[The following is a collection of excerpts from a paper I am working on about Meillassoux, Quantum Physics and the return of the anthropic in systems categorically opposed to the high status of the human.]
The theoretical passage, or perhaps more accurately the gaping chasm, between Quentin Meillassoux’s rigorously critical After Finitude to his divinological contribution to Collapse IV “Spectral Dilemma,” signals not only potentially strange consequences for the Speculative Realist project on the whole but also what several commentators have already noticed; that there is at best a political/ethical caesura and at worse an apolitical/unethical core in Speculative Realism.
In After Finitude, Meillassoux sets out to challenge the widespread but implicit correlationist enjoinder – that humans and the world they inhabit are codependent, and that the world only exists to be accessed by humans (AF, p. 5). The argument here is essentially a complexification of ‘if a tree falls in the woods does it make a sound?’ (AF, p. 18-19). For Meillassoux and other Speculative Realists, the answer to this question is a resounding yes in the face of half a century of denials tantamount to theoretical heresy in that he claims that the absolute can be thought (AF, p. 30). Meillassoux goes on to de-comfort the physical world and ends with the assertion that the base line of existence is a storm of hyper-Chaos in which everything goes out the window except the law of non-contradiction.
Given this rigorous deanthropomorphization of reality, his more recent work “Spectral Dilemma” may come as a surprise in that it attempts to explode the divide of the theistic and the atheistic via the inexistent divine. That is given the death of things and the death of god, how is one to go one ethically? Meillassoux’s strange answer is the possibility of a god in the future. Following the logic of the hyper-Chaos – anything is possible save contradiction and hence, if Meillassoux assumes that nothing existent contradicts divine possibility, then why isn’t a new god possible?
For the possibility of a new god we find ourselves having to choose between, given the old argument, omnipotence or omniscience? If we are to assume that Meillassoux’s adoption of non-contradiction holds, it would seem that he would side with omniscience since it does not necessarily create a contradictory entity in that the new God could choose not to via inherent omniscience and also that an omniscient god coming to be, is easier than explaining an all powerful god coming to be. As ludicrous as it sounds, following Meillassoux’s assertion that science revealed the power of speculative thought for philosophy, we will track the following question: is the concept of a virtual God much easier to swallow (both scientifically and philosophically) then that of the human at the center of the universe? (AF, 120)
Meillassoux’s “Spectral Dilemma” departs from the atheistic/theistic divide by centering on the object of the specter. For Meillassoux, mourning, and specifically the material fate of the dead, falls between the aporia of the atheo-religious (Collapse, 267). The theist has hope for the dead and therefore posits a God because their fate would be untenable or diastrous, the atheist, according to Meillassoux, denies a God, especially one who is purported to have caused death and yet is expected to shepard their specters (Collapse, 265). Meillassooux argues that it is the forced choice between a God who brings justice for the dead and a God without justice (Collapse, 266). This contention can be broken via the theory of a divine inexistence, that is, a formulation in which God does not exist but is a possibility and therefore a resurrection of the dead is possible.
Meillassoux goes on to argue that the imperative, via the stipulation of the divine inexistentence, is to de-link God from necessity. This should be no surprise since, as we have seen throughout After Finitude, Meillassoux actively destroys any the being of any necessity save contingency itself. Since nothing prohibits God, the entity can be grasped, via an “interlection of a radical Chaos” (Collapse, 273) as inexistent, possible, contingent and unmasterable which is the effect of Chaos itself (Collapse, p. 271-274). The largest question which Meillassoux ventures – if God is not eternal than what is he? – is left to future discussion (Collapse, 269). But if God is to be able to care for the essential specters, to do justice to the dead, how is this possible outside of the tired category of omnipotence while still within temporal bondage?
The utterance of God-word is what should strike us most in that such a nomination, as we have already noted, designates omnipotence and/or omniscience. If Meillassoux’s conceptualization of facticity remains tied to weak correlationism – that the absolute can be thought but not known – then one could argue that a Virtual God would be an entity which is god-like via our inability to know it completely. Another possibility here would be Whitehead’s process theology that God is an entity which offers possibility to free beings or a theoretically neutered version of the omega point theory – that, as human beings, are evolving towards a grand consciousness or king of God-computer.
Thus if we take Meillassoux’s immanence as hyper-Chaos and that the assumption, prior to such chaos, the plane on which it operates, is that of non-contradiction, then God would become an articulation of hyper-Chaos which came closest to the absolutization of contingency, ie, of necessity itself. God becomes the (virtual) embodiment of (non-contradictory) possibility such as the Chinese Hundun (or world-egg) or, in Ovid’s words, as a “rather a crude and indigested mass, a lifeless lump, unfashioned and unframed, of jarring seeds.” Yet, if Meillassoux’s hyper-Chaos is pre-decided via contingency (being) then is it not subject to the critique of Laruelleian non-decisionalism?
For an apparition of God that would not betray the weight of the word that names it, it would have to bear some incredible power whether rooted in an omniscience or omnipotence. Since the latter seems impossible via non-contradiction, the former, while not knowing all, could possibly know that which is unknowable about all of us – that of the pre or non being – that of the Real. This would be a fairly radical composite of the God-thing if, instead of serving, as it historically has, as the last tether to pull us back from the abyss of chaos (as it did for Descartes, Pascal and innumerable others) it guaranteed the bottomlessness of that pit.