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106 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Work of Contemporary Philosophy
Meillassoux's first book is nothing less than a completely original and meticulously argued philosophical manifesto. Drawing upon the ontology of his teacher, Alain Badiou, Meillassoux aims to prove what was only implicit in Badiou's "Being and Event": the absolute contingency of all being. A writer working largely within the tradition of continental thought--often...
Published on June 24, 2008 by Martin M. Rayburn

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4 of 52 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars the problem with philosophy
This book is a good example of contemporary academic philosophy.

For example, on page 27, the author writes:

"Ultimately then, we must understand that what distinguishes the philosopher from the non-philosopher in this matter [of realism versus transcendentalism] is that only the former is capable of being astonished (in the strong sense) by the...
Published on March 16, 2012 by Lester M. Stacey


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106 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Work of Contemporary Philosophy, June 24, 2008
By 
Meillassoux's first book is nothing less than a completely original and meticulously argued philosophical manifesto. Drawing upon the ontology of his teacher, Alain Badiou, Meillassoux aims to prove what was only implicit in Badiou's "Being and Event": the absolute contingency of all being. A writer working largely within the tradition of continental thought--often decried for its putative obscure prose and shoddy methods of argumentation--Meillassoux (unlike Badiou) never sacrifices clarity, and displays a stunning capacity to take down canonical philosophers with implacable reasoning. Although he will doubtless be exposed to criticism as his argument gains a wider readership, Meillassoux has already, in this slim volume, circumvented the many of the critiques that could be thrown his way.

"After Finitude" targets two principal philosophical opponents: the metaphysician and the correlationist. The prime representative of the metaphysical tradition here is Descartes, whose assertion of the absolute goodness of God allowed him to "prove" the existence of an objective world exterior to the human subject. Although Meillassoux is sympathetic to Descartes' attempt to think the absolute--and takes Descartes' metaphysical presumptions seriously--he also recognizes that the metaphysician's reliance on either the principle of sufficient reason or at least one necessary entity (God, atom, history, etc.) hinders any engagement with unconditional truth.

This repudiation of metaphysical dogmatism not withstanding, Meillassoux's primary adversary is the correlationist (Kant and his disciples fall under this category), who subordinates knowledge of the "great outdoors" to its relation with a human being, a thinking subject, Dasein, etc. The correlationist cannot properly interpret the "ancestral" realm that preceded all forms of life. He either rejects the claims of science altogether or qualifies them by confining their truth-value to the world of the scientist and his instruments. Thus, the correlationist "retrojects" this ancestral past and denies its temporal priority with respect to the human present. Meillassoux's most ambitious project in AF is to break the "correlationist circle" whereby human access to the world is hypostatized at the expense of both world itself and thinking as such. Meillassoux shows that the correlationist must either covertly presuppose a world without humans, or "absolutize the correlation" and hence reinstate the dogmatic position he claims to have eschewed.

So what remains to be thought after correlationism? For Meillassoux, philosophy's objective is to reinvestigate ancient metaphysical problems and find new solutions. Meillassoux takes a large first step here by arguing that contingency alone is necessary. While David Hume had already debunked the notion that one can know the truth of the principle of sufficient reason, he failed to convert this deficit into a positive gain for epistemology. Moreover, Hume smuggled in metaphysical presuppositions about a necessity internal to things themselves even as he claimed that our access is limited by our understanding of probability. (Thus, Hume's skepticism has no answer for the fideist who maintains that things and events may harbor some unfathomable necessity residing beyond the reach of human thought.) Guided by Badiou's use of set theory, Meillassoux argues that Hume's probabilistic reasoning rests upon the dubious assumption that the set of possible outcomes of an event can be totalized. Probability as a metaphysical fact is undermined by Cantor's discovery of "transfinites"--that is, the multiplicity of infinities that cannot be gathered into a single "meta-set." Thus, if probability can no longer be secured, one is forced to concede that contingency, and thus, "hyper-Chaos," constitutes an absolute reality. This omnipotent chaos can produce anything other than a necessary entity or event. Lurking immediately beneath Meillassoux's clean prose (Ray Brassier's translation is superb) and cold logic is a terrifying vision--"something insensible, and capable of destroying both things and worlds, of bringing forth monstrous absurdities, yet also of never doing anything, of realizing every dream, but also every nightmare."

