Quention Meillassoux
Philosophy in the Making

by Graham Harman
Edinburgh University Press 2011


194 The factial permits us to resume, in a hidden world, the lost relation between being and value; the absurdity of early death ceases to undermine our aspiration to universal justice, since it becomes the guarantor and no longer the obstacle of a possible justice for the dead and the living alike. This breaking of the despair of the absurd by the absurd achieves in a new form what I will henceforth call
symbolisation: an imminent irrational link between being and the universal.


195 F:
Philosophy and Symbol
As already stated, what I mean by “symbolisation” consists not in the founding of values, but in understanding the relation of values with the truth of this world - with determining what the requirement of justice as such teaches us about the world.

It is a matter of discovering an agreement between the discourse of values and the discourse of truth, or between world and justice, whatever form this agreement might take. Every philosophical enterprise starts from a postulate that may well be impossible to demonstrate, and which may even be false or ideological.

That is to say, value is not a simple human invention but the discovery of a truth concerning the world, or extra-human reality, and this truth ought to be shown by reason alone without the intervention of a transcendent revelation. Philosophy begins with a wager on the still unjustified certainty that value is not a mere socially useful artifice, but rests on an ontological truth. It is by aiming at an accord between the requirement of justice and the impersonality of being that the philosopher can produce a system of values.

The elements of such systems, the values it defends, are often quite similar. But their arrangement and general signification, the basic colouring taken on by the values in a specific accord between justice and being, vary in each case according to how these values are inscribed in the world.

How does a nonhuman real justify the requirement of justice? How does the world outside humans relate ontologically with human requirements? This is the primordial axis of philosophical questioning.

The goal of every philosophy must be the immanent inscription of values in being.

196 The inscription of values in the world opposes philosophy to sophistry in primordial fashion. The sophist is the one for whom value is nothing more than a profitable social convention. In the eyes of the sophist value is not based on any reality, it is not linked to any objectivity, and reveals nothing about the truth of this world - the truth that remains entirely inaccessible to every exercise of thought. Value is sheer invention, a simple artifice created by humans whose sole aim is that everyone should live well. When viewed from such a perspective, it is pointless to submit to values and their possible expression in laws except insofar as I judge them advantageous either for me or for what ever elite group I favour. In this way the sophist is opposed not only to the philosopher, but also to the transcendent inscription of value in being that typifies the religious conception of value.

The philosophical inscription of values in the world consists in refusing the merely human character of norms of conduct; value is also ought to teach something about the world. This signifies in turn that the world itself should further the requirements of humans in one way or another. After all, humans cannot be satisfied with obeying an arbitrary tradition or an advantageous artifice but, in their search for the Good, must find the truth of their condition in the world, even in the deepest truth of the world itself. Philosophy is always born from this requirement of the immanent and comprehensible inscription of values in the world. This is what distinguishes philosophy both from the absurd and hopeless world of the sophist who sees value as nothing but convention, and from the transcendent world of the religious person who inscribes value in the world through the irrational means of revelation, a tradition, and authority. Thus, the great epochs of philosophy are the ones initially dominated by the nightmarish duel between the traditionalism of religion and the vulgar cynicism of sophistry. Against the spirit of such epochs, any philosopher worthy of the name aim is at an immanent inscription of values.

197 The term “Symbol” can be used for the immanent inscription of value in being. This term is selected for etymological reasons:
the Greek verb
sym-ballein refers to the action of joining together two pieces of material. We know that this term referred to a custom of Greek travellers called the “hospitality tablet”. When a Greek traveller was hosted by a friend whom he would be unable to see again for many years, they were assured of recognising each other or each other's children by joining ( symballein) the two separate pieces along a unique line of breakage.

