Alain Badiou: Live Theory


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Paperback , pages. Published August 26th by Bloomsbury Academic first published June 26th More Details Original Title. Other Editions 3. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Alain Badiou , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Feb 16, Maxwell rated it liked it. I read this to brush up on mathematics prior to a planned reading of Being and Event sometime this year.

You I read this to brush up on mathematics prior to a planned reading of Being and Event sometime this year. You're barraged with so many ideas in such quick succession that they're near-impossible to internalize, to say nothing of the inevitably burlesque quality of miniaturizing philosophy.

Dec 24, Andrew rated it liked it. A clear introduction to Badiou, one that is as much as one could hope for with the length and diversity of such a career. Usefully contextualizes Badiou's previous Marxist, Maoist political orientation with regard to his philosophy as both thought and practice. That said, even with or because of this, I feel that when it comes to "mature" Badiou as is outlined here, I understand his concept of the event rather more than I do being as he conceives of it within his notorious set-theory ontolog A clear introduction to Badiou, one that is as much as one could hope for with the length and diversity of such a career.

That said, even with or because of this, I feel that when it comes to "mature" Badiou as is outlined here, I understand his concept of the event rather more than I do being as he conceives of it within his notorious set-theory ontology. Perhaps it is not a part of the motivating logic of this "Live Theory" series, but a programmatic engagement with some of the texts through which people encounter Badiou Being and Event, the Logic of Worlds might be of more help for those such as myself who would turn to such a book as this out of a sense of helplessness in being confronted by such monoliths.

Nevertheless, an achievement on the route to writing such a text as this review is ideally predicated on. Itai Farhi rated it really liked it Jun 09, Anders Maybeck rated it liked it May 19, Jeremy rated it liked it Apr 21, Terence Blake rated it liked it Feb 15, DX rated it it was amazing Mar 12, Josh Sykes rated it it was ok Feb 24, As such, at no moment can one pronounce the break complete and designate a discourse as pure science without any in mixture of ideology. Inasmuch as ideology plays a social role it is an irreducible part of scientific discourse.

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Alain Badiou: Live Theory

The conflictual relation between science and ideology is thus a permanent fixture for Althusser. In the general domain of theoretical production, the very objects that a science initially takes as its matter for investigation are constituted by an ideology. Moreover it is only inasmuch as this distinction between kinds of objects has taken place and the epistemological break is occurring that a discourse can actually be identified as an ideology. That is, it is solely from the perspective of a science Althusser's example being Marx's historical materialism that an ideology can be diagnosed as such classical political economy as an instance of bourgeois ideology.

The practical task of philosophy is thus to divide science from ideology.

About Alain Badiou: Live Theory

This conception has two consequences whose repercussions echo throughout Badiou's oeuvre. As a result science is not auto-intelligible but blind and thus machinic in its production of new knowledge. The third consequence of philosophy's ceaseless division of the field of theoretical production into science and ideology is that it becomes difficult to position philosophy itself. Indeed in the debate on the nature of philosophy that took place between Althusser and his students Ranciere, Macherey, B alibar, Badiou, etc. It is in relation to this Althusserian context that Badiou begins to develop his own position with regard to science and ideology, specifically by targeting an author close to him in both generation and institution: Jacques-Alain Miller.

Miller was one of the founding members of the Cerrle d'Epistemologie group at the Ecole Normale Superieure, responsible for publishing the short-lived but influential j ournal Cahiers pour l'Anatyse between 1 and 1 Miller published his 'Suture: elements for a Logic of the S ignifier' in the first issue and Badiou published his reply, 'Marque et Manque: it propos du zero', three years later in the last issue. For Frege, a number such as four cannot be attributed to one concept alone, but to all concepts that subsume the same number of objects; that is, a number is always assigned to a set of concepts.

To u nderstand Miller's interpretation of Frege what one needs to retain is that the construction of a number de p ends on objects being subsumed under concepts. Frege assumes there are no such objects based on his commitment to Leibniz's principle of identity, according to which the truth of judgements depends on the identity of their objects. His subsequent task is to define the operation of succession which will bind together the whole number series by defining its order.

