Scoop Review of Books

A Mighty Twist of Thought

The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism, edited by Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek and Graham Harman ( Melbourne, 2011)
Review By Vaughan Rapatahana



This is not a book for the ‘average’ reader. It’s difficult enough for the mythical ‘trained academic’ to digest some of the somersaulting phrases and dense terminology sprinkled throughout its over 400 e-book only pages (downloadable for free, by the way) – more so in some chapters than in others, for this is a collection of policy statements and concomitant rebuttals by over 20 very distinctive and quite idiosyncratic writers. Take – purely as random – this sentence from Reza Negarestani:

The exclusive stance of the organism in regard to its path to death is the very expression of the insurmountable truth of death within the organic horizon as a dissipative tendency which is supposed to mobilize the conservative condition of the organism toward death

My overall feelings – at times – after reading some such sections was best summarized by: ‘how can these guys write like this and stand there straight-faced’?

Now to be fair to the contributors also, there is a tremendous amount of clever and radical and worthwhile thought throughout this tome too and it is because of this I will attempt to summarize the overall tenor of this book, for there is no way whatsoever in which one can delineate the details of each and every piece involved, in a book review such as this. Rather it is a dip-into book, methinks: one delves here and there as much guided by the author involved as by the topic pertaining. For example, I like to read Ray Brassier and it was his name rather than his chapter title of ‘Concepts and Objects’, which drew me to read through this book non-sequentially. Indeed I believe the intention of the editors – who had never had a face-to-face encounter, one with the other, before this book was published – to make the book available for this exact purpose – as a (philosophical) resource, given also that some writers represented here seem to set up more politicized credos. Given also one doesn’t generally equate the two strands – politics and philosophy – as equal knits in the overall fabric of society.

That said – and au contraire – I actually have a lot of time for what Negarestani says in the selfsame chapter (‘Drafting the Inhuman: Conjectures on Capitalism and Organic Necrocracy’) as I quoted above:

Capitalism is, in fact, the very affordable and conservative path to death dictated by the human organism on an all encompassing level…In other words, the truth of capitalism’s global dominance lies in its monopolistic necrocracy

You just need to be selective and – above all – patient when tackling this book. One thing that I will, however, stress is that the introductory chapter entitled ‘Toward a Speculative Philosophy’ is relatively clear, cogent and concise and has actually acted as a lodestone for my overall skinny-dipping into the often icy waters of its ensuing pages. I will quote comprehensively from it in the following, and also from several extraneous sources, so as to explain and explicate for readers more about the overall ambience of this turn, and less to focus on individual, specialized and somewhat murkier chapters.

Furthermore, it is very necessary to define what on Earth Speculative Realism ‘actually’ is – given that Brassier, as just one example – totally disavows the relevance of such a phrase and, further, is disinclined to be incorporated a team member of such a grouping; a mere ‘term of convenience’ conjured up to gather together some players who share a basic stance, but who then also share a fairly disparate playing style. As witness the book under review! At least the editors do acknowledge:

Various intriguing philosophical trends, their bastions scattered across the globe, have gained adherents and started to produce a critical mass of emblematic works. While it is difficult to find a single adequate name to cover all of these trends, we propose ‘The Speculative Turn.

It is also important to note that several of the contributions had been published elsewhere earlier, and many of them are also translations. This harlequin oeuvre, then, is a compilation, not a continuum.

So, what is the adjective speculative pertaining to here? To quote from an Arun Saldhana (Back to the Great Outdoors: Speculative Realism as Philosophy of Science, 2009) review of Quentin Meillassoux, this includes all thinking that claims to be able to access the absolute without the principle of sufficient reason i.e. speculative thinking is anti-metaphysical. Thus opening up a whole ‘new’ can of worms, primarily the large maggot of correalationism, which I will define shortly. Quentin Meillassoux was promulgator of this latter equation: perhaps an originator of SR with his radical and important book After Finitude first published in French in 2006.

Finally, in my long introductory section, it also has to be made clear what on Earth these often young men are relating to when they mention either realism or materialism. To be frank the answer from the editors is itself vague! The writers here included wish to preserve a possible distinction between the material and the real, is all they offer!

