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Infinite Thought Truth and the Return to Philosophy ALAIN BADIOU Translated and edited by Oliver Feltham and Justin Clemens continuum Continwuen “The Tower Bing 15 ast 26th Steet York Road New York onde, SEL 7NX. SY 10010 ‘canine com Editorial material and selection © Oliver Feltham and Jstn Clemens Philp and Desse, Philpy and Km, Plilaypy and “te war agit ‘enor’ © Alain Badion Phiwpty and drt, an The Defi of Pip Seu or Canin, 1993) Philspy andthe De of Cammain © Editions de VAube (om Due ‘dant ssc, 958 English language waslations“Philaophy and rath! © Philosophy tn Police © Radial Pious, Philosophy and Poychoanalys “Aas al oter Engh language ransation © Contin Reprod 2005, Ths paperback aiion published 2004 by Continuum All righ reserved. No pat of his publication may be reproduced or teanamited in sy form or by any mean, elevione or mecha. Inelaing photccopying, recording ean ielrmation storage Fete ‘pee, wlthou prior permindon iwetng fom the pubes Bitiah Library Catal Publication Data ‘Ncatalogueresard for ths book vaiable rom the Brith Libraty ISBN 0-8264-8724-5 (Hardback) (aan 75202 (Paperback) Peed and ound y in Great Bein by The Bath Pres, Bath Contents troduction to Alain Badiou's philosophy Philosophy and desire Philosophy and truth Philosophy and polities Philosophy and psychoanalysis Philosophy and art Philosophy and cinema Philosophy andl the ‘death of communism’ Philosophy and the ‘war against ‘The definition of philosophy Ontology and polities: an interview with Alain Badiow Index of names 195 An introduction to Alain Badiou’s philosophy is one of France's foremost living philosophers. n ofthe foree and originality of his work in the Englishespeaking world has been slow to come, pethaps because it is dificult to assimilate his work within the established categories of “contemporary French philosophy However, such recognition is now gathering momentum. No fewer than six translations of his major works, (wo collections of his essays, and one monograph on his work are currently in pres! ‘The first English-language 0 ference devoted to his work was held in May 2002 at Cardif, a critical introduction to his work has appeared, and three translations of his works ~ Ethics, Deleze, a ‘Manifest for Philosophy ~ are already on the shelves? The present volume aims to provide a brief, accesible introduction to the diversity and power of Badiou's thought, collecting a series of conference papers and essays. The ‘opening text sets the scene, giving a polemical overview of the state of philotophy in relation to the contemporary ‘world, The second ehapter gives a general overview, via the categories of ethics and truth, of Badiou's model of fundamental change in the domains of art, love, politics Infinite Thonght and science ~ philosophy four ‘conditions’. The following chapters present specific applications of his central concep: tion of philosophy as an exercise of thought conditioned by such changes in art (Chapters 3 and © on poetry and inema}, love (Chapter 4 on psychoanalysis), polities (Chapter 3) and science, Since Badiou’s work in relation to science is mainly found in the huge tome L’Bire « Péocnement (Being and Event) we chose to sketch the latter’s argument in the introduction * Chapters 7 and 8 exemplify ‘a recurn (o one of philosophy’s classical roles: the analytical denunciation of ideology, Badiow attacking fist the ‘war on terrorism’ and then the “death of communism’. The penultimate chapter sets out Badion’s doctrine on philoso- phy in relation to its conditions, and then the collection loses with an interview with Badiou in whieh he explains and reconsiders some of his positions. Tn our introduction we identify one of the manners in which Badiou’s philosophy differs from the contemporary French philosophy known as peststructuralism: its treat- ment of the question of the subject, We then engage in a Jong, at times dificult, but necessary exegesis of Badiou’s sex theory ontology; necessary since it gyounds his entire doctrine, and nor particularly long in relation to its matter; Being and Fxnt comprises over 500 pages in the French dition. At every point we have attempted (0 render the technical details in as lear a fashion a8 possible, yet without undue distortion If the prospective reader wishes 10 skip over the more abstruse diseussions offered in the introduction, he or she should feel absolutely free to do so ~ for Badiow is sill his, ‘own best exegete. He effectively tries to speak to those who ddo not sped their lives in professional insticurions, but act and think in ways that usually exceed or are beneath notice ‘As Badiow himself puts it: “Philosophy. privileges no language, not even the one itis written in. 2 An introduction to Alain Badiou’s philosophy Badiow’s question Badiou is neither « poststructuralist nor an analytic philosopher, and for one major reason: there is question, drives his thought, especially in his magnum opus, L Etre at Uéoinement. This question is foreign to both postsiructuralism and analytic philosophy ~ in fact not only foreign, but unweleome. It is this question thae governs the peculiarity of Badiou's trajectory and the attendant Gificulties of his thought. In the introduction to L'Eive et P¥eénement Badiow sei spon _an_ exchange between Jacquer-Alain Miller and Jacques Lacan during the famous Seminar XI.t Miller, Without blinking, asks Lacan, the grand theorist of the barred subject, ‘What is your ontology?” For Badiow this is a crucial moment, for it reveals a fundamental difficulty fone that many argue Lacan never solved, even with, loopy 1970s recourses to knot theory. The difficulty is that of reconciling a modern doctrine of the subject (sueh as that of| psychoanalysis} with an ontology. Hence Badiou’s guiding question: How can a madern doctrine of the subject be reconciled with an ontology? But what exactly does Badiow understand by a ‘modern doctrine of the subject? Badiow takes it as given that in the ‘contemporary world the subject ean no longer be theorized as the selGidentical substance that underlies change, not as the product of reflection, nor as the correlate of an object. This set of negative definitions is all very familiar toa reader ‘of poststructuralism. Surely one could object that post- structuralism has developed a modern doctrine of the subject? The problem with poststructualism is that exactly the same set of negative definitions serves to delimit its implicit ‘ontology {whether of desire or difference!: there are no self idemtical substances, there are no stable products. of 3 Infinite Thought refletion, and since there ate no stable objects there can be no cortelates of such objets. Thus in peststructuralism there inno distinction between the general field of ontology ard theory of the subject there is no tension between the being ofthe subject and being in general Where Baslion sees at essential question far_ modern philosophy, then, peststucturalsm sees nothing. For many this lack of distinction berween the being of the subject and thebeing ofeverything ele would appear to be a vires the privilege ofthe rational animal is Rally removed i favour OF 4 less anthropocentric ontology, Theve is, however, a price to be paid for limping the subject together with Whatever elke is asually recognized in an ontology Postsructuralism typically encounters a number of pro- ‘lems in its theory of the subjeet. Funnily enough, these problems are quite clearly inherited. trom the very Philosophical tradition whose “death’ poststructuealism Elefully proclaims. There was enough life let in the corpse fo pass something on ~ and what ic pase om were the Wo fundamental problens in the thought of the subject The fit problem i that of ideas: the second problem, that of ages. The mind body problem desives fr the most part from the former, and the fre will versus determinism Abate from the latter. Pesttructutalists have concentrated almost exclusively a estque ofthe frst problem, arguing that there is no solution to the problem of the identity of the subject because the subject has no substantial identity: the jlusion of an underlying Wentity ie produced by the very representational mechanism employed by the subjet in it “floret grasp its own identity. The same line of arguments So applied to the identity ofany entity thus including the fubject within the domain of general ontology. For ‘example, in his introduction t0 a collection of Philippe TaconeLabarthe’ essays, Derrida identifies the subject, with the ele deyeonsituting movement of the text, the ‘ An introduction to Alain Basins philsophy subject is nothing other than a perpetual movement of (wanslation.” This brings the subject within the ambit of his ‘much-maligned but fateful early ontological claim: “There is tno outside-text.” The consequence of this move, of this merger of the subject with a gencral ontology within the context of a general critique of identity: and representation, is the emergence of a problem with the dilferentiation of subjects, How can one subject be differentiated from another without recourse to some sort of definable identity? As for agency — philosophy's second fundamental problem in the thought of the subject ~ the consequence ‘of poststructuralism’s almost exclusive concentration om the first problem has been that the critics of poststeueturalism have had an easy pitch all they have had ta do i ro accuse the poststucturalists of robbing the subject of agency: if there is no selF-idemtical subject, then what isthe ground for autonomous rational action? This is what lies behind the infamous jibe that poststructuralism leads down a slippery slope to apoliticism When poststructuralists do engage with the problem of agency they again meet with dilliculties, and again precisely because they merge theie theory of the subject with their general ontology. For example, in his middle period Foucault argued that networks of dieiplinary power sot nly reach into the most intimate spaces of the subject, but actually produce what we call subjects" However, Foucault also said that power produces resistance. His problem then became that of accounting for the sourre of such resistanee. If the subject — right down to its most intimate desires, actions and thoughts — is constituted by power, then how ran it be the source of independent resistance? For such 3 point of agency to exist, Foucault needs some space which hhas not been completely constituted by power, ora comples. doctrine on the relationship hewween resistance and independence. However, he has neither. Tn his later work, Infinite Thought he deals with this problem by assigning agency to. those subjects who resist power by means of an aesthetic project of seltauthoring. Again, the source of such privileged agency why do some subjects shape themselves against the grain and not other? — is not explained, What does Badion do when faced with these two fiandamental problems of identity and agency? First, Badiow recognizes a distinction between the general domain of ontology and the theory of the subject. He does not merge the one into the other; rather, the tnvin between the two ives his investigations. Secon, when it comes to the two problems, Badiou cloes the exact apposite to the poststruc turalists: he defers the problem of identity, leaving a direct treatment of it for the unpublished companion volume to Being and Fsent, while he concentrates on the problem of agency.” For Badiow, the question of agency ¥s not so much a question of how a subject can initiate an action jy an autonomous manner but rather how a subject emerges through an autonomous chain of actions within a changing situation, ‘That isyitiesot everyday actions or decisions that 1ey for Badiou. It is rather those extraordinary decisions and actions which irslate an actor From their context, those actions which show that a human can actually be a free agent that supports net chains of actions and reactions, For this reason, not every human being is always a subject, yet some human beings become subjects; those who actin fidelityco.a chance encounter with aan event which disrupts the situation Uhey find demselves in. A subject is born of a human being’s decision that ‘Something they have oxeuntered, which has happened in their situation — however foreign and abnormal ~ does in fact belong to the situation and thus cannot he overlooked, Badiow marks the disruptive abnormality of such an event by stating that whether it belongs 10 a situation or not is, 6 An introduction to Alain Badliou’s philosophy strcly uudecidable on the basis of eablbhed knowledge Moreover the subject, «bon of a decision, not limited to the recognition of theocttence of an even, but extends into a prolonged investigation of the consequences of sich ay event This vestigation nota pasive, scholarly afar icertails nt ony the active transrmation ofthe station in wich the event occurs but alo the ative transformation tthe human being. Ths in Badiou's philosophy the Such thing ay a subject without. such" proces of For example, when two people fal in lov thcir"meeting = whether that meeting be thet fist hours together, or the length of ther enttecourtdhip forms an event for them in relation to which thes change thei lve, This ertainly does tot mean that ther lives are simply going tobe the etter fir it un the contrary. love may involve debt, allenated friends. and rupture with one’ family. The poin that lve Changes their relation tothe world ‘itevacably. "The duration of the lovers’ relationship depends upon their fidelity co shat event and how they change according 10 shat they aicover tough thei owe In che realm of Copernican revelution, the eimeig subjects being thot Scientists who worked within iq wake contributing to the field swe now mame ‘modern physi ‘The consequence of sch a delinition of the subject secms to be that onl briliantsienists, modern master, seasoned militants and footie lovers are admitied into the ok A lice unfair, perhaps? Is Badiou's definition of the subject exclusive o elit? On the one ie, you have human beings, foching much distingubhing ther from animals in their Dunit of ther ines and then, on the other sid, you Ave tne ne I, te Hew AARC aT tthe This haw a dangerous ting, and one could be forgiven, for Comparing iat fis Elance to Mormon doctrine: However Infinite Thought ‘and this is crucial ~ there is no pedestination in Badion’s acount. There is nothing other than chance encounters Decween particular humans and particular events; and subjects may be born out of such encounters. There is no higher order which prescribes who will encounter an event and devide to act in relation to it. There is only chance Furthermore, there is no simple distinction bewveen subjects and humans! Some humans become subjects, but only some of the time, and often they break their fidelity to an ‘event and thus lose their subjecthood, Thus, Badiou displaces the problem af ageney from the level of the human to the level of deing. ‘That is, his problem is no longer that of how an individual subject initiates a new chain of actions, since for him the subject only emerges in the course of such a chain of actions. His problem is accounting for how’ an existing situation ~ given that fein, for Badiou, is nothing other than multiple situations — can be disrupted and transformed by such a chain of actions This displacement of the problem of agency allows Badiou to avoid positing some mysterious autonomous agent within cach human such as ‘free will. However, the direct and tunavoidable consequence of the displacement is that the problem of agency becomes the ancient philosophical problem of how che new occurs in being Iris no coincidence that Badiou’s question ~ What is the compatibility of a subject with a general ontology? ~ leads directly to this venerable philusophical problem, since i is this very problem whieh also underlies Buciou's early work, Theorie dv sujet. In that work, Badiou's solution was «© develop a complex postructuralist remodelling of the Hegelian dialectic, In,b.'Bire e Féecnoment, Badliou's solution is simply to assert ligt ‘events happen’, events without directly assignable causes which disrupt the order of established situations. f decisions are taken by subjects 10 work out the consequences of such events, naw silvations 5 An intadaction to Alain Badiou'sphilorophy emerge asa result of their work, Such events dy, not form partof what sand so they do ot fll under the puview of Bacliow's general ontology, Thus the 1 Uoing of the subject and the general 4 ontology is a cotngent elationship, which, hg dccurrenes ofan event and the decision of a subject 4&0 Fiatiy to that event ‘What, then is this general domain’ of Bac ontology? Modern ontology: being as multiple multiplicities As already mentioned, there are exo major traditions that ‘enjoy a relation 10 ontology in late twentieth-century philosophy: the analytic eradition and the post-Heidegger: ean tradition, The analytic tradition either forecloses ontology in favour of epistemology or reduces ontology to property of theories.” The post-Heideggerean tradition perpetually announces the end of fundamental ontology, While basing this pronouncement on its own fundamental ontology of desire oF difference, Despite his ejection oftheir conclusions, Badiou does not simply dismiss the claims of these traditions. On the contrary, Badiou takes his starting point from both traditions: the concept of ‘situation’ from Wittgenstein and the idea of the ‘ontological dillerence’ from Heidegger. He then forges a new ontology within the furnace of their critiques. of mology, Heidegger formulates the ontological difference as the difference between Being and beings; hat is, the difference Fherween individual beings and the fact of their Being, thet they re, For Badiow the term “beings! risk substantialization itis too close to the term ‘entity’ “existant’ oF “object Instead, Badiou proposes the term situation, which he delines ‘presented multiplicity’, or asthe ‘place of taking place’ FF, 32). The term ‘situatio, is prior to any distinction ° finite Thought bewween substances andjor relations and_so covers both. Situations include all. these flows, properties, aspects, concatenations of events, disparate collective phenomena, Dodies, monstrous and virtwal, that one might wane 1 examine within an ontology. The concept of ‘situation’ is ako designed to accommodate anything whieh i, regardless fof its modality; that is, egardless of whether itis necessary, contingent, possible, actual, potential, or virtual ~ a whiny, supermarket, a work of art, a dream, a playground fight, a feet of tracks, a mine, a stock prediction, game of ehess, oF a set of waves, If Aristotle's fundamental ontological claim is “There are substances’ then Badiou's is “There are situations’, or, in other words, “There are multiple multiplicities. The key difference between Badiow's claim and that of Aristotle i thae for Aristotle exch substance isa unity that belongs to a lolality — the rasmos — shich is itself a unity, Por Badiow, there is no unified totality that encompasses these multiple ‘multiplicities. Furthermore, there is no basic or primordial unity to these muiplciies, is these 1wo aspects of his ontology which, according 10 Badiou, guarantee its modernity. For Badiou, the task of modern ontology is to break with classical omtology’s fundamental unity of being - both in the latter's indivi duality ind its totality} Leibniz expressed this belie of classical ontology i the formula: What is not @ being is not a being. Howev Drang ith thelial unity of being is no simple tsk fr ontology. /The problem is that even if there is no primordial equivalence between unity and being, for Bacon one muse sil recognize, allowing Lacan, that dr is some oneness “Ilya de Van. That is, although unity is not rimordial, there is some kind of eect of unity in the {resentation leing. Bad's solution to this problem is {o argue that stations — presented mulipiites do have 0 * situation is a presented multiplicity. An intodvction to Alain Badiou’s philosophy such unity isthe result of an operation termed the This count is what Badiow terms the situation’s Statue) A structure determines what belongs and does not belong to the siuation by counting various multiplicities 35 emestv08 the situation. An element a basic unit of a Situation. A structure thereby generates unity atthe level of ‘adfyclement of the siuation. 