Ray Brassier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ray Brassier
Raymond Brassier

1965 (age 57–58)
London, England
Alma mater
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolContinental philosophy
Speculative realism (transcendental nihilism)
Main interests
Nihilism, realism, materialism, methodological naturalism, antihumanism
Notable ideas
Transcendental nihilism, philosophy as the "organon of extinction"[1]

Raymond Brassier (born December 22, 1965) is a British philosopher. He is member of the philosophy faculty at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, known for his work in philosophical realism. He was formerly Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Middlesex University, London, England.

Brassier is the author of Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction and the translator of Alain Badiou's Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism and Theoretical Writings and Quentin Meillassoux's After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency. He first attained prominence as a leading authority on the works of François Laruelle.

Brassier is of mixed French-Scottish ancestry, and his family name is pronounced in the French manner.


He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North London in 1995 and Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the University of Warwick in 1997 and 2001 respectively.[2]

Philosophical work[edit]

Along with Quentin Meillassoux, Graham Harman, and Iain Hamilton Grant, Brassier is one of the foremost philosophers of contemporary speculative realism interested in providing a robust defence of philosophical realism in the wake of the challenges posed to it by post-Kantian critical idealism, phenomenology, post-modernism, deconstruction, or, more broadly speaking, what they refer to as "correlationism". Brassier is generally credited with coining the term speculative realism, though Meillassoux had earlier used the phrase speculative materialism (French: matérialisme spéculatif) to refer to his own position.

Brassier himself, however, does not identify with the speculative realist movement, and, further, debates that there even is such a movement, stating:

The "speculative realist movement" exists only in the imaginations of a group of bloggers promoting an agenda for which I have no sympathy whatsoever: actor–network theory spiced with pan-psychist metaphysics and morsels of process philosophy. I don't believe the internet is an appropriate medium for serious philosophical debate; nor do I believe it is acceptable to try to concoct a philosophical movement online by using blogs to exploit the misguided enthusiasm of impressionable graduate students. I agree with Deleuze's remark that ultimately the most basic task of philosophy is to impede stupidity, so I see little philosophical merit in a "movement" whose most signal achievement thus far is to have generated an online orgy of stupidity.[3]

Brassier is strongly critical of much of contemporary philosophy for what he regards as its attempt "to stave off the 'threat' of nihilism by safeguarding the experience of meaning – characterized as the defining feature of human existence – from the Enlightenment logic of disenchantment". According to Brassier, this tendency is exemplified above all by philosophers strongly influenced by Heidegger and Wittgenstein. Unlike philosophers such as John McDowell, who would press philosophy into service in an attempt to bring about a "re-enchantment of the world", Brassier's work aims to "push nihilism to its ultimate conclusion".

According to Brassier, "the disenchantment of the world understood as a consequence of the process whereby the Enlightenment shattered the 'great chain of being' and defaced the 'book of the world' is a necessary consequence of the coruscating potency of reason, and hence an invigorating vector of intellectual discovery, rather than a calamitous diminishment".[4] "Philosophy", exhorts Brassier, "would do well to desist from issuing any further injunctions about the need to re-establish the meaningfulness of existence, the purposefulness of life, or mend the shattered concord between man and nature. It should strive to be more than a sop to the pathetic twinge of human self-esteem. Nihilism is not an existential quandary but a speculative opportunity."[4]

Brassier's work attempts to fuse elements of post-war French philosophy with ideas arising from the (largely Anglo-American) traditions of philosophical naturalism, cognitive science, and neurophilosophy. Thus, along with French philosophers such as François Laruelle, Alain Badiou, and Quentin Meillassoux, he is also heavily influenced by the likes of Paul Churchland, Thomas Metzinger and Stephen Jay Gould. He also draws heavily, albeit often negatively, on the work of Gilles Deleuze, Edmund Husserl, and Martin Heidegger.

