Caputo on Meillassoux

What follows is an outline of Caputo’s lectures on the future of continental philosophy (both religious and not) that he is currently engaged in at Syracuse University with a few comments of my own. Mostly I want to outline some of the claims he makes and have a discussion about his views on Meillassoux, Brassier, and Laruelle. As of now only the lectures on Meillassoux are online but as Brassier and Laruelle will be coming up soon.

1rst Lecture

Caputo begins by asserting that Meillassoux proceeds like a Descartes sans god, setting forth mediations on correlationism instead  of the cogito. After outlining Leibniz and Descartes’ relation to the Principle of Sufficient Reason, Caputo addresses Kant and the nullification of the ontological proof of God since God, for both Leibniz and Descartes, guaranteed rationalism. Despite Kant’s demolition though Caputo notes that he set aside room for faith in order to allow for moral law, practical reason etc. This formal distinction yet saving of the noumenal forms the basis of weak correlationism.

Given the explosion of doubt we have the Hegelian retort that the noumenal/phenomenal distinction itself gives intuition into the noumenal and hence mind becomes substance, doubt becomes knowledge as Hegel absolutizes the correlation. Hegel’s post critical metaphysics gives the absolute necessity as spirit hence all things must be contingent but the totality must not be. Here Captuo suggests a disagreement between Zizek’s Hegel and Malabou’s. For Caputo, Hegel saves God as non-existent  but infinite womb of all being.

Caputo argues that Meillassoux ignores Kant’s claim that all metaphysics fail because they do not appreciate the limited applicability of the a priori categories.

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Badiou on Speculative Realism

Badiou was kind enough to have 30min one-on-one sessions with students who requested them. I decided to conduct a short interview of sorts following from his celebratory comments regarding Speculative Realism and some of the themes presented in the course thus far which has centered on the theme of negation.

Q: In class the other day you positively mentioned what you called the new Speculative Philosophy. How do you see your work in relation to the work of the Speculative Realists (Quentin Meillassoux, Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant and Graham Harman). Meillassoux sees himself as a materialist and not a realist, is this distinction pivotal for the future of metaphysics and affirmation as you see it?

A: The work of Speculative Realists, from the beginning is very interesting for me, and they refer to me sometimes too. The rupture with the idealist tradition in the field of philosophic study is of great necessity today. We return to the question of realism and materialism later. Its a very complex question.  The Speculative Realist position is the position where the point of departure of philosophy is not the relationship between the subject and object or the subject and the world and so on or what Quentin Meillassoux names correlationism. I have known Quentin Meillassoux for a long time I was in his doctoral dissertation and so on and from the very beginning Ive thought this description of correlationism and the critique of correlationism is a very important point. Its not the classical distinction between realism and materialism like in the Marxist tradition like with Althusser and so on. It was something else. It is very interesting to see that the point of departure of Meillassoux is finally the relationship between Hume and Kant. The idea of Quentin Meillassoux is practically that all philosophical tradition is in the space of Kant, the sense that correlationism is the only clear answer to the question of Hume. The idea of Quentin Meillassoux is that there is another possibility. We are not committed to the choice between Kant and Hume.

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Laruelle’s Essay on Simondon: “The Concept of a ‘First Technology'”

Laruelle, François. “Le concept d’une ‘technologie première’” in Gilbert Simondon: une pensée de l’individituation et la technique. Paris: Albin Michel, 1994. 206-219.

The Concept of a “First Technology”

François Laruelle

A “Unified Theory” of Technics and Technology

In order to define the object of which we speak and to set its limits in our discourse, also in order to define a certain relation to the work of Simondon or Heidegger—the two greatest philosophers of technics—we will make two distinctions whose relevance or non-relevance will be demonstrated by their capacity or incapacity to “found” a new discipline called “first technology.” This distinction is expressed thus: a science rather than a philosophy or a “human science” of technics, but a science of the essence of technics, not of technical properties or facts. Thus our object in the constitution of Simondon and Heidegger’s works will participate according to a relation to be determined whose formulation testifies to a paradoxical nature: a true science, not a philosophy; but a transcendental science of a new genre of essence, not a science of facts, whether “ontic” or “positive.” Essence is the traditional object of philosophy and that through which it claims to be distinguished from science: how could the latter, while still remaining science, take an essence for its object?

