jueves, 6 de enero de 2011

Meillassoux's Answer to Hume's Problem



       In this post I present Meillassoux's alternative answer to Hume’s challenge against causal necessity. I first present in schematic fashion the classical version of the ‘problem of causality’ as elaborated by Hume (2000, 2007), as well as the well known answer famously proposed by Kant’s (1999) ‘Copernican turn’ in the first Critique. I then proceed to diagnose some problems associated with the latter’s reply, and show how Meillassoux (2008) proposes a different answer altogether. Accepting Hume’s disavowal of causal necessity, I explain how Meillassoux lays the grounds for a new brand of what has been termed ‘speculative realism’; where the latter dislodges transcendental philosophy and its methodological restriction to investigating subjective conditions of access to the world. Following this line of argument, we will briefly review how Meillassoux attempts to overcome the correlationism proper to post-Kantian philosophy, i.e. the doctrine which asserts that we can have no access to things-in-themselves, but only to a correlation between us and the world[1].

  I - Hume’s Problem – Causality, Necessity, Transcendence
          Hume’s ‘problem of causation’ asks the following question: how can we establish the causal necessity of those beings or events described by science, given that our experience provides no guarantee whatsoever for it? Meillassoux’s own formulation is excellent: “Can one establish that in identical circumstances, future successions of phenomena will always be identical to previous successions?” (Meillassoux: 2008, Pg. 85) As is well known, Hume’s answer to this problem is to simply deny that causal necessity can be established deductively or be known with certainty, reducing our construal of it to being a function of habit obtained by extending inductively a chain of actual experiences:
        “It appears that, in single instances of the operation of bodies, we never can, by our utmost scrutiny, discover any thing but one event following another, without being able to comprehend any force or power, by which the cause operates, or any connection between it and its supposed effect… One event follows another; but we never can observe any tie between them…  It is allowed on all hands that there is no known connection between the sensible qualities and the secret powers; and consequently, that the mind is not led to form such a conclusion concerning their constant and regular conjunction, by anything which it knows of their nature.”  (David Hume, 1737)
         It is important to note that Hume does not flatly deny that the laws of nature actually obtain; nor does he deny that these rules are real in order to assert their merely ideal character. The challenge to causality does not amount to an idealist sublation of natural occasion, by affirming the latter's eventual subjective constitution. Rather, it states that we can never obtain knowledge of whether these rules obtain or not by necessity. That is, Hume’s position is not presented as being essentially ontological, but rather epistemological. Experience can tell us about recurrent events which occurred in the past, and about the actual occurrences in the present. By the same token, the deliberative logical principle of non-contradiction can tell us that an event p cannot obtain simultaneously to an event non-p, in a given situation. However, experience tells us nothing certain about the future; there is nothing seemingly contradictory in anticipating that things could turn out differently than they normally do. Thus, whatever we extrapolate from the present into the future cannot obtain from necessity, but merely by a function of habit. Let us for the moment run along with this abbreviated, coarse presentation of the Humean reply, and proceed into the thicker issues at stake.

     We should first note Hume’s answer to the skeptical problem challenges in the same stroke the Leibnizean principle of sufficient reason and all instances of rationalist clairvoyance into the real. For the last two, the stability of the laws of nature and the epistemological warrant on causal necessity is guaranteed by the deduction of the existence of a supreme being or principle which, once established as obtaining/existing, guarantees these laws[2]. More radically atheistic than his contemporaries, Hume’s empiricism harbors no supreme principle for being, and thereby holds the epistemological problematic open given the logical possibility of an abrupt change in natural recurrence, which threatens the continuity of scientific practice and its experimental repeatability. The classical example, from the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, argues over the trajectory of billiard balls set in motion before an observer:
       “May I not conceive that a hundred different events might as well follow from that cause? May not both these balls remain at absolute rest? May not the first ball return in a straight line, or leap off from the second in any line or direction? All these suppositions are consistent and conceivable. Why then should we give the preference to one, which is no more consistent or conceivable than the rest? All our reasonings a priori will never be able to show us any foundation for this preference. (Hume 2000: Pg, 84)
         This way, in one swift blow, Hume sought to challenge not only the naïve metaphysical realism which presumed to describe the structure of the world in-itself, but also the epistemological naivety of rationalist philosophies claiming we possess privileged access to ‘clear and distinct ideas’, accessible through speculative reflection[3]. Thus Hume’s reduction of causality to habitude paved the way for a skeptically bolstered instrumentalism about science, where the objects and events postulated through the latter’s experimentation become reduced to heuristic fictions, grounded by nothing besides the conjunction of successive experiences, and subordinated to human ends. As far as metaphysics is concerned, the challenge paved the way for the view according to which being-in-itself is not just unknowable, but also unthinkable, and so that the hypothesis of a consistent reality which exists independent of our thought amounts to little more than a ‘limit concept’ at best (Kant), or a speculative fiction at worst (Heidegger)[4]. At its most radical, being becomes entirely identified with and sacrificed to thought; such as in Hegelian Absolute Idealism. In the latter's dialectical movement, the in-itself merely constitutes the point of passage of Nature as externalized objectivity to its sublation in the subjective unfolding of the history of Spirit (ad the in-and-for-itself). Although Hume’s position does not yet endorse the properly ontological denial of the existence of a world indifferent to our conception of it, it already accepts the epistemological constraint according to which experience does not allow us to know anything about it with certitude.

