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17604-The Immanence of The

17604-The Immanence of The

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21
The Immanence of the World Beyond
quenti n mei llassoux
Ny µlilosoµlical µioiecr can Le summaiizeu in rliee rleses. vlicl
I vill Legin Ly Liieíly íoimularing anu rlen exµlicaring.
1 The absolute is thinkable only by a refusal of the principle of
reason. 1o µur rlis in my ovn language: speculation, under-
stood as thought about the absolute, is possible only by not being
metaphysical.
z The challenge of a revival of speculation is irreligion. I mainrain
rlar iiieligion is µossiLle only Ly Leing sµecularive ÷ Ly Leing.
rleieíoie. rlouglr aLour rle aLsolure. anu nor a ciirique oí aL-
solures. A symmeriical asµecr oí rle seconu rlesis is rlis: eveiy
ciirique oí aLsolures slaies in an essenrial claiacreiisric oí mou-
ein ieligiosiry. namely fideism.
( Heie ve come ro rle oLiecr oí oui µiinciµal concein: rle clal-
lenge oí iiieligion Lecome sµecularive consisrs in an eschatology
of immortality. I mainrain rleieíoie rlar the possibility of im-
mortality is only thinkable by being irreligious, and that a true
philosophy of immanence attains to this not by an idea of finitude
but by an ethic of immortality. Anorlei. moie classical. vay oí
íoimularing rlis rlesis consisrs in aíniming rlar µlilosoµlical ii-
ieligion is nor a íoim oí arleism. Lur iarlei rle conuirion íoi an
aurlenric access ro rle uivine.
1lese aie my rliee rleses (vlicl ar rlis µoinr aie srill iarlei
enigmaric):
i sµecularion is µossiLle only insoíai as ir is non-meraµlysical:
Veritas-Grandeur.indd 444 2/12/09 12:51:23
±±-
z iiieligion is µossiLle only Ly Leing sµecularive:
( immoiraliry anu access ro rle uivine. aie rle µossiLle conui-
rions oí immanence ÷ rlinkaLle anu liveaLle ÷ aiising only íiom
iiieligion.
The First Two Theses
Ny geneial µioµosal. ueveloµeu in After Finitude.
1
is rlar ir is
µossiLle ro ievive an iuea oí a sµecularive yer non-meraµlysical
µlilosoµly. Ir is rlus µossiLle ro uiive a veuge Lerveen sµecularion
anu meraµlysics as geneially conceiveu. I vill exµlain rle µairic-
ulai meaning oí rlese rvo reims virlin rle conrexr oí my ovn
rlouglr.
By 'sµecularive` I mean eveiy µierension oí rlouglr ro aiiive ar
an aLsolure: rlar is. an ereinal riurl inueµenuenr. on rlis accounr.
oí rle conringencies (µsyclological. lisroiical. linguisric) oí oui
ielarionsliµ ro rle voilu. On rle orlei lanu. I ieiecr rle claim rlar
sucl a sµecularive µovei oí rlouglr is necessaiily meraµlysical.
In my viev. sµecularion is nor only nor necessaiily meraµlysical.
Lur only rle ieíusal oí all meraµlysics allovs rlouglr ro aiiive ar
aurlenrically sµecularive riurls. Pur Liieíly. vlar las Leen calleu
'rle enu oí meraµlysics` is rle veiy conuirion oí an aurlenric access
ro rle aLsolure.
In oiuei ro unueisranu rlis µoinr I musr exµlain rlar Ly 'mera-
µlysics` I mean rle juxtaposition (I lolu ro rle reim) oí rvo claims:
on rle one lanu. eveiy meraµlysics is sµecularive (rlus in my viev
vlar Kanr calls 'rianscenuenral meraµlysics` is nor a riue mera-
µlysics). Pur anorlei vay. eveiy meraµlysics claims ro aiiive ar
an aLsolure. Bur meraµlysics is auuirionally claiacreiizeu Ly irs
suLmission ro vlar LeiLniz calls rle 'µiinciµle oí suííicienr ieason`.
Lveiy meraµlysics lays claim ro some aigumenr as ro vly rleie
is somerling iarlei rlan norling: rlus ir is µossiLle ro giounu rle
íacr rlar ceirain enriries ouglr necessaiily ro exisr Ly viirue oí vlar
rley aie ÷ rleii sµeciíic µioµeiries. Neraµlysics. in rlis sense. is rle
µierension oí µioving rle exisrence oí a necessaiy Gou ÷ vlar las
Leen calleu since Kanr rle 'onrological aigumenr` ÷ vlicl. in ruin.
i Quenrin Neillassoux. zoo×. After Finitude. An Essay on the Necessity of Con-
tingency. Lonuon: Conrinuum.
The Immanence of the World Beyond
Veritas-Grandeur.indd 445 2/12/09 12:51:24
±±6
leaus ro rle uµloluing oí rle necessiry oí naruial lavs in oui voilu.
oi oí any orlei kinu oí enriry íoi rlar marrei (arom. soul. sociery.
lisroiical µiocess. erc.).
1le ueíinirion oí non-meraµlysical sµecularion is a miiioi-image
oí rlis ueíinirion oí meraµlysics: an aLsolure non-meraµlysics is
an aLsolure giounueu uµon rle eííecrive íalseloou oí rle µiinciµle
oí ieason. In orlei voius. rle µioiecr oí non-meraµlysical sµecula-
rion voulu Le esraLlisleu rlus: oui inaLiliry ro µiove vly rleie is
somerling iarlei rlan norling ÷ rlis imµossiLiliry is nor rle maik
oí oui ignoiance oí rle riue ieasons íoi rlings. Lur an inuicarion oí
oui aLiliry ro come ro knov rlar rleie aie. eííecrively. no ieasons
íoi anyrling. I lolu rlar rle iauical conringency oí all rlings. rleii
iiiarionaliry. is nor rle sign oí rlouglr`s incaµaciry íoi ieacling rle
ulrimare riurl oí somerling. On rle conriaiy. iauical conringency is
rle veiy riurl oí all rlings. Wlen ve srumLle uµon rle iiiarionaliry
oí all rlings. ve uo nor come uµ againsr a limir ro oui knovleuge:
iarlei ve come uµ againsr rle aLsolureness oí oui knovleuge: rle
ereinal µioµeiry oí rlings rlemselves consisrs in rle íacr rlar rley
can virlour ieason Lecome orlei rlan rley aie. 1leieíoie. ir is cleai:
rle iuea oí non-meraµlysical sµecularion consisrs in rle íolloving
rlesis: ereinal claos is caµaLle. virlour ieason. oí rle emeigence
anu rle aLolirion oí rle voilu. oí uesrioying rle lavs µiesenr in
naruie so as ro Liing orleis inro Leing. 1le iiiarionaliry oí rlings
rlus uiscloses ro us Leing qua Leing. anu rlis Leing oí all rlings
consisrs in a claos suLoiuinare ro no ieason vlarsoevei. In sum.
rle eviuenr sraLiliry oí lavs Lecomes. in sum. a meie aµµeaiance oí
necessiry. caµaLle oí collaµsing ar any momenr. 1le µlenomenal
consrancy oí rle voilu is rle eye oí a luiiicane virlour Leginning
oi enu ÷ a 'luiiicane` rlar I call Surchaos: ereinal claos. nesrleu in
rle leair oí rle maniíesr iiiarionaliry oí all rlings.
In esraLlisling rlis rlesis. I lave lau ro auuiess rliee main
µioLlems:
i Wlar giounus anu legirimises rlese µioµosirions· Ny iuea.
loosely µur. is rlar conringency is rle inuisµensaLle oµeiarive oí
eveiy conremµoiaiy anri-meraµlysics. By valoiizing rle µsyclo-
logical. rianscenuenral. lisroiical. oi linguisric conringency oí
oui inrellecrual caregoiies. rlouglr is evei ue-aLsolurizeu. I rlen
riy ro ueuuce rlar rle only rling rlar ve can ieally ielarivize
Quentin Meillassoux
Veritas-Grandeur.indd 446 2/12/09 12:51:24
±±¬
is µiecisely rle uiiving íoice oí eveiy sucl ielarivizarion: con-
ringency irselí. 1lus I riy ro slov rlar conringency. anu con-
ringency alone. is aLsolurely necessaiy ÷ rlar is ro say. ir is nor
ielarive ro any íacrual conrexr vlarsoevei. 1lis is vlar I call rle
'µiinciµle oí íacrualiry`: only rle íacriciry oí rlings is nor íacrual.
only rleii conringency is necessaiy. Ií 'íacriciry` uesignares rle
unsuiµassaLle conringency oí all iealiry. 'íacrualiry` uesignares
rle non-íacriciry oí íacriciry (irs aLsolure necessiry). So a sµecula-
rive µlilosoµly giounueu on sucl a µiinciµle oí íacrualiry vill Le
calleu 'íacrual`.
z Hov can rle rlesis oí rle necessiry oí conringency µiouuce a
uiveisineu uiscouise· ÷ lov can ir µiouuce a µiogiamme oí ie-
seaicl nor conrenr simµly ro ieµear. virl iesµecr ro eveiyrling.
vlar rle larrei is virlour ieason· Wlar gives rle µiinciµle oí
íacrualiry irs signincance is rle íacr rlar rle un-ieason oí rlings.
íai íiom cancelling our eveiy iarional necessiry. allovs rle voik
oí µlilosoµlical ieason ro Le ieuenneu. Ir musr liLeiare ieason
íiom rle µiinciµle oí ieason anu give ir a nev rask. 1lis rask
srems íiom rle íacr rlar in oiuei ro Le conringenr. a Leing. a
rling. cannor acrually Le anyrling. 1lis means rlar rleie aie
no conuirions vlarsoevei oí un-ieason. 1leieíoie ro say rlar a
Leing. in oiuei ro Le a Leing. sloulu Le virlour ieason. is nor
ro say anyrling. Ioi ií a Leing is conringenr. ir sloulu nll a cei-
rain numLei oí conuirions. anu rle rask oí a ieuenneu ieason
(nov liLeiareu íiom rle µiinciµle oí ieason) consisrs in uiscov-
eiing rlem. Ioi examµle. I lave riieu ro slov rlar one coulu
onrologically giounu rle logical µiinciµle oí non-conriauicrion
Ly loluing rlar ií a Leing coulu nor Le conriauicroiy. ir is Lecause
ir is conringenr: rleieíoie nor alieauy ro Le rlar vlicl ir is nor.
in oiuei evenrually ro Le aLle (virlour ieason) ro Lecome rlar.
Suiclaos can Liing aLour anyrling Lur a conriauicrion. unuei
µain oí geneiaring an aLsolurely necessaiy. immuraLle Leing. a
µuie logical anu onrological monsriosiry.
2
( Ny rliiu µioLlem las leu me ro coníionr anev rle Humean
µioLlem oí rle moual srarus oí µlysical lavs. Ioi ií I mainrain
rlar eveiy uereiminare iealiry can emeige oi Le uesrioyeu virl-
our ieason. rlen I ouglr ro aumir rlar µlysical lavs ÷ vlicl
z See Neillassoux. After Finitude. cl. (.
The Immanence of the World Beyond
Veritas-Grandeur.indd 447 2/12/09 12:51:24
±±×
aie rlemselves also uereiminare iealiries ÷ can virlour ieason
Le mouineu ar any insranr. Ny quesrion ro rle Humean µioLlem
rlen is rlis: can one uemonsriare rle necessiry oí some lavs· Can
ve giounu oui Lelieí in rlis necessiry oí ieason· Ny iesµonse is
simµly: no. one cannor. Lecause lavs aie nor necessaiy Lur con-
ringenr ÷ ieally conringenr. lacking anyrling rlar guaianrees rleii
uuiaLiliry. I lave rlen iun uµ againsr rle µioLlem oí knoving
vly lavs uo nor caµiiciously clange ar eveiy insranr. Lur on rle
conriaiy. iemain iemaikaLly sraLle. vlicl seems liglly unlikely
ií rleie is norling ro ensuie rleii conrinuiry. 1le iesµonse ro
rlis uiínculry las usually consisreu in sloving rlar one cannor
aµµly a µioLaLilisric logic ro lavs rlemselves. Lur only ro µlysi-
cal oLiecrs alieauy suLiecr ro rlose lavs.
3
Wirlour ieleaising in
uerail sucl analyses. ve musr iecall rle Lasic µiinciµle. necessaiy
ro rle unueisranuing oí vlar íollovs. 1le Lelieí accoiuing ro
vlicl conringenr lavs voulu Le incaµaLle oí rle kinu oí sraLiliry
connimeu Ly exµeiience comes íiom rle íolloving ieasoning: one
µoses nisr rle exisrence oí an immense ÷ inueeu. innnire ÷ roral-
iry oí µossiLle voilus. moveu Ly µlysical lavs uiííeienr íiom
rlose vlicl govein oui ovn. 1len. ir is aigueu. ií oui voilu
is conringenr. rleie voulu Le veiy lirrle likeliloou oí irs Leing
ieneveu virlin rime. Lecause eacl rime casr. rle 'uice oí eveiy
µossiLle univeise` voulu Le casr on irselí. rle uazzling ianuom
eííecr oí a uiííeienr univeise ar eveiy insranr. Þov. virl iesµecr
ro rle lavs oí clance. rle iuea rlar oui univeise. iarlei rlan rle
vasr iange oí conceivaLle univeises. sloulu ar eveiy insranr Le
rle unique µiouucr oí sucl a 'ioll oí rle uice`. is so imµioLaLle
rlar one ouglr ro concluue rlar some µlysical necessiry 'iigs`
rle ourcome anu rlus guaianrees rle consrancy oí oui voilu.
