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According to philosopher, Quentin Meillassoux: “what is mathematically conceivable is absolutely possible” Meillassoux (2008, p126) What might this statement imply for contemporary culture?

Meillassoux proposes mathematics as the key to the absolute in his essay, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency. Whilst there is much discussion in philosophical circles about Meillassoux’s ideas, there has been limited cultural response so far. It is early days and difficult to assess the impact of Meillassoux’s proposals. Meillassoux’s work privileges mathematics and science but his proposal also contains difficult implications for the sciences.
Contemporary culture is examined through the work of curator Nicolas Bourriaud and artist Charles Avery. ‘Back to the Great Outdoors’ was one cultural response to Meillassoux’s work. Avery began his Island project in 2004, pre-dating After Finitude’s original French publication in 2006.
Bourriaud says Postmodernism is dead and Meillassoux’s work also implies this. We are moving into a new era but Meillassoux’s ideas will make it more difficult to avoid a return to C20th Modernism. The narrative structure and spatio-temporality of Avery’s Island contains hints of C20th Modernism.

Meillassoux’s essay is titled, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency and was published in English in 2008. To clarify the meaning of the title, Finitude means the finite, necessity means absolutely requisite and contingency means that something might happen or nothing at all – physical laws remain indifferent as to whether an event happens or not. In a positive move for the sciences Meillassoux states that “what is mathematically conceivable is absolutely possible” Meillassoux (2008, p126). However, Meillassoux’s words might be viewed more negatively by the non-scientific community as Meillassoux privileges mathematics as the key to the absolute. Meillassoux’s essay can be read in many different ways but his fundamental question is the nature of reality and also of truth.
Although Meillassoux’s work might be taken as science versus the humanities, this essay will demonstrate that Meillassoux’s proposition is not as simple for science as it might appear. Speculative Realism is examined, especially the work of Ray Brassier, in order to broaden the context of Meillassoux’s ideas. Writings and interviews with Alain Badiou, Meillassoux’s teacher, are also considered.
Meillassoux’s return to the absolute via mathematics “contests Postmodernisms’ de-absolutization of thought with its implied de-universalization.” Riera, (2008) Perhaps Modernism is returning? Where does this leave art? Several philosophers interpret Speculative Realist Philosophies as the end of philosophy. Is “Science – the New Art?” asks Sian Ede in her book Art and Science. Although artists often reference science, art engages human emotion and foibles which have no place in science. The implications of Meillassoux’s work for contemporary culture seem to be unclear as yet. If the world has just become more meaningless due to Meillassoux’s propositions then the arts and the need for art just became more vital and meaningful.

The Absolute Real Truth
(For definitions please see appendix)
Meillassoux’s essay is primarily, “a discourse of the limits of thought” Meillassoux (2008, p109). Meillassoux questions our understanding of the nature of reality then takes this statement further by stating “the absoluteness of that which is mathematizable means: the possibility of factial existence outside thought – and not: the necessity of existence outside thought.” Meillassoux (2008, p117)
Our understanding of the nature of reality is one of human beings most fundamental questions, a question which has probably been asked since humans first had consciousness and the answer to which has changed over time. It is a continually changing foundation upon which we build our society and lives. Embedded in this question are further questions such as what is truth and where does the truth lie?
Questions about truth are a source of much human conflict and disagreement. American historian Bruce Bartlett, who was a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, summarises the nature of the conflict as
“Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.” Suskind (2004)

