. I don’t know the full history or really anything about the family he was born into, but I am fairly sure that that’s why certain people are gentle with him when he is quite burning with his strange rages. (Part of British rage, of course, is how it never incriminates itself physically, and I recall very well my trip through odd parts of Britain with Christian in 1987–as varied as Liverpool, Isles of Scilly, Manchester, Plymouth, Falmouth, Penzance, as well as London at two different points–that we decided to learn to ’speak British’, as we were having some very emotional episodes: We would go to dinner (I remember that we developed this very officially at the restaurant of the Star Castle Hotel, St. Mary’s, Isles of Scilly), and FIGHT. But we would call it ’speaking British’, as opposed to the fireball screaming fights both of us had had in previous relationships. He had to learn ‘British English’ through his German/French-Swiss English (his is very good), and I had to learn it through my American English. We succeeded in doing so, and it has been a most wonderful gift in helping us both to always avoid physical violence.

    This fellow therefore has come with a good deal of malice for reasons which are not difficult to find in both traxus’s post and in one of his comments to me. At this point, he may well not come back because his style has become so thoroughly obvious that he knows I am sure of his identity without any possibility of its being anyone else. But I won’t say it. All I’ll say is the 3rd possibility, k-punk, is most assuredly not the one. Somehow, he knows how to remain more controlled. I am actually sorry to have seen some of this happen, if you must know. It is possible that you are right about some of the ‘temptations’, and I have recently noticed that it becomes even hard to remember what it was ever like to think temptations healthily given into were a form of ’sin’. I also think I personally cannot often be aware of other people still being inside that imprisoning sensibility, and that I forget, from the free atmospheres of the cities in which I spend almost all of my time, that it still is not at all possible to live comfortably in one’s body without guilt in many places. I have to be constantly reminded that I would be ARRESTED in many places for some of the things I quite innocently do here without ever anymore even thinking about it. Sometimes a pride in ‘the life of the mind’ is, therefore, definitely sometimes used as a substitute–and this could be in the realm of very high-minded philosophy quite as easily as it could be in some New England Mather-Family Nightmare (that’s the Cotton and Increase bunch, for those who aren’t familiar with some of our Puritan sermon-writers…) Now that you bring it up, there was sometimes correspondence with this person in which it was very clear that some things I would write about very naturally would cause him to be ‘en colere’ , but I just attributed my image of a literally reddening face to the internet (of course it could still be that). He does tend to be extremely judgmental and requires enormous insulation.

    “you are damned as I am!”, dank confines, and finally the repeated insistence on being himself saved (A LIFE!)

    Except I think his order was more ‘you are, of course, telling me that I am as damned as you are to these dank confines [the ‘cornered part’ is the extreme fascio, as you call it, attitude, this shit about how, despite the ‘momentary diversion’, the shrill and brittle claim that he is being forced into this corner, while simultaneously claiming that he can leave anytime he wants to–which works for the sadist if he really does leave, but not if he keeps up the game too long; unless, of course, he really HAS tied up the victim, and in that event, he really would have a case for his superior domination of the situation–he would have some tied-up people he could do tortutainment on…(lol, sorry)…so he was never really saying ‘you are as damned as I am’, because he’d already insulted you, but he was also not telling you ‘I am as damned as you are’ but rather the much more vicious ‘you are telling me that I am as damned as you are…’ and from there it then follows what you say about his ’saved status’, this superb ability to outwit the internet such that he ‘is never on it’, except for the inconvenient fact of being on it. This is not the same thing as not being ‘internet-identified’, which is what I’ve been working on in my project, or not being ‘blogger-identified’, but rather it is BEING blogger-identified but in a rudimentary state of denial about it.]

    I was surprised at all that ‘malodorous’ talk, though. It has seemed to come out of nowhere. But there have been other forms of it he’s used to others to tell them of how their quite fraternal discussions on the net were like ‘being in bars’, etc. It’s an instability, but less dangerous to anyone else than to himself, I am fairly convinced.