Againsr rlis ieasoning. I lave aigueu in After Finitude rlar one
cannor so roralize rle ser oí µossiLle voilus. íoi norling allovs
one ro secuie ir exceµr rle íacr rlar sucl a roraliry oí µossiLili-
ries uoes in íacr exisr. 1lis cannor Le connimeu Ly exµeiience
(no one las evei seen sucl a roraliry). noi can ir Le connimeu Ly
'µuie rleoiy`: íoi since Canroi ve knov rlar rleie is no roraliry
oí all conceivaLle numLeis. 1le Canroiian riansnnire means rlar
íoi eveiy innnire rlar exisrs. rleie is an even giearei innnire. virl
( See Neillassoux. After Finitude. cl. ±.
Quentin Meillassoux
Veritas-Grandeur.indd 448 2/12/09 12:51:24
±±o
no limir ro rlis ulrimare seiies oí innniruues. Þov. ií rle roral-
iry oí µossiLle cases is lacking. eveiy ianuom ieasoning Lecomes
meaningless. By means oí sucl a ciirique oí rle calcularion oí
clances aµµlieu ro µossiLle voilus (insreau oí Leing connneu. as
ir sloulu. ro oLiecrs virlin oui µlysical voilu). ir voulu Le legiri-
mare ro mainrain rlar lavs coulu Le conringenr anu neveirleless
iemain sraLle. even in rle íace oí eveiy seeming µioLaLiliry.
Postmodernity and Fideism
1lis Liings me ro my seconu rlesis: my concein ro ievive sµecula-
rion srems íiom a uesiie ro ser in morion a nev íoim oí iiieligiosiry.
Ir las Lecome moie anu moie cleai ro me rlar eveiy arremµr ar ue-
aLsolurizarion ÷ rlar is ro say. eveiy sceµrical oi ciirical enreiµiise. in
rle Lioau sense ÷ oí rle iiglrs oí ieason ro esraLlisl aLsolure riurls.
íai íiom µuisuing a 'iesiuue` oí ieligiosiry in meraµlysics (rlar is. a
seculaiizeu aLsolure). las on rle conriaiy enueu uµ in a sysremaric
ueíence oí rle iiglrs oí Lelieí. Ioi ro µioliLir rle iiglr oí access in
irselí amounrs ro a µieseivarion oí rle µossiLiliry oí an essenrially
unrlinkaLle rianscenuence. Kanr alieauy saiu rlis cleaily in rle íiisr
Ciirique (ar rle enu oí rle aiclirecronic): aííiiming rlar lis nev
meraµlysics ÷ rianscenuenral anu no longei sµecularive ÷ coulu no
longei Le consiueieu as a íounuarion oi Leuiock (Grundfeste) oí
ieligion. since ir lau íoiLiuuen ro rleoierical ieason rle µossiLiliry
oí µioving rle exisrence oí Gou. He immeuiarely auueu rlar nev-
eirleless rlis nev. rianscenuenral meraµlysics voulu lenceíoirl
Lecome rle bulwark (Schutzwehr) oí ieligion. since ciiricism voulu
iusr as easily µioliLir. íoi µiecisely rle same ieason. rle oµµosire
µiooí oí rle non-exisrence oí Gou.
4
Iairl. vlicl cannor Le voucleu
íoi rleoierically. voulu simulraneously Lecome rleoierically incon-
resraLle. µiorecreu íiom eveiy inriusion (orlei rlan rlar oí µiacrical
ieason. in rle uomain oí sµecularive µlilosoµly) inro irs ovn
µioµei íielu oí aµµlicarion: Gou anu immoiraliry. Þov. rlis iesriic-
rion oí rle iiglrs oí ieason las gaineu consiueiaLle giounu since
Kanr. since vlose rime rle aLsoluroiy µierensions oí Lorl µiacrical
as vell as rleoierical ieason lave Leen uisqualiíieu. anu making oí
± Immanuel Kanr. Critique of Pure Reason. A ×±o. B ׬¬.
The Immanence of the World Beyond
Veritas-Grandeur.indd 449 2/12/09 12:51:24
±-o
rle íiee Lelieí oí eacl µeison an arriruue rlar no íuirlei immanenr
riurl coulu claim ro uemysriíy. 1ouay ve lave ieacleu rle µoinr oí
a ieligiosiry no longei susraineu Ly meraµlysics. Lur µiorecreu Ly
a vaiiery oí conremµoiaiy anri-meraµlysics. eacl oí vlicl. ro Le
suie. no longei µioves rle riurl oí a sµeciíic ieligion (Cliisrianiry.
oi simµly monorleism geneially). Lur all oí vlicl uemonsriare rle
equal legirimacy oí any Lelieí vlarsoevei. µiery anu nor rlouglr
lenceíoirl laving rle exclusive µovei ro uereimine. virl comµlere
imµuniry. oui ielarionsliµ ro rle aLsolure.
1lis is vlar Gianni Varrimo. rle leauei oí rle line oí 'veak
rlouglr`. srareu in lis ovn vay in lis Look Espérer croire.
5
Accoiu-
ing ro lim. rle enu oí meraµlysics allovs a uecisive ieruin oí
ieligious concein. since. meraµlysics laving Leen enueu. no one can
seiiously aigue rlar ve can knov rlar Gou uoes nor exisr. Having
'uemysriíieu uemysriíicarion` irselí. rlar is ro say. laving ueLunkeu
rlouglr`s claims ro oµµose an oLiecrive anu lirleiro ignoieu riurl
ro ieligious illusions. µosrmoueiniry las oµeneu rle íloougares ro
an auleience oí anyone ro anyrling vlarsoevei. accoiuing ro rle
sµiiir oí rle rimes oi rle µievailing vinus oí lisroiy. 1le ieruin ro
Cliisrian íairl ÷ uereimineu in rle íiisr µlace Ly rle 'sµiiir oí rle
age` (aííecreu Ly a uesiie ro ieruin ro rle ieligion oí oui µaienrs
anu gianuµaienrs) iarlei rlan as rle íuncrion rlis oi rlar aigumenr
íoi oi againsr sucl a íairl ÷ rlus Lecomes íoi Varrimo a naruial
movemenr oí rle inuiviuual vlo las Leen íieeu íiom rle claims
oí oLiecrive ieason. In rlis vay. µosrmoueiniry ievives. in irs ovn
íaslion. a íiueisric ielarion Lerveen rlouglr anu íairl. since íiueism
consisrs (aírei Nonraigne) in limiring. anu inueeu annulling. rle
cognirive claims oí ieason so as ro geneiare a vacuum in vlicl
Lelieí can íinu irs nicle.
In conriasr ro rlis µosrmouein µiery. rle rvo giearesr iiieligious
µlilosoµleis oí oui lisroiy ÷ Lucierius anu Sµinoza ÷ lelu. in
cleaily meraµlysical reims. rlar luman Leings aie caµaLle Ly rleii
rlouglr alone oí knoving rlar rle gous vlom rley mosr íiequenrly
íeai anu voisliµ (rle 'gous oí rle masses`) eííecrively uo nor exisr.
vlicl is rle conuirion íoi liLeiarion anu aLove all rle uiscoveiy
oí rle naruie oí rle riue gous. Hence I iuenriíy virl rlese µliloso-
µleis in arremµring ro ievive rle aLsolureness oí rleii aµµioacl.
- Gianni Varrimo. ioo×. Espérer croire. Paiis: Seuil.
Quentin Meillassoux
Veritas-Grandeur.indd 450 2/12/09 12:51:24
±-i
oµeneu rovaius a nev iarional unueisranuing oí rle naruie oí rle
uivine. Bur íoi me. againsr rle meraµlysical naruie oí rle rlouglr
oí Lucierius anu Sµinoza. ir is also a marrei oí coníiiming rle iiie-
meuiaLle closuie oí rle µiinciµle oí ieason. anu oí uissociaring
myselí íiom rle ancienr uogmarism rlar srill uereimineu rle íoims
oí µiioi iiieligiosiries.
The Spectral Dilemma
I nov come ro my rliiu rlesis. vlicl involves going rliougl a
ueraileu exµosirion oí a sµeciíic µioLlem. vlicl I lave calleu the
spectral dilemma.
6
We Legin Ly exµlaining rle meaning oí rle reim spectral.
I call a spectre a uearl rlar ve lave nor yer mouineu. vlicl
launrs us ro sucl an exrenr rlar ve cannor ger ouiselves 'our oí
limLo`. our oí rlar srare in vlicl ve aie suckeu inro a uesriucrive.
Lecause oLsessive. memoiy oí rle uisaµµeaieu. I call an essential
spectre. oi sµecrie par excellence. one vlose uearl vas oí sucl a
naruie rlar. íoi essenrial anu nor solely µsyclological ieasons. ve
aie no longei caµaLle oí mouining: a uearl íoi vlicl rle voik
oí mouining. rle µassage oí rime. las nor suííicienrly raken lolu
in oiuei rlar one coulu envisage some kinu oí µaciíic ielarionsliµ
Lerveen rle ueau anu rle living. 1le ueceaseu vlo exclaims rle
loiioi oí lis µassing nor only ro lis close íiienus anu íamily. Lur ro
eveiyone vlo las leaiu rle eclo oí lis ciy.
Lssenrial sµecries aie loiienuous uearls: µiemaruie anu oui-
ous uearls. sucl as rle uearl oí an iníanr. oi rle uearl oí µaienrs
knoving rlar rleii cliluien aie uoomeu ro rle same íare. anu orlei
similai enus oí an equal uegiee oí loiioi. Þaruial oi ciiminal
uearls. oí a soir rlar coulu nor Le µieuicreu eirlei íoi rlose vlo
suííeieu oi Ly rlose vlo suivive rlem. A uearl rlar Leais no mean-
ing. no comµlerion. no íulíilmenr: iusr an ariocious inreiiuµrion oí
liíe. sucl rlar ir voulu Le simµly oLscene ro rlink rlar ir vas nor
exµeiienceu as sucl Ly rlose vlo suííeieu ir.
We vill call essential grief rle aclievemenr oí mouining oí
essenrial sµecries: in orlei voius. rle living anu no longei moiLiu
6 See Quenrin Neillassoux. zoo×. 'Sµecrial Dilemma. Collapse IV. µµ. z6i÷¬-.
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ielarion oí rle living ro rlose vlo lave uieu loiienuous uearls.
Lssenrial giieí assumes rle µossiLiliry oí esraLlisling a varclíul
link ro rle ueau. vlo. vlen ve aie Liouglr íace ro íace virl rleii
íare. voulu nor lave us Le µlungeu inro loµeless uieau (vlicl is
ueauly in irselí). Lur vlo. on rle conriaiy. voulu acrively insinu-
are rleii memoiy inro rle couise oí oui liíe. 1o comµlere essential
grief voulu mean ro live virl essenrial sµecries. anu no longei ro
uie virl rlem. So rle quesrion is: is essential grief possible, and if
so, on what terms·
In rle reims oí rle rvenrierl cenruiy. vlose lisroiy las Leen
uominareu Ly sucl liueous uearls. can one inlaLir a non-moiLiu
ielarionsliµ virl rlese ueau. vlo aie íoi rle mosr µair unknovn ro
us anu yer srill roo close ro us íoi oui lives nor ro iisk Leing secierly
roimenreu Ly rlem· Ir seems ar íiisr siglr rlar ve musr ansvei 'no`
ro rlis quesrion. Ioi ir aµµeais ro Le imµossiLle ro envisage essen-
rial giieí ií one ieíeis ro rle Lasic oµrion rlar rle ielarionsliµ ro rle
ueau allovs us. 1lis oµrion simµly claims rlar Gou eirlei exisrs.
oi le uoesn`r. Oi. moie geneially. eirlei a Lenevolenr µiinciµle.
rianscenuing lumaniry. is ar voik in rle voilu anu Leyonu. caiiy-
ing our iusrice íoi rle ueau. oi sucl a rianscenuenr µiinciµle uoes
nor exisr. Þov. ir quickly aµµeais rlar. iiiesµecrive oí rle counr-
less µossiLle vays in vlicl one may íiame rlem. neirlei oí rlese
oµrions (íoi convenience`s sake ler us call rlem rle ieligious anu
rle arleisr) allov essenrial giieí ro Le comµlereu. 1o say rlar Gou
exisrs. oi ro say rlar le uoes nor: alrlougl one rlinks unuei rlese
rvo reims. rley aie rvo vays ro uesµaii in rle íace oí sµecries. In
oiuei ro µiove rlis. I vill µur. in rle uiiecr sryle oí a µlea íoi rle
ueíence. vlar I rlink aie rle sriongesr iesµonses oí eacl oí rlese
µosirions ro rle resr oí sucl a giieí.
1le ieligious ueíence miglr go as íollovs: 'I can loµe ro emLiace
my ovn uearl. Lur nor rlar oí reiiiLle uearls.` Ir is rle reiioi Leíoie
rle íace oí rleii uearl. vlicl can nevei Le unuone. nor rlar in
rle íace oí my aµµioacling enu. rlar comµels me (is essenrial) ro
Lelieve in rle exisrence oí Gou. I Lase my Lelieí in rle univeisaliry
oí ieligious íeeling nor on rle uesiie rlar eacl µeison las íoi lis
ovn µeisonal salvarion. Lur on rle uesiie rlar eacl µeison ouglr
ro lave íoi rle salvarion oí lives rlar lave Leen slarreieu. Ir is
suµeiíicial ro aííiim rlar eveiyone uesiies immoiraliry: íoi rlis is
norling Lur an emµiiical µosirion íoi rle luman íoi vlicl rleie is
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no eviuence. so oui sµecies is consrirureu Ly singulaiiries rlar aie
incaµaLle oí Leing ieuuceu ro a geneial. necessaiily imµoveiisling
iule. 1leie is no ieason ro iule our rle aclievemenr oí a liíe exµe-
iienceu anu unueisroou as íinisleu. anu íinuing irs meaning in rlis
íiniruue alone. Immoiraliry uoes nor acquiie irs univeisal asµecr Ly
means oí a suµµoseuly geneial anrlioµological consranr ('eveiyone
uesiies immoiraliry anu so rlis oi rlar Lelieí íulíils only rle same
meaning iequiieu Ly oui exisrence`). Lur Ly means oí a uisrincr anu
moie µioíounu µioLlem: lov can ve acceµr rle aµµalling iniusrice
uone ro some. vlicl ienueis imµossiLle a giieí caµaLle oí making
sense oí oui ielarion ro rle ueµaireu· 1le µioLlem oí immoiraliry
sloulu nor Le conceiveu in reims oí µeisonal salvarion. Lur in reims
oí collecrive iusrice. oí µossiLle ieµaiarion oí an exrieme viong. I
uo nor knov vlerlei ir is necessaiy rlar liíe lave a Leyonu in oiuei
ro ílouiisl. Lur I uo knov rlar some lives aie enrirleu ro Legin again
so as ro oveicome rle ariocious enu inílicreu uµon rlem.