In this sense, the symbol is what permits us to renew links of hospitality. And this is truly the task of philosophy. Even the hopeless do not feel themselves to be in a world that is unaware of their desire for justice, and
the philosopher renews hospitality between humans and the world in demonstrating that moral aspirations are not absurd illusions of vulgar ideologies, but that they rest instead on the non-reflective, intuitive perception of the world in its ultimate truth. The symbol can thus be defined as an ontological link between being and value.

We can maintain that philosophy all the way to the present has managed to define three principal types of Symbols: the cosmological Symbol, the naturalist Symbol, and the historical Symbol. Here again my aim is only to attain another relatively specific form: that of factial symbolisation, which is the first to propose a non-metaphysical Symbol.

197 - 205: the cosmological symbol, the naturalist symbol, the historical symbol

205 Derealisation of value: If values do not represent any things real, if the ethical requirement rests on no truth and is only an illusion in comparison with being, then the requirement exists nonetheless as an illusion. It is only an illusion, but at least this illusion is. It is therefore possible to rediscover a certain being of the "Good" (in the broad sense of a norm or imperative) by the acceptation, affirmation, or valorisation of the illusion that the good actually is. The obvious result is a contempt for the True, in the name of the conservation of human aspiration to values.

The factial, on the contrary, even while maintaining the speculative interest of illusory existence, allows us to avoid breaking with the requirement of truth. For as soon as we accept the ontology of contingency (which teaches the existence in us of the idea of justice since nothing corresponds to it in actual reality), it becomes the very truth of becoming - the truth of time as advent ex nihilo.

The more one dennounces the requirement of universal justice as a pure illusion belonging to the imaginary realm of the human, the more one emphasises that with the advent of such a chimerical requirement, becoming displays its capacity for producing something that previously did not exist at all. Namely, it is an imaginary Good at which one aims, perfectly inexistent in the world that precedes the rise of humanity. And it manifestly exceeds the capacities of matter, in whose midst it has none the less emerged in the form of an obstinate hope.

Thus, one emphasises all the more the capacity of time to transgress even its own laws toward the objective advent of justice. For a time capable of making something arise that did not exist before we proclaimed it, since that which is in us is nothing outside us (the universal as illusion), is revealed by producing, beginning from this same nothing, the worldly actuality of such a universal. It is not the question in each case of making something exist that previously did not exist at all. The depth of the scission between illusion and reality is thereby reversed in the manifestation of the capacity of time to fill the gap that it it self has forged.

Humans can henceforth learn to be astonished, and then even amazed, by the very existence of the illusion in themselves. For the illusion no longer leads them to despair or to faith, but of the lucid hope that the world in the future will be able to reproduce the measureless novelty borne by their thought.

206
The factial proposes a new symbolisation, the first non-metaphysical one. For this time the symbolisation is made possible by seizing the radical contingency of worldly laws: a contingency that allows us to found ontologically the hope of justice even while overcoming the former weakening of justice. Value is inserted into a reality no longer identified with a determinate and perennial substance, but rather with the possibility of lawless change.

In this way we do not propose that the world is the best or worst of possible worlds, but that it can actually be both the one and the other. Thus, we do not abandon our disquietude in the face of the world, but maintain it as a constitutive element of hope (which for Spinoza is necessarily accompanied by fear). But this uncertainty, extended to possibilities exceeding the limits of nature that can no longer satisfy us, allows us to sketch for
the community of humans a project that will be worthy of our desires.

It will become worthwhile, on a long-term basis, to remain in a world whose possibilities have once more become extreme, in order that we might once again expect something of them.

Being is now the realm in which something can take place, and if what takes place is the highest novelty of which the real is capable, then this can only be identified with justice for the living and the dead and for those to come. Our aspiration to the Good is based once more on the knowledge of a world that allies with our hope, even while it is shown to be an unparalleled risk, as the power of the advent of contraries more widely separated than ever before.


207 G: The Ethical Scission
Here we encounter the impasse of the ethical scission. The term designates the contradiction between the present ethics that awaits the fourth world, and the ethics to come that would follow the advent of such a world.