Meillassoux's debut, though a stunning achievement, is not without problems. First, he too readily conflates the registers of pure and applied mathematics and uncritically suggests that all deployments of mathematics have equal purchase on the absolute. For instance, he levels off the distinction between, say, a physicist's use of mathematical equations and his own use of transfinites. Similarly, he does not explore the distinctions within "primary qualities" such as the difference between an object's being-contingent and, for example, its temperature or speed. Furthermore, as Ray Brassier points out in his lengthy critique of Meillassoux (see his book "Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction"), "AF" does not answer the tricky question of thought's ontological status within the world. Brassier poses the following problem. If one argues that the truth of absolute contingency is necessary, one would also have to concede that the thought that generated that truth is necessary--unless, of course, one were a Platonist and believed in the existence of an ideal realm. Hence, Brassier's charge is that Meillassoux either unwittingly confers a necessary existence on the bio-physical contingency, that is, Meillassoux's thought itself; or, he exempts thought from the material world. It will be interesting to see whether Meillassoux renounces his Cartesianism on this point, or finds another way to refute Brassier's critique.

These reservations aside, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. "AF" represents not only a challenge for continental philosophers, but also followers of Wittgenstein who claim that ontology is obsolete because its claims are nonsensical. Proponents of both traditions are bound to be surprised, and possibly horrified, by what they encounter: metaphysics not dispelled but turned inside out: an absolute without absolute entity; a foundational truth without security.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sobering, January 11, 2010
By 
Nin Chan "Nin Chan" (Toronto, ON, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency (Paperback)
Well, I sat up all evening reading this- I had to read various sections twice to make all the connections that the text supplies. I have to say that it is, beyond being a startlingly *original* text, astonishingly *clear*. In fact, it is the most lucid work of philosophy i have read in years, an example of truly 'zero degree writing' (barthes) that privileges exposition over style. Of course, one sometimes misses the lofty lyricism of a Badiou or the deadpan slapstick of a Zizek, but i don't think i have read a text that develops in such a programmatic and rigorous fashion since Spinoza.

I don't really understand the objections toward the text, reservations that concern the 'hype' surrounding it, rather than the content of the book itself. The book is clearly a sort of 'prolegomena' that outlines meillasoux' problematic, rather than an attempt to resolve it (this, i suspect, shall be reserved for his delayed 'L'inexistence Divine', which Badiou refers to in 'Logics of Worlds').

What you DO get here is the formulation of a consummately atheistic thought, one that attempts to consummate a rupture that has been promised since the dawn of modernity- philosophy's irrevocable divorce from the One. This is the most rigorous attempt yet to initiate the 'Death of God', breaking with the disavowed fideism/pietism of post-structuralism. I can't help but feel that meillasoux takes especial issue with the haphazard bricolage of Bataille, Levinas and Kierkegaard that constitutes 'deconstructive' religiosity today, and this can be read alongside Zizek's 'The Puppet and the Dwarf' as an attempt to salvage a (militant) thought of universality and the absolute from mystical obscurantism.

It should be said that Meillasoux is unequivocal on this point: he is a hyper-rationalist who is attempting to free philosophy from its own affectations of modesty, a legacy of self-deprecation that has only served to dissimulate its ressentiment and will to power. In consigning thought to the iron cage of the all-too-human, 'correlationism' is nothing other than the name of thought's prostration, connoting the surrender of its own indomitable sovereignty. By inserting the (thinking/linguistic/intentional/historical/conscious) being-in-the-world into every thought, correlationism effectively forecloses thought's access to the alterity of the world, the 'great outdoors' of non-human/ahistorical reality. Even in its most radical variants (nietzsche, heidegger, foucault), correlationism scarcely breaks with this imperative of mediation and 'co-propriation'.