1o µur rlis anorlei vay. I can Le an arleisr íoi myselí anu ueny
immoiraliry íoi myselí. Lur I vill nevei agiee ro Le one íoi rle loi-
ienuous ueau: Lecause rle iuea rlar iusrice is comµlerely imµossiLle
íoi rle nameless mass oí Lygone sµecries uamages me ar my inmosr
coie. so mucl so rlar I can no longei manage ro ueuicare myselí
ro rle living. Ceirainly. ir is nor rle living vlo neeu lelµ Lur rle
ueau. Bur I Lelieve rlar lelµ íoi rle living is renaLle in reims oí a
loµe oí iusrice íoi rle ueau. 1le arleisr can veiy vell ueny ir: íoi
my ovn µair. ií I ienounce rlis. I can no longei live. I musr loµe
íoi somerling íoi rle ueau as vell. oi liíe is vain. 1lar somerling
is anorlei liíe. anorlei clance ro live ÷ ro live orleivise rlan ro uie
as rley uiu.
Anu I auu rlar my uemanu leie is íoi norling moie rlan a riuly
univeisal equaliry. Lerveen all luman Leings iiiesµecrive oí rleii
Liological conuirion ÷ iegaiuless oí rle coloui oí rleii skin. rleii
sex. rleii size ÷ Lur also oí rleii Louily anu µlysical srare ÷ anu
rleieíoie whether they are living or dead. vlicl is nevei anyrling
Lur a Liological uiííeience virlour moial signiíicance. I uemanu
iusrice íoi all. In rlis sense I Lelieve rlar communism las sinneu
rliougl moderation. rlar irs ciimes anu uisasreis aie uue nor ro an
excessive conceµrion oí equaliry. Lur. on rle conriaiy. ro a voeíully
limireu one. Ioi in Leing conrenr virl an equaliry ielevanr only ro
rle living. anu Ly ienouncing rle esclarological loµe oí a univeisal
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equaliry oí rle living anu rle ueau. communism Legan a uieauíul
uovnvaiu sµiial: µasr geneiarions veie aLanuoneu ro rleii ovn
iiievocaLle annililarion. anu only rle µiesenr geneiarion vas aLle
ro rake µair in rle nev uavn. 1lenceíoirl. as an auuirional sreµ inro
ciiminal moueiarion. rle giounu vas maue íeirile íoi rle saciiíice
oí rle µiesenr geneiarion ro íuruie geneiarions. vlo voulu Le rle
only Leneíiciaiies oí rle ievolurion ro come. 1o make rlose µies-
enrly living rle means anu rle mareiial íoi rle laµµiness oí íuruie
geneiarions. anu evei moie ro Lecome ÷ on roµ oí an alieauy reclin-
cal anu roraliraiian vision ÷ a kinu oí Piomerleanism reacling an
aLsolure inequaliry Lerveen µeoµle Leíoie emanciµarion anu rlose
aíreivaius: all rlis vas. I Lelieve. rle iesulr oí an acceµrance oí a
µiimoiuial uenial oí rle hubristic equality rovaius eveiy man. µasr.
µiesenr anu íuruie. 1eclnico-roraliraiian Piomerleanism. since ir
vanrs an inueíinirely µioµagareu 'eveiyuayness`. is nor íounueu
uµon rle luLiis oí a lumaniry Lecome roo aiioganr anu íull oí
an illusoiy sense oí irs ovn omniµorence: ir is. on rle conriaiy.
giounueu uµon the renunciation of the hubris oí esclarological
iusrice uue ro eveiy luman virlour exceµrion. anu ir is rlis iníi-
nire limirarion oí egaliraiian uemanus vlicl las maue communism
collaµse inro rle sclema oí reclnical 'masreiy`. 1lis uisasrei rlus
µioceeus íiom the criminogenic nature of the modesty oí mouein
lumaniry. íeiociously ruineu againsr rle iníinire anu legirimare
excess oí univeisal iusrice. Againsr rlis. ve musr ievive rle exrieme
loµe oí esclarology in oiuei iesolurely ro acr ÷ anu iiglr avay ÷ in
viev oí an unconuirional equaliry íoi all µeoµle. vlose ulrimare
iealizarion no longei ueµenus on us Lur on an omniµorenr Gou vlo
guaianrees 'rle soununess oí oui íolly`.
1len rle arleisr iesµonus as íollovs: 'You vanr ro loµe. you
say. in somerling íoi rle ueau. Ler us rlen look moie closely ar
vlar you aie µiomising rlem. You loµe íoi an orleivoiluly ius-
rice: Lur in vlar vill rlar consisr· 1lis is a iusrice µeiíoimeu unuei
rle goveinmenr oí a Gou vlo. in rle case oí ciiminal uearls. las
µeimirreu rle voisr oííences ro Le commirreu. anu vlo. in rle case
oí naruial uearls. las limselí Liouglr uearl ro µass. You call sucl
a Gou ¨iusr¨ ÷ even ¨goou¨! Bur vlar voulu you rlink oí rlis: rle
µiomise ro live ereinally unuei rle iule oí rlis Gou vlo calls lim-
selí iusr anu loving. vlile le allovs men. vomen anu cliluien ro
uie in rle mosr loiiiLle conuirions ÷ even vlile le coulu easily save
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rlem. Wlar is moie. le nor only allovs rlis ÷ inueeu le las uiiecrly
inílicreu sucl evils uµon lumans. Anu even rlis. le says. is a maik
oí lis iníinire (anu so mysreiious. uníarlomaLle) love íoi ciearuies
rlar le aíílicrs rlem in rlis vay. 1o live unuei rle ieign oí sucl a
Being: isn`r rlis a µeiíecr ueíinirion oí lell· Aie you relling me rlar
in rle µiesence oí rlis Gou. I vill Lelolu in rlis uazzling sµecracle
somerling oí lis iníinirely loving arriruue rovaius lis ciearuies·
You only inrensiíy rle niglrmaie rlar you µiomise: íoi you assume
rlar rlis Leing vill lave rle µovei ro riansíoim me sµiiirually in a
vay so iauical rlar I vill come ro love lim vlo las alloveu rlese
ariociries ro laµµen. 1lar is rle µiomise oí sµiiirual uearl. vlicl
is iníinirely voise rlan cainal uearl: in rle µiesence oí youi Gou. I
vill cease ro love rle Goou. íoi le vill lave rle µovei ro make me
love evil as ií ir veie rle Goou. Ií Gou exisrs. rle íare oí rle ueau
is rleieíoie iníinirely voise since rleii Louily uearl is inrensiíieu
Ly rleii sµiiirual uearl. 1o rlis moial lell rlar you visl íoi rlem.
I µieíei norlingness. íoi rlem iusr as íoi myselí. vlicl vill leave
rlem in µeace anu µieseive rleii uigniry. iarlei rlan suLiugare rlem
ro rle Omniµorence oí youi reiiiíying Demiuige.
'Ar rle leair oí rlis srare oí aííaiis lies an aLsolure lack oí meuia-
rizarion oí evil. I can alvays riy ro iusriíy an evil in rle name oí a
giearei goou rlar iesulrs íiom ir. in rle case oí rle acr oí a íinire
Leing: ií I cannor avoiu vai ro µieseive íieeuom. rlen rleie is vai.
Bur in rle case oí an all-µoveiíul Leing. rlis meuiarizarion íails. anu
eveiy rleouicy Lecomes µeiveise: slall ve say rlar Gou allovs rle
ciimes oí lisroiy ro Le commirreu in oiuei ro µieseive luman íiee-
uom· Bur vlar voulu ve rlink oí a µolirician alloving massacies.
vlicl le lau rle µovei ro µievenr. ro Le commirreu in rle name oí
iesµecr íoi íieeuoms· Slall ve rlen say rlar Gou inílicrs ueauly anu
µainíul malauies on eveiyrling luman. incluuing cliluien. in oiuei
ro allov couiage anu goouness ro Le maniíesreu in Lorl rle vicrim
anu rlose aiounu lim· Bur vlar voulu ve rlink oí a µlysician
vlo. in rle name oí sucl a µiinciµle. inoculareu some aµµall-
ing illnesses inro lis µarienrs· Þo. rleie is no rleouicy µossiLle.
no µossiLle iusriíicarion oí acrs oí youi Loiu: rlis Gou is moially
uníarlomaLle. le is µiesenreu ro us as sleei. aiLiriaiy violence. 1le
suiesr sign oí lis moial monsriosiry is rlar eveiy consequenr imita-
tio dei voulu ineviraLly leau ro unµieceuenreu µeiveisiry. along rle
lines oí a µolirician aurloiizing massacies in rle name oí íieeuom.
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oi a µlysician killing iníanrs so as ro µiomore rle exeicise oí oui
goouness. 1leieíoie. rle veiy leair oí youi Gou is nor love Lur
mysreiy. 1iue love uiavs irs enriie sµiiirual Leaury íiom Leing rle
veiy oµµosire oí mysreiy. 1lis senrimenr las no orlei riurl rlan irs
simµliciry. íiom vlicl comes irs suµeiioi uiííiculry: íaceu virl a
viong. ir sers our ro acr couiageously anu nor cleveily ro sriaregize
accoiuing ro a calculus rlar is Leyonu rle common moiral man:
íaceu virl ueauly illness. ir sers aLour ro leal. nor ro lolu on ro.
mucl less ro sµieau rle scouige: íaceu virl a massacie. ir seeks ro
make µeace. anu nor ro aurloiize loiioi íoi urreily riivial ieasons.
'Ioi my ovn µair. I am reiiiíieu oí rle consequences oí youi
ieligious suLmission ro rle uníarlomaLiliry oí Gou: in rle name
oí univeisal iusrice you voisliµ a Leing vlo maniíesrs limselí as
aLsolure iniusrice. Ioi íiom rle veiy momenr vlen you veneiare
rle voise in rle name oí rle Lerrei. a vicious uialecric vill µiogies-
sively rake µossession oí you anu vill coiiuµr youi Lesr imµulses.
You vill suííei a uouLle remµrarion: ro voisliµ violence as iusrice
irselí. in rle name oí a rianscenuence rlar eveiyone sloulu voisliµ.
anu ro riansíoim youiselí inro a violenr Leing íêtre de violence] in
rle íanaricism oí µuie íoice. rleieLy Leing íairlíul ro rle µiacrices
oí youi masrei: oi srill ÷ anu rlis is rle uiiecr iesulr oí rlis íanari-
cism ÷ you vill maislal µeiveise. soµlisrical aigumenrs in oiuei
ro iusriíy rle acrs oí youi Gou. anu you vill inreinalize rlis µei-
veisiry oí rlese aigumenrs in youiselí so as ro legirimize rle evil
oí youi ovn acrions. 1le love oí µuie violence. rle µeiveise logic
oí men oí acrion anu µovei vlo iusriíy rle voisr in rle name oí
rle exriaoiuinaiy comµlexiry oí rleii suµµoseu knovleuge ÷ rlis is
vlar iesulrs íiom youi luLiisric equaliry. Youi evil Gou. in conceir
virl rle imµeiarive oí rle imitatio dei, vill ulrimarely give iise ro
Guides géniaux anu Petits pères des peuples vlo rake auvanrage oí
rle aµµalling menral gymnasrics µiouuceu Ly z.ooo yeais oí rleo-
logical soµlisriy in oiuei ro uníarlomaLly ueclaie rlemselves rle
Rule oí Love. vlile rley aie in íacr rools oí uesriucrion. Noieovei.
Lecause ir las nor Leen aLle ro Lieak íully virl rleology rle com-
munism vlicl you ieiecr las µiouuceu Oivellian inveisions. in
vlicl lare vas rle maniíesrarion oí love. anu vai rle riue iealiza-
rion oí µeace. I vill alvays Le oµµoseu ro rle limireu anu soLei
equaliry oí rle moial arleisrs anu rle µoliricians oí emanciµarion
vlo aie conceineu moie virl rle consequences oí rleii acrions
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rlan rle µeiveision oí rleii iusr iueals íoi rle ieligious suLrleries oí
µiiesrs anu rleii ourvaiuly seculai rvins.`
Borl oí rlese rvo µosirions. one quickly norices. can Le susraineu
only rliougl rle veakness oí rle orlei: rle arleisr vanrs ro Le an
arleisr Lecause ieligion µiomises an aµµalling Gou vlo coiiuµrs
rle luman meaning oí iusrice: rle ieligious µeison secuies lis íairl
on rle ieíusal oí a liíe uevasrareu Ly rle uesµaiarion oí reiiiLle
uearls. Lacl one uisguises lis ovn uesµeiarion Ly rle avoiuance
uisµlayeu Ly rle uesµaii oí rle orlei. 1lus rle uilemma is eirlei ro
uesµaii oí anorlei liíe íoi rle ueau. oi uesµaii oí a Gou vlo allovs
sucl uearls ro laµµen.
