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Category Archives: Ray Brassier

What we witness in this time is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World turning into Rave New World. A world in which the well known and the so called lines between mind and body, fantasy and reality, nature and culture, organic and inorganic, life and death, are not just blurred, but have completely disappeared. And yet, at the same time, these lines are in the process of reappearance.

Here’s another ENCHANTING POST from D.C., referring to a bit of my stuff, and a bit of Badiou, Žižek, and Brassier. … Read More

via Object-Oriented Philosophy

The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism

Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek and Graham Harman (editors)

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Continental philosophy has entered a new period of ferment. The long deconstructionist era was followed with a period dominated by Deleuze, which has in turn evolved into a new situation still difficult to define. However, one common thread running through the new brand of continental positions is a renewed attention to materialist and realist options in philosophy. Among the current giants of this generation, this new focus takes numerous different and opposed forms. It might be hard to find many shared positions in the writings of Badiou, DeLanda, Laruelle, Latour, Stengers, and Zizek, but what is missing from their positions is an obsession with the critique of written texts. All of them elaborate a positive ontology, despite the incompatibility of their results. Meanwhile, the new generation of continental thinkers is pushing these trends still further, as seen in currents ranging from transcendental materialism to the London-based speculative realism movement to new revivals of Derrida. As indicated by the title The Speculative Turn, the new currents of continental philosophy depart from the text-centered hermeneutic models of the past and engage in daring speculations about the nature of reality itself. This anthology assembles authors, of several generations and numerous nationalities, who will be at the center of debate in continental philosophy for decades to come.


Essays from:
Alain Badiou
Ray Brassier 
Nathan Brown
Levi Bryant 
Gabriel Catren
Manuel DeLanda 
Iain Hamilton Grant
Martin Hägglund 
Peter Hallward 
Graham Harman
Adrian Johnston
Francois Laruelle
Bruno Latour 
Quentin Meillassoux
Reza Negarestani
John Protevi
Steven Shaviro  
Nick Srnicek
Isabelle Stengers
Alberto Toscano 
Slavoj Žižek

 Authors, editors and contributors

Levi R. Bryant is a Professor of Philosophy at Collin College in Frisco, Texas.  He is the author of Difference and Givenness: Deleuze’s Transcendental Empiricism and the Ontology of Immanence as well as a number of articles on Deleuze, Badiou, and Lacanian psychoanalysis.

Graham Harman is Associate Provost for Research Administration at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. He has published the following books: Tool-Being (2002), Guerrilla Metaphysics (2005), Heidegger Explained (2007), Prince of Networks (2009), Towards Speculative Realism (2010), L’Objet quadruple (2010), and Circus Philosophicus (2010)

Nick Srnicek is a PhD candidate in International Relations at the London School of Economics. He is currently working towards a dissertation on the general dynamics of global political change, specifically focusing on the relations between contentious social movements, civil society organizations and international institutions. He has also published work in Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy and Pli: The Warwick Journal of Philosophy.

Word from Urbanomic that Volume III of Collapse has sold out and is now available for free online. It includes the much-cited original Speculative Realism conference. Find it here.

via Speculative Heresy

Collapse III contains explorations of the work of Gilles Deleuze by pioneering thinkers in the fields of philosophy, aesthetics, music and architecture. In addition, we publish in this volume two previously untranslated texts by Deleuze himself, along with a fascinating piece of vintage science fiction from one of his more obscure influences. Finally, as an annex to Collapse Volume II, we also include a full transcription of the conference on ‘Speculative Realism’ held in London in 2007.

The contributors to this volume aim to clarify, from a variety of perspectives, Deleuze’s contribution to philosophy: in what does his philosophical originality lie; what does he appropriate from other philosophers and how does he transform it? And how can the apparently disparate threads of his work to be ‘integrated’ – what is the precise nature of the constellation of the aesthetic, the conceptual and the political proposed by Gilles Deleuze, and what are the overarching problems in which the numerous philosophical concepts ‘signed Deleuze’ converge?


Editorial Introduction [PDF]
In Memoriam: Gilles Deleuze 1925-1995 [PDF]
Responses to a Series of Questions [PDF]
“I Feel I Am A Pure Metaphysician”: The Consequences of Deleuze’s Remark [PDF]
Subtraction and Contraction: Deleuze, Immanence and Matter and Memory [PDF]
Blackest Ever Black [PDF]
Mathesis, Science and Philosophy [PDF]
Malfatti's Decade [[PDF]
Chronos and Aion: Deleuze and the Stoic Theory of Time [PDF]
Matisse-Thought and the Strict Ordering of Fauvism [PDF]
Unknown Deleuze [PDF]
Another World [PDF]
Speculative Realism [PDF]


“But which is the revolutionary path? Is there one? – To withdraw from the world market, as Samir Amin advises Third World Countries to do, in a curious revival of the fascist “economic solution”? Or might it be to go in the opposite direction? To go further still, that is, in the movement of the market, of decoding and deterritorialization? For perhaps the flows are not yet deterritorialized enough, not decoded enough, from the viewpoint of a theory and practice of a highly schizophrenic character. Not to withdraw from the process, but to go further, to “accelerate the process,” as Nietzsche put it: in this matter, the truth is that we haven’t seen anything yet.”