Meillassoux considers the nature of reality to be particularly important because, although his work is not overtly political, he does appear have an agenda. Meillassoux says that thought becomes defenceless against fanaticism when dogmatism is refuted. “against the reasoned violence of various fanaticisms, it is important that we re-discover in thought a modicum of absoluteness.” Meillassoux (2008, p49)
Meillassoux is a Speculative Realist philosopher, originally a term of convenience, Speculative Realism has revived the long running philosophical question about whether humans are able to access the ‘thing in itself’ (reality) or, whether, according to correlationists, we have no access to absolute reality and are only ever able to apprehend reality through what is given to thought and never with an entity subsisting by itself (‘thing in itself’). Meillassoux refutes Kant’s’ stance that the ‘thing in itself’ is unknowable. Correlationism and especially phenomenology (see appendix)
are Meillassoux’s main focus for criticism. Correlationists subscribe to the idea that “we only ever have access to the correlation between thinking and being, and never to either term considered apart from the other.” Meillassoux (2008, p5)
Using philosophical reasoning, perceptible phenomena and scientific ideas Meillassoux argues for thought’s absolutizing scope to be rediscovered. Chaos is cited as a necessity in Meillassoux’s explanations of non-reason but is restrained by Cantor’s Set theory. Restraint by Cantors Set theory gives rise to the experiential stability of the laws of nature which make empirical science possible. Meillassoux’s hypothesis is that the stability of the laws of nature are derived from a property of temporality that is itself absolute, its indifference to our existence being the non-totalizability of its possibilities according to set theory. Mathematics is constrained therefore what is absolutely possible must also be constrained.

Meillassoux’s conclusion, based on the evidence of the arche-fossil, is that absolute reality has the potential to exist and we are able to access this reality via mathematics. Some of this reality is perceivable by scientific means but, although reality may be absolutely possible, it is also contingent. The imaginable is absolutely possible if it is mathematically conceivable, i.e. fiction might be real if the fictional complies with the mathematically conceivable condition but thinking something per se does not make it real.
Meillassoux is criticised by Philosopher of Physics and Science, Gabriel Catren, in his essay, A Throw of the Quantum Dice Will Never Abolish the Copernican Revolution. Catren takes issue with Meillassoux’s drawing of connections between correlationists and creationists. Catren says this is emotive and also criticizes “Meillassoux’s polemics against physics, as that science that wants to talk about the non-existent laws of nature” stellar cartographies (2009) and even rejects Meillassoux’s view of how science works. The problem is evident: “All science is either physics or stamp collecting.” Rutherford (1909, cited in stellar cartographies, 2009) “According to Meillassoux we must accept that even physics is mere (mathematised) stamp collecting.” Catren (2009, cited in stellar cartographies, 2009)
If mathematics is absolute, is it then revisable? All science is always revisable as more information is discovered. Mathematics must also be revisable or mathematical thinking would never progress – can it therefore be said to be absolute? Probably, yes, in that moment but speculatively. Mathematicians and scientists can also make mistakes which sooner or later may be amended. Science is a linear accumulation of information which makes paradigm shifts when new important information is discovered or a new understanding of a theory is reached. Some theories, discovered in one discipline, have multidisciplinary applications; scientific knowledge often has a web like structure.
Another Speculative Realist Philosopher, who draws on Meillassoux’s work, is Ray Brassier (Brassier translated After Finitude from French to English). Brassier’s area of philosophical interest is how does human experience fit into the world described by science? Brassier discusses this subject is in his book Nihil Unbound, published in 2007 and references and discusses Meillassoux’s work extensively. Bram Ieven conducted and interview with Brassier in 2010 to accompany the Dutch translation of Ray Brassier’s essay ‘Genre is Obsolete’. Brassier sees science as a positive activity important for the discovery of reality and truth. “the point is not just that science enriches and amplifies our understanding of reality, but that it uncovers the truth.” Brassier (2010)
Meillassoux privileges mathematics and some of the sciences, objectivity over subjectivity. Speculative Realist discourses embrace science in pursuit of their assertions. Science deals with universal knowledge therefore, also with universal truth based on verifiable facts. Speculative Realist Ray Brassier states definitively: “if correlationism is true, science’s ancestral claims are false; if the latter are true, correlationism is false.” Brassier (2007, scribd p78 Section, 3.3 Two Regimes of Sense last paragraph, actual page number 63).
When Brassier and Meillassoux both use the word truth – do they mean absolute truth? Where does the absolute truth lie? truth and absolute do not seem to equate. Truth is a relative term absolute is not (see appendix for definitions). Science pursues the absolute and therefore the absolute truth. The absolute and therefore the absolute truth are what Meillassoux seeks. If Meillassoux’s deductions are correct and mathematics is the absolute truth then mathematics must also be a common denominator (common denominator = an attribute that is common to all members of a category – Collins English Dictionary) and therefore universal. The relevant category being, everything that is absolutely possible because it is mathematically conceivable even if contingency says that it may or may not exist. By this token contingency has also become a ‘universal’. Can you use mathematics/science to prove that mathematics gives access to absolute truth? This could be a problem that undermines Meillassoux’s logic in some way. Mathematics must be elevated to a special category in the first place. Catren identifies this problem in his critique of After Finitude.
The idea of ‘otherness’ is present in Meillassoux’s writings as reality is acknowledged to exist even when humans do not. Indexing this ‘otherness’ is the arche-fossil. Our encounter with this otherness is temporal. “The arche-fossil gives itself as anterior to giveness” Meillassoux (2008, p14) Dia-chronicity is the name that Meillassoux gives to this temporal discrepancy.
Alain Badiou’s Theory of the “Event” describes this experience, as a rupture in being through which the subject finds realization and reconciliation with the truth (this succinct summary is from Wikipedia). Encountering the arche-fossil, human life is put sharply into perspective due to a rupture with the idealist tradition, according to Badiou. Woodard (2009)
Meillassoux writes about the event in After Finitude,
that the most powerful conception of the incalculable and unpredictable event is provided by a thinking that continues to be mathematical – rather than one which is artistic, poetic or religious. Meillassoux (2008, p108)

