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.


Quentin Meillassoux is the son of the anthropologist Claude Meillassoux. He is a former student of the philosophers Bernard Bourgeois [fr] and Alain Badiou. He is married to the novelist and philosopher Gwenaëlle Aubry.[3]

Philosophical Work[edit]

Meillassoux's first book is After Finitude (Après la finitude, 2006). Alain Badiou, Meillassoux's former teacher, wrote the foreword.[4] Badiou describes the work as introducing a new possibility for philosophy which is different from Immanuel Kant's three alternatives of criticism, skepticism, and dogmatism.[5] The book was translated into English by 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 theory that humans cannot exist without the world nor the world without humans.[6] In Meillassoux's view, this theory allows philosophy to avoid the problem of how to describe the world as it really is independent of human knowledge. He terms this reality independent of human knowledge as the "ancestral" realm.[7] Following the commitment to mathematics of his mentor Alain Badiou, Meillassoux claims that mathematics describes the primary qualities of things as opposed to their secondary qualities shown by perception.

Meillassoux argues that in place of the agnostic scepticism about the reality of cause and effect there should be a radical certainty that there is no causality at all. Following the rejection of causality Meillassoux says 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 not necessary. But Meillassoux says that the principle of non-contradiction is necessary.

For these reasons, Meillassoux rejects Kant's 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." Meillassoux clarified and revised some of the views published in After Finitude during his lectures at the Free University of Berlin in 2012.[8]

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;[9] as of 2020, 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.[10]

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.[11] 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.[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)
  • Time Without Becoming, edited by Anna Longo (Mimesis International, 2014)
  • 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. ^ Harman, Graham (2015-01-12). Quentin Meillassoux. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9780748693474.
  4. ^ Après la finitude. Essai sur la nécessité de la contingence, Paris, Seuil, coll. L'ordre philosophique, 2006 (foreword by Alain Badiou).
  5. ^ After Finitude, trans. Ray Brassier, Continuum, 2008, foreword, p. vii
  6. ^ After Finitude, Chap. 1, p. 5
  7. ^ After Finitude, Chap. 1, p. 10
  8. ^ Iteration, Reiteration, Repetition: A speculative analysis of the meaningless sign Archived October 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine Freie Universitat Berlin, April 20, 2012
  9. ^ After Finitude, Bibliography, p. 141
  10. ^ Parrhesia vol. 25, 2016, p. 20-40, From "L'inexistence divine", Quentin Meillassoux, translated by Nathan Brown
  11. ^ Le nombre et la sirène. ASIN 2213665915.
  12. ^ "Graham Harman (website), Meillassoux on Mallarmé". Retrieved 2011-09-25.
  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.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]