  123. traxus4420 Says:

    you can post as percy now, ‘nick.’ also don’t miss Luke’s comment up a few. i went all homeland security on this blog, is the explanation, like dejan in the early days. so maybe we’re both latent stalinists. it’s certainly been much more annoying to maintain, at least in terms of this comment thread.

    chabert, i wonder if it wouldn’t be unfair to say that this ‘deprogrammed fundie’ attitude is rather common in the very history of philosophy that our professors have been trying to get us to look up, ONE MORE TIME.

    things do seem to matter a lot less on the internet, such that it’s both alarmingly easy to get into feuds and alarmingly easy to forget all about them. as with the TV, i’m sure there are more serious implications.

    anyway, i feel fortunate to have hosted all of this; if i have anything else to say about the matter at hand (i’m still amused by the fact that of all the commentators here at most 2 have actually read meillassoux’s whole book) it will probably take the form of another post. that is, if i can pull myself away from the amazing life i lead out there in REALITY.

  124. percy Q liquor Says:

    alarmingly easy to forget all about them.

    But this is the secret of the right technique–not to forget about them, but to remember them well, but calmly–and not getting too excited in that weird flush of strange illusion of closeness that does occur, in fact comes rather much too easily, unearned, as it were. In that way, it seems more possible to move forward a bit more cleanly, rather than always ending up returning to the same place. That seems to be one of the things I do demonstrate doing, because my memory of blog-events probably does come from having memorized a lot of music, or it may be part of the musical mind itself. I did note a few years ago that an old Juilliard buddy of mine that I hadn’t seen for years and whom I do not consider at all intellectual, had this particular kind of memory of a certain kind of detail that I have, and which Jodi has remarked on a number of times.

    It is also important to watch many DVD’s of La Scala performances in order to see all sorts of other things begin to appear very small and manageable next to all that voluptuousness. They are far more powerful than any films I know in this way, and should be turned all the way up. Tonight I watched Zeffirelli’s 1982 film of ‘Cavellerian Rusticana’, and it is most brilliant AS a film, with magnificent photography of the Sicilian landscape as well as this Easter procession which could never be done so effectively onstage. I wouldn’t say something like this for Puccini and Verdi, but with Mascagni, although the vocal sounds become very powerful as thepassion grows, the deft melodic gift in Verdi and the rapturous prettiness in Puccini are quite enough to make the stage effects enough. I have yet to watch the ‘Pagliacci’, but this was notable for Elena Obroztsova as Santuzza and Placido Domingo in marvelous voice and stupendously handsome as Turiddu. Zeffirelli’s films of operas go way back, and they are all worth seeing. Also, things like the Maryinsky ‘Sleeping Beauty’ from 1989 ought to be seen, because a whole ballet company working in this kind of single-organism way is almost never seen. This is the mother of all ballet companies just as La Scala is the mother of all opera companies (Italy wins by a little over Germany in the opera competition, IMO.)

  125. God what an opportunistic Republican bitch you really are Jonquille – couldn’t wait for the first opportunity to get a pat on the head from Mother Chabert. Well maybe it’s time we gave up on the satire, I think she had enough anyway and her contributions at Leninino’s were really good.

    Stranger I am not talking to you until you publicly acknowledge that Trotskyists and Leninists sold out Yugoslavia, and revise your Commie views to that end as well towards a more honest Communism. Until that time you will remain in the Axis of Evil.

  126. percy Q liquor Says:

    God what an opportunistic Republican bitch you really are Jonquille – couldn’t wait for the first opportunity to get a pat on the head from Mother Chabert.

    You know nothing of what this matter is about, although traxus does. We both know what it was and who it was, and this had nothing to do with Chabert per se. You probably think this means I’ll become a Marxist like you. But I already told you I was through with you, you selfish effeminate and hysterical queen who tries to have affairs and ‘deep attachments’ over the internet. Fortunately I don’t have anything you can use, although agree with Chabert you have the makings of a Real Stalker (you can always relate it to the Russian movie, of course, or your love for shit music, as in the garbage used in ‘Inland Empire’) Love the way you thought your displayed doodoo about Michael would scare me or something. Saw your absurd link at his blog; my, my, my, wasn’t he quick to come over and agree with you! Wow, what a gal you are!

