badiou, becoming, difference, force, function, metaphysics, ontology, virus



A science of being is not enough. This subtraction which purifies, this selection and division which makes holy, which ‘invents’ and ‘discovers’ truth — how could ontology do anything but give us theories of the One, of the Law, of the Real, of the existing-as-such? How could it do anything but carefully induce multiplicity to subtract itself into unified theory, divide itself into functions and axioms; endlessly seduce differences into homogeneity, and minorities into conformity; plumb the depths only in order to reproduce an absolute height for an absolute voice?

Ontology is always the political ontology of Power, taken to the absolute point of dispersion where nothing remains, everything is subtracted, except for forces and matter — only functions, pure functions, and even concepts are now only seen in terms of effects, the site they create, “their” ontology. Ontology as both lens and situation, a regime where truths are always the same, is insufficient as long as it remains without a phenomenology of becoming, the concept as event, coming from outside of being which throws existence into doubt.

Multiplicity is first apprehended as risk, as danger; this much seems to be always already understood. The ontological question is how much can we take, what can be subtracted — from the situation, in short from life. Life as subtraction and transubstantiation. The holiness of being should not be misunderstood, for we encounter the most peculiar bifurcation precisely here, the curvature of space itself, the uncanny pull of the invisible — the Other, a zone which implies another reality — where being merges with non-being. The fold between us.

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badiou, becoming, Deleuze, form, language, machine, myth, notion, ontology




At the height of its concentration, the art of the [twentieth] century — but also all the other truth procedures, each according to its own resources — aimed to conjoin the present, the real intensity of life, and the name of this present as given in the formula, a formula that is always at the same time the invention of a form. It is then that the pain of the world changes into joy.

Alain Badiou, The Century 146


To move beyond an age, a century, an image of thought — what, today, does this require, and what would it allow? What does it mean to exit the territory, to proceed beyond the limits of a century, that is, while still maintaining oneself firmly within it, and thus despite constituting a series of processions within it? 

Immersed in the viscous flow of time, to turn over a new leaf, to work out a new concept, to produce a new kind of humanity, for a new kind of world. The concept of novelty is fraught with internal fissures and cracks. It is neither wretched nor glorious, but already an experiment in formalization, the process of deactivating a mythology, a path.

To deactivate a machine, there must be an overflow, a glitch or fault, topologically speaking a bursting, as though the paradoxical new formula itself unfolded in order to become a smooth space of thought. The notion escapes in two directions, a new earth rises within the old.

Alain Badiou argues the new is neither an inexplicable sacrifice of tradition nor a mediation of the various dimensions of human becoming, but rather the production, the education, and the very culmination of a new humanity, ready for a new thought, a new world. There is here, perhaps, more than a parallel to the work of Gilles Deleuze. The paths by which one leaves the territory, the lines of flight or vectors of deterritorialization, are exacting experiments — a cautious but unsparing dislocation of cognitive and cultural coordinates.

badiou, godel, logic, mathematics, metamathematics, ontology

Badiou on Logic

Stellar cartographies has translated two different selections of course notes from Badiou’s lectures circa 1980-82 here and here. This translation is short, but extremely concise, so there’s a lot of material to absorb. In particular, the notes help to explain Godel’s achievement and his theorem and offers good insight into Badiou’s own mathematico-ontological project. Definitely check it out for a quick read on a slightly neglected aspect of this philosopher’s expanding corpus. Also be sure to check out his other posts on Deleuze/Meinong, Heidegger/Lucretius, and an extremely hilarious link to Simon Critchley’s musical side project.

Aesthetic, axiom, badiou, epistemology, form, Laruelle, legitimacy, matter, non-philosophy, ontology, science, transcendental

(Non-)Epistemology and Ontology: Three more definitions from Laruelle’s Dictionnaire

Laruelle, Francois. Dictionnaire de la non-philosophie. Paris, Kime, 1998. Original translation by Taylor Adkins.


Unified theory of science and philosophy that takes for its object and material the discourse which lays claim to a particular mixture of science and philosophy: epistemology.