We vill call spectral dilemma rle aµoiia oí arleism anu oí ieli-
gion as ve lave iusr ser ir our. since rley aie coníionreu virl rle
giieí oí essenrial sµecries. Ar rle leair oí sucl an aµoieric alreina-
rive. ve oscillare íiom rle aLsuiuiry oí a liíe virlour Gou ro rle
mysreiy oí a Gou vlo calls lis µeimission anu ciearion oí exrieme
evil 'love`. On rle conriaiy. ve vill call rle resolution oí rle sµec-
rial uilemma a µosirion vlicl is neirlei ieligious noi arleisr. anu
vlicl is aLle in rlis vay ro escaµe rle uouLle uesµaii inleienr in
rlis alreinarive: give uµ loµe in Lelieving in iusrice íoi rle ueau. oi
loµelessly Lelieve in a Gou virlour iusrice. So oui quesrion aLour
rle µossiLiliry oí essenrial giieí is ieíoimulareu rlus: under what
terms can one hope to resolve this spectral dilemma· Hov can ve
conceive a link Lerveen rle living anu rle ueau vlicl voulu exrii-
care irselí íiom rle uouLle anguisl oí arleism anu rle ieligious·
In oiuei ro ourline a µossiLle iesµonse ro rlis quesrion. ve slall
µioceeu as íollovs: ve musr uisµlay rle conuirions oí a solurion oí
rle uilemma. anu evaluare irs rleoierical legirimacy as irs uegiee oí
cieuiLiliry.
Formal Conditions of the Resolution of the Dilemma
Ler us Legin Ly serring our rle 'íoimal` conuirions oí a iesolurion
oí rle uilemma. 1lese conuirions consrirure Lorl rle slaie oí iiie-
uuciLle legirimacy oí rle µieceuing rvo µosirions ÷ arleisr anu
ieligious ÷ anu rle souice oí rle aµoiia. Lacl oí rle rvo siues oí
rlis uilemma eííecrively slovs. ve rlink. an inuisµensaLle elemenr
oí essenrial giieí:
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1le ieligious µosirion mainrains rlar giieí is µossiLle only ií one
is aLle ro loµe íoi somerling orlei rlan rleii uearl on Lelalí oí rle
ueau. Sµecries ioin rleii siue only on rle uay vlen ve aie aLle ro
loµe ro see rlem ioin oui ovn.
Ioi rle arleisr µosirion. rle exisrence oí Gou is an insuimounr-
aLle oLsracle ro rle voiking our oí sucl a loµe. Lecause ir is
unrlinkaLle íoi rle arleisr rlar a iusr Gou coulu allov loiienuous
uearls. anu coulu. moieovei. uemanu ro Le loveu íoi laving uone
so virlour inílicring uµon us an iníinire sµiiirual violence.
1lis aµoiia comes íiom rle íacr rlar rlese rvo conuirions. vlicl
seem ro Le equally inuisµensaLle. also. ar rle same rime. seem ro Le
incomµariLle virl one anorlei. So rle iesolurion oí rlis imµasse can.
in my viev. Le maue only in one vay: oui ansvei ro rlis uilemma
musr µiove rlar rle incomµariLiliry Lerveen rlese conuirions is
meiely aµµaienr. anu rlar rleie is srill a rliiu oµrion. neirlei ieli-
gious noi arleisr. vlicl is caµaLle oí Liinging rlese rvo elemenrs
rogerlei in a coleienr vay. Pur anorlei vay: the resolution of the
dilemma boils down to the intelligibility of the proposition which
joins the thesis of the possible resurrection of the dead (rle ieligious
conuirion oí rle iesolurion) with the thesis of the non-existence of
God (rle arleisr conuirion). 1lese rvo elemenrs can Le synrlesizeu
in rle íolloving µioµosirion: God does not yet exist.
1le µioµosirion God does not yet exist íoimulares vlar one
may call rle rlesis oí divine non-existence. Leing unueisroou rlar
rlis exµiession sloulu Le raken in rvo senses vlicl µeimir irs
equivociry. Iiisr oí all. rle rlesis oí uivine non-exisrence signiíies
the non-existence of the religious God. Lur also rlar oí rle mera-
µlysical Gou. unueisroou as acrually exisring as rle Ciearoi oi rle
Piinciµle oí rle voilu. Bur uivine non-exisrence also ieíeis ro the
divine character of non-existence. In orlei voius. in rle µiesenr
iealiry. vlarevei srill iemains oí rle viirual srare conceals rle µos-
siLiliry oí a Gou yer ro come. vlo vill Le innocenr oí rle uisasreis
oí rle voilu anu in vlom one coulu loµe íoi rle µovei ro gianr ro
sµecries somerling Lesiues uearl.
1le rlesis oí uivine non-exisrence allovs one ro giasµ rle souice
oí rle aµµaienr insoluLiliry oí rle sµecrial uilemma. 1lis aµµaienr
insoluLiliry lelu rlar arleism anu ieligion consrirure an alreinarive
exlausrive oí all µossiLiliries: eirlei Gou exisrs. oi le uoesn`r. Bur
rle rvo rleses aie acrually sriongei rlan rlose íacrual µioµosirions:
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íoi rley Lorl ueiive rleii signiíicance íiom rle suµµoseuly neces-
sary claiacrei oí eirlei rle non-exisrence oi exisrence oí Gou. 1o
Le an arleisr is nor only ro lolu rlar Gou uoes nor exisr. Lur also
rlar le cannor exisr: ro Le a Lelievei is ro lave íairl in rle essenrial
exisrence oí Gou. So ve see rlar. in oiuei ro ser irselí againsr sucl
an alreinarive. rle rlesis oí uivine non-exisrence ouglr ro vage irs
Larrle on rle íielu oí moualiries: íoi rle µoinr is ro aigue rlar God
is possible ÷ nor in a suLiecrive anu µiesenr sense (rlar is. ir is µos-
siLle rlar Gou acrually exisrs nov ÷ vlicl I uo nor knov). Lur in an
oLiecrive anu íuruie sense (rlar is. Gou can ieally come inro Leing
in rle íuruie). 1le clallenge is ro unrie rle arleisr÷ieligious knor
Lerveen Gou anu necessiry (Gou musr eirlei exisr oi nor) in oiuei
ro ieconnecr lim virl rle viirual (Gou can exisr).
So rle quesrion Lecomes moie µiecise: rle iesolurion oí rle sµec-
rial uilemma comes uovn ro rle exµlanarion oí uivine nonexisrence.
anu ar rle same rime ro rle esraLlislmenr oí rle legirimacy oí an
auleience rleiero.
1le rlesis ÷ Gou uoes nor yer exisr ÷ coulu Le Lioken uovn
accoiuing ro rle rvo µoles oí signiíicarion vlicl sloulu rlen Le
sruuieu in ruin:
i Wlar uoes 'nor yer` signiíy in oiuei rlar a gou can Le rlouglr in
reims oí lis evenrualiry· Sucl an examinarion amounrs ro rlink-
ing rliougl rle signincarion oí a rime comµariLle virl essenrial
giieí: vlar is rime. ií ir µossesses rle uivine as one oí irs viiruali-
ries. anu vlar can iusriíy oui Lelieí in irs eíncacy·
z Wlar uoes rle signinei 'Gou` acrually signiíy. once ir is µosireu
as nor yer exisring ÷ µossiLle anu íuruie Lur no longei µiesenr
anu necessaiy· Sucl an invesrigarion voulu esµecially iequiie rle
elaLoiarion oí rle elemenrs oí a uiscouise aLour rle uivine rlar
is uisrincr íiom eveiy rleology Laseu uµon rle iuea oí an ereinal
Gou. I call rlis uiscouise a 'uivinology`.
I vill Legin Ly examining rle meaning oí rle 'nor yer` Leíoie ruin-
ing my arrenrion ro rlar oí rle uivine. Ioi rle momenr. I vill use rle
reim 'Gou` in rle minimal sense rlar ir sloulu lave in rle íiame-
voik oí uivine non-exisrence: rle auvenr oí a iegime oí exisrence
vlicl allovs me ro loµe íoi somerling orlei rlan uearl íoi rle
ueµaireu.
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The ‘Not Yet’
Iiisr oí all ve musr aLolisl a misunueisranuing. 1o sµeak oí a Gou
vlo uoes nor yer exisr uoes nor in any vay mean ro evoke a nor yer
íully exisring Lur alieauy µorenrially acrualizeu Gou: ve uo nor sµeak
leie oí a Gou vlo exisrs Lur las nor yer Leen íully ievealeu. noi a
Gou vlose inrensiry oí exisrence voulu µiogiess ovei rle couise oí
lisroiy. Wlerlei µioviuence conceins a Gou vlo is acrual oi in rle
µiocess oí acrualizarion. eirlei vay ir is equally incommensuiaLle
virl eveiy iuea oí iusrice. anu in rlis sense unacceµraLle ro rle
arleisr. Ií Gou. in oiuei ro inciease rle inrensiry oí lis Leing musr
µass rliougl rle lisroiy oí luman uisasreis. rlen lis íulíilmenr is
synonymous virl a cosmic saciiíice oí oui uesrinies rlar norling
coulu iusriíy. aµair íiom a nev µeiveise íoim oí ieasoning.
Iiisr oí all. rle sraremenr. 'Gou uoes nor yer exisr`. is rleieíoie
meanr ro signiíy rlar Gou uoes nor exisr. nor simµly rlar le uoes nor
exisr in any íaslion. We mean rlis in rle same vay in vlicl a laiu-
eneu arleisr miglr mean ir (alrlougl Ly mouiíying rle moualiry oí
rle rlesis i reims 'íacrual` anu 'un-necessaiy`). 1le µioµosirion oí
rle non-exisrence oí Gou ouglr in riurl ro Le µaiaµliaseu in rlis
vay: Gou uoes nor exisr. but there is no reason that this should
remain so. rlar lis non-exisrence sloulu always iemain so.
Ler us riy ro examine rle meaning oí rlis sraremenr moie closely.
Leginning virl irs remµoial naruie.
1o µosir rlar Gou can exisr in rle íuruie uoes nor mean. virl
iesµecr ro íacrual onrology. rlar rle emeigence oí a íuruie Gou is
necessaiy. Ir can only Le a marrei oí an evenr rlar is ieally anu riuly
µossiLle. Lur essenrially conringenr: lence eternally eventual. Gou
can eirlei come in rle íuruie oi nor: rlis µossiLiliry vill nevei go
avay. noi can one evei Le ceirain rlar rlis µossiLiliry vill acrually
even Le iealizeu. Sucl an evenr. ar íiisr glance. voulu ielare ro rle
emeigence oí a voilu vlose lavs voulu in íacr incoiµoiare rle
ieneval oí µasr luman Louies. 1leieíoie ir is a marrei oí an essen-
rially unconriollaLle evenr ÷ íoi a man anu íoi a Gou ÷ vlicl cannor
Le ienueieu imµioLaLle. since ir conceins rle emeigence oí µlysi-
cal consranrs anu nor oí íacrs suLoiuinareu ro rlose consranrs. Ir
voulu Le µoinrless ro give uµ loµe íoi rlis auvenr unuei rle µierexr
rlar many orlei µossiLiliries coulu aiiive virlin Suiclaos. virl no
ieason ro µiivilege rle loµeu-íoi evenrualiry. since rlis voulu Le ro
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suLiecr ir ro a µioLaLilisric logic rlar uoes nor aµµly ro rle µiesenr
case. 1le evenr in quesrion is ieally µossiLle. ereinally conringenr.
íoievei unconriollaLle anu comµlerely imµioLaLlilizaLle.
1leieíoie ro loµe rlar Suiclaos miglr Liing rlis evenr aLour is
ro loµe íoi a µossiLiliry vlicl may nevei aiiive. Lur ir vill Le íoi-
evei imµossiLle ro say rlar rlis µossiLiliry vill nevei come.
Wlen an evenr rakes µlace rlar coníoims ro rle µlysical lavs oí a
uereiminare voilu. ve can say rlar rlis evenr vas. uµ unril rle µoinr
oí irs occuiience. a potentiality oí rlis voilu. Bur Suiclaos can also
give iise ro evenrs rlar uo nor coníoim ro rle µlysical lavs oí a
voilu. I call sucl evenrs virtualities. Viirualiries can Le consiueieu.
veiy µiecisely. as auvenrs ex nihilo. since rley µioceeu neirlei íiom
an acrually exisring voilu. noi íiom irs µlysical µorenrialiries. noi
íiom some roraliry oí µossiLle voilus ÷ íoi examµle. íiom a uivine
unueisranuing vlicl voulu conrain rle sum oí all µossiLiliries.
Viirualiries come íiom a non-roraliry oí µossiLles. íiom rle unroral-
izaLle aLyss oí rle viirualiries oí Suiclaos. 1le sign rleie lave Leen
some auvenrs ex nihilo in rle µasr comes íiom rle 'iiieuuciLle íacrs`
among seveial oiueis oí exisrence. So íai rleie seem ro Le rliee oí
rlese iiieuuciLle íacrs: marrei (ieuuciLle ro vlar can rleoiizeu in
µlysico-marlemarical reims). liíe (unueisroou moie sµeciíically as a
ser oí reims. rlar is. aííecrions. sensarions. qualirirarive µeiceµrions.
erc.. vlicl cannor Le ieuuceu ro mareiial µiocesses) anu. íinally.
rlouglr (unueisroou as a caµaciry ro aiiive ar rle 'inrelligiLle con-
renrs` Leaieis oí ereiniry. anu vlicl as sucl is nor ieuuciLle ro any
orlei reims).
7
1lese rliee oiueis uereimine rle exisrence oí rliee
voilus ÷ marrei. liíe. rlouglr ÷ vlicl aie acrually coexisrenr. uesµire
eveiy eviuenr inuicarion rlar rley succeeu one anorlei in rime.
