Saturday, December 25, 2010
I profess to a significant interest in mathematics and set theory, along with their applications within large-scale cloud computing, ontology, and gerenative-procedural art. Recently, I have become intrigued by the writings of Alain Badiou and his student, Quentin Meillassoux. Badiou's intriguing view of ontology-as-mathematics, with a deep excursion into Georg Cantor's transfinite set theory, paves the way for After Finitude by Meillassoux. A superb summary of After Finitude is quoted below. I urge those interested in speculative realism to read the book, as well as Badiou's Being and Event and Number and Numbers.
In his book After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency, Meillassoux argues that post-Kantian philosophy is dominated by what he calls “correlationism,” the often unstated theory that humans cannot exist without the world nor the world without humans. In Meillassoux’s view, this is a dishonest maneuver that allows philosophy to sidestep the problem of how to describe the world as it really is prior to all human access. He terms this pre-human reality the “ancestral” realm. In keeping with the mathematical interests of his mentor Alain Badiou, Meillassoux claims that mathematics is what reaches the primary qualities of things as opposed to their secondary qualities as manifested in perception.
Meillassoux tries to show that the agnostic scepticism of those who doubt the reality of cause and effect must be transformed into a radical certainty that there is no such thing as causal necessity at all. This leads Meillassoux to proclaim that it is absolutely necessary that the laws of nature be contingent. The world is a kind of hyper-chaos in which the principle of sufficient reason is abandoned even while the principle of non-contradiction must be retained.
For these reasons, Meillassoux rejects Kant’s so-called Copernican Revolution in philosophy. Since Kant makes the world dependent on the conditions by which humans observe it, Meillassoux accuses Kant of a “Ptolemaic Counter-Revolution.”