The first instance of this operation of succession is n aturally the passage from the number zero to the number one. Frege establishes this passage by defining the concept 'identical to zero' under which one object alone falls : the number zero. When Frege defines the general operation of succession between any two cardinal numbers, n and m, h e employs the concept 'belonging t o the natural series of numbers ending in n'. The extension of this concept is the number m, which h appens to be the successor of n on the condition that the n atural series of numbers begins with zero.

Hence in the Fregean construction of the series of whole numbers, the operation of succession counts zero for one each time.

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Like the subj ect, the non-self-identical object is lacking from the symbolic order in Frege's case, the order of concepts that subsume objects. This combination of operations the summoning and 16 Alain B adiou: Live Theory subsequent exclusion of the non-self-identical obj ect, its substitutive institution as zero and its repeated counting-for-one in the generation of the series of whole numbers is precisely what Miller calls suture.

At first sight all we have here is a particularly striking analogy, but Miller, as mentioned above, claims that the subject is at work in the genesis of the whole number series. The logic of the signifier. Subsequently in scientific discourse there must always be a substitute, a placeholder for the lacking subj ect. The logic of the S ignifier is a metaphysics. Representation of representation, intra-ideological critical process-progress. To make good this claim Badiou develops an Althusserian epistemology of logic as a machinic production of stratified writings.

However, twenty The Althusserian Years 17 years later i n his book-length study of mathematical attempts t o define number, Number and numbers, Badiou returns to Miller's non-mathematical text, admitting that he has not yet finished with its arguments.


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He writes 'I am there, I am still there' using precisely the same phrase that he uses a decade later to describe his Maoist commitments. In 1 , however, Badiou's concern was to critically delimit Miller's enveloping of logic by developing his own epistemology of logic. Second, in line with Althusser's definition of the task of philosophy, he sets out to detect and remove the layers of ideology to be found in logicians' own representations of their scientific activity.

Furthermore, following Bachelard, he shows that the role of the principle of identity in science does not concern objects, but rather an inaugural confidence in the identity of marks those of formal writing and of science's technical and experimental apparatus. He uses these distinctions to show in his construction of zero that one never finds in logic, as Miller argues, a mark of lack, but rather one finds lacking marks.

For example, Badiou 's notation for zero O x which reads ' x is a zero in so far as x is not identical to itself is a well-formed formula and so it exists at the level of the mechanism of formation. However, this formula for zero is rejected by the mechanism of derivation and so this particular mark can be said to 'lack' at the level of derivation. Badiou concludes that marks lack in logic only inasmuch as they are restituted on another strata of its inscriptions. Moreover these marks at no point subsume some non-self-identical object.

Badiou draws two conclusions from his argument. The second conclusion is that it is philosophy itself, as a particular region of ideological practice, which sutures science under ideological categories such as 'man' and 'truth', thus effacing science's epistemological break. To understand Badiou's conception of science and its implications for his greater proj ect first one must consider what he does with the science ideology distinction once it has been saved from psychoanalysis. In Badiou's reconstruction of Althusser's argument, the distinction between science and ideology takes place within a dialectical process in which their coupling is irreducible.

Hence the distinction cannot operate as a norm because neither of the terms is given as primary: the science ideology couple is inaugural. Moreover the distinction is non-distributive; one cannot simply divide the field of practices by distributing each of them into one of the two categories RM, Following Althusser, Badiou holds that the irreducibility of the science ideology couple is also marked by the spontaneous emergence of ideology within scientific work: in 'Marque et Manque' he gives the example of Frege's The Althusserian Years 19 epistemology of logic and much later in Being and Event he signals the positivist philosophy accompanying the mathematical innovation of certain set-theorists MM, Note that in his later work Badiou rehabilitates both truth and the subject for what will remain for him the proper task of philosophy: thinking the invariants of change only the notion of totality will be permanently rejected.

Science, in turn, reacts to philosophy's inaccurate representations of its operations, and develops new concepts. However this still does not explain why this dialectic is a process and why this appropriation and reaction are repeated. But not only does science continually pro du c e new sequences of marks, it also produces new strata of writings. In his study of logic B adiou spends most of his time distinguishing and establishing the three mechanisms of concatenation, formation and derivation and their concomitant strata.