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus

“The English unemployed did not have to become workers to survive, they – hang on tight and spit on me – enjoyed the hysterical, masochistic, whatever exhaustion it was of hanging on in the mines, in the foundries, in the factories, in hell, they enjoyed it, enjoyed the mad destruction of their organic body which was indeed imposed upon them, they enjoyed the decomposition of their personal identity, the identity that the peasant tradition had constructed for them, enjoyed the dissolutions of their families and villages, and enjoyed the new monstrous anonymity of the suburbs and the pubs in morning and evening.”

Jean-Francois Lyotard Libidinal Economy

“Machinic revolution must therefore go in the opposite direction to socialistic regulation; pressing towards ever more uninhibited marketization of the processes that are tearing down the social field, “still further” with “the movement of the market, of decoding and deterritorialization” and “one can never go far enough in the direction of deterritorialization: you haven’t seen anything yet”.

Nick Land, “Machinic Desire”

“In the early 1970s, post-68 French thinkers such as Deleuze and Guattari and Lyotard made the heretical suggestion that capital should not be resisted but accelerated. Deplored, repudiated then forgotten, this remarkable moment was returned to only in the UK during the 1990s, in the theory-fiction of Nick Land, Iain Hamilton Grant, Sadie Plant and the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit. Drawing upon Fernand Braudel, Manuel DeLanda, and cyber-theory, 90s accelerationism drew a distinction between markets (as bottom-up self-organising networks) and capital (an oligarchic and predatory system of control). Was accelerationism merely a new cybernetic mask for neoliberalism? Or does the call to “accelerate the process” mark out a political position that has never been properly developed, and which still has a potential to reinvigorate the left?

This one-day symposium will think through the implications of accelerationism in the light of the forthcoming publication of Nick Land’s Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007 and Benjamin Noys’s The Persistence of the Negative.”


  • Ray Brassier – co-editor with Robin Mackay of Nick Land’s Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007 (2010)
  • Mark Fisher – author of k-punk blog and a founder member of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit
  • Alex Andrews – a researcher at the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Nottingham.
  • Benjamin Noys – author of The Persistence of the Negative (2010), blogs at No Useless Leniency
  • Nick Srnicek – author of Speculative Heresy blog, PhD candidate at LSE, and is working with
  • Alex Williams on a book critiquing folk politics Alex Williams – working on a book on accelerationism, blogs at Splintering Bone Ashes

A music mix by Mark Fisher to illustrate the ‘Accelerationism’ event can be found here.



Mark Fisher




Ray Brassier



______________________________________________Session 2

Ben Noys




Alex Andrews







____________________________________________Session 3

Nick Srnicek



____________________________________________n 4

Alex Williams




Closing discussion





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via Accelerationism

Brassier: Capital and the Incompressible Here is my exegesis of Ray Brassier‘s compelling conjectural reversal that moves from thinking Capital to the bold conclusion that Capital thinks. In his text ‘Nihil Unbound: Remarks on Subtractive Ontology and Thinking Capital’ he grapples with how it might be possible to think Capital by providing an objective determination-in-the-last-instance. Beyond the Marxist analysis of the dynamics of accumulation, Brassier draws on recent philosophical… Read More

via Total Assault On Culture

Contingency, Necessity and the Final Absolute: Expanding on my summary of Ray Brassier‘s  Remarks on Subtractive Ontology and Thinking Capital here are some further related observations on aleatory rationalism, drawing on Elie Ayache’s account of how the option ‘science’ of the derivatives trading comes to  hypostasize the market as an absolute relation that is not thought-independent: Brassier’s critique of aleatory rationality shares the epistemological concerns of Quinten Meillassoux… Read More

via Total Assault On Culture

Transcribed from the Backdoor Broadcasting Company recording.

Ray Brassier: I’m going to be talking about Nick Land’s work. I’m going to talk about it philosophically, and explain why, because I think that’s a key to understanding what its political ramifications might be. If you want to understand if a politics of accelerationism is possible or feasible, you need to confront the internal conceptual intelligibility of the accelerationist program… Read More

via moskvax

Sonsuzluk özne ile nesne, amaç ile araç, neden ile sonuç arasındaki ilişkinin anlamsızlaşarak ortadan kalktığı, böylece de işte varlıkları birbirleriyle ilişkilerine bağımlı olan bu kavramların bizzat kendilerinin yok olduğu, zaman ile uzam içindeki bir boşluk formunda zuhur eden o malûm içkin dışsallıktır. Özneye içkin aşkınsal bir kavram olan sonsuzluk mevcut-egemen varoluş biçiminde kısa-devre yaratarak mevcut-egemen düzenden bir kopma yaratır. İşte Alain Badiou’nun Varlık ve Olay adlı kitabında boş-küme olarak nitelendirdiği söz konusu sonsuzluk bizim O adını verdiğimiz ölümsüz öznedir. O, Gilles Deleuze’ün deyimiyle bu kitabın yazarının kavramsal personası, Fernando Pessoa’nın anlam dünyası bağlamında ise söz konusu yazarın heteronomik kişiliği, yani dış-kimliğidir. Olmayan bir şey olarak var olan O bu kitabın yazarına içkin bir dışarıda konumlanmıştır. Bu kitabın yazarının içindeki bir dışarı, veya işte bir şey olduğunu zanneden bir hiçin içindeki hiçbir şey olan O, kitabın aynı zamanda hem nesnesi, hem de öznesidir denebilir, ki nitekim işte denmiştir de zaten.