We have seen that symbolisation produces a fervor resulting from the ontological objectivity acquired by the universal. The hope of justice ceases to be a simple passing fashion and becomes instead the true intuition of the highest innovative power of becoming.

What is the immediate practice that is yielded by such a symbolisation?
Values return to life because they are wagered on the being to come; hope refounds the unity of the human collective, giving it a common project that does not outstrip individuals in the manner of an abstract generality, but is nourished instead on their ownmost experience: that of the boundless refusal of the death of one's neighbour will stop…

Humanity can be unified by intensively lived values, because they are founded on the active expectation of an ontologically remarkable event that is accessible to every thinking being.

208 If the nonreligious requirement of the universal is consistent, it ought to be thinkable even beyond the sudden advent of the fourth World. In this way we pose the question that had been left in suspense: that of the philosophical foundation of the universal, of that which ultimately legitimates the desire for justice. For we now see clearly that if the Symbol is the condition of the universal, if it is that which renders the possibility of justice thinkable by making it possible to surpass the most absurd deaths, it is not the very foundation of this requirement.

Thus it is a question of showing how the factial can ontologically establish the value of the human: the essential human dignity by which every act of justice always draws its legitimacy. Starting from such a foundation, we can determine the exact nature of the contradiction between an ethics ruled by the enthusiasm of the Symbol and an ethics ruled by a truer principle.


208 H: The Absolute and the Ultimate
Founding the requirement of justice seems to lead immediately to a tautology resembling that of the Kantian moral law, which is valid simply because it is valid. For what can be the meaning of the foundation of the universal by something other than itself, if not the subordination of the universal to the non-universal? In this way we end up with the opposite of what we seek:
a delegitimisation of the universal in favour of a non-universal that would reveal itself as the true source of value. This is what takes place if we found universal values on a transcendent God who corresponds neither to the norms of the true (because of the alogical nature of his existence) nor to the norms of justice (because of the amoral nature of his reign).

In this case one holds that the origin of all valuable is Justice and Truth in a superior sense,
without any relation to the accessible meaning of these notions, and thus to any sort of meaning at all.

The problem, then, is how to found human dignity in non-tautological fashion without subordinating the resulting values to another principle that would contradict that dignity. Here “to found” means to relate the ethical requirement to an ontological immanence of humans, and thus unlike Kant we cannot be satisfied with founding the value of duty on the sole form of the universal; the morality celebrated here that seems to rest on nothing but the redundancy that I ought to obey the universal because I ought to obey it.

Even if the action can claim only to represent itself (a decision that no demonstration of fact could ever contradict), it is still a matter of countering the cynical and religious devaluation of the human by establishing the essential ultimate status of the human.

The alternative to be circumvented is the one that oscillates between a religious foundation of values (which would relate them to an incomprehensible divine efficacy incommensurable with the universal) and a simple factual acknowledgement of the preeminence of the human species (which would establish no right other than that of the strongest). Thus it is a question of demonstrating the necessary superiority (de jure and not de facto) of the thinking being overall other beings, while refusing the idea of the necessary existence of such a being, which runs counter to our ontology.

209
We have already encountered the principle that enables us to solve this problem. It consists in maintaining that value rests on a fact, but a necessarily uncircumventible fact: namely, the existence of the thought of the eternal as both actual and contingent.

Stated differently, it consists in maintaining that
the human is the factual but ultimate effect of advent. We recall that the terms “uncircumventible” and “final” signify the impossibility that any emergence could be incommensurable with thought in the way that thought is with all other beings.

210 The superiority in principle of the human, its eternally unsurpassable unparalleled worth (except for the worth of other thinking beings), is thus accompanied by its essential mortality.

211 Humans acquire value because they know the eternal. But humans do not take their value from the object of their knowledge: that is to say, from the eternal itself. It is not the eternal which has value, for the eternal is only the blind, stupid, and anonymous contingency of each thing.