Historical Background:

’Speculative Realism’ was originally the title of a conference in 2007 that brought together four lesser-known but promising philosophers [namely Brassier, Meillassoux, Iain Hamilton Grant and Graham Harman] (Louis Morelle, ‘Speculative Realism: After Finitude and Beyond’ [pdf], Speculations, 2012)

1. It is further avowed by me – and, of course several other commentators – that this speculative turn is rooted deep in Continental Philosophy (as opposed to a more austere Anglo-American mulch), yet, more than this, it is also a distinct turn against ‘traditional’ continental thought: while this rubber-man gambol is itself a distinct feature of this ‘type’ of philosophy. That is, an ability to turn and both kick and lick its very own backside, is a distinct hallmark of continental philosophy.

Morelle writes as follows: ‘Most of SR’s [Speculative Realism’s] participants come out of Anglo-Saxon academia, where continental philosophy constitutes a specific and autonomous field in the margins of mainstream, analytical philosophy, which most people see as “philosophy tout court”, while in France for example the situation is exactly reversed.’

The participants in SR, then, are ‘happy’ to be included as continental philosophers even although they are especially antithetical to what Morelle further nominates ‘as the almost completely “definitive” character of the Kantian turn in the eyes of classic continental philosophers (i.e. the endorsement of correalationism)… [in] a continuous line of thought from Kant to Derrida through other major figures (Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault.)’ So this is continental philosophy ‘by’ often Anglo-reared and educated thinkers, who are throwing the ‘old’ continental philosophy away as they are attempting to break in a whole new riding bull of thought.

More, the SR philosophers are assimilative of referencing the very (continental) philosophers they are seeking to refute, thus for Morelle, again, they are genuinely speculative –

The paradoxical idea of a metaphysics that does not seek to ignore objections to it but to incorporate their contributions, makes the “realism” in question “speculative”, since it tries to develop specific modes of thought and foundation, taking seriously the inevitable intertwining of reason with other forms of thought, apprehension, and existence.

Therefore Meillassoux himself also wants to abnegate both Martin Heidegger and Ludwig Wittgenstein (and Foucault also, by the way) ‘for setting up a strong correlationism that dominated twentieth century philosophy’ (New Materialism: Interviews & Cartographies, 2012.). Yet this process is not a foreign play – it is typical of an approach to thinking that tends not to occur in the stricter and narrower Anglo-American nexus.

2. Speculative Realism necessitates that Man is relegated somewhat, is downgraded as a fount of ‘truth’, away from any sense whereby:

Humanity remains at the centre of these works [qua both ‘analytic’ and ‘traditional’ ‘continental philosophy’], and reality appears in philosophy only as a correlate of human thought…But all of them [qua the writers represented in this collection]…have begun speculating once more about the nature of reality independently of thought and of humanity more generally (Editors)

So there is absolutely no room for any anthropocentrism in Speculative Realism, hereafter SR. Indeed Meillassoux wishes to dig up what I can only call ‘the very past’ (in his words ancestrality) – where both humanity and life are absent – a realm before the discourse of existence in the words of Saldanha. Gone is the safety of the terrestrial subject (ibid.)

3. Thus, the outside ‘real’ world is restored in all its extant glory: all a part of this new or speculative and at times – downrightly weirdly drawn – materialism. It’s all ‘about’ a return to the ‘Great Outdoors’, if you will, as Saldana lifted the phrase from Meillassoux to title his 2009 review of the ineluctable After Finitude.

Hence – ‘There needs to be an aspect of ontology that is independent of its enmeshment in human concerns ‘(Editors.)  Or as Ray Brassier noted in his very own Nihil Unbound (2007) It is no longer thought that determines the object, whether through representation or intuition, but rather the object that seizes thought and forces it to think it, or better according to it. Elsewhere (nY #2, 2009) he elaborates – There is a reality that transcends the bounds of possible human experience set out by Kant, but we are learning that it is populated by ‘things’ about which it is proving increasingly difficult to say ‘what’ they are…

Meillassoux elsewhere – in New Materialism: Interviews & Cartographies – stresses clearly that Being is separate and independent of thought…materialism…asserts that non-thinking actually precedes, or at least may in right precede thought, and exists outside of it…devoid of any subjectivity, and independent of our relationship to the world. More this is contingent being, a key note in his approach – something I also investigate further on.

Therefore, for these thinkers –
4. Correalationist parameters are revoked – which is basically most of the history of (Western) philosophy since Immanuel Kant, which – broadly speaking – maintains that any knowledge of a reality independent of thought is untenable (Editors.) This is also – of course – why universities in USA and UK, as prime examples, as well as publications stemming from these selfsame locales, totally ignore Speculative Realism.