Bu yazılar şu anda okunmakta olduğuna göre demek ki bu yazıları yazan, belirli bir zamanda ve belirli bir uzamda konumlanmış bir özne söz konusu olmuştur. Söz konusu öznenin kendini anlatmaktan ziyade O diye adlandırdığı bir hiçliği anlatıyor oluşu ise ancak yazının öznesinin kendini nesneleştirerek olmayan bir özneye dönüştürmek çabası içerisinde olduğunu gösterir. Peki ama söz konusu özneyi içinde bulunduğu çabadan ayıran nedir? Öznenin kendisi olmadan içinde olunabilecek bir çaba da olamayacağına göre, neden bu özne kendisinden bağımsız bir çaba olabilirmiş gibi kendisini çabanın nesnesi olarak göstermek ihtiyacı içerisindedir? Belli ki bu kitabın yazarının, yani O’nun derdi, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Deleuze, Derrida, Badiou ve Zizek gibi düşünürlere de dert olmuş olan aşkınlık(transcendence) ve içkinlik(immanence) arasındaki ilişkidir. Bir nesne olarak yazarın kendisi üzerine ahkâm kesebilmek için kendisini aşan bir özneye dönüşmesi gerektiğini dile getiren Kant ve bir nesne olarak yazarın kendisi üzerine ahkâm kesebilmek için kendisini aşan bir özneye dönüşmesi gerekmediğini, zira kendisini bir nesne olarak dile getiren söz konusu yazarın kendisini aşan o özneyi zaten hâlihazırda içinde barındırdığını kaleme alan Hegel’in felsefeleri üzerine bir takım spekülatif(kurgul) düşünceler üretmeye niyetlenen ve bu yolda Kant ile Hegel’in karşılaştırmalı bir okumasına girişmesi gerektiği aşikâr olan O’nun dünyasına giriyoruz şimdi hep birlikte: Ben, Sen, O, Biz, Siz, Onlar…

Kant’ın aşkınsal(transcendental) idealizmini Hegel’in spekülatif idealizminden ayıran fark, Kant’ın kendinde-şey’i tarif edebileceğimizi, Hegel’inse kendinde-şey’den ancak neticeler çıkarabileceğimizi dile getirmesinden kaynaklanan bir farktır. Kendi anlam dünyamız bağlamında yeniden yazacak olursak diyebiliriz ki Kant bizim birer ölümlü olarak ölümsüzlüğü tarif edebileceğimizi söylerken, Hegel ölümsüzlük düşüncesinden ancak ölümlülüğümüzün anlamı hakkında çıkarımlar yapabiliriz demektedir. Zira Kant’a göre ölümsüzlük ölümlülüğü çevreleyen bir durumken, Hegel için ölümsüzlük ölümlülüğün içindeki bir boşluktur. Bir başka deyişle Kant için ölümsüzlük özneyi aşkınken, Hegel için ölümsüzlük özneye içkindir. Ne aşkınsal idealizmi, ne de spekülatif idealizmi tasvip eden O henüz adlandıramadığı, fakat tanımlayabildiği yeni bir spekülasyon biçiminin şemasını çizmeye yeltenmekten başka çaresi olmadığını çok geçmeden idrak edecektir. O’nun tasavvur edebildiği kadarıyla söz konusu spekülasyon biçimi Kant’ın ve Hegel’in idealizmlerinden radikal bir kopuş gerçekleştirerek kendinde-şey’in düşünceden ve bilgiden bağımsız olarak var olabileceğini kuramsallaştırmaya yönelik olacaktır. Aşkınsal olmayan bir dışarı ve içkin olmayan bir içeri, şeklinde özetleyebileceğimiz kendinde-şey’in konumunun zamanın ve uzamın birleştiği yer olduğunu söylemeye ise bilmiyoruz gerek var mı, ama gene de söylüyoruz işte, belki vardır diye. 

