indifference and its (dis)contents: a critical reversal – the return of the creeds

Far from abolishing the value of the absolute, the process that continues to be referred to today as ‘the end of absolutes’ grants the latter an unprecedented licence – philosophers seem to ask only one thing of these absolutes: that they be devoid of the slightest pretension to rationality.

The end of metaphysics, understood as the ‘de-absolutization of thought,’ is thereby seen to consist in the rational legitimation of any and every variety of religious (or ‘poetico-religious’) belief in the absolute

by forbidding reason any claim to the absolute, the end of metaphysics has taken the form of an exacerbated return of the religious

the end of ideologies has taken the form of the unqualified victory of religiosity.

this ‘return of the religious’ continues to be misunderstood on account of a powerful historical tropism, from which we must extract ourselves once and for all. This tropism, this conceptual blindness, can be described as follows. There are many who continue to believe that every critique of metaphysics ‘naturally’ goes hand in hand with a critique of religion. But in fact, this ‘partnership between critiques’ remains a function of a very specific configuration of the link between metaphysics and religion. Whenever one claims to be carrying out a critique of ‘metaphysico-religious’ absolutes, one has in mind the critique of onto-theology in so far as the latter coincides with the critique of Judeo-Christian theology’s claim that its belief in a unique God is founded on supposedly rational truths, all of which are anchored in the idea of a supreme being who is the prime mover of all things. But it is necessary to point out something which, curiously enough, is not, or is no longer, self-evident. This is the fact that in criticising metaphysics’ pretension to think the absolute, we may […] succeed in undermining a particular religion which appealed to natural reason in order to declare the superiority of its particular beliefs over those of other religions.

by destroying every form of proof for the existence of a supreme being, one removes the rational support which a specific monotheistic religion invoked against every polytheistic religion.

by destroying metaphysics, one has effectively rendered it impossible for a particular religion to use a pseudo-rational argumentation against every other religion.

in doing so, […] one has inadvertently justified belief’s claim to be the only means of access to the absolute.

Once the absolute has become unthinkable, even atheism […] is reduced to a mere belief

Faith is pitched against faith, since what determines our fundamental choices cannot be rationally proved.

the de-absolutization of thought boils down to the mobilisation of a fideist argument; but a fideism that is ‘fundamental’ rather than merely ‘historical’ in nature – […] a fideism that has become thought’s defence of religiosity in general, rather than of a specific religion

the modern man is he who has been de-religionized precisely to the extent that he has been de-Christianized. The modern man is he who, even as he stripped Christianity of the ideological (metaphysical) pretension that its belief system was superior to all others, has delivered himself body and soul to the idea that all belief systems are equally legitimate in matters of veracity.

the apex of fideism occurs at the point where it becomes the thought of piety’s superiority to thinking without any specific content being privileged, since it is a matter of establishing through thinking that it is the prerogative of piety, and of piety alone, to posit its own contents.

– Quentin Meillassoux, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency, trans. Ray Brassier, Continuum, London, 2008, pp. 45-48