1 alo generates unity at the Tevel of the whole situation by unifying the multiplicity. of cements. This & a —sate definition of a situation! a Whereas, fave hoted, philosophers have often Ahought of unity asthe Lagdamental propeety of Being, fr Badiow unity is the effec¥of structurauion. and not a ground, origin, or end. The consequence of the unity of situations being the effect of an operation is that a multiple that belongs to one situation may also belong to another situation: situations donot have mutually exclusive identities. The operation of the count-for-ong is not performed by some agent separate to the multiplicity of the situation: in classical or even relativist ontologies one can discern such ant agent, going under the names of God, History, or Discourse, The distinction between a situation andl its structuring count-for-one only holds, strictly speaking, within ontology; the situation is nothing other than this operation of “counting-for-one'! If a. situation isa. counting-for-onc, then Badiou also has a dynamic definition of a situation Once he has oth a dynamic as wells static definition ofa situation ~ the operation of counting-for-one, and unified presented multiplicity ~ he is able to join his doctrine of ‘multiplicity to a reworking of Heidegger's ontological difference. Badiou states that the ontological diflerence stands between a situation and the being of that situation; as for Heidegger, this disjointing, in thought, of situations from their being u Infinite Thought allows ontology to unfold. Unlike Heidegger, however, the being of situation i nol something that only a poetic saving can approach i iy, quite imply and banal, the Situation ‘belore’ or rather, sit the elect of the count tmoliplcy."Afe? or ih the elle of the eountto-onera ton fa aif or consistent mpi. “nrder to gndertand this station between an iicordatent ealiplicy and a consistent multiply, once the station ot a fotbal team. The parca team we have ia mind ia rtnhacle tof wna players cach having thir own posion, sent and weaknesex all of whom are med, however undisciplined and cheat their play, by weir belonging co the team “The Cate Consider ten the same team om the poi of view of is being it isa disparate mihi of human bad, each te town ticity of bones, smascen nerve teri ie nd plicy of cell and so om, which, atthe bare level of thi bre exitence have nothing to do wth thar ty ere "The Cat That ia the level ofthe beng ofeach clement tthe ten there ie nohing which inherent desermines that iti an omen oft football team, T inieren evel of being, the am inconsstene and noncuniedmulplicy. Granted, the proper name "Catt does haves certain interpelative power Inthe Alhuserian sense. but it nether reside at nor fenerats the level of being ~ for Badiou the word neither turders nor creates the thing, t merely sign the “thing 1 mulplicey = certain deny Tm onder to understand how Baio might equate chee inconsistent multipickies with being, consider stripping timing of al ofits properties tothe extem that eve is identity and unity are removed, For many. piloopher, 12 Jn invoducton to Alain Badio’s philosophy would be nothing lef after such an operation. However, for Badiou, what would be left would simply be the being of that ‘something’, and such being could only he devribed as aan inconsistent multiplicity Not even Yormless matter" would be acceptable, since ‘macter’ would have een one of | the general properties we stripped away from our ‘some= thing’. Badiow’s inconsistent multiplicity" is therefore not to be equated with Aristotelian ‘prime matter’ its ‘actual status is, moreover, ‘undecidable’ Precisely because a situation provokes the question ‘What was there byfor all situations?” but provides no possible access to this ‘befare hac is not irremediably compromised by post-sitwational terminology and operations, its impossible to speak of jn any direct way, With the thought of Sinconsistent multi= plcity’, thought therefore touches omits own limits; what Badiou calls, following Lacan, its Tris at this point that we turn to-a dascussion of Badiow's "use of set theory) hy means of which he gives all this rather loose metaphysical talk a solid and precise bass, Wy set theory? Since Aristotle, ontology has been a privileged sub- discipline of philosophy; otherwise known as the discourse fon being, Bacliow puts forward a radical thesix if being is inconsistent multiplicity, then the only suitable discourse for talking about it is no longer philosophy but mathematics, For Baio, mathematics 1s ovtlags. Mathematicians, une beknowast to themselves, lo nothing ather than continually speak of or write being. ‘This thesis enables Badiow to reformulate the classical language of ontology — being relations, qualities ~ jn mathematical terms: more specif cally, those ose theory because itis one of the foundational disciplines of contemporary mathematies; any mathematical proposition can be rewritten in the language of set theory 3 Infinite Thought In [Eve ot Pécement, Badiou sets forth «wo doctrines to support his adoption of set theory. The frst, the doctsine on inconsistent multiplicity, is explained in the previous section. The second is the docteine on the void. Together, these doctrines serve to bridge the gap between set theory, With its infinity of sets, and Badiou's multiplicities of situations Take the fist doctrine, If the being of situations is inconsistent multiplicity, what is required of the language of such being? Simply that this language must present multi plicity as inconsistent, that is, as non-unoified, To fulfil such a Fequirement a number of conditions must be met. Firs, in ‘order to prevent multiplicity without unity, the multiples presented in this language cannot be multiples of individual {things of any kind, since this would be to smuggle back in precisely what is in question — the being of che One. Consequently, these multiples must akto be composed of multiples themselves composed of multiples, and. so on Second, ontology cannot present its multiples as belonging to a universe, to one all-inclusive total multiple ~ for that ‘woud he to smuggle back the One at a global level. As such, ‘ontology's multiples must be boundless; they cannot have at ‘upper limit. ‘The thitd condition is that ontology cannot determine a single concept of multiplicity, for that would also unify its multiplicities and, hy so doing, unify being. Set theory is the formal theory of non-unified multi plicities. Tt meets each of the three conditions outlined hove. First, a sel is a multiple of multiples called elements However, there is no fundamental dillerence between elements and sets, since every element of a set is itself a set Second, there is no set of sets; that is, here is no ultimate Set which includes all the different types of set found in ser theory. Such a set would have to thereby include itself which is expressly forbidden, on pain of paradox, by one of set theory's axioms, that of foundation." Tn set eheary there 4 An introduction to Alain Badion’sphilvophy isan infinity ofintinice types of infinite sets. As forthe tied condition, there is neither definition nor concept ofa set in sec theory. What there ii its place iva handamental relation “belonging” as well asa series of variables and logical ‘operators, and nine axioms stating how they may be used together. Sets emerge from operations which follow these rales The second doctrine, which Badiou uses o bridge the gap between set theory's infinity of sets and particular non ‘ontological situation, i his doctrine on “the void’ Like the octrine of inconsistent multiplicity. it is also a doctrine about the nature of situations. Badion anges that, i every Situation, there ir a being of the "nothing. He stars by stating that whatever is recognized as ‘something’, or as essing, i situation is eountedsforcone i that situation and vice versa, By implication, what i atiaghin a situation rust go uncounted. However it not as though there Simply nothing ina situation which is uncounted both the ijeration of tse counesorone and the inconsistent mliple which exist before the count are, by definition, uncotne table. Moreover, both are necesary to the existence of a Stuation oe presentations precisely because they consti & Situation as a situation they cannot be presented within dhe situation ise" As necessary” but umpresentable, they Constitute what Baton terms the witing™ or the "WORT of situation Badiou states that this void i dhe ‘subaractive suture to being’ of a situation (AE, 68). The voud ature af ‘bing to presentation because itis dhe point through which a situation comes to be the count-or-one — yet by which Ieing — as inconsistent mulplicty — is foreclosed om presentation. The void is ‘subtractive’ for to reasons. The firsts that it is subteacted from presentation snd, second, it does nat participate in any of the qualities of the situation — although itis proper to the situation, itis as if all of the i Infinite Thought particularities of the situation ase eemoved or subtracted trom it. So, for Badiow, every siuation i ultimately founded on a void. This ig not Heidegger's ADveand, nor i it some theological creation ex mikilo. The void of & situation is simply what isnot there, hut what is necestary for anything to be there When wwe carn to sot theory, i turns out i€ makes one inital existential claim, that i it begins by saying that just fone set exists. This particular set ie subtracted from the conditions of every ater set in set theory: that of having elements, This the millet, a multiple of nothing oF ofthe oid” On the sole ass of his 364, using operations regulated by formal axioms, set theory unldh an infinity uf further set. Set theory thus weaves is ses out of a "si ‘out of what, any other situation, is dhe subtractive suture to being of that situation, In other words, we already know that ontology eonneets to other situations theotgh being the theory of inconsistent multiples. Ta each and every non ‘ontological situation, its inconsistent multiplicity isa void ‘The only posible presentation ofa “voi in se theory isthe nullset. Thus, the second way in which set theory connects tosituaions is dhe it constructs its inconsistent multiples oat ofits presentation ofthe void, of the suture ta being of every So much for the goeal connection between stations and set theory’ infnitesets. Theres also a comnection seri to cach situation: Badiow holds thatthe structure of cath Situation can be written asa type oft. That i, leaving all Of a situation’s properties aside and considering only he basie relations which hold throughout its maltiplcty, ome can schematize a situation in ontology a8 What, then, are sts and how ave they written? Aw introduction to Alain Badiu’s philosophy Set theory Sets are made up of elements, The elements of set have no distinguishing quality save that of belonging to it hiss why they are referred to simply as variables ~ 9, B, 7 both when they ae elements and ishen they’ are thenseives considered as sets. The relation of belonging isthe basic relation of set, theory itis written ee fie belongs to, or, 2s an element ot the set There is another relation in set theory, termed Inchon, which is based entirely on belonging. Sets have ‘subsets that are salided inthe sets, subset isa grouping otsome ofa set's elements Each ofa subsets elements must belong to the inital set, Take for example the set 8 which consists of the elements 4, 8,7. Tt can be written {a By 7). It has various subsets like (2, B} and {B, 7]. Each subset can itself be given a name, indexed to an arbitrary mark. For example, the later subset {7}, might he called the subset Tis inclosion in 8s writen 1c 8 the set 28 clement x = C. 3 By 7 : N A set is a anified kipliciy: its elements ate not indefinite and dlspersed; one i able wo speak ofa (single, united) set Badiou reads 2 B assaying that multiple 2s countedor ‘one’ as ant clement ofthe set, or the set isthe “count-for~ ‘one’ ofall those clements 2, Bach of those elements could he subset Infinite Thought be counted and grouped and subdivided in different manners, resulting in different sets: there is no restriction on the number of diferent sets they can belong to, As noted above, this is the great Hexibility of set theory once one strips identity away from multiplicity there is nothing prevent a. multiplicity from belonging to any number of ther multiplicities, nothing, that is, save its structure jcervain types of sets only admit multiples sith certain structures, hut more on that later If one compares set theory to clasical ontologies, indeed even 10 that of Deleuze, its modernity is immediate. It makes no claims concerning the nature of being, nor concerning the adequation of its categories wo being. Tt makes no attempt to anchor its discourse in_necessty through an appeal to some ground, whether etymological, natural oF historical, It does not place itself as one Hinkage within a larger unified machinery such as ‘evolution’ or “complexity” or ‘chaos’. If there is a grand philosophical claim in Badiow’s enterprise, it is not made within the discourse of set theory itsell but rather holds in the identification of set theory as ontology. The basis of set theory i simply a set of axioms. The necessity of these axioms has been tested rather than declared insofar as all ‘operations made on their basis must have logically These results have been tested through & ‘century of work within set theory. Nine axioms regulate the ‘operations and the existences which weave the tissue of set theory's universe For Badiou these axioms constituce a decision in thought 2 starting point. The axioms themselves, of course, are not pure historical beginnings since they are the result ofa series of relormulations made over the fist few decades of set theory: these reformulations were designed to prevent the foccurrence of logical inconsistency within the domain of st theory. Rather, they mark the beginning of something new 18 Jn introduction to Alain Baslu’s philosophy in scientific thought inasmuch as, for example, it was not possible to conceive of two dillerent types of infinity. one Targer than the other, before Canton’s pioneering work inset theory Set theory itself comes ina number of varieties: for example, there are foundational and antisfoundational types, with varying numbers and types of axioms. Badion's ‘own choice is to plump for the orthodox version of Zermelo- Fraenkel set theory, with its nine axioms, ‘These are generally called: Extensionality, Separation, Power-Set, Union, Empty Set, Infinity, Foundation, Replacement and Choice, An explanation of all nine of these axioms ‘would exceed the range of this presentation, but a quick sketch of five of the nine axioms should shed some light on how the universe of se theory unfolds The first concerns identity and difference, the axiom of extension: Hevery element ¥ ofa set ais also an clement of a set B and the inverse is true, then the sets 2 and Bate indistinguishable and therefore identical. Consequently, i set theory ontology, the regime of identity and difference i founded upon extension, not quality, That is, every difference is localized in a point: for ewo sets to be diferent at least one element of one ofthe sets must not belong to the other ‘The next three ‘constructive’ axioms allow the construc tion of a new set on the basis of an already existing set, The axiom of separation states: ‘I there exists a set, then there exists a subser of a, all of whove elements y satisty the formula F." It enables a set delined by a formula to. be separated out from an initial set. If one gives values to the variables one could then, for example, separate out the subset, B, of all green apples from the set of apples, green ‘apples’ ing the formula in this example ‘The power-set axiom states that all of the subsets of an initial set grouped together form another set termed the 19 Infinite Thought powerset, ‘Take for example the set (2% Br 2). Its three tlements can be grouped into the fllowing subsets: {9}, {B}. (0) {0 BY. 2,2), and {B, 2}, t0 whieh must be added both ‘what is termed the ‘maximal’ subset (2, B, x}, and, by virwe of a rule explained later, the null-set {@. The power-set of (2, B, x} is thus: Hoh 1B), fa 2, Bh, fa, a) 1B xs 42 Bh (DB. Its important to note thae the power-set of any set is always demonstrably larger than the initial se, This means one can lalways generate larger sets out of any existing set. The axiom of union states that all of the elements, 8. of the clements, y, of an initial set, 2, themselves form another set i termed the union-set, The new set Bis thus the union- Set of the initial set 2, conventionally waiten Ux. It shows that sets are homogeneously multiple when decomposed ‘AL the axioms listed so far prestime the existence of atleast, fone set but they do not themselves establish the existence of sets, The axiom of the null-st, on the other hand, does. Tt forms set theory fist ontological cornmitment, Te states that there exists a nullset, an empty set to which no elements hhelong ~ 2. This nulset i the intial point of existence from which all the other sets of set theory are unfolded using the constructive axioms. For example, from i, hy the operations prescribed by the axiom of the power-set, one can Gemonstrace the existence of its power-set (Q}, and then by repeating the opecation, further sets can he unfolded sueh as (B. {)} and (D, {W}, (WD. {Wi}. We is just such, unfolding which constitutes the infinity of ses, Bach of these axioms has profound consequences for philosophical problems, once one allows that set theory is ‘ontology. In order to use set theory to address philosophical problems Badiou makes a distinetion between ontology proper, that is, the formal language of ser theory, and the dlisconse of meta-ontology, that is, a translation of set theory's 20 An introduction to Alain Badlo’s philosophy axioms and theorems into philosophical terms. Thus for every Sectheoretical erm, there is an equivalent in the discourse of philosophy. For example, a set is spoken of in meta-ontology asa ‘multiplicity’, a ‘Situation’ or a ‘presentation’ One of the traditional philosophical problems to which set theory responds is that of the relationship between being and language. According to Badiou, this relationship is concentrated in the way set theory’ ties the existence of sts together with their definitions. In one of the fist formulae tions of set theory, that of Gotdieh Frege, a set is defined as ‘the extension of a concept’. This means that for any well- formed formula in a Gist order logie which defines concept, a set of elements exists, each of which satisfies the formula.® That is, there ean be no sets, and thus nothing. in existence, for which there is no concept: every existing set corresponds 10 a concept. Or, whenever one has « defined feoncept, one can directly deduce the existence of a ‘corresponding multiple. Thus, the relationship beeween language and being is one of exact correspondence. However, Frege's definition ofsets~ and, by implication, his articulation of the relationship between language and being — met with a problem. In 1902, Bertrand Russell discovered a well-formed formula 10 which no existent set could correspond withont introducing contradiction into set theory. The formula is ‘the set ofall sets which are not members of themselves. The contradiction ensues when one asks whether the set of elements which satisfies this formula belongs to itself or not. IF it does belong to itself then, by definition, it does not, and iit does not belong to itself, then it does. This conuadiction euins the consistency of the formal language in which the formula is made. The consequence of the paradox is that itis not true that for every well-lormed formula a corresponding multiple exists In order to avoid Russell's paradox, the sxiom of separation was developed. It proposes another relationship Infinite Thought between the existence of multiples and wellformed for- ‘mulas, Frege's definition ofthat relationship runs as follows: IB) (Va) (Ba) + xe Bid ‘This proposition reads: “There exists set B such that every erm a which satisfies the formula F is an element of that set. The axiom of separation on the other hand looks like this: ya) (3B) (Ye) (( (yea) & Fin) + Ce BI Ir reads: “If thete exists a set 3, then there exists a subset B of 4 all of whose elements + satisfy the formula F.” The essential difference between Frege's definition and the axiom of separation js that the former directly proposes an teistence while the latter is conditional upon there alteady being a st in existence, 2. The axiom of separation says that if there is set already in existence, then one cam separate ou fone ofits subsets, B, whose elements validate the formula F. Say for example that the formula F is the property ‘rotten and one wants to make the judgement ‘Some apples are Totten.” Via the axiom of separation, from the syppased existence of the set of all apples, one could separate out the subset of rotten apples ‘The relationship between being and language implied by the axiom of separation is therefore not one of an exact fi, bbuc rather one in which language causes “a split or division in existence’ (A#, 58). The conclusion Badiow thus draws From set theory for the traditional philosophical problem of the relationship between language and being is that, although Language bestows identity on being, being is in excess of language, This is quite clearly 1 materialist thesis tas befits Badion's Marxist heritage, In meta-ontological erm, the axiom of separation states that an undefined existence must always be asumed in any delinition of fof multiple. Ia short, the very conditions of the inscription of 2 4m introduction t» Alain Badions philocphy existence in language require that existence be in excess of what the inscriptions define as existing. So, what is the general result of Badiou’s adoption of set theory as the language of being? Quite simply: that i has nothing to say about beings themselves ~ this the province of other discourses such as physics, anthropology and Titerature, This is one reason why Badiow terms set theory a subtractive ontology: it speaks of beings without relerence 10 their autributes or their identity; its as ifthe beings ontology: speaks of have had all cheir qualities subtracted from them, Asa result, unlike Plato and Aristtle’s ontologies, there is neither cosmos nor phenomena, nether cause nor sibstance Set theory ontology does not propose a description of the furniture ofthe world’, nor does it concern itself with ‘carving reality at the joints’ Its own ontological claim simply amounts to saying there is a multiplicity of multiplicities. ‘urthermote, set theory ontology is indifferent to. the existence or nonexistence of particular situations such as ‘the world” or ‘you, the reader’: Badion writes: ‘we are attempting to think multiple-presentation regardless of time lowhich is founded by intervention), and space (which is a singular construction, relative t certain types of presenta tion)” (EE, 293). What set theory ontology’ does, in liew of presenting “what there is is present the ontological schemas ‘oF any ontological claim; that is, it presents the structure of ‘what any situation say exists Ontological schemas of different situations Although set theory ontology does not recognize the infinite differentiations of concrete situations, it docs recognize umber of differences in the strecture of situations. This allows i¢ to schematize different concrete. situations. According to Badiou's meta-ontology, there are three basic structures which ate found underpinning every existent 2 Infiite Thought situation. To understand the differentiation of these iructures it is necessary to return 1 the axiom of the powerset and its meta-ontological equivalents “The axiom of the power-st says that there is set ofall the subsets of an initial set, termed the powerset. In meta- ontological terms, the power-set is the slae of a situation, ‘This means that every multiple already counted as one, i counted again at the level ofits sub-multiples: the state is thus a second connt-for-one. Or, according to another of Badiou’s metacontologial translations, ase scheratizes presentation, ten it powerctschematizs the represents tion of thac presentation" The state is made up ofall the posible regroupings ofthe elements ofa statin as such it EP the structure which underlies any reprevntatonal or {rouping mechanism in any siwation, We should noe that fr suth the term wate chads but isn no way reducible to the penition of a government and its administration ina politeal station a Raion disinguithes three types of situation: hatural historcal and neutral, What takes them diferent at structural level are the types of multiple wbich compost them. There are three types of multiple: mma! mulls, ‘shih are both presented by the situation axl reprsented by Hey state they are cote-or-ne wie) rte ples tohieh ate only represented. bythe staez and. singular Tulip, which only occur_at the level of presentation, hind hich escape the efit of the second countlorsne ‘Nateral stations are defined as having 0 singular imuliples all of their-mlipes ave either normal fxerecent, and each normal clement in turn hae normal tlements (BE, 16}, Neutral situations are defined as having a mix of singular, normal and excreacent- multiples Historical situations are defined by their having at least cone “eventaaites subvtype of singular multiple Te se theory terms, «singular multiple ian element ofa set, but Py Au introduction to Alain Badton’s philosophy not one ofits subsets. Since each of a set's subsets x made entirely of elements that already belong to the inital se, the definition of a singular multiple i that, Gist, it an element of an inivial set, and, second, some of is own elements it turn do not belong to the inital sec. Tr is these Foreign elements which are responsible forthe singularity of asingular multiple. An eerfalsite isan extreme va fof a singular multiple: none of an evental-site's elements fal belong to the intial se. Leaving, normal situations aside, let is turn to examples of natural and historical Take, for an example of natural situation, the ecosystem of pond. The mulples which it presen include individual fish, tadpoles, reeds and stones, Each of these elements also represented at the level of the state of the situation, which Badiou ako qualifies as the level of the hnncledger of situation ~ theve elements ae hoon elements of the situation Each element of an ecosystem is ao one of the evoxystem's subsets, because each of thir elements alka belong, in ttn, to the ecosystem; or example each fish's eating and breeding Ihabits belong. to the ecosystem as well as to each fish, These elements are thus normal multiples [fone examines such a Situation, itcontains so singular terms: nothing is presented ‘whic is ot alo represented. The test of whether a station is natural of not is whether there i any element of the situation whose content is not ako pat ofthe situation — in ecology, every element of a system, at whatever level of size or eflec, i interconnected. ‘The situation of