More exactly, for Mellassoux and – here there is vast common ground with others of a SR persuasion – the term correalationism is clearly enunciated as ‘The idea according to which we only ever have access to the correlation between thinking and being, and never to either term considered apart from the other.’ (Meillassoux actually identifies two distinct ‘brands’ of correalationism, if you will – weak and strong. I will not split hairs here.)

5. Because the entire sweep of Western philosophy is eviscerated in one mighty swoop – thus this concomitant ignoring of the speculative turn by the traditional philosophical press – the turn, in its turn, has turned to placing great stress on online sources of expression – blogs, websites, online journals like Collapse and Pli are the rampant via media now.

This modern recourse to new and informal and speedy and public and egalitarian modes of communication and its cousin, open-access publishing (as in the book here under review) indicates ‘The construction of a space outside the constrictions of traditional academia … [this] makes a stark contrast with the long waiting-periods typical of refereed journals and mainstream publishers’ (Editors.) About time too, I say.

6. There is in SR a firm accent on science, more particularly as to a focus on – for example – neurophysiology (which relates back to my point above about the SR dismissal of any notions of a transcendental ego or a phenomenologically potent ‘subject’). Ray Brassier insists that ‘the idea of a purely a priori, armchair metaphysics, presuming to legislate about the structure of reality while blithely ignoring the findings of our best sciences, strikes me as indefensible’ (Interview in Kronos, March 2011.) And also – for Meillassoux especially here – a complete focus on Mathematics – What is mathematizable cannot be reduced to a correlate of thought (The New Materialism.)

So in one of five not so distinct sections in this book there is one ‘on’ science, although I do have to concur with critic Thomas Nail in his recent 2012 online review that

The final section on science is diverse, perhaps too diverse to conclude anything about SR’s relationship to science beyond what the individual authors seem to have already been up to well before anyone was talking about SR.

In other words these scientific thinkers – here John Protevi, Manuel DeLanda, Isabelle Stengers and Gabriel Catren – although writing well, are not part of an overall thread other than being writers about science! Philippi Bertoni, writing in Krisis 3 (2011), says exactly the same thing – ‘Indeed, some of the thinkers in this volume, often coming from outside the very fabric of speculative realism, attempt to take materialism seriously by looking at “science”.’

The Guts:

Here I will concentrate mainly on the four ‘originators’ of SR, which is not to belittle all of the several others contributing not only to this tome, but to the ‘movement’ per se. Rather it will serve – as above – to give an overview of the entire turn and therefore leave readers free to decide where or even whether to take partake of its pages. I will focus especially on Meillassoux (whose ontologically radical work rather dominates the other’s responses throughout The Speculative Turn) and Ray Brassier, who intrigues me the most and can be said to be right at – if not beyond – the forefront of SRism via his own idiosyncratic ontological mission. These two would for me at least be described as digging into real deep ontology – and it’s a pretty barren place. These two also, more than any other contributors to this volume, surely display what for Bertoni is ‘a strong sense of antagonism…hostile to traditional, anti-realist post-Kantian thinkers.’

For Graham Harman, everything is an object, ‘he defends a version of the Aristotlelian notion of substance’ (Wikipedia, online), while Iain Hamilton Grant differs in that he is convinced a return to Plato’s concept of Matter is necessary, as opposed to what he calls ‘somatism’ or the philosophy of bodies. These two interplay rather a lot throughout the text in what I would term – with all due respect to both – an epistemological-centred ontology. This continues, in fact, their roles in the four part dialogue with both Brassier and Meillassoux in Collapse III (2007) entitled, believe it or not, Speculative Realism. [See also previous parts on Urbanomic ]

Meillassoux, in his original After Finitude, sets out to establish that there is no justification for the necessity of physical laws, meaning that while the universe may be ordered in such and such a way currently, there is no reason it could not be otherwise tomorrow. He writes that – ‘The same cause may actually bring about a “hundred different events” (and even many more.)‘ He calls this Hyperchaos, whereby all is contingent, including any ‘laws’ of cause and effect. In summary, ‘Meillassoux derives the necessity of contingency or “hyperchaos”: the apparently counterintuitive result that anything is possible from one moment to the next’ (Editors.)