One of the things that makes Meillasoux' argument so gripping is his insistence that the history of modern philosophy is a story of religious passion. Critical philosophy's endlessly-rehearsed tragedy of finitude and limitation, its plaintive (and, as deleuze would certainly add, characteristically 'french') lamentation for a lost Real that is ever-absent, is an interminable exercise of self-flagellation. The hegemony of the 'for-us', ceaselessly elaborated upon in its various postmodern incarnations, is a cry of destitution. Beneath all of its affirmations of plurality and its 'multiple regimes of truth', its denunciations of eurocentric phallagocentrism, post-structuralism's vehement de-legitimation of every truth claim effectively situates God *outside* the ambit of rationality. In this way, spirituality is safeguarded from the incursions of reason. The invariable consequence of this persistent transfixion with the ineffable One is philosophy's capitulation before every mystical fanaticism. As such, fundamentalism is the shadowy obverse of post-structuralist practice (is this the way in which we should read foucault's delirious escapades in iran?)- in proscribing and prohibiting any positive discourse ON transcendence, critique disguises and represses its insatiable hankering for a shattering jouissance. This paradox, which subordinates thought to the violent absurdity of belief, is unconscionable.

Now, having established the stakes involved in this contextual conjuncture, what sort of intervention does 'After Finitude' attempt to facilitate? Meillasoux' extraordinary book aspires to 'set correlationism upon its head', extracting a material truth from its mystical kernel. What if, he asks, we refuse the negative theology of the critical attitude, substituting its profession of uncertainty for a conviction of certitude? What if this senseless 'void', the halting point for all discursive description, is not a transcendental gap that separates us from some Ultimate Truth, but the Ultimate Truth itself? What if we give this wordless oblivion a POSITIVE VALUE? Lack then becomes an absolute fullness- Chaos is no longer a perjorative but an ontological invariant, the possibilities of which we can hypothesize without the circumscription of the all-too-human imperative of the 'for-us'. There is something of Zizek's 'Parallax View' in this, which articulates the latent truth between the (heretofore insurpassable) dogmatism/correlationism dyad. Starting from this point, we can begin to navigate a way through these polar alternatives while avoiding the pitfalls of either.

Now, some may accuse Meillasoux of being excessively reductive (this being the same choir that harps incessantly about the 'complexity' [or, shall we say, atonicity] of the world), subjecting the entire field of (post)modern philosophy to the Badiouan 'point' of correlationism and realism, but this takes nothing from the power and elegance of his argument, which draws a definitive line between the Copernican Turn and its philosophical betrayal. This book is refreshingly free of aestheticism and obscurantism- it is a work of philosophy that upholds the most stringent standards of argument. There are those, of course, who will continue to regard such standards as being anachronistic, but those of us who have held fast to them can only welcome their rehabilitation.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like watching Houdini escape from a strait jacket..., February 22, 2012
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This review is from: After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency (Paperback)
This is one of the most exciting philosophy books I have read in a long time. Quentin Meillassoux is an exceptionally clear and lucid writer. I have been waiting for a long time for Continental philosophers to finally embrace the virtues of clarity of expression and I think that time is finally coming.

Quentin Meillassoux's primary goal in this work is to escape what he calls the correlationist circle which has dominated modern philosophy since Kant. Quentin Meillasoux is trying to find an outside to thought, or an absolute, and his strategy, as he himself suggests, is similar to Descartes' strategy in the Meditations. Descartes, of course, begins with a self-present cogito and then attempts to find something within that immanent sphere which can secure a certain knowledge of something outside that sphere. Descartes finds the key he needs in the idea of God. Since God is infinite, and since a cause must possess at least as much formal reality as the effect possesses of objective reality (or vice versa, I never could get those terms straight in Descartes), the idea of God cannot have been created by finite minds. Once Descartes has that all he has to do is prove the veracity of God and he can also be certain of external objects and the external world. Descartes has found an escape route from solipsism in the idea of God.

