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Monday, 24 March 2014

Latour and Meillassoux

Preparing a talk about Meillassoux tomorrow at the University of Veracruz. Nothing much, just some remarks about his notion of contingency from the thesis of divine inexistence. But I thought of some strategic similarities between him and Latour, whom I've been reading quite a lot recently. First, both believe in the insufficiency of critique. Latour wants to put forward a constructive project (and not only a deconstructive device) to propose something that, while not absolute, would reform what we currently have (something more comfortable than the set-up of the moderns). Meillassoux sees himself as a critical philosopher, but he reckons that critique without speculation - without trying to reach absolutes - give rise to fideism and paves the way for irrational exercises of faith. Both want to reconstruct as deconstruction (or philosophy as criticism) is not enough.

Further, both end up with a kinda messianic project for the world (a fourth World of justice for Meillassoux, and a non-modern new connection to Gaia for Latour). Latour talks about new associations of the humans with Gaia and all its agents - ecologize instead of modernize. The plurality of modes of existence opens the way for a different design of alliances, more comfortable and also more faithful to our notions of truth and falsity. It is as if we could finally liberate ourselves from constraints that are centuries old and consider existence in more serious while more lenient way. This also involve making explicit the associations that have been hidden - especially the ones that have to do with modes of existence that were not privileged in the discourse of modernity. Meillassoux, on the other hand, banks a political project based on the hope for a World of justice that will bring about a different ethics, one of the universal while vindicating something that has been moving us for long and that can not be made explicit - our allegiance to the hope for justice. It is a project for a new community as well, one of universality and justice. It is a more human-based project, but it does involve some non-human elements (or rather ex-human elements): the corpses that will resuscitate with the possible birth of God. Both communities come out of quite dramatic changes that are recommended or hoped for. Both provide a new sense for messianic political action.

And then, there is God. God is an object of attention for both and never appears as a fully independent being. Meillassoux has that He's not yet actual while Latour has that He depends on acts of sponsoring, that He looks at us only if we can look back. He's never a creator, an ancestor. In both cases, God is present but neither as a starting point nor as substantial being. No archés, in Latour because God needs a process of subsistence and in Meillassoux because doesn't exist yet. God is part of their (messianic) political project, not as guarantor, but as a partner.

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