Ray Brassier (b.1965) is a member of the philosophy faculty at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, known for his work in philosophical realism. He was formerly Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Middlesex University, London, England.

Brassier is the author of Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction (2007)and the translator of Alain Badiou’s Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism (2003) and Theoretical Writings (2004) and Quentin Meillassoux’s After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency (2008). Brassier is also a leading authority on the works of François Laruelle. He is currently working on a book tentatively entitled That Which is Not.

Ray’s work will be featured here often as we continue to engage with his speculative theories in conjunction with our attempts to work through the implications of naturalist reasoning, radical materiality, and nihilism – and all in an effort to move towards cultivating independent strains of post-nihilistic thought.

The following was filmed at the War Against the Sun workshop, from the series ‘The Matter of Contradiction’:

“Ray Brassier discusses the work of Wilfrid Sellars regarding the myth of the Given, meaning, nominalism, naturalism, and materialism in this talk. Nominalism denies the existence of abstract entities or universals (properties, forms, numbers, species, propositions, etc.). Traditional nominalism proceeded from an empiricist epistemology that challenges the very possibility of metaphysics, whether idealist or materialist. The critique of empiricism is taken to entail the refutation of nominalism. But nominalism contains a valuable insight for materialists: reality does not have propositional form. This is an insight that should be taken up by post-Darwinian materialists, who ought to deny that reality has a conceptual structure. For a consequent materialist, realism about abstract entities is problematic because it re-iterates the theological presumption of a pre-established harmony between the conceptual order and real order. The question is whether materialism can take up this nominalistic insight while jettisoning the empiricist prejudices that tie it to skeptical relativism. For the claim that reality is devoid of propositional form need not require denying that we can use language to capture aspects of reality or that concepts have ontological purchase. This is what Ray Brassier proposes to investigate using the work of Wilfrid Sellars, who managed to combine nominalist semantics, epistemic naturalism, and what Ray calls ‘methodological materialism’.”

[ see also: ]

Robert Brandom (born 1950) is an American philosopher who teaches at the University of Pittsburgh. He works primarily in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and philosophical logic, and his work manifests both systematic and historical interests in these topics. He earned his B.A. from Yale University and his Ph.D. from Princeton University, under Richard Rorty and David Kellogg Lewis. Brandom is broadly considered to be part of the American pragmatist tradition in philosophy.

Brandom’s work is heavily influenced by that of Wilfrid Sellars, Richard Rorty, Michael Dummett and his Pittsburgh colleague John McDowell. He also draws heavily on the works of Immanuel Kant, G. W. F. Hegel, Gottlob Frege, and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

He is best known for his investigations of linguistic meanings, or semantics. He advocates the view that the meaning of an expression is fixed by how it is used in inferences (see inferential role semantics). This project is developed at length in his influential 1994 book, Making It Explicit, and more briefly in Articulating Reasons: An Introduction to Inferentialism (2000).


Robert Brandom, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh, argues that genealogies (Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Foucault) present the revenge of naturalism on rationalism. Hegel teaches us how to replace the genealogical hermeneutics of suspicion with a hermeneutics of magnanimity that allows us to see naturalism and rationalism as complementing rather than competing with one another.

View original post