    IN the meantime: ‘Now calm doooowwwwnnn Tracey. Ah’ll jes’ go make ya some pork…that’s make ye feel all better…’

    You really are a super-M. Now leave me the fuck alone.

  127. Fortunately I don’t have anything you can use,

    That much was clear from the very beginning – I’m not into Carl Malden types, especially when they vote REPUBLICAN

    Saw your absurd link at his blog; my, my, my, wasn’t he quick to come over and agree with you!

    Who gives a fuck about that tired old queen and his post-menstrual tantrums – whoever sucks up to Paris Hilton is a loser in my book

    And this had nothing to do with Chabert per se.

    Yeah right; you prostrated yourself like the sad rag Cole Porter bottom you really are. See if she can maybe send you some Viagra, it will all sound more convincing!

  128. Oh yeah and your taste in American salon kitsch is UNFORGIVABLE, really.

  129. I forgot: YOU’RE FIRED

  130. percy Q liquor Says:

    I forgot: YOU’RE FIRED

    Thank God you could rationalize it some way or other.

    Our long national nightmare is over.

    Interesting that my old eunuchs came over to expose themselves in this thread. MMmmmmm….a moment of truth before liposuction…

    Anyway, Arpege knows those opera films, I imagine. Traxus, you should try to get hold of some of them. The old 1964 ‘La Boheme’ with Mirelli Freni is still a marvel, and Adriana Martino is also sublime as Musetta. But the Don Carlo, even though of a staged version is beautiful with Pavarotti if you’ve got really good sound. That’s one of Verdi’s richest operas, and not so hokey as ‘Trovatore’ and ‘Rigoletto’, but those are also as rich and wonderful as they can be, no matter how popular.

  131. I suppose you also lied to me about Traxus and he’s not such a wimp really as you described him, probably because he didn’t want to suck you; but this is much less unforgivable than reprimanding me for tolerating Sherbert and bowing to Communism while at the very same moment joining Xanadu for the sake of OPERA and MELLISAOUX! In the end you’re just desperate for attention, darling…

  132. percy Q liquor Says:

    Arpege–it just occurred to me that this ‘Martin’, who is supposedly more interested in set theory and Badiou–once claiming that beside this, Heidegger carried but a ‘book of hymns’–may have begun to do a kind of highly insular masquerade as Herr Heidegger. I picked up the schnappes-and-coffee old-world Viennese wannabe atmosphere early on, and can imagine that he might have a teddy bear named ‘Being of beings’ as well as two Schnauzers named ‘Being’ and ‘Time’, respectively. I knew a couple of Park Avenue queens who had these as ‘Artichoke’ and ‘Anchovy’, which was good, but could be still further improved if poodles and called ‘Liverwurst’ and ‘Liverwort’. One of these queens was Felipe Rojas-Velas, who was just about to start Dean and DeLuca. I only met once or twice at this dowager’s apt. who picked up young men for aoartment ‘objets aux tableaux-vivants’, and then the dowager announces to me that the two ‘had broken up’, but that she didn’t believe they were homosexuals (all the young men she picked up were homosexuals, and all were also required not to say anything about it. She took a pill called Norma-brain as she became progressively less sentient…then perished…)

  133. percy Q liquor Says:

    No, I always told you he was a young, pretty boy-man. I started insulting him later when we’d fight, but his looks were very pleasant. I suppose even he thinks he has a touch of something a bit too teenagerish, but whether that constitutes wimp or not I’m not sure. But, as Martin says, ‘this is not the place’ to discuss such matters, so why don’t you email Martin; eunuchs are always good for some girl talk. You may email me, of course, as you already have today, but I just delete it without reading it.

    You are out of control, anyone can see that. I mean, shouldn’t I be a little less ecstatic than I am about ‘getting fired’ from a non-job anyway?

