Quentin Meillassoux

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Quentin Meillassoux
Paris, France
Alma materÉcole Normale Supérieure
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolContinental philosophy
Speculative realism (speculative materialism)
InstitutionsÉcole Normale Supérieure
Paris I
Main interests
Materialism, philosophy of mathematics
Notable ideas
Speculative materialism, correlationism, facticity, factiality, ancestrality[1]

Quentin Meillassoux (/ˌməˈs/; French: [mɛjasu]; born 1967)[2] is a French philosopher. He teaches at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, and is the son of the anthropologist Claude Meillassoux.


Meillassoux is a former student of the philosophers Bernard Bourgeois [fr] and Alain Badiou. Badiou, who wrote the foreword for Meillassoux's first book After Finitude (Après la finitude, 2006),[3] describes the work as introducing an entirely new option into modern philosophy, one that differs from Immanuel Kant's three alternatives of criticism, skepticism, and dogmatism.[4] The book was translated into English by philosopher Ray Brassier. Meillassoux is associated with the speculative realism movement.

In this book, Meillassoux argues that post-Kantian philosophy is dominated by what he calls "correlationism," the often unstated theory that humans cannot exist without the world nor the world without humans.[5] In Meillassoux's view, this is a dishonest maneuver that allows philosophy to sidestep the problem of how to describe the world as it really is prior to all human access. He terms this pre-human reality the "ancestral" realm.[6] In keeping with the mathematical interests of his mentor Alain Badiou, Meillassoux claims that mathematics is what reaches the primary qualities of things as opposed to their secondary qualities as manifested in perception.

Meillassoux tries to show that the agnostic scepticism of those who doubt the reality of cause and effect must be transformed into a radical certainty that there is no such thing as causal necessity at all. This leads Meillassoux to proclaim that it is absolutely necessary that the laws of nature be contingent. The world is a kind of hyper-chaos in which the principle of sufficient reason is abandoned even while the principle of non-contradiction must be retained. For these reasons, Meillassoux rejects Kant's so-called Copernican Revolution in philosophy. Since Kant makes the world dependent on the conditions by which humans observe it, Meillassoux accuses Kant of a "Ptolemaic Counter-Revolution."

Several of Meillassoux's articles have appeared in English via the British philosophical journal Collapse, helping to spark interest in his work in the Anglophone world. His unpublished dissertation L'inexistence divine (1997) is noted in After Finitude to be "forthcoming" in book form;[7] as of 2016, it had not yet been published. In Parrhesia, in 2016, an excerpt from Meillassoux's dissertation was translated by Nathan Brown, who noted in his introduction that "what is striking about the document... is the marked difference of its rhetorical strategies, its order of reasons, and its philosophical style" from After Finitude, counter to the general view that the latter merely constituted "a partial précis" of L'inexistence divine; he notes further that the dissertation presents a "very different articulation of the Principle of Factiality" from that in After Finitude.[8]

In September 2011, Meillassoux's book on Stéphane Mallarmé was published in France under the title Le nombre et la sirène. Un déchiffrage du coup de dés de Mallarmé.[9] In this second book, he offers a detailed reading of Mallarmé's famous poem "Un coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard" ("A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance"), in which he finds a numerical code at work in the text.[10]

Meillassoux clarified and revised some of the views exposed in After Finitude during his lectures at the Free University of Berlin in 2012.[11]

He is married to the novelist and philosopher Gwenaëlle Aubry.[12]



  • After Finitude: An Essay On The Necessity Of Contingency, trans. Ray Brassier (Continuum, 2008)
  • The Number and the Siren: A Decipherment of Mallarme's Coup De Des (Urbanomic, 2012)
  • Science Fiction and Extro-Science Fiction, trans. Alyosha Edlebi (Univocal, 2015)


  • "Potentiality and Virtuality," in Collapse, vol. II: Speculative Realism.[13]
  • "Subtraction and Contraction: Deleuze, Immanence and Matter and Memory," in Collapse, vol. III: Unknown Deleuze.[14]
  • "Spectral Dilemma," in Collapse, vol. IV : Concept Horror,.[15]


  1. ^ "Correlationism – An Extract from The Meillassoux Dictionary"
  2. ^ "Quentin Meillassoux - CIEPFC : Centre International d'Etude de la Philosophie Française Contemporaine". Ciepfc.fr. Archived from the original on 2011-09-08. Retrieved 2011-09-21.
  3. ^ Après la finitude. Essai sur la nécessité de la contingence, Paris, Seuil, coll. L'ordre philosophique, 2006 (foreword by Alain Badiou).
  4. ^ After Finitude, trans. Ray Brassier, Continuum, 2008, foreword, p. vii
  5. ^ After Finitude, Chap. 1, p. 5
  6. ^ After Finitude, Chap. 1, p. 10
  7. ^ After Finitude, Bibliography, p. 141
  8. ^ Parrhesia vol. 25, 2016, p. 20-40, From "L'inexistence divine", Quentin Meillassoux, translated by Nathan Brown
  9. ^ "Le nombre et la sirène". Amazon.fr. Retrieved 2011-09-22.
  10. ^ "Graham Harman (website), Meillassoux on Mallarmé". Retrieved 2011-09-25.
  11. ^ Iteration, Reiteration, Repetition: A speculative analysis of the meaningless sign Archived October 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine Freie Universitat Berlin, April 20, 2012
  12. ^ Harman, Graham (2015-01-12). Quentin Meillassoux. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9780748693474.
  13. ^ "Collapse Vol. II: Speculative Realism". Urbanomic. Retrieved 2011-09-21.
  14. ^ "Collapse Vol. III: Unknown Deleuze [+ Speculative Realism". Urbanomic. Retrieved 2011-09-21.
  15. ^ "Collapse Vol. IV: Concept Horror". Urbanomic. Retrieved 2011-09-21.

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