II - Kant vs. Meillassoux – Transcendental Idealism vs. Speculative Realism
     It was Kant who provided the most decisive reply to Hume. As is known, he famously accepted Hume’s delimitation of knowledge to lived experience, while he nevertheless attempted to salvage causal necessity from the deflationary agnosticism about the in-itself. In order to do this, Kant stipulated that since causal necessity cannot possibly find its ground on lived experience, its source must be different altogether; and he locates this ground in the constituting activity of the agent of experience itself, i.e. what he calls ‘the transcendental subject’. In other words, Kant inflects the traditional metaphysical problematic about the structure of the world into the subject, reorienting thought to the question about how must the content given to experience conform to the constraints structurally delimited by the faculties of thought. This is the root of what has been called Kant’s transcendental turn, which amounts to nothing less than a ‘Copernican Turn’ in philosophy:
   “Up to now it has been assumed that all our cognition must conform to the objects; but all attempts to find out something about them a priori through concepts that would extend our cognition have, on this pre-supposition, come to nothing. Hence let us once try whether we do not get further with the problem of metaphysics by assuming that the objects must conform to our cognition, which would agree better with the requested possibility of an a priori cognition of them, which is to establish something about objects before they are given to us.” (Preface to Critique of Pure Reason B/XVI)
       Kant thereby rejects Hume's agnosticism about causality by claiming that empirical knowledge is constituted by a priori subjective faculties. As such, experience of particular beings or events, and the causal relations between them, becomes not productive to knowledge about things-in-themselves (noumena), but to how things appear to us through these faculties (phenomena). The class of the noumenal, however, must be distinguished from the realm of objectivity: the latter obtains as functions of synthesis given for the transcendental subject, while the former constitutes the limiting concept of being, separable from the way it is given to us through sensibility (CPR, 270-274). Given the externality of thought to being-in-itself, the noumenal becomes a category of action rather than a given as concept for reflection, and is therefore deemed non-objective in that sense[5]. Thus the principles of pure reason Kant also calls the 'conditions of possibility' of all knowledge; it is a matter of "transcendental truth, which precedes all empirical truth and makes it possible." (Ibid; a 146, B185).
      The laws of nature, by implication, are salvaged only as phenomenal occurrences, relative to subjective constitution rather than externally representing the world ‘as such’. This is why the Critique must take enquiry into the synthetic a priori at its core; the synthesis of categorical concepts and formal intuition under which that which is given to experience provides knowledge. But it thus makes no sense to speak of what is given to experience, irrespective of how it is given as experienced. This is what Meillassoux finally calls ‘weak correlationism’, i.e. the thesis that the in-itself is thinkable but utterly unknowable. In Kant’s own version, knowledge of the content of the in-itself is proscribed, although one can know a priori that it must exist outside the strictures of experience. (Meillassoux: 2008, Pg 35)[6].
       Meillassoux intervenes precisely at this juncture, and highlights how Kant salvages causality by making representation in consciousness depend on the stability of phenomena. It is not that causality must of necessity obtain irrespective of the subject, but that if consciousness exists then this can only be because there is causality (in addition to the other categories of the understanding) at the level of phenomena. In other words, since consciousness is consciousness-of-something, then the latter entails that the conditions requires for them must obtain necessarily. However, Meillassoux draws attention to the fact that what the three major approaches to the problem of causality share (the metaphysical realist, the empiricist skeptic, the transcendental idealist) is that they do not call into question the truth of causality as such, but merely question whether thought can furnish a reason for knowledge about its necessity. Even Hume never really doubts the existence of causal laws in nature, but merely denies that reason can ground their necessity, since he “…believes blindly in the world that metaphysicians thought they could prove” (Ibid, Pg. 91). In fact, his argument  claims that we might extrapolate general laws/causes for natural behavior, but that what we cannot unearth is the first principle(s) which makes these laws necessary: “[A]s to the causes of these general causes, we should in vain attempt their discovery… These ultimate springs and principles are totally shut up from human curiosity and enquiry”. (Hume: 1957, Pg. 45)
     However, Meillassoux highlights, the underlying motivation for burdening thought with the task to ground the truth of causal necessity rather than disputing this truth tout court resides not in reason’s venerable teaching, which tells us that the billiard ball can logically take ‘a hundred different outcomes’. Rather, this temptation arises, just as with Kant, from the stability in nature, as made apparent through perception. The perception of such stability/regularity suggests that these principles must be necessary, even if thought is unable to provide the reason(s) for this necessity.