Value belongs to the act of knowing itself; humans have value not because of what they know but because they know. And this knowledge is plainly the theoretical and absolute knowledge of logical and ontological truths, and the worried and attentive knowledge of our mortality.

211 If we can demonstrate the value of the human in its own right, this is of course because we have affirmed the eternal at the same time that we have de-reified it. If the eternal were (as is thing, or of being), then we would have the Greek knowledge of a determinate and eternal being (a Good, or a God) surpassing the human in worth. If there were no eternity at all, would have the modern knowledge of a clever animal whose pseudo-value would be consecrated only by the fact of a superior and essentially technical power.

The factial allows us to affirm that there is an uncircumventible knowledge of the eternal, but it removes all value from this object of knowledge by identifying it with the prosaic contingency of each thing. Value thus amounts to the necessarily insuperable fact of the mortal knowledge of eternal contingency.


212 I: Religion and Prometheanism
We must orient all power towards the universal; we must know how to jettison the ballast of destiny so as not to make of our virtues the sign of being chosen; we are assured in this way of our status as singular humans rather than as monadic individuals. In this way the factial displays its opposition to the sacralisation of power belonging to the religious as such.

For any transcendent position superior to humans and supposedly different from the simple blind power of becoming can only relapse into a subordination of thought to being.


213 Such a third term, neither thought nor being, does not in fact exist.
To claim that something surpasses the human is to condemn oneself to place the human under the despotism of the eternal, innocent, and amoral power of being qua being. Becoming and its retinue of disasters and cruelties, marked by the stamp of transcendence, would thus acquire a mysterious value ostensibly superior to
the morality comprehensible by humans, though identical in its manifestation with the innocent barbarism of pure contingency. This illusion of the third term other than thought and being is the habitual manner in which the cult of pure force passes like contraband into respectable thought.

All religion, what ever the universality of its content might be, is thus condemned by its very religiosity to grant a hidden and superior meaning to amoral manifestations of the chaotic power of the world: a pure power to which an equally amoral submission is recommended as our duty.
Thus we can clearly see that Promethean humanism is nothing but a religious vision of the human as self-fabricated. It is an idolisation of power by humans: not power in God, but in humans become God.

What humans transpose into the religious God is not their own essence (as Feuerbach and the young Marx claimed), but rather the degradation of their own essence. For what humans see in God is the possibility of their own omnipotence: the accomplishment of their inhumanity rather then their humanity.

In religion humans are strangers to themselves, because when they submit to God they do not submit to their essence but to the very opposite of their essence. That is to say, they submit to power of being and not to the possibility of the human.

214 The factial is a humanism which, insofar as it is opposed to the religious inversion of values, is equally opposed to the Prometheanism inherent in the classical form of humanism. The mastery of nature ceases to designate only its demiurgic and technical domination, and now refers also and especially to the capacity of humans to extract themselves from their innate powers by an unselfish act that simultaneously achieves the refusal of a supranational omnipotence. It is from this possibility that we derive the legitimate superiority of humans over anonymous nature, as well as their evident duty of preserving nature. Such is the offering made to the unborn in memory of the expected dead: the perpetuation of a world here below as hope of its recommencement


214 J: Fatalism and the Dice-Throw
The preceding considerations allow others to understand that factial ethics cannot be assimilated to a lazy fatalism under the pretext that the advent of the World of justice does not depend on the power of humans, and added thereby fails to lead to any efficacious action.

From this perspective the "factial fatalist" would be the one who passively awaits the happy possibility of justice without undertaking any action towards the universal, since action would not be the source of the advent at which it aims...To desire rebirth consists in desiring it as a condition of the universal. Such a desire refers in primordial fashion to the attention paid to each individual, and to the stubborn refusal of present or past injustice to these individuals. The fervor produced by the symbol results from the discovery that such a requirement is not absurd, but bears on the truth that is ontological and therefore eternal.