    After all, while remaining totally transparent, your official line is that I have nothing to offer you. So please–stick by that, because whether I have anything worthwhile or not, YOU are not going to get any of it. This all proves what I’ve been harping on about internet addiction, you sick fool. I just saw Nedda in Pagliacci telling the creep Tonio the same thing I told you. You’ve had enough, so stop acting like your going to get anymore. Face it: You are not going to get the part of the Corrupt White Prom Queen in Arpege’s pilot. Life is NOT the Corny Collins Show.

  134. percy Q liquor Says:

    while at the very same moment joining Xanadu for the sake of OPERA and MELLISAOUX!

    I know nothing of Meilliassoux, may get around to it sometime, so I could have done nothing for his sake knowingly. If it’s to thwart preening about ‘auto-rustication’, presumably into literature and other domains in which the mentally disturbed Martin has wandered but little, all the easier was it made to talk briefly about opera. Has nothing to do with anything you’re interested in. I’m not interested in it as Arpege, Xanadu, or what have you, and I don’t give a fuck about your SERB FUCKUP PSYCHO PERSONALITY! Go dive out somebody else’s shithole TV set, take goddam Naomi Watts with you for all I care. If Arpege wants to put with you again, that’s her business. I’m going to talk to people on blogs (if I talk to them at all) just as I do on the discussion boards where people are civilized. I don’t care what kind of ‘bottom’, whether ‘Cole Porter’ or opera or Xanadu or what you think I am. We had a ‘show,’ as it were, and it’s OVER. You go on and do what you want to with it, you’ve got SLP and John to support you. I just don’t like pushy but torpid waitress-types like you, and I don’t have to have you either, so just shut your little wounded loudmouth Tracy Turnblad girl-hole up.

  135. percyQliquor Says:

    Might as well start at the top, even though YouTube visually and aurally is grotesque compared to DVD. This was the one period in which another company, New York City Ballet, had a period in which it equalled and in some ways surpassed Kirov. This is starker elegance than Petipa in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘Swan Lake’, and Suzanne Farrell was Balanchine’s greatest muse. Martins and Farrell were both mentioned in ‘Gotham Trace’, so you may see why I was so inspired by her (and then him as the development continued.) She is still many people’s favourite ballerina, and one of mine, along with Alla Sizova, who was Nureyev’s partner at Kirov until his defection. Music is from Tchaikovsky 3rd Symphony. Really better to know Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty before this stark kind of thing, but you tend to like to start with the hard things.

  136. [moderation turned back on, for obvious reasons, wanted to be sure this got through. Just delete our bitchfight stuff if you want, it oughtn’t to be here anyway]

    percyQliquor Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    March 1, 2008 at 2:37 am

    Might as well start at the top, even though YouTube visually and aurally is grotesque compared to DVD. This was the one period in which another company, New York City Ballet, had a period in which it equalled and in some ways surpassed Kirov. This is starker elegance than Petipa in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘Swan Lake’, and Suzanne Farrell was Balanchine’s greatest muse. Martins and Farrell were both mentioned in ‘Gotham Trace’, so you may see why I was so inspired by her (and then him as the development continued.) She is still many people’s favourite ballerina, and one of mine, along with Alla Sizova, who was Nureyev’s partner at Kirov until his defection. Music is from Tchaikovsky 3rd Symphony. Really better to know Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty before this stark kind of thing, but you tend to like to start with the hard things.

  137. No, I always told you he was a young, pretty boy-man. I started insulting him later when we’d fight, but his looks were very pleasant.

    And why did you fight? From what I can discern, he wasn’t willing to BE LIKE YOU, that is to say conform to your Paris Hilton narcissism. He might have wanted not to be cloned. I didn’t even ask about his looks, you superficial queen. You were talking about his crooked character and all these terrible attitudes, and how terribly unjust he was to you, and so far everyone you ever meet does some injustice to you which then ends with an episode of paranoia with everyone in New York following you around and trying to put you in the KGB database.