     Meillassoux’s strategy is thereby to turn the traditional retort to Hume’s problem upside down, and begin by assuming the falsity of the principle of causality, rather than its truth, castigating the tradition’s unwillingness to follow reason against the ploys of sensation:
      “How could reason, for which the obvious falsity of causal necessity is blindingly evident, work against itself by demonstrating the truth of such a necessity? It is our senses that impose this belief in causality upon us, not thought…In any case, it is astonishing to note how in this matter, philosophers, who are generally the partisans of thought rather than of the senses, have opted overwhelmingly to trust their habitual perceptions, rather than the luminous clarity of intellection.” (Meillassoux: 2008, Pg. 91)
      It might seem at this stage that this strategy obviates rather than confronts the transcendental philosopher’s answer to the problem. Yet Meillassoux’s point is that there is no putative reason why we should accept the correlationist burden of deliberating over the possibility of grounding causal necessity.  The latter can be safely assumed to be false and thus truly without reason, in continuity with the teachings of intellection. Thus for the 'speculative realist', it is not simply us who are at a loss for reasons for knowing whether causality obtains necessarily or not, but it is thought which openly provides no suitable indication to even assume causality must obtain at all. In fact, thought itself furnishes us with the positive knowledge about the possible fluctuation in the regularities correlationists deem as necessary, and not just an absence of reasons for their proper grounding.

   This positive knowledge is what Meillassoux develops into an absolute, called the principle of factiality, i.e. the principle according to which everything could be other than what it is; or which affirms the lack of reason for anything to be the way it is. Although it lies outside the scope of this essay to explain how Meillassoux laboriously arrives at this principle, we should note that it is drawn as a result of a direct criticism against the insufficiency of correlationist philosophy. For this, he emphasizes how the latter is ultimately forced into denying the autonomy of the ancestral phenomena described by science (such as the fossil-record, which speaks of phenomena before the conditions of the correlation were possible), and thus all knowledge of the absolute or the ‘in-itself’. Correlationism does this by way of subordinating natural spacetime to logical conditions of manifestation for transcendental access, in some form of other (Ibid, Chapter I). Thus, for example, Kant logically subordinates physical space-time to being forms of intuition for the transcendental subject; just like Heidegger logically subordinates ontic space-time to Dasein’s ekstatic temporality. In addition to the agnosticism about the in-itself, the correlationist asserts that thought cannot furnish an ultimate reason for things to even appear the way they do, i.e. we can know those principles which regulate experience, but we can find no reason for their necessity. This is what since Kant onwards has been labelled the 'facticity' of thought: its incapacity to furnish a reason for the principles which structure it. Thus against the idealist, who expressly identifies the in-itself with thought, the correlationist insists on the facticity of the correlation on the basis of the contingency of the agent of the correlation. I can find no reason for me to exist as I do, and this opens the possibility that things might be different than they appear to me.

