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Monday, 9 December 2013

Meillassoux: transcedent contingency sets the stage for (rational) faith

Last week I spoke about Meillassoux's Divine Inexistence to an audience of philosophers of religion. I suspect that to them, transcendent contingency (that is not itself up for grabs and cannot therefore become non-contingent) sounded like a perhaps traditional way to deal with the problem of evil. Of course, once we appeal to contingency, an existing God becomes something difficult to accommodate. Meillassoux offers to concede to the atheist the argument from the existence of evil to the inexistence of God while making the existence of evil the starting point of a hopeful World of justice that is the real object of faith. The existence of evil (in a contingent universe) and the (possible) existence of God (in a contingent universe) are therefore reconciled. It is as if Meillassoux were saying that the Atheist gets her modality wrong: evil doesn't imply the necessary inexistence of God, maybe necessary evil would, but not contingent evil. If contingency is in both sides of the implication involving evil and God, the converse (that there is God and therefore no evil) is also made possible. In fact, if God and evil are contingent, all he affirms is that God precludes evil (if and when He exists).

This is Meillassoux's account of faith: hope in a world with God for that will be the Fourth Advent. Hope, of course, is itself contingent, but he holds it is a rational attitude (that would go together with the principle of unreason). Otherwise, there is no ontology (at least in Badiou's sense that contrasts événement - what seems like a counterpart of Meillassoux's surgissement - and ontology). This anontology is also familiar to the philosophers of religion, I gathered. I associated it with Job. The omnipotence of God has no limits (even if He doesn't exist) and therefore no ontological (nomic, natural) necessity can restrain it. No local necessity is on the way of the (possibly) upcoming God, so the stage is set for God's advent. Contingency is sewed up in heavens, not by ordinary, immanent procedures. There is no need to have faith in an existing God if one believes in such a widespread, safe and assured facticity. For the philosophers of religion, existing hyperchaos is enough of a good substitute for an existing God (notice that the position according to which since God exists hyperchaos can exist is a familiar one). I realized Meillassoux - with his humanist anti-correlationism - is really swimming in their waters.

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