Thus it should not be supposed that the factial would amount to a passive awaiting of the advent. The awaiting that is actually determined by the factial results from a desire that is preliminary to justice, which is suddenly revealed as non-absurd to the extreme.

215 Henceforth I await something from the world (the accomplishment of the universal) even while acting today in accordance with what I await. In turn, the fatalist really just manifests the arbitrary desire of his own vital perpetuation: an individual and capricious desire for rebirth that envisages this rebirth as an end and not as a condition of the end.
By strictly subordinating the Symbol to the universal, the factial is awaited something other than the simple dream of an elixir of life. The ultimate novelty of becoming is merged with the fundamental requirement of thought, which is equally present in every human and thus irreducible to an idiosyncrasy.

But we must go even further in the refutation fatalism; indeed, not only can rebirth be legitimately aimed at only on the basis of the advent of the World of justice, but it is also necessary to maintain that the World of justice is itself possible only on the condition that it should be desired in action in the present World.

Boe: the Nibbana of every day - hope!

We content that passive awaiting of the universal is precisely not an awaiting of it, because this makes the universal into a reality foreign to the thought that requires it. Namely, it is to make the universal something that it is not, and in this way to render its advent impossible.

The occurrence of the fourth World requires that it should occur qua object of hope, and thus in response to an awaiting that effectively existed beforehand. For even if this awaiting cannot bring about the ultimate advent, awaiting alone lends it the status of a novel advent: that is to say, an advent of justice hoped for by humans rather than simply repetitive return of life. In other words, the universal can arise only on the condition that it be awaited as such in the present. It must be actively anticipated by acts of justice marked by fervent commitment to the radical requirement of universality, and by the discovery of the non-absurdity of such a requirement. This amounts to affirming that the final World can commence only on the condition that it be a recommencement. The World of justice can arise only on condition of following the world of thought in conformity with the active hope for it that is deployed beforehand. Stated differently, the fact of the fourth World corresponds de facto to hope that existed anterior to its advent forms part of its essence.

216 Each time I act with a view to justice, I renew the awaiting which alone gives meaning to the possible sudden advent of another world that would not simply be the repetition of a World of life or thought, but which would actually constitute the final World - the ultimate World of justice.

In this way, one can compare the free act to a throw of the dice. A throw of the dice never guarantees chance, but is that alone which makes chance possible.

220
The factual beauty of the World to come is accomplished as the trace of the past but actual hope of just humans, and not as the trace of a current but hypothetical divine power. It is the existence of the present hope that offers the order of justice a new but non-objective determination (one that is not present simply in the world, but in our connection with the world): a beauty that arises as a gift of the just made across time.

It is the gift of a past that makes the fourth World community inhabited by humans having returned to their condition, rather than a kingdom of demigods indifferent to the heritage of durations
.
The fourth World thus corresponds to the surmounting of thought by its non-repetitive but collective recommencement. Thanks to this, there can suddenly arise (assuming that we have chosen to be free in the third World) a connection between thought and World (that of the Beautiful) which cannot be surpassed.

220
Our current world, as a field of struggle and hope, thus permits us to hope for the emergence of a truly ultimate novelty of becoming ( the World of justice, not a perfected world of thought). And in the same way we ourselves, no less than the contingent power of becoming, are the condition of this emergence in which beauty results from our connection with the world, since the final advent can come only from the conjunction between being and act.

This does not signify that, by the perversion of a moral rigourism, it would be necessary to desire the present order and its procession of miseries. But it is henceforth impossible to hate or regret the present World, which opens up the very possibility of a history. This history would be a becoming that belongs to us and would be larger than that of a single World. In this world all humans, with all the gestures they perform, would sketch anew the figure of our re-emergence.


221 K: Incarnation and the Ethical Scission
We are now in a position to understand the exact meaning of the scission between the ethics of the present (and ethics of hope for the advent to come) and the ethics of the future that follows this hope and which thus appears to be, literally, and ethics of despair.