Quentin Meillassoux follows a similar strategy in attempting to find something within the correlationist circle which will provide a means of escape, like the idea of God in Descartes. Quentin Meillassoux finds this escape route in the idea of facticity or what he comes to call factiality. Meillassoux's argument is actually quite subtle and I am not really capable of summarizing it, or doing it justice, in this review. The upshot is that the correlationist has to admit the absoluteness of contingency or facticity. The correlationist has to admit that the possibility to be other-than-it-is, is not merely relative but absolute, otherwise death would become inconceivable. If the possibility of becoming other were merely a possibility for me, and not a possibility in itself, or, an absolute contingency, then I would wind up surviving my own death. Meillassoux argues that any attempt of the correlationist to deny the absoluteness of contingency requires its tacit admission. This short summary is not likely to make much sense to anyone reading this who has not read Meillassoux's book, and is unlikely to convince anyone, but I would like to emphasize again that Meillassoux's argument is quite subtle and powerful once you understand it. It appears strange at first, and, as Meillassoux says, "Philosophy is the invention of strange forms of argumentation" (76). But despite its strangeness, Meillassoux is a very rigorous thinker, so please, whatever you do, do not judge Meillassoux's argument based on my rather feeble attempt to summarize it.

Meillassoux's argument is similar to the old proofs for God, but it has the opposite outcome. Rather than proving that there must be a necessary being Meillassoux's argument winds up proving that everything must be contingent (which explains the subtitle of the book: an essay on the necessity of contingency). Again, Meillassoux's method of argumentation may seem strange at first but his arguments carry a great deal of force once one has managed to penetrate their subtleties.

This proof of the necessity of contingency provides what Meillassoux was looking for: an escape route from correlationism. There must be at least one absolute, namely, facticity or contingency itself. Meillassoux's description of what we see once thought is once again opened to the outside is so strangely beautiful I feel compelled to quote it in full, "If we look through the aperture which we have opened up onto the absolute, what we see there is a rather menacing power - something insensible, and capable of destroying both things and worlds, of bringing forth monstrous absurdities, yet also of never doing anything, of realizing every dream, but also every nightmare, of engendering random and frenetic transformations, or conversely, of producing a universe that remains motionless down to its ultimate recesses, like a cloud bearing the fiercest storms, then the eeriest bright spells, if only for an interval of disquieting calm. We see an omnipotence equal to that of the Cartesian God, and capable of everything, even the inconceivable; but an omnipotence that has become autonomous, without norms, blind, devoid of the other divine perfections, a power with neither goodness nor wisdom, ill-disposed to reassure thought about the veracity of its distinct ideas" (64). Despite the rigorous nature of his arguments Meillassoux also displays, at times, a rare poetic gift.

The last clause of that quote is actually quite important; we have discovered an absolute but one that is "ill-disposed to reassure thought about the veracity of its distinct ideas" (64). Descartes was able to move from God to external reality and the truth of mathematical knowledge because the absolute, God, was conceived as having to be benevolent. There is nothing benevolent about the chaos that Meillassoux discovers as the absolute, and yet, Meillassoux's main goal is to ground scientific and mathematical knowledge. So how do we move from this indeterminate chaos and contingency to the veracity of scientific and mathematical knowledge?

I no longer have space to summarize the intricacies of Meillassoux's arguments, and the fact is Meillassoux does not provide the ultimate answer to this question in this particular book. What Meillassoux does do, in the penultimate chapter on Hume's problem, is provide a counter-argument to one possible objection against his assertion that contingency or chaos is ultimate reality. The argument against chaos as the ultimate nature of the in-itself goes something like this: if chaos were the ultimate nature of reality in-itself the stability of the world, and natural laws, would be so unlikely as to be virtually impossible, but since this stability is an undeniable fact of our world, the falsity of the first premise follows (this is, again, a short summary that does not do justice to the actual argument that Meillassoux is going to critique). Meillassoux's counter-argument works by under-cutting the validity of probabilistic, or what Meillassoux calls aleatory, reasoning in relation to the universe as a whole, as opposed to inner-worldly events like the rolling of dice. What allows the possibility of probabilistic reasoning in regard to an inner-worldly event like the rolling of dice is the totalizability of all possible outcomes. Meillassoux argues that Cantor's notion of the transfinite shows us that totalization is only valid within certain axiomatics and there is no reason to assume that possible worlds can be totalized. If they cannot be totalized then probabilistic reasoning is invalid which allows Meillassoux to claim that the necessity of contingency (or chaos) is not necessarily inconsistent with the stability of natural laws. Meillasoux's arguments here are, again, quite subtle and powerful, not to mention original (although he does draw heavily on Alain Badiou).