We think that the means of resolving the most general antinomy, that of science and philosophy, exists beyond philosophy either as epistemology, or as positivism (=science of philosophy) and that it must be sought beyond the invariant means of ontology, but not outside a dimension of thought and experience which philosophy itself has always postulated without ever recognizing it as such and completely denying its role in science. It is no longer a question of Being, but of the One insofar as it refuses any convertibility with Being and thus must be called “One-of-the-last-instance” so as to render it inalienable in Being. We will return to this point. What signification can it then have for this antinomy, partially derived from the precedent of technics and technology? Can the principles of a unified and not unitary (=philosophical, thus hierarchical) theory be established from the technical and the technological? This new discipline, “founded” in the non-philosophical experience of the One, would require a double support. It would require the support of technology, i.e. of a philosophical type of knowledge of technics, of the logos as techno-logos, consequently the dimension of essence. And it would also require the support of science insofar as the latter is the gauge of an objective, rigorous, analytic and non-interpretative treatment of technical objects and properties and which we will in fact call “technics,” but only under the reserve of this treatment, thus distinguishing this usage of the word “technics” from its philosophical or technological usage. We can thus define the object of this unified theory—if it is possible: for knowledge, it will have to set off again from the One—no longer as the banal and philosophical essence of technics, which supposes given or supposedly given objects as technical, as well as their intentional telos under the philosophical horizon of essence as eidos; but as the Essence (of) technics, a writing designed to indicate an indivisible block, a strict and no longer philosophical or hierarchical identity of technics and essence. This “strict” identity obviously remains to be thought and to be known both with the help of the One and technological discourses; but we can always posit it as our object.

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Laruelle’s “Reflections on the Meaning of Finitude in the Critique of Pure Reason”

Laruelle, Francois. “Reflections sur la sens de la finitude dans la Critique de la Raison Pure.” Revue International de Philosophie 35 (1981): 269-83.

Reflections on the Meaning of Finitude in the Critique of Pure Reason

François Laruelle

“Finitude” designates human knowledge’s positive nature of not creating its object which it nevertheless determines as object, of having to receive it so as to determine it. The Critique of Pure Reason modifies the theological problematic of finitude which, in the classical age, instead designates man’s being created, transposing it into the problematic of the intuitive relation of repraesentatio to the object and in fact the powerlessness of man to create the latter. We must make three preliminary yet essential distinctions. Finitude primarily and essentially is said of (human) intuition and secondarily, not essentially, of the imagination, the understanding and reason which are simultaneously finite and infinite. Furthermore, we must distinguish the finitude of intuition and its infinite (synthetic) condition in intuition: finally, we must distinguish these limited places [1] of finitude in accordance with certain parts of the Critique, simultaneously in accordance with the faculties and relations of one space of “form” to another—in accordance with finitude as the general principle of interpretation which is then globally opposed to an interpretation which would take for its guiding-thread the rise of Reflection throughout the Critique towards the highest instance of rational determination, the infinite and ideal. The first supposes that Reason can be liberated from the bondage of its initial finitude in “sensible” intuition, the second supposes this liberation without, however, its bonds with receptivity being fully broken.

We often oppose the Heideggerian and idealist (Hegelian or neo-Kantian) interpretations of these problems. On one side, finitude as irreducible and unsurpassable becomes the principle interpretation of Reason itself as pure finite Reason. On the other, finitude is simply an initial, limited and surpassed moment, either of the pure Idea, or of the transcendental reflection of infinite Reason. And it is true from the one to the other, from the directing primacy of Intuition to that of Reason and its ends, from the primacy of reception to that of phenomenal, then intelligible determination, from the primacy of sensibility to that of the intelligible (the universal moral Law in the solution to the third antinomy), there is seemingly a reciprocal reversal of perspectives which are rendered irreconcilable, thus changing their particular sense (that of sensibility to the understanding) and their critical value (their relation to the Whole or to the architectonic of the Critique). The adversaries themselves are bound to be carried away in these somewhat excessive debates and in oppositions which are all too often unilateral. Finitude becomes a problem, acquiring sense and value, when the preliminary or prefatory position of the texts which indicate and program it are recognized. Like any threshold, finitude can also be crossed “unproblematically” since it leads to the tabernacle of the moral Law, which detains its visitors in its folds indefinitely. Hence the two necessary interpretations mentioned above. This essay endeavors to rediscover their co-belonging and to stop opposing what the threshold itself never opposes: the simple indication or transition, and the program.

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