For Meillassoux wishes to, as the editors further succinctly place it, postulate ‘the destruction of the principles of sufficient reason and affirm a purely intelligible Chaos as the logical outcome of Correlationism’s own internal principles’ (Thus being the sole representative of the gang of four to not completely repudiate the very bonding between thought and being, he seeks to dismantle!) More, in his (translated and here reprinted) contribution to this collection entitled Potentiality and Vitality, Meillassoux goes further to draw out the idea that there is absolutely no foundation to affirm probabilities to any phenomenal event in the universe and that indeed he separates what he calls potentiality and novelty. The latter denies the former and ‘asserts the fundamental novelty that is able to emerge beyond any pre-constituted totality’ (Editors.)

Reality for this interestingly deviate thinker, then, is ‘radically independent of our humanity’ (‘The New Materialism’) Ultimately also, it is because of this contingency, this hyperchaotic lack of cause and effect, there is absolutely no reason why a supreme being might not also eventuate! (This is, in fact, a later development of this man’s initial SR turn, but bears considerable emphasis in this review as it is so very intriguing.) Thus –

“Meillassoux believes that we can trace out the shape of the next event that will transcend humanity as we know it. Humanity’s great failing for Meillassoux is the cold, hard reality of death, which keeps human intellect from fulfilling its vocation to grasp the infinite. One might hope for something like the immortality of the soul in order to overcome this obstacle, but this would not fit the pattern that Meillassoux had established for the previous events. All of those transformative events rested on the foundation of the stage before it, while the immortality of the soul would simply leave embodied human existence (and hence the organic and material levels that provide its foundation) behind. The next stage of humanity must be material, must be organic and bodily — but it will be immortal. What’s more, this event will not apply solely to those who happen to be living when it happens. It must overcome the death of all human beings, allowing them to fulfill their vocation.

Adam Kotsko (‘Quentin Meillassouz and the Crackpot Sublime’, 2012.)

Meillassoux’s apocalyptic and radical vision would seem to be anticipating the plausible future arrival of some mega-human individual – God if you will – who will resurrect everyone ever.

Yet, in firm reaction to this, in his chapter from the selfsame volume, is Martin Haggland’s intriguing comment that ‘Immortality is impossible…also it is not desirable in the first place’ (‘Radical Atheist Materialism: A Critique of Meillassoux’)

Ray Brassier tells us that in fact that it is precisely because there is death and ultimate extinction, that there is any life at all, thus any philosophy at all – ‘that it is only because life is conditioned by its own extinction that there is thought at all’ as he scribes in his seminal tome Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction. Philosophy is more truly a partner to non-Being. The truly serious and prime philosophical problem transmutes, then, to dealing with Death. Indeed Brassier sees Death as a totally non-human presence, an inevitability. Brassier subtracts any individual‘s eminent epistemological existence from the equation.

The sheer divorcing by SR from the lifeblood of a human presence becomes in these two philosophers especially, a cold, austere always present backdrop which just doesn’t care, and doesn’t mean anything at all. This, for Brassier, is the quintessential ‘truth.’


1. The real importance of Speculative Realism is its affronting confrontation with ‘the dominant strands of post-Kantian thought in both Continental and Analytic schools of philosophy’ (Wikipedia, online.) To me – it IS a very important departure, a radical apotheosis well worthy of further contemporary study and analysis. Yet, as Eric Phettleplace (College and Research Libraries, 2010) points out so well ‘Traditional print reference resources…are silent on this recent trend. Worst of all, two of the best internet reference resources, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, also lack entries for Speculative Realism, most of its related theories, and its leading figures.’ There is a deliberate GAP here and one is certainly – somewhat ironically, given his non-inclusion in any SR roundup – reminded of Foucault’s episteme or regime change. Or in this case, non such. Quite what the extent of the shock to an entrenched Anglo-American AND a traditional Continental bias with their respective Kantian apotheosis will be – when, rather than if – remains an intriguing question. When we take into consideration Paul Virilo’s dromological championing of electronic communication, where everything becomes exponentially intertwined at an increasingly fast rate – much sooner than we realize, I believe. When it does eventuate, will we be swimming in a new Weltanschauung sea?

However there are also several other important possibilities ramping from my reading of The Speculative Turn, given that – to quote yet another time from its Introduction –

Given the relatively recent emergence of continental materialism and realism, the future of these trends is still unclear, and debates in a number of areas remain less than fully formed.

