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).

axiomatics, Brunschvicg, Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, foundations of mathematics, French Translation, Hilbert, Lautman, mathematics, metamathematics, Poirier, problematics, Russell, Uncategorized, Untranslated Theory, Whitehead

Translation: Albert Lautman’s Essay on the Notions of Structure and Existence in Mathematics


We should speak of a dialectics of the calculus rather than a metaphysics. By “dialectic” we do not mean any kind of circulation of opposing representations which would make them coincide in the identity of a concept, but the problem element in so far as this may be distinguished from the properly mathematical element of solutions. Following Lautman’s general thesis, a problem has three aspects: its difference in kind from solutions; its transcendence in relation to the solutions that it engenders on the basis of its own determinant conditions; and its immanence in the solutions which cover it, the problem being the better resolved the more it is determined. Thus the ideal connections constitutive of the problematic (dialectical) Idea are incarnated in the real relations which are constituted by mathematical theories and carried over into problems in the form of solutions (Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition. Trans. Paul Patton. New York: Columbia, 1994. p. 178.).

Following Lautman and Vuillemin’s work on mathematics, ‘structuralism’ seems to us the only means by which a genetic method can achieve its ambitions. It is sufficient to understand that the genesis takes place in time not between one actual term, however small, and another actual term, but between the virtual and its actualisation–in other words, it goes from the structure to the incarnation, from the conditions of a problem to the cases of solution, from the differential elements and their ideal connections to actual terms and diverse real relations which constitute at each moment the actuality of time. This is a genesis without dynamism, evolving necessarily in the element of a supra-historicity, a static genesis which may be understood as the correlate of the notion of passive synthesis, and which in turn illuminates that notion. Was not the mistake of the modern interpretation of calculus to condemn its genetic ambitions under the pretext of having discovered a ‘structure’ which dissociated calculus from any phoronomic or dynamic considerations? There are Ideas which correspond to mathematical relations and realities, others which correspond to physical laws and facts. There are others which, according to their order, correspond to organisms, psychic structures, languages, and societies; their correspondences without resemblance are of a structural-genetic nature. Just as structure is independent of any principle of identity, so genesis is independent of a rule of resemblance. However, an Idea with all its adventures emerges in so far as it already satisfies certain structural and genetic conditions, and not others. The application of these criteria must therefore be sought in very different domains, by means of examples chosen almost at random (Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition. Trans. Paul Patton. New York: Columbia, 1994. p. 183-84.).

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Bachelard, badiou, Boudot, Deleuze, French Translation, guattari, Laruelle, Lautman, Lyotard, Ruyer, Serres, Simondon, Stengers, Untranslated Theory, Whitehead

French Translations: Works in Progress


My last six posts have all been translations; they range from philosophy of science to paradigms for approaching and studying Nietzsche. I plan to continue working on translating Boudot’s work (including sections from three of his books on Nietzsche, featuring comparisons of Nietzsche with Bataille, Camus, and Bachelard); Ruyer’s work (Genesis of Living Forms, Cybernetics and the Origin of Information, and The Paradoxes of Consciousness and the Limits of Automatism); Guattari’s work (Schizoanalytic Cartographies; The Machinic Unconscious; and Psychoanalysis and Transversality); Laruelle’s work (Nietzsche contra
Heidegger; Beyond the Power Principle
); Badiou’s (early) work (Theory of the Subject; Of Ideology); Simondon’s work (The Individual and Its Physico-Biological Genesis; Psychic and Collective Individuation; and
On the Mode of the Existence of Technical Objects); and Serres’s work (Hermes II, III, and IV; The Origins of Geometry).

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assemblage, Bachelard, becoming, bergson, Deleuze, difference, duration, image, intuition, memory, metaphysics, metapsychology, ontology, problematics, time, virtual, Whitehead

Bergsonism, or Philosophy of Sub- and Superhuman Durations


Deleuze, Gilles. Bergsonism. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. New York: Zone, 1991.

