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System and/as Contingency: Quentin Meillassoux and the Ethics of Chance

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In recent years, the relation between contingency and systematic claims to the absolute has again come to play an important role in Continental philosophy. This essay takes a closer look at how this relation is developed in the works of French philosopher Quentin Meillassoux. It argues that a specific demand for systematic knowledge underlies not only Meillassoux's ontology, but also his ethics, which come into conflict with his own systematic aspirations in certain key areas, most notably in his attempt to derive an ethico-political model of subjectivity from his theory of contingency. The essay furthermore explores whether Meillassoux's monism of chance, by systematizing contingency and declaring it a universal principle, does not in fact deprive the contingent of its contingent character, introducing a reductive stability that condemns the subject to a passive waiting ultimately lacking in ethical significance.
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Keywords: CHANCE; CONTINENTAL PHILOSOPHY; CONTINGENCY; CORRELATIONISM; ETHICS; MEILLASSOUX; SYSTEM; THE ABSOLUTE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 2, 2017

More about this publication?
  • The Irish Journal of French Studies is an annual international refereed journal published by the Association des Études Françaises et Francophones d'Irlande. Articles in English, French or Irish are welcomed on any aspect of research in the area of French and Francophone culture, society, literature and thought. Articles published within the last two years are available free online to members and may be purchased by non-members. All other articles are available on an open access basis.

    Please note that the Print ISSN listed for the journal on this website applies to volumes 1 to 10, and part of volume 16. All other volumes are published, in their entirety, on-line only.

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