The logic of this statement is difficult and paradoxical. The thinking may be mathematical but surely if you cannot calculate it – it cannot be mathematically conceivable? In a rather strange and poetic manner Meillassoux continues, “It is by way of mathematics that we will finally succeed in thinking that which, through its power and beauty, vanquishes quantities and sounds the end of play.” Meillassoux (2008, p108)
Ben Woodard, student at the European Graduate School managed to arrange a question and answer session with Badiou in which Badiou highlights the lack of the theory of event in Speculative Realism. “They need a vision of the becoming of the world which is lacking but it can be realist in a sense but as of yet they do not say what we need to do.” Badiou (2009 cited in Woodard, 2009) Badiou criticizes Meillassoux saying that “the future decides the future and perhaps the dead will make the final judgment.” Badiou (2009 cited in Woodard, 2009) Badiou construes this as a political weakness and asks “how is the Real of the present deployed for the future?” Badiou (2009 cited in Woodard, 2009).

Contemporary culture in the visual arts
Contemporary culture is examined through the work of curator Nicholas Bourriaud and contemporary artist Charles Avery. In 2009 The Tate Triennial, titled Altermodern, was held at Tate Britain. The Altermodern Manifesto Postmodernism is Dead introduces the rationale for the exhibition:
The Tate Triennial 2009 at Tate Britain presents a collective discussion around the premise that postmodernism is coming to an end, and we are experiencing the emergence of a global ‘altermodernity’. Tate Britain (2009)

Nicolas Bourriaud, Gulbenkian Curator of Contemporary Art at Tate Britain was the curator of Altermodern. Bourriaud coined the term Altermodern to title the exhibition which has its roots in the idea of ‘otherness’, Bourriaud, (2009a). Bourriaud is exploring ideas about cultural production, taking globalization as his starting point. Bourriaud is looking to the future, beyond postmodernism which he views as “only a negative idea, vague and full of contradictions.” Bourriaud, (2009c). Bourriaud says that we need diversity to replace western centred, Modernist universalism.