However, he also mentions a fourth strata 20 Alain Badiou: Live Theory which is obtained by turning the predicate of zero rejected by the mechanism of derivation - into a constant and adding it to the derived formulae MM , 1 In his article ' Subversion infinitesimale' Badiou examines this kind of operation at length, describing it as a mathematical performative, a baptism that opens up a new domain of writings by converting one modality into another. That is, a mark that is impossible in one strata such as the square root of minus one is given a name i for an imaginary number thus opening up another possible series of numbers.

He declares that if one wishes to 'exhibit writing as such, and absent its author, if one wishes to obey Mallarme's inj unction that the written Work take place without subject or Subject, a radical secular means exists to the exclusion of any other: entrance into the writings of science whose law is such' MM, 1 62 n. Badiou claims that science, 'the scriptural Outside without blindspot' perhaps a recycling of Blanchot's term is a movement within which 'one will , never encounter the odious figure of man.

The first, a thesis inherited from Bachelard and Althusser, is that science as a practice is marked by the production of new obj ects of knowledge: it produces novelty RM, Bachelard is then able to show that this inaugural thesis alone allows one to think the history of science not as the mechanical result of a series of external influences but as the history of the production of concepts. Its negative correlate remains more or less stable in that Badiou maintains his distance from any Kantian epistemological investigation of the legitimacy of knowledge claims.

However, the definition, concepts and tasks of this science are not present in any of Badiou's early texts, so the Bachelardian Althusserian gesture must be located elsewhere. In his article on Althusser, Badiou reveals that his master always chided him for his 'Pythagorism', his over-reliance on mathematics, and claims that like many strong-willed disciples, he reacted by simply exaggerating the supposed fault. The place of the Bachelardian Althusserian gesture is thus Badiou's declaration that mathematics is ontology.

Many of the complaints addressed to Badiou's set-theory ontology It's too abstract! What about social relations? At first sight it appears that science as a proliferating multiplicity of strata offers a spectacle of unending, continual and unpredictable change. Science is continually remaking itself and expanding its strata. Apart from the Marxist terminology, he could be quite simply arguing for more accurate philosophy of science. However, this line of enquiry was cut short before it bore enough fruit to establish its credentials: cut short by politics. It is my thesis that this cut not only periodizes Badiou 's work but that the division occurs within Concept de Modele.

It is this internal break that forms our destination in the next section. The mathemat i cal con cept of model and s c i e ntific change M ode l s and t h e i r powers of d i fferentiation We have come full circle. In his first lecture on 29 April 1 in the packed Salle Dussane, Badiou set out to critique an empiricist use of the The Althusserian Years 23 category o f model i n both its vulgar version found i n Levi-Strauss and Von Neumann's remarks on method and in its sophisticated version Carnap's work on the syntax of scientific language.

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Badiou does not critique logical positivism for its use of the concept of model; he simply explains it and then formulates a mild objection; this modern intra-logical apparatus is thus used to restitute an older philosophical and empiricist dichotomy between formal science and experimental SClence. To this end, Badiou pedagogically reconstructs of the concept of model. In Badiou's terms, the result is ' a structure is a model of a formal theory if all the axioms of that theory are valid for that structure ' CM, 1 0 7. The first of these principles is immanence : the construction of the concept of model depends entirely on the mathematical theory of sets, which it does not set out to demonstrate.

To build a model one has recourse to the mathematics of whole numbers and the axiom of induction. Badiou then takes this point as the occasion to lay out a fundamental epistemological principle, one that could form a blazon for a school and one that distances him again from Frege's project: 'One establishes oneself within science from the outset. One does not reconstitute it starting from nothing. Contra Frege the principle of identity in science for Badiou, following Bachelard, concerns the identity of scientific instruments and experimental apparatus, not the purported identity of objects.

In the case of mathematics, formulae must consist of material marks subj ect to laws of invariance : an x must always stand for an indeterminate variable submitted to each of the constraints declared in a particular formula.

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Before formulating this principle we need to examine Badiou's three different accounts of models and what he terms their 'powers of differentiation '. The first concerns the difference between logic and mathematics. Very early in the text he raises a classic Althusserian question: 'What is the motor of Science in the sense that class struggle is the motor of history?

