Meillassoux's Argument – Back to the Great Outdoors?
Toby's PhD work focuses on the coherence of Quentin Meillassoux's argument in his 2008 book, After Finitude.
Here, Meillassoux argues that in the wake of Kant's critique of metaphysics, philosophy has become ensnared in the trap of 'correlationism', the upshot of which is that philosophy can gain no certain knowledge about the world as it is in itself - about what the world is like independently of us, or of what Meillassoux calls 'the great outdoors'. This, claims Meillassoux, is problematic because it is exactly this type of knowledge that science often claims to have secured. Meillassoux's solution - the means by which he gets beyond Kant's prohibition on knowing the world as it is in itself - is to engage in an immanent critique of Kant's philosophy. Through this critique, Meillassoux argues that reason alone can prove that the universe is necessarily contingent and that this contingency constitutes its ultimate nature. In this way, Meillassoux claims to have overcome Kant's restriction of knowing things are they are in themselves.
Toby's work explores Meillassoux's argument in the greatest detail and his thesis is that for all its ingenuity and argumentative force Meillassoux's argument is hugely problematic because in addition to generating a range of contradictions, it relies on an idiosyncratic, and inadequate understanding of both Hume's and Kant's thought.
Other research interests include: Hume and Kant's epistemology and metaphysics in reply (and in relation) to early modern rationalist and empiricist thought; Hegel's critique of Kant's philosophy; Roy Bhaskar's critical realist philosophy; the work of Theodore Adorno (and Marxist social critique more generally); neoliberalism in relation to liberal and conservative thought, and the politics and ethics of charity in the contemporary world.
Toby teaches and lectures on the University of Brighton's Humanities Programmes on introductory undergraduate courses in philosophy, political philosophy and philosophy of sciences. He also teaches on second year courses in intellectual history, and morality in relation to contemporary political issues. He has also taught and lectured on Burke and Kant for the department's MA courses in critical theory and aesthetics.
‘Meillassoux’s Dialogue: Thinking About Death’, University of Brighton, January 2015
‘On Facticity, the Principle of Reason and Contingency’, Slovak Metaphysical Society, Bratislava, September 2014
‘The Big Society, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Foodbanks in the UK’ University of Brighton, July 2014
‘Hayek’s Epistemology - Subjectivism, the Market and Neoliberalism’ University of Brighton, Brighton, UK, November 2013