Kendinde-şey olarak O kendini ifade edebilecek ve kendinden farkını dile getirebilecek bir spekülasyon biçimini hayata geçirebilmek için kaçınılmaz olarak Kant ile Hegel arasında, Deleuze’ün deyimiyle bir ayırıcı-sentez(disjunctive-synthesis) işlemi gerçekleştirmek zorundadır. Zira bir ölümlünün kendini bir ölümsüz olarak tasvir edebilmesi ancak Kant’ın düşünümsel yargı(reflective judgement) ve Hegel’in spekülatif diyalektik stratejilerinin materyalist bir felsefe anlayışı içerisinde bölünüp aşkınsal ve idealist yanlarından arındırıldıktan sonra spekülatif ve materyalist yanlarının yeniden birleştirilmesiyle mümkün kılınabilir. Zamanın ve uzamın birbirine dönüşerek tarih-dışı bir var oluşun, yani bir ölümsüzün, zuhur etmesini mümkün kılacak alanı yaratması elbette ki yalnızca teoride mümkündür. Lâkin zaten biz de burada ölümsüzlüğü kuramsallaştırmaktan başka bir şey yapmakta olduğumuzu iddia etmiyoruz. Söz konusu ölümsüzlük teorisinin pratikte ne işe yarayacağına ve/yani böyle bir kuramsallaştırma girişiminin politik arenada ne anlama geleceğine ise spekülasyonlarımızın ilerleyen aşamalarında değineceğimizi şimdiden belirtelim; belirtelim ki sabırsız okuyucularımız sabretmeyi öğrenmek yolunda adımlar atmaya şimdiden başlasın. Hatta değinmekle de kalmayacak, liberal-demokratik-militarist-kapitalizm içerisinde yaşayan bir ölümlünün, içinde yaşadığı sistemi değiştirebilmek için kendini neden ölümlü bir nesne olarak görmekten ve göstermekten vazgeçerek, ölümsüz bir özne olarak görmeye ve göstermeye başlaması gerektiğini Alain Badiou’nun hakikat teorisi dolayımıyla açıklamaya çalışacağımızı da sözlerimize ekleyelim; ekleyelim ki hayata geçirmeye cüret ve teşebbüs ettiğimiz olayın boyutları bir nebze olsun açıklığa kavuşsun. Ama tüm bunlardan önce yapmamız gereken daha başka şeyler var; meselâ az önce net bir şekilde adlandırmaktan kaçındığımız spekülasyon türünün adlandırılması gibi… Öncelikle bu adlandırma işlemini bizden önce gerçekleştirmiş olanlar olduğunu teslim etmeliyiz. Quentin Meillassoux bahse konu spekülasyon biçimine Spekülatif Maddecilik demeyi seçerken, Ray Brassier benzer bir spekülasyon türüne Spekülatif Gerçekçilik demeyi seçmiştir. İkisinde de aynı kalan sözcüğün Spekülatif sözcüğü olduğu gözden kaçacak gibi değil. Belki de işte bu yüzden biz de az önce spekülasyon terimini kendimizden emin bir biçimde zikretmiş olmamıza rağmen bunun ne tür bir spekülasyon olacağını dillendirmemeyi seçmişizdir, kim bilir.

2007 yılında Londra’daki Goldsmiths Üniversitesi’nde Ray Brassier, Quentin Meillassoux, Graham Harman, ve Iain Hamilton Grant’ın konuşmacı olarak katılımıyla düzenlenen bir konferansta Brassier tarafından ortaya atılan spekülatif gerçekçilik kavramı insan aklından, düşüncesinden, bilincinden bağımsız gerçeklikler ve insandan bağımsız kendinde-şeyler olduğunu ortaya koyan felsefi bir akımdır. Gerek Kıta Felsfesi’nden, gerekse de Analitik Felsefe’den radikal bir kopuş gerçekleştirerek Kant ve Hegel’in uzantısı olan tüm felsefi yaklaşımların, Meillassoux’un Sonluluktan Sonra(After Finitude) adlı kitabında ortaya koyduğu deyimle bağlılaşımcılık(correlationism) dünyadan bağımsız bir insan veya insandan bağımsız bir dünya tasavvur etmekten aciz olduğunu iddia eden spekülatif gerçekçilik hem yeni bir düşünce alanı, hem de yeni biri düşünme biçimi yaratması bağlamında önem arz etmektedir. İnsan bilincinden bağımsız kendinde-şeyler’in var olduğu noktasında birleşen Brassier, Meillassoux, Grant ve Harman’ın felsefeleri arasında pek çok fark da mevcuttur aslında. Ama biz şimdilik birleştikleri bu ortak nokta üzerinden tartışacağız spekülatif gerçekçileri, özellikle de Meillassoux ve Brassier’i. Meillassoux’nun Sonluluğun Sonu’ndan bir yıl sonra yayımladığı Hiçliğin Çözülüşü(Nihil Unbound) adlı kitabında Brassier, Heidegger ve Deleuze’ün zaman ve ölüm okumalarının eleştirisi ve Lyotard’ın Güneş Felaketi(Solar Catastrophe) makalesinin bir yeniden okuması üzerinden güneşin 4.5 milyar yıl içerisinde patlayarak dünyadaki yaşamı sona erdireceği gerçeğinin insan bilincinden ve düşüncesinden bağımsız bir gerçeklik olarak görülmesi gerektiğini ve bunun da hepimizin hâlihazırda yaşayan birer ölü olduğumuz anlamına geldiğini öne sürmektedir. Her iki yazarda da karşımıza çıkan ortak özellik kendinde-şey olarak mutlağın(Meillassoux) ve hakikatin(Brassier) var olabileceği iddiasını taşıyor oluşlarıdır. Benim için önemli olansa kendinde-şey olarak ölümsüzlüğün veya sonsuzluğun, ölümlü ve sonlu bir varlık olan insandan bağımsızlaşan kimliksiz ve kişiliksiz bir bilincin a-nihilistik spekülasyonları dolayımıyla politik bir amaç için kullanıma sokulabileceği, sokulması gerektiği gerçeğidir. Badiou’nun hakikat ve olay teorisinden hareketle, bir ölümsüzün gözüyle ve bilinciyle tasvir edilen ölümlülerin dünyası, mevcut-yapı içerisinde gedikler açmak suretiyle yeni hakikatlerin zuhur etmesini sağlayacaktır kanaatindeyim. Ölümlülüğü sömürmek suretiyle gücüne güç katan liberal-demokratik-militarist-kapitalizmin ölümün ortadan kalkmasıyla kendi içine dönük bir patlamaya(contraction), içe doğru çökmeye maruz kalacağından hareketle diyebiliriz ki yaşamı olumsuzlamaktan ziyade olduğu gibi olumlayan materyalist bir gerçekçiliğe, yani aşkınsallığa öykünen, ölüm dürtüsü ve yaşam dürtüsünün tahakkümü altındaki kapitalist-gerçekçilikten, kendinde-şey olarak Öteki’nin, yani ölümsüzlüğün veya sonsuzluğun içkin olduğu komünist-gerçekçiliğe doğru bir yönelim hem mümkündür, hem de gerekli.