It is Althusser's Aristotelian conception of practice, mentioned above, which allows B adiou to apply an apparently political question to scientific practice. On the other hand, when the formal syntax is made of logical axioms alone, any structure can serve as a model. Such produ ctive change thus remains immanent to mathematics rathe r than the mechanical result of an external force o r of the application of an external discourse. For example i n 1 9 39 Godel uses the construction of a m o de l to prove that Zermelo Fraenkel set theory remains consistent both when the Axiom of Choice is added and when the continuum hypothesis is admitted.

In other words, the parallels postulate cannot be deduced from the other axioms. Badiou then turns to examine the historical effect in mathematics of such proofs of relative consistency and independence. He admits that Godel's proof of the consistency of Zermelo Fraenkel set theory plus the Axiom of Choice ZFC came after the fact; most mathematicians had already chosen to use the axiom, thus anticipating its certainty.

The - 26 Alain Badiou: Live Theory effe ct of Godel's proof is thus not to initiate but to retrospectively traniform such a choice into an 'internal necessity' of mathematics eM, 1 The productive value of formalization lies in its double inscription of mathematics, mentioned above : that of using and reproducing certain knowledges logic as a means of production at the same time as constructing specific models to produce new knowledge the differentiation of consistent theories.

But this conception is not developed, Badiou does no more than sketch the general principles of his epistemology, and the conclusion to the text is abrupt. Indeed, it is not until Being and Event that one finds a sequel to this brief exploration of temporality of change: the future anterior 'what will have been the case' being the tense that organizes the enquiries constituting change on a local level; a tense that combines anticipation and retroaction. Before addressing whether Badiou comes good on his promise to develop a progressive epistemology, one should investigate his other attempt to theorize the historicity of mathematical knowledge.

Tra nsformational n o m i natio n s in mathematics In his essay 'Subversion Infinitesimale' Badiou provides another example of a careful application of the Althusserian conception of philosophy the division of science and ideology within the field of science but this time with regard to the existence of infinitesimals, presupposed in dif- The Althusserian Years 27 ferential analysis and dismissed by Berkeley and Hegel.

Again I shall leave the history of the infinitesimals to the curiosity of the reader; at the level of epistemological theses there are five clear stages to B adiou's argument. The first stage is his declaration that one of the peculiarities of mathematical writing is that unbound variables allow the place of an impossibility to be marked within a series of numbers: he calls these places 'infinity-points' SI, 1 1 9. In this article he adds an epistemological criterion: the initial site of change is an idea that is presented but not ye t known or recognized as such.

This is very close to Lacan 's punning definition of the unconscious as l'insucces failure or l'insu-qui-sait the unknown which knows. Badiou then claims that 'in science j ust as in politics it is the unnoticed t'inaperyu which puts revolution on the day's agenda' SI, 1 H ow can an epistemo logy be pro g ressive? Both of these texts which carefully disentangle mathematical practice from previous philosophical and ideological interpretations end with the concept of re-forging rifimte and with incomplete gestures towards its importance for thinking political change.

The problem , however, with these solutions is that they answer the demands of what Althusser called 'dialectical materialism' and its concern to theorize theoretical production. They do not answer the demands of historical materialism, the science of society, which is co nsecrated to thinking social and political change. The limitations of Badiou's solution in Concept de modele are revealed in the penultimate chapter by the paucity of his assertions concerning the existence of an indirect relation between the field of his work the 'theory of the history of the sciences' and proletarian ideology.

But note that the question of the relationship between science and politics is here opened up and then immediately closed under the overarching political concept of class. What is most striking about this passage is that these remarks remain gestures; when one examines Badiou's conclusion as a whole it is evident that he does not export his results into the domain of historical materialism, into the domain of political and social change; he restricts his argument to the question of the historicity of m athematical formalization.

The editorial collective were thus evidently referring to the absence of an exportation of epistemology into politics. There is some evidence, however, that this absence is no mere accident. Badiou spends the first part of the text criticizing the logical positivists for their illegitimate exportation of the concept of model into an empiricist epistemology. Indeed to his amusement Serres develops an accurate use and analysis of literary structure in Moliere's play Don Juan.