I Lelieve. rleieíoie. rlar rleie aie iiieuuciLle. imµioLaLilizaLle
suµµlemenrarions virlin evolurion vlicl aie signs nor oí a rianscen-
uence Lur oí a liglei claos. I µioµose. rlen. ro rlink rle sµecularive
ieneval as rle µossiLle auvenr oí a fourth world: rlar oí iusrice.
Alrlougl rlis voilu is virlour onrological necessiry. rleie is ieason
ro loµe in ir in a vay rlar is nor simµly caµiicious. Ioi only rlis
voilu coulu inriouuce inro rle íuruie an iiieuuciLiliry anu a novelry
as iauical as rlar oí liíe in ielarionsliµ ro marrei. oi rlouglr in iela-
¬ On rle auvenr ex nihilo. cí. Quenrin Neillassoux. zoo¬. 'Porenrialiry anu viiru-
aliry`. Collapse II. µµ. --÷×i.
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rion ro liíe. In eííecr. ií one gianrs rlar íacriciry is aLsolure. rlen rle
rlinking Leing is rle ulrimare Leing. vlicl no novelry can iauically
suiµass. in rle µiecise sense in vlicl rlouglr is ueíineu as inrel-
lecrual access ro rle ereinal. Þo Leing ÷ rle moie auvanceu living
rlings. angel oi gou ÷ can suiµass rle rlinking Leing in rle vay
in vlicl rlouglr suiµasses liíe oi liíe suiµasses marrei. Ií a voilu
vlicl suiµasses oui rliiu voilu (rlouglr) can srill aiiive. iusr as oui
rliiu voilu las suiµasseu µieceuing ones. rlen ir can only Le rle
voilu oí rle ieneval oí rle ulrimare Leing ro Le rle rlinking Leing.
Lur accoiuing ro a iegime oí exisrence nov voirly oí irs conuirion:
immoiraliry as rle guaianroi oí univeisal equaliry.
Þeveirleless. in rle vay ve use rle reim. ve aie caieíul nor ro
iuenriíy rle ulrimare virl rle aLsolure. 1le aLsolure anu rle ereinal
lave no value in rlemselves. since rley aie iuenriíieu virl ereinal
íacriciry. rlar is. vlen all is saiu anu uone. virl rle sruµiu conrin-
gence oí all rlings. Bur rle ulrimare ÷ rlar is. rle rlinking Leing
(oí vlicl man is one among orlei µossiLle examµles) ÷ is a con-
ringenr. íiagile. moiral Leing ÷ ar leasr in oui voilu. 1le ulrimare
is a Leing vlo. avaie oí rle aLsolureness oí conringence. knovs
lis ovn conringency. He rleieLy acquiies all ar once Lorl a cog-
nirive anu riagic uimension. vlicl gives lim lis insuimounraLle
voirl. 1lis is vly rle only voilu vlicl coulu exceeu in novelry
rle voilu oí rle rlinking Leing rlouglr voulu Le rle iecasring oí
Leing accoiuing ro a sµeciíic immoiraliry: nor a necessaiy exisrence
÷ rlar is onrologically imµossiLle ÷ Lur an exisrence likely ro Le µio-
longeu inueíinirely. Ir voulu Le a marrei oí a kinu oí non-necessaiy
immoiraliry in vlicl uearl voulu ceirainly iemain a µossiLiliry.
Bur rlis voulu Le a µossiLiliry rlar miglr nevei aiiive. Lecause
rle ieinsrirureu Louies vill no longei Le suLiecr ro a Liological lav
oí uecay. Bouies voulu iemain conringenr (aLle ro µeiisl) Lur no
longei µiecaiiously so (Leing íoiceu ro uie accoiuing ro rle Liologi-
cal lavs oí rleii voilu). Dearl voulu rlen Lecome vlar I call a
pure possibility: a µossiLiliry nor uesrineu ro Le accomµlisleu some
uay. A ieal µossiLiliry. íoi rle íouirl voilu irselí voulu Le aLle ro
Le uesrioyeu. anu 'immoirals` along virl ir ÷ Lur nor an insecuie oi
lazaiuous µossiLiliry. íoi norling voulu enrail rle aLolirion oí rlis
voilu anu rle µeiisling oí irs 'inlaLiranrs`.
Oui inrenrion rlen is ro make rle íouirl voilu a µossiLiliry
vlicl can enlance. in our own world. rle suLiecriviry oí luman
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Leings living in oui uay Ly µioíounuly riansíoiming rle µiivare
lives oí rlose vlo rake seiiously sucl a lyµorlesis. Sucl a µossi-
Liliry. µoseu as ieal anu liaLle ro lave eííecrs virlin oneselí leie
anu nov. I call a dense possibility. oi srill a may-be. so as ro uisrin-
guisl ir íiom a simµle. íoimal oi 'simµly` rleoierical µossiLiliry (in
vlicl one uoes nor manage ro Lelieve even ií one conceives ir in irs
µioµei sriengrl). As sucl. I rlink rlar the most important task for
philosophy – its final challenge – is not being, but ‘may-being’. Ioi
rle may-Le unires virlin irselí rle riue leair oí eveiy onrology (rle
aLsolureness oí íacrual µossiLiliry) anu rle ueeµesr asµiiarions oí
erlics (rle univeisal íulíilmenr oí iusrice).
Iinally. ir is imµoiranr nor ro lose siglr oí rle íolloving µoinr. Ií
rle íouirl voilu can lave an eííecr uµon µiesenr exisrence. ir can uo
so only in rle case oí an esclarological suLiecr. moveu Ly rle uesiie
íoi univeisal iusrice. I call sucl a suLiecr a vectorial subject ÷ rlar is
ro say one magnerically arriacreu Ly rle vecroi oí rle emanciµarion
ro come. Ioi in sucl a suLiecr uivine non-exisrence unuoes rlose
elemenrs vlicl µairake oí rle uesµaii oí iusrice. oi oí rle sµecrial
uilemma. 1le vlole clallenge consisrs in rlar rle sµecrial uilemma
irselí liLeiares rle suLiecr íiom rlar vlicl moie oi less silenrly ears
avay ar ir. anu íiom rle 'visiLle` consequences µiouuceu Ly rlis
inreiioi eiosion: aiLiriaiy violence anu oi uisillusionmenr. 1lis
asµecr oí rle µioLlem is uecisive anu vill Lecome cleaiei in vlar
íollovs.
Divinity and Nihilism
We seek ro rlink oí a Gou vlo is nor only rle agenr oí esclarology.
Lur also irs iesulr: a Gou vlo is no longei rle íiisr anu necessaiy
cause. Lur iarlei rle lasr conringenr eííecr ÷ a Gou vlo is no longei
aLsolure (only conringency is aLsolure). Lur vlo is neveirleless
ulrimare (rle value oí vlicl is inuisµensaLle. Lur rle auvenr oí
vlicl is virlour necessiry). 1lus my iuea oí 'esclarology` is Laseu
on claos. as ir may Le reimeu accoiuing ro a voiu game: ve lave
an eschaology.
8
Wlar kinu oí Gou uo ve lave íoi rlis 'esclaology`
× 1lis neologism ÷ eschaology ÷ is coineu anu useu Ly rle aurloi rliouglour as
a reclnical reim. í1ians.]
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vlicl is no longei an 'esclarology` in rle sriicr sense· ÷ rlis is vlar
musr nov Le examineu.
I saiu rlar I inrenueu ro exµloie rle riansíoimarions oí suLiecriv-
iry iesulring íiom a riue auleience ro a uense sense oí rle µossiLle.
Ir is a quesrion oí consriruring rle srages oí a likely riaiecroiy oí
unclaining rle suLiecr íiom vlar. accoiuing ro rle logic oí rle
aLsuiu oi rle rianscenuence. seµaiares ir íiom vlar ir can Le. rlus
coiiouing ir oí rle suiu sickness oí sµiiirual misíoirune inleienr in
Lorl oí rlese oµrions: (i) rle iiiemeuiaLle iniusrice oí a voilu virl-
our Gou. oi (ii) a Gou vlose allegeu iusrice maniíesrs irselí ro us as
an iiiemeuiaLle iniusrice.
1lis rliiu vay vlicl is neirlei ieligious noi arleisr Lur µlilo-
soµlical. anu moie µiecisely sµecularive. vlicl íinus irs inreiesr in
a uouLle movemenr:
(a) Ir is inirially a quesrion oí Lieaking vlar I call. in a µiecise
sense. despair. Desµaii is rlar vlicl iesulrs íiom rle iiieuuciLle
seµaiarion oí iusrice anu Leing vlicl is oµeiarive in all arleisms
anu rliougl every rianscenuence. virlin rle íiamevoik oí a sµec-
rial uilemma. Againsr rlis eííecr vlicl uominares (moie oi less
oµenly) rle µiesenr eµocl. rle rask iequiies ve oveicome rle sµec-
rial uilemma rliougl rle invocarion oí a µossiLle iealiry coníiguieu
rliougl sµecularion on rle íacrual. rle µossiLiliry oí a vocarion rlar
exceeus rle µossiLiliry oí rle uearl. 'simµly rleoierical`. anu rlus
a µossiLiliry rlar Lecomes an inrimare anu viral loµe: an eííecrive
íacroi oí riansíoimarion anu emanciµarion oí suLiecriviry.
In a sense. rlis íiisr movemenr oí rle emanciµarion oí rle suLiecr
iesolves in irs vay rle moial aµoiia unuone Ly rle µosrulares oí
Kanrian µiacrical ieason. íoi vlom rle enu is ro make liíe simµly
livaLle. coleienr íoi rle suLiecr. suLoiuinareu ro univeisal µiac-
rices in sµire oí rle µlenomenal uisiuncrion oí rle moial lav anu
rle given sociery (rle iniusrice eveiyvleie µiesenrs in rlis voilu.
voilu inuiííeienr ro rle moial value oí rle inuiviuuals). Bur oui
vay is sµecularive anu nor rianscenuenral: ir seeks ro slov rlar rle
moial aµoiia oí lumaniry lies in illimirarion ÷ anu nor in rle limira-
rion ÷ oí rle caµaciries oí ieason. Ir rlus equally avoius rle maioi
Kanrian ueau enu vlicl claims ro ieconcile rle iuea oí univeisal
moials virl rle ereinal exisrence oí Gou. rlar vlicl rle arleisr las
slovn ro Le an imµossiLiliry.
1le suimounring oí uesµaii aims ar rle liLeiarion oí rle µovei
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oí acrion µiesenr in rle suLiecr. anu rlus nor ar rle sarisíacrion oí
vlar le uesiies in lis uieams. By uesrioying in lim rle iuea oí rle
iiiemeuiaLle aLsuiuiry oí rle voilu. rle miliranr univeisalisr can
concenriare on rle uigency oí lis rask vlile aiming ar rle liglei
enu vlicl guiues lis acrion in reims. nor oí an inaccessiLle iueal.
Lur oí a µossiLiliry vlicl is ieal even ií ir las nor mareiializeu.
1leie is rlus norling leie oí a 'íaralisric aigumenr`: íoi rle íouirl
voilu. univeisal iusrice cannor Le conceiveu as inueµenuenr oí oui
acrs anu rlus sloulu nor Le µassively avaireu. Because rlis iusrice
can iusr as vell nor aiiive (ir is a µossiLiliry anu nor a necessiry). ir
rlus imµoses uµon us an iniuncrion ro acr in rle µiesenr in oiuei ro
lasren irs aµµioacl anu ro make some live in irs exisrence. in sucl
a vay as ro Le voirly oí rlis lyµorlesis rlar exceeus oui caµaciries
Lur gives meaning ro oui asµiiarion.
(L) Bur rle seconu momenr oí rle emanciµarion oí rle suLiecr is
iusr as uecisive: ir is vlar I uesignare Ly rle reim nihilism.
I name 'uesµeiare` rle suLiecr vlo iegaius rle auvenr oí univeisal
iusrice as an imµossiLiliry íoi rle living anu ueau (an arleisric-
ieligious momenr). Bur I call 'nililisric` rlar suLiecr vlo. iegaiuing
rlis iusrice as a rlinkaLle anu ieal µossiLiliry ÷ convinceu rleieíoie
Ly rle uense sµecularive µorency rlar can ienev rle ueau ÷ con-
siueis rlis suuuen aiiival oí rle íuruie as non-desirable. anu in riurl
an appalling possibility.
1le leair oí rle esclarological riaiecroiy is consrirureu in riurl
Ly rle riial nor oí uesµaii Lur oí nililism ÷ a reim vlicl uoes nor
coiiesµonu. in my nomenclaruie. virl vlar is usually inuicareu Ly
rle reim. since rle nililisr is. in my unueisranuing. someone genei-
areu Ly rle µorenrialiry oí a uense sµecularive ieneval. 1le nililisr
is rlus a new íiguie. a suLiecrive ryµe vlo nevei Leíoie exisreu
unril nov. vlo is µiouuceu Ly rle conceµrual µossiLiliry µiesenr in
rle lyµorlerical ieneval. One oí lis clieí inreiesrs. as ve slall see.
is ro µioiecr rle inreinal rensions inleienr in ceirain alieauy µie-
exisring oµrions oí rlouglr. Ny iuea leie is µiimaiily ro slov lov
sµecularive µlilosoµly is nor only rle conceµrual measuiemenr. as
ir is in Hegel. vlicl seizes oui sµiiirual coníiguiarions exliLiring
inconsisrency in uialecrically exceeuing rliougl an aLsolving ieca-
µirularion. Rarlei. sµecularive µlilosoµly. in irs íacrual aurloiiry.
is aLle ro geneiare mucl moie: oí irselí ir µiouuces carasrioµlic
coníiguiarions oí exisrence which would not have existed without
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this philosophy. anu vlicl ir is nov iesµonsiLle íoi oveicoming
in oiuei ro aiiive ar rle visuom ar vlicl ir aims. Iacrual erlics
likevise musr oveicome rle moial carasrioµles vlicl aie inlei-
enr in ir. iusr as rleoierical sµecularion musr oveicome irs inreinal
rleoierical inconsisrencies in oiuei ro Luilu a uniry oí rlouglr anu
liíe caµaLle oí legirimizing irs ulrimare coleience.
