Quentin Meillassoux has been applauded in some quarters for his bold struggle against correlationism and his appeal for adventurous sallies into what he calls “the Great Outdoors” (le “Grand Dehors”). It has not often been noted that Meillassoux, following in the footsteps of those he ostensibly critiques as “correlationists”, is consciously or unconsciously paying hommage to the thought of Maurice Blanchot, much of which was devoted to a meditation on the Outside (le Dehors) and to a possible “thought of the Outside” (pensée du Dehors). In this expression we can see, once again, the power of the ambiguity of the genitive, which can be objective or subjective. Construed as an objective genitive, this is the expression of representation, with the outside figuring as object of thought. We are inside what Laruelle calls the principle of sufficient philosophy and the outside is a hallucinatory correlate of our linguistic and conceptual constructions. As a subjective genitive the expression “the thought of the Outside” refers to the the thinking that is thought by the Outside itself or under its “dictation” or its transposition into words. Thought in this sense is in non-reflective correlation with the Outside, or what Laruelle calls the Real, whereas in the first sense “reality” is in a reflective, or mirroring, correlation with thought.
Deleuze and Guattari, in reference to Blanchot, talk about a “thought in relation to the Outside” as essential to a non-philosophical understanding of philosophy in the 70s, ie well before Laruelle’s “break” with philosophy or “turn” to non-philosophy in 1981. Foucault’s work from the early 60s, again explicitly under the influence of Blanchot, was turned towards an Outside that he found in the literature of transgression, then in force-relations and the apparatuses of power (school, asylum, prison) and later in the plurality of processes of subjectivation.
Thus the attempt to put thought in relation to the Outside has been a major theme of the French philosophy of the last 60 years. Meillassoux’s aspiration to exit into the “Great Outdoors” is a derivative and diluted product of this long-standing tradition (continued today by Laruelle) that Meillassoux would have us see as “correlationist” in the narrow sense of the mirroring correlation that in fact these philosophers before him described and analysed in great detail, and sought to overcome by a great variety of methods. Far from constituting some revolutionary leap forward, Meillassoux’s AFTER FINITUDE is a regression behind the accomplishments of his great predecessors: Deleuze, Guattari, Foucault, Laruelle.