Speculative Annihilationism

Speculative Annihilationism

The Intersection of Archaeology and Extinction

A presentation of new archaeological ontology in light of our age of extinctions.

  • Paperback £9.99 || $14.95May 31, 2019
  • e-book £7.99 || $11.99May 31, 2019


If Levinas and Negarestani raised a child enchanted by the dark, then this is his debut. In this book, Rosen argues that current archaeological theoretic approaches are not up to the task of adequately theorizing exhumation in our present age of extinctions. Speculative Annihilationism attempts to “think thought’s extinction,” suggesting a new ontological ground for archaeology. Combining contemporary work in speculative philosophy, saprophytic dialectics, and Levinasian ethics, Rosen’s “putrefied-thought” explores themes of the unthought and unthinkable, anonymity, otherness, and meaninglessness so that archaeology can be granted a new basis, a new avenue of inquiry at its intersection with extinction.


Too often speculative philosophies forget that the thought of extinction invariably opens onto the extinction of thought, and that this may very well be what thinking is. Rosen's book takes up this insight and extends it, levelling up Levinas beyond the staid traditions of phenomenology and ethics into which his work is so often pigeonholed. In the process, Rosen discovers an archaeology that is more philosophical than speculative philosophy, an archae-ontology that is the alpha and omega of the species that thinks itself as a species. ~ Eugene Thacker, author of In The Dust Of This Planet

While there is no shortage of engagements with Speculative Realism and its varied effects, Rosen takes up the strange diachronic form of Quentin Meillassoux's temporality in a fascinating manner. Emphasizing the thinkability of extinction through these temporal divergences, Rosen investigates the peculiarities of archaeology and proto-human life and ends with a novel engagement with Levinas and the inevitable but unavoidable encounter with a putrefied otherness. ~ Ben Woodard. author of On an Ungrounded Earth

Rosen’s Speculative Annihilationism brilliantly poses difficult questions, about the facticity of extinction, about being without thought, and dares to answer them. We should thank him for showing us the way in such clear, concise language, for peeling back the bruised veil and rendering the utterances of the abyss intelligible. Here now we can grasp extinction for what it really is, not possibility, but inevitability. ~ David Peak, author of The Spectacle of the Void

Speculative Annihilationism attempts something with archaeology that will seem absurd to so many working in the field: the decoupling of the archaeologist’s thinking from the artifacts that archaeology unearths. But in light of Quentin Meillassoux’s groundbreaking work of speculative materialism in After Finitude and related maneuvers conducted in contemporary speculative metaphysics, we can identify Rosen’s project for what it is: a risky work of noncorrelationist archaeology, a speculative thinking that attempts to extricate the past from history, to tear the past out of time itself, and in the attempt finds decay, horror, and nihilism at its center. In other words, it aims to think the Absolute at the peril of thought itself, and it’s not afraid to do so. ~ Tom Sparrow, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Slippery Rock University

Matt Rosen
Matt Rosen Matt Rosen is a philosopher and writer. He is the author of numerous books and pamphlets and his theoretic writings have also appeared in jo...
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