Philosophy recognizes epistemology in two ways which are not always exclusive. It can treat it as a continuation of traditional philosophy of science, crystallized around the Kantian question of the possibility of science, often relating precise and delimited scientific problems to philosophical systems, whether classical or modern (Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Russell, Quine, etc…) along with traditional philosophical positions (realism, empiricism, idealism, etc.). It can also consider it as a relatively autonomous discipline—simultaneously more regional and more technical—whose sources or occasions are extensions beyond the mechanical or Euclidean geometry of the physical, or even “exact” model of the concept of science; or still it can consider the technological interpretations of this concept. With this more specific preference, the epistemological tradition, going strong for over a century, has become extremely multiform and varied in regard to the nature and order of grandeur of its objects and methods. Nevertheless, its object or its final interest always more or less explicitly remains the criteria of scientificity for science or the sciences. This question, in its constantly displaced and renewed repetition, is always understood as aporetic and even at times gives rise to an admission of failure, which is the motivation for “external” perspectives (technological, sociological, economic, political, and ethical) on science. The advent of epistemology under these hypotheses seems like a becoming-network of its concept of science in a complex, non-linear and instable system.

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anti-philosophy, badiou, deconstruction, Deleuze, difference, heidegger, lacan, levinas, mathematics, metaphysics, negation, poetry, psychoanalysis, unity, writing

Metaphysics beyond Psychoanalysis: The Unconscious, Language and Reality after Heidegger and Deleuze


Metaphysics beyond Psychoanalysis

0: Entryways

“What does it matter how many lovers you have if none of them gives you the universe?”

“Lacan never pursues purely philosophical objectives.”

Questions, not meanings, are forgotten. May we therefore at last refrain from inquiring what psychoanalysis means, or asking what it is supposed to signify? And, since this alone is clearly insufficient, could it also be possible to take a cautious step “backwards,” simply in order to ask: which psychoanalysis, and how does it work? Where, when, and how much is it thinking? Where and why does it forget (merging imperceptibly here with a mythical alien outside, or fading transparently there into an empirical illusion)? From what eerily formal abyss “must” the “truth” must be continuously salvaged? Why these specific fixations, abstract algorithms and “critical” meta-languages — and in what ways are these translated (and transformed) into applications as clinical practice?

The history of psychoanalysis is a torus, and offers few instances of non-paradoxical theoretical encounters. It is in this sense that Lacan’s project of critically deconstructing the “origins” of (post-Freudian) psychoanalysis could be said to follow analogically — or even metaphorically — from Heidegger’s project of ungrounding (Platonic) metaphysics via a “detour” through the Pre-Socratics. In a different but curiously parallel way, Deleuze’s distaste for — and now subtle, now overt subversion of — Lacan, especially his analysis of desire (bordering at times on a strange kind of “power struggle” within psychoanalysis not unlike Lacan’s own break with the analysts of his early career) can indeed be said to mirror Levinas’ tense and passionate struggle with Heidegger over the question of desire — which, not coincidentally, Heidegger also characterizes as structured around a central lack.

In terms of contemporary theory, Laruelle and Badiou’s anti- or non-philosophy could be said to present a similarly-effective overturning of literary-deconstructive methods — we find a deceptive model of this technique in the work of Derrida, and in a different sense, the work of Deleuze and Guattari. Badiou’s position could be baldly summarized as a critique of what is really a humanistic or “centralizing,” isolationist move within theory, which claims to be the opposite, or “de-centralizing” — while ancient philosophy suffered badly from a similar “axiomatic” illusion as well, it is especially modern thinkers whose theory is built starting from a promise (instead of a premise,) and so filled with convincing but misleading interpretations of facts (rather than taking a de-subjectivized scientific position capable of producing a rigorous analysis of the “facts” of the matter.) Laruelle expresses this “inhumanism,” or post-metaphysical materialism, particularly rigorously: only science is really capable of moving thought beyond the philosophical as such.

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badiou, Claremont, conference, Deleuze, ontology, Politics, Whitehead

Event and Decision at Claremont Graduate University

Joe and I arrived in California on Wednesday for the conference on Badiou, Deleuze, and Whitehead concerning ontology and politics. On Thursday, Justin Clemens and Oliver Feltham (both translators of Badiou) gave a wonderful paper on a rapprochement between Deleuze and Badiou (focusing on the Logic of Sense and Being and Event–seemingly a strange synthesis at first). One of the juicier comparisons was made when Justin reminded us that Deleuze’s nonsense–that which says its own sense–is isomorphic to Badiou’s understanding of the event, which is a set that belongs to itself, thus violating (or acceding to) Russel’s paradox. You can check out the site for more details here.

In any case, Joe will be presenting his paper entitled “Ontology beyond Politics” tomorrow morning. An older draft of the paper has been filed in the archives in pdf and can also be viewed in its original post on the site. Just to make it immediately available, I will include it in this post as well. Here’s the link to a pdf version:
Politics Beyond Ontology

I am only here to support Joe: so let’s hope that he kicks some ass tomorrow morning, takes name, and of course, never forgets to simultaneously chew bubble gum (unless he’s all out of it).