Bergson on several occassions compares the approach of philosophy to the procedure of infinitesimal calculus: When we have benefited in experience from a little light which shows us a line of articulation, all that remains is to extend it beyond experience—just as mathematicians reconstitute, with the infinitely small elements that they perceive of the real curve, ‘the curve itself stretching out into the darkness behind them.’ In any case, Bergson is not one of those philosophers who ascribes a properly human wisdom and equilibrium to philosophy. To open us up to the inhuman and the superhuman (durations which are inferior or superior to our own), to go beyond the human condition: This is the meaning of philosophy, in so far as our condition condemns us to live among badly analyzed composites, and to be badly analyzed composites ourselves (Gilles Deleuze, Bergsonism pg 27-28).


Deleuze’s project in Bergsonism is to render a systematic understanding of Bergson’s concepts in their interrelations. Of course, this book is an experiment in philosophical buggery, and so there is a clear Deleuzian ring to it. There is much in here that is strictly related to Deleuze’s project, but in itself it still retains a lot of theoretical value and stands as a concise and intriguing reading of Bergson. The first chapter on intuition as method lays out clearly Bergson’s project in three moves: (1) state and create problems; (2) discover the genuine differences in kind; (3) apprehend time in its reality as duration. To construct this method in its rigor, we must set out some rules as we go along.

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badiou, Deleuze, guattari, Nietzsche, ontology, Politics, Whitehead

Politics beyond Ontology

Fractal Cow is made by Gabor Csordas and Gabor Papp and can be found at

Hypothesis in Process Philosophy


It seems that we experience the world: but beyond this, what more can be said? Can we hypothesize the abyssal and incorporeal depths of the origin of social desire, and could description perhaps reach even farther? In this paper, my goal is to provide a reading of the work of Alain Badiou and Gilles Deleuze in light of present sociopolitical conditions. I stress that we should see conventional ontology as a social machine which functions by division, and in this it operates in a precisely opposite way from a political logic of (just) distribution. If universalism would actually imply a transcendent origin of social order, we must learn to do without the hypothesis. I argue that the future must be sought immanently, as a process of utopian restoration. Tomorrow’s truth is to be constructed by our hands or not at all.

Ontology has a new goal and new project in the twenty-first century. How do we think the relation of subjects to events without transcendence? How do we organize the field of social intensities without division and repressing desire? How can we accelerate distribution, and intensify healthy and potent forces of social change? This paper aims to provide a new kind of mapping of the social field, pointing towards a space for thought where ontology can be seen as secondary to metaphysics. Deleuze writes that “politics precedes being,” so metaphysics must clarify what to ontology is indiscernible — the lack produced by social and conceptual division — and recognize this divisive operation not as productive of an immanent equality, but in fact a transcendent subjugation.

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being, ethics, immanence, love, ontology, revolution, Whitehead

Nature, Politics, Revolution

Roger Brown, ‘Talk Show Addicts (1993)

Events are named after the prominent objects situated in them, and thus both in language and in thought the event sinks behind the object, and becomes the mere play of its relations. The theory of space is then converted into a theory of the relations of objects instead of a theory of events… If you admit the relativity of space, you must also admit that points are complex entities, logical constructs involving other entities and their relations.
Alfred North Whitehead, The Concept of Nature

Immanence is, upon its surface, just a word which indicates that amongst the present relationships we observe, we perceive them as interlocking — that reality is ‘inner space.’ Another way of saying this would be to say that we do not believe there to exist a deepest space. Thus when we make a claim of ‘pure’ immanence, we assert that there are no ‘extra’ layers of being above or beyond the situation, and that nothing spontaneously intervenes from another order of time. Immanence implies something special about the initial conditions of any space it is applied to: namely, that they open onto multiplicity, and fold in upon themselves without reference to an exterior. That there is no ‘outside’ of Being: this is pure immanence.

Nothing encapsulates an anti-immanent perspective more closely than the delicate epistemological framework inaugurated by Plato (but exemplified best, perhaps, by the cogito) which asserts that knowing and experiencing are but modalities of a fundamental distinction. Life is essentially separate: both within and without, split between thinking and acting.

In fact, a closer look reveals a complex topology of theoretical spaces. We find sense separated from truth, yet mysteriously contained within it. We ask: if reality is just what is contained in our modes of experience, how can we account for the existence of undistinguished situations (out of which our ‘distinctive containers’ evolved)? The answer is — we cannot! Because of the ‘implicit transcedence’ in a distinctive geometry of experience, we literally cannot speak them — because we “aren’t them.”