2. Through placing its foundation on science – and in Meillassoux’s case especially in Mathematics (he points out in After Finitude that ‘whatever is mathematically conceivable is absolutely possible’) – the entire SR ‘movement’, for example intrigues me as to what now any notion of a Subject could be, especially with the rapid rise of biotechnical means to augment human ‘mental’ health and prowess – and life – now extant and developing at a rate of knots. ‘What do neuroscientific findings about consciousness, free will, and certainty say about our philosophical conceptions of the world and ourselves?’ write Bryant, Srnicek and Harman, the editorial trio. Brassier again notes – ‘I am rather more interested in experience-less subjects. Another name for this would be “memocentrism”…the objectification of experience would generate self-less subjects that understand themselves to be no-one and no-where (n Y.)’

3. SR’s underpinning accent is on death, extermination, entropy I believe, yet in a recent essay entitled On Death (‘On Death—Extended/, 2013) I also incurred the names of Ray Kurzweil and Aubrey de Gray and their firm (self) beliefs that age can be conquered, death is not inevitable and that therefore, Brassier’s extinction could potentially be negated.

4. More, Srnicek in his chapter Capitalism and the Non-Philosophical Subject (as deflected and reflected by Negrestani and then the indomitable Slavoj Zizeck, who contributes rather amply also throughout, given his own reservations about SR per se, which I will return to soon) himself tries also to draw out the SR ‘fact’ that macro-political notions also will be affected seismically in that there is – for all of them, in some fashion, a world beyond or – better put – before ourselves, as witness Meillassoux’s notion of an already extant arch-fossil. How then do we incorporate Capitalism, Marxism et al or ‘mere’ ‘enmeshment in human concerns’ to this substratum? The potential new avenues are wide and travel over previously unmapped terrain.

Saldhana, for example, also ponders how this ‘new’ way of philosophizing can affect the dominant ‘global metaphysical scene…the dogmas of Science, Profit, Nation and Law. The time seems right for a new rationalist attack on metaphysical dogma…’ For Saldhana the ‘continuing faith in the invisible hand of the market’, for example is all part of the incorporative myth of ‘modern’ Capitalism. Stengers repudiates what she calls scientific eliminativism in her very percipient chapter ‘Wondering about Materialism’, pointing out that ‘The thesis I am defending – [is] that materialism should be divorced from (academic) eliminativism in order to connect with struggle…Elimination has become the very tool of power. It is not only a tool for capitalism, but also for what I would call…”bad science”.’

Yet such chapters are piecemeal aspects of an overall incomplete SR ‘programme’. Even Srnicek says about a ‘movement’ he espouses and edits as here, that there is ‘A notable absence so far when it comes to issues of subjectivity and politics…[SR is in danger of being] an interesting, but ultimately useless theoretical venture.’ Given this comment, Brassier does in fact touch on aesthetics – but in distinct interviews elsewhere.

5. On considering ‘what does it all mean’ with reference to this book (and the spin-ins and offs of blogs, websites, online journals) one must also take into trenchant consideration all the double and triple somersaults catapulting throughout this volume. It’s like a set of Chinese boxes, actually. For example, Hamilton Grant responds to Harman, Harman responds to Steven Shaviro, while the entire gamut of chapters 7 to 11 by some of the usual suspects and also by writers as distinctive as Alberto Toscano, Adrian Johnson, Peter Hallward and Nathan Brown are responses to After Finitude! Brassier, for example, also critiques the very man whom he translates, Quentin Meillassoux, when he questions the latter’s grounding of his thought in ancestrality – by divulging that ‘There’s very little mathematical about what we know about brontosauruses.’

6. Significantly here too, Saldhana picks on Meillassoux for exactly the same ‘reason’: an actual lack of reality for these ‘new’ realists – ‘Most science cannot do without the induction, translation and aleatory reasoning that are so austerely denied by Meillassoux.’ This is the very thing that Bertoni criticizes SR per se for in that it’s not itself close enough to the very reality it seeks to affirm –

The attempt to define what is real by starting from speculation…is concerning…for its dispensing with empiricism…Can the proposal to avoid idealism and return to materialism through metaphysical speculation bring us any further…[the editors] ignore the contributions of empirical disciplines and fall short of realism and materialism…Deluding ourselves by pretending that anthropocentrism can disappear by just bringing quixotic ‘objects in-themselves’ into our analysis is neither a realist nor a materialist solution.

