Called the most rapidly ascendant philosopher since Jacques Derrida, Quentin Meillassoux, the star pupil of Alain Badiou, has achieved something akin to cultish sainthood since the 2006 publication of his of his first book, After Finitude. And rightly so, given that his ideas inform the basis of speculative realism, one of the most hotly debated theoretical strains of the 21st century.
Yet, Meillassoux's theses—including his critique of 'correlationism', or the post-Kantian notion that being and thought are perpetually and inescapably intertwined—can be difficult to unpack. Helping us do that is Paul Ennis, editor of the journal Speculations and a recently graduated doctor of philosophy, whose explications of Meillassoux have been sanctioned by no less than the thinker himself.
Q: In Post-Continental Voices, you interview a number of post-Continental theorists about their intellectual and professional development, and their feelings about emergent philosophical strains. So, let me turn your own question back on you: What have been some of the formative influences on your academic maturation, and how did you become involved with speculative realism?
PE: When I started my Ph.D in 2007, I was treading a quite familiar path as far as my department was concerned (University College, Dublin). The plan was to write a thesis on Heidegger and ecological thinking, with a side-line in spatial/topological issues. For roughly two years, I was carrying out this project dutifully and was heavily influenced by the phenomenologists around me. For the most part, I was exposed to the Heideggerian version of phenomenology as ontology, as well as related offshoots of this tradition that stretch into Derrida and the weak theology of Caputo and others. Hermeneutics was also in the background, and I suspect my writing will always have something of this nexus in it.
The names that grabbed my attention during this time were Ed Casey, Stuart Elden, and Lee Braver. These are the kinds of thinkers I aspire to be like. Ed Casey revealed to me that phenomenology could still be carried out as method, rather than historical exegesis. Elden and Braver are master readers of other thinkers, and they are absolutely meticulous when doing so. I'm trying to get back to that way of writing after undergoing a bout of excitement that came with being released from a mental quagmire; more on this release in a moment.
In a more historical sense, I was fond of reading Dilthey and dipped into (the Heideggerian version of) Schelling. Hegel, due to the great respect he had amongst my peers, became quite important toward the tail end of my thesis. My thesis has its speculative crescendo, but the first two chapters lean heavily on Kant and Hegel. I'm not a Kantian or a Hegelian, but I know that the two form the broad hermeneutical horizon for what I do (more...)
The above via Fractured Politics. Paul Ennis received his doctorate from University College, Dublin in 2011. He is the author of Post-Continental Voices (2010) and Continental Realism (2011), as well as the editor of Speculations, a journal of speculative realism. Follow his blog at Another Heidegger Blog and on Twitter at twitter.com/lordwhatever.