Book Review: A Return to the Absolute via Quentin Meillassoux’s After Finitude

book review after finitude After Finitude by Quentin Meillassoux

The exceptional lucidity and the centrality of argument in Meillassoux’s writing should appeal to analytic as well as continental philosophers, while his critique of fideism will be of interest to anyone preoccupied by the relation between philosophy, theology and religion.

Meillassoux introduces a startlingly novel philosophical alternative to the forced choice between dogmatism and critique. After Finitude proposes a new alliance between philosophy and science and calls for an unequivocal halt to the creeping return of religiosity in contemporary philosophical discourse. (Preface, Alain Badiou)


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From Cogito to the Other: A Persistence of the Fetish (Part 1)

Is it not astonishing that since the world began none of those people who call themselves philosophers dreamt of producing, at least in the classical period, this essential dimension which is the one I spoke to you about under the name of what can be called: autre chose, something other. (Seminar 5, 15.1.1958)

Should there be a coinage, one which could by itself—alone, singly (albeit painstakingly) demarcate the boundaries between Modern Philosophy on the one hand, and Contemporary Philosophy on the other, it must have been the coinage very commonly circulating in ‘post-structuralist’ literatures in Continental thought, namely: the other (at times spelled with a capital letter ‘O’ as in the complex literatures of, but not in any way limited to, Jacques Lacan’s. [1]

This Other, to be directly broad, pertains to that which eludes any possible identification with the self, or subject (be it singular subject or collective subject, physical or not); this coinage painstakingly dares to capture that somewhat enigmatic and phantasmic something that can never overlap with any cohesive identification whatever—thus the apparently pathetic or weak appeal to merely capitalizing the letter ‘O’ in the efforts to refer to some-thing residing in a dimension that can never be grasped by a consciously ruminative thinking subject.

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Apropos Life Negation [Revised]

 . . Do you have any idea how many people there are in the
world who like to force stuff on people and have stuff forced
on them? Tons! And then they make a fuss . . .[1]

Where does life-negation lie, a question here construed as curiously pursuing that particular location (lair) at which a certain life-negation (there alluding to a jargon in Nietzsche’s oeuvre) may be said to veil itself or could be found lodging, is a question of utmost tension; and the response is no else than: life-negation lies in that which is European; where else but in the European.[2]

In the European: and yet not so easy. For what follows such response to the question, whatever that may be, would yet be another explanation. It is in the efforts of explanation, proof, corroboration, justification—precisely: refutations—where life-negation itself feeds on. That which is European consists in that surreptitious escape, consciously or unconsciously, to a dominant herd morality against which Nietzsche’s aphorisms inveigh. The jargon of life-negation is that escape to a dominant herd morality which is European morality, or that intervening effort on the part of European mind to surreptitiously escape his damnation, his suffering—that is, his world fate.

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On Ethics and Technology

This paper was presented as a panel reaction in a seminar entitled “Ethics and Technology” organized by the UST Department of Philosophy and the Philosophy Circle of the Philippines, held on October 18 at the Rizal Lecture Hall, St. Raymund’s Bldg. University of Santo Tomas, Manila.


Three days ago we remember the birthdate of Friedrich Nietzsche in 1844. Some of us give value to the insightful aphorisms he left us; while some of us here don’t mind, don’t mind aphorisms at all. We feel for those who cared to ask what an aphorism is for and what an aphorism is all about; to whom it is directed; and from whence it came about —so that Nietzsche may be understood. And yet, if there is anything at all that I as a philosophy student would like this symposium to take home, to carefully pick as a fruit from the garden of wisdom and truth, it would be the desire to include into their vocabulary the word: aphorism —so that a fruit, a blessing such as Nietzsche may carry on through our time.