1o exµlain rlis lasr µoinr. I musr srair Ly making a ueroui
rliougl Þierzscle. As mucl as rle íiisr µlase oí rle sµecularive
suLiecrivizarion can Le rlouglr virlin rle íiamevoik oí a 'µolemi-
cal leiirage` virl a µiacrical Kanrianism. so rle seconu µlase musr
Le Liouglr inro inrimacy virl rle Þierzsclean Lreinal Reruin. Ler
us see vly.
The Unsurpassable Brutality of the Eternal Return
I am inreiesreu in rle Lreinal Reruin insoíai as ir is geneially
scoineu Ly conremµoiaiy µlilosoµleis anu commenrarois. 1le
Lreinal Reruin inueeu seems ro consrirure a clallenge ro rle ieaueis
oí Þierzscle vlo aie convicreu ro see in lim a rlinkei vlo is ana-
leµrically Lorl anri-meraµlysical anu µosrmouein. 1aken ar íace
value. lovevei. rle Lreinal Reruin is a classically meraµlysical
rlesis. conceineu íinally virl rle ulrimare naruie oí rle voilu anu
irs comµonenrs (rle ceaseless Lecoming oí vills íoi µovei). One can
summaiize rle Lreinal Reruin unuei a iarlei ciuue íoimularion:
all rlings. youiselí incluueu. ieruin ereinally ro rle same. One las
rle imµiession rlar conremµoiaiy ieaueis oí Þierzscle aie given ro
iequiie rlar one nor unueisranu rle Lreinal Reruin in reims oí rle
simµle anu Liural íoim given Ly Þierzscle. Lven vlen rle rlesis
oí Þierzscle is acrually unueisroou like a µlilosoµly oí Lecoming
anu nor a µosrmouein ciiricism oí eveiy íoim oí riurl ÷ as is uone
Ly Deleuze ÷ one lasrens ro give ir a moie elaLoiare sense vlicl
emµlasizes uiííeience sucl rlar rle 'ieruin` is riansíoimeu inro
'Lecoming` anu rleieíoie is nor rle ieruin oí same.
I ieiecr all rlese suLrle ieinreiµierarions oí Þierzscle. rle mosr
inreiesring inreiµierarion oí rle Lreinal Reruin is. on rle conriaiy.
rlar vlicl gives ir rle mosr immeuiare anu uiiecr inreiµierarion.
as ir las iusr Leen srareu: eveiyrling ieruins ereinally ro rle same.
youiselí incluueu. Ir is oíren saiu rlar Þierzscle`s µionouncemenrs
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aie 'riaµs`. so mucl so rlar ir is imµossiLle ro give rlem a univo-
cal meaning: rle riaµ oí rle Lreinal Reruin is rlus aµµaienrly rle
µiecise íacr rlar rlar leie Þierzscle uoes nor coníoim virl lis ovn
logic. rlar le says simµly vlar le vanrs ro say anu rlus le leaus
asriay all rlose vlo vanr ro µlay virl lim. He leaus rlem asriay
anu resrs rlem: Lecause íiom a Þierzsclean µoinr oí viev ir is Ly
rle incaµaciry ro suµµoir rle aµµalling µossiLiliry rlar irs oLvious
uiiecrion causes rle ieauei vlo is moie susceµriLle ro 'veakness`
ro lasren ro uiscovei rleiein a moie elaLoiare signiíicance. 1le íiisr
resr rlar rle Reruin imµoses uµon irs ieauei consisrs in uereimining
ií rlis one is aLle nor ro skev vlar is saiu ro lim. ro íace rle Lreinal
Reruin insreau oí vainly ciicumvenring ir.
Wly is rlis claim inreiesring in irselí· Ioi ar leasr rvo ieasons.
1le íiisr ieason is rlar rlis sraremenr slovs rlar Þierzscle is
cleai rlar one cannor riansíoim a Louy. invenr a nev suLiecriviry.
virlour a sµecularive µioµosirion aLour rle voilu. One las ieally
ro rlink rlar one ieruins ereinally. rlar Lecoming is maue in irs
inrimare riurl. in oiuei ro íace rle exµeiience oí rle Übermensch
ísurhomme]. Any ieauing rlar uilures rle violence oí rlis rlesis Ly
rle use oí uiveise µaiauoxes riansíoims rlis exµeiience. rlis oiueal
as ve lave saiu. inro a simµle oLiecr oí sruuy. a marrei íoi leime-
neurics anu lyµei-rexrualiry. 1o rle conriaiy. one musr emLiace
rle onrological (even rle sriongly iealisr) 'iuueness` oí rlis srare-
menr. rlar is ro say. emLiace rle ieal µossiLiliry oí an incessanr
iecommencemenr oí Louies ÷ ií one consenrs ro ler rle Lreinal
Reruin íuncrion íoi vlar ir is: an insriumenr oí selecrion vlicl
ieiníoices rle Louy oí rlose vlo aie acrive anu uesrioys rle Louy
oí rlose vlo aie ieacrive. If I ieally Lelieve rlar I vill come Lack
ereinally accoiuing ro rle same µarl oí liíe. rlen I riansíoim myselí.
Ioi Þierzscle. geneially I uie ÷ Lecause rlar is a rlouglr vlicl is
unLeaiaLle íoi rle oiuinaiy man. vlo is ommirreu ro rle ieacrive
larieu oí liíe ÷ Lur somerimes. iaiely. I inrensiíy acrively my exisr-
ence Lecause I emLiace iníinirely vlar I am. Ií. lovevei. I uo nor
rlink rlar rlings aie so simµle. rlen I vill viire anu say leaineu
rlings aLour liíe virlour Leing moie aííecreu ir.
1le seconu ieason vlicl leaus me ro Le inreiesreu in rle common
veision oí rlis claim is even moie inreiesring. 1lis ieason conceins
rle veiy conceµr oí immanence. I Lelieve rlar virl rle Lreinal
Reruin. Þierzscle ieveals a íoimiuaLle µaiauox oí immanence. one
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le is unuouLreuly rle only one ro giasµ virl sucl acuiry. I rlink ve
can srare rlis µaiauox as íollovs: immanence is nor oí rlis voilu.
Ir is rlis rlesis vlicl I iníei íiom Þierzscle vlicl ve can oµµose
ro rle uiveise conremµoiaiy conceµrions oí immanence anu essen-
rially ro rlar oí Deleuze. 1o rlese conceµrions ve can iesµonu Ly
saying rlar 've aie all in íavoui oí immanence Lur as Þierzscle
unueisroou vell. immanence is nor oí rlis voilu`.
Ler me exµlain. Wlar Þierzscle giasµeu via rle Lreinal Reruin is
irs uníoigiving exµeiience vlicl only lers rlose suivive vlo lave
ienounceu all íoims oí rianscenuence. Bur in vlar uoes rlis exµe-
iience consisr· Is ir rle case rlar ve emLiace oui iníinire Leing.
oui looming anu unavoiuaLle uearl. rlar is ro say. oui immeui-
are µlenomenal exisrence vlicl is ouis anu vlicl is susµenueu
Lerveen rvo evenrs ÷ rle evenr oí oui Liirl anu rle unknovn Lur
ceirain evenr oí oui uearl· ALsolurely nor: rle exµeiience oí Lreinal
Reruin consisrs in emLiacing an exisrence in vlicl uearl is nor ar
all a ueíinire inreiiuµrion oí oui exisrence Lur a srage oí oui Lecom-
ing vlicl is cancelleu our Ly oui ulreiioi ieLiirl. We can say rlar
Ly rlis. Þierzscle enioins us ro emLiace ereinally rle iecommence-
menr oí oui uearl. Lur ve aie leie in some vay µlaying on voius:
uearl. in Lreinal Reruin. is alvays cancelleu our Ly rle ieruin oí
liíe. anu ir is precisely in this that the frightening experience which
it imposes upon us consists.
In orlei voius. rle experience of Eternal Return is not the expe-
rience of death but of immortality. rlar is ro say. of life without
any other: neirlei rle rianscenuenr orlei oí rle Lelievei (oi rle
suµµoseu Savioui) noi rle ulrimare norlingness oí rle arleisr.
1le Lreinal Reruin is liíe closeu uµon irs ovn unlimireu µorency
vlicl las Lecome rorally incaµaLle oí exriacring irselí íiom irselí
in oiuei ro uesrioy oi rianscenu irselí. 1le violence vlicl is leieLy
inílicreu on rle suLiecr uoes nor consisr in rle annililarion oí rle
suLiecr`s exisrence (vlicl voulu Le roo Leauriíul). Lur irs uníoigiv-
ing ieµeririon: anu rlis is so Lecause the subject has to mourn the
All-Other of life íoiiginal iralics]. vlerlei rlis All-Orlei Le Gou oi
Þorlingness.
1leie is no longei anyrling like rle All-Orlei ÷ rle coar-oí-aims
oí ieligiosiry anu rianscenuence. Anu rleie is no longei anyrling like
rle Noie. rle moie anu alvays. rle coar-oí aims oí all immanenrisr
µlilosoµly. Ií rle rvo giear accounrs oí immanence ÷ Þierzscle`s
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anu Sµinoza`s ÷ aie conceµrions. nor oí íiniruue. Lur oí immoiraliry
conceiveu as rle enuless µeiµeruarion oí exisring liíe (oi some asµecr
oí exisring liíe). rlen rlis is so Lecause rle only genuine meaning
oí rle immanenr íl’ici-bàs] consisrs in uµloluing irs conrinuarion
ro iníiniry. Only le vlo can Leai rle iuea oí rlis one anu only liíe
vlicl is consranrly iecasr in irs 'µiosaic-ness` virlour any loµe
oí escaµing via rle rianscenuenr íl’au-delà] oi norlingness. exµeii-
ences iauical immanence.
1le genuine exµeiience oí immanence is rleieíoie nor availaLle in
oui immeuiare voilu. Ioi rlis voilu vlicl gives irselí immeuiarely
ro oui µeiceµrion is only ieal. Lur nor immanenr. 1lis voilu in íacr
oííeis us nor irs All-Orlei (rlis oí couise voulu Le conriauicroiy).
Lur rle possibility oí irs All-Orlei. since oui liíe is rouay uesrineu
ro a uearl rlar is íounuarional oí a loµe íoi a íuruie escaµe íiom
rle cuiienr íoims oí exisrence. 1o rle conriaiy. rle exµeiience oí
immanence iequiies us ro rlink a íuruie Lecoming in vlicl liíe is
no longei oµen onro irselí. virlour any loµe oí escaµing íiom ir
íoi anorlei 'µlace` ílieu] vlicl vill Le incommensuiaLle. In oiuei
ro lave access ro genuine immanence. ve lave rlus ro rlink a
voilu rlar is no longei oui µlenomenal voilu veuueu ro Liologi-
cal moiraliry. Immanence is nor 'rle ieal`. rogerlei virl moiraliry.
Immanence is rianscenuence vlicl las Lecome imµossiLle in rle
aLsence oí íiniruue.
Anu once ve aie µioiecreu menrally in rlis voilu oí immanence
(menrally. Lecause ve cannor exµeiience ir immeuiarely). ve vill Le
coníionreu virl rle naruie oí oui uesiie anu oui vill: uo ve vanr
liíe iníinirely. oi uo ve only vanr liíe insoíai as ir is Loiueieu Ly
uearl. Ly rle µiomise rlar all rlis ÷ soonei oi larei ÷ vill enu. in
one vay oi anorlei· Þierzscle`s convicrion vas rlar luman Leings
aie veiy iaiely aLle ro uesiie liíe virlour uesiiing rle enu oí liíe. Ir
is viong ro say rlar uearl is rlar vlicl ve íeai mosr. Nucl iarlei.
vlar ve íeai mosr is ro suLsrirure oui 'uearl senrence` íoi a sen-
rence oí µeiµerual imµiisonmenr in oui µiesenr liíe ÷ rlis exisrence
virlour gloiy rlar is oui liíe in rle 'leie anu nov`. Ir is only via
rlis exµeiience rlar oui vill las access ro irs µioµei naruie ÷ love oi
larieu oí liíe ÷ anu rle Louy suííeis rle consequences ÷ sriengrlen-
ing oi uesriucrion.
1le µlilosoµly oí ereinal conringency enaLles us ro consriucr
rlis Þierzsclean ryµe oí exµeiience in rle íiamevoik oí sµecularive
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ieneval. even ií rle larrei uiííeis íiom Lreinal Reruin in moie rlan
one iesµecr. 1le main uiííeience is rlar ve aie uealing virl rle ieal
µossiLiliry oí Louily iecommencemenr vlicl is nor oµen ro an erei-
nal cycle oí rle same Lur ro a non-ueíineu lineaiiry: a liíe oµen ro
rle novelry oí irs iecommencemenr anu nor alvays anu eveimoie a
liíe rlar is iuenrical uovn ro rle smallesr uerails. Bur rle íuncrion oí
ieneval. as ve vill see. conveiges virl rlar oí Lreinal Reruin: rle
exµeiience oí irs íunuamenral link ro exisrence. As I lave alieauy
inuicareu. le vlo lives accoiuing ro rle Lreinal Reruin exµeiiences
rle acrive oi ieacrive naruie oí lis vill. 1le Lreinal Reruin íiag-
menrs rle vill oí luman Leings anu uissociares rlem uiamarically
íiom one anorlei. Irs íuncrion is selecrive. Ir is µiecisely rlis kinu oí
exµeiience vlicl ve aim íoi in ielarion ro rle sµecularive ieneval.
even ií ve uo nor Lelieve less in a unique 'naruie` oí rle vill anu
moie in a mulriµliciry oí oiienrarions mixeu in a single vill anu
among vlicl ve lave ro cloose. Ir is a marrei oí riansíoiming
oui µiesenr exisrence nor virl rle lelµ oí a necessaiy 'riurl` ÷ rle
Þierzsclean Reruin ÷Lur virl rle lelµ oí an aLsolure lyµorlesis
÷ rle íouirl voilu.
