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.
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.
Over at Stellar Cartographies there is a new post (called: Speculative realism, stamp collecting, and the question of Science) that goes into great detail about Gabriel Catren’s critique of Meillassoux on the basis of theoretical physics and quantum mechanics (lovingly dubbed by the former as “speculative physics”). The majority of the post (in reality almost already essay-length) focuses on Catren’s extensive essay that appeared in Collapse vol. 5 just recently. There are also at least 5 or 6 essays by Catren that can be found online, some more mathematical than others, but all on theoretical physics and the question of objectivity. I even have the chance and honor to translate one of Gabriel Catren’s essays for the upcoming anthology The Speculative Turn, which will feature many of the big names in the “field” of speculative realism (or transcendental realism, as Laruelle has dubbed his approach, thus reviving an older nomination that could, for example, at one time have labeled Spinoza’s approach…although he was usually considered just a dogmatist by Fichte et al.). Definitely go check this out if you have an interest in the current debates about speculative realism.
For Catren’s online essays, check out “On Classical and Quantum Objectivity” and “Can Classical Descriptions of Reality Be Considered Complete?” and “Geometric Foundations of Classical Yangs-Mill Theory” and “Notes on Dilaton Quantum Cosmology” with Claudio Simeone, and “Time asymmetries in quantum cosmology and the searching for boundary conditions to the Wheeler-DeWitt equation” with Mario Castagnino and Rafael Ferraro, and finally “Quantization of the Taub cosmological model with extrinsic time” with Rafael Ferraro.
[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.