Hence certain exportations are sanctioned. Moreover this is not only a question for B adiou's early work since in Being and Event, all change, whether political, artistic, 30 Alain Badiou: Live Theory scientific or amorous, will be thought of in terms of the construction of new knowledge. D espite such instances of continuity in his philosophical oeuvre, it is in the period immediately subsequent to the publication of Le concept de modele, the Maoist period, that the most drastic rupture takes plac e : Badiou drops all epistemological investigations o f mathematics.

When he does employ mathematics it is in the philosophical work that closes this period, Theorie du sujet, and moreover it is in a strictly analogical fashion. His argument is thus vulnerable to precisely the kind of attack on illegitimate and inaccurate exportation that he himself wields against the logical positivists and structuralism. Subsequently he removes this vulnerability, but at the price of rehabilitating ontology in Being and Event. There is an answer to these accusations, and it is very simple.

In the last pages of this book it will take us back, full circle again, to the concept of model. Precisely with its punctuation by the 'warning' prefacing Le concept de modele. But this orientation was to be set aside for twen ty years in response to the call of the events of May. C h apter 2 Maoism and the Dialectic I ntrod uct i o n : there i s no science of h i story ' Science of history? Marxism is the discourse that the proletariat as subject bases itself upon this must never be forgotten.

It declares that there is no historical materialism, no 'science of history' whose theoretical framework for Althusser was then to be made explicit by dialectical materialism. In its place Badiou declares that Marxism is the systematization of the militant experience of class struggle.

The very orientation and nature of Marxist discourse is thus affected by what, for the Maoists, is its first axiom: the primacy of practice.


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Evidently this is the great Maoist contribution to guarding against the academic absorption of Marxism as one among many curious political theories to be archived. The problem, however, is that it is no longer clear what place is reserved in this activist Marxism for the grand concepts of mode of production, or commodity fetishism, etc.

What consistency remains in a discourse that is suspended from an aggregate of particular political struggles; how can it still be given a single name? In other words, Theone du sujet completes Badiou's Maoist period. Yet it closes its own period with a gesture of incompletion, the gesture that is the chief sign of the following period, the period of Being and Event.

At its outset Badiou's Maoism begins with a simple thesis: there is truth in a political revolt. The Maoist tu rn : the pri macy of practice Truth i n revol t I n Badiou's previous project developing a materialist epistemology of mathematics truth, along with the subj ect, was condemned as an ideological category, one that cloaked a diversity of mechanisms of selection and stratification. Badiou's main argument is simple: there is more than one ideology. That is to say, any theory of ideology must account not only for the dominant ideology but also for the possibility of a 'proletarian ideology', otherwise one cannot explain the occurrence of revolt.

Against Deleuze and Guattari B adiou insists that even if the masses are not duped into believing in the dominant ideology but desire and subjectively identify with it, one still needs to explain Spartacus and the slave revolt. He sarcastically demands whether the slaves rebelled while identifying with the Romans' representation of them as animated tools. In other words, the analysis of ideology should focus on a local instance of the class struggle, keeping in mind and this is Badiou's other maxim that both the exploiters and the exploited are perfectly conscious of their interests and the existence of exploitation; contrary to those theorists who conceive ideology as the duping of the working class, as 'false consciousness'.

For Badiou there is always a spontaneous knowledge on both sides of the class struggle of its stakes DI, 4.

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In turn these divergent representations can be analysed not as images or illusions but rather as the material expression of class interests; the content of a trade unionist's argument is real in that it ultimately represents the social and financial interests of the bourgeoisie. Badiou reminds his readers that this is a basic materialist thesis: thought is driven by external material forces, and in a strike it is those forces physical, financial that are brought to bear through discourse.

It is thus in this context that the term fo rce first makes its appearance, a key term in the 'historical dialectic' that Badiou develops in Theone de fa contradiction and Theone du sujet. In an ideological conflict over working conditions or pay what these forces drive is a process of division whose continuation depends on whether or not the resistance and the conflict develop into a revolt. It is within such revolt - and this is a thesis that Badiou guards to the present day that a new thinking is generated of justice, social organization and politics and that elements of a proletarian ideology emerge DI, , This proletarian ideology suffers from its contingent and multiple birth: it risks evaporating into inconsistency just as Badiou's own discourse risks what Marxism calls 'spontaneism'; excessive trust in particular revolts without any heed paid to strategic questions of organization.