     Meillassoux’s coup consists first in showing how in the process of denying the autonomy of the phenomena described by science, the correlationist must already have accepted the absoluteness of the facticity of every being, if it seeks to escape the idealist identification of being and thought. For this, it is important to remember that the correlationist, unlike the idealist, purports to advance a position of ignorance, i.e. we don’t know if the in-itself is different from thought, but we know that this is at least possible. For Meillassoux, however, the principle of factiality reveals itself as an absolute, drawn directly from the implicit consequences of the correlationist argument, which cannot be once again relativized to us lest we become absolute idealists. Ray Brassier’s (2007) reconstruction is here profoundly illuminating:
            “Thus [the correlationist] finds itself confronted with the following dilemma: it cannot de-absolutize facticity without absolutizing the correlation; yet it cannot de-absolutize the correlation without absolutizing facticity. But to absolutize facticity is to assert the unconditional necessity of its contingency, and hence to assert that it is possible to think something that exists independently of thought’s relation to it: contingency as such. In absolutizing facticity, correlationism subverts the empirical– transcendental divide separating knowable contingency from unknowable facticity even as it strives to maintain it; but it is thereby forced to acknowledge that what it took to be a negative characteristic of our relation to things – viz., that we cannot know whether the principles of cognition are necessary or contingent – is in fact a positive characteristic of things-in-themselves…” (Brassier: 2007, Pg. 67)
       In other words, Meillassoux’s explicit challenge to the alleged correlationist agnosticism about the in-itself, is to insist that in order to refute the idealist’s claim that the thinkable is what actually is for-us (that there is no thinkable outside of the correlation), one must accept as thinkable the possible eventuality of every occurrence. This includes the eventuality that the correlation might not obtain and that thus the in-itself could be different than the for-us, i.e. its contingency. This eventuality must in turn not be merely relative to the correlation, since if it was it wouldn’t have occurred to us not to be idealists. That everything is possible is not merely a possibility relative to us, but expresses the lack of reason for things themselves to be as they are; the principle of sufficient reason fails.
      These consequences follow, Meillassoux reiterates, from the correlationist acceptance of Kantian facticity: I can find no ultimate reason for my own finite being, just like I cannot know why there are twelve rather than thirteen categories, and so on. This is not to assert, like Hume, that we can find no necessary laws, even within our subjective sphere, contra-Kant. Rather, it simply means that the structure of thought remains a factical given, and that it is not regulated by an ultimate superior ‘first principle’ which endows it with its necessity. The principle of sufficient reason does not hold for being in itself anymore than it does for phenomenal appearances. The falsity of the principle of sufficient reason is thereby extended and positivized by Meillassoux into an absolute, as expressed by the principle of factiality, i.e. the absolute necessity for the contingency of every being:
       “In other words, in order to refute subjective idealism, I must grant that my possible annihilation is thinkable as something that is not just the correlate of my thought of this annihilation. Thus, the correlationist's refutation of idealism proceeds by way of an absolutization (which is to say, a decorrelation) of the capacity-to-be-other presupposed in the thought of facticity - this latter is the absolute whose reality is thinkable as that of the in-itself as such in its indifference to thought; an indifference which confers upon it the power to destroy me... The correlationist does the opposite of what she says - she says that we can think that a metaphysical thesis, which narrows the realm of possibility, might be true, rather than the speculative thesis, which leaves this realm entirely open; but she can only say this by thinking an open possibility, wherein no eventuality has any more reason to be realized than any other. This open possibility, this 'everything is equally possible', is an absolute that cannot be de-absolutized without being thought as absolute once more.” (Ibid, Pg. 57)

III – Chance Outside Probability
    These schematic considerations aside, we can say that Meillassoux’s avowal of the principle of factiality is a radicalization of Kantian facticity, while his disavowal of the principle of sufficient reason (and therefore of causal necessity) is a radicalization of Hume’s reduction of the latter to successive conjunction. Taken together, the speculative realist view leads to a picture of the cosmos as a ‘chaosmos’, i.e. a universe where causal necessity is indeed merely a fiction, in which things could change suddenly and without reason. Whereas the correlationist claims that one does not know whether the world itself conforms to our appearances, the speculative philosopher hijacks his argument and positivizes this knowledge into a property of things themselves. Reason thereby dissolves causal necessity, the better to expound a vision of nature as subjected to nothing but the absolute contingency of every being. Every cause might produce any effect whatsoever, assuming it obtains as non-contradictory[7]. This is what Meillassoux calls a ‘hyper-chaos’, the veritable non-metaphysical absolute which sets speculation apart from every theism:
    “We see an omnipotence equal to that of the Cartesian God, and capable of anything, 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. We see something akin to Time, but a Time that is inconceivable for physics, since it is capable of destroying, without cause or reason, every physical law, just as it is inconceivable for metaphysics, since it is capable of destroying every determinate entity, even a god, even God. This is not a Heraclitean time, since it is not the eternal law of becoming, but rather the eternal and lawless possible becoming of every law. It is a Time capable of destroying even becoming itself by bringing forth, perhaps forever, fixity, stasis, and death.” (Ibid, Pg. 63)
       Meillassoux thus shifts from the traditional question about a) "How we can establish the necessity of the laws of nature?" to the question about b) "How nature manifests stability given the contingency of natural laws and of logical causality". How can laws be contingent and yet the universe appear to be stable? This way, the principle of factiality thereby deflates Kant’s claim that consciousness implies the necessary stability of natural laws, downgrading it to the claim that science and consciousness require stability. From the latter, one cannot infer that causal necessity obtains from stability. Therefore, Meillassoux adamantly rejects the necessitarian argument intrinsic to the Kantian position, while he accepts that scientific practice does depend on the stability of natural laws.
         Yet the principal challenge against this view is what Meillassoux calls the frequentialist implication: the view that if the laws of nature were really contingent then the immeasurable excess of logical possibilities over actual regularities would entail the overwhelming probability of a frequent change in the natural continuity of the world. But, so the argument goes, since this excess obviously runs against the regularities perceived in actual experience, then nature must be endowed with a necessity which guarantees its stability. In other words, the objector claims that if laws could change without reason, they would, and since they don’t, then this must prove their necessity. But although Meillassoux does not contend the fact that there is a stability perceived in nature, which furthermore makes science possible, he contests the claim that laws ought to change frequently if they are not necessary. By the same token, if the die would show the same face upon every cast, the skeptic is lead to the belief that there must be a lead ball in the dice, just like the observer thinks the necessity of laws from the recurrence of particular occurrences. One thinks: “Consequently, there must be a necessitating reason, albeit hidden - just as there must be a lead ball imbedded in the dice - that explains the invariance in the result.” (Ibid; Pg 98)