Bourriaud also has concerns about fundamentalist interests and capitalism:
How do we live in this world that we are told is becoming ‘global’, but which seems to be buttressed on particular interests or tensed behind the barricades of fundamentalism – when not upholding icons of mass culture as role models? Bourriaud, (2009a p13,scribd)

Bourriaud is saying that icons of mass culture should be promoted above people’s fundamental belief systems. But icons of mass culture are completely subjective and very few if any are truly global therefore this idea seems to be utopian. Talking about cultural identity, Bourraiud regards this as fiction derived from history. Much art of the present offers “an ensemble of forms that cast doubt on every story: what you call reality is merely a scenario.” Bourriaud, (2009c).

Meillassoux and Bourriaud are both critical of postmodernism and Meillassoux’s proposal about the absolute and absolute truth seems to be in direct conflict with, American Theologian, Stanley Grenz’s statement:

[Postmodernism] affirms that whatever we accept as truth and even the way we envision truth are dependent on the community in which we participate . . . There is no absolute truth: rather truth is relative to the community in which we participate. Grenz, (1995 cited by Gueras, undated)
Grenz’s statement seems to be applicable to sociological discourse not to the question of the nature of absolute reality.
Echoing Simon Critchley’s review of After Finitude, titled Back to the Great Outdoors (Critchley, 2009), cultural theorist Mark Fisher writing for Frieze Magazine says that Meillassoux’s essay has allowed Speculative Realists to leap over the threshold to the ‘Great Outdoors’. Back to the Great Outdoors implies looking outwards instead of inwards, looking beyond oneself and ones own mind. Fisher concludes his article on Speculative Realism questioning what role Speculative Realism might play in a new anti-capitalism. Fisher (2009). The Speculative Realists Philosophers reposition human life as not being at the centre of existence, and therefore not necessary to existence itself

Charles Avery
In an ongoing project, started in 2004, Avery uses drawing, texts, sculptures and a photograph, to describe a fictional island, named the Island, its inhabitants, geography, natural history and myths. Avery works with philosophical ideas using fiction as a vehicle. Avery “reinvents the figure of the explorer but in the immobile world of human thought”. de Weck Ardalan (2008, p152)
Avery’s Island is located at the apex of an archipelago. The Island, whilst being a spatially definite, is peculiarly ahistoric. The large drawing, shown recently at ‘Onomatopoeia Part 2: The Port’ at Pilar Corrias gallery, was dominated by a ship and a building which gave the image a 20th century, colonial ‘feel’.

Avery’s texts are written in first person using the past tense, from the position of an observer, with a wry sense of humour and will eventually comprise a multivolume guide to the Island and archipelago.
When asked by curator, Tom Morton “do the events you depict happening on the Island occur simultaneously, or is there a temporal progression?” Avery replies “There is no narrative progression to the project beyond the introduction, although there is narrative in the form of myth, but these stories are isolate.” de Weck Ardalan (2008, p161). Avery’s drawings are considered by Bourriaud to be ‘post-medium’, because they lack stylistic evolution therefore history does not run its course on the Island. However when discussing how the fiction gives the drawings a formal presence, Bourriaud says that the objects (sculptures) are considered to be important too as they add to the original narrative that gives them meaning.