In oiuei ro unueisranu rlis lasr µoinr. ve lave ro ieruin ro rle
quesrion oí nililism: virl rle uisgusr íoi univeisal iusrice our oí
vlicl one manages ro inrensiíy rle µossiLiliry oí irs auvenr. Ler us
unueisranu rle meaning oí vlar is ar srake. Ií someone announceu
ro a unLelieving µosirivisr vlo vas nor mucl conceineu Ly iusrice
(a kinu oí Nonsieui Homais). rlar lis ieLiirl vas µossiLle in rle
íoim oí an unueíineu liíe rlar is nor suLiecr ro rle ieµeririon oí
rle Same. rlar someone voulu mosr ceirainly Le mockeu ÷ anu le
voulu Le all rle moie so ií le veie rolu rlar rle µiesenr siruarion
vas a reiiiLle one le lau ro oveicome. Ioi ií one asks someone
vlo is inuiííeienr aLour iusrice vlar le rlinks aLour rle µossiLle
auvenr oí a íouirl voilu ÷ in orlei voius. aLour rle ieneval oí
Louies ÷ le voulu laugl ir oíí. Lur le voulun`r Le reiiiíieu. Oui
man voulu see iarlei ir as a soorling uieam anu voulu íinu rle
µossiLiliry oí Leing anxious aLour sucl a liíe rorally aLsriacr oi
rvisreu. PiesumaLly le voulu unueisranu rle íiiglr involveu in rle
Lreinal Reruin ÷ íinuing ovei anu ovei again rle meuiocie Loieuom
anu riageuies oí one`s exisrence. Lur rle iuea oí a nev liíe vlicl
vas nor aííecreu Ly rle giavesr voiiies oí liíe (uearl. uesriucrive
sickness. erc.) voulu seem moie like a nice íaiiyrale.
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Ir is rle case rlar rle exµeiience oí ieneval only las meaning íoi
le vlo voulu lave Leen ciusleu Ly rle voiiy oí ulrimare iusrice
anu univeisal equaliry ÷ le íoi vlom rle giieí oí reiiiLle uearls
voulu lave Leen an exµeiience vlicl voulu lave oveivlelmeu
lim virl uesµaii. ro rle µoinr oí ueµiiving lim oí liíe. 1le mock-
ing oí rle arleisr vis-a-vis rle loµe oí ieneval is rle µiouucr oí lim
vlo lasn`r exµeiienceu rle sµecrial uilemma oi vlo is srill miieu
in lis meraµlysical Lelieí in rle necessiry oí naruial lavs. 1lis is
rleieíoie iiielevanr íoi oui conceins leie.
1le suLiecr vlicl. lovevei. riaveises rle sµecrial uilemma anu
manages ro liLeiare limselí íiom ir. rlar is rle only one vlo can
seize rle liLeiaring µovei oí íacrual onrology anu oí rle as yer non-
exisring Gou. Sucl a suLiecr vill rleieíoie riansíoim lis incaµaciry
ro live anu ro acr inro a soir oí esclarological vecroiizarion. He
vill ger ro knov rle aiuoui oí an emanciµaroiy oiienrarion inso-
íai as rlis oiienrarion uisringuisles irselí íiom Lorl cynicism anu
íanaricism: rlar is ro say. le vill knov a violenr íoim oí loµe rlar is
linkeu ro an aurlenric kinu oí iarionaliry. a soir oí ieason emanci-
µareu íiom rle µiinciµle oí ieason. Hovevei. ir is ro sucl a suLiecr
rlar rle seconu resr is auuiesseu: nor rle resr oí uesµaii. Lur rle resr
oí nililism. Þor rle resr oí a uissociarion Lerveen Leing anu iusrice.
since rle link Lerveen rle rvo las Leen iesroieu. Lur rle resr oí
uisgusr virl univeisal iusrice as sucl. Ir is only íoi sucl a suLiecr
rlar nililism Lecomes a uangei. Wly miglr rlis Le rle case anu in
vlar sense·
1le exµeiience oí uesµaii ÷ rlar is ro say. rle íacrual oveicom-
ing oí rle sµecrial uilemma ÷ consrirures íoi rle vecroial suLiecr an
exµeiience oí aiuenr iuLilarion vlicl is veiy uiííiculr nor ro µosir
as rle veiy meaning oí exisrence. As sucl. in a sµecularive kinu oí
loµe. ve uiscovei ouiselves as rle ieµosiroiy oí an oveiiiuing aim
vlicl. like a ieal anu cosmic evenrualiry. gives uiiecrion ro oui
mosr geneious acrions. Aiuoui is rlus rle aííecr vlicl uominares
us anu Ly vlicl ve aie rle leiis oí all rle emanciµaroiy anu escla-
rological movemenrs oí rle µasr. Wlar is moie. ve aie rle leiis
vlo µossess an unµieceuenreu coleience vlicl all rlese movemenr
lackeu.
Henceíoirl. rle suLiecr vill coníionr a seconu inconsisrency in
lis uesiie. a seconu exisrenrial aporia. µeilaµs moie uangeious
rlan rle µievious one. rlougl also moie uiííiculr ro conceive: ir is
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no longei rle inconsisrency involveu in uesiiing an imµossiLle uni-
veisalism ÷ an arleisr-ieligious inconsisrency oí a uesµeiare uesiie
÷ Lur iarlei rle inconsistency involved in desiring the suppression
of the ardour which gave rise to ardour in the first place. As sucl.
aiuoui uiscoveis irselí ro Le in a µiocess oí uesiiing rle suµµiession
oí aiuoui oi rle suµµiession oí rle escla(r)ological ísic] vecroi. Ioi
rle ieneval seeks rle accomplishment oí iusrice. lence the end of
the struggle and the vectorization towards such a justice. In orlei
voius. rle enu oí esclarological liíe vlicl sers aliglr rle exisrence
oí rle suLiecr aírei rle uilemma. Bur vlar voulu a voilu (rle íouirl
voilu) Le like rlar vas sriiµµeu oí rle escla(r)ological ísic] vecroi.
ií nor a voilu oí egorism anu uisengagemenr in vlicl liíe voulu no
longei íinu rle meaning oí irs exisrence in rle geneious giír oí irselí
in µolirical oi inuiviuual engagemenr in íavoui oí emanciµarion·
Nany µeoµle voulu easily íinu rle ansvei ro rlis quesrion ÷ vlicl
voulu seem ro rlem ro Le iule ÷ Lur rlis voulu nor Le rle case
íoi rle vecroial suLiecrs vlo voulu lave exµeiienceu rle sµecrial
uilemma anu irs oveicoming in a kinu oí sµecularive loµe. 1lis
exµeiience is only availaLle ro rlem Lecause rley aie claigeu virl
rle rask oí exµeiiencing rle ulrimare uesriny oí exisrence ÷ once
rle larrei las Leen rlouglr oursiue rle oiuinaiy caregoiies oí saris-
íieu egorism. Hovevei. rle íoimula íoi rlis íinal resr is as íollovs:
lov ro Lelieve rlar iusrice íoi rle sµecries is µossiLle ií rlis iusrice
consisrs in Liinging aLour rleii ieLiirl in a voilu vleie rle mosr
noLle anu mosr Leauriíul sense oí exisrence las uisaµµeaieu ÷ rle
one vlicl in oui voilu allovs us ro live accoiuing ro rle vecroi
oí an emanciµarion rlar is srill ro come· Ií rle reiiiLle uearl can
only Le 'ieµaiieu` Ly a ienaissance in a uismal voilu maue oí sar-
isíieu liíe virlour any suµeiioi uiiecreuness anu virlour any aim
orlei rlan rle selí-cenrieu µeiµeruarion oí rle selí. rlen rle íouirl
voilu vill only Le a 'µaiauise` íoi meuiocie souls anu vill iemain
lell íoi rlose suLiecrs ueuicareu ro rle aiuoui oí rle sriuggle. 1lis
is ro say rlar rle vecroial suLiecr voulu no longei íinu in sucl a
voilu a µlace vleie rle Liurally inreiiuµreu lives voulu íinu rle
means oí a uigniíieu ieruin among men. 1o visl íoi ieneval is
rleieíoie ro visl íoi rle oµµosire oí rlar vlicl ve visl íoi (lell
íoi rle sµecries. nor rleii 'salvarion`) anu ro íace rle remµrarion oí
nililism. rlar is ro say. rle larieu oí univeisal iusrice insoíai as ir
is accomµlisleu. 1o oveicome nililism voulu rleieíoie signiíy ro
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Le aLle ro oveicome oui violenr uesiie íoi a liíe enriiely ueuicareu
ro rle µeiilous. anu somerimes moiral. sriuggle íoi iusrice. Ioi rlis
uesiie iisks. vlen raken ro rle exriemiry oí irs µorency. rle inrimare
assuming oí larieu inro irs lyµorlesis oí vicroiious iusrice.
We ger leie ro a kinu 'inveise` ielarion. comµaieu virl rle usual
µaiamereis oí rle uesiie íoi immoiraliry: vlar neeus ro Le ovei-
come is no longei rle selíisl anu cliluisl uesiie íoi immoiraliry
Ly Liavely acceµring oui moiral anu íinire Leing Lur mucl iarlei
rle aiuenr uesiie oí a moiral sriuggle. a sriuggle Loiueieu Ly uearl
vlicl lenus all irs íoice ro rle µolirical vai íoi vlar is iusr anu
riue. We uiscovei rleieíoie rlar íiniruue anu Leing-íoi-uearl is rle
ulrimare remµrarion oí rle vecroial suLiecr in vlicl rlis suLiecr
iisks íacing irs iiiemeuiaLle uemise: rlis suLiecr can once moie
uesiie uearl as rle ulrimare conuirion oí man anu rlus esclev rle
iuea oí a voilu virlour vecroial µolirics. One coulu also say rlar
rle exµeiience oí nililism consisrs in íacing vlar Koieve calleu rle
enu oí lisroiy. rlar is ro say. an immanenr enu oí rime. Woulun`r
rleie Le only sµace. like íoi Koieve. íoi uisengagemenr anu a kinu
oí snoLLism vlicl le rlouglr le lau uiscoveieu in riauirional
|aµan· Wlar slall ve rlen uo ÷ ve vlo lave so mucl loveu rlar
vlicl riansíixeu oui gaze rovaius a íuruie rime. vlen rleie vill Le
no Leariruue. no vision oí a gloiious Gou· Wlar vill ve uo vlen
ve vill lave Lecome íoievei vlar rle Niuule Ages calleu a riavel-
lei ÷ a viator ÷ a man oí rle eairl anu nor rle Llesseu in leaven. a
viator íoievei conuemneu ro lis living conuirion. a kinu oí µiosaic
immoiral virlour any rianscenuence oi sriuggle ro give meaning ro
rle unueíineu µuisuir oí lis Leing·
1o my minu. rle ansvei ro rlis sriange ciisis can only rake rle íol-
loving íoim. I Lelieve rlar vlar iemains once rle auvenr oí iusrice
las occuiieu is µiecisely vlar Naix lau µiomiseu ÷ anu µeilaµs
rlis is in riurl lis mosr exriaoiuinaiy µiomise. even ií rouay ir is
lelu in conremµr even Ly lis mosr invenrive leiis: rleie vill Le a
communist life. rlar is ro say. life finally without politics. In orlei
voius. liíe virlour rle Lalance oí µovei. iuse. vai. Lloouy sacii-
íice íoi rle sake oí a univeisal anu also liíe virlour rle unsµeakaLle
enrlusiasm vlicl µioceeus íiom all rlese rlings in rlose geneious
souls.
9
1o love liíe Leyonu vai. violence anu saciiíice ÷ anu rlis
o Ioi Naix. µolirical violence is inleienr in class uivisions anu in rle exisrence oí
The Immanence of the World Beyond
Veritas-Grandeur.indd 473 2/12/09 12:51:26
±¬±
even in a voilu oí vai. violence anu saciiíice ÷ rlar is vlar is ar
srake in rle ulrimare riansíoimarion oí rle esclarological suLiecr.
Only rle esclarological suLiecr can unueisranu nililism anu rle
meaning oí a íuruie mouining aLour µolirics. rlar is ro say. rle
meaning oí a µolirics oµeiareu virl a viev ro suµµiessing µolirics.
rleieLy ieuiscoveiing communism as rle µiomise anu exµeiience
oí rle enu oí µolirics. rle enu oí vecroiizarion. rle enu oí esclarol-
ogy anu rle Leginning oí an exisrence ueuicareu ro irs ovn µioµei
exµeiience. Anu ií ir is oui rask ro voik rovaius emLiacing rlis
lasr voilu. rlen ir is rle case ÷ as I lave alieauy inuicareu ÷ rlar
rlis voilu is µoseu in a vay ro loµe rlar rleie vill Le a iecom-
mencemenr íoi rle reiiiLle uearls: ií rle íouirl voilu veie µoseu
as unlivaLle anu sinisrei Lecause a-µolirical anu µeaceíul. rlen ve
voulu nor loµe íoi anyrling nev oi goou íoi rlese uearls. uesrineu
ro ieruin in a voilu rlar las Lecome uisengageu anu sriiµµeu oí
any meaning. All luman Leings ÷ anu nor only rlose vlo suííei
a reiiiLle uearl ÷ lave rleieíoie ro µairiciµare in rlouglr anu in
acrion in rle univeisal communiry oí rle íouirl voilu. All must in
the final instance want to return: rle uesiie íoi immoiraliry vlose
Lasic claiacreiisrics ve inirially ieíuse (as an anrlioµological fact)
is íounueu in rlis insrance uµon rle univeisal lav. in irs µosr-nililisr
consrirurion.