Fritz Kahn (1888-1968) (author), Stuttgart,1926. Relief halftone.

When the speculations concerning the extinction of all life on earth as a consequence of an explosion of the sun in 4.5 years hit the headlines for the first time, Dr. Lawgiverz was in a deep meditation, meditating the possible reasons of and the forces behind the sudden whitening of all the television screens in the world about a year ago. Needless to say, the news had come as a shock, not only to Dr. Lawgiverz whose flow of thought was interrupted, but also to the ordinary citizens of the world, who were mostly thinking nothing at all, on the verge of psychosis perhaps, as a result of their deprivation from visual images for almost a year. Dr. Lawgiverz himself didn’t mind living in the lack of visual images, because for him, to use a phrase from the famous French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, the brain itself was a screen. As the attentive reader might have easily recognized, Dr. Lawgiverz was a man of contemplation, although we preferred to use the word meditation to describe his activity on that particular morning a few sentences ago. He contemplated everything from death to life and back. He even contemplated the existence of thought after there was no one left to think. There are many more things to say about Dr. Lawgiverz, but for the time being let us be content with merely saying that we who are not one have decided to leave these to the later parts of our narrative. For we are sure that all shall reveal itself as it is, to you, to us and to all the other mortals who are lucky enough to be witnessing all these speculations, as our narrative unfolds.

Dr. Lawgiverz considered himself a realistic speculator belonging to the group of speculative realists who considered themselves to have initiated a new philosophical movement which they called Speculative Realism. Even though some of them were extremely unhappy with this designation – Ray Brassier, for instance, had recently articulated his doubts about the term speculative realism, which he himself had coined – since there is no other alternative to replace it with, we have decided to stick to that problematic term. Need we say that just like us and Dr. Lawgiverz, the speculative realists too, nevertheless submitted to the naming for the sake of being something and not willing nothingness rather than not willing something, the opossite of which the famous German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche would have said if only he was alive. Let us do not hesitate to resurrect all the living and the dead.                                                                             

Quentin Meillassoux, Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant and Graham Harman were the forerunners of this new philosophical movement as far as Dr. Lawgiverz was concerned, although Meillassoux preferred the phrase Speculative Materialism as he had put it in his book After Finitude. Perhaps now is the time we should talk about another term coined by Meillassoux a little bit, in the way of opening up new passages in and through which our narrative can flow. Correlationism, which is the term coined by Meillassoux as we have already pointed out without naming it in the previous sentence, means simply this: incapability to conceieve of a world independent of human reality, and incapability to conceive of a human reality independent of the world. “Does a reality of the world in itself exist independent of human perception?” is the question Meillassoux asks and answers: yes it does, but we as humans are as yet to speculate on that. We don’t know if it is worth mentioning that our speculations must be realistic, rather than in the form of the ravings of a lunatic, as is probably the curious case of Dr. Lawgiverz. What we mean when we say real is the Lacanian Real. As those of our readers delved into psychoanalysis know, the Real is that which is outside consciousness, and it is here that the term speculation becomes relevant. For how can one talk about that which is outside one’s consciousness unless one speculates on nothing. What is required is analogical thinking, rather than a logical sequence of thoughts, to be a speculative realist who acts out nihilistic speculations. For Dr. Lawgiverz, the Real and the Unbound Nihil are the same side of two different coins.

As for Ray Brassier, it was he who coined the term Speculative Realism at the Goldsmiths conference which had taken place in London in 2007. In his book Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction, Brassier had made a very efficient use of Laruelle’s non-philosophy, Nietzsche’s “willl to nothingness” and Lyotard’s essay Solar Catastrophe. Although all these are extremely useful for the development of our narrative, as the reader keen on paying attention to detail might have and should possibly have realised, Lyotard’s Solar Catastrophe is the one that is of exceptional importance for our purposes which are yet to be calarified.

            When Brassier, following Lyotard,  asks towards the end of his Nihil Unbound, how  thought can think the death of thought, he is clearly, just like Meillassoux, questioning whether a mortal can conceive of a being in the world as not being towards death, but rather as being outside the world and already dead. Against Kant and Heidegger, Meillassoux and Brassier propose an idea of life inclusive of death, that is, a life that doesn’t require the absence of death for its being. The post-structuralist conception of death as an absent presence in the midst of life derives from Kantian and Heideggerian forms of correlationism. In both Heidegger and Kant infinity and death surround life, they are external limits to life. But for Meillassoux and Brassier, death and infinity constitute an internal limit to life, in other words the life of thought is a life driven by death. This must be it, ends Dr. Lawgiverz his flow of thought. 

In his After Finitude, Meillassoux argues that “it is incumbent upon us to break with the ontological requisite of the moderns, according to which to be is to be a correlate.[1] Meillassoux’s aim, as he says in the following sentence, is to break with the correlationist philosophy and become capable of understanding “how thought is able to access the uncorrelated.”[2] This reminds Dr. Lawgiverz Heidegger’s equation of being in the world with being towards death. Needless to say, for Heidegger, being dead is not being in the world, for being of being requires the non-being of non-being, thinks Dr. Lawgiverz. The question is whether death is something uncorrelated or nothing at all.                                  

