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philosophy and its conditions gabriel nera ALAIN B ADI OU SUNY series, Intersections: Philosophy and Critical Theory Rodolphe Gasche, editor ALAIN BADIOU Philosophy and Its Conditions Edited by Gabriel Riera State University of New York Press Published by State Universit y of New York Press, Albany 2005 State Universit y of New York All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. No part of this book may be stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the publisher. For information, address State Universit y of New York Press, 9 State Street, Suite 700, Albany, NY 12207 Production by Judith Block Marketing by Susan Petrie Alain Badiou : philosophy and its conditions / edited by Gabriel Riera. p. cm - (SUNY series, Intersections : Philosophy and Critical Theory) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0791465039 (hardcover / alk. paper) - ISBN 0791465047 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Badiou, Alain. l. Riera, Gabriel. II. Series: Intersections (Albany, N.Y.) B2430.B274A63 2005 19c22 2004018837 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Acknowledgments Abbreviations Contents Introduction. Alain Badiou: The Event of Thinking Gabriel Riera PART ONE. MATHEMATICS = ONTOLOGY 1. On Alain Badiou's Treatment of Category Theory in View of a Transitory Ontolog Norman Madarasz 2. The Ontological Dispute: Badiou, Heidegger, and Deleuze Miguel de Beistegui PART TWO. THE POEM 3. For an "Ethics of Mystery": Philosophy and the Poem Gabriel Riera 4. Unbreakable B's: From Beckett and Badiou to the Bitter End of Afirmative Ethics Jean.Michel Rabate 5. The Mallarme of Alain Badiou Pierre Machere, vii ix 1 21 23 45 59 61 87 109 PART THREE. LOVE (Philosophy and Psychoanalysis) 117 6. Gai Satoir Sera: The Science of Love and the Insolence of Chance 119 Joan Copjec 7. Alain Badiou: Philosophical Outlaw 137 Juliet Flower MacCannell v vi CONTENTS 8. Feminine Love and the Pauline Universal Tracy McNulty PART FOUR. POLITICS AND ETHICS 9. On the Ethics of Alain Badiou Simon Critchley 10. Can Change Be Thought?: A Dialogue with Alain Badiou Bruno Bosteels Bibliography Contributors Index 185 213 215 237 263 269 273 Acknowledgments I wish to thank Rodolphe Gasche, the editor of the SUNY series Intersections: Philosophy and Critical Theory, who was enthusiastic about the project from the start, as well as James Pelt, my editor at SUNY, who steered the book to completion. I am also grateful to Juliet Flower MacCannell and Joan Copjec for their enthusiasm, support, and extraordinary intellectual range. Charles Ramond of the Universite Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux 3 and Patrice Vermeren from I:Harmattan generously authorized the translation of Pierre Macherey's chapter, which was originally published in Alain Badiou, Penser le Multiple. I would also like to thank Tracy McNulty and the Department of Romance Languages at Cornell University, which provided a venue for presenting part of my work on Badiou. Finally, thanks to Marilyn Gaddis Rose and Ray Brassier for their help with various translations. VII This page intentionally left blank. AMP AP B BE C CP CTOT D E EE LP MPh MPP NN Abbreviations Abrege de metapolitique (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1 998). " rAge de Poetes," in La Politique des poetes: Pourquoi des poetes en temps de detresse? ed. Jacques Ranciere (Paris: Bibliotheque du Col lege International de Philosophie, Rue Descartes, 1 992). Beckett: Iincrevable dsir (Paris: Hachette, 1 995). Being and Event, in Umbr{a} 1 (I996): 1 3-53. Conditions (Paris: Editions du Seuil , 1 992). Catgries pour philosophes (Unpublished, 1 992). Court trait d'ontologie transitoire (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1 998). Deleuze: "L clameur de l'etre" (Paris: Hachette, 1 997). IEthique: Essai sur la conscience du Mal (Paris: Hatier, 1 983). Trans lated by Peter Hallward as Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil (London: Verso, 2001). L'etre et l'evenement (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1 998). "Logic and Philosophy" (lecture, University of California-Irvine, April 2002, handout. Manifesto for Philosophy, trans. Norman Madarasz (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1 999). Manifeste pour la philosophie (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1 989). L nombre et les nombres (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1 990). IX x ODT P&P PI PMI PPP Psy & Ph QP QPP QQA RPP SD SP TS WL WTTC ABBREVIATIONS "One Divides into Two," trans. Alberto Toscano, in Lacanian Ink 21 (2003): 245-53. "Politics and Phi losophy: An Interview with Alain Badiou," Angelaki 3, no. 3 (1 998). "Posie au point de l' innomable," Po&sie 64 (1 994). Petit Manuel