Monday, May 12, 2014

Mehdi Belhaj Kacem on Meillassoux and naturalism, insight from Christopher Watkin and Terry Blake

Christopher Watkin and Terry Blake are homing in upon an interesting feature that is, also, the point of critique offered by Kacem against Meillassoux.

While it is well known that Meillassoux reinstalls correlationism from within a Hegelian rationalist materialist viewpoint (although this only after having dismantled the history of correlationism), it is not well known to what extent Meillassoux actually draws upon a dismantled and then reinstalled deep seated form of naturalism in his appeal to the concerns that drive both naturalism and science: namely mathematics and rationality, or how "nature" is organized and could be described to be organized in any meaningful way despite there being radical contingency.

Meillassoux does eschew "scientific" naturalism, yet his (in Watkin's words) appeal to "speculative primo-absolutizing properties" is the sort of appeal that honors a "robust" sense of both science and nature - a move that any metaphysician in the traditions of German idealism or American philosophical naturalism would indeed champion. What I find interesting here is that there are eschatological quasi-theological reasons for this, as much as there are reasons to honor a realist metaphysics that seeks an "outside" without modal necessity, independent of reasons involving a coming-to-be divinity etc. etc..  (see Watkin's paper HERE.)

Blake draws in Kacem's critique (from Kacem's forthcoming book The Meillassoux Effect) where Meillassoux's appeal to mathematics and materialist-rationalist ontology (pace Badiou) is in tension with his challenge to metaphysical necessity.  (see Blake's paper HERE.)

The issue becomes this: what kind of naturalism will Meillassoux create or invoke?

For me this is exciting because I've enjoyed watching what roads of naturalism the likes of Brassier, Grant, and Johnston have all traveled.  Now it is Meillassoux's turn in the sense that his ontology demands a clear statement of how exactly he sees nature, if only to address the tensions found in his simultaneous appeal to contingency and mathematical rationalist materialism in addition to explaining the "naturalness" (i.e. non-transcendental nature) of a possibly appearing future God.