Empirical Realism and the Great Outdoors: A Critique of Meillassoux

In Marie-Eve Morin (ed.), Continental Realism and its Discontents. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 1-15 (2017)
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Meillassoux seeks knowledge of transcendental reality, blaming Kant for the ‘correlationist’ proscription of independent access to either thought or being. For Meillassoux, correlationism blocks an account of the meaning of ‘ancestral statements’ regarding reality prior to humans. I examine three charges on which Meillassoux’s argument depends: (1) Kant distorts ancestral statements’ meaning; (2) Kant fallaciously infers causality’s necessity; (3) Kant’s transcendental idealism cannot grasp ‘the great outdoors’. I reject these charges: (1) imposes a Cartesian misreading, hence Meillassoux’s false assumption that, for Kant, objects don’t exist without subjects; (2) misreads Kant, who infers causality’s necessity from the possibility of experience; (3) casts Kant’s idealism as subjective, ignoring his perspectival portrayal of it.

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G. Anthony Bruno
Royal Holloway University of London


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