An interesting implication of all of this is that mathematics itself provides the grounds for a critique of calculative reasoning, "a gesture altogether more powerful than any external critique of calculation in the name of some supposed superior register of philosophical thought" (103). It is not necessary to oppose mathematical thinking with another, non-mathematical, form of thought, since mathematics itself provides the resources necessary for critiquing the absolute validity of calculative reasoning (obviously Heidegger is the target here).

In the final chapter Meillasoux attempts to explain the Kantian Copernican revolution (which Meillassoux calls a Ptolemaic counter-revolution) as a result of the genuine Copernican revolution in natural science. The final chapter seemed to me to be a program more than a solution. Meillassoux believes that philosophy should be attempting to understand the possibility of what he calls science's dia-chronic statements (dia-chronic because they claim to provide genuine knowledge in regard to events both before and after their manifestation within the correlationist circle of human knowledge). Rather than attempting to explain the possibility of science's dia-chronic statments philosophy has instead, since Kant, devoted itself to relativizing the meaning of dia-chronic statements. Meillassoux rightly points out that, "no correlationism, however insistent its anti-subjectivist rhetoric, is capable of thinking a dia-chronic statement without destroying its veritable meaning" (121). It does not matter if the subject is de-subjectivized as being-in-the-world a la Heidegger, being is still conceived as relative to human beings and this fundamentally changes the nature of science's dia-chronic statements.

Quentin Meillassoux does not provide final answers in this work, but he provides an exciting new starting point for the budding philosopher. All modern Continental philosophy still lies in the shadow of Heidegger to some degree, and that is as true of Meillassoux as it is of anyone, but Meillassoux opens up the possibility of beginning to move beyond that shadow to some degree. If you find that prospect at all interesting or exciting I highly suggest giving Meillassoux a read...
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Foundation of Absolute Contingency, September 3, 2010
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This is creative and thought-provoking philosophy at its best. Meillassoux is an innovative thinker on a mission. His goal is to re-establish a secure foundation for our scientific knowledge, lacking in modern philosophy, without returning to an outmoded metaphysics of the past. The key for him will be taking the notion of contingency to the limit. If there is truly no reason for anything (including physical laws), then, rather than seeing this as a limitation, we should embrace this as the one positive absolute truth on which we can build our foundation.

Meillassoux is a French philosopher; the English translation is provided by Ray Brassier. In some ways, his writing betrays a bit of what I think of as "continental style" - including some tendency toward the grandiose, and an unfortunate penchant for creating new terms. However, the content transcends any intra-academic boundaries - he is dealing with big philosophical questions of perennial interest. His take on the central notions of contingency and necessity was the best part of the book for me.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear, Bold, Provocative, June 15, 2009
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There is no questioning that Continental philosophy is derided for a supposed obscurantist quality--mostly by Analytic philosophers, but also other forms of lazy minded people. French thinkers in particular suffer from this reputation. Deleuze and Guattari come to mind, but so to does Lyotard, Baudrillard, Lacan and Derrida. In my time studying philosophy, I have found that this reputation is mostly wrong, although I do admit that some of the French style of writing (if such a thing exists) is hard for Anglophone speaking people to grasp. But there seems to be a strong and fundamental shift in the role French thought plays in today's scene, and it has as much to do with thought as it has to do with style. As far as I see, it starts with Badiou's strong clear style, though difficult, writing. Meillassoux fits within this strain. So, if you are interested in contemporary philosophy but have been scared off from French thought in the past, I ask that you pick this book up, as I think it demonstrates the kind of excitement that is happening right now in Continental philosophy. I will say that it is not easy reading--it takes a little elbow grease--but I assure you it is difficult because the subject matter demands some intricate linguistic twists and turns, not from some self-congratulatory excercise of language play.

I will not however make the more farreaching claim that the Continental/Analytic divide is being bridged, as I can imagine that an Analytic philosopher would still object to its style. (Indeed, it seems that the divide in philosophy is destined to the divide in breakfast foods. As one can see the merits in eating both a Continental and English breakfast without reconciling them into one buffet, I think we are destined to appreciate both Continental and Analytic approaches to philosophy without wasting our time trying to set them up in a buffet.)

