This is just a quick post regarding a problem that Mike raises of Meillassoux’s motivation and “what Meillassoux’s derailing has to do with politics.” I think the answer is that it has nothing to do with politics and I would go as far as to say that speculative realism is a thoroughly apolitical enterprise (and de-politicizing continental philosophy is, in a sense, the theme of post-continental philosophy).
As far as I can see Meillassoux is trying to get at the ‘real’ in the same way Badiou or Deleuze are trying to get at it. And his hopes rest with mathematics – always a kind of pure potential for philosophy since it is unencumbered by the various ‘mixtures’ we are supposed to be avoiding. If you run through Kant or Hegel or Husserl you will find the word ‘pure’ posited at any moment when one is said to be coming to the question proper. Heidegger even has a word for the non-pure: the ‘mere’ and he attaches it to anything he doesn’t like. Philosophy is at the point, in the post-continental form, of a kind of immanence or intra-philosophical discourse with itself although occasionally there are overtures to the natural or mathematical sciences (arguably one could say it has always been this way so I would add that we are in a particularly self-conscious state of this). I suppose we can even see post-continental thinking as trying to regain something of a ‘lost time’ when philosophy was committed to a rigour that perhaps lost its way sometime in the post-Heideggerian landscape (I would suggest that this is more a case of a deflation of rationalism and modernist goals and that the rigour was simply ‘different’). Having undergone a kind of wayward time philosophy is coming home to its relentless pursuit of ‘thinking’ and what exactly good thinking is – and looks like (looking, seeing and the visible are all themes to be found in Badiou and Henry for example, and it is all rather Platonic in tone). In another way it a reclamation of what is usually derived as ‘representationlist’ forms of thinking. The representation is being reintegrated into the philosophical project.
And the ancestral realm comes to be a kind of ‘pure’ space where representation is necessary in order for one to make sense. Even better it is understand vicariously with mathematical representation that brings the arche-fossil to its fullness as an indicator. The ancestral realm is a pure space of speculation.