Harman on Meillassoux and the Future God

Here. He discusses how he those portions of L’Inexistence divine made their way into his Meillassoux book.

So this bats down the idea that he somehow selected these excerpts maliciously. But here’s another theory going around. At the U of Tasmania, I was talking with someone who knows the French scene well and had heard that Meillassoux was distancing himself from speculative realism and this part of his work in particular.

At which point, I said: well there’s not just his dissertation and the 2003 revision, but also the fact that the “Spectral Dilemma” and other essays mentioning the Future God have been published by him in just the past couple of years. This is a position he has had for some 15 years. As Harman says:

The theory of the virtual God, and everything connected with it, is not some discredited piece of Meillassoux juvenlia that he might wish to hide in a box in the attic. He is quite proud of it, will be publishing a full-blown systematic version of it, and is rather skilled at defending it.

Well, the latter is debatable based on the evidence thus far–he makes no mention of the problem of evil and the whole literature combating his depiction of a world with God as it stands; has no way to differentiate between the possible God and any other Great Being being possible, etc. One can have a theology like George Costanza: the only God would be one that persecutes me even more, etc. Let’s let George at it:

George: God would never let me be successful; he’d kill me first. He’d never let me be happy.

Therapist: I thought you didn’t believe in God?

George: I do for the bad things.

There is nothing more off-putting to me about Meillassoux’s work than this future God stuff. But then, I’m a thinker of finitude.

When you used to read the critique of eternity in Heidegger and Derrida, part of the affect was that this pinning of presence to the eternal was itself some sort of hope for the eternal human, but you would think no one actually puts those two together. Meillassoux does. And frankly, his writing on this is sovereignly hubristic (judging the dead now as having no meaning unless they are resurrected [recall, he is thinking about the Holocaust and other mass killings–think about that for a moment], giving no argument but presupposing what a God-given world would be, etc.).

I’ve given a couple of lectures on this part of his work here in Australia–if you have any sympathy for his work, I suggest you don’t lead with that if you want to convince people he’s an important thinker. (That’s wasn’t my task–mine was to point out problematic conceptions of time, which he shares with Badiou in important ways.)

No, this is a central part of his writing since 1997: communism is not of this world, but literally of the next. Only a God–“an ontological rupture”–can save us.