The occassion of After Finitude is as elegant as it is fascinating. When it comes to ascribing the origins of attributes, we have come to accept that they neither derive solely from the object itself nor from the subject's mind itself, but rather, from the subject-object relation--or correlation. But turn on any show on Disovery or National Geogarphic on the universe and you will learn that scientists are now able to use math to describe phenomena, such as, the beginning of the universe, that is anterior to any kind of consciousness as such. The statements of these scientists are called ancestral. And Meillassoux is asking: a) what is the status of such statements; and b) what does this mean for correlationalism?

The subtitle of the book refers to its solution. Whenever correlationists reach an impasse in thought, they claim that it is a result of our fundamental finitude and that we cannot know ultimately what lies on the other side of thought. Meillassoux attempts to break with this correlational answer by suggesting that the impasse is a statement that describes the otherside of thought thus making it ancestral in its form. Instead of seeing fundamental impasses as a result of the ignorance that defines our finite minds, he sees it as (ancestral) knowledge of the absolute itself. In other words, the Absolute is contingency itself.

I have a question that is actually quite naive. Let us use scientists' use of math to describe the beginning of the universe as the example. If correlationism locates an attribute in the interaction of subject and object, then how does ancestral math break from this? Yes, Meillassoux is correct to observe that the object existed anterior to any subject at all. But the math did not. The math exists as an invention of the subject. So, could it not be said that math is STILL correlational in that it ascribes an attribute (e.g., the age of the universe) within a correlation (e.g., math or indeed language) that exists between the subject (e.g., the scientists) and the object (e.g., the beginning of the universe)? It seems that if something is to completely break from correlational thought, it must be autonomous of both the object and the subject. But isn't it true that the moment a subject devises some way of saying something about an object, even if that object preexisted any subject, isn't it already correlational?

To ask this a different way: What is the FORMAL difference between a mathematical proof about the beginning of the universe and the Biblical phrase "In the beginning was the Word"? It seems that Hegel would say that math is a more developed form of religious statements but that they are fundamentally the same, formally speaking. Math is more determinate, but that does not mean it is different. I am not sure Meillassoux provides a more convincing response. (This really is a question, so if someone can chime it, I would appreciate it.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the Most Original Works of the Century, May 11, 2012
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This review is from: After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency (Paperback)
Keeping in mind that, in general, I disagree with much of what Meillassoux says, I found this work to be among the most creative works written in the past hundred years. Be cautioned: I think his arguments get stronger as he goes, so stick with the work, before passing judgment too early on. In this work, one sees the emergence of many, many influences from within the recent past of Continental philosophy, but Meillassoux does something more than just present a synthesis; he presents intriguing arguments, which serve as glue, creating a fairly coherent whole. Even in disagreeing with much of this work's points, I cannot deny the strength of many of his claims, and the totality is a virtual work of art. I cannot express how much I enjoyed engaging with this work, reading it, and thinking about it. It is conceivable that this work could set into motion the next great philosophical revolution.

One of the major successes of this work is that creates an alternative to Kantian thought. Before having read this, my impression was that someone would come along, and synthesize rationalism and empiricism in a different way, so as to present an alternative that is totally external to the Kantian paradigm. That is not what Meillassoux does in this work (and this is one of the creative aspects of the work). Instead, he illustrates Kantian failures by going outside of all Kantian philosophy and demonstrating, through meta-diagraming, that what all Kantians and post-Kantian (even those who claim to be anti-Kantian) have done is buy in to "correlationism," a much needed neologism. Moreover, the correlationist thinking, Meillassoux claims, is what ensures that the absolute seems unobtainable.

My only complaint about the book is that Ray Brassier translated it. I think Meillassoux should have tried translating it. My problem with Brassier translating it is that Brassier --as brilliant as he is-- talks and writes like a scatterbrained individual, which makes this work somewhat difficult to read. When work is already a challenging enough a read, I don't think Brassier should be the guy translating it.

Overall, I can't recommend this book more. It will stand as one of the major modern contributions to philosophy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wondering About the Possible, March 3, 2013
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This review is from: After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency (Paperback)
The best review I can give a philosophy book is that it ripped a few of my assumptions about the universe to shreds - and I enjoyed every second of it. Even if one doesn't accept every conclusion in Quentin Meillassoux's After Finitude, the beauty of his arguments still stand out as a remarkable achievement in a time when philosophy feels a bit tapped out in the originality department.