the ecasystem of ‘pond is thus a natural situation. Take, by conerast, a an example of ahistorical situation, a collection of posible answers to the nationalist concern of ‘ehat iio be Australian, Some of the vulpes presented in this situation swould be ‘nindval sories about bronzed Iiesavers, Anzac soldiers, larikins, whinging poms, wow sers, convicts, explorers, busheangers and squatters. One % Ifinite Thought would also find Don Bradman and the Eureka Stockade belonging to such a collection. In the twenty-first century. this situation’s elements would also comprise individual stories about the Htalian-Australians, the Trish-Australians, the Chinese-Australians, the Greek-Australians, the Turk: [sh-Australians, and so on, At the level of the State of the situation one has submultples such as hedonism, mateship, equality understood as sameness, the imperatives ‘lair go! il “she'll be right mate", anti-British sentiment, distrust of authority, the privileging of know-how over theory, Protestantism, and Catholicism, etc ‘rom both socio-economic and cultural perspectives, Immigrant groups are both presented and re-presented Their contribution to "what it is to be Australian” is both known and knowable. For this reason we would argue that rhone of the presented ‘iramigrant’ multiples are singular rmulliples. On the other band, constitutively resistant to Anglo-Saxon dreams of assimilation, the multiple “abor tinals’ forms an eventalesite; ils contents remain unknown, OF course, within other situations such as cultural, socio Jogical and bureaucratic assesments of Australia, “abo finals’ are re-presented. However, these specialized dlscounses are not in the position of furnishing answers to the nationalist question “What iv it to be Australian?” The ‘multiple ‘aboriginaly’ forms an_evental-site ecanse the sovercignty of Australia, the ‘immigranc nation’, was founded ‘upon the dispossession of indigenous peoples. Their relation to this particular piece of land was erueially not recognized at the very beginning of this entity termed “Australia Any representation of the content of the multiple “aboriginal With reference to what it is «0 be Australian, would thas cause the unity of the situation to dissolve ~ in a sense, it would entail the dissolution of ‘Australia’ itelf. Wis this The precariousness of historical change extends further: not only must an event occur at the eventabsite of a situation, but someone must recognize and name that event ass an event whose implications concern the mature of the ‘entre situation. Thus itis quite possible that an event occur in a sitwation but that nothing changes hecause nobody recognizes the event's importance for the situation. This initial naming of the event as an event, this decision that it 7 finite Thonght has transformational consequences for the entirety of situation, is what Badiou terms an ‘intervention’. ‘The intervention isthe frst moment of a process of fiandamental change that Badiou verms a ‘fidelity’, or a “generic truth procedure’. A generic «ruth procedure is basically a praxis ‘ansisting of a series of enguites into the situation macle by militants who act infidelity co the event. The objeet of these enquiies is work out how to transform the situation in Fine with what is revealed by the evenr’s belonging to the situation, For example, within the situation of art in the early twentieth century, certain artists launched an enquiry into the nature of sculprure once Picasso's cubist paintings had heen recognized as ‘art’. The procedure made up of such enquiries is termed a “truth procedure’ because it unfolds a new multiple: the “truth’ of the previous situation, Here Badiou draws upon — and displaces ~ Heidegger's comeeption of truth as the presentation of being, ‘The new entity is a truth inasmuch as it presents the multipl-being of the previous situation, stripped bare of any predicates, of any identity For example, take an art critic in the early twentieth century who has just recognized hat a cubist painting can, indeed, be called ‘art’. If he was called upon to make a predicative definition of the contemporary situation of art — {hat is, ifsomeone asked him ‘What is art?" he would have {ound it imponsible to respond — at hat very moment, for him, the disruptive event we now call ‘cubism’ was laying bare the situation of art as a pure multiplicity of colours, forms, materials, proper names, tijles and spaces with n fixed contours. Fat, the common aeisation that contemporary art is gratuitins, indeterminate, and as such could be “anything whatsoevee' with a label slapped on it stuck in a gallery; this very accusation actually: unknowingly stikes tupon the very nature of a new multiple: it is “anything whatsoever’ with regard to established knowledge. 2 An introduction to Alain Badivu’sphilasophy “To unclerstand how a new multiple ~ such as ‘modern att ~ can both exist and be stripped bare of any predicates suel being globally indescribable or ‘anything whatsoever") we must turn back to Badion's use of set theory: Gamer sets and processes of transformation In onder to think about process of fandamental change ti hs ontology ado had to work out how mii, tet ean new tsa ths pint tat Badon inode the eonteiee fis work what he calles genetic or See eT eee cater ical toncept based on the_mainnvative mathematical procelies, yet au intitvelygrapable. Ba takes thi oneep om the. work of Paul Gaon, an American tratimatician who ivented the "gener set 19632 “Theft pint fo work out i what the eer point could be i ony fr such nove Espey incest them catlogy appeas tobe state fat dacouse wth ni recut ofthe supposed university of the stuaions ering and “hry The retrence pint tes ato be fangngs In se teoty, ane can have mle fst teers white interpretations that sont te bare bones os She clement Dy ing vals tothe variables (uch a7 = tren aprls inthe coample use above A model of se henry Ran on language in wiih stig forms tapren cerain proper uch at gre Te model tal dary aracored muluplciy tan be Weated iol ast ote takes ss hs sari pit wha he tems round stele hey Hoke ths mene ye shea Oa histocalsuntion Th sufuet ths mel sts property which ean beexpresed inte language te in the Fel "That in cvery multiple fond i the ode! ean be scered ui he tol tage, & genere se om the 2% Infinite Thought discerned by that language. For every property that one formulates, even the most general such as “this apple and this apple and cis apple ..., the gener set has a least one clement which does not share that property. This makes sense intuitively: when someone tries to tell you about 2 new experience, whether ithe meeting a person or seeing, a work of art, they have a lot of trouble describing it accurately and, every time you try to help them by suggesting that it ‘might be a bie like the person «or the films, they say, ‘No, no, i's not like that!” For every property’ or concept you come up with to describe this new thing, there is something in that new thing which does not quite it. This is all ver well, but having a set whieh one ‘can't quite deseribe sounds a bit vague for set theory. ‘The innovation of Paul Cohen's work lay in his discovery of a method of desevibing such a multiple without betraying its indscermbiiy. But what about the proces of this new multiple coming into being? How does a generic set provide the ontologic schema of processes of radical change in politcal, sciemifc Artistic, and amorous situation’? Badiou holds that the ground model schematizes an established historical station Defore an event arrives. One can define a concept of a generic subset within such a situation but ane cannot know that it exists — precisely because itis one of those “exeresrent multiples noted above (which are not presented at the level of belonging to a situation). The generic subset is only present at the level of inclusion, and, unlike all the other subse, it cannot be known via its properties, To show that a genetic set actually exists, Cohen develops a pracednte whereby one adds it to the existing ground model as a type ff supplement, thereby forming a new set. Within this nev set, the generic multiple will exist atthe level of belonging fr in meta-ontological terms, presentation, The new supplemented set provides the ontological schema of a historical situation which has undergone wholesale change 30 Aw intaduction to Alain Basto’s philosophy Furthermore, Cohen developed a method of making finite descriptions of this new supplemented set using only the resources of the initial set. Cohen termed this procedure forcing’ and Badiou adopts it as an ontological model of the numerous practical enquiries that subjects. who act in fidelity wo an event make while they are attempting © bring about the change entailed by the event. That is, although, say, an activist working towards justice for the indigenous peoples in Australia will not know what overall shape justice will take, they will be able to prediet ecrtain of its features and some of their predictions may be verified carly on in the process of change. For example, a particular ‘experiment in public health practices in indigenous com- munities may reveal itself to be part of the movement towards justice duc to its sensitivity to issues of sell determination and cultural dllerence, For Badiow, the actual ssork hich caries out the ‘wholesale change of a historical simnation ~ in his terms, the Fidelity practised by subjects to an event — consists of such, ‘experiments finite enquiries into the nature ofthe event, using {an invented idiom to approximate what is eliscovered through such enquiries. Historically, one can understand this concept of fidelity a5 a remodelling of the Marxist concept of praxis, subtracting the latter from the encompasing unities of historical determinism, revolutionary theory aud the Barty line, What results from such subtractions is @ praxis made up ‘ofa hazardous series of bets, bets on the nature of the stration to come. Many’ of these bets will fall wide of the mark, bat those that hit the target will help construet the new situation. ‘Of course, Baddow recognizes that che numberof shapes a fidelity can take, especially in domains as different as art, politics, science and love, i infinite; and further, that a number of different fidelities may he developed in the sane situation to the same event — for example, both Pierre Boulez and John Gage developed their music infidelity to 3 Infinite Thought the event of Schoenberg's invention of the welve-tone series, butin very different disections, Yet Badiou's general claim is that in each case ofa fidelity iis a matter of the nev coming into being, and in set theory ontology the only way to Schematize that process is through Paul Cohen's concepts of the generic set and forcing, ‘Thus, however particular ~ and indeed, however precarious a decolonization process within colonialist politcal situation, at the level of the structure of its multiplicity, itis a generic set, The relation this process entertains with the established colonialist situation is not one of pure exteriority (romanticism) nor of subsumption (realism), but that of indscembility. That is none of the categories employed by colonialist discourses serve to discern its nau. Hence the indiscernibility of a generic truth procedure grounds both its singularity and its sovereignty, insofar as i is subtracted from and thus independent of any. know cenity in the situation, such as ‘parliamentary democracy “mining interests, “the proletariat’, or ‘the native But within the debates around post-colonialism, the romantics and the realist) will always have one. last objection to an argument such as olirs: that there is an ‘exception to the rule, since the categories of one colonialist discourse in particular seem to serve quite well for discerning the nature of decoloniation process, the latest categories of European philosophy, those of Alain Badiou's set theory ontology. However, this would be to mise the point entirely. Ontology does not discern the natue of any siwation, much less that of a particular fidelity. Ontology only speaks of the struts of multiplicity: it has nothing to say about the qualities or identity of any concrete situation. For Badiou suck would be the province of other discourses, practical or theoretical. This is the first guard against imperialism built into Badiou's philosophy ~ the indifference of ontology towards the eonerete 2 An introduction to Alin Badion’s philosophy The second guard lies in Badiou's refusal of any transitivity between ontology and polities, As a good materialist, he recognizes the autonomy of material processes andl argues that the names philosophy comes up Wvith to reflect particular political transformations ore not and fanavt be identical to those names that are thrown up by the tual process of transformation within a political situation, The task of philosophy is not to predict nor determine che shape of justice, or of modern art, or even the form a unified field theory might take. Philosophy’s task is to reflect and Teatn from those transformations happening in contempor ary historical situations: to the point where it develops what Badiou terms a “space of compowibility for all contemporary fideliies, The relationship betwee philosophy and polities as with art, science and love ~ is thus one of conditioning ‘or dependence. Philosophy is no longer sovereign. It is as it philosophy has finally heard that ery addresed to it for decades, a ery voiced by so many artists, scientists, activists land lovers whose activities i has deafly appropriated from fon high, the cry ‘SHUT UP AND LISTEN!” "And even if Badiou’s conception of philosophy maintains a strict separation between the practice of philosophy and the diverse practices of art, politics, science and love, it does have one practical consequence. Quite simply if you want to do politics, go become an activist, go decide what event has happened in your political situation, If vou want to do philosophy, try to think the compossiility of contemporary events in each of the four domains of art, polities, seience and love (and, of course, read all of Being and Event once it’s Dublished), Just don’e confuse the two. A nate on notes Following Badiow’s practice, we do not reference texts he ‘mentions, rusting the reaclers’ own curiosity to guide them, 38 Infinite Thought Admittedly, it isa rather abrupt gesture, It does not place thought under the sign of the demand for knowledge but simply under that of desire Notes 1. The following tts by Alain Badiow are eurrendly in pres or forthcoming: Being and Keen, trans. Oiver Feltham (Loudon Continuum Books, forthcoming’: intel Writings, wan and ed. Albeo Toscano and Ray. Brasser London Continuum Books, 2008; Hondo of Inathtcs, trans Toscan (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Pres, 2008'S Paul: The Foudation of Universal, trans. R, Brassier (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Pres, 2008); On Becket fl. and trans. Nina Power and A, Tescano with Bruno Bosecels (Manchester: Clinamen, 208); The Contre Sd trans. A. Toscana with responses by A Toscano and Slag Zizek (ParsiLondon: Seuil Verso, 2003), Badiou's sbrégé de Méapaitiqne Paris: Seuil, 1998) tanstaed by Jason Barker, is forthcoming from Verso, See also Peter Hallsard, Sujet Truth: An Teradactin to the Philsophy of Alain Badin Minneapolis University of Minnesota Pees, forthcoming) sand P. Hallward (ed), Thish Agen: Alin Hadios and the Fate af Phibsopy ‘London: Continuum Books, forthcoming), See J. Barker, Alain Badious A Critical Iratction (Lonton: Pluto Press, 2002); A. Badiou, Bihis: i» Esvey on the Crdestonding of Feil, wan, Peter Hallear (London: Verso, 2001); A. Badiou, Gilles Dreue: The Glamor of Being, trans ovise Burchill Minneapolis: Univrrsiey af Minsota Pres 2000); A. Badiow, Manifesto for Philnophy, eras. Norman Madarasz (Albany, NY: SUNY Pres, 1908) B.A. Badliow, L’Eire of Pebienent (Paris: Ftons du Seuil 1988). AIL further references will appear as page mumbers in Dackes in the body of the tent. 44 Jacques Lacan was a French psychoanalyst famous for his ao w mm An intradsction to Alain Beal's philosophy fasion of Freud, Saussurean linguistics, structualist anthro ology, French psyehiatry and mathematics into onc Continually evolving and powertil theory of the subject, Jacquet Alain Miller subsequently became Lacan's sonsin Taw, executor ofhisestate, head of one ofthe largest Lacanan schools of prychoanalyis, and one af Lacan's premict ‘Ontology isthe philosophical discourse defined by Aristotle as ‘he sienee of ing qua being. Historically thas rated sue questions as What is being?” and “Why is there something rather than nothing For a particularly dense and concentrated elaboration of Bactow’s theory ofthe subject see“ finally objectless subject inthe anthology Iho Comer After the Subj? el. Be Cada ‘London: Routledge, 1991 Jacques Derrida, “Desstanice, in Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe “Tyeaply, Miss, abies, Pip, ed. C, Fynsk (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Universty Pres, 1689), See, for instance, M. Foucault, Pouer[Aimuledge: Selected Interies and Otis Writings 1972-1077, el, C. Gondor, tr (6. Gorton eta. ‘New Vork: Pantheon, 1980), A. Bastion, Lagirs dec monder (Paris: Seuil forthcoming! Tnsofar a+ Hadioa's concept of a. generic mltple, which sakes up the stu? of his faithful subjects, delivers Figotous definition of singularity, one could argue that the clasial problem of the identity of subjects, or that of theit Alfferentiation, is indirectly treated inasmuch asthe generic rultiple is strictly diferentiated fom every predicate. See “Gener wets and processes of transformation’, pp. 20°33 “Fidelity, event and ‘situation’ are all tehnical terms of Raciou's ontology and their meaning will be explained in what follows: however, the readers intuitive sense of these ‘words can be trusted to provide an inital approximation. At this point sve should note an important complication of Bacio’ theory ofthe subject; Badiou also terms subject the % 2, irs 16, V m a Infinite Thought actual individual theorems which make up mexlern physics. Similaely in the damain of art he term “subject particular musical works rather than their composees. his shift simply "einforces hs separation between the human as an individiat animal, and the human acting as subject, chat 35.2 point of Fis, invention and decision, A. Badion, Thi d st (Paris: Soil, 1981 See Willasd V. 0, Quine, “Ontological relativity’, in Onological Relaivty and Other Bveaye (New York: Columbia University Pres, 1969 GW. Leibnie, “Letter to Amnauld April 30.1687", in Phibophical Writings, trans, J. M. Moers (London: Dent & Sons, 1934), 72 According to Badin this was alo Kane's problem in the fist rtique insofar as the latter did aot grant immediate unity fither 10 the thing itself or to the sensu manifold, yet atwempted to account forthe apparent unity of experience Sce te interview include inthis volume, We would like to thank or colleague Amin Smith for dis example ‘This axiom was introduced inorder to deal with a paradox that appeared early in the development of set theory Russells paradox emerges on the basis of sets being able be members of themselves. eis more familiar inthe paradox ofthe barbee who shaves all the men in the village who don't shave themselves: who shaves the basher? We rearn to this paradox helo Students of phiksophy may be reminded of the status of Kant's Dingsresich and of transcendental apperception inthe fist Crit. In French, Pessmblesiae, Tn Bacon's text this harmonizes at a terminological level with the Feench for “the vid of tation’: de del situation The doctrine on inconsistent multiplicity s prior, in the onder fof argument, t9 the doctrine on the void of situations se 2. 2, 2. 28. 2a. fr intruducton to Alain Badkou'sphilsoph because to accept that set theory's nullaet presents the nothing of situations, one must alzeady have accepted that ses present the being of situations. AA fits order logic consist of series ofsigas: existential and luniveral quantifiers, variables, properties and logical con- nectors: disjunction, conjunction, implicaion, negation and quivalence. Properties are never found in the position of ‘variables, that i, fist onder logic doesnot express properties ‘of properties that isthe province of seeond order loge: Soe B: Rosell, “Letter « Frege’ i J- Van Hejenoort (ed From Frege 19 Gale A Souce Book in Mathonaial Logic ‘Cambridge, MA: Hacvard University Press, 067), 124 We shold note that if this meti-ontologial translation is legitimate, the superior sie anv complexity of the poster, swith regard to its initial set, has Fundamental consequences far the classical philosophical problem of the relationship Inetween presentation and representation ‘and thas for any practice hased on the cxtque of repeesemtations, a i does forthe clascal political problem of the relation between the state an the people Due tothe exeess of incision over belonging ~ the superior sive of set's jomerset compared to ise every station has excrescent multiples Evenfalsite’ is a ncologim that has been coined in order 10 translate Badio’s se cvamentd “Eventsite is not appro- priate, Decanse it suggests that the site i defined by the fceurrence of an event, whereas in Badiou's conception, there fs no guarantee that an evene stl occur at site eénmentil the sole guarantee being that if an event does aceur in the situation i¢ ill do so at that partiewar point of the later termed the eventa-ite Thies precisely huss Badiou breaks with historical determin “The veference forthe mathematicians is P. Cohen, Set Thencr a the Cantina Hypotesis (Neve York: W.A Benga, 1966 7 Infinite Thought 29, See Meditations 3 and 35 of 1 explanation of Cohen's method 8 Féeénement forall CHAPTER 1 Philosophy and desire This philosophical investigation begins under the banner of poetry: this recalling the ancient tie betwee poetry and philosophy! Rimbaud employs a strange expressions ‘les révoltes logiques’, “logical revolts’. Philosophy is something Tike a gical revolt Philosophy’ pits thought against injustice. against the detective state ofthe world and of life. Yee it pits thought against injustice in a movement which conserves and defends argument and reason, and which ultimately proposes a new logic ‘Mallarmé states: ‘All thought begets @ thraw of the dice, Tr seems to me that this enigmatic formula also designates philosophy, because philosophy proposes to think the universal ~ that whieh is true for all thinking ~ yet it does so on the basis of a commitment in which chance always plays a role, a commitment which is also a risk or a wager, Thu four-dimensional desire of philosophy cs¢ two poetic formulas capture the desire of philosophy, for at base the desire af philosophy implies a dimension of reolt: there is no philosophy without the discontent of 9 Infinite Thought thinking in its confrontation with the world as iti. Yet the desire of philosophy also includes ogi; that is, x belietin the spower of argument and reason, Furthermore, the desire of. {Pip mele en pilesophy ats al mata shir king being since suppons ha all aman than Finally, soph thes Take Tama alae dco which supports Independent poins of view, The dire a piltsoply thar has or dino revels logs Univeral and T think shat the contemporary work our wer, the world that we sive fo think and ansform, exer Intense pressure upon thse tou dimensions of the dese of Piilcophys such that all our dimensions, feed by the tori ind themselves tn adieu and dark passage fn tehich the destiny aed even the very extene of Philosphy “To bgin with a6 far as the dimension of eylt is concern thi worlds work the Wester’ world ith thovght a revolts and or two. eatons. Fit th word alreaty dere sf fe, presents els the re wor "eis