In view of such a separation factial ethics seems inconsistent, since it is rendered impossible by the very realisation of its object. Have we resolved this apparent contradiction with a foundation of the universal that we proposed? Only in part.

Yes, insofar as we have shown that the Symbol was only the condition of the universal rather than its foundation. Ethics is thereby abolished with the realisation of the Symbol, since the universal reposes on the value of the human, and this remains unaffected by the fact of its eventual rebirth.

Such an ethics thus no longer takes the form of a desire for justice (of the possible fulfilment of all human existence) but that of benevolence inherent in a condition emancipated from early death. The universal would cease to designate the requirement of conditions necessary for the blossoming of every life, and would refer instead to the invention of possible links between humans devoted to thought.

Boe: human society – human communication


225 L: Philosophy and Atheism
The principle of atheism is a ratification of the religious partition of existence. The religious consists in the positing of transcendence which alone is capable of satisfying desire. The immanence that results from such a partitioning is thus limited, finite immanence in which happiness is impossible.

This conception of desire permits us to recognise clearly a fundamentally religious ontology: for such ontologies always make the essence of desire rest on failure…The possibility of happiness in this world is the illusion par excellence of the accursed faculty known as imagination. Devaluation of the imagination, impossibility of the accomplishment of desire: the religious partition of being always ends up with such a figure of immanence, of which Pascal is the obvious forerunner.

227 Unlike the atheist, the philosopher refuses to leave regret in its own camp. Through the concept of immortality, the preceding logic is inverted; the aim of philosophy is not to convince the priest, but to make him in turn regret being right (at least in his own eyes).

The factial permits us to perform this reversal in the following manner: all that is objectively desirable in the religious can be repatriated in immanence, in such a way that philosophy distinguishes itself from religion only by the permanent belief in a currently existent God which can therefore no longer be desired.

Stated differently, through factial ontology philosophy is in a position to preserve the spiritual awaiting of a divine advent (which is desirable in view of the accomplishment of justice) without faith in a currently existing God. For this belief is precisely the wound of all religion, since it obliges the believer to submit to a being that is essentially amoral, capable in its phenomenal manifestation of allowing or even ordaining the most extreme evil. This submission to a God who is capable of sending the cruellest scourges into the world, which are nonetheless supposed to be viewed as manifestation of his love for humans, this prior aberration of religion purely and simply disappears in the
philosophical divine.

228 Henceforth philosophy turns out to be in a position to bear the hope of religion in immanent fashion, thereby suppressing the endless contortions of the exegetes, following the formation of a transcendence that is said to be essentially full of love, even though it is indifferent or even horrifying in its manifestation. The God of the philosophers is thus shown to be without the great and subtle intentions that lends such charm to all the theodicies of the trembling earth.

For no one can really want to be saved by a currently existing God against whom such charges are lodged, especially after everything that happened during the past century. But everyone can desire the possible advent of a World of justice for which the child of humans (who is not superior to humans, since the child incarnates their condition of worthiness) should finally be the desired object.


228 M: Conclusion

I. The essential stakes of both Eastern and Western thought consist entirely in a single question: how can we think the unity of Jewish religion and Greek reason? How can we think the unity of the egalitarian messianism of the Jews that breaks the cyclical time of the pagans (a time that is inegalitarian since it is devoid of promise) and the rational, mathematical, and philosophical eternity of the Greeks? It is a search for the unity of religion and philosophy without there being a third term to unify them. All the richness of the problem consists in the fact that East and West have received these two heterogeneous “truths”, and no others.

The response, in general fashion, thus obeys the following strict (Hegelian) alternative: we will have either a religious unity of religion and philosophy, or a philosophical unity of religion and philosophy. In both cases the unity obtained is all the more powerful, since it achieves a maximal conservation of the subordinated term: the most rational religion, the most egalitarian and messianic reason. The Middle Ages are entirely consecrated to the elaboration of
the religious unity of philosophy and religion.