I have to concur: the SR project is somewhat short of a cohesive pragmatism. Joshua Mostafa in 2011, speaks of a possible very beneficial spin-off from SR –

Thinking about the world as a consumer turns it into one huge repository of resources for us, and of significance only in terms of how best they can best be exploited, is what has sent us hurtling towards extinction. To change course, we need to think about the non-human world in a radically different way. Yet while the entire value of The Speculative Turn is to introduce us to this way, it provides us no means to escape the inevitable extinction Brassier, for one, postulates as inevitable anyway. [See also Larval Subjects, 2011 ]

7. Then there’s the noted thinkers such as Alain Badiou and Zizeck, who are included in the book, but who criticize SR on different grounds. (I have not until now mentioned Bruno Latour’s contribution all ‘about’ Etienne Souriau, because I am not convinced that it clarifies anything about SR, but rather muddies the waters even more!) So Badiou mutters that:

There is a detachment from the present in SR, a kind of stoicism of the present. There is no clear presentation or vision of the present…There is no theory of the event in SR. They need a vision of the becoming of the world…For Meillassoux the future decides, the future and perhaps the dead will make the final judgment.

Rather an intriguing critique from within a movement that isn’t a movement – the book is replete with such schisms between its writers, which not only undermines the project here under review but serves up separate yet related criticisms of speculative realism as such.

Take also Zizeck. He also picks on Meillassoux: The great underlying problem, writes Zizeck:

[is] the status of the subject. I think that, in its very anti-transcendentalism, Meillassoux remains caught in the Kantian topic of the accessibility of the thing-in-itself… we need a theory of the subject which is neither that of transcendental subjectivity nor that of reducing the subject to a part of objective reality. This theory is, as far as I can see, still lacking in speculative realism.

On a personal note with regard to these interminable double-jointed role-reversals, Ray Brassier in this volume (and elsewhere) interestingly enough reinvents Wilfred Sellars, whom I suffered through at The University of Auckland for a year under the tutelage of Julian Young who had in turn not suffered under the tutelage of Sellars himself at Wayne State University way back in the 1960s while he was a student there. Yet now Julian has done a complete backward flip into an open-armed avowal of Heidegger and is universally acknowledged as an expert on the German writer’s philosophy. Brassier, in his speculative turn, has deconstructed Heidegger!

Wow – once more!

Morelle therefore enquires How to conclude after multiple back and forths, tentative philosophical hypotheses, and their repeated rebuttals? Ultimately, what can be said about speculative realism as such, which appears so divided and dispersed?

My response is: to go back to my earlier thesis about this treatise: dip your toes into this swell, sometimes your fingers. Sip on its pages here and there or wherever you dare, for there is absolutely no way that it can – or should be – imbibed in one or two or sixteen marathon session(s). God forbid. Or should that read forbidden?

Because, to quote from Lindblom viz Brassier We might understand what he [Brassier] says, but then we still go shopping, talk about selves, emotions and so on. Better than walking with your head riveted to your own backside, eh! There’s no real requirement to scan philosophy books either.

Perhaps we also can raise our hands straight up skyward to vote for Francois Laruelle’s non-philosophy – as espoused in his reprinted and translated contribution The Generic as Predicate and Constant: Non-Philosophy and Materialism – as a direct concatenation to SR as an ironic means to not dissect it any further.

Laruelle’s project involves replacing philosophy with ‘non-philosophy’, i.e. the ‘systematic opposition to every philosophical attempt to use thought to add anything to the “flat” discoveries of scientificity and the “radically immanent” presence of the Real. The Real is always present, always accessible, but, since it is not an idea or a concept, the nature of philosophy is to perpetually miss it…this negative thesis…permits abolishing every attempt to think about the world apart from the insurmountable facts of the real that are proposed to us


Philosophy will never accommodate an understanding of the Real by virtue of the fact that philosophy itself attempts to analyse the Real by something other than this Real e.g. by ideas, concepts, language. Thus the need for a non-philosophy in a world which – as Brassier ceaselessly concludes – ‘is not designed to be intelligible and is not ordinarily infused with meaning.’

The speculative turn is a mighty twist toward an alien modus operandi in its fascinating attempt to counterscrew us all into fully comprehending the ‘right’ way of thinking about being and being without thinking too, eh. A philosophy that isn’t.

Vaughan Rapatahana earned his Ph.D from the University of Auckland many years ago. He studied Existentialism and Phenomenology and Anglo-American analytic parabolas for his Masters (Hons.) degree, before producing a doctoral thesis entitled Existential Literary Criticism and the Novels of Colin Wilson. His favourite philosophers remain Frenchmen with a penchant for convoluted contortional agenda!