the very name at give ae sa Uberty on a pliner otherwise reduced to slavery or devasaion, Yet at the same time = and ths isthe second exon his word bur world, standardizes and commerciales the stakes of suc resto, Te submit them to monetary nifty. id with such succes that our work longer hast revel to be re since guarantees ured, weve it does nt usranice ws the ie ase otis eed since sich ue fin fealty slveady cated, olemated an! chanrledby the integer of merchandise. This hy this world exerts a intense pres agin the very sea that thinking a Our world ako exerts a strong presure on he dimension of loge esenlly because the world submited to the 0 Philosophy and desire profoundly iogical regime of communication. Communic thon transmits universe made up of disconnected images rincple incoherence, Day. afer. day communication Undoe all reations an all principles, in an untenable justaposiion that divaves every lation between the flements it seeps along in its ow. nel shat is perhaps fven more distrecing that mgs, gommunication presents the world tous asa spectacle devoid of memory, «spectacle consign to blvion the very image and remarks that have Jot heen shown and sid The loge which specially dene tere i the logic of time Tt i thee process of Commanicadon which exert prestire om the reolutenes of thinking’ ely t loge proposing to tought in theater's Dlace a type of imaginary diseaination, ‘As forthe univer dimension f the desite of philosophy, our word i longer sted to it because the world Cssenally a spectalized and fragmentary world fragmented itresponse tothe demands of the innumerable ramifetions tthe technical conigutation of thing f the apparatuses of production, ofthe dtibution of salaries, of the diversity of nctions and sil And ue requirement ofthis specaliza- tion and this faginentation make i iil to pereive what might e transversal o universal thats, what might be valid for ll thinking Finally, wehave the dimension ofrsk. Our word doc not favour ntdy commitments or rky decisions, because iis a Morld in which nobody hae the mans any more to submit their exitence to the perl of chance, Exitence require Imore and more elaborate calculation, Tie fe devoted So pe naa Feats rere wT TEETH a throw of the dice Infinite Thought The desire far philosophy thus encounters four pringipal ‘obstacles in the world, These are: the reign of merchavidise, the reign of communication, the need for technical specialization and the necessity for realistic calculations of security. How can philosophy take on this challenge? Is philosophy capable af'such a challenge? The answer must be Sought in the state of contemporary’ philosophy ‘The present state of philosophy What sre the principal global tendencies in contemporary philesophy if we consider it from a bird’s eye point of view? think it can be said that three principal orien be distinguished in philosophy: today. These orientations correspond, in some measure, to three geographical loca tions. I will frst name and then describe them. The first can be called the hermeneutic orientation, which historically ‘gors back to German romanticism, The best-known names attached to this orientation are Heidegger and Gudamer, land its historical site was originally German, ‘Then there is the analytic orientation, originating with the Vienna Circle. ‘The principal names connected to it are those of Wittgen: stein’ and Camap. Despite its Austrian origin, it now dominates English and American academic. philosophy Finally, we have what can be called the postmodern orientation, which in fact borrows from the other two. It js without doubt the most active in France, and includes thinkers as different as Jacques Derrida and Jean-Fransois Lyotard. Tt is equally very active in Spain, Maly and Latin America, A hermeneutic orientation, an analytic orientation, and 3 pestmadern orientation: there ate, of course, innumerable Intersections, mixtures and networks of circulation herween the three, but together they form the most global and descriptive geography possible of contemporary philosophy 2 Philosophy and desire ‘What then interests us is how each orientation designates or identities philosophy. The hermeneutic orientation asigns philosophy the aim ‘of deciphering the meaning of Being, the meaning of Being in-the-world, and its central concept is that of interpretation There are statements, acts, writings, and configurations whose meaning is obscure, latent, hidden or forgotten Philosophy must be provided with @ method! of incerpreta- tion that will serve to clarify this obscurity, and bring forth {rom it an authentic meaning, a meaning which would be figure of our destiny in relation to the destiny of being its! ‘The fundamental opposition for hermeneutic philosophy’ thac of the closed and the open. In what is given, in the immediate world, there is something disimulated and closeel. The aim of interpretation is «0 undo this closure land open i up to meaning. From this point of view the oration of philosophy is a “vocation devoted ta the open’ This vocation marks a combat berween the world of philosophy and the world of technique since the latter is the accomplishment of closed ibilisn, The analytic orientation holds the aim of philosophy to bbe the strict demarcation of those tiitefances whieh have meaning and those which do not. The aim is to demarcate ‘what can be said and what itis impossible or illegitimate to ray. The essential instrument of analytic philosophy’ is the logical and grammatical analysis of utterances, and ukimatcly of the entire linguage. This time the central concept is not interpretation hut the rule. The task of hilosophy is to discover those rules that ensure an agreement about meaning, The fimdamental apposition Iheve s between what can be regulated and what cannot be regulated, oF what conforms to a recognized law asuring an agreement about meaning, and what chides all explicit lass, thus falling into illusion oe discordance. For the analytic crientation, the aim of philosophy is therapeutic and 8 Infinite Thought critical, [tis « question of curing us of the illusions and the aherrations of language that divide us, by iolating what has ho meaning, aud by returning to rales which are transparent to all Finally, the postmodern orientation holds the aim of philosophy to be the deconstruction of the accepted facts of bur modernity. In particular, postmodern philosophy proposes to dissolve the great constructions ofthe nineteenth century to which we remain captive the idea of the historial subjeet, the idea of progres, the idea of revolution, the idea of humanity and the ideal of science. It aim is to show that these great constructions are-outdited, that we live in the multiple, that there ate no great epies of history. fr of thought; thae there is an irreducible plurality. of registers and languages in thought as in action; registers so diverse and heterogencouis that no great idea can totalize oF reconcile them. At base, the objective of postmodern philosophy is to deconstruct the idea of totality ~ to the extent that philosophy itself finds itself destabilized, Conse~ quently, the postmodern orientation activates what might tye called mixed practices, de-otalized practices, or impure thinking practices. It situates thought on the outskirts, in areas thal eannot be circumscribed. Tn particular, i install philosophical thought at the periphery of art, and proposes Aan untotalizable mixtnte of the conceptual method of philosophy and the sense-orientated enterprise of art The common themes of the three orientations of philosophy Do these three orientations ~ so sammacily deseribed ~ have anything in common? Does anything allow us to say tha slespite this diversity, features can be found which signal a unity of contemporary philosophy? T would suggest that there are two principal features that the disee orientations hermeneutic, analytic and postmodern, have in common, I “ Philosophy and desive is these common features which signal that the dre orientations of philosophy ate all ciniemporary, and that however different they may be, their destiny is joined: they do not simply provide one posible division of thought but rather provide three expressions of the same demands that ‘our epoch makes on philosophy. ‘The first of these features is negative, All three orienta= sions hold that we are at the end of metaphysics, chat Philosophy is no longer in a position to sustain its lacus lasicu; that is, the great figure of the metaphysical proposition. In a certain sense, these three orientations maintain that philosophy is itself situated within the end of | philosophy, or that philosophy is announcing a certain end oF tell We can immediately give three examples. Its clear that {or Heidegger the theme of the end is the central element of his thinking. For Heidegger our time is characterized by the closure of the history of metaphysics, and thus of an entire epoch going back to Plato, an entire epoch of the history of boeing and thought. This closure is first realized in the distress and dereliction of the injunetion of technology [No philesophy could be further from Heidegger's than Garnap’s. Yet Camap also announces the end of any possibility of metaphysics because, for him, metaphysics consists of nothing, more than utterances that are non: regulated and devoid of meaning. The aim of analytic therapy isto cure the metaphysical symptom: that is, to cure the patient of utterances whose analysis shows that they cannot give rise 10 assent because they are devoid of meaning. If we take Jean-Frangois Lyotard, one of his central ‘themes is what he calls the end of the great narratives’ ~ the great narratives of the revolution, of the proletariat, and of progress, Once more we have an ‘end’; the end of the great narratives being the endl of the great configurations of the 45 Lnfinite Thought subjoc and history that have been assoviated with modern mctaphysis ‘We find then a theme common to the dee orientations, which ithe theme of an end, of draveing to close of an Accomplishment. This theme can be articlated in another ways the ideal of truth aw it was. put forth by classical Philosophy has come to its end, For the hea of truth we Ist suttute the iden ofthe plurality of meanings, This Sipposton between the chascel ileal of truth and the modern theme of the pobyealence of meaning is ity ‘pinion, an essential opposition, We might say in Sdhematic, but not. inexact way, that contemporary Dhilesopby insticates che passage from a truthorientated Philosophy toa mncaning-vienated pilonophy Tn exch ofthese dee principal otentation,contemper ary philosophy puts the eategory of ruth cn tri, al with it the clasieal gure of phimophy. Thats what these dee orientations have in common on the negative side, What they have in common on the postive side ~ aml this is cruial isthe central place atcorded to the question of language. ‘The philospiy of this century has. become principally « mediation on language, nis capacities, tx Fules,"and on what it authorizes as far as thought is Concerned, ‘Thiy it clear in the very definition of the orientations 1 have been talking about the hermeneutic Grientation, in a certain sense, always consists of the interpretation of speech. act the analytic orientation Consists of the conffontation between utterances andthe rules which govern then; and the postodern orientation Dromones the idea of « multiplicity at sentences, agent fd forms of discourse in the abvence of homogeneity Language has thus hecome the great historical trance dental of our times ‘To recapitulate, contemporary philosophy has wo fundamental sxions, common to all thee orientations 6 Philosophy and dese The first is that the metaphysics of truth has become imposible. This axiom is negative. Philosophy can no longer pretend to be what it had for along time decided t be, that is, a search for truth. The second axiom is that language isthe erucial site of thought because that is where the question of meaning is at stake. Consequently, the question of meaning replaces the clasical question of truth, The fs in contemporary pibsopy My conviction is that these two axioms represent a real danger for thinking in general and for philosophy in particular. [think that their development and theit Infinitely subtle, complex and brilliant formulation, as found in contemporary philosophy, render philosophy incapable of sustaining the desire which is proper to it in the face of the pressure exerted by the contemporary world These axioms cannot give philosophy the means to sustain fis desire under the quadruple form of revolt, logic, ‘universality and tsk If philosophy is essentially a meditation on languag will not succeed in removing the obstacle that the specialization and fragmentation of the world opposes to universality. To accept the universe of language as the absolute horizon of philosophical thought in fact amounts to accepting the fragmentation and the illusion of commu- tication — for the truth of our world is that there are as many languages as there are communities, activites or kinds ‘of knowledge. [agree that there isa multiplicity of language games. This, however, forces philosophy — if i¢ wants to preserve the desire for universality — to establish itself elsewhere than within this multiplicity, so as not 40 be exclusively subordinated cit. If not, philosophy will become what in one way it mostly is, an infinite deseriprion of the multiplicity of language games, Infinite Thought Or ese, but this would be even worse, philosophy might elect one particular language, claiming that the Later isthe fonly one that can save it. We know what this leads «0, Heidegger explicitly upheld the thesis of the intrinsic philosophical value, fist of the Greek language, and then of the German language. He said: ‘Being speaks Greek.” He said that the German language was, in a way, the only Ianguage in which thought could sustain the challenge ofits destiny. And there isan ineluctable connection between this election ofa language and the political position that resulted in Heidegger's commitment to German nationalism in the criminal form given to it by Nazism. [As for analytic philosophy, st is absolutely clear that it accords a unilateral privilege to scientific language as the language in which rules are both explicit andthe most adequate to the subject of the language. This is clear in the way in which sense and non-sense are differentiated by presenting the distinction in the guise of a rule, as can be een in mathematics and scientific language in general. But this privilege is itself philosophically dangerous because it leads directly to a contempt for all sites and spaces which rebel against the configuration of scientific language. And the privilege accorded this language isolates a figure of rationality that is incluctably accompanied by disdain or Contempt or the closing of one's eyes to the fact that even today the overwhelming majority of humanity is out of reach of such a language. (On the other hand, i the category of truth is ignored, if ‘we never confront anything but the polyvalence of meaning, then philosophy will never assume the challenge that is put ‘out to it by a World subordinated 40 the merchandising of ‘money and information. ‘This world is an anarchy of more fr les regulated, more of less coded fluxes, wherein money, products and images are exchanged. If philosophy isc sustain its desire in such a world, it must propose a principle “8 Philosophy and desire of imerrupton. It must be able to propose to thought Something chat can interrupt this alles regime of Circulation, Philosophy must examine the possibilty of point of dnterruption — not because allthis must” be Interrupted ~ but because thought atleast must be able to extract itself from this creuation and take: posession of sell once again as something other than an object of Circulation, It it obvious that such a point of interruption an only be an unconditional requirement; that By some- thing which submited to thought with no other condition than eel and which s neither exchangeable nor capable of being put into circulation, That there be such a point of interruption, that there beat least_one unconditional requirement, in my opinion, condition sin ua nn on theexitence of philosophy. Inthe abwence of such a point, fal there ii the general crclation of knowledge, infor tion, merchance, money sd iages. Ta my opinion, this tincondional requirement cannot be solly supported by the proposition ofthe polyvalence uf meaning, ts needs the Feeanstraction of resemengence of the category of rth We are subjected to the media’ inconsistency of images and commentaries What can be eppowed to thi? T do not ‘hink shar anything can be oppened to it except the patient search fr atleast ome truth and perhaps several; without hich the essential illgieism of mas communication sll iimpote its temporal camival Philowophy also requires that we drow the dice against the abseron for secuity, that we interrupt the calculus of ite determined by security, But whac chance has philosophy of winning, except in the name ofa vale that would ordain this ek and give i'm minimum of cnsigeaey and weight? Here again {believe its vin to imagine that inthe absence of principe of truth, one can oppose an exiental gamble to the calculus of Mie, a gamble that could give rhe £0 something that coud be called liberty 9 Infinite Thought Given the axioms of contemporary philosophy, can the desite for philosophy be maintained in the world such as it js? Can we maintain the four dimensions of revolt, logic universality and risk against the four contemporary fbstacles: merchandise, communication, technical division and the obsesion sith security? T submit that this cannot be done within the framework of the hermeneutic, analytic or postmodern orientations of philosophy. In my opinion these orientations are too Strongly committed to the polywalence of meaning and the plurality of languages. There is something in them that goes far in reflecting the physiognomy of the world itsell They ate too compatible with our world to be able to sustain the rupture or distance that philosophy requires. Towards a new style of philosophy My positon isto break with these frameworks of thought, find another philosophical style, a style other than that of interpretation, of logical grammarian analysis, oF of polyvalence and language games ~ that is, to reditcover a foundational style, a decided style, a style inthe school of a Descartes for example Such a position can be supported by two ideas, both simple, but in my opinion both preliminary to the development of philosophy. The first idea is that language js not the absolute horizon of thought. ‘The great linguistic turn of philosophy, or the absorption of philosophy into the ‘meditation on language, must be reversed. In the Cratylus, ved with language from beginning to end. 1ys “We philosophers donot take as our point of departure words, but things.” Whatever may be the difficulty or obscurity of this statement, I am tor philoso- phy’srevivifying the idea that it does not eake as is poine of departure words, but things. Needless to say, it must be ou Philosophy and desire acknowledged that a language always constitutes what can be called the historical matter of truth and of philosophy. A language always gives what 1 would eall the clout of philosophy, is tonality, and is inflexion, All thse singular figures are propened to us by language, But T would also saintain that thi is not the csental principle of the OF thought. The priniple ‘that philosophy ance is that of its‘universal transnissibly whatever the prescription of style or colour, whatever it Connection to such of such a language. Philorphy cannot fenounce that ts addres is directed to everyone, in principle iT notin fac, and that t doesnot exclude fem this address linguistic, national, religious or racial communities. Philo sophy privileges no language, nor even the one tf written in Philosophy not enclosed within the pure formal ieal of scientife language, Its natural clement is language, but, ‘within that natural element, institutes a universal address “The soon idea is thatthe singular and irreducible role atphilowophy so establish «fixed point within dicourse, a point of interruption, a poine of discontinuity, an uncon tional point. Our world fs marked by its speed: the sped of historical change; the speed of echnical change; the speed of communications; of transmissions: and even the sped with which human. beings establish connections with one nother. ‘This speed expores us to the danger of avery reat incolcreney. Tes because thing, images a relations Sirelate 0 quicily thae we do not even have the time 10 measure the extent ofthis coherency, Speed i the mack of, inconsistency. Philosophy ‘must propose a retardation process. Domus construct a time for thought, which, in “athe face OPE injunttion (0 spe wil Gone TAMER “este | consider tts 3-stgularity of pBilosophiys thee ee prt cane dy lee re robeioas Walone cape or StabTshing the Hxed pote 31 Infinite Thought whatever it may be, whatever its name may be, which we need in order to sustain the desire of philosophy’ At hase, is a question of philosophically reconstructing, with a slowness which will insulate us ftom the speed of the ‘world, the category af truth ~ not asi it pase down tous by retaphysies, but rather as we are able to reconstitute it, taking into consideration the world as iis. It is a question of reorganizing philosophy around this reconstruction and giving it the time and space that are proper to it. This ‘supposes that philosophy will na longer be in pursuit of the world, that it will sop tying to be as rapid as the world because by’ wanting 10 be as rapid, philosophy dissolves iselE at the very heart ofits desire, no longer being in a state to maintain ity revolt, to reconstitute its logic, to know what a Universal addres is, or to take a chance and liberate existence The world questions philosophy Evidently the problem is one of knowing if, in the world asit is, thete is the slightest chance for such an enterprise «© flourish or be heard, or if what is proposed here is yet another vain invocation, ‘There is no doubt that philosophy isill. As always, the problem is knowing whether this iless is mortal or not, knowing what the diagnostic is, and knowing whether the proposed remedy is not in fact, as is ‘olten the case, exactly shat wil finish of the patient, ‘Truth, is snffering from eo illuesses. In my opinion, itis sexing fiom linguistic relativism, that is, its entanglement in the problematic of the disparity’ of iieaningy and it is also suffering from historical pessimism, including about itself. My hypothesis is that although philosophy iil, iis less ill than i¢ thinks it i, les il than ic says itis, One of the characteristics of contemporary philosophy is to elaborate page after page of its own mortal illnesses, But you know, When it isthe patient who says he is ill, there is always a 82 Philosophy and desire chance that it is atleast in part an imaginary illaess. And 1 think that this isthe case, because the world itself, despite all, the negative pressures it exerts on the desire of philosophy” the world, that is the people who live in it and think in it, this world, is asking something of philosophy. Yet philoso” phy is too morose to respond due to the mocbidity ofits own. Vision of itself Four reasons make me heliew something of philosophy. “The first reason is that we now know that there is no. chance that the human sclentes wil replace pintomphy.