       To answer the frequentialist implication, Meillassoux clarifies that the probabilistic reasoning it follows must presuppose the totalization of possibilities available to thought. Given a quantifiable number of logically existing possibilities, one draws the radical asymmetry between a priori possible occurrences from the finite reiterations within our own physical universe. The radical asymmetry between the a priori and the empirical is then said to suggest-imply a regime of physical necessity. This derived principle accounts for the antisymmetry  between empirical actualities  and the overabundant field of logical possibilities. Physical necessity furnishes then the apparent stability proper against the probabilistically  homogenous field of  logical necessity (in which every occurrence is equally possible to any other).
        Notice that the frequentialist argument remains unthreatened by a space of infinite possibilities in calculating probability, given that since the advent of Cantor’s set-theory it has become perfectly possible to operate over quantified infinities of variable cardinal order. Against the frequentialist implication, Meillassoux appropriates a further feature of the Zermelo-Fraenkel set-theoretical axiomatics, and denies that probabilistic reasoning is at all applicable to the universe as a whole[8]. In this he follows Cantor’s Theorem, denying that what is thinkable must be by implication totalizable; the detotalization of number in the transfinite is exemplified in the series of alephs. Meillassoux’s gloss here is useful, and can be quoted in full:
          “This succession [of infinities] is known as the series of alephs, or the series of transfinite cardinals. But this series itself cannot be totalized, in other words, it cannot be collected together into some 'ultimate' quantity. For it is clear that were such a quantitative totalization to exist, then it would also have to allow itself to be surpassed in accordance with the procedure of the grouping of parts. Thus, the set T (for Totality) of all quantities cannot 'contain' the quantity obtained by the set of the parts of T... For this totality of the thinkable is itself logically inconceivable, since it gives rise to a contradiction. We will retain the following translation of Cantor's transfinite: the (quantifiable) totality of the thinkable is unthinkable.” (Ibid; Pg 103)
      As a result, Meillassoux denies that a probabilistic calculus of the universe is possible to infer the absurd improbability of the stability of the world obtaining, if physical causal necessity did not obtain at the same time. Since the axiomatics of ZF set-theory opens a space for this detotalization of nature as such, the putative transitivity from stability to necessity is thereby called into question. In doing so, Meillassoux preemptively counters the argument that he has merely chosen a suitable axiomatics to prove his point, since the idea is rather that the open eventuality proper to ZF severs the causal link between stability and necessity, given that at least one such axiomatics allows us to think of its contingency.  He thus sets the stage for a reelaboration of the concept of chance apart from any kind of probabilistic reasoning, delivered instead to an absolute contingency regulated only by the unreason for anything to be, i.e. the principle of factiality.
      Yet Meillassoux accepts nevertheless that there is a limitation to what he has accomplished through his speculative hypothesis: he has not yet shown that the purported de-totalization alluded to through Cantor’s theorem’s actually obtains for nature, but merely draws the consequences that follow from its assumption. In order to establish the truth of non-totalization, one would require the absolutizing of the transfinite, as has been done already with contingency through the principle of factiality, deriving the former from the latter[9]. This would imply discovering an in-itself continuous with the transfinite core of mathematicity as such, something which Meillassoux does not shy away from setting himself as a goal, again in certain continuity with Badiou’s project:
          “We would have to be able to rediscover an in-itself that is Cartesian, and no longer just Kantian - in other words, we would have to be able to legitimate the absolute bearing of the mathematical - rather than merely logical - restitution of a reality that is construed as independent of the existence of thought. It would be a question of establishing that the possibilities of which chaos - which is the only in-itself - is actually capable cannot be measured by any number, whether finite or infinite, and that it is precisely this super-immensity of the chaotic virtual that allows the impeccable stability of the visible world.” (Ibid; Pg 109)

