Prison Break? In Defense of Correlationism


A core presumption of object oriented ontology and other speculative realisms is that there is a world independent of the mind that can be successfully inquired and should take center stage in our reflections again. A profound case for this realist presumption is found in Meillassoux’s After Finitude. He aims to secure our access to reality as it is in itself by refuting correlationism according to which we cannot escape reality as it is thought by us. He presents three arguments: ancestrality, facticity and mathematization. On the first argument correlationism fails because it cannot render scientific statements about an universe anterior to us meaningful. I address the worry that he might not take this to be a real argument against correlationism and argue that it in any case fails. On the second argument correlationism is flawed since it remains committed to absolute possibilities. I argue that this argument is untenable as well. On his third argument correlationism fails because science reveals a mathematically describable reality indifferent to our existence. I argue that the almost perfect mathematization of nature can actually be cashed out as an argument for correlationism. I conclude by proposing an alternative way of showing that mathematics is the language of the absolute understood as a radical contingent hyperchaos.

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Emanuel Rutten
VU University Amsterdam


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