— ‘Tae awarancs OTs seems to me to be ally widespread sinee the human sciences have become the home of the statistical sciences, The human sciences are thereby themselves caught up in the circulation of meaning and its polyvalence, because they measure rates of eiculation. That is cheir purpose. At hase they are in the service of polls, election predictions, demographic averages, epidemiologiey rates, tastes and distastes, and all that certainly makes for interesting Iabour. But this statistical and” numerical information has nothing to do with what humanity, nor what cach absolutely singular being, is about. Everyone ‘knows that the singular is always, in the final analysis, the true centre of any decision which counts, and that all trath is first presented in the form of the absolutely singular ~ as ‘can be sen in scientific invention, artistic creation, political innovation or the encounter that comprises lave. In every plaice where, in some way, a truth is pronounced om existence, itis founded on a singularity. Averages, statistics, sociology, history, demography, or polls are not capable of teaching us what the bistory of a teuth is, Phisophy’is thus required by the world to be a philosophy of singularicy, 0 be capable of pronouncing and thinking the singular, which is precisely what the general apparatus of human sciences does not have as its vacation, That is the fist reason, sat the world is asking 33 Infinite Thought ‘The second reason is that we are witnessing the ruin of the great collective enterprises that we once imagined carried swithin themselves the seeds of emancipation and truth, We know now that there are no such great emancipatory forces, that there is neither progress, nor proletariat, nor aay such thing, We know that we are not ‘caught up by such forces and that there is no hope for us of sustaining our desire by simply incorporating ourselves into such a force, or by being a member of such a force. What docs this mean? This means that each of us, and not fonly the philosopher, knows that today, if we are confronted with the inhuman, we must make our own decision and speak in our own name. One cannot hide behind any great collective configuration, any supposed Force, any metaphysical totality which “might take a. position in one’s stead, But in order to take a position in ‘one’s own name when faced with the inhuman, a fixed point is needed for the decision. An unconditional principle is ceded to regulate both the decision and the assent, This is what everyone calls today the necessity of a return 10 ethics, But let us not be mistaken, Philosophically, the return to ethies necessitates the revwrn of an unconditional principle, There isa moment when one must be able to say thac this i right and that is wrong, in light of the evidence ‘of the principle, There eannot be an infinite regresion of ‘quibbling and calculating. There must also be utterances ‘of which it can be said they are unconditionally true, We know very well that when a position on a given question and an agreement on that position are demanded, as a last Fesort it is necessary to find position which will be tunconditionally true for everyone, Thus one cannot Say that each of us must take a position in his or her own name ‘once faced with the inhuman, without re-engaging philosophy in the dimension of truth, And this is required by the world as it i, and this is required of philosophy. ” Philosophy and desire “The tir reasons comet othe recent sof renctive ov archaic passion shat by he He of altar teligiony national ant rait pasion These ioral aervable Dirnomena have ako given bith toa demand upon Philosophy. Conftonted by shese-pasons one again Phileophy is urged to speak about where reas ls these paions are the contemporary figures irrational Shain nia thy cary with hem death aa dest Philosophy require make a pronouncement et Contemporary rationality, We know tha this atonal anno! be the repetition af asl rationalism, but ease En that we cannot de without swe do nat wane tof thinchesin pin ofetreme eer weahnes when Taced with the threat of these reactive passions, We must then forge a rational phisopiy in this ene ofthe term thatis in these that pnp ust erate, nl the Centons ote times what i has aleady resolved “The fort aman aso tha the word we le in isa Se eee ee tae vay a weld Shite within the unity of is history. West st low the global eceptance ofthe themes of iberal economy ad repreemadve democracy to divimufat the fat tht the werk the twentieth ceury a gven hi tof vent Sn agile world Is materia ideological and intellect igurdattnsaretiparate avant at largely inconsistent Ths world doer tot announce the sere fa nea developmen, nt rather a heres‘ drama’ ee ad Dara events, Take vo rere xampes, the Gulf Wa Ed the fl of bureawertc sola, Ad to these the wa hand the Rwandan Hasicns. But do no be thse events ave only the fis i long serie Philosphy is squid to enure that thought can recive ndaceept the da ofthe went witout ansety We de nox fmanenaly need. plsophy i ie sucte things "We need a philosophy open to the reducible Infinite Thought singularity f what happens, « philosophy that can he fed and ouraied by the sorprie wf she unexpected, Such a Philosophy would tien bea pilosapy af te event. This too SS requited of philosophy bythe world, by the work asi A new doctrine of the subject What is thus demanded of us by the world isa philosophy of singularity, a philosophy of contemporary rationality, and Philosophy of the event. This is a programme in isell. To accomplish this programme we must go beyond the three principal tendencies of philosophy 1 have described. We heed a more determined and more imperative philosophy, but one that is, atthe same time, more modest, more remote fiom the world and more descriptive. A philosophy which i cational intertwining of the singularity of the event and of truth philosophy open to chance, but a chance submitted to the lave of reason; philosophy maintaining uncon tional principles, unconditional but submitted to a none theological law This will allow us to propose a new doctrine ofthe subject and I think this is the essential objective. We will be able to say what a subject is in terms other than thase of Descartes, Kant or Hegel. This subject will be singular and not universal, and it will be singular because it will always be an event that constitutes the subject as a truth In view of this programme, it can be sai, i's true, thar The metaphysics of eruth is ruined and clasical rationalisn is insufficient, But in a way dhe deconstruction of metaphysics sand the contestation of rationalism are also insufficient. The ‘world needs philosophy’ to he resfounded upon the ruins of metaphysies a combined and blended with the modern criticism of metaphysis. Tam convinced, and this is the reason for my optimism, that the world needs philosophy more than philosophy 6 Philosophy and desire thinks, Philosophy is il, it might be dying, bur Tam sure that the world the world, neither a God nor a prophet, but the world) is saying to philosophy: “Get up and walk” Note 1. Translaror’s note: This paper was given in Sydney in 1998) lie original tite was “The desire of philosophy and the contemporary world’, In French, the phrase ‘le désir de philosophic’ is ambiguons as 10 the syntactic statue of philowphie™. In the objective semic of the genitive, itis Philosophy which is desired, However in the subjective sense iecam also be sid that iis philosophy which desees, or that there is a desire which «ravers philosophy. CHAPTER 2 Philosophy and truth is time 10 advance four fundamental theses on truth! Regarding the question of truth, the Heideggerean edifice leaves no other solution than chat of the poem In order to destroy this edifice and find another solution, we cannot reverse the historical process delineated by Heidegger himself, On the contrary, we must assume, against the analytic tradition, that the essence of ruth mains inaccesible if its question is enclosed in the ow form of the judgement or the proposition. Yet, at the same time, we cannot allow, Heidegger his melan- cholic vision of the logs of the unveiling, We must conceive of a truth both asthe construction of a fidelity to an event, and as the generic potency of a transformation of a domain of knowledge. All the categories by which the essence of a truth ean be Submitted 1 thought are negative: undecidabilty indiscerniility, Yhe generic notall (pas-fut), and the lunnameable. ‘Fhe ethic of truths resides entirely in the measure Caken of this negative, or in other words, in the limitations placed on the potency of ruth by the Razatds of its construction, Philasophy and truth We shall select three references fiom the Heideggersan doctrine of uth. The first In hevoming « propery ofthe proposition, not omy das ruth displace its locus, transforms its sence This must he understood as stating that the entire effect of the decline of thought, whieh is also the decline of being, i ‘manifested in the fact tha eruth is presented, afier Plato, as Tocalizable in the proposition, This localization is also a de- nnaturing, Nothing of the tvueh, in its authentic sense, remains accessible i we allow that the phenomenon of truth ‘occurs in the proposition, The context ofthe second passage is Heidegger's question concerning what,the major points of meditation must be if fone wishes 1 eaplure the distress of Europe in thought. For Heidegger, the essential events of this distress are the fight fof the gods, the destruction of the earth, the becoming social fof man and the preponderance of the mediocee, In this passage, Heidegger tells us that for such a meditation one thing is decisive: ‘The mutation uceuss through she interpretation of sisi as inelloet the later bring tindlerstood as the simple faculty to reason corrctly in thearetieal and practical comideration, ‘and asthe estimation of things alseady presented Ins clear tha prt cam ony be terete a nelle ii ttanipulier inuth n the frm of proponidon. For a proposition is effete the Hngulte phenomenon of ans presente Consequently the desnaturing of the ener of Truth, which localizes i the propodton ih, condign Of psy a he igi of Western aie The thd pasage concems what can be sal soo an acces to truth red on the form of the propane, What 39 Infinite Thought scientific or logical form of the proposition? ‘ language that i related, not to things already presented, ut co things which Ihave not yet arrived? There is no douht about the answer: sel a Tanguage can be found in the poem, Heidegger writes: 43h pocery which in aunhentic and great, an essential superiority | the spre regns ewer everything which f purely sence. A | supevirie'invireae of which the pee alsay speaks as i being Husa expres ad called pon for the fs sme "Thus, for Heidegger, i the declining destiny of being is to de-nature truth in the proposition — if the proposition, ‘commanding the interpretation of the spirit as pragmatic intellect, governs the ravage ofthe earth ~ then the only real recourse lies in the poet, In tush, the pocm is explicitly foppesed 10 the mathematical because, for Heidegger, the mathematical is nothing other than the transparen triumph ff the propesitional form of «ruth, When the proposition reigns, when the intellect reigns, then he says, “the Being of | beings becomes thinkable within the pure thought of the mathematical My entire argument will be to acknowledge shat truth remains unthinkable if we attempt to contain i within the form of the proposition, But that furthermore, conceiving, uth as a historical pracess requires neither the thess of the Platonic decline, nor the atwibution of a superiority of essence for poetry over the mathematical, o over any other type of truth procedure ‘One epoch is most certainly that ofa rupure widh all that Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe has shown tn depend onthe moti of mimesis, One of the forms of this motif, which explicitly attaches truth «imitation, is the conception of {ruth asa relation: a relation of appropriateness bewseen the intellect and the thing intellected: a relation of adequation, which always supposes, as Heidegger very well perceived that trath be localizable in the form ofa proposition, oo Philoophy and wath Modlern philosophy is a criticism of ruth as adequation, Truth is not adeguation rit intellertas. Truth is nos limited to the form of judgement. Hegel shows that truth is path Heidegger suggests that itis a historical destiny Twill stare from the following idea: a cruth is, fits ofall, something nev. What transmas, what repeats, we shal eall Anne edge. Distinguishing truth from knowledge is essential Iisa distinction that is already made in the work of Kant the distinetion between reason and understanding. 1c is a capital distinetion for Heidegger: the distinetion heeween euch ~ alstvia ~ and cognition or science ~ tec, If a truth Js something new, what is the sential philosophical problem concerning truth? It is the problem of its appearance and its "becoming’. A truth must be submitted to thought, noe as a judgement, but as a process in the real, ‘he shina you have represents the “ecoming of « wth J) one" om Undocidatie Brent ‘(nnameable Govt Evi Nomination Forcing i Laine ii Finite 61 finite Thought or he proces ofa ht ben, something ms bape, Wha hess lh Supplement is conmived to chance. TC is unprediciat, sere ic ibspond what eal ita events truth a on ara, with Aechyius, of theca Teed ike ieruption, with, Galileo, of mathematical a a ceiwntr whch hangers wile HE Mee Revetuion of 1792 Serene Re the notion of the adie ea ing the rule of etablaed knowl Ca ane i re ot fe the the so-called ve vay ae th ncaa on a a son fa gin wth Sey tra be ero tg) that tae evo has Seen place sn ne daily of the event indus the appara eons ge nue Suche subget i conciaed by a utterance in the form of a wager. This utterance is as eta te ncn lage, something ih { ta no demure, but to whi Tal See eee eg wlth anaes what fier det upon Fee eee ee ecu fs i examination, iin Yano a earurmes fea tha ech Philovpty ad trath Nothing regulates its course, ince the axioin that supports it has arbitealed outside of any rule of established knowledge ‘The procedure thus fullows a chance-diven course, a ‘cots without a concept But shat is a pure choive, a choice without a concept? Obviously, it is a choice confronted by t80 indicernble germs. Two terms ae indiscernible if no effect of language allows them (o be distinguished, But if no formula of language discerns to teri ina situation, them itis certain that the choice of verifying one term rather than the other will find no support in the objectivity of their difference Such a choiee i then an absolutely pute choice, ree from any other presupposition than that of having to choose, aud with no indication marking the proposed terms, the term whieh wil allow the verification of the consequences of the This means that the subject of a qruth demands the indiscernible, The indiscernible organizes the pure point of the Subject in the process of verification. A subject is what disappears between two indiwgrnibles. A subject is a throws ff the dice which does not abolish chance, but which Accomplishes chance through the verification of the axiom that founds it as a subject. What was decided concerning the tundecidable event must pass by this term, inliscernible tor its other. Such is the local act of a truth; it consists in a pure choice between two indiseernibles, Such an act is thus absolutely finite. For example, the work of Sophocles is a subject for the artistic truth or procedure of Greek tragedy, a truth begun by the event of Aeschylus, This work is erations th js, a pure choice in what, before i, was indiscernible, And it isa finite work. However, Tragedy itself, as an artistic truth, continues to infinity. The work of Sophocles is a fine subject of this infinite crush, In the same way, the scientific ‘truth devided by Galileo is pursued to infinity, But the laws a finite Though ot pss whic have been successively invented are finite Sibjecs ot this ru “The trajectory of & truth begins sith an undevidable event It finds is actin Bite abject conftonted by the indiscernible. The course of vesifiation of the true Lite by lie the comour of abet of the situation is tutined, in which the lets of the evental axiom ate interminable, Vette pombe estate that ie suppor ie teemination, then sacl subset wll ineuctably he ome that thu can be neither contracted nor named inthe language Such subse aze called gore subs. We shall say that 9 {ruth supposed as finished, i generic. Tn contrast ita suecesion of pure chuicesengendcred a sutget which could be wed under predication, then the Source of the truth would have to. have hoon seeredy fence by a rte indie here de si tn tact won Bae hae be ei dered Trenton an ereaton remain icalelabe So the pth of Gomequentyy the veri ters compose, a rater wil generic subset af the Univere,Indncerible i it at Sijcc a aru is generic fits reno in its being. 10 wihdeaten from any ilication by a sogle predate. For example. alter Galileo, there docs not exist loss uf unite subwet of knowledge that we could cally Whoe dvs exist am infinite and open set of laws and {periments and even if e suppose the completion of this See there isu way it could be eaprored by a single formula Of language. There is no la of physical las As sue "the Philosophy and uth what the beng of physical ath is, Inthe same wy, afer the 1762 Revolution, there were all sorts of revolutionary politics. But there is no single political farmula which totalzes these revolutionary politics. The set called “evolu tionary polities isa generic truth of the palit ‘What happens is that we can alwass anipate the idea of completed genetic Uuth. The yenenic being of tuth fs never presented. teuth is uncompletable. But what we can Know, on a formal level, is that a truth will always have taken place as a generic infinity. ‘This allows the posible fietioning of the elleets of such a wth having-take place That is, the subject can make the hypothess of « Universe where this truth, of which the subject isa local poine, will have completed its generic totalization, T call the antic- patory hypothesis the generic ring of tut, frag A forcing isthe powerfil fiction of a completed truth: Starting with such a fietion, 1 can fore new bits of knovsledge, Without even seriping this knosledye “Thus, Galileo was able to make the hypothesis that all nature can be written in mathematica language, which is the hypothesis of a comple physi. On. the basis of this anticipation, he forces his Aristotelian adversary to abandon his position. In the same way, someone in love can say, 1 will always love you, which ithe anticipating hypothesis of 2 truth of integral love. On the basi of this lspothess they force the other to come to know and taeat them illerently The consbacton ofa truth is made by a choice within the indiscernible. Its made loall. within the fie, But the poteny of truth depends-on the hypothetical forcing Tt CGnsits in sayings “ff we suppose the gonerie infinity of ‘outh to be completed, hen stich or such a bit of knowlege ust imperative be wansoemed ‘The problem is to know whether such.a. potency. of anticipation ist, ve ean force al the bits of knowledge concerned then we end up with the romani problem of Injinite Thongh alsolute love, the scientific problem of science as integral truth, and the politcal problem of coalitarianism. This pprublem can be exptessed simply: can we, from the basis of a Finite Subject ofa truth, name and fore rte knoetedge all the clements that this truth concerns? How far does the anticipating potency of generic infinity go? My answer is that there is always, i any situation, a real point that esis this potency a Teall this point the aanameablabf the situation. [eis what within the situation, never has name in the eyes of truth. A erm that consequently remains unfrceable This term fives the limit of the potency of a uth, The unnameable is what js exeluced from having a proper name, and what is alone in such exclusion. ‘The unnameable is then the proper of the proper, so singular in its singularity that it does not even tolerate having a proper name. The unnameable isthe point where the sition in its most intimate being is submitted to thought; i the pure presence that no knowledge can cireurmscribe, ‘The unnameable is something like the inexpressi everything a truth authorizes be sai. For examples the mithematical consists of pure deduc tion, We always suppose that it eantains no contradictions But Godel shewved that it isimpossble wo demonstrate, within a mathematical theory, that this very theory is nom contradictory. A mathematical truth thus cannot force the non-contradictoriness of mathematics. We will say that now contradiction is the unnaneable of the mathematical. And its clear that this unnameable is the rea! of the mathematieal: for i's mathematical theory is contradictory, itis destroyed, ‘Consequently, a reasonable ethie off mathematies isto not wish to foree this point to accept hat a mathematica truth is never complete. But this reasonable ethic is difficult to thaintain, Ascan be scen with scientim, of with totalitarian: iam, theve is always a desige for the omnipotence of the True ‘There lies the root of Evil Evil is the will © name at any priv Philosophy ae trath Usually it iy sad that Evil is les, ignorance, or deadly stupidity. The condition of Egil is much rather the process a truth, There ie Evil only insofar as there is an axiom of truth at the point of the undecidable, a path of truth atthe point of the indiscernible, an anticipation of being for the generic, and the forcing of a nomination a the point of the tunnameable Te Ifthe forcing of the unnameable exclusion is a tfster, this is because it affects the entire situation, by: pursuing singulavty itsell, whose emblem is the unameale. In this sense, the desire in fictioning t suppress the unnameable liees the destructive capacity contained in all tat. [As sucls the ethic of a truth resides entirely in a sort of ‘caution as far as its powers are concerned. The ellect of the undecidable, of the indiscernible and of the generic, or in cother words, the ellect of the event, the subject and the truth, must recognize the unnameable as a Limitation of is path, Finally, Bvil is the desire for ‘“Everything-to-besaid.’ To contain Evil, the poteney of the True must he measured What helps us is the rigorous study of the agate characters of the path of truth: the event is undecidables the suhject i inked to the indiscernible; truth ite is generie luntocalizable: and the halting point of its potency is che tunnameable. This gives us fout negative categories, The philosophical study’ of these categories is capital. Tecan be fuelled by exch and every thought event that shapes out The undecidability of an event and the suspension of is name, are both features of polities that are particulatly active today, Ibis clear fora French man or woman that the ‘events of May “68 continmte to comprise an unattested ot anonymous promise. But even the 1792 revolution oF the Bolshevik revolution of I9L7 remain partly undecided a to ‘what they prescribe for philosophy: or Inyinite Th 7 The theory of indiscerniles is in itself an entire mathematical theory, fom the Galois groups the indiscernibles in the theory of model, But we cin also say that one of the aims of contemporary poetics isto found in language a point of indiweernibiity between prose and poetry, or between image and thought. The theory of the generic is at the heart of che uleimave farms of the logic of sets, following upon Pass! Cahen’s theorem. But the madern politics of emancipation, delivered from the dialectical scheme of elases and parties, has a its stim a “generic’ democracy, «promotion of the common: place, of equality abstracted from any predicate, And ‘whole field of prose, such as Samucl Beckett's tries, by suecessive subtractions, to designate the naked esi generic humanity Finally, the tnnameable is the central motif of the thought of the political that wishes tor subsnit Naxisan thought; as i is of the poet who explores the limits of the {oree of language: as iti for the mathematician who looks for the undefinables of « strwctures asi s forthe person in love tormented by what love hears of the sexual unname- able Thus the ethie of truths, relation oF un-relation, between the construction of truth and its potency, is that by which we take the measure of what our times ave capable of, 6 well as what our times are sworth, Such is very task of philosophy. nee of a na word, Ue Note 1. This paper was given in Sydney in 1989. ts original ele was The ethie of truths: construction ata potency oe CHAPTER 3 Philosophy and politics From Plato until the present day, there is one word which crystallizes the philosopher's concern in regard to polite: {justice The question that the philosopher addresses 1 polities can he formulated as: Can there be a just polities? Or a polities which does justice wo though? ‘Our point of departure must be the following: injystice is clear, justice is obscure, Those who have undergone ijustice provide irrefutable testimony concerning the former. But who can testify for justice? Injustice has its affect sufering, revolt. Nothing, however, siguals justice: it presents itsell neither as spectacle nor as tentiment Ts our sole issue then that of saying that justice is merely the absence of injustice? Is justice nothing mone than the empty neutrality of a double negation? Ido not think so. Nor do T think that injustice isto be found on the side of the perceplible, or experience, oF the subjective, while justice is found on the side of the intelligible, or ‘reason, or the objective. Injustice is not the immediate disorder ofthat for Which justice would provide an ideal order Justice’ is a word from philosophy; at least if we leave aside s legal signtieation, which is entirely devoted co the police and the judiciary. Yet this word of Infinite Thought philosophy is uncer condidon, Tt ner the condition of the poltica, For philosophy knows that for the truths {0 ‘sich ites ifs ineapableot rendering them real inthe World, Even Mato knows that while the philosopher would probably have tobe king for thee woe juice, the very Posiblty of such royally’ existence would not depend tpi philoophy. It would depend upon polleal eieury stances; tke later remain ivedetbe We will erm june’ the name by which 9 philosophy designate the posible truth of pola! orlentation Tite vast majority of empiscal polital orientations have nothing todo with woth, We knwo this They organize repulsive mixture uf power and opinions. The subjects that animates them kethat of the eaibe and the hy. flecworal nihil and the blind conftomation of commu Slice Philosophy as wothing ta say about such pelts fo ilosophythiaks hougi alone, whereas these orenations thought. The only subjetive cement which & important 1 such orkcntations hat of ine, ‘stoceally speaking, there have been some political ovientations that have had or will have aronnection with a truth, a truth of the collecive as such, They are tae fvtempl and they are often brief, but they alone can act as 2 onion of plwophy thinking These plical quences are slgolarites they do wot trace a dating, wor do they comsruct monumental Iistory. Maloy, however, can diinguis a, common feature among then. This feacure is that from the people they engage thee ovienations require nothing, but thei trite generic humanity. In their principles of ation thes eriemations take no account of ihe. parieularity 0 interests, They tuluce a representation of the eapaciy the ‘allecive which reete Tis genes othe ticles equality 0 Philosophy and potites What docs ‘equality signify here? Equality means that x political actor is represented amder the sole sign of his or her Spevitivally human capacity. Interest is not & speciically human capacity. AIL living beings proteet their interests as gn imperative fr auvival Thecapaiy which spec human is that of thought, artemis noire Ch Tat Dy whicterhe-pactr oF a truth seizes and traverses the human animal Therefore, for a political orientation 1 be worthy of submission to philosophy under the idea ‘justice’, its unique general axiom must be: people think, people are capable of truth, When Saintefust defined public cnscionsnese before the Convention in April 17%, he was thinking of a. sivictly egalitarian recognition of the capacity for truth: “May you have a public consciousness, for all hearts are equal as to sentiments af good and bad, and this consciousness is made up of the tendency of the people towards the general gor.” During an entirely different political sequence in the Cultural Revolution in China, the same principle ean be found: for example, in Use sintern-point decision of & August 1966, “Let the masses educate themselves in this great revolutionary movement let them determine themselves the distinction between what is just and what i nor, Thus a political orientation couches upon truth provided that its founded upon the egalitarian principle of a eapacity to discern the just or the good philosophy understands both terms under the sign ofa eolletive's capacity for sruth Tis very important to note that “eptality” dos nor refer to anything objective. Is not a question ofan equality of status, of income, af funetion, and even less of the Supposedly egalitarian dynamics of contracts oF reforms. Egqualty is subjective. Ix is equality with respect to public ‘comscionsness for Saint ust, oF with respect ta political mass movement for Mao Tseng. Such equality is in no way social programme, Moreover, it has nothing to do with the n Infinite Thought social. It is a political maxim, a prescription, Political equality is not what we want ot plan, it is what we declare under fire of the event, heve and toss as what iy al no as what should he. In the same say, for philosophy, ‘justice cannot be a State programme justice” is the qualification of ‘an egalitarian political orientation in act The difficulty with most doctrines of justice is that they seck a definition of justiee and then they try to find! means for its realization, But justice, which is the philosophies name forthe egalitarian politcal maxim, cannot he defined. For equality is not an objective for action, iis an axiom of action. There is no political orientation linked to truth hich docs uot posess an alfirmation — an allirmation which has neither a guarantee nor a proof - of a universal capacity for political eruth. Here thought eannot use the scholistie method of definitions, [must ase a method which proceeds via the comprehension of axioms. “Justice is nothing other than one of the words by whiel a philosophy attempts to wiz the egalitarian axiom inherent in veritable political sequence. This axiom is given in Singular starements, characteristic of the sequence, sch as Saint-Jan’s definition of public consciousness, or Mao's Unesis on the immanent selkeducation of the revolutionary mass movement “Justice is not a concept as such, entailing a search for its more or less approximate realizations inthe empirical ‘world, Rather, once justice istonceived of as an operator of capture for egalitarian politcal orientations ~ tae politcal crientations — then it defines an elective, axiomatic, immediate subjective igure. This is whae gives al its depth, to Samuel Beckett's surprising affirmation in How Zt Is. “In any case we are within justice, ve never heard anyone say the contrary. ‘Phat is, justice - sehich captures the latent axiom of a political subject — necessarily designates not what imust be, but what is. Either the egalitarian axiom is present Philsophy and polities in political statements, or i¢ is nt, Consequently, ether we are within justice, or we are not. This also mean either the political exists, in the sense that philosophy encounters thought within it, oF it does not. But if i does, and if we relate tit imminently, then we are within justice, Any definitional and programmatic approach to justice turns it into a dimension of the action of the State. But the State has nothing to do with justice, for the State is not a subjective and axiomatic figure. The State as such is indillerent or hostile to the existence of any political forientation which touches truths, ‘The modern State aims solely at fulilling certain functions, or at. rafting consensus of opinion. Is sole subjective dimension is that of transforming economic necessity ~ that i, the objective logic of Capital -into resignation ot resentment. ‘This is why any programmatic or State definition of justice changes the latter into is contrary: justice becomes the harmonization of the interplay of interesis. But justice, which isthe theoretical name for an axiom of equality, necessarily refers to an entively disinterested subjectivity In other words, any” poles of emancipation, or any politics which imposes an egalitarian maxim isa thought in act. Thought is the specific mode by which a human animal is raversed ancl overcome by a truth. Tn such a subjectivization one goes beyond the limits of interest, such ‘hat the political process itsel becomes indifferent to interest, It thus follows, as demonstrated by all politieal sequences which concern philosophy, that the State is incapable of recognizing anything appropriate to it in such a process. The State, in its being, is_ ind: cat t0_ justice Conversely any pelical orctation whieh ja thought in act Cs pT er mbatr qqesoueroubletor the Sige THE Ran polfeal ti Sahways-tiiamifests iisel ines of trial and trouble, Tt Infinite Thought follows that justice, far from being a pomsible category of sae or social order, is wha names the principles work in rupture and disorder, Even Avistate, whose entie goal isa Fetion of political stability, declares at the beginning of Book 5. of his Palities: Whos yp vo Taow Grtobvees araaratovaty, which can be wanslated as, (Generally, it is the pursvers of equality who rise in rebellion.” However, Aistote’s conception is lla state conception: his idea of quality is empirical, objective and. definitional. The veritable philosophical statement sould rather be: Poli- tical statements bearing truth rie up in the absence of any sate or social order, ‘The hatent egalitarian snaxiny is heterogeneous to the State. Ivis thus always during wouble and disorder that the subjective imperative of equality ix armed. What the philosopher names justice” sizes the Subjective oder of a maxims, found within the ineluctable disorder to which the State of interests is exposed by that Finally, what does making a philosophical statement on justice, here and now, amount 0? First itis a matter of knowing whieh singular political orientations to call upon; that is, which ones are worth our trying to seize the thought specific to them via the resources Df the philosophic apparatin — one of shove pices is the word ‘justice’. This is noc an easy job in today’s confused and chaotic world, when Capital seems to triumph on the basis of its ‘own weaknesses and when aha ir fuses miserably with what an te. Identilyinng those rare sequences through which political ruth is constructed, without being discouraged by the propaganda of eapiraliste parliamentarian government is iuell a sustained exercise of thought. Sill more dificult i Attempting ~ within the very order of practising polities - ro be Lidhful cw some egalitarian axiom, and finding con: temporary statements of such, Pht spy and polities Second, it isa matter of philosophically: seizing. the political orientations in question, whether they be of the pastor the present, The task is then double: 1 To examine ther statements and prescriptions in order to unemer the egalitarian nucleus which, Bears tniversa signification 2, Ty transform the generic category of Sustice™ by sabsatting itt the text of singular statement, that {othe irdcible specificity of ow such satements be forth and ingeribe the egalitarian anion in ction Finally, it isa matter of showing that, dhus transformed, the cateyory of justice designates the comtemporary Figure of polcial subject furthermore, showing that iis by means of Such a figure that philosophy assures, via is own names, the inscription of what our tine is capable of in eternity “This political subject has a several names "Gitizeny fr example not i the sense of an elector a a city counillor, bat in the sense the French Revolution gives to the wor there is also! profesional revolutionary and “graseroots activi Without doubt we Bve in atime in whieh this name isin suxpenne, in atime when tht dj's name mit be fund. Tw other words, even if we have a history, with neither continuity: nor concept, of what “ose” hax ecu able. to Alesignate, we ail do not Know cleatly what ie designates today, OF course we knw in an abstract sense, because justice’ always signs the philewophieal capture of latent Syalitarian axiom. But this abstraction is useless The imperative of philowaphy isto seize the event of truths, thei esa thee precarious rajetory. [tis not the concept that philnophy rss towards eternity as the commu dimension of thought, iis rather the singular proces of @ ‘vuth, [isin elation tise epoch that pilesophy tiesto work out whether the hypothesis of the Bternal Return can Fe supported without ridicule or scandal Iafinite Thought Is the current state of politcal orientations such that philosophy: can employ the category of asic? Is there ot a ak here of confining chalk wid cheese of reproducing the wulgar pretension of governments to render justice? When we see so many ‘philosophers attempting to appropriate for themselves state schemes vith a file thought im them a8 Europe. democracy in the capitalstparliamentary se, liberty in the ses of pure opinion, or shameful nationalisms, when we se philosophy thx prestated belore the ido of the diay, then clearly some pesimnm i understandable Buc aftr all, the conditions for the exereine of philosophy have always heen tigorous. ‘The words of philosophy a always misused and tutned around when these conditions are not ubserved. There have been intense political Sequences inthe Twentieth century. "There are faithful followers of these sequences. Here or there, in as yet incomparable situations, some statements envelop, in an inflexible and onsubjugated manner, the egalitarian The collapse of the socialist Seates has itself a positive dimension, Certainly, it was a pure and simple collapmey no political orientation worthy of the name played the smallest part in it And ever since, this political vacuity has not Eeased to engender monsters. Yet thee tetris State incarnated the ultimate fition of a justice which had te Soliity ot body, of a justice which took the form of « governmental programme. What the collapse did was atest to the absurdity of such a representation, Te frees justice and ‘equality fom any Give incorporation, 1 gered thc thir being, both latle and bgt of fee rein, of thought acting ftom and in the dievtion of « collective seized by its truth, The collapse ofthe socialist States teaches us thatthe ways of egalitarian polities do not pass by State posser, but rather by an immanent subjective determina tion, an axiom of the cllectve Philosophy and pati lier all, from Plato and his unfortunate escapade in Sicily up to Heidegger's circumstantial aberrations, passing by the passive relationship between Hegel and Napoleon, and without forgetting Nictasche’s madness of pretending to split the history of the world in to”, everything shows that it is not History on a Taege seale that authorizes philosophy. It ie rather what Mallarmé called “restrained Lec us he militants of festrbined action. Let ‘as be, within, philosophy, these who eternalize the figuee of sueh action, We have too often wished hae justice would act as the foundation for the consistency of the social bond, when it ccan only name the most extreme moments of inconsistency for the elect of the egalitarian axiom is «0 undo bonds, 10 esociaie thought, and to allie the rights of the infinite fand the immortal against nitude, against heing-for-death Within the subjective dimension of the declaration of quality, nothing else is of interest save the universality of this declaration, and the active consequences to which it ives rise “Justice is the philosophical name of the inconsistency, for the State or society, of any egalitarian political orientation. Here we can fejoin the pocin in ils declarative and axiomatic vocation, for itis Paul Celan who probably gives tus the most exact image of what we must understand by justice On inconsistencies Rest reo fingers are snapping iw the abyss, a world is staying in the seratch-sheets i all depends Anfinite Thought Keep in mind he feson of the post: in maters of juste, sshete ts upon ineonsency dha we mut lean or teats is tracy as tue aa truth cae, that Hall depends on eu Note 1. This is modified version of tanation by Thelma Sowey Of "Philssophie ex politique’, which appeased in Reda! Philosphy 96 July August 1999), 29-2. CHAPTER 4 Philosophy and psychoanalysis ‘There is a psychoanalytic theury.! There is als & psycho analytic practice, called the clinic. Bue what directly concerns the philosopher is neither the theory nor the practice, What concerts the philosopher is knowing whether psychoanalysis is shining call thinking the wondialectcal or inseparable unity of 4 theory and a practice. To understand such a unity the simplest ease is that of sciences in physies there are theories, concepts and mathematical formulas and there are also technical apparatuses and experiments. But piysics as a thinking does not separate the Iwo, A text by Galileo ot Einstein circulates between concepts, mathematics and experiments, and this circulation is the movement of a ‘unique thinking. Politics is alo a thinking.. Take the great political thinkers: Robespierre, Saintsjust, Lenin, Che Guevara Mao, There yon have concepts, theory, and even some philosophy. You also have fundamental writings: directives, ‘commands and decisions. ‘These writings are designed 10 oneentrate the immanent relation becween concepts and action. Finally you have treatments of concrete situa tnd their transformations. Here again, thinking circulawes Iinite Thong boecween theoretical hypotheses, stacements and singular situations; and this thinking is a'unigue movement, » Paychoanalysis also presents itself asa thinking, In Lacan's ease, everything can be found which is also found in physics: there are fundamental theoretical concepts, stich as the Subject, the Ideal, the signifier, the Name-ol-the- Father, ete. ‘There are formalized writings such as the rmatheme for the fantasy, the formulas of sexuation or the Borromean knot. ‘There isthe clinical experience ~ the cure which has precise rules, and there is even what could he called experimental apparatuses; for example, the protocol of the pass invented by Lacan in 1967, and designed to verify the existence af an analytic act.” What then becomes interesting for the philosopher is the comparison of psychoanalysis with other thinkings, such as science and politics, OF course, as practices, they” are completely different, But that does not prevent the thivkings from having some characteristics in common. When is it that two thinkings have something in common? Te is when the movement of thinking has the same structure, That is, When, zithin the amity ofthe thinking there isthe same relation between the moment of writing and the moment of taasanuation or experienc For example, science and politics are completely different thinkings. Why? Because in the science of physies the experiment isan artificial construction which mut be rpeatabi. Mathematical writing contesponds to experiments solely when the repetition af an experiment gives the same result. ‘This identity is inseribed in a mathematical equation, In polities, however, the relationship between writing and experience is completely dillerent, A politial situation is always singular: it is never repeated. ‘Therefore political writings ~ directives or commands ~ are justified inasmach as they inseibe, not a repetition, but, on the conitrary, the _gnrepeatable, When the content of a political statement is a oo Philospy and psychoanalysis form par’ of dhnking. On this ad one ean distinguish benwcen de lita avis and patient Trae pin! Att announce an unrepeatable possibility of situation ‘ile pieian makes speeches based on the repetition of pinion, Tew pata atlas think a singulat itaton: pmlitiians co no think 7 The rel that politcal thinking i completely dive to scent thinking. Plies declares an reducible and tiepeatable possibly. Sclence writes down 4 necenity What cam be sid of psthosnalste thinking? What i certain that in poychosnalye the experience isnot Tike that of sence, Its lal experience whieh concerns Singular subject, Obaously one ca say that no subject i fuer the repetition of another, a prychoanalyte thinking the reason between theoretical writing abd the elnial ‘Stuation snot saablisied by the arial construction ofa tepetiion, One ean this sy that prychosnayde dining relembls poltical thinking more than senile dking One sign of this resemblance between payeboaTalis an pies he nay fo a collective cranization of Knowledge, ‘That ongaiation Iv necessary to Po well Rnown, as the Lact that there hve always. een Scociatons of paychoanalate, Why? Ts imple: i the tte you cam only petly your thing it 4 subjective” shit cam be repeated Selene thinking ruled bs Tepetion, What counts is the posit of repetion. But What can be done when tte is me petivon, either Infinite Thoght peuple the relation between the statements of siitinge aul the singular process. One must rally these others around a tiinking, by relerring to what does not repeat itsel An ‘organization is thus necessary, in which one ean discuss the assessment of unrepeatable esperiences, What then counts is not the posibility of repetition; it is rather the possible thinking of what does not repeat itself, Moreaver, onc must obtain the subjective agreement of tuse with vwhom_aue is nized. They must recognize that there is indeed a thinkable relation berween, on the one hand,’ your statements and writings, and on the other hand,: the singularity of the clinic, in the ease of psychoanalysis, or of action in the case of polities, But is all this enough to say that political thinking and psychoanalytic thinking really resemble each other? In both fases there are theoretical statements or principles, umn repeatable situations, and collective organizations which validate the thinking. I believe, however, that there remains a ayeat dillerence betsseen the two. In politics, thinking searches within st situation far a possibility tha the dominant stat of things doesnot allow tbe seen. For example: today, in Europe as elsewhere, the state of things is the market economy, competition, the private sector, the taste for money. [amilial comfort, parliamentary clections, ete. A genuine political thinking will attempt to Find a possibility which isnot homogeneous with this state of things. politcal thinking will say: here is a collective posiilitys perhaps itis small and local, but its rule is not that of the: dominant rule. And a political thinking will formulate this possiblity, practise i and draw all of is consequences. Political thinking always ruptures with the dominant state of things, Iu short, ie raptures with the State And obviously, in order to do such work, one must eter inde the situation, one must meet people and enter inte discussion With them; one must exit from one’s proper place. Political i Philosphy and puschoanalssis thinking demands a dislarenent,» journey which is aways dharel say, abnormal. For example, in May 68 and ae in France, when the intellectual ent av masse to workin he factories they embarked upon an. abvolcly abnormal Journey in rladon tothe State tn doing so they created