d'inesthetique (Paris: Seuil, 1 988). Peuton penser la politique? (Paris: Seuil, 1 982). "Psycho-analysis and Philosophy" {lecture, University of California-Irvine, April 2002, handout. "Qu'est-ce qu'un poeme et qu'en pense la philosophie?" in Petit Manuel d'inesthetique (Paris, Seuil, 1 998). "Que pense Ie poeme?" in L'art estil une connaissance? (Paris: L Monde Editions, 1 993). "Qu' est-ce que l' amour?" in Conditions (Paris: Seuil, 1 992). "L Recours philosophique au poeme," in Conditions (Paris: Seuil, 1 992). La Scene du Deu, in De l'Amour, sous la direction de l' Ecole de la Cause Freudienne (Paris: Champs F1ammarion, 1 999). Saint Paul; L Fondation de l'universalisme (Paris: PUF, 1 997). Theorie du sujet (Paris: Seuil, 1 982). "What Is Love?" trans. Justin Clemens, in Umbr(a} 1 (1 996). "What Do You Think of the Twntieth Century?" {lecture, University of California-Irvine, April 2002, handout. Introduction Alain Badiou: The Event of Thinking Gabriel Riera There is little doubt that Alain Badiou is one of the most challenging and controversial contemporary philosophical figures. Published over the course of three decades, his numerous and extensive texts include several books on ontolog, mathematics, aesthetics, literature, politics, ethics, and sexual diference. Yet Badiou is a thinker whose exact place in the intellectual landscape of our time is difficult to determine. He approaches philosophy with the recalcitrant rigor of a mathematician and the economy of means of a modern poet, but also with the passion of a militant of truth. Knotting together philosophical and mathematical discourses, his writing renews their traditional alliance and asks fundamental questions of each, while also dramatizing the incommensurability that sets the two discourses apart. In his writing, then, Badiou transforms the terms in which it is hencefrth possible to think about the question of philosophy, of its possibility and future, and also to think, beyond the double constraint of the One and of Totality, about the immanent multiplicity in which we are immersed. Badiou's contributions bring a new perspective to some of the most pressing issues currently being debated in philosophy and the social sciences. Among them are the conditions of political intervention, the possibility of philosophy, the ethics of sexual diference, and the formulation of a subject who is at the same time singular and universal and an ensuing critique of cultural relativism. A serious assessment of Badiou's philosophy forces us to reevaluate these topics, as well as to reexamine some of the tenets of contemporary philosophy. Alain Badiou (b. 1937) blongs to the generation of philosopher who entered the Ecole Normale at the end of 1950s. Like Etienne Balibar, Pierre Macherey, and Jacques Ranciere, he was attracted to Marxism, as wll as to psychoanalysis, logic, the history of science, and structuralism. He is professor of philosophy at the University of Paris VIII, editr of the prestigious collection "rOrdre Philosophique" at Les Editions du Seuil, and program director at the College International de Philosophie. 1 2 GABRI EL RI ERA Badiou was influenced by Jean-Paul Sartre early in his carer, but in the 1 960s was drawn to the work of Luis Althusser, Jacques Lacan, George Canguilhem, and Jean Hyppolit_ As a student at the Ecole Normale, Badiou attended Jacques Lacan's seminars and took part in the activities of the Epistemological Cirle responsible fr the publication ofCahiers pour l'Analyse. The researh conducted b the Epistemological Cirle incorporated developments in logic, mathematics, topolog, and linguistics. The names Jean Cavailles and Albert Lautmann are also important points of reference in Badiou's formation since they represent an important tradition of mathematical philooph in France. It is not by accident, therefore, that Badiou's work crosses a wide range of disciplines, including ontolog, mathematics, topolog, modern poetry, theater, film, psychoanalysis, and politics. His is a systematic philosophy that can be situated in the rational tradition inaugurated by Descartes and that responds to Plato's decision of "interrupting the poem," that is, of funding philosophy in mathematical conceptuality and reestablishing a free cirulation between the nonphilosophical conditions: science, poetry, politics, and love. However, Badiou pushes this tradition to its limits, since he aims to link what exceeds the means of rational presentation, the event, to what is singular par excellence, the subject, and therefore to articulate the generic procedures through which universal truths are produced. Badiou's philosophy is difficult to classify among the currents that have dominated the second half of the twentieth century. In spite of his conceptual innovations and its unique style of presentatio