What is required is a dose of consistency and in this period of Badiou's oeuvre the medicine is readymade: the Marxist dialectic of history and the party. Maoism and the Dialectic 35 There is truth i n h i story The Marxist dialectic enters Badiou's text i n the form o f a n existential thesis: there is a long-term historical project of the exploited classes beneath and beyond any particular struggle. This proj ect is rendered necessary by the obj ective and irreducible antagonism between the working class and the bourgeoisie Te, 9- 1 0. In Theone de la Contradiction, in his commentary on Mao's maxim 'it is right to rebel against the reactionaries', Badiou states emphatically that 'the essence of the proletarian position holds in its historical proj ect, not in particular revolts' TC, 9.

Moreover in this text which we should remember is as much a political pamphlet as a theoretical text Badiou returns to a teleological vision of history, speaking of the 'ineluctable foundering' of the world of oppression and exploitation. There are two names for the universa l agent of this process of transformation, for the subject of history: the 'revolutionary masses' , and the 'proletarian class' DI, 5 1 , 5 7 , 7 1.

It is in the gap between these two names that Badiou's Maoism is played out. This hypothesis of 'communist invariants' sows some consistency among the dispersed revolts. For B adiou not only does a truth emerge in revolt, but there is also a truth of the entire dialectical process. As the astute reader will have recognized at this moment Badiou's thought is unashamedly Hegelian; in fact he cites Lenin's own approval of the passage in the Science if Logic on the absolute idea being the identity of the practical and the theoretical idea TC , 3, 6.

Both of Badiou's Maoist manuals are in large part consecrated to this question. In Theone de La contradiction Badiou states 'The thought of the exploited who revolt is always to be articulated and unified with the dialectic, which is the thought of that thought' Te , 1 4. Note the resemblance with Plato's definition of philosophy as the thought of thought. This statement is produced at the end of a long commentary on Mao's principle 'it is right to rebel against the reactionaries' in which Badiou claims that a revolt can be reinforced by the consciousness of its own rationality; that is, through Marxist theory developing the revolt's knowledge and returning it - no doubt in pamphlet form Te , 1 1.

The party is Badiou's third name for the subject of history inasmuch as its role is the directive articulation and organization of class struggle according to the communist proj ect DI, 6; Te , 8, 1 2, In Badiou's oeuvre the name of such a subject will change, but henceforth this conception of the subject as the organization and effectuation of global change at a local level will remain, as will the basic description of its work: division, the subject exists as a division. In doing so the party participates in what Badiou calls the 'dialectical cycle of revolutionary knowledge' which is another term for the historical formation of a proletarian ideology DI, 69 7 2 , 1 1 3.

In the introduction to this chapter I stated that Badiou's challenge was to reconcile the primacy of practice with his construction of theories of ideology, contradiction and the subject. For a Maoist, of course, any reconciliation of an opposition must occur practically, over time, in a dialectical process. This process consists of five stages: first, various ideas emerge in a dispersed manner during a mass revolt: Badiou terms this an 'ideal force'.

Fourth, the party. Finally the realization of these directives both produces new dispersed ideas and evaluations of their correctness and so the cycle begins again as ideal force. Far from being impractical and esoteric Marxist theory resembles commonsense: if one idea doesn't work, try another. What does not resemble commonsense is the idea that a party could evaluate the correctness of directives for action; surely that is the role of opinion polls and public relations agents! If we examine closely Badiou's conception of the party it turns out not to be definitively anchored to the Leninist conception of centralized hierarchical organization.

Badiou says that the emergence of the revolutionary directing class within a revolt is signalled by the emergence of revolutionary knowle dge DI, 8 1. The proletariat's ability to organize itself into a party is no more than its ability to systematize the masses' correct ideas. The e xistence of an organization is completely dependent on the existence of a certain type of knowledge. In terms of our periodization of Badiou' s oeuvre, what we have here is a continuity: the knowledge-society isomorphism inherited from Althusser's 'dialectical materialism'.

Badiou's concerns are thus still epistemological. But this is not the only blurring of our neat periodization. This is precisely the task that he sets his category theory logics, thirty years later, in the last book of Logiques des mondes: theorizing the emergence of a new collective body a new consistency as the material instantiation of change.

