Meillassoux’s Speculative Philosophy of Science: Contingency and Mathematics

Pli 22:26-61 (2011)
In this paper I will offer a survey of Quentin Meillassoux’s thought, focusing on what I identify as the central node of his thought, the link between mathematics and contingency. I will then proceed to question the compatibility of his principle of radical contingency with the philosophy—and the practice—of science, and I will propose a possible solution to this problem by pushing Meillassoux along the Pythagorean path. Finally, I will argue that 1) his project of evacuating metaphysical necessity via a mathematization of reality can be read on a continuum with the critiques of metaphysics of presence (and with the special status assigned to mathematical formalism) operated by Jacques Derrida and Alain Badiou; and 2) his philosophy can be understood as a philosophy of science only if we allow speculations aimed at subverting core metaphysical conceptual structures to have a bearing upon empirically-based scientific practice.
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