Meillassoux performs the seemingly impossible task of resurrecting the stance of science and the absolute in philosophy while inaugurating a new brand of "unreason." In the process he bridges a divide that seems to confront us every day: that is, the contrast between the naive realism we take for granted in our daily lives and the nagging feeling that we really don't know s*** (excuse my French).

Like many of the 20th century philosophers Meillassoux confronts in After Finitude, I've tended to side with those who assume absolute knowledge is out of our reach as humans, or at least, that Hume's problem of induction pretty much killed any pretension we had about a completed science. And while those problems still loom, I have to admit After Finitude did open up a new avenue for thinking those issues. Sure, Meillassoux does pepper his essay with the requisite neologisms, but I found most of them to be useful additions to his argument.

Does it get a bit wild when he replaces god with something called "Hyper-chaos"? Yeah, but that's part of the fun.

Who knows, by the end you might just find yourself convinced.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Answer is in the P=NP Conundrum, February 5, 2013
This review is from: After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency (Paperback)
Thanks to all the reviewers for their wonderful insights! THESE REVIEWS AND COMMENTS ARE AS GOOD AS THE BOOK ITSELF! I recommend you read all the comments to the reviews here-- they are just awesome.

The issue of "math" in object oriented ontology is a sticky one, not just because math itself can fit the Platonic ideal forms-- forever beyond human comprehension, but because it equally fits human neural dynamic systems as the "creation" of the ever changing interaction not only of particles, but ideas, in Continental and OOO models.

Some ooo writers consider the brain a sense organ, much like hearing, that "perceives" ideas instead of sound. None of these semantics get us beyond the HUMILITY needed to understand that the computational complexity of "seeing" math as either ideal form or human object is beyond the reach of temporal calculation, like the cartoon character trying to imagine the cartoonist-- outside the box in math forms can mean "outside" the 11 dimensions we're trying to visualize (and if we can't, does the math become an ideal form? Yes if you believe that ideas are only valid if they cannot be visualized, no if your boundary value for ideation is more open)-- in string or membrane theory!

The reviewer who sees AF as not resolving math equations vs. "let there be light" or other patterns has an excellent point not resolved in AF-- the unresolvable P=NP question of creation vs. discovery in math "proofs"-- all of which can be "reverse engineering" intelligent design OR the Darwinian search for energy by the dynamic systems of our neural molecules competing for dominance, including in the realm of "ideation." The reality of being able to see that there IS a solution while concurrently knowing it would take infinite "time" to reach it is the mystery of P=NP that suggests there is far more to the human reality than a sum of neurons.

AF is a true exercise in genius, and will expand your intelligence regardless of your viewpoint, just in the clarity of its arguments, whether you agree with the materialistic bent of many Continental approaches or not. If you loved it, I'd also recommend a REALLY hidden gem: Philosophies of Nature after Schelling (Transversals: New Directions in Philosophy)-- guaranteed to balance AF with many additional novel viewpoints, and several novel answers to the math vs. object issue. Schelling also expands OOO with new metaphysical possibilities that do not rule out "ultimate objects" in the sense of transcendentals. Like Gauss, he'll be read for many decades to come, and is an excellent counter and supplement to AF.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Work, May 23, 2010
By 
Steiner (Philadelphia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency (Paperback)
Quentin Meillassoux has effectively established himself as the most prominent of Badiou's students, and this brief text is an excellent attempt to outline his philosophical project. Meillassoux takes on the problem of 'correlationism,' and draws heavily on the problematics of Kantian critical philosophy. In a series of brilliant epistemological moves, Meillassoux tries to reintroduce an absolute-namely, the absolute necessity of all contingency. Additionally, he locates mathematics as the future space to all future knowledge which does not include the traditional problems of correlationism. Aside from a few sections which move too quickly-in particular the discussion of fideism-Meillassoux has constructed an important contribution to speculative thought.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, August 17, 2013
this is an amazing work with broad implications for, quite arguably, every field of study. as someone interested in the problems of political philosophy/ social theory, i find this work indispensable.
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After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency
After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency by Quentin Meillassoux (Paperback - January 5, 2010)
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