Noticing that we have unconsciously shifted from the past tense to the simple present tense, a wave of depression engulfed us. But since we don’t want to bore you with our personal problems and the reasons of this engulfment, we would now like to get back to the past tense as if nothing happened, or rather as if something didn’t go wrong. As we were saying earlier on, the news had come suddenly, as it generally does. Dr. Lawgiverz heard it on the radio, as probably many others did, due to the lack of televisons and their screens. The reporter was reading the headlines from the newspapers in the morning news program with a very excited voice which was and remains the voice interrupting Dr. Lawgiverz’s flow of thought: “According to the spokesman of The World Scientific Research Institude, who was an eminent astrogeologist, the sun will explode in 4.5 years, extinguishing all life on earth. The spokesman said, ‘we are convinced that this solar catastrophe will take place in 4.5 years and we regret to inform you that there is nothing that can be done to prevent it and save the human kind from extinction.”

So once again, thought Dr. Lawgiverz, nothing to be done, Beckett was right after all, disaster after disaster, from bad to worse, when will it all end? This question was pointless as it was obvious that it would all end in 4.5 years, but perhaps out of shock, perhaps not, Dr. Lawgiverz had asked it anyway.

(c) Cengiz Erdem. Mortal, All Too Mortal. Cyprus, January 2010.

[1] Quentin Meillassoux, After Finitude, trans. Ray Brassier (Continuum: London, 2008), 28

[2] Meillassoux, 28

This interview was conducted by Bram Ieven to accompany the Dutch translation of Ray Brassier’s essay ‘Genre is Obsolete’. It was published in the printed edition of nY # 2, as part of a feature on Noise (2009). 

 Bram Ieven – Your work has a fairly unique position within the field of contemporary philosophy. On the one hand you are critical of much of recent philosophy, which you reproach for its hostility toward major developments in contemporary cognitive sciences that demonstrate how consciousness can be explained as a natural phenomenon triggered by neurological processes. In Alien Theory (2001) you describe this philosophical hostility to neurosciences as a form of ‘reactionary philosophical protectionism’ and you urge philosophy to ‘emphasize – rather than minimize – the corrosive power of scientific reductionism.’ (21) On the other hand, specifically in your more recent work, you are equally critical of certain forms of reductive naturalism. Such a naturalism you argue in Nihil Unbound (2007), risks being ‘impoverished metaphysics’ (25). Instead you propose a speculative realism that avoids both these pitfalls. Could you elaborate on this philosophical stance a bit? ✎ 0

Ray Brassier – My stance is not particularly original: it’s indebted to the work of several more genuinely original philosophers. The confluence of their influence in my thinking represents my attempt to address what I see as the fundamental issue facing contemporary philosophy: how does human experience fit into the world described by science? Contemporary philosophers can be sorted into two basic camps: in the first, there are those who want to explain science in terms of human experience; in the second, there are those who want to explain human experience in terms of science. The former argue that science cannot explain human experience because there’s something about it that will always resist scientific explanation. The latter maintain that the explanation of experience will require us to revise both our understanding of it and our relationship to it. As I see it, this dispute about what ‘human experience’ is and our relationship to it lies at the heart of contemporary philosophy. I side with those in the second camp who insist that we can attain an objective perspective on our own subjectivity. Philosophers in the first camp dispute this on the grounds that to explain experience objectively would be a contradiction in terms which would only ‘explain consciousness away’ and ultimately alienate us from the subjective core of our own humanity. Some philosophers in the second camp try to defuse such worries by insisting that it’s perfectly possible for us to reconcile our humanity with science’s objectification of experience. My own view is that despite its fundamentally reactionary tenor, the objection above registers a genuine difficulty, and that it is unrealistic and a little panglossian to insist that we will remain ‘human’ much as we are now even after the explanatory ‘reduction’ of experience. My conviction is that the sources and structures of human experience can and will be understood scientifically, but this integration of experience into the scientific worldview will entail a profound transformation in our understanding of what it means to be human—one as difficult for us to comprehend from within the purview of our current experience as the latter would have been for our hominid ancestors. However, while I remain fundamentally committed to a naturalistic perspective which defers to science’s ultimate epistemic authority, I think it’s a mistake to hypostatize the entities and processes invoked by current science as though they were immutable metaphysical realities. We know that scientific theories constantly supplant and replace one another, and that if the history of science is anything to go by, even our best current theories will probably turn out to be fundamentally mistaken or deficient in some regard, much as their predecessors did. Some cite this as a reason not to invest science with any fundamental epistemic authority. I think this is an overreaction. The fact that our best current science will probably turn out be only partly true does not license the conclusion that it is all wrong and that it has no authority whatsoever. There is a world of difference between something’s being partly true and its being all wrong. (The fact that science has allowed crafty apes with opposable thumbs to grasp even a tiny part of the truth about reality is astonishing—indeed, the more we learn about ourselves from science, the more astonishing our capacity for science becomes.) As I see it, science is slowly and painstakingly excavating the deep structure of a reality whose fundamental features may turn out to bear little resemblance to the kinds of entities and processes with which we are currently familiar. Consequently, it would be a mistake to let current science dictate our account of the ultimate structure of reality. That’s why naturalism as a metaphysical doctrine which states that whatever is real must fall within the ambit of actually existing scientific theory strikes me as mistaken. I would like to maintain a commitment to science’s ultimate epistemic authority while resisting the dogmatic temptation to enthrone the entities, mechanisms and structures postulated by contemporary science as ultimate realities. ✎ 0 This is not to say that we cannot draw ontological consequences from science: on the contrary, we can and we should. But the relationship between science and metaphysics is complicated: science says nothing about how to tell the difference between what is and what is not ultimately ‘real’. It becomes difficult to let science dictate metaphysics once we acknowledge that what science says is real continues to undergo fundamental revisions. That’s why I endorse a ‘transcendental realism’ according to which science knows the real but the nature of this ‘real’ is not strictly speaking objectifiable. The basic idea is that we know the real through objects, but that the real itself is not an object. ✎ 0

