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The Clamour of Being: Badiou vs Deleuze

Lecturer: Caitlyn Lesiuk

Originally Taught: Summer School 2022

This course offers an introduction to the philosophy of Alain Badiou and Gilles Deleuze by way of the “debate” between them. Each week we will compare their philosophical responses to various works of art and political events—such as the literature of Samuel Beckett and the revolution of May 68—moving toward an understanding and evaluation of Badiou’s accusation that Deleuze ultimately reverts to thinking according to a doctrine of “the One” over the multiple. In the course of this discussion, we will explore how each philosopher understands concepts such as “event”, “time” and “truth”, and, indeed, the task of philosophy itself. In an attempt to truly stage a “dialogue” between their systems of thought, we will be joined by guest lecturers Corey Cribb, Dr Joe Hughes and Dr Jon Roffe. 

Week 1: Introduction 

To quote Lewis Carroll, as Deleuze is wont to do, we will “begin at the beginning” by tracing the conceptual rifts that emerge from Badiou and Deleuze’s very first epistolary exchanges. In this session, we will establish a foundational understanding of these two philosophical systems by looking at some comparative studies from the early 90s by thinkers like Francois Wahl and Éric Alliez.

Recommended reading:

  • Wahl F (2008) “The Subtractive: Preface by Francois Wahl” in A Badiou Conditions (S Corcoran trans), Bloomsbury, London, viii-xxiii.

 Further readings:

  • Badiou A (1994) “Gilles Deleuze, The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque”, in Olkowski D and Boundas C (eds) Gilles Deleuze and the Theatre of Philosophy, Routledge, London, 51-72.
  • Deleuze G and Guattari F (1994) What is Philosophy? (Tomlinson H and Burchell G trans), Columbia University Press, New York, 151-3.

Week 2: Beckett

Lecercle observes that Badiou and Deleuze not only have markedly different approaches to reading literature, but also to writing philosophy. As such, we will turn to their engagement with Samuel Beckett’s work to explore the question of style.  

Recommended reading:

  • Lecercle J (2010) Badiou and Deleuze Read Literature, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 129-54. 

Further readings:

  • Badiou A (2008) “The Writing of the Generic” in Conditions (Corcoran S trans), Bloomsbury, London, 249-84. 
  • Deleuze, G (1995) “The Exhausted” (A Uhlmann trans), SubStance, 24 (78): 3-23. 

Week 3: Deleuze’s “spiritual” cinema

In this session, we will see how well Badiou and Deleuze’s theory of cinema contends with Resnais’ film Last Year at Marienbad. More specifically, will bring Deleuze’s work on cinema and thought into dialogue with Badiou’s reservations about thought as “spiritual automation”.

Recommended viewing: Resnais A (1961) Last Year at Marienbad, Dyaliscope Productions, France.

Further readings: 

  • Badiou A (2005) “The False Movements of Cinema” in Handbook of Inaesthetics (Toscano A trans), Stanford University Press, California, 78-88.
  • Deleuze G (1989) Cinema 2: The Time-Image (Tomlinson H and Galeta R trans), University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 156-173.

Week 4: Has nothing taken place but the place? 

After exploring the encounter of philosophy and art, we will turn to the question of what, exactly, the task of philosophy itself is for each of these thinkers. Here, we will trace the metaphilosophical commitments underpinning their respective methodologies, with a particular focus on the concept of the “event” as central to both their projects. 

Recommended reading:

  • Bartlett A J, Clemens J, Roffe J (2014) Lacan Deleuze Badiou, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 129-163. 

Further readings:

  • Badiou A (2007) “The Event in Deleuze” (Roffe J trans), Parrhesia 2, 37-44.
  •  Deleuze G (1990) “Twenty-Fourth Series of the Communication of Events” in The Logic of Sense (Lester M and Stivale C trans), The Athlone Press, London, 169-77.

Week 5: Final confrontation: does Deleuze give in to “the One”? 

Finally, we will embark upon a deeper consideration of Badiou’s claim that Deleuze, despite his efforts, is a thinker of “the One”. We will consider Badiou’s own account of his departure from Deleuze as laid out in The Clamor of Being, and engage with a contemporary evaluation of this work by Jon Roffe. 

Recommended reading:

  • Roffe J (2012) “Is Deleuze a Philosopher of the One?” in Badiou’s Deleuze, Routledge, New York, 6-23.

 Further readings: 

  • Badiou A (2000) “Univocity of Being and Multiplicity of Names” in The Clamor of Being (Burchill L trans), University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 19-30.
  • Badiou A (2007) “The One and the Multiple: A Priori Conditions of any Possible Ontology” in Being and Event (Feltham O trans), Bloomsbury Academic, London, 25-34.