Monday, August 13, 2012

"The Weakness of Meillassoux's God" and "Meillassoux's God and Process Theism"

Every once in awhile you come upon someone who hits upon an idea at the same time that you do. I copy the below to draw out some of the similarities between the two papers.

"The Weakness of Meillassoux's God" 

Michael O'Rourke

Accordingly, the “true” infinity of “God” in deconstruction is not found in the classical metaphysics of infinite being but in the open-ended infinitival promise set off by the paradigmatic name of God, the God to-come, the coming God, the unforeseeable effects of the trace of “God”, whose meaning is its iterability, its future, its to come—John D.Caputo, “The Return of Anti-Religion: From Radical Atheism to Radical Theology”

Only the fourth link, the philosophical link and immanent form of hope—believing in God because he does not exist —has never been systematically defended. It has now been done. The four possible links of humans with God are henceforth known. Onemust choose—Quentin Meillassoux, The Divine Inexistence

This paper takes up three thinkers (John Caputo, Martin Hägglund and Quentin Meillassoux), three broad themes (God and religion; temporality and futurity; and justice), and will proceed in three stages. In the first part of the paper I wish to painstakingly reconstruct the recent set of arguments and counter-arguments between John Caputo and Martin Hägglund regarding their respective understandings of the religion sans religion of Jacques Derrida. For Caputo, Derrida’s deconstruction is structured like a religion, moved by a desire and a passion for the impossible and the infinitival promise of the à venir (which is to say that God, justice, hospitality, the gift and so on do not exist but may come to exist in the future).

This leads him to propose a radical theology, an ultra-realism, which depends on a weak God with God being another name for the event or advent. Hägglund has a quite different understanding of Derrida and tries to immunize his own thinking against God and religion in favour of what he calls the autoimmunitary logic of radical atheism. Caputo’s religion is therefore open to the future to-come because God is an effect of différance and this gestures toward a religious materialism. Hägglund’s radical atheist materialism, his radical evil, is turned precisely against the future, closes it off, despite his claims to the contrary. 

The middle part of this paper addresses itself to a related set of critiques which Hägglund has aimed against Meillassoux. In a number of places Hägglund has been desperate to distance himself from Meillassoux’s After Finitude because, for him, there can be no agreement between his radical atheist position and Meillassoux’s “divinology” as they both commit themselves to the renegotiation of questions concerning contingency and necessity, time and space, life and death. Even though Meillassoux appears to direct his criticism of fideism and the tout autre at Derrida (albeit without explicitly saying so) it is clear that Hägglund’s antipathy for Caputo and Meillassoux’s respective positions allows us to push the other pair closer together to mount a critique of Hägglund’s misreadings of Derrida around the three problematics of religion, futurity and justice.

The last part of the paper stages a speculative reading of Caputo’s weak theology as it is developed in The Weakness of God alongside Meillassoux’s The Divine Inexistence. Even though Caputo himself dismisses Meillassoux’s virtual God as nonsensical, ridiculous and fanciful (and I will carefully parse the obvious differences between their stances) I want to argue that the couple are actually rather close when it comes to a number of issues: the advent, messianism, hospitality, super-contingency and hyper-chaos, hyper-realism, ethics, justice, spectrality, immanence and the virtual, the child/infans, sovereignty, the good, mourning, hope, desire, trace, the peut-être and the God to-come. Ultimately, what I wish to wager is that both Caputo’s weak theology and Meillassoux’s speculative non-metaphysical theology (albeit his is a religion without religion and he quite rightly passes for an atheist) are optative, jussive, archi- prayers which rethink, reimagine and reinvent God, a coming God, a God to-come.

"Meillassoux’s God and Process Theism”

Leon Niemoczynski

Meillassoux’s divine inexistence recently has been compared to “the God-who-is-yet-to-come,” posed by Continental philosophers of religion such as John Caputo. Additionally, the divine inexistence, in all of its radical non-existence has, to a lesser extent, been compared to the God who neither is nor is not, but “may be” – as posed by the Continental philosopher of religion, Richard Kearney. While Meillassoux’s God does not "exist" strictly speaking, if God does not exist now but someday may, then we require explanation for the Meillassouxian belief in that non-existence – the “virtual God” and the “immanent form of hope” related to it. If we turn toward a non-existent deity – a “divine inexistence,” a non-existent God other than the old God of onto-theology (and correspondingly of dusty Scholasticism then), is it fair to ask whether the “post-metaphysical God” has fared any better? Here we may possibly condemn the likes of Caputo and Kearney, for they have dodged speculative query in favor of the human-situated and human-centered while neglecting crucial ontological (i.e. metaphysical) questions regarding a God who may be. Yet, there seems to be more at stake than this. Concepts such as virtuality, power, contingency, weakness, and justice require adumbration indeed – but these notions are picked up by Caputo and Kearney in both their ethical and metaphysical dimensions, but with subtlety. It seems that one requires a comparative key, then, to unlock the bridge between discussions about virtuality and possibility as those notions relate to an ethics of hope as found in Caputo and Kearney, and in Meillassoux.  From what philosophical resources might we draw in order to deal with this non-existent or virtual coming-to-be God, especially in its ethical dimensions? How can Meillassoux’s God make better ethical sense, and likewise, how can Caputo’s and Kearney’s God make better ontological sense? On my view, by drawing on the process philosophical tradition we may be able to answer these questions – and as well - in this way we find that Caputo, Kearney, and Meillassoux all might be considered process theists, each in their own unique way.