In The Speculative Turn: Continental Realism and Materialism, Martin Hägglund writes an essay, Radical Atheist Materialism: A Critique of Meillassoux, in which he addresses Meillassoux’s articulation of a ‘virtual power’ of time that allows for the possibility of resurrection of the dead:
‘Contingency presupposes succession and there is no succession without destruction. If the moment were not destroyed in being succeeded by another moment, their relation would not be one of succession but of co-existence. Thus, to assert the necessity of contingency is to assert the necessity of destruction’
Following this argument, which eliminates the possibility of the ontological redemption of the dead, Hägglund invokes a form of philosophical Darwinism to devitalize life, rather than vitalizing matter. Here, he differentiates between survival and being ‘alive,’ ‘for example, the isotope that has a radioactive decay across billions of years is surviving – since it remains and disintegrates over time but it is not alive.’
We would, of course, want to know, then, what is the difference between surviving and being alive? For Hägglund, that difference consists of care-for-survival, “A living being, on the other hand, cannot be indifferent to its own survival.”
What this suggests is that living and dead are categories under which lies a continuum, or gradient, of varying degrees of care-for-survival. A human cares for its survival in more ways than a fly, which cares for its survival in more ways than a radioactive isotope.
The problem of life is then exposed as presupposing some vital life-factor which must emerge in evolutionary development. What we have, instead, is a development of increasing degrees of self-relation, increasing degrees of care-for survival.
Nothing has ever been alive.