In oiuei Lerrei ro convey rle meaning oí rlis rlesis. ve lave
ro consiuei rle uisrincrion Lerveen rliee ryµes oí luman µain
anu misíoirune: miseiy. uisquier anu suííeiing. I call 'miseiy` rle
quasi-animal µains oí man ('quasi` in rlis sense rlar man alvays
lumanizes eveiyrling in lim incluuing rle mosr Liological): lun-
gei. illness. violenr uearl anu all rlar conceins rle immeuiare anu
iauical ieacl oí rle Louy. I call 'uisquier` all rle µains limireu ro
rlose luman Leings vlo aie mareiially íiee íiom rlese oLsracles
anu in any case suííicienrly so in oiuei ro exµeiience in all µleniruue
rle rlioes oí love. íiienusliµ anu ciearion. Iinally. I call 'suííeiing`
rle conciere µain exµeiienceu Ly conciere luman Leings. oscillaring
a srare in claige oí rle inreiesrs oí rle uominanr class. Wirlour ieiecring rlis con-
ceµrion oí µolirics. I am giving ir a moie geneial meaning linkeu ro rle anragonisr
naruie oí rle egaliraiian univeisal. On rle communisr aLolirion oí µolirics. see rle
íamous conclusion oí rle seconu claµrei oí The Communist Manifesto: 'Wlen. in
rle couise oí ueveloµmenr. class uisrincrions lave uisaµµeaieu . µuLlic µovei vill
lose irs µolirical claiacrei.`
Quentin Meillassoux
Veritas-Grandeur.indd 474 2/12/09 12:51:26
±¬-
incessanrly Lerveen miseiy anu uisquier. anu aLove all íacing rle
iauical inequaliry Lerveen rlose vlo lave rle means ro sriuggle
againsr miseiy ÷ in sloir. rle µiivilegeu classes ÷ anu rlose vlo
uo nor cease ro suííei rlis inequaliry ÷ rle exµloireu. rle miseiaLle.
Lacl anu eveiy miseiaLle µeison las access ro a íunuamenral suí-
íeiing vlicl summaiizes rle consciousness oí rlis inequaliry anu
vlicl is lumiliarion ÷ rle suííeiing Ly vlicl ve knov rlar ve aie
excluueu íiom rle roimenrs oí uisquier anu ieuuceu ro rle suííei-
ings oí miseiy. Humiliarion is neirlei oí rle oiuei oí uisquier noi oí
rle oiuei oí miseiy. Lur rleii airicularion in a voilu vlicl encom-
µasses Lorl: rle µainíul consciousness oí Lelirrlemenr oí rle selí ro
rle µains vlicl aie nor uigniíieu oí oui naruie oí rlinking Leings.
On my accounr. a µolirics oí emanciµarion aims ro íiglr in a íully
egaliraiian mannei againsr all íoims oí miseiy anu lumiliarion.
Hovevei. a politics of emancipation does not seek the happiness
of people but rather seeks universal disquiet. In orlei voius. a liíe
emanciµareu íiom miseiy is nor necessaiily a laµµy liíe Lecause ir
las ro Le emLiaceu virl irs ovn µioµei µair oí negariviry. vlerlei
ve call rlar µair uisriusr. uearl insrincr. meuiociiry. roimenr. erc.
1o emLiace rle µossiLiliry oí an emanciµareu liíe ueuicareu ro love.
íiienusliµ anu rlouglr is ro emLiace rle íull µossiLiliry oí Leriayal
in love. µooi anu soiuiu luman ielarionsliµs. invenrive sreiiliry.
erc. 1le íouirl voilu is norling orlei rlan rle aííiimarion oí rle
ieal µossiLiliry oí emanciµarion so conceiveu. yer ar rle same rime
uµliíreu ro a liíe rlar las Lecome unueíineu anu rleieíoie ueuicareu
ro rle iisks oí exrieme uisquier. 1le iníinire µossiLiliry oí a meui-
ociiry vlose uearl is no longei an escaµe ioure. only insoíai as rlis
voulu Le volunraiy: íoi ií uearl veie ro iemain uesiiaLle even in
rlis ulrimare. loµeu-íoi voilu. ir voulu Le only as a µossiLiliry oí
a luciu suiciue. unique ro a liíe rlar is incaµaLle oí emLiacing iníi-
nirely irs essenrial uisquier. We lave ro loµe rlar all luman Leings
aie oííeieu suííicienr mareiial conuirions in oiuei ro exµeiience a
liíe rlar is given irs mosr inreiesring anu mosr uisquiering µossiLili-
ries. Accoiuing ro rle alreinarive oí an invenrive liíe oi a suiciue
virlour ieruin. ro íace rle íinal uisquier is rle sµecularive veision
oí rle oiueal oí Lreinal Reruin.
Hovevei. I can lave ar µiesenr rlis exµeiience oí liíe Ly exµloi-
ing rle naruie oí my uesiie mer Ly leaining ro acr accoiuingly.
Lxµeiience is a marrei vlicl is íiisr oí all Lerveen rle 'I` anu rle
The Immanence of the World Beyond
Veritas-Grandeur.indd 475 2/12/09 12:51:26
±¬6
'I`. an examinarion vlicl I conuucr oí rle essence oí my vill: vlar
is ir exacrly rlar I vanr. iusrice oi a sriuggle virl a viev ro ius-
rice· Bur rlis essence iníluences rle naruie oí my acrions insoíai
as ir keeµs me íiom laµsing inro rle ieacrive µiacrice oí liLeiaring
sriuggles. 1lis 'sµiiirual exeicise` seems ro me ro Le an essenrial
µair oí eveiy miliranr vlo is engageu in lis oi lei sriuggles. 1vo
ryµes oí miliranrs can in íacr Le quasi-inuisringuislaLle. anu rlis
in-uisrincrion is one oí rle souices oí rle lisroiical carasrioµles
vlicl lave claiacreiizeu rle lisroiy oí milirancy: rlose miliranrs
vlo íiglr in viirue oí rle love oí íiglring anu rlose vlo uo nor love
íiglring virl all irs ciuel asµecrs Lur vlo nonerleless íiglr in viirue
oí love íoi iusrice. Ceirain miliranrs µoiriay rleii exisrence as maue
uµ oí saciiíice. Lur in riurl rley uo nor saciiíice anyrling ar all: rley
aie nililisrs vlo love rle vai. iuse anu violence vlicl aie inriinsic
ro µolirical sriuggle. 1le orleis uo nor love ir. Lur rley uo nor ílee
rlis exisrence ií ir is necessaiy.
Iiequenrly mixeu in rle same sriuggle. rleie aie miliranrs vlo
÷ virlour evei exµloiing rle quesrion (unuei rle µierexr oí íac-
ing orlei uigenr marreis) ÷ lave veiy uiííeienr ielarions ro µolirics:
some love µolirics Lecause µolirics is a milieu oí sriuggle anu rley
love sriuggle. Orleis. anu leie I cloose my voius caieíully. uo nor
love µolirics ÷ rley`u µieíei sµenuing rleii rime uiííeienrly. Lur rley
µiacrise µolirics Lecause ir is necessaiy in oiuei ro iesµonu ro rle
iniquiry anu uigency oí rle siruarion. 1lese aie oí couise aicle-
ryµes. mouels moie rlan inuiviuuals: in iealiry oui vills aie mixeu
anu laiuly evei µuie. Bur I suggesr rlar ir is imµoiranr ro sriess
somerling else in Lerveen rlese rvo ryµes oí volirion. in oiuei nor
ro ievel in vai-making. in conriolling vaiíaie anu in µieseiving
one`s auvanrages Ly íaking ir ÷ in sloir. nor ro Lecome a Luieauciar
vlo loves lis íiles. a µairy secieraiy vlo auoies auminisriarion. a
leauei vlo loves µuiges. an agenr vlo voisliµs inrelligence. erc. In
summaiy. rle issue is nor ro Lecome a miliranr vlo in rle sriuggle
íoi iusrice only likes rle inriinsically negarive Leneíirs oí social con-
íionrarion. rlar is ro say. rle sacializeu iiglr ro lare anu ro uesrioy
rle enemy Ly managing nevei ro comµlere rlis rask.
1leie is rleieíoie a ielarion ro µolirics vlicl rle miliranr las ro
claiiíy íoi limselí anu vlicl las ro accomµany anu uereimine lis
mosr conciere acrions. An emanciµaroiy µolirics is a µolirics rlar
seeks irs ovn µioµei aLolirion in rle accomµlislmenr oí rle enu
Quentin Meillassoux
Veritas-Grandeur.indd 476 2/12/09 12:51:26
±¬¬
rlar is souglr. in a mannei rlar ienueis useless rle violence anu
iuse vlicl ineviraLly accomµany rle riaiecroiy. Bur leie one musr
Le caieíul: ir voulu Le iuinous ro Lelieve rlar µolirics coulu Ly irselí
aclieve rlis aLolirion ÷ rlar rle enu oí µolirics coulu Le a µolirics.
Ioi rlis is oLviously viong: a voilu virlour µolirics is Leyonu rle
ieacl oí oui acrions Lecause ir uoes nor Lelong ro oui voilu. 1o
ueny rlis anu ro aííiim ÷ as vas rle case in rle Sovier Union ÷ rlar
µolirics las no µlace leír Lecause ir las uissolveu irselí in rle accom-
µlislmenr oí Socialism is in riurl ro conuucr a roraliraiian µolirics
rlar µioliLirs any µolirics oí oµµosirion.
1vo rlings neeu rleieíoie ro Le saiu aLour µolirics: rle suµµies-
sion oí µolirics is rle íinaliry oí a µolirics oí emanciµarion Lecause
µolirics seeks iusrice anu nor µolirics irselí. Bur rle íinaliry oí µolirics
÷ rle 'orlei-µolirics` cannor Le rle product oí a µolirics. exceµr rlar
oí a roraliraiian íanrasy. 1le enu oí µolirics is rlar vlicl µioceeus
íiom an onrological uµiising rlar is inueµenuenr oí oui acrion. an
uµiising vlose lyµorlesis conriiLures ar µiesenr ro rle slaµing oí
rle suLiecriviry oí rle vecroial miliranr. 1le enu oí µolirics is rle
íinaliry oí µolirics. Lur rle enu oí µolirics is nor a µolirics.
In summaiy. miliranrs musr love liíe anu knov rlar liíe is nor
enriiely in µolirics ÷ rlar liíe irselí seeks ro accomµlisl irselí else-
vleie rlan in µolirics: in love. íiienusliµ. air. rlinking. Bur miliranrs
also knov rlar in rlis voilu rleie aie no suLiecrs voirl rlis name
vlo aie nor 'vecroiizeu` Ly rle uesiie oí univeisal equaliry vlose
íoim in oui voilu can only Le µolirical. Niliranrs aiuenrly seek ro
Le 'vecroiizeu` ÷ Lecause rley knov rlar univeisal iusrice is ieally
µossiLle ÷ anu rley knov rlar rley aie ieauy ro live virlour vecroi-
izarion ÷ íoi liíe anu nor íoi vai ÷ ií rle ieneval occuis. Niliranrs
µieseive rle loµe rlar rle sµecries coulu live in rle íuruie a liíe rlar
is voirl oui lumaniry. vlose violence anu escla(r)ology is nor an
essenrial µair. 1leii uesiie can oµeiare rovaius íoiging rleii ulri-
mare coleience anu give meaning ro an exisrence rlar is ueuicareu
ro accomµlisling oui naruie.
1le airicularion oí rlese rvo exµeiiences ÷ uesµaii anu nililism
÷ allovs us rleieíoie ro give a µiecise ueíinirion oí immanence:
immanence is a deceptive immortality. In rlis mannei. ve lave nor
as yer oLraineu a íull claiiíicarion oí rle meaning vlicl ve asciiLe
ro rle voiu 'Gou` in rle sraremenr: 'Gou uoes nor as yer exisr`. Lur
ve lave Legun ro unueisranu an essenrial asµecr oí ir. 1le ueiíica-
The Immanence of the World Beyond
Veritas-Grandeur.indd 477 2/12/09 12:51:27
rion oí lumaniry can in íacr Le unueisroou as a riaiecroiy vlicl
in rle µiesenr voilu enaLles rle vecroial suLiecr ro oveicome rle
uouLle exµeiience oí uilemma anu oí nililism in oiuei ro ruin lim-
selí inro a 'Liiuge` Lerveen rle rliiu anu rle íouirl voilu. 1o Le
ueiíieu is ro ruin oneselí inro a uemon: a metaxu. an inreimeuiaiy.
a living µassage Lerveen rle rlinking oí rlis voilu anu rle iusrice
oí rle ulrimare voilu. 1o ruin oneselí inro a luman Leing vlo is
neirlei only 'leie` (voilu () noi alieauy 'rleie` (voilu ±) Lur vlo
is already between here and there ÷ rlis in-Lerveen íoi vlicl rle
Lnglisl language las a Leauriíul voilu: yonuei. 1o ruin oneselí
anu rle univeisal µeoµle inro a yonuei selí anu a yonuei µeoµle.
Lerveen leie anu nov. rlar is rle coming rask oí esclaological
Lecoming.
Translated by Peter M. Candler Jr, Adrian Pabst and
Aaron Riches.
±¬×
Quentin Meillassoux
Veritas-Grandeur.indd 478 2/12/09 12:51:27

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