Although Avery professes not to subscribe to the idea of linear time and three-dimensional space he says that his assistant uses Lightwave softwear to create a physical 3-D map of the Island. It is important to Avery that his Island has spatial coherence. Writing about Avery’s text Bourriaud says “The story is told like a log book”, de Weck Ardalan (2008, p162). Log books are a testament to linear time par excellence, one item follows the next in a strict linear sequence. Averys’ move from digital map making to material objects also introduces the concept of space-time to his work. Bourriaud also discusses space-time which he views as a Möbius Loop, an impossible non-orientable 3-D object comprising a surface and only one boundary component. Bourriaud, (2009a p13,scribd), Whilst appearing to be impossible Möbius Loop’s can be mathematically described.
Avery was one of Bourriaud’s Tate Triennial, Altermodern artists. Nicholas Bourriaud asked Avery why he defines himself as an artist through the figure of the explorer.
Avery replied:
I decided that the ideal of the artist is shared with anyone engaged in the pursuit of truth: scientists, philosophers, mathematicians, explorers…. Such an individual may believe ultimate truth to be unattainable, nevertheless, if they believe there is a right way and a wrong way to go about their particular enquiry, to achieve that sense of purpose, they must uphold the existence of that ultimate destination, however transcendent. Avery (cited in Bourriaud 2009a, p50-51)
This reply seems to privilege everybody scientists, philosophers, mathematicians, and explorers regardless of their methodologies. It seems to be a ‘sitting on the fence’ position or a connected to everybody and everything idea, like the World Wide Web. Avery seems to be saying that the journey is more important than the destination; the destination must be believed to exist even though it might not even exist.
Avery’s reply to Bourriaud’s question is not quite as straightforward as it seems because the answer depends on the identity of the narrator. Just because Avery uses the first person in his text can we assume that he is the narrator? When Bourriaud questioned Avery about this relationship Avery’s answer embodied a philosophical paradox “the Island I have created represents everything” de Weck Ardalan (2008, p156) so who or what is the narrator? By being so elusive and evasive, Avery is hedging his bets. Curator Chris Fite-Wassilak, writing for Frieze magazine, thinks that philosophers are the elite of the Island because a trio of Island philosophers deem Mr Impossible to be a god. “The role of philosophy as status-giver in Avery’s project is telling.” Fite-Wassilak (2008).
There is space for everything in Avery’s’ world but only space for mathematical absolutes in Meillassoux’s world, Avery’s world is chaotic, conflicted and unresolved. Avery’s answer to this conflict seems to be to create your own world where it doesn’t matter. In an interview, Avery says that “inventing the Island enabled him to spatialize certain philosophical problems which had remained stubbornly unsolvable by logical means.” Krcma (2009). Avery’s Island project highlights many areas of philosophical contention but does not solve any philosophical problems. Avery does not appear to share Meillassoux’s quest for the rediscovery of thought’s absolutising scope. Avery asks questions and Meillassoux tries to supply answers. The Islanders definitely do not share Meillassoux’s ideas. They say “objectivity is seen as weak-minded and not philosophical.” de Weck Ardalan (2008, p107)
Avery’s Island “could be interpreted as a philosophical meditation on art-making and the impossibility of finding ‘truth’”. de Weck Ardalan (2008, p145) The Island is neither an argument nor a proposition, it just seems to be a description but within the description there are some suggestions of a position but this is undermined by the question of the identity of the narrator. Avery claims no moral message but does say he has “perhaps a slight reaction to patronising, sententious liberalism.” de Weck Ardalan (2008, p160) As for politics, Avery says “There will be government buildings described, although they will be occluded, as is my general understanding of politics.” de Weck Ardalan (2008, p163) Can you plan a project like the Island without looking to its future development? Who will clear the rubbish and sweep the streets? Although spatially coherent it is chaos on that Island!
Other worlds are perfectly possible according to Meillassoux. Avery’s Island is not mathematically conceivable because humans and human concerns occupy the Island. The Island is a fictional place, a non-place in no particular time but with embedded mini-narratives and according to Bourriaud, an overall narrative. Avery’s Island is not ‘Back to the Great Outdoors’, but a fiction that emanated from Avery’s imagination. The ‘truth’ in Avery’s work is that of the paradoxical nature of human systems of knowledge and philosophical conundrums.
Bourriaud states in his book, The Radicant, that “fiction is not just imaginary”. Bourriaud (2009b, p100) and later says that Pierre Huyghe insists that “fiction is a means of capturing the real” Bourriaud (2009b, p107) When questioned by George Baker (art critic and Associate Professor of Art History at UCLA) about reality Huyghe compares television documentaries with their false subjective of one point of view “with multiple points of view of Pasolini’s musing about the possible film of Kennedy’s death” Baker (2004, p105) Pasolini’s reality is based on multiple perspectives. Avery’s multitude of Island character’s and their stories provides a multitude of different perspectives. But Pasolini’s and Avery’s ‘different perspectives’ are both supplied by the individual artist’s mind.
Avery’s Island world mirrors our world in a fictional way. It could not be described as a utopia because it is not an ideal place. “Charles Avery’s Island constitutes a kind of heteropia” de Weck Ardalan (2008, p152). Bourriaud calls our epoch one of space and says that the Island seeks to spatialise time which is reminiscent of space-time. The “underlying narrative that gives the Island its texture” de Weck Ardalan (2008, p152) also indexes linear space-time. History is inferred by “an artist-narrator, of a civilisation which has preceded him.” de Weck Ardalan (2008, p152) The Island “functions as a fictional space for ideas” Foucault (1967) Dia-chronicity deals with temporal discrepancies that are difficult/impossible to imagine, referencing a time before human consciousness existed. Avery’s Island deals with paradoxes and conundrums but there is no sense of Meillassoux’s problem of dia-chronicity on the Island.