But the factial, for its part, proposes a new means of achieving philosophical unity. Namely, Jewish messianism no longer thwarts the eternity of mathematical truths, since the latter ceace to designate the real eternity (which is thus without a future) of this world order and refers instead to
the eternal contingency of this world (which is thus full promise).
The hope of justice supplied by the promise of Jewish time can be nourished on the mathematical eternity provided by the immanence of Greek reason.
In this context the term “God” does not designate one of the camps, that of religion, but names the battlefield where the two camps confront one another.
The Word presses together the two truths that are to be combined, since as a Latinized Greek term that designates the God of the Jews it symbolises their historical unity.The Greco-Roman “Dies” is translated as “day” rather than “sky”, the day that fuses light and warmth, meaning knowledge and hope.

231 The project of metaphysics ought to be restored in its legitimacy.
As rational beings, humans have access to the essence of the world: an adventure without limit, where anything conceivable can actually arise in the form of a new constancy.

The ultimate aim of the human project thus becomes determinable
: an aim that is not reasonable because it is fully rational. That towards which humans aspire, that which they desire, that which has made them suffer for millania through strange labour even if it confers upon them and energy of rare violence, is to give birth to God just as matter gives birth to life and life to thought.

We are the possible ancestors of God rather than his creatures, and we suffer because, unlike the animal, which does not know the possible humanity of its becoming, we know the possible divinity of our own
. We bear God in our wombs, and our essential disquietude is nothing other than the convulsions of a child yet to come.


There is no necessity for this sudden advent of the divine, since it is only rendered possible by the absolute contingency of all things. Hope exchanges guarantee for possibility, and aims at rupturing the law by a lawless becoming in excess of all mastery.

God will be the last born of humans: the advent whose ultimate novelty will be the recommencement of the human, its rebirth, its renewed struggles and enjoyments.

232 The project of rational beings with reason thus consists in enduring together, from generation to generation, by the establishment of a link of fidelity between the living and the dead, in the midst of a world whose knowledge is able to maintain our waiting
.

It is to endure a totally different historical scale, on a scale of time in which the world assumes a different aspect than the calm indifference of laws.

The authentic link of humans with God is thought as a link with the inexistent God of whom humans are the possible ancestor. This link, which makes each of us the possible forerunner of God, I call the divine.

The practice of this link in the course of our lives I call the divinisation or immortalisation of humans; it is the very manner of becoming singular that makes us human. This divinisation is not a deification of humans, because it is not a Promethean identification of humans with God. The divine is the affirmation of the uncrossable ontological divide between humans and the omnipotence of the Master, a worthless omnipotence of the revealed God who is happy abandonment inaugurates the philosophical God as justice and as a gesture



233 II. The philosophical divine is not a religion: has anyone ever seen a believer deny the existence of God? Nor is it an atheism: has anyone ever seen an atheist believe in God? The divine carries both atheism and religion to their ultimate consequences so as to unveil their truth:

God does not exist, and it is necessary to believe in God
.

More deeply, the divine links these two assertions, which attained their truth only through this link.

To the atheist who rightly affirms the inexistence of God, the divine responds that it is necessary to believe in God because it does not exist.
Only the inexistence of God guarantees his possible advent, since only immanence thought in absolute form permits an advent without limit.

The divine pushes the immanentism of the atheist to the limit, by getting rid of what remains to him of the religious: namely it gets rid of his belief in laws that are necessary and nonetheless inexplicable in their necessity, and thus properly irrational. This belief of the atheist institutes the field of an unyielding transcendence that the divine, for its part, simply discards

234
Henceforth, to believe no longer means to have faith, and no longer to believe in the law. It is to hope for justice worthy of the name. The divine ceases to alienate the human from what it can do, unlike atheism which always separates the human from what remains its living work.