    Our brief recount of the details and problems surrounding Meillassoux’s attempted answer to Hume’s problem is merely tantalizing in its brevity. It outlines a series of speculative issues opened up in After Finitude, and which promise a more, full-blown elaboration in his forthcoming L’ Inexistence Divine. Provisionally, these indications should suffice to open up a space to return to Hume’s challenge, and attempt a retort which does not take the transcendental route, in which contingency frees chance from probability, and in which the cosmos is shorn from all vestige of natural necessity.
    In fidelity to Badiou’s avowal of the power of mathematicity to think of being resolutely, away from conditions of disclosure and the correlationist constriction, Meillassoux’s foray promises the recuperation of the world itself; albeit perhaps a very different world from the one commonly described by philosophical accounts still wedded to the principle of sufficient reason and the belief in causal necessity[10]. I cite here Meillassoux’s concluding lines from After Finitude, in which he sets thought to rejoin the passion for the absolute, long forgotten by the post-Humean obsession with the human:
      “Our only aim has been to try to convince the reader not only that it is possible to rediscover thought's absolutizing scope, but that it is urgent that we do so, given the extent to which the divorce between science's Copernicanism and philosophy's Ptolemaism has become abyssal, regardless of all those denials that serve only to perpetuate this schism. If Hume's problem woke Kant from his dogmatic slumber, we can only hope that the problem of ancestrality succeeds in waking us from our correlationist slumber, by enjoining us to reconcile thought and absolute.” (Ibid; Pg. 121)

[1] As Meillassoux (2008) and Brassier (2007) show, the determination between self and world obtains through different iterations: the pure ego against the intentional object of consciousness (Husserl), Dasein’s conditions of ontological disclosure (Heidegger), community of speakers against the social consensus (Habermas), class struggle as mediating history in its material becoming (Marx). The crucial point remains, for the correlationist, the denial that anything like the ‘world in itself’ is knowable.
[2] Here the classical examples would be both Descartes and Leibniz. For the latter, the deduction of the existence of God guarantees that the best world possible must exist, and that therefore it is ours such as it is perceived. For the former, it is the existence of God which guarantees that there could be no deception with regards to what I take to be real through experience. Hume’s atheist short-circuiting of the principle of sufficient reason denies thereby that natural occasion can be safeguarded by transcendental skyhooks.
[3] The exemplary case in this regard is again, of course, Descartes.
[4] For this see Heidegger’s famous analysis of tool-being, where he reduces scientific phenomena to present-at-hand- actuality for humans. See: HEIDEGGER, Martin. Being and Time. Translated by John Macquirre and Edward Robinson, Harper and Row, 1962; Pgs. 64-155.
[5] Ibid; B25;
[6] As Kant reiterates, knowing existence, which is a modal attribution, does not concern a ‘real predicate’, since it merely positions the being in question without adding anything to it, i.e. an actual chair is no different as far as its quiddity (or ‘essence’, whatness, Wasein) is concerned than a possible chair. For a poignant discussion of this aspect in Kant’s first Critique and its relevance for his ontology, see Heidegger, Martin; “The Basic Problems of Phenomenology”, Indiana University Press, 1988.
[7] The impossibility of a contradictory being is the first of what Meillassoux calls ‘figures of factiality’, which are direct consequences drawn from the principle of factiality. For his argument in favor of this principle, see Meillassoux (2008); Pgs 69-71.
[8] Badiou (2006), Being and Event, Meditation 26.
[9] Nathan Brown told me in conversation that Meillassoux has apparently already completed this derivation; and is currently working on a theory of signification.
[10] The expression is Graham Harman’s; see his Guerrilla Metaphysics: Metaphysics and the Carpentry of Things, Open Court, 2005.