November 18th, 2010

S.C. Hickman

Speculative Realism and the Poshumanist Dilemma

"...is there a principle of intelligibility encoded in physical reality?"
           - Ray Brassier

Ray Brassier, along with Quentin Meillassoux, Graham Harman, and Iain Hamilton Grant, is one of the foremost philosophers of contemporary Speculative Realism. He is a member of the Philosophy faculty at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. He was formerly Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Middlesex University, London, England. He is the author of Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction and the translator of Alain Badiou's Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism and Theoretical Writings and Quentin Meillassoux's After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency.

Speculative realism is an emerging movement in contemporary philosophy which defines itself loosely in its stance of metaphysical realism against the dominant forms of post-Kantian philosophy or what it terms correlationism. In After Finitude, Meillassoux defines correlationism as "the idea according to which we only ever have access to the correlation between thinking and being, and never to either term considered apart from the other."[1] Philosophies of access are any of those philosophies which privilege the human being over other entities. Both ideas represent forms of anthropocentrism.

Since this essay deals specifically with the work of Brassier we will allude to his basic thematics as following the philosophical tradition of Alain Badiou, François Laruelle, Paul Churchland, and Thomas Metzinger in defending a view of the world as inherently devoid of meaning. The foundational premise of his philosophical outlook is that reality is to be found within embracing nihilism; that the universe is founded on nothing,[3] but also that philosophy is the "organon of extinction," and that it is only because life is conditioned by its own extinction that there is thought at all.[4] 

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