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Hegel and his Metaphysical Bequeathal to the West

This paper would like to underscore the presence of the Historicist germs surfacing from Hegel, that have grown part of the intellectual arsenal, scientific or otherwise, of the present Enlightened man after Kant, i.e. post the Plato-to-Kant canon [1] in the language of Contemporary Philosophy; more particularly to underscore if there have been indeed historicist origins attributable to Hegel in the way peoples of our day and age participate in the horizons of the activity of thought.

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A Reflection Paper on Martin Heidegger’s What is Metaphysics?

This undergraduate philosophical paper was originally written as a three-page final paper in partial fulfillment of the requirements for PHIL 2173. Semester I, SY 2013-2014.


LOST IN TRANSITION

A Reflection Paper on Martin Heidegger’s
What is Metaphysics?

Heidegger’s inquiry into the realm of metaphysics takes its point of departure in a particular metaphysical question: “What is Metaphysics?” He caters to his inquiry by, first of all, describing a “sketch” out of which will develop a two-fold character of metaphysical interrogation. Heidegger begins by stating that every metaphysical question always encompasses the whole range of metaphysical problems. [1] By this, Heidegger intends that such a metaphysical question encapsulates the entirety of beings interrogated within the question. Aside from this, Heidegger propounds that every metaphysical question can be asked only in such a manner whereby the questioner is also placed within the question. From this, Heidegger concludes that a metaphysical question is that which must be posited (1) as to include the whole range of metaphysical questions and (2) from the position of the inquiring Dasein.

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An Analysis on the Political Contribution of Saint Thomas Aquinas

This undergraduate philosophical paper was originally written as a ten-page final paper in partial fulfillment of the requirements for PHIL 2033. Semester I, SY 2013-2014.


Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) stood at the high episodes of medieval life where a certain crossroad was felt. On the one hand were the limping remnants of the classical philosophy from the age of antiquity, on the other was a horizon of a new beginning for the early Western world.[1]

These eight hundred years, from the death of Saint Augustine up to the 11th to 13th century had witnessed the critical development of Western civilization. Particularly during the 9th century did the medieval world exemplify a sort of intellectual recovery that was to become the predominant pattern of thought thereafter: scholasticism.[2]

It was during this period that the domination of ecclesiastical philosophy and learning, imbued with the guiding spirit of church dogmas and doctrines, was clearly manifest. Before the advent of scholasticism, Tertullian (A.D. 160-220), an early church Father, was extremely opposed to the idea of joining faith and reason, declaring that Christianity and philosophy were utterly irreconcilable.[3]

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On Niccolò Machiavelli’s Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius

This was originally written as a five-page final paper in partial fulfillment of the requirements for  PHIL 2073.


It is often stated, by scholars and historians alike, that while The Prince (1513) is undoubtedly Machiavelli’s more widely known work, it remains a point in fact that the Discourses (1521), presumably written around the same time as the Prince, elaborates Machiavelli’s political thought in a more historical and philosophical manner than that of the first aforementioned book.

The Discourses denotes to be a commentary upon the first ten books, which were the only ones that remained of the great work, of Titus Livius’ (57-29 B.C.) History of Rome. In the Discourses, Machiavelli takes Roman history as the point of departure with an attempt to probe into the nooks and crannies of the body politic and to highlight the many aspects in the development of Roman political system that made up “the glory that was Rome” and brought the entire early Western civilization to its feet.

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On Martin Heidegger’s Destruktion.

This was originally written as a two-page homework paper in partial fulfillment of the requirements for PHIL 2153. I stayed up until 4 in the morning dwelling on Heidegger’s luring enigma, whatever that means.


The closing paragraph in Section 6 of Being and Time, if not the entire section, addresses the possibility of an answer to a question that has been in existence since time immemorial; the possibility of arriving at a destination no philosopher has yet ever to set foot or sail; the possibility of a philosophical ‘re-awakening’ that may shed some light on the perennial problem of the question of Being.

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On Edmund Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations.

This was originally written as a one-page homework paper in partial fulfillment to the requirements of PHIL 2153.