After Finitude is Meillassoux’s first published book and his essay formulates questions about the meaning of reality but does not to fully resolve any answers. Meillassoux is looking for a way out of the correlationist cul de sac and this work is an initial thesis on the problem. There is much discussion on the internet about Meillassoux’s proposals and Speculative Realism in general, but it can be difficult to ascertain the authenticity of information. Maybe Meillassoux has arrived at a satisfactory place regarding mathematical absolutes, but there is much controversy about his reasoning, the details of his proposition and his conclusion.
Mathematics as the key to the absolute has far reaching implications. Mathematics as absolute truth has moral overtones and this creates a hierarchy of truths. Absolute truth must be the pinnacle, the ‘best sort of truth’ because it is absolute regardless of human individuality. How can a turf war be avoided, so this proposition does not become a moral issue, my truth is better than your truth? Contingency does not negate the moral overtones and contingency could be a cop-out. Contingency says that something might happen or nothing at all, instead of a dogmatic, this must happen. Contingency only suggests possibilities.
Science and humanities have been schismed since the Enlightenment as Meillassoux’s essay acknowledges, “the divorce between sciences Copernicanism and philosophy’s Ptolemaism has become abyssal, regardless of all those denials that serve only to perpetuate this schism”. Meillassoux (2008, p128). Meillassoux’s empowerment of mathematics implies mathematical hegemony and will probably make any reconciliation between Copernicanism and Ptolemaism less likely. Writing about After Finitude on the slashseconds website Mike Watson, a PHD student at Goldsmiths, makes an inflammatory statement saying that “Art exists under the threat of its opposite – Scientist Nihilism.” Watson (2009). This is a simplistic statement that makes it sound as if all science is nihilistic and threatening. Ray Brassier would disagree with Watson’s statement, Brassier’s message is more positive,
“Nihilism is not an existential quandary but a speculative opportunity. Thinking has interests that do not coincide with those of living; indeed they can and have been pitted against the latter.” Brassier (2007, preface xi)