Is it really so clear and distinct that such separated spaces would not communicate? Whatever the case may be, in every theory advancing a transcendent distinction as primary, there emerges the necessity for an enduring interface produced by a geometric projection between the distinguished spaces. In the ontology of Alain Badiou, ‘fidelity’ names the connective operation between elements of an enumerated network of forces. In the clarity of this fidelity, the distinctions between subject and event, process and underlying ‘reality’ become critically blurred and radically ambiguous. The void can no longer be absolutely distinguished from the situation. That radical reflection which discerns the indiscernible becomes autonomous by this same maneuver — in his somewhat classical conception, the subject-space is divided between art, science, politics and love. But we should not judge from this that these spaces are indeed so indubitably separated (in reality or in Badiou’s ontology,) nor should we conclude from his idiosyncratic treatment of the ontological question that his project is without precedent.

For example, when Deleuze and Guattari say that “Love is an index of the reactionary or revolutionary investments of the libido in the socius,” they are indicating a requirement not only for political thought, but for creative activity in general: when we participate in sociality, if we do not do ‘it’ with love, the engagement becomes reactive, anachronistic, even “passive-aggressive.” Badiou’s sort of fidelity has a similar requirement: you belong to the event only when you have made it what it is–and by this process, we become what we are. You either enter with love in your heart and hands open in passivity — or you do not really enter at all, or only to critically misjudge the nature of your relationship to the event. For without love there is no revolutionary necessity.

Love is most important when it is immediately political, when it is immediately ethical. When love is so intense that it resonates, when it is totally without jealousy, this is when love unfolds its mysterious potential: its capacity to inspire, to dominate, to intensify a flow of desire. Love is reality: it’s affect is most closely claimed by the word ‘infusion.’ An unasked-for love is indiscernible, if only in its inclusivity — which is why love is an ethical intercourse, or else a tragic ignorance: “If you do works of faith and you have not love, you do not know me.” I think it has been forgotten that Nietzsche descries not only pity, but also philanthropy, for within he could smell the vulgar desire to be praised. There is a kind of giving which is a selfishness posited for a love of mankind, and there is a kind of “love” founded upon God looking upon us and thinking of us as blessed. But love without jealousy is love without guilt, and a self-praising lifestyle is unfit for the faithful. Love is first giving in, not giving out.

We say love is perhaps the revolutionary impulse, for it is that emotion which first reminds us, with piercing clarity, of our real condition. Suffering is not guilt; pain relates to situations which are not eternal, to arrangements which evolve and change by their nature. To love means we could not stand the shame of another’s degradation; to love is to know the shame of the situation and to not accept it. Hope is only for a truth which is wagered upon, but love engages our responsibility to create new spaces for living-togehter. Thus to wager on an event is to become an intense potential for difference. We wager our singularities, and we have faith; only then can we create a new kind of situation. Faith has to be propelled; it doesn’t exist in rest. Ontology is the science of rest, the psychology of sleep: it provokes the deepest revelations, but not the deepest joy. That there is still a non-ontological space for thought today we perhaps owe to the endurance of joy. Our experience of political reality is intimately shaped by an careful community ‘surgery’ which conditions potential expressions of value. In practice, only a delicate subdivision accomplishes the total vision of faith, or ontology. A numerical theory of the event aims at continuity through becoming, where a genetic theory of society aims at becoming through intensity. The political is the abstract: the question of politics is that of clarity, and the truly political desire is a progression: from the will to transparency, to the will to distinction, and finally, the will to loyalty — or the will to power.

Thus the rise in vivid experience of the Good and the Bad depends on the intuition of exact forms of limitation. Among such forms Number has a chief place.
Alfred North Whitehead, Modes of Thought (107)

Whitehead, will, wittgenstein, Zeno

The Question of Peace

Bush’s new plan is worthless. Not because it is a bad strategy based on a false hope that this war could be won, or because he’s dismissed vital recommendations; Bush’s new plan for Iraq is worthless for the same reasons the Iraq war itself was senseless.

We must protest that the Iraq War would not have been made a “better” or “just” war even if this administration had not lied to us about why we were going there. Even if they had not dissimulated the truth about what could be expected and what the material and human costs would be, this war would not be justified. This war would be excessive and prejudiced even if there had been none of the major slip-ups, criminal oversights and grossly negligent miscalculations. No, even if they could have guaranteed their mission would unfold