Sunday, November 20, 2011

Graham Harman on Quentin Meillassoux

I've been slowly working my way through Harman's Quentin Meillassoux: Philosophy in the Making (Edinburgh University Press, 2011). It's a challenging book and is not the place to start if you're new to Harman's work. ( Circus Philosophicus is the book I'd urge newbies to begin with. I think it's a volume that poets, in particular, will find engaging. But I digress.)

I'm fascinated by a passage from the Meillassoux volume. It's from the chapter on The Divine Inexistence. Here goes:

"Meillassoux's model of the divine 'carries both atheism and religion to their ultimate consequences in order to unveil their truth: God does not exist, and it is necessary to believe in God' (DI 233). If God existed, we could not believe in his advent, and we would be stuck with the amoral God who allows miserable things to occur. Belief now means hope for the future immanent God rather than faith in a current but hidden one. But we should also remember that 'atheism diminishes humans and humiliates their projects by deposing what it believes to be a simple myth' (DI 234). We have seen that what it gives us instead is a Promethean model of humans who are debased as badly as the amoral God of religion himself. For this reason, all the present-day efforts at demystification are a 'mocking enterprise...that only allows our species a few mediocre projects compared with what we are capable of envisaging. It is a sarcasm of humans towards humans, and thus a hatred of oneself' (DI 234). Religion is no better, but simply 'the undercurrent of a world that is not infinitely desired: a world not seized in its infinite power of advent, and loved for the eternal promise of which its madness is guarantor' (DI 235)."

I've been thinking about this passage all morning. It is a startlingly cogent tear-down of a chilling cultural binary.

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