As Husserl wrote in the Cartesian Meditations, “. . . As beginning philosophers we must not let ourselves be frightened by such considerations. Perhaps reduction to the transcendental ego only seems to entail a permanently solipsistic science; whereas the consequential elaboration of this science, in accordance with its own sense, leads over to a phenomenology of transcendental intersubjectivity and, by means of this, to a universal transcendental philosophy. As a matter of fact, we shall see that, in a certain manner, a transcendental solipsism is only a subordinate stage philosophy; though as such, it must first be delimited for purposes of method, in order that the problems of transcendental intersubjectivity, as problems belonging to a higher level, may be correctly stated and attacked. . . .” both issues of (1) ‘the charge of solipsism,’ and (2) ‘the promotion of subjectivity’ may be considered as sufficiently attended to.

He points here emphatically that which he was putting up was precisely a method, an approach which could yield to the eventful philosophical results/outcome. Otherwise put, Husserl other than spoon feeds us with the ultimate answers, rather provides for the manner by which problems may first and foremost be correctly stated and attacked (to this it may be added, ‘correctly stated and attacked: with a sort of mathematical rigor). In this light, therefore, an enrichment to philosophy may be said to have been achieved; namely, a kind of edification of its attitude hinged on a species akin to that of a Cartesian reduction, not conclusive solipsism.

On Plato and Aristotle

This was originally written as final paper in partial fulfillment to the requirements of PHIL 2013. Semester II, SY 2012-2013.


Plato, Aristotle: Ancestors.

This literature would attempt to compare the Greek heavyweights in Plato and Aristotle—some two, if not the only, seminal philosophical figures in the Western canon. It is submitted at the outset that the two have their essentially great similarities.

The circumstances under which Plato and Aristotle ‘philosophized’ has not to be taken for granted: Antiquity.[1] They flourished at a time when a particular species of objectivity were ‘called for’—legitimized, so to speak—by the suffused issues of the day, many of which partake a narrative of a certain kind of subjectivity.[2]  The sophistic tradition, characterized by a rather non-stable and fluid argumentation, paved way for its very archnemesis, that is to say: for an organized systematic alternative.[3] In Plato and Aristotle the Socratic ‘rationalizing’ approach reached its heyday, but merely as a perfect response to the demands of the times.

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On the Pre-Socratic Thought and the Modern Scientific Theory.

This undergraduate philosophical paper was originally written as a four-page comparative study in partial fulfillment of the requirements for PHIL 2013.


A Paper in PHIL 2013

A comparative study between the Pre-Socratic thought (of Empedocles and Democritus), and the Modern Scientific Theory (of Darwin and Newton)

PART I

Through the lens of evolutionary model, human origins and human nature are significant aspects of the history of all living beings. It is for this reason that the theory of evolution, with its global pervasiveness since the mid-nineteenth century, marked a pivotal moment, in empirical human history.

This evolutionary thought has had barged into the orthodox standpoint, like the proverbial thief in the night: it stole away the then well-established religious conception of human origins and challenged other conventional ways through which humanity had viewed itself. Nonetheless, it has been—and remains—a subject of empirical controversy.

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On the Pre-Socratics and the Aristotelian Metaphysics

This undergraduate philosophical paper was originally written as a three-page reflection paper in partial fulfillment of the requirements for PHIL 2013.


A Paper in PHIL 2013

An Attempt to Relate the Fundamental Substances of the Pre-Socratics to the Aristotelian Four Causes.

INTRODUCTION.

This paper seeks to utilize a rather creative, if not mere alternative, an approach in relating the views of the prior Pre-Socratic ontology to the later Aristotelian system, and vice versa; that, by means of classifying the fundamental substance(s) held by each Pre-Socratic thinker under Aristotle’s Four Causes, a more firm grasp of the similarities and dissimilarities of both philosophical traditions may be accomplished, reproduced in the very least. And by traditions, it is thereby acknowledged the fact that Aristotle’s had been more systematic, organized, scientific as contradistinguished from those of his predecessors’ all of which were unadulterated, crude, raw.

