On Harman’s point that Meillassoux’s archefossil is not an “argument”

Graham is up with a post that Meillassoux’s archefossil is not an “argument.” As is well known, Meillassoux’s After Finitude opens with an account of the archefossil, that is, evidence of what existed prior to the human. In discussing it, Meillassoux differentiates between “refutation” and “disqualification” in the following, though frankly it’s an impossible distinction to make out: “I can access a speculative realism which clearly refutes, but no longer disqualifies, correlationism.”[i] He also writes, “My goal is simple, I attempt to refute every form of correlationism.”[ii] Elsewhere, he denies even that his argument from the ancestral is a “refutation”; thus his goal is anything but “simple” vis-à-vis correlationism: “in the first chapter of After Finitude, I simply try to lay out an aporia, rather than a refutation.”[iii] Meillassoux’s ambiguity on this point is telling, since we will argue that he works his way out from the correlationist circle and thus must take the reality of that circle as the hidden premise of his argument.[iv]

I would also just add that the affect of the opening of the text certainly would lead one to think the second half would bring us closer to a scientific realism. But once hyper chaos is introduced, we have rid ourselves of natural laws and thus anything firm to what the scientific realist would claim. As Graham notes, this means precisely that Meillassoux follows the path of rationalism, not the path inductively follows the empirical findings of the physical sciences. In this way, he is not interested in an ontology of what is–that is, what is provided by the sciences–than in an ontology of “what may be,” as he discusses in several places.

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[i] Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant, Graham Harman, Quentin Meillassoux, “Speculative Realism,” Collapse 3 (2007), 429. 

[ii] Meillassoux, “Time Without Becoming,” 2.

[iii] Ibid., 5.

[iv] As Harman puts it, “In [Meillassoux’s] view the correlational circle of human and world is not a trivial error or word game, but rather the starting point for all rigorous philosophy” (Philosophy in the Making, 3).