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Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Meillassoux, speculation and metaphysics: how my ideas fare

Enchanted by Meillassoux's distinction between what he calls the subjective metaphysician and what he calls the speculative philosophy. The former is somehow attached to the absolute character of the correlation (between thought and world), holding that the correlation itself is an absolute. Meillassoux mentions Hegel and insinuates that also Nietzsche and Deleuze would be part of this group. The latter finds the absolute not in the correlation but rather in its facticity (sort of instance of the generalized (and necessary) contingency of all things). The correlationist, in contrast, is the one who admits no absolute holding that the correlation has a primacy over any attempt to find something absolute while, at the same time, entertains a facticity. The speculative philosopher - but not the subjective metaphysician - takes these two correlationist claims on board. She is, then, the other, positive side of the correlationist criticism of the attempts to attain any sort of absolute.

The distinction is itself very interesting. I ask myself where each one of my following recent toy speculative (or metaphysical?) ideas would fare in the classification:
a) The anarché of the polemos: everything is available to desintegration through the intervention of the polemos - it makes everything up for grabs for everything else. This, I thought, would fare in the speculative side clearly and would be indeed very close to Meillassoux's idea that the contingent is necessary and there is no second order facticity. Necessity is always local and therefore at the hands of the multiple faces of the polemos. The polemos is not omniscient nor omnipresent, it is, though, omniabsent, an absence that let things (contingently) be for the moment. The polemos is the keeper of the vulnerability of things.
b) The ontology of doubt: the idea is that we can read the skeptical arguments not as entailing an epistemological indeterminacy facing an ontological determinacy but rather as establishing an ontological indeterminacy (and a respective epistemological determinacy). That is, that the world is itself made of doubts. There is no definite character of anything. So, anything can be something else. There are no truth makers but to statements concerning doubts about how things are. There are no facts or states of affairs, just doubts, just (ontological) indecision. This also seems close to Meillassoux's idea of the radical and absolute contingency of everything. And seems speculative enough - there is no appeal to the absoluteness of any correlation.
c) The metaphysics of some: the metaphysics of some holds that there are some things in the world, but nothing that can be pinpoint. The absolute is that something exists. Manuel and me toyed with this idea as a kind of metaphysical (or speculative) counterpart to what we take to be the thrust of Davidson's argument for the truth of some (in fact most) of our beliefs. This proximity could sound dangerous, we may be close to the subjective metaphysician line that correlations are absolute - say, the structure of our beliefs are absolute. But, again, as such, the metaphysics of some seems more speculative than metaphysics; indeed, Meillassoux interesting reply to Leibniz question about why there is something and not nothing is that there is something rather than something else (necessarily contingently). The absolute is not the correlation, but that there ought to be something (what is it is a matter of fact, of factuality, and maybe no speculative argument can establish).
d) Über-realism: this is where it gets a bit tricky. Über-realism has that there are perspectives and a cubist assemblage of all these perspectives in a non-underlying, non-coherent reality. Meillassoux holds that the claim that there are only relations in the world is itself correlationist (I think this is where the term may get a bit confusing). It ain't necessary for correlationism that the correlation is between thought and world. Or, maybe, Meillassoux would bite the bullet and say that any appeal to relations is an appeal to the relation between thought and world in embryo (think of Molnar claim that the intentional is the mark of the dispositional saying that there directedness towards something else is some sort of proto-thought, as the pan-psychist would have). In any case, if we accept that perspectives are relations (or prey on them) and Meillassoux's diagnosis that relations commit one to correlationism, I may be in the subjective metaphysician side here: correlations (perspectives) are somehow absolute - as they constitute über-reality. If it is so, über-realism is a sort of subjective metaphysics (and perspectivism, its sister, is maybe closer to correlationism). But I'm not happy with that. I think there is a way to show at least that, in Meillassoux's terms, über-realism is centrally committed to the facticity of all perspectives - even though perspectives are themselves necessary.

I think it is a very interesting geography to think things through.

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