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On Michel Foucault’s The Hermeneutic of the Subject

This undergraduate philosophical paper was originally written as a two-page reflection paper in partial fulfillment of the requirements for PHIL 1043.


     A Reflection Paper in PHIL 1043

On Michel Foucault’s The Hermeneutic of the Subject

Plato never speaks of the examination of the conscience—never.1

With the whole weight of historical fragments already been made available upon his milieu, as objects of deciphering, analyzing, rumination, of study, it may thus be anachronistic to compare or contrast ages and races, i.e. a particular century on the one hand and a Hellenistic epoch on the other, only to render something the best among the rest. But an empty history is different from a poignant genealogy.

In the Hermeneutic of the Subject, Michel Foucault draws technology from the Greco-Roman literature, particularly from those of the Stoics and Epicureans. Without contending that such materials are immortal in the service of the soul, Foucault rather points out that it is the reflecting subject and not the materials utilized for whom the archive of knowledge is due. Knowledge for knowledge’ sake was thereat set aside. Foucault emphasized on the “progressive exercises of memorization” by the creative self and not on static mnemonics of sheer recollection ala Theory of Forms:

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On Plato’s Ethical Theory

This undergraduate philosophical paper was originally written as a two-page reflection paper in partial fulfillment of the requirements for PHIL 1043.


On Plato’s Ethical Theory

. . . Let us take nothing away from Plato, Idealism, Cosmology . . . wheresoever philosophical discourse transpire, occur or take its course in the affairs of man throughout the history of thought there, to a greater or lesser extent, emerges the indurate principles of politics, justice, virtue and truth—the tenor of hitherto philosophical inquiry beseeks (or challenges) objective knowledge as personified in Plato versus the Sophists, thus the archaic “What’s out there?”

If in a sense the Sophists had been somewhat modest in abstaining from assenting universally binding knowledge, by remaining rhetoricians of skepticism: Plato (427-347) the founder of the Academy constructed a prominently faithful system aimed at Truth.

Plato’s ethical theory revolves around the question, “What is the good life?” This is in accordance with the Socratic philosophy ‘Virtue is Knowledge’ that is, to know the good is to do the good. For Plato, the highest and happiest kind of living is best exemplified through the use of reason. He maintains that knowledge provides the individual with the fundamental precept upon which his passion and appetite must conform. Such harmony of the three distinct faculties of man namely reason, passion and appetite equates to the Platonic conception of justice.

The ideal system of Plato’s ethical theory is buttressed by two essential pillars: the doctrine of teleology and the theory of the Forms. The doctrine of teleology states that everything in the universe is pre-determined and has in them an inherent purpose. On the other hand, the theory of the Forms constitutes the total-aggregate of each and all the concepts and ideas as manifested in the material world. Each is the relentless corroborate of the other. Simply put, the core of Plato’s philosophical thought clearly illustrates the poignant picture of idealistic credo.

It may have been one well-crafted a portrait Plato’s narrative, a protruding schematization stabilized by the vibrant and elaborate colors of his idealistic panorama of the world —a Mona Lisa of ingenious ideas. Yet on the opposite side of the gallery, there, in a streak of dancing lights, arises another brand of creative thinkers: the Sophists. If Plato’s masterpiece echoes the idea of justice as absolute and immutable, impressing upon the individual a pre-formulated concoction from which each of them must not stray, the Sophists, on the other hand, offers the antipode, emphasizing the function of man as a barometer for his own self. Justice, according to the Sophists, is relative to the individual’s caprice. The Sophists deny the existence of justice in the absolute; their narrative may be gleaned in the words of the Sophist Protagoras (ca. 490-420) that ‘Man is the measure of all things’.  Continue reading “On Plato’s Ethical Theory”