Brassier's work has often been associated with contemporary philosophies of nihilism and pessimism. In an interview True Detective creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto gave he cited Brassier's Nihil Unbound as an influence on the TV series, along with Thomas Ligotti's The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, Jim Crawford's Confessions of an Antinatalist, Eugene Thacker's In The Dust of This Planet, and David Benatar's Better Never to Have Been.[5]



  • Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

Book chapters

  • Brassier, R. "Abolition and Aufhebung: Reply to Dimitra Kotouza" in What Is To Be Done Under Real Subsumption? (Berlin: Mute Books, 2020).
  • Brassier, R. "Concrete Rules and Abstract Machines: Form and Function in A Thousand Plateaus" in A Thousand Plateaus and Philosophy (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018).
  • Brassier, R. "Pratiques et processus: à propos du naturalisme" in Choses en soi. Métaphysique du réalisme (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2018).
  • Brassier, R. "The Metaphysics of Sensation: Psychological Nominalism and the Reality of Consciousness" in Wilfrid Sellars, Idealism, and Realism: Understanding Psychological Nominalism (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017).
  • Brassier, R. "Jameson on Making History Appear" in This is the Time. This is the Record of the Time (Beirut: American University of Beirut Press, 2017).
  • Brassier, R. "Correlation, Speculation and the Modal Kant-Sellars Thesis" in The Legacy of Kant in Sellars and Meillassoux: Analytic and Continental Kantianism (Oxon: Routledge, 2017).
  • Brassier, R. "Transcendental Realism" in The Kantian Catastrophe? Conversations on Finitude and the Limits of Philosophy (Newcastle: Bigg Books, 2017).
  • Brassier, R. "Prometheanism and its Critics" in #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader (Falmouth & Berlin: Urbanomic & Merve Verlag, 2014).
  • Brassier, R. "Nominalism, naturalism, and materialism: Sellars’s critical ontology" in Contemporary Philosophical Naturalism and its Implications (Oxon: Routledge, 2013).
  • Brassier, R. "Laruelle and the reality of abstraction" in Laruelle and Non-Philosophy (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012).
  • Brassier, R. "Concepts, objects, gems" in Theory after 'Theory' (New York: Routledge, 2011).
  • Brassier, R. "Science" in Alain Badiou: Key Concepts (Oxon: Routledge, 2010).
  • Brassier, R. and Robin, Mackay. "Nick Land: Fanged Noumena: Selected Writings 1987-2007" (Falmouth & New York: Urbanomic & Sequence Press, 2011).
  • Brassier, R. "Concepts and Objects" in The Speculative Turn: Continental Realism and Materialism (Melbourne: Re-Press, 2011).
  • Brassier, R. and Christian, Kerslake. "The Origins and Ends of the Mind: Philosophical Essays on Psychoanalysis" (Leuven University Press, 2007).
  • Brassier, R. and Alberto, Toscano. "Aleatory Rationalism" in Alain Badiou: Theoretical Writings (New York: Continuum Press, 2004).
  • Brassier, R. and Alberto, Toscano. "Alain Badiou: Theoretical Writings" (New York: Continuum Press, 2004).
As translator
  • Alain Badiou, Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism, transl. by Ray Brassier (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003).
  • Alain Badiou, Theoretical Writings, transl. by Ray Brassier & Alberto Toscano (New York: Continuum, 2004).
  • Jean-Luc Nancy, "Philosophy without Conditions," transl. by Ray Brassier, collected in Think Again: Alain Badiou and the Future of Philosophy, ed. Peter Hallward (Great Britain: MPG Books, 2004).
  • Quentin Meillassoux, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency, transl. by Ray Brassier (New York: Continuum, 2008).


  1. ^ Brassier, Ray. Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction, p. 239.
  2. ^ AUB - Department of Philosophy - Brassier Archived 4 June 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Ray Brassier interviewed by Marcin Rychter "I am a nihilist because I still believe in truth", Kronos, 4 March 2011.
  4. ^ a b Brassier, Ray. Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction.
  5. ^ Calia, Michael (2 February 2014). "Writer Nic Pizzolatto on Thomas Ligotti and the Weird Secrets of 'True Detective'". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 3 May 2019.

External links[edit]