In privileging mathematics as the key to the absolute, mathematical science must be similarly privileged over the observational sciences. Science therefore becomes, hierarchical. Mathematics becomes the ultimate science, followed by, physics, cosmology and astronomy the more mathematical of the sciences, then chemistry which is largely experimental and observational followed by geology and the life sciences. The less mathematical sciences such as geology and life sciences that are largely based on observation, logical deduction, experimentation and statistics may not count as science at all. Geology and cosmology, the sciences which study the age of the arche-fossil, are not purely mathematical so this could be a problem. Social sciences cannot be construed as science as their datasets are subjective due to the subjective nature of non-scientific language.
Meillassoux and Bourriaud both challenge the status quo and both criticise postmodernism, although in Meillassoux’s work the challenge is implicit. As a critique of postmodernism Meillassoux’s essay is very effective, ‘There is no absolute truth’ Grenz, (1995 cited by Gueras, undated). Meillassoux’s work challenges Grenz’s statement directly and says it is wrong. Bourriaud questions the multiculturist version of cultural diversity and says that he is not in favour of a “systematic universalism or a new modernist Esperanto” Bourriaud (2009b, back). Bourriaud’s proposal for the task of contemporary art is to “free the forms from their identity function.” Bourriaud (2009c), which sounds like a type of abstraction.
Meillassoux is looking for a philosophical way forward and Bourriaud offers a vision of the future “based on generalized translation, the form of wandering, an ethics of precariousness, and a heterochronic vision of history” Bourriaud (2009b, back). Bourriaud’s future is unlikely to be possible in Meillassoux’s ordered mathematical world. Avery’s heterotopic Island cannot exist in Meillassoux’s world either. Avery’s Island cannot be part of Bourriauds’ future if Western philosophy is signified as being elite because the forms have not been freed from their identity function. Avery’s narrator is therefore not truly a radicant.
Mathematics can transcend cultural roots, in a way that language cannot and the human mind is able to translate abstract mathematics into the tangible. It seems that some sort of universality is completely unavoidable for Meillassoux’s ideas to make any sense at all. Art and the humanities are not discussed by Meillassoux but Brassier has very strong views. Brassier regards our ‘values’ and ‘meanings’ as meaningless in the realist world of a mind-independent reality. Philosophy is already extinct in Brassier’s world view and arts are meaningless too. “art is given short thrift (sic) by Brassier and Meillassoux, so it is left for the artist to decide.” Watson (2009).
Meillassoux looks to the distant past ‘retrojection’ and considers the meaning of the ancient arche-fossil in the present whilst Bourriaud, proposes that history is set to zero. Setting history to zero is reminiscent of The Futurist’s Manifesto; ‘We want no part of it, the past,’ Marinetti F.(1909 cited in Bolton, undated) “Science reveals a time that not only does not need conscious time but that allows the latter to arise at a determinate point in its own flux.” Meillassoux (2008, p22) The use of the word flux implies time is seen as linear by Meillassoux.
Temporality is the key idea in Meillassoux’s work. According to Meillassoux an absolute property of temporality causes stability of the laws of nature, but this absolute property of temporality is not defined. For temporality to possess an absolute property time must exist. Physicist Julian Barber proposes that time does not exist. Physicists, Connes and Rovelli explain that time does not actually exist but emerges as a statistical effect, in the same way that temperature emerges from averaging the behavior of large groups of molecules. Connes & Rovelli (1994). Time might therefore be an illusion which is reminiscent of Buddhist’s ideologies. The implications on Meillassoux’s proposals, of time not existing at all, are uncertain.
Is it valid to use mathematics to prove what is provable via mathematics or is this a circular argument? Certainly, Meillassoux’s thinking is helpful when considering the paradoxes evident in quantum theories. Eg. A single particle existing in two places at opposite ends of the universe. If this is mathematically conceivable it is must be absolutely possible.
Mark Fisher and Mike Watson discuss philosophy, art and politics on the Indieoma website. Watson & Fisher (2010). Their discussion is titled, Dialogue on Free Education, Capitalism, and its Alternatives, and they discuss Fisher’s recently published book Capitalist Realism.
Mike Watson worries that science and capitalism have done a good job of making people think that they are ‘mere’ matter and Brassier’s book Nihil Unbound has exacerbated this. Watson says make art or die, he sees art as very potent, “a rallying call to subjectivity, freedom, against null objectivity” Watson & Fisher (2010). Yet Watson points out that, “Art is not at odds with neuroscience factually speaking.” Watson & Fisher (2010) It is not clear how Watson reconciles art and neuroscience.
Mark Fisher disagrees, he thinks that contemporary capitalist culture now tries to sell subjective experience rather than objects. Fisher suggests that it is more likely that a collective struggle will lead to new kinds of art than art leading to a collective struggle. Fisher says that today “one of the political functions of art is to denaturalize what had been taken to be a given” Watson & Fisher (2010), a very important role in the era of capitalist realism.