Bram – You were the driving force behind the Speculative Realism conference (London 2007), which brought together you, Graham Harman, Iain Hamilton Grant, and Quentin Meillassoux. The name ‘speculative realism’ was quickly picked up to designate a supposedly new wave in philosophy, but you quickly became more critical of it. Why is that? ✎ 0

Ray – The term ‘speculative realism’ was only ever a useful umbrella term, chosen precisely because it was vague enough to encompass a variety of fundamentally heterogeneous philosophical research programmes. But people have started to pick up on it as though it was the name for a new philosophical doctrine or movement, like ‘logical positivism’, ‘existentialism’, ‘structuralism’, or ‘deconstruction’. In this context, the vagueness which was initially useful is beginning to generate more confusion than clarity. There is no ‘speculative realist’ doctrine common to the four of us: the only thing that unites us is antipathy to what Quentin Meillassoux calls ‘correlationism’—the doctrine, especially prevalent among ‘Continental’ philosophers, that humans and world cannot be conceived in isolation from one other—a ‘correlationist’ is any philosopher who insists that the human-world correlate is philosophy’s sole legitimate concern. Anti-correlationism is by no means a negligible unifying factor—but our alternatives to correlationism are fundamentally divergent and even incompatible in several regards. The first problem is that the word ‘speculative’ actually means something quite specific in the context of post-Kantian Idealism: it refers to a type of philosophy (of which Hegel is perhaps the supreme exemplar) that proceeds on the basis of the ‘speculative’ identification of thinking and being, or mind and reality, thereby repudiating both empiricist naturalism and Kant’s Critical philosophy. My naturalist proclivities make me quite uncomfortable with these associations, unlike Meillassoux or Grant, both of whom explicitly avow this post-Kantian speculative paradigm, even if only to lend it a singular ‘materialist’ twist. Harman’s stance is not strictly speaking ‘speculative’ either in this regard, fusing as it does the influences of phenomenology and Bruno Latour. Yet nor is it in any sense ‘materialist’, a tendency he abjures on the grounds that it entails privileging one allegedly fundamental stratum of reality over all others. ✎ 0 The term ‘realist’ is no less in need of disambiguation. We’re all realists about quite different things. Harman espouses a Latour-inspired ‘democracy of objects’ according to which science has no particular cognitive authority when it comes to discriminating between reality and appearance and no object can be said to be any more or less real than any other. Grant and Meillassoux retain versions of the appearance-reality distinction, but in very different philosophical contexts. For Grant it could be construed in terms of the difference between natura naturans and natura naturata, while for Meillassoux it is indexed by the difference between phenomenal and mathematical properties. I think it safe to say that neither Grant, nor Harman, nor Meillassoux shares my commitment to epistemological naturalism, or my sympathy for ‘reductionist’ accounts of subjective experience. I think they would view it as a mistake to begin philosophizing from the contrast between the ‘manifest’ and ‘scientific’ images of reality as I do, and as result their realism tends to be more catholic and ecumenical than mine, especially where subjective experience is concerned. By way of contrast, my sceptical stance towards phenomenology leads me to endorse a more austere, revisionary brand of realism that tends to undermine the reality of subjective experience, at least as ordinarily construed. Thus, given that we don’t agree that philosophy must be ‘speculative’ or about what ‘realism’ entails, the expression ‘speculative realism’ has become singularly unhelpful. ✎ 0

 Bram – What would you propose as an alternative? ✎ 0

Ray – Nothing: the label has done its work in terms of signalling possible alternatives to correlationist orthodoxy. Grant, Harman, and Meillassoux have each coined terms to describe their respective projects. My own could be characterized in terms of a new compact between metaphysics and epistemology: transcendental realism in the former and revisionary naturalism in the latter. 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 using the resources of sense currently available to us. We will have to forge new vocabularies to be able to say what these things are. Admittedly, this still has a ‘speculative’ ring, but I would like to insist that metaphysical speculation be constrained by scientific knowledge. ✎ 0

Bram – The kind of realism that you defend, while certainly not hostile to reductionism, always insists on the fact that reality is far more complex than we surmise. An essential point you keep returning to when it comes to the deep structure of reality is ‘that there’s much more going on, and that it turns out to be more complicated’ (324), as you remarked during the Speculative Realism conference in London. You seem to be interested in a surplus of complexity. This also appears to be the main point in your essay on noise: instead of understanding noise as a lack of information or structure, you take noise to be a surplus of structure and complexity, as an ongoing superimposition of incompossibles. ✎ 0