    This all proves what I’ve been harping on about internet addiction, you sick fool. I just saw Nedda in Pagliacci telling the creep Tonio the same thing I told you.

    I am not addicted to internet – I LIKE the internet. It combines my talents for writing and drawing. And I don’t force you to like the internet, yet you make it sound like I am. Like you were cattle-prodded into conversations. It’s boring – I am not the internet addict you fancy. Besides if you’re such an embittered old queen that you can’t accept it when someone simply LIKES you without getting into these hysterical elaborations of ”virtual” and ”real”, then I don’t want to have had anything with you anyway. I don’t get off on that type of emotional blackmail.

    I don’t care what kind of ‘bottom’, whether ‘Cole Porter’ or opera or Xanadu or what you think I am.

    Correction: old Halliwud movies addict and an emanation of Michael Musto’s far more formidable gossip talent!

    the mentally disturbed Martin has wandered but little, all the easier was it made to talk briefly about opera.

    I see no connection between Melissa and the opera, but I see that you insisted on talking about the opera even as nobody in the room displayed any interest in talking about it, which is what you keep doing to me despite my explanation that having had an opera dad all my life I said everything I wanted to say on the subject – and I am not that much of an opera fan IN ANY CASE. But that’s a crime against your ego, apparently.

  138. percy Q liquor Says:

    but I see that you insisted on talking about the opera even as nobody in the room displayed any interest in talking about it,

    I suppose I might have a heart attack if one didn’t respond to my comment. I just put some information out here. If traxus doesn’t want to look at Suzanne Farrell, he won’t. My mission in life is less to convince people on the net to do something than you can easily imagine. I can’t wait to hear your criticism of it, though. It’s bound to be pull of ‘earth-mother bloody-fetus’ type shit.

  139. Might as well start at the top, even though YouTube visually and aurally is grotesque compared to DVD.

    God how SMART and INSIGHTFUL – the media have changed, people now enjoy DIFFERENT kinds of media, where the visual and aural quality may not be as important as before… brilliant, Percy…

  140. I didn’t start this, you stormed into the Parody Center shrieking at me because I said that Sherbert’s comments at Leninino’s weren’t bad, and proposing that we stop the parody because there are higher issues at hand, such as Kosovo, which I also told you is painful for me the same way 9-11 was for you (and if you’ll remember we spent a good half of last year discussing 9-11 BECAUSE OF YOU). You also scolded me for praising Kretinoma’s contributions, shortly, you wanted me to hate and annihilate, and I was just not in the mood for parody because this problem is SERIOUS. And then at the same time you come in here sucking up to the Communists because omiGod nobody wants to discuss Opera. Like some lapdog begging for attention.

  141. SERB FUCKUP PSYCHO PERSONALITY

    That’s rich coming from a PARANOID REPUBLICAN HILTON TOILET CLEANER

  142. Hell hath no fury like a woman spurned.

  143. Hell hath no fury like a woman spurned.

    Yeah maybe but better to be a woman than an ANDROGYNOUS SALON PIANIST WITH REPUBLICAN LEANINGS

  144. Anyway Percy you bet your sagging old ass that I am furious, and that’s because the one thing I don’t tolerate is that slovenly behavior where you bite the hand that feeds you, like Slovenlia did to Serbia – and admit it you whore you’re capable of doing just that. You better come up with a really good excuse if you want to be reconsidered for employment, and if you want your dossier at dr. Fossey’s to remain untarnished. Sherbert might feign motherliness when it suits her political agenda, but she doesn’t have such nurturing Alabama tits for you to suck on.

  145. And then at the same time you come in here sucking up to the Communists because omiGod nobody wants to discuss Opera.

    Think what you want, I discuss it very frequently elsewhere. Arpege and I don’t need to discuss anything further than Martin after our history, so I just put this for traxus because I think he does have some taste, or wouldn’t like Deneuve. It’s not a matter of trying to ‘rekindle friendships’, I’ve already told you I’m not going to meet any more bloggers. I might meet one or two, but you won’t ever know who those are, and there is little possibility traxus and I would meet again, definitely Arpege and I are adult enough to know we have not enough in common. We tried that already and it didn’t work. You just go ahead and stay interested in your new media, Arpege has already told you to fuck off and do what you want, it’s you that gets the attachments. I just wanted you to know once and for all that I have finished all of my association with you. In your terms, which are false, we had some relationship which now appears to be broken off. Okay, we’ll use your terms, just so you understand the broken-off part.