the Finders for an emtrely new relation between the Statement and the situations of pie. ‘Docs the same thing happen ih poychoanalysk? Wel, the frst thing one noes that in pojchoanalya isnot the finaly who makes the journey ~ iti the anslyaand Moreover, this Jotmey ie fies "There ie a place ~ the ral consulng rooms there fea couch, and hte ate ae ne a he kop The second diderence is that one aia pays This point important because T aim convinced that all genuine tinking is fie. For example, one docs nt Cntr fn pis to eames. ae dos ngage a wits to Have a postion, power, or privilege, hone who oso are polteiany bu pola dot think, Politics {Making bas no other objective than thinking that, m0 tiher objective than the transormation of nrepeaable STtunvone "for ima thinking, there eno diinction between thay and platice. Paitcsis dinterested, exact Hike Wines Newton and instein's goal was to-neolve the ERS astane SAPS SRISE TT To aive thelr thinking the fiom ofa works and nothing tore. The goa of polities reulve pola! problems, problem that polis poses to Tall The queaton then abies of whether poyhoamalpsis disinerated, Despite everything, yeu. Frets or Lacan's fal isnot solely the chen’ curé. The goal is fe thik the Singularity of the human subjects the human. subject omfonted on the one sie with language, anv, om the ober, wth sexu Hu there Ba problem which is sill more profound Political Uinking searcves for an active posi which as Lajinite Thonght riot controlled by the State or by the blind laws of the economy. What does psychoanalytic thinking search for? What does it expect of the Subject? Does it search for an absolutely new possibility? “The Subject who comes into analysis isa suffering subject, sulering from hisor her symptom, The stakes ofthe cure are primarily that the subject no longer sulfers, or suffers Tes. Buc does this involve, as in politics, the iveation of a pessibilty? Or rather solely a diyplaement of the symplom? A true polities always situates itself in the faults or the impasses ofa situation’s structure, OF course, psychoanalysis also begins with disorders sand symptoms. But politics Searches for the most radical consequences af such disorders, and therefore works against structure: whereas it seems that psychoanalysis searches to reduce symptoms. Peychoanalysis thus works towards a “normal” functioning ol subjective 7 As such, psychoanalytic thinking aims at the Subject accommodating its veal. Whereas « political thinking airs at the exhaustion of a structure's — or a State's ability 10 ‘accommodate the point af the real worked hy: that politcal thinking. Perhaps what separates. polities ioe psyeho- analysis i this relation to the real. For psychoanalysis, he relation to the real is always finally inseribed in a structure For polities the relation to the weal is always subtracted from the State ‘But perhaps al this is simply due to a dillerence of matter What psychoanalysis aims to think ete difference ofthe sve. The major thesis of paychosmalysis is: hove i no sexual dation. Whence a negative figure which ean be transformed into scepticism. What polities aims to think is the difference between collective presentation and State representation, [ts major thysis: There is a possibility of pure. presentation Whence an affirmative figure which can be transformed inte dogmatism a Philowphy and psychoanalysis The Hest sokution would be the following: tat political thinking proteets itself from dogmatism hy listening psychnanalysis, and that psychoanalytic thinking protects Fesllfiom scepticism by'listening co polities, Afterall, this is swhae Lacan authorizes ns to do! In Sominar AX he compares the relation Lacan-Freud to the relation Lenin Mars, whereby recognizing that the comparison of two thinkings is posible, and furthermore, that they may educate one another? But where can two different thinkings encounter each ther? They can only do so in philosophy. ‘The ultimate Solution to our problem, the relation between psychon lanalysis and polities, finally depends upon a philosophical choice. ‘Can one then attempt a dircet comparison of psycho analysis and poopy The question which is formally common to both pilosoph and payehognalyet without doubt the Fusion oc uth It canbe Phased 30 flows: los docs ph touch the real Forvexampl, is November 19, Lacan dearer “Truth cam ony eoncern the reals Ts FS a phosophy and pyehoanalysis have. aways ‘MG themselves Whine tra such tha ity ocerta thereat ‘Prctoanalysis and contemporary phitsopby hae a pot ineommoa thy ont kat a Pempundcnce or adequason Fewweep thot and he thing For deguer,tuth a SERB Fe Altus vue production. Por mse tea proses which sFor Lacan, isthe depming of spel i the Other Thus rh someting eter than correct vlaonsh> Herceen thought an abet. in fet, fr Tacan and eennporaryphitsophyt thought separated om te a5 Infinite Thonght veal, Lets say that beowcen though and the real there isa Hole, an abyss a void The eth i ist of all the eflect of separation, los ofa voiding For example, for Heidegger, «ruth occurs within a structure of forgeting, The history of ruth is that of the fongetiing of being. Eor myself, a truth eotnmences by an event, hut this sevent has allways are ut ech lulsheds there sul never be any_knowledgeyol it.The event thus forms the real andl abseniCease oft truth, For Lacan, what founds truth i the. Other Imnowledge. ‘Thus he declares, on & Nay 1973: "Theresia hile there and that hole i called the Other: the Other as place where speech, through being deposited, founds truth. Philosophy’ and payehoaualysis elaborate the same. que sion: What i the thinkable relationship beeween truth and the voi? ‘The crux of the problem isthe localization of the void. Philosophy and poychoanaysis agree that uth. separations; that the real is irreducible-om, as Lacan says, tunsymbolizable; hae wut is cifetent wo koelege, and that truth dhs only occurs under condition of the void, Te cul be said that at hase every theory consists of a localization of the void which authorizes truth, ofits placement, and of the construction ofits algebra an! Topology ‘Thus for Heideauer, the void is thonght as a figute of the Open. It is that for which poetry destines tnuguage, Tt liberation from the” violet will of technlosy. which saturates and destroys our Barth, In Althusser's work there ate two theories of the void. On the one hank, «structure only fuvetions mider the condition ofan empey place. This isthe theory of the causality of lack, On the other hand philosophy" itself uses empry categories because itis A pre ct, an intersention, It traces fines of demarcation without ever knowing any object For myself the void is fist ofall the mathematical mark of Doing gua heing, the void-set. It is what sutures mathema- 86 Philos and psyhonalsss teal discourse to pure presentation, Furthermore, the oii FE inca on the ater hand, the vidi ot on the sie ofeing This T think, isa cracial point of confi, Let ws Say that philosophy localizes the void condition of eth tn the ie of beng pu ing. wile paychosmalyihocalioes the vi inthe Subject: forthe Subjects what disappears ns the zap beaseen signifier. Ie vom thn bass that Lacan tindereok the ertique. of philosophy or what he call nphilowophy. Why? For Lacan, ithe void is on the ie of being, this means that thought is a onthe side of being becance thot Mould say thac being well thinks, For Taran the fundamental asim ofall plleophy i this ea that being thinks T cite. “The supposition that cing thinks is what founds the philesphieal ceaivon rom armen one trards? For Lacan this axiom is acceptable. Thought Thus be-an effect of the Subject, and not m supposition Tr appears. that conflict i Wiesiible! The conlie concer the triangle: Subject, Truth, Real ‘The poly St this triangle diferent in philsophy and in payelwr alysis However, tis dillrence must be exams i dha Lill start with two statements by Pacan March 1978: The ideal of psychoanalysis is ‘that, on the basis of its experience, a knowledge of truth cant be constituted 15 May 1973: The core of his ceaching is that “there are some relations of being that cannot be known’. Or: OF what cannot be demonstrated, something true, however, Infinite Thought ‘There isa great dificulty here, a kind of contradiction, How can one obtain a ‘knowledge of truth’ if the content of that truth is precisely what cannot be known? How can a nowledge of the truth of the unknown exist? In psyeho- analysis, what cannot be known ends up heing the knowledge of a truth, This is clearly because what is not Known consciously is known otherwise. Ie it not, quite simply, because the unconscious thinks? But that the lunconseious thinks, oF, if you like, that “it thinks’ is this so different to the philosophical idea according to which being thinks? In the end, 1 localize the void and truth, beth philosophy and psychoanalysis need an axiom concerning hough The philosophical axiom: ‘Thought must he understand- able on the basis of being. ‘The psychoanalytic axiom: There is unconscious thought the two have in common this time is that truth is tors away from consciousness the effect of truth is thoughe ‘outside conscious and reflesive production. This also means that the void is not that of consciousness it is not Sartre's nothingness One very important consequence of this localization of the void outside consciousness isthe importance -of ‘mathematics. Why? Because mathematics is precisely the thinking whieh has nothing to do with the experiences of consciousness; it isthe thinking which has na relation to but which knots leg. and these together: it finbng faced with the In fact, the veritable apparatus for the localization of the void is mathematies, because in its transmission, it enttely empties out what separates us from the real, Betwecs.the real and mathematical form there is nothing. This is why ae Philosophy and psyehonarss Lacan writes “Mathematical formalization is out goal ideal Why? Because it alone ismatheme, that i, capable af post hat mathematics the scence of being ur being And Thus T would say ke Lacan, that atheractea formaliza- tion is compatible with ou dacourse, the philosophical discourse el ; philosophy, have common border, the ideal of the felationbetveen prychoanalss and philewophy is found ‘tty sult ae being, the real the sujet, and truth Rather Sata’ should be asked show -o_paychoamalyi and Pesophy. tachi the great constructions of mathematics and logic? Tn fact, one can construct alist of questions that the psychoanalyst and the philosopher can discuss together: hese are strange questions. For example Tote phitsophial sea of the One fake to the Fantasy othe Woman? Tr ihe jet cause of desire valved jn the crtcal txamination ofthe Lt of th? Tari main obsack to the death of Go (as Ni moreover though to be fod on the side of fein Cont tere hea phlesophical sinking of he Becoming analyst o fhe pase Tether Iie sujet? fhust tart rom mathernaties This, to conclde, vould 0 Infinite Thomght psychoanalysis and philosophy can enter into discussion is the desire of the matheme, 11 is quite a rare desire! This is why the discussion is also quite rare Notes 1. This paper wae given in Melbourne i 1990 a che Australian Centre uf Paschosalysis, Lt was originally published in an cuter version ofthe same canslation inthe Centre's journal fra 9 (2000 2. ‘Translators note fa Brene, the word epson siguifes bor experiment and experience. This double sgaifation should be kept it mind when ether of the ro English words occur 8. J. bacan, Seni XN Bncne (Paris: Balins du Soul, 1989) All translations oma Racoe hy Oliver Feltham unos note % HAPTER 5 Philosophy and art Every philosophical enterprise turns hack towards its temporal conditions in order to treat their compossiliey at & conceptual level.” This turning back is clearly discernible in Heidegger's work, in four different modes, ‘The support taken from the intimate ek-stasis of im liom alfect, from experience as filtered by the care of a question which directs its metamorphosis, This is the cexistential-ontologieal analysis of Sein nd ri, 2 Nationalsocialist polities, practised by Heidegger in a militant fashion as the German occurrence of resolute decision and of thought’s engagement against the nibilist, reign of technique, an engagement anchored in the categories of work, soil, community, and the appropriae tion of the site 3. The hermeneutic and historial re-evaluation of the history of philosophy thought as the destiny of being in its coupling to the gas, Such are the brilliant analyses of Kant and Hegel of Niewsche and Leibniz, and then the lessons taken from the Greeks, singularly from the pre- Socrates, oF finite Thought 4. The great German poems, seized from 1935 on, via the course on Halderlin, as privileged interlocutor for the thinker his fourth support still survives today despite everything that managed to alleet the three others, Tis audience it France, including the poets, from René Char 0 Michel Deguy, i the strongest remaining validacion of Heideguer's success in philosophically fowking an unnoticed point of thought detained in poetic: language. Tt is. therefore indispensable, for whoever wishes to go bevond Heidegger's philosophical power, to reconsider the couple formed, in this Dhilosophs’s terms, by the saying of dhe poets and the thought of the thinker. The reformulation of that whieh Doth joins together and separates the poem and philosophi= cal discursivity is an imperative which, thanks to Heidegger ‘ve are obliged eo submit ourselves to) whatever the avatars ft his ‘allair’ may be Lee us hegin by recalling that, for Heidegger, there isa original distinction between the two terms. Im the pre Socratic sending of thought, which is also the destinal sending of being, the logos is poetic as such, 1 is the poem That takes wate of though as we see inthe Poem of Parmenidles, or inthe sentences of Heraclitus, Tis by a kind of axiomatic contestation of this point that 1 ssish to begin the reconstruction of an ote relation, oF nom relation, hetween poetry and philosophy: When Parmenides places his poem under the invocation of the Goddess, and begins with the image of an initiatory ccavaleadle, F think dhat i is necessary Co maimtain that this not, that this ie not yef philosophy. For every: truth that accepts its dependence in earl to uatrative aid revelation is still detained in mystery: philosophy esists solely through its desire 10 tear the latter's veil The pwetic form, with Parmenides, is essential; i covers ” Philos and ar with its authority the maintenance of iscoune inthe proximity of the sacred. However, philosophy can only begin by « desacralization: it institutes & regime of disconse which is ite own earthly legitimacion, Philosophy requites that the profowu utterance’s authority be interrupted by argumentative secularization. Moreover iti at this very point hat Parmenides provides 4 sort of pre-commencement of philosophy’ in regard to the question of non-being, he skewhes & reasoning by the absurd. ‘This latent recourse to an autonomous rile af consistency is an interruption, within the poem, of the collusion organized by the poem berween woth and the saered authority of the image oF story It is essential to see that the Support for sul an interruption can only be of the order of the matheme, if fone understands by this the discursive singularities of mathematics. Apagogie reasoning is without doubt. the most significant matrix of an argumentation that does not sustain itsel? on the basis of anything other than the imperative of consistency, and which turns out 0 be incompatible with any legjtimacion by narrative, or by the initiated status of the subject of the enunciation, Here, the matheme is that which, by causing the Speaker (© disappear, by removing any mysterious validation from its site, exposes argumentation to the test of ts autonomy ad thus to the eridcal or dialogic examination of is pertinence Philosophy began in Greece because there alone the ‘matheme allowed an interruption of the sacral exercise of validation hy narrative (the mytheme, as Tacoue-Labarthe would say). Parmenides names the pre-moment — sill internal to the sacred narrative and its poetic capeure — of {his interruption, It is well known that Plato named thie interruption himself, pushing reflection wa point of systematie suspicion towards anything reminiscent of the poem, Plato proposes a 98 Infinite Thought complete analysis of the gesture of interruption that constitutes the pasibility of philosophy BGacepte ke tegitimation wtthomt Idea, it must be ‘eh, Daned Irom the space in whith philsopy> Tape ace Book X of The Republi, ut it sa question Trine \eny estowe of philosophy, and not solely of is sie Te apport that mathematics furnishes for dhe desacr Teton br depoedzation of dhe tt must esplcty autionedspedagosically sia the creial place given to Siuhmetie and geometry i polideal education. and logically via tei ineligible dignity which proses Ghatechamber tothe sianate deployment of the diate For Avisole —as ite a poet ass posible in is vechnique Shespesion (Pav, on theater ha, ara he recguizest BP Rey moment sensible. to the charm of what he Sheds the Poem eno Tongee anything but a parser Ghee propesed to the dispositions of Knowledges at the Se! morenner, that mathemates Gnd ive having Sit'the ateibutes af tologial dighity accorded to i bs Ma etre. Doves reponal pine ilowphieal actity. With Arse the foundational Mitel finished, and philowoph, stabilized in. the setneeton of part, no fonger turns back dramatically Thus from the Greek ona, ruil iin of th bunt Beech poon and pithy have been encountered and named 1 ‘The fist, which we will call Parmenidian, organizes « {fusion between the subjective authority of the pocm and on Philosophy and art lidity of statements held as philosophical, Even ‘mathematical’ interruptions. figure under this fasion, they ate definitively subordinated eo the sacrad aura of utterance, to. its “profound” value, to its ‘nunciative legitimacy. ‘The image, language’s equiva cations, and metaphor escort and authorize the saying of the Tre, Authenticity resides in the flesh of language, The second, which we will call Platonie, onganizes a distance between the poem and philosophy. The Former is held to be separate as an undermining fascination, as a seduction which is diagonal to the Tru; the latter must sallow that what it deals with eau be dealt with by portry, in ils place, The ellort of uprooting from the prestige of poetic ‘metaphor is such that support is Fequired, support taken from what, in language, is foppased to poetic metaphor: the literal univocity. of ‘mathematics, Philosophy can only establish ivelf in the game of contrasts between the poem and the matheme, Doth its primordial conditions {the poem, whose authority it must interrupt, and che matheme, whose dignity it must promote). We can ako say that the Platonic relation to the poem isa relation (negative) of contin, whieh implies ‘ther conditions {the matheme, polities, love) 3. The third, which we will call Aristotelian, organizes the inclusion of the knowledge of the pocrn within philosophy, itselt representable as Knowledge of knowledges, The poem is no longer thought in terms of the drama of is Alstance or its intimate proximity; itis grasped with che falegory of the object, within. what, in being defined and reflected as such, delimits a regional discipline within philosophy. ‘This regionality of the poem founds what teil be Aesthetics. when We ean also say: the three posible relations of hilosophy {as thought) to the poem ate identifying vical, a 95 Infinite Thonglt dlistawce ane aesthetic eegionatty. In the first case, philosophy wants the poem inv the second, i excludes itz and in the third, it categorizes it Tw regard to this triple disposition, what is the essence of the process of Heideggerean thought? Tecan be schematized as having three components: 1 Heidegger has quite legitimately reestablished the fuonomous function ofthe though of the poem Or tore preity, he ha sought to determine the place ~ place hell withdrawn, or undetectable ~ trom whieh dhe Enmumunity of destiny between the conceptions of the thinker and the saying ofthe poet can be perceived. Tt ould be sid that ths skerch aa community of destiny iovimarily opposed to the third wpe of relation, that felch is subsumed by anaesthetics of inchsion Heidegger has subtracted the poran from plilessphical Inmuedgr to render it to tadk. By doing so, he has founded areal crique of all sesthein, of ay regional philosophical determination of the poet. This foundation is etablhed axa pertinent ait of moder 2 Hexdegger show the ini of that iltminates sly the separation othe prety plilowpphieal arganknt, In Some sharp and dsticlive Salers, he has cabled that, over Tong. period fom Hokderin onward, the poem acl i eay_ sith Bilosophy with regard to exenal ems, penpals Recaue fr this ene perio pilowphy I captive ether A the sciences positviams) or of polities (Sarsins Plilosophy stir eaptve jase a we hve sid that in Harmen cl Capi he pres Wd fxitonce, ofa alent game to establish its oe la. roped calling this period the ‘age of pet * Leeus say ation of condition % Philosoply and art that investing this age with novel philosophical mess, Heidegger showed that it was tt always possible, nr just, to establish distance om the pocm via the Platonic procedure of banishment, Philosophy is soinetimes ‘obliged to expose itself to the pocin in a more perilous fashion: it must think for its own account ofthe operatioas Ihy which the poem sets dace with a trath of Time (far the considered petiod, the principal truth poctieally put to work isthe destitution ofthe category of abjectivity as riecesary farm of ontologieal presentation whence the poetically crucial character of the theme of Presence ‘even, for example with Mallarmé, in its inverted fons isolation, oF Subtraction Unfortunately, within his historial »semblage, and mote particularly in his evaluation of the Greek origin of philosophy, Heidegger could not ~ for wan of validating the ise originary character of the recourse to. the imatheme ~ but rege on the judgement of interruption, and resiore, under various and subile philosophical the sacral authority of the poetic utterance, aad that the authentic Ties in the flesh of language There isa profound unity between, on the one han, the recourse t© Parmenides and Heraclitus consideted as delimiting site of pre-forgerting and the coming-forth of Being, and, on the other hand, the heavy and Fallacious recourse to the sacred in the mest contestable ‘of the analyses of poems, especially the analyses of Trakl ‘The Heideggerean misunderstanding of the tne natuce of the Platonic gesture, at its core the misunderstanding of the mathematical sense of the Idea (which is precisely what, de-naturalizing it, exposes it to the withdrawal of| Being), entails thae instead of inveuting a fant elation Ietween the philosopher and poem, neither fasional, nar distanced, nor aesthetic, Heidegger emprily prophesies a Infinite Thought reactivation of the Sacred in an indecipherable coupling fof the saying of poets and the thinking of thinkers. We will retain from Heidegger the devaluation of all philosophical aestheties and the critical imitation of the ects of the Platonic procedure of exchision, We will ‘contest, on the other han, that itis again necessary, under conditions that would be those of the end of philosophy, to suture this end to the poem's authority without argument Philosophy continues, inasmuch as positivisms are ex hhausted and Marxisms eviseerated, but also inasmuch as poetry fiselh, in its contemporary force, enjoins us to discharge it from every identitving rivalry with philosophy, land to undo it from the false couple of the saying of the poet and the chinking of the philosopher. For this couple of saying and thinking forgewul of the ontological subtrac tion inaugurally inscribed by the matheme ~ isin Fact that farmed by the sermon of the end of philosophy’ and the romantic myth of authenticity That philosophy’ continues liberates the poem, the poem 1s a singular operation of truth, What would be the poem after Heidegger, the poem after the aye of poets, the post romantic poem? The poets will tell us, they have already told a, because to desiture philosophy and poetry, to leave Heidegger hehind without rewrning to aestheties, is also 10 think otherwise thar from which the poem proceeds thinking it in its operating distance, and not in its my “Two indications alone: 1 When Mallarmé writes: “The moment of the Notion of an object is therefore the moment of the reflection of its pure present in itself of its present purity’, what programme does he sketch for the poem, iFit is attached to the frodwtion of the Notion? Ir will be a question of determining by which operations internal to language fone can make a “present purity” ari that is, the om Philosophy and or separation, the isolation, the coldness of that whieh is ‘only present insofar as it no longer has any presentable relation to reality. One could maintain that poctey é the thought of the presence of the present, And rh itis precisely because of this that it ie aot in rivalry with Philosophy, which has as its stake the compensibility of Time, and not pure presence. Only the poem accumu lates the means of thinking outside-place, or beyond all place, ‘on some vacant and superior surface’, what of the present does not let itself be reduced to is reality, but sumnmons the eternity of its presence: ‘A Constellation, icy with forgetting and desuetude.’ Presence that, far from contradicting the macheme, ass implies “the unique ‘number that cannot be another When Gelan tell us, Worficheibe, mit Vorgesichten besterat, wirl dich aus dir hinaus. which can be translated as, Castie, with Foresoeings bestarred, cast yourself fut your outside. what is the intimacy of this intimation? 1b ean be understood in the fallowsing manner: when the situation is saturated by its own norm, when the calculation of itsll is insered there without respite, when there is no longer a void between knowledge and prediction, then ‘one must be poticaly ready forthe outside-oFself. For the hhomination ofan event — in the sense in which I speak of it, that is, an undecidable supplementation shich must be named to occur fora being-aithtul, thus for 4 uth w Ingisite ‘Thowght Jhis nomsinacion is alwys poetic. ‘Lo name a supplement a chance, an incalculable, one must draw from the voc ‘of seme, in default of established signifcations, 10 the peril of language. One must theretore poetiize, and sve poetic name of the event is what rows us ouside of ‘ourselves, through the flaming ring of prelievions. The poem freee from philosophical poetivizing; «ndonbs cdl ie will have aways beew these two thoughts, these donations: the presence of the present in the iransfigion of realities, the name of the event in the leap outside callable Nonetheless, we can an we must, we philosophers, leave te the poets the care ofthe future of poetry beyond all that the hermeneutic cancern of the philosopher presed upon i Our singular task is rather to rethink, (rom the point of philosophy, its Haison or its un-laison with the poem, in terms that can be neither those of the Platonic banishment, nor those of the Heideggerean suture, nor even those of the classificatory cage of an Aristotle of a Hegel. What is it which, in the act of philosophy as in its style of thought. is found fiom the very origin under the condition of the poet: atthe same time as under that of the matheme, of politics fr love? Such is our question, The moderns, even more so, the postmoderns, have willingly exposed the wound which would be inflicted upon philosophy’ by the unique mode in which poetry, literature art in general, hear witness « our modernity. There will always have heen a challenge laid dossn by art to. the concept, and it is on the bass of this challenge, this wound, that it is nevessary to interpret the Platonic gesture which can only establish the royalty of the philosopher by inshing the poets To my mind, there is nothing in such a gesture that is specific to pociry oF literature. Plato ako has to hold 00 Philosophy and act philosophical love, philowyphia, at a distance fiom real love gripped in the malaise of a desive far an object, He also has to hold real politics ata distance, that of Athenian democracy, in order to fashion the philosophical concept of poli. He ‘must equally affirm the distance ane the supremacy of dhe dialectic in regard to mathematical dima, Poem, matheme, politics and Jove at once condition and insult philosophy Gondition and insult that’s the way itis Philosophy wants to and must establish ite at this subtractive point where language vonscerates itself to thought without the prestige and the mimetic incitements fof the image, fiction or narrative: where the principle of amorous intensity unbinds itself Irom the alterity of the ‘object and sustains itself from the law of the Same; where the illumination of the Principle pacifies the blind violence that mathematics assames in its axioms and its hypatheses; ‘where, finaly, he collective is represented in its symbol, and not in the excessive real of political situations Philosophy is under the conditions of ar, science, politics and love, but it is always damaged, wounded, serrated by the evental and singular character of these conditions Nothing of this contingent accurrence pleases it, Why? To explain this displeasure of philosophy with regard to the real ofits conditions presumes that one sets at the heart ofits disposition the following, that truth is distinet from sense. philosophy had only to interpret igs conditions, i its Aestiny was hermeneutic, it would be pleased to turn ack towards these conditions, and to interminably say: such is the sense af what happens in the poetic work, the ‘mathematical theorem, the amorous encounter, the political revolution. Philosophy would be the tranquil aggregate of an aestheties. an epistemology, an erotology anda polities sociology. Thit is very old temptation, which, when ont cedes to it, clasifies philosophy if a section of what Lacan calls the discourse of the University io Infinite Thought But “philosophy” begins when this aggregate turns out ts he inconsistent, when itis no longer question of interpreting the’ real procedures where truth lis, but of founding 2 unique place in whieh, wnder the contemporary conditions of these procedures, it may be stated how aud why a cruth is not a sense, being rather a fale in sense. This how” and this *why’, fonnders of a phace of thought under conditions, are only’ practicable in the displeasure of a refusal of donation and af hermeneutics. They require the primordial defeetion of the donation of sense, absense, abnegation in regard to sense. Or rather, indecency. They require that truth procedures be subtracted from the evental singularity that weaves them in the real, and that knots them to sense in the mode of traversing the latter, of hollowing it out, They thus require that truth procedures he disengaged from their subjective escort, including the pleasure of the object delivered there As such philosophy will: Envisage love according to the truth alone that weaves itself upon the Two of sexwation, aad upon the Two quite simply. But without the tension of pleasure displeasure that sustains itself from the object of love Envisage polities as truth of the infinity: of collective situations, as a treatment i trath of this infinity, but without the enthusiasm and the sublimity of thes tuations chemselves, Envisage mathematies as truth of mulsiple-being in and by the lever, the power of literaliation, but without the intellectual heatitude of the resolved problem, Envisage finally the poem as truth of sensible presence deposited in rhythm and image, but without the corporeal captation hy this rhythm and this image, What causes the constitutive displeasure of philosophy with regard to its conditions, with the yen as with theaters, is we Philosoply and ar having ( dipose, along with sense, whatever jowissance fenjoyment) is determined there, at the very point where a truth occurs as le it the knowledges that make sense Being more particularly a question of the literary act, whose kerncl is the poem what isthe forever offended and recalcitrant procedure of this deposition? The relation is all the more narrow since philosophy isan fect of language. The literary is specified for philosophy as fiction, as comparison, image oF ehythm, smd as narrative “The deprsition takes here the figure of a placement Certainly, philosophy uses fietive incarnations in che texture of its exposition; hence the characters of Phat's dialogues, and the staging of their encounters, or the conversation of a Christian philosopher and an improbable Chinese philosopher with Malebranche,? Or the at once epic and novelist singularity of Nietsche's Zarathustra, kept so much in the fiction of character that Heidegger is ble 10 ask, in a text which is perhaps a little too hermeneutic: Who is Nictasche’s Zarathustra?” Philosophy uses image, comparison and chythm. ‘The image ofthe sun serves to expose to the day of presence that there is something essentially zitdaam in the Idea of the Good, And who doesn't know the marvellous paragraph 67 of Leibmie's Mfonadnfgy, filled with cadences. and. allicers tions: ‘each portion of matter may be conceived as a garden fall of plants, an! like & pond full of tsh, Bur each branch of the plant, each member of che animal, each drop of ts Tumours is again such a garden or such 3 pond’? Finally, philosophy uses the narrative, the fable and the parable. The myth of Er closes Plato's Republic. Hegel's Philosophy of History isin many respects the monumental harrative and recitation of those great subjective entities that are named the Orient, Greece, or Rome. And Zavathustea, dying, holds the earth embraced. Nonetheless, these accurrences of the licerary as sucl are Infinite Thought placed under the jurisdiction ofa principle of thought that they do not constitute, They are feaized in points at which in otdler to complete che establishment of the place in whieh why and how a truth hollows sense ancl escapes interpreta tion is stated ~ one must previsely, through a paradox of exposition, propose a fable, an image or @ fiction w interpretation itsell Philosophy thas subtracted from the truth procedures thar condition it all ao of sense, all embling and all pathos, to seize tash’s proving of ibslf a6 such, But there is & moment where it falls on the radical underside ofall sense, the void of all posible presentation, the hollowing of truth as a hole ‘without borders, This moment is that in which the void ah sense ~ such as philosophy ineluctably encounters them at the point of truth’s proving of itself ~ must he themselves presented and transmitted TThe poem ocears in philosophy: whew te latter in is will (© universal address, in its voration to make the place that it terevts inhabited by all, falls under the imperative of having {© propose fo sense and to interpretation the Latent void that sutures all ruth to the being of that of whieh it is truth, This presentation of the unpresentable void requites the deploy- ment within Language of the latter's literary resomrces; but under the condition that it wecur at this very pointy thus under the general jurisdiction of an entiely diflerent syle, that of argumentation, of conceptual liaison, oF of the Idea, The poem occurs in philosophy a! war of spots, and is localization is never ruled by a poetic of literaty principle. Ic depends on the moment at which the argument places the Uunpresentable, and where, by a torsion prescribed by the argument, the nudity of the operations of the true is only Uvansmissible by a return, shvays immoderate, (0. the pleasure of sense, which is alwys ase a_pleasute of the senses. The literary in philosophy ithe diverted transmis sion, the vectoring, through an efleet of sense, of the wi Phils nd art following: the relation of a truth th senw is a defective or void relation. U1 is this defeccion that exposes philosophy to the imperative ofa localized fiction, Uhe moment at hich the argumentation fails imitates, amid the power of the argument itself, this, that truth causes the failiee of nosed. Te is hardly astonishing that in these conditions the greatest known philesophical poem is that of an author tar whom the Void as such is the original principle for anv intransigent macerialism, Evidently Lucretin is the philoso= per in question. For Lucretius, all truth establishes itself fiom # combination of marks, from a rain of letters atoms, im the pure unpresentable that isthe void. This philosophy is particularly subtracted fron sense, particularly disappoint ing for the jousunne of interpretation. Moreover, it eannot he incorporated into the Heideggervan schema of metaphysics. Nothing in tis ontotheolagical; cheve is no suprense heine for Lucretius, the heaven is void, the gods are indillerent, Is it pot remarkable thatthe only thinker who is also an immense port be precisely the one” who causes the Heideggerean historical assemblage to default, the one who takes the history of being through a disseminated snultiplicity foreign to everything that Heidegucr tells us of metaphysies since Plato? Tsit not symptomatic that this singular Fsion of poem and philosophy, unique i history, be precisely that which is centiely foreign co the schema through swhich Heidegger thinks the cortelation of the poor and thought? Never theless, it is this materialist, newter thought, entirely orientated towards the deposition of the imaginary, hostile toany tnanalysed effect of presence, which requires, in order to expose itself, the prestige of the poem. Lacretins sustains philosophy by the poem all dhe way through, lor the very reason that apparently ought to engage him in a banishment of the Platonic type, Because his only principle is material dissemination. Because it 105 Infinite Thought exposes as place far the proving of the true the most radical e-fection of sacred bonds, At the beginning of Book 4 of De ream natura, which one should translate by “OF he teal of being-rmultiple’ Lucretis fundertakes, against Plato ifyou Tike, t0 legitimare the poets iis the eapository imperative of his philosophy. What are his arguments? There are principally three. First, the book treats, Lucretius says, of an “obscure thing. And he presentation of this obscurity of being requires Hight in and by language te luminous verses of the poem: “obscura de e tam lucida pango casmind ‘Next, Lucretius sets himself to disengage spirit (tony the tight bonds of teligion. In order to operate this unbindins, this subtraction ftom the sense chat religion continually pours out, what is necessary isa force of saying, a prestige ich as lavished upon us by the graces of the Muse Finally. the bare truth, anterior t0 the occupation ofits place, essentially appears sad. The philosophical place, the place of the occurrence, oF the proving ground of the true fehen seen from a distance, is, for most people, melancholic TThis deposition of pleasure must be sustained by a super: rnumeraty and lateral pleasure, that lavished by the finery Lucretius says, of ‘sweet poetic honey” ‘Thus the poem, this time, reopens the entire philosoph cal exposition, the entire philosophical address to the universal eecupation ofits site, It does this under the triple injunction of the melancholy of truths seen from a distance, tr, says Lucretius, ‘not yet practised”; af the unbinding, of Subtraction of sense, that obliterates religions and finaly of the abscure, whose heart is the unpresentable void, that ‘occurs within transmission via the razing light of its glorious linguistic body However, that which, in these injunctions, strictly main taing the gap between philosophy and poetry remains. Because language fa ange} and the charm of verse are only 106; Phlovply and ar there in the position of supplement, They escort the will ofthe transmission. They: ane thus still and always. localized, prescribed. The teal law ofthe discourse remains constructive and rational argument, such as Luctetias receives Iron Epicurus. Luevetias explains why he has recourse tothe por itis almost an excuse, and its referent is he to whom fone addreses oneself, who must be persded that the sadness of the rue seen from a distance changes into the jay af being when seen close up. When it iva question of Epicurus, what is requited is no longer legitimation, but pure ancl simple praise. The poem must be excused the be praised. ‘The gap remains, esential argument must This is because the poem exposes itell as imperative in language, and, in doing so, produces truths. Philosophy docs not produce any. It supposes and subtractively distributes them according to their proper regime of separation from sense. Philosophy only summons the poem for itself at the point at which this separation must expose what the argument, which frames and borders it, eam only sustain by returning to what made it posible: the ellective Singularity of a truth procedure, singularity that is in the bathing pool, in the winding sheet, in the source of sense The poem is summoned by philosophy when the latter rust alio say, in Lucretius’ expression: “T voyage through tunvisited places in the domain of the Pierides, never before trodden, [love to go and draw water frm vi The pon male the moment of he cpry page i which le argusent proceeds, proceeded, wil proceed. Thi vid this empty. page, i not "all i thinkable. Te i, om the means of saving, i phulosophy, that at Fest one ath, tleewhere, but realy tit and drawing from tht recog thon, agate the melancholy of howe eho regard ran a, the mut joy comequences Ww? Infinite Thooght Notes ‘ranlators note: "This chapter was published a6 Lae Reeours piilsophique am pwme’, it A. Badion, Conditions Paris Seni, 1992), 95-107, “Compass” aterm dea fom Leibniz, meaning common or shared possblity 1 proposed te catogory lan “age of poet’ fr the fst sme in mig Manife for Phitapty (New York: SUNY Pres 1999) “The obvinus reference heee i Deleuze and Guatar's biliant analysis of che “cmceptual character” in What ix Plilosph, trans G. Burchell and H. Tambinwn (London: Verso, 1998) pontine to the current eva. However, the distance shuld he remathed Li mty conception, philosophical taearality Alsignates the fllowing: the esence of philosophy (the seieite in Truth) isan act. For Delewse and Guattai, as vay everything is referred to movement andl description the conceptual character iy the nomad on the plane of CHAPTER 6 Philosophy and cinema 1 On the notion af the situation of enema’ There is no ‘objective’ simation of cinema, That is, the situation of cinema — of, the current conjuncture of his, artistic procedure cannot be situated “in itself, "What is happening’ ‘the films which are released) does not produce fon ity awn, any sort of intelligibility, There arc general reasons behind this lack, but there are also reason linked t0 the singularity of the cinematographic procedure (a) General reasons ‘The relation of thought to the current moment in artis one ofa localized prescription and nota description. Everything depends upon the point at which one is subjectively situated, and upon the axioms which are used so support judgements. ‘The point at which we choos to siaaate ourselves is called L'Ast du Cinna, which claims a Toon! status quite different to that of a simple reviews: a group of ‘thought, possesing an orientation and particular protocols for enquiry." Tt possesses two foundational axioms, drawn from Denis Levy's work: Jos Infinite Thought 1 Gincma is eapsable being: an at, in the precise sense in sshich one ean identify, among the undividedness of forms and subjeets, enemas This ast hs nen traversed by a major rupture, between its ideatificatory, representative and humanist ("Holly \wondian") vocation and a modernity which i distanced, involving the spectator in an entirely different manner Phe “current siwation of cinema’ (or conjuncture} ean then be called the legibility ofan indistinet real (films whieh are made’ on the basis of (wo axioms. One can then produce derived propositions, or propositions of the situation. These propositions identify the situation, not ‘objectively’, but on the asic of engagements concerning something which his recognizable artistic autonomy. ‘This is a litte like parliamentary politic, ina given situation, only. being identifiable on the basis of Uwe statements of the Organisation politique? In achat follows whar must note forgorten is that it isthe films of Oliveira, of Kiarostami, of Straub, of the early Wenders, of a certain Pollet, of some Godards, ete, which prescribe the conjuneture, or which provide them derived judgements, They are what allow us to idently everything in the situation which is relatively progressive From the standpoint of art, even when this progressivism ‘occurs within frameworks or references forcign To what L'sst ‘iy Cinéna terms modemity. They also provide the macasure fof the new, precisely because they were the nev, The new ‘does not enter into a dialectic with the old, but rather with the old nevs, of the new of the preceding sequence (b) Particular reasons he laiter are attached ta thesis whieh has been incorporated into Llit dx Cindna’s doctrine; that of the ccsential impurity of rinema. Up till the present, this thesis Philsophy and cinema haas signified above all that the passage of an idea in a film presupposes a complex summoning forth and displacement Of the other arts (theatre, the novel, music, painting land that as sich ‘pure cinema’ does not exist, except in the dead-end vision of avantgarde formalism. ‘This thesis of impurity must be expanded! the following principle should be proposed; the cinema is a place of intrinsic indiseer: ‘bitty berween art and non-art. No film, strictly speaking, is contvolled by artistic thinking rom beginning to end. It always bears absolutely impure elements within it, drawn from ambient imagery, from the detritus of ather arts, and from conventions with a limited shelf life. Artistic activity can only be discerned ina flea as a proces of purification of fs ‘a immanent non-anistic character. "This process is never completed. Even better, if it was completed, thereby generating the supponed purity of experimental cinema Cor feven certain radical normative statements by: Bresson on “cinematographic writing’), then the artistic capacity ise, for rather, its universal address, would he suppressed Gincma’s artistic operations are incampletable purification operations, bearing on current non-artistic forms, of indistinct imagery (Rimbaud “idiotic paintings The result ofall this that the dominant forms of won-art to art itself, and make up part of its intelligibility. Hence the permanent necessity of enquiry into the dominant formal tendencies within current production, and of the identification of circulating, even Industral, schemas ofthe visible and the audible: because it is upon the latter that artistic operations are potentially performed, 2 Four examples {a} The Godardian wehnique of “dry sound’ finaudible phrases, superimposition of sounds, parasitical noises, m Infinite Thought rw epleions catty. pans, ete) and. dialogues sedans har epratnal epost Uren ie haat Godard transforms ino an adulterated ttustnut, By aans of tis operation, what Godard oes ir peat the confion of the. world as artice, 8 Solumtay prineple ofthe confusion of thoughts We aug of ear_soquences in Kiarostami or even Olea ims works on an overwhelming sterentype of fontemporary imager, thauks t0 whieh the opening