In the meantime Meillassoux says get out your calculators. Brassier says yes, Meillassoux’s proposals are a positive move. Bourriaud proposes his utopian version of the future and Charles Avery cogitates on his Island but he does have a plan because he’s not a radicant he’s a Modernist.

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(Definitions from The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy, second edition)
Absolute (p2)
1. adj unrelated. Among its synonyms are; independent; non-relative, unconditioned, unmodified, unrestricted, without qualification etc. Antonym relative.
2. n Traditional metaphysics has a concept of the Absolute, and ultimate, all-embracing reality, that which necessarily exists and depends on nothing else, sometimes conceived as a personal or quasi-personal being.
Nihilism (p427)
Any view which contains a significant denial can be described as nihililistic, but when the term is used there is often a suggestion of loss or despair. Among the views so labelled are those which deny the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and the freedom of the will, the authority of reason, the possibility f knowledge, the objectivity of morals, or the ultimate happy ending of human history. Jacobi seems to have been the first to use the work, in his Sendbrief (Open Letter) to Fichte in 1799. Since then, the term has been applied to various negative thesis or attitudes. The following short list gives only a sample of what has bee understood by ‘nihilist’:
(i) a radical revolutionary (especially in nineteenth century Russia), who rejects the existing social order and accepts terrorist activism in order to destroy it. This is how the work was first used in Russia in the late 1850’s. It gained currency through Turgenev’s novel Fathers and sons 1862;
(ii) a person who rejects all moral restraints;
(iii) a person who does not seriously care about anything
(ii) an adherent of the theory that nothing is true;
(iii) an adherent of moral NON_COGNITIVISM;
(iv) an adherent of ELIMINATIVISM in the philosophy of the mind.
Phenomenology (p464)
n. 1 in the twentieth century, Phenomenology is used almost exclusively for the philosophical method and movement that had its origin in the work of Edmund Husserl (1859-1938). It is the attempt to describe our experience directly, as it is separately from its origins and development, independently of the causal explanations that historians, sociologists or psychologists might give. Subsequently Heidigger, Satre and Merleau-Ponty pursued and continued to refine the phenomenological method, while by no means accepting Husserl’s conclusions.
2. Earlier the term had also been used in a similar sense by other philosophers like Brentano, Mach and Pfander for a description or analysis of phenomenal the implied contrast is with inquiries that seek to go beyond that which is directly given in our experience.
3 Hegel’s Phanomenologied des Geistes 1807 (Phenomenology of Spirit) is an account of how spirit gradually makes its appearance. The process begins by way of initial oppositions between itself and something else, and between different forms of consciousness and finally ends once all separation is overcome, with self knowledge. i.e. absolute knowledge.
4. the word seems first to have been used by Lambert in Neues Organon 1764 (the New Organon) for the inquiry into, or a theory of, sensory experience and, in genereal, how things appear to us, how they seem to be. This was one of the four main parts or his work. (The other three dealt with the laws of thought, with truth as opposed to error, and with theory of meaning.)
Realism (p520)
n. The meaning of ‘realism’ varies with the context in which it is used. Two important senses, which sometimes combine, are (1) an attitude of ‘hard-headedness’, not being given to speculation and illusion, but keeping a firm grasp of what is actually the case, in short, a realistic attitude; and (2) a theory that entities of a certain category exist mind-independently, i.e. independently of what we believe or feel about them – in short a realist theory.
‘Realists accept the idea that we live in a world that exists independently of us and our thoughts, and hence that some facts may be beyond our grasp, in the sense that we are unable to confirm that they obtain.’
Truth (p627)
n ‘what is truth?’ asked Pilate, but a dictionary is not where the answer should be expected. The truth in which philosophers are chiefly interested is an attribute of beliefs. Opinions, theories, doctrines, statements etc. The proper contrast is with falsity. In other senses of the word the proper contrast is with what is fake, spurious, insincere, faithless etc.


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