Atheism diminishes humans and humiliates their projects, by deposing what it believes to be a simple myth. But this “myth”, the belief in God, is nothing other than the trace in humans of the madness of the world without God: capable of everything and thus capable of God.

The divine, on the other hand, is opposed to the great temptation of the atheist, this Prometheanism that appeals to the deification of humans. Separated forever from all omnipotence, humans can learn to love life to a sufficient degree has to assume it's possible victory.

Boe: love - Peirce: agapismus

235 To the believer who rightly affirms that it is necessary to believe in God, the divine responds that to believe in the existence of God is not to believe in God but to believe in existence. It is because he believes in the existence of God that the priest does not believe in God.

For to believe that God exists is to make of him a God who is not only love, but also and especially omnipotence. It is the God who created this world with all its injustices, the God-master that one must fear as much as love. To believe in the existence of God is inevitably to venerate his existence as master and as in comprehensible power. If love for the existing God is effectively always “sinful”, it is because it always remains burdened with a love that is also accorded to the impenetrable designs of the one who governs. To believe in the existence of God is not just an error, but a mistake that forbids all authentic belief in God.

To this mistake, which the virtuous atheist has always intuitively guessed without grasping its essence, and which ruins all religion to the core, we will give the double name of blasphemy and idolatry. In this way we send such condemnations back to the place from which they came, so as to annul their oppressive power.

236 All religion is thus parcelled out between two basic attitudes. There is the sanctity of those who follow Elder Zossima and see in God only love because they believe in him. And there is the superstitious mysticism of the ascetic Father Ferapont, whose sees in God only power because they believe in his existence. And where the first God is only a violent good, the second God is nothing but maledictions, threats, and obscurantist magic.

We should not be astonished that even a religion founded on benevolence and forgiveness continually turns into hateful fanaticism. For if religion is both love and hate, this is because it believes simultaneously in God as the amorous promise of the rebirth of the dead, and in the existence of God through the servile and malicious desire for an omnipotent master.

If the cynic is a bigot who does not know it, the fanatic in a blasphemer who has forgotten it. At the bottom they are united. For the cynic, if God does not exist then everything is permitted; for the fanatic, if God exists then everything is permitted to him. But the rational believers who believe due to their love of the Good, and the virtuous atheists who do not believe due to their love of the True, are themselves neither believers nor atheists. Lost in the false oppositions of our time, they are and remain this stateless people of philosophy.

If the divine is not an atheism, this is because atheism remains burdened with superstitious belief in the perennial character of laws. If the divine is not a religion, this is because the religion remains burdened with cynical submission to the power of a master. If the divine is not atheism, it is because atheism devalues the desire for justice that makes humans into beings of such singular worth. If the divine is not a religion, it is because a religion dismisses what is most noble in humans, by making earthly horror the sign of a divine goodness that is thereby travestied.

The philosophical divine thus faces two catastrophic and constitutive illusions of contemporary history: the first being that God exists, the second being that one can do without Him.

III: Humans can establish four different links with God, of which only three have been explored so far:

1. Not believing in God because he does not exist. This is the atheist link, which occurs in countless variations that all lead to the same impasse: sadness, turbidity, cynicism, and the disparagement of what makes us human. It is the immanent form of despair.
2. Believing in God because he exists. This is the religious link, in countless variations, all leading to the same impasse: fanaticism, flight from the world, the confusion of sanctity and mysticism and of God is love and God is power. It is the religious form of hope.
3. Not believing in God because he exists. This link, which is not confined to a specific doctrine, expresses all the various forms of revolt toward the existent God. It is the Luciferian position of rebellion against the Creator which expresses a reactive need to hold someone responsible for the evils of this world.
4. Only the fourth link, the philosophical link and immanent form of hope - believing in God because he does not exist - has never been systematically defended.
It has now been done.
The four possible links of humans with God I henceforth known.
One must choose.


Meillassoux Philosophy in the Making

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