Alain Badiou claims that for him there are three crucial philosophers: Plato, Descartes, Hegel. Yet he also claims that without Lacan, the antiphilosopher, there is no contemporary philosophy.
This course will look at these, Badiou’s fidelities, seeking to elaborate on Badiou’s claim in terms of the relation he establishes with each thinker relative to his own work. It will entail examining who each of these figures is for Badiou and, to a limited but critical extent, marking this against what each thinker says in their own terms.
Four key interrogations organise this retroactive engagement with each thinker:
- the situation of said thinker;
- the invention of each within this situation;
- the limit or aporia each bequeaths, requiring, in Badiou’s sense, recommencement
- the critical thought thereby articulated.
For example, schematically, and with regard to each:
For Plato, we look at the discursive situation of Athens as he shows it; the intervention on sophistry; the Idea functions at the limit of this invention; the relation between philosophy and the polis is integral to the philosophical transmission.
Descartes’ situation is framed by the work of the scholastics or logicians; a ‘new’ geometry features as critical to his intervention; the dialectic of matter and idea constitutes a type of limit; the (in)division of rationality at the heart of the subject.
Hegel (for Badiou) ‘in France’; away from and against Kojeve’s inheritors and renegades; the rational turn to immanence; the operative forces of dialectic, logic, phenomena; the Idea as/and the Absolute.
With Lacan, the anti-philosopher par excellence, whose work traverses all three of the above philosophers with regard not to what they fulfil, but the lack ‘in it’, we see not the influence of aporia as such — to be commented on, elaborated anew, rejected out of hand etc. — but as the site of what will be for Badiou a recommencement. Lacan doesn’t argue with the philosopher, he sites the intervention. For Badiou, the operative themes in Lacan’s analysis include: subject, matheme, intervention, cuts, risk, adventure and the reworking of the truth/knowledge couple.
The course will be broken down in the above manner with the first week devoted to Alain Badiou’s own situation, his oeuvre and its developments, his orientation or method as such and the invention of his thought as contemporary philosophy.
Week 1: Badiou’s situation.
Week 2: Plato – For today
Week 3: Descartes – Double sided materialism of the subject
Week 4: Hegel – The operative forces
Week 5: Lacan – Working through
- Lauren Sedofsky & Alain Badiou, ‘Being by Numbers’, Art Forum, 1994.
- Lauren Sedofsky & Alain Badiou, ‘Matter of Appearance’, Art Forum, 2006.
- Badiou, ‘Plato, Our Dear Plato, Angelaki, 2006.
- Badiou, ‘Hegel and the Whole’, Theoretical Writings. Or Book II, Section 2 ‘Hegel’, Logics of Worlds.
- Badiou, Meditation 34, ‘Descartes/Lacan’, Being and Event.
- Badiou, Lacan, Anti-philosophy 3, Session 1. OR ‘Truth: Forcing and the Unnameable’, Theoretical Writings