Badiou explicitly raises the question of the nature of the party towards the end of De l'ideologie; he states that the question of whether or not the organization of the proletariat takes the form of a centralized party is one of the general struggles of thought. His position is that this is not a subjective but a logical question. Logic is neither a communist invariant nor part of the Marxist systematization of past struggles.

Nevertheless, Badiou defends its capacity to furnish solutions by claiming that its machinic apparatus in a return of the ' Subversion infinitesimale ' argument shields it from the dominant ideology DI, Logic and mathematics thus neither completely disappe ar nor serve as mere analogies in the second period of Badiou's work. The task Badiou sets logic here is to develop a form of organization that will not 38 Alain Badiou : Live Theory fold at the first defeat. The late Badiou thus risks what the e arly Badiou rejects and dismisses as spontaneism: trust in the dispersed emergence of communist invariants.

Desc r i ption a n d p resc ri ption : fol d i n g theory i nto practice In 1 9 7 6 , however, B adiou's main concerns go under the names of the 'dialectical cycle of revolutionary knowledge', and the conditions for the emergence of a 'proletarian ideology'. If Concept de modele was condemned for theoreticism , what kind of text is appropriate to these concerns?

Its first quality as many remark of Maoist texts is that it must be pedagogical: even more pedagogical than Concept de modele which sold over twenty thousand copies and was used in France as a introductory textbook to mathematical logic. Instead of an author's name we have the name of the political party to which Badiou then belonged: The Union of the Marxist-Leninist Communists of France. In the terminology of Theone du sujet, 'Scission as the site of forces posits the radical anteriority of practice over the intelligibility of the correlation' TS, 5 3. Thus the very existence of these Maoist fascicules presupposes a prior practical context or 'correlation'.

The primary practical context is thus the worker's political movement and ultimately the party itself as a site of division TC, 30, It is especially important to keep this in mind when faced with the apparently unanchored and indeterminate dialectic of Theone du sujet. In this period of his work Badiou holds that within the class struggle, destruction is a condition of the creation of the new. Thus, if anything is to come of these texts and their prescriptions, if an ideal force is to emerge, the texts themselves are doomed to obsolescence and destruction Te, 1 3.

Marxist theory, Badiou declares, i s always a 'field in ruins' waiting t o b e remade. B y consequence, i t remains a field in ruins after these texts, after their period comes to an end. Badiou 's Maoist theory of the dialectic situates itself in a context of perpetual struggle and division, and projects its own obsolescence. Whether this i s j ust another o f philosophy's forms o f self-overcoming o r a genuine expulsion into strange waters remains to b e seen. Althusser's dialectical materialism is the last expression of a line 40 Alain Badiou: Live Theory that passes from the Greek atomists directly to Hegel, then to Mallarme and finally to Lacan.

The first moment in Badiou's argument is thus a synthesis; the poet, the philosophers and the psychoanalyst are grouped together due to their contributions to what he calls the 'structural dialectic'. If one steps back from the argument to consider method for a moment, one notices that it is at this point in Badiou's oeuvre that a distinctive style of philosophical interpretation emerges: each of these dialecticians thinks part of the structural dialectic in their own terms the clinamen for the atomist, the vanishing shipwreck for Mallarme but the terms in which this dialectic is built the splace, the ojJsite, jorce and torsion are Badiou's own.

What emerges from this synthesis is not Badiou's own position but a worthy adversary, one that comes close to reality, but not close enough TS, 7 2 3. The second step in Badiou's argument is to claim that the structural dialectic ineluctably fails to account for the actual movement of political history. It falls apart because it cannot think qualitative global change: it cannot think revolution. To construct this alternative theory Badiou divides his authors his masters by means of concepts like 'force' and 'offsite'; separating out their contributions to the structural dialectic from their intuitions and anticipations of his historical dialectics.

Set theory ontology and the modeling of change Introduction: the subtraction of Maoism I. Set theory ontology II. A useful introduction to Badiou's work, this book is packed with fresh ideas sufficient to satisfy the most advanced readers. Alain Badiou: Live Theory is a valuable book for those of us struggling to grasp the thematic trends in Badiou's thought There is much here for critical debate amongst experienced readers of Badiou You can unsubscribe from newsletters at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in any newsletter.

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