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philosopher and filmmaker from brighton, currently teaching philosophy at the Free University of Brighton

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  1. Violi
    Violi at |

    One of the difficulties I have with correlationism as explicated in this part of Meillassoux’s line of thought is what function the given plays on knowledge. It seems that he is advocating a view of giveness and correlationism that is not entirely consistent. This inconsistency shows itself in the idea that we ‘know’ the given. In what sense is the ‘given’ known, or how is it given? Well, if we go with correlationism, the only way in which something can be given is by virtue of being an object for a subject, or a phenomenon for a perceiver etc — in short, in a form of duality and relation. As such, the very notion of giveness is completely heterogeneous for anything with the form of a subject-object interaction, because the idea of a given attempts to exclude this relativism in knowlege. For correlationism, how something is given is premised entirely on the relativity between the particular subject and object at hand, how the object construes or reflects on the object at hand. Some post-Kantians wanted to nip this dilemma in the bud by followng Kant and making correlationism a facet of perception: perception itself is a correlative process that births awareness of an object by a subject. But, the idea of the given attempts to a certain degree to collapse this subject-object relation by offering the given as a ground. However, they get tangled in their own web when they have to explain how a given is known, for their construal of knowledge already presuppose the subject-object relation, so the given must and can only be known within that relation. This is their vague circularity: there is a given that is beyond the subject-object relation in some way, but it can only be known in terms of a subject-object relation by virtue of the limits and mechanisms of knowledge. So, to avoid this then the given must be something that either comes before the subject-object relation, or after it; it is either an end-point of reflection (or knowledge about some ‘thing’) or a prerequisite of reflection, never within the area of reflection itself. By reflection here I mean the conceptual construal of a particular So, the given can’t ever be or be employed as a concept, or even as a FOR as you say, nor even as a DR because. This because it again cannot exclude the variances between FOR and DR which the idea of the ‘given’ attempts to make possible.

    It seems to me that the correlationism depicted in Meillassoux wants the given to have a function that it cannot adopt without severe incosistencies.

    Schopenhauer had a view of and a way out of this problem of correlationism, as did Nietzsche. Both with different avenues and lines of thought, and both with similar problems. For both it was action and the affects that were the avenues of the given: one as a prerequisite of reflection, the other as the end point of reflection, both being given in a way that was beyond correlationism and evading the problems of the limits knowledge (the problems of reflection). The affects and actions (sensations and acts of will for Schopenhauer; drives and deeds for Nietzsche) were the given, one before knowledge and the web of reflection, the other after it. A very ingenius move, but with its own problems. Yet, it makes for a convincing and phenomenologically superior approach towards a solution to the problem of the given: to have two kinds of ‘givens’, if you will, instead of one offers us a subtle way out of these metaphysical and ontological traps, but also it places a further nail on the coffin of transcendent metaphysics, and paves the way for a philosophical psychology or a practical philosophy (a philosophy of the agent/self).

    A very interesting thought process and read Matt, cheers. Also thanks for suggesting the book to me, it’s been an interesting read, but also very burdensome with respect to how Meillassoux expresses himself. I suppose it’s probably due to the translation from French into English.

  2. Violi
    Violi at |

    Pardon the errors Matt, was writing in a rush.

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