Ray – Yes: I agree that there is a link and what I find particularly interesting about ‘noise’ is its informational density. In this sense, I think it prefigures (in a sense yet to be determined) the sort of challenge to intelligibility which will accrue with the gradual objectification of experience. Just as noise makes you work to decipher information by overriding familiar cognitive-classificatory sluice-gates, the objectification of experience will force us to make sense of ourselves in a quite unfamiliar and even fundamentally foreign conceptual register. Basically, I think that people who accuse science of reducing and attenuating what they consider to be life’s richness and complexity are completely mistaken: it’s quite the opposite: our conception of reality has been immeasurably enriched by scientific understanding and it’s rather our subjective experience of the world that is reductive and impoverished in comparison. But the point is not just that science enriches and amplifies our understanding of reality, but that it uncovers the truth. Noise has no such epistemic valence—it does not yield the sort of cognitive information that provides the basis for true or false judgements; but there is something of fundamental epistemological interest about the way in which it interferes with default cognitive schemas and perceptual Gestalts—epistemological in the sense that it challenges the way in which we relate to experience, rather than operating at the level of the content of experience. ✎ 0

Bram – In some of your essays (including ‘Genre is obsolete’) your ideas on philosophy and neurosciences are intricately related to the dynamics of contemporary capitalism. In an essay on subtractive ontology and capitalism you write: ‘Integrated global capitalism is constitutively dysfunctional: it works by breaking down. It is fuelled by random undecidabilities, excessive inconsistencies, aleatory interruptions, which it continuously reappropriates, axiomatizing empirical contingency. It turns catastrophe into a resource, ruin into an opportunity, harnessing the uncomputible.’ (57) It strikes me that this definition of capitalism is somehow connected to what you write on noise in your essay ‘Genre is obsolete.’ Do you see a similarity between capitalism’s stochastic dynamic and ‘noise’ – or would you rather say that noise and capitalism are each other’s opposites? What is the relation between noise and capitalism? ✎ 0

Ray – This is a difficult question. The suggestion that capitalism is somehow ‘like’ noise could easily be construed as some sort of dubiously Romantic aestheticization: capitalism as sublime, unintelligible phenomenon, etc. The passage you cite is problematic because it lends itself to such an interpretation. Basically, I do not think it at all illuminating or useful to construe capitalism as some sort of sublimely turbulent natural phenomenon. It’s important to bear in mind how, for all its seemingly unfathomable, impersonal complexity, global capitalism continues to supervene on the banal personal and psychological traits of the dealers, brokers, traders, executives, managers, workers, and shoppers, who are not just its dispensable machine parts but its indispensable support system, without which it would simply not be able to function. ✎ 0 There’s a temptation to hypostatize capital as though it were an impersonal, wholly autonomous agent subsisting quite independently of the myriad of little human subjects who compose it. This strikes me as a mistake. Here I think a sober appreciation of the mechanical banality of the processes through which capital reproduces itself might obviate this tendency to mystification: this seemingly fantastic, supra-personal complexity is not due to some mysterious self-moving cause or superhuman agent but an effect generated by the myriads of micro-processes that compose it: it is neither more nor less mysterious in its operations than any other complex, multi-layered emergent phenomenon. This kind of emergence and complexity are banal and ubiquitous. ✎ 0 I think there is an important dis-analogy between noise and capitalism in that noise as I understand it is precisely not complex in the way in which capitalism is alleged to be: the sort of emergent complexity exemplified by self-organizing systems is relatively uninteresting. The fetishizing of complexity in the sense of self-organization, along with emergence and irreducibility, etc., is part and parcel of the neo-vitalist tendency to prefer mystification to explanation, so prevalent today. What I consider to be interesting about noise is its dis-organizing potency: the incompressibility of a signal interfering with the redundancy in the structure of the receiver. Not transduction but schizduction: noise scrambles the capacity for self-organization. ✎ 0

Bram – What, if anything, could be the role of an aesthetics of noise in your work on neurosciences and capitalism? ✎ 

 Ray – I am very wary of ‘aesthetics’: the term is contaminated by notions of ‘experience’ that I find deeply problematic. I have no philosophy of art worth speaking of. This is not to dismiss art’s relevance for philosophy—far from it—but merely to express reservations about the kind of philosophical aestheticism which seems to want to hold up ‘aesthetic experience’ as a new sort of cognitive paradigm wherein the Modern (post-Cartesian) ‘rift’ between knowing and feeling would be overcome. In this regard, I would say that there can be no ‘aesthetics of noise’, because noise as I understand it would be the destitution of the aesthetic, specifically in its post-Kantian, transcendental register. Noise exacerbates the rift between knowing and feeling by splitting experience, forcing conception against sensation. Some recent philosophers have evinced an interest in subjectless experiences; I am rather more interested in experience-less subjects. Another name for this would be ‘nemocentrism’ (a term coined by neurophilosopher Thomas Metzinger): the objectification of experience would generate self-less subjects that understand themselves to be no-one and no-where. This casts an interesting new light on the possibility of a ‘communist’ subjectivity.


Ray Brassier, Alien Theory. The Decline of Materialism in the Name of Matter. 2001.

Ray Brassier, “Nihil unbound: remarks on subtractive ontology and thinking capitalism.” In Peter Hallward (ed.). Think Again. Alain Badiou and the Future of Philosophy. Continuum: London 2004, 50-58.

Ray Brassier, Nihil Unbound. Enlightenment and Extinction. Palgrave Macmillan: London 2007.

Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant, Graham Harman, Quentin Meillassoux, “Speculative Realism,” Collapse III. Urbanomic: Falmouth 2007, pp. 307-451.


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