    Now go and find your proles. I’m just typing, you are simply out of control and a violent slob. I told you I don’t care to talk about Kosovo any more, and I’m not going to.

    I don’t care what you think about that, but it’s you who are feeling the rejection, and don’t think everybody doesn’t see that. I thought the firing of me would make you shut your fatso mouth up, but I should have remembered that you clung to Arpege for dear life months on end.

  146. You better come up with a really good excuse if you want to be reconsidered for employment, and if you want your dossier at dr. Fossey’s to remain untarnished.

    Unbelievable the delusions. Go ahead and badmouth me everywhere, you’re just an internet troll to me.

  147. I don’t tolerate is that slovenly behavior where you bite the hand that feeds you

    May we now hope for your characteristic threats which will accrue for you nothing but legal action?

  148. so I just put this for traxus because I think he does have some taste, or wouldn’t like Deneuve.

    Sweet Lord can it get any more pathetic than you striking or breaking friendships because Traxus likes Deneuve and I don’t like Paris Hilton.

    Arpege and I are adult enough to know we have not enough in common.

    ‘”Adult enough” that’s like the other silly capitalist-realist cliche you used the other day: ”Making the most out of what you have”. Well no wonder you had to whore your way around England: you don’t have what it takes, darling!

    ”I don’t care” – you don’t care about anything, and that’s the ultimate disappointment

  149. May we now hope for your characteristic threats which will accrue for you nothing but legal action?

    Do you SERIOUSLY believe I am afraid of legal action?

  150. …and stop hiding behind Arpege’s skirt you sissy, this is between you and me.

  151. Think what you want, I discuss it very frequently elsewhere. Arpege and I don’t need to discuss anything further than Martin after our history, so I just put this for traxus because

    When did I try to stop you from discussing things elsewhere? You started screaming AT ME because I was having a heated debate on Kosovo at Lenininino’s Moronic Tomb, and not only that but you started on some weird-ass Republican rant about my terrible affiliation with Communism, yet another point which you keep throwing in my face even though I told you ten million times I have Communist as well as Republican views depending on the context. You’re really like George Bush, EITHER OR – no less of a fanatic than Arpege, which is probably why she’s your evil Mother.

  152. Do you SERIOUSLY believe I am afraid of legal action?

    No, swsetie, I don’t, that’s part of your pathology.

  153. You’re really like George Bush, EITHER OR – no less of a fanatic than Arpege, which is probably why she’s your evil Mother.

    God, you’re slow-witted.

  154. this is between you and me.

    There is nothing between you and me, that’s what you can’t stand, no matter what insults you look for and hurl. You’re dependent and I’m not. Anywyay, Arpege’s skirts have traditionally been more theatrical than real, you internet troll. Gawd, what a spectacle you’re making of yourself. You’re like one of those chickens they used to have at circuses, put an electric current under it, call it the ‘dancing chicken’.

    Well, it looks like the odious Martin got off pretty easy, since Fat Butt Nikolic decided to impinge as per her usual attempt to party-poop the Prom.

  155. Look blub all you want but you just demonstrated to me that you’re much worse a fifth column than any Commie! Which isn’t surprising given your dim-witted compatriots’ moral record in the War Against Terrorism.

  156. You’re dependent and I’m not.

    No you’re wrong, you killed all feelings tonight, and I am not going to try to entertain you back into the business. I’m the type that takes ages to get angry but when I do I just don’t care anymore.

  157. …I’ll even send you back your book and CD, you selfish inhospitable American Puritan slut, just to make sure you don’t come out of this feeling INVALIDATED! Good luck sucking Sherbert’s dick!

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