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The French philosopher Quentin Meillassoux developed a new direction in contemporary thought called “speculative realism.” His first book After Finitude was translated into English in 2008 and was acclaimed internationally. This dialogue celebrates the publication of its Japanese translation in 2016 by inviting co-translator Masaya Chiba to share his ideas. Chiba mainly studies the philosophy of Gille Deleuze, while the interviewer Hiroki Azuma has published a book on Jacques Derrida.
Chiba’s introduction began by providing an outline of Meillassoux’s thought with a focus on After Finitude. Meillassoux accuses K antian and post-K antian philosophy for being correlationist. The problem with correlationism is that it limits the domain of philosophy to empirical rationality while the metaphysics prior to correlationism was nothing more than a dogmatism that depends on hypothesized absolutes like the Platonian idea or the Leibnizian monad. Meillassoux introduces here the dichotomy of necessity and contingency and tries to establish a new philosophy based on the latter, by which we can “access” something beyond K antian philosophy and the empirical sciences. He calls it a “speculative” method. Chiba and A zuma agreed that Meillassoux’s novel approach to an enduring issue in the histor y of philosophy is ver y unique and deser ves more attention.
Chiba also remarked upon Meillassoux’s speculation on the idea of God. Meillassoux suggests that there is a “spectral dilemma,” where the world is far too unreasonable for any God to exist, but at the same time we fall into nihilism without the notion of God. Given this dilemma, he argues that “God may not yet exist, but will arrive in the future.” Just like ever ything else, the God may arrive contingently w ith no reason. Here we can avoid the dilemma and believe again in the possibility of salvation by an absolute God through philosophy. A zuma wondered whether such a philosophy based on total contingency could be a guide for one’s life.
Later in the discussion, Graham Harman and Ray Brassier were introduced as thinkers who had related ideas. Despite being grouped together as speculative realist thinkers, their thoughts var y greatly. Harman, for example, takes the position of object-oriented ontolog y, which holds that all things, including inorganic material, have some subjectivity, and attempts to rethink their relationship with humans. Chiba and Azuma acknowledged that Graham’s ideas easily fit with contemporar y cultural studies because our lives are now surrounded by mechanical or v irtual icons.
A zuma noted that the clear and demonstrative style of Meillassoux’s philosophy is far different from other French theor y authors who are dependent upon poetic imagination and metaphoric allusion. Chiba and A zuma concluded the dialogue by expressing their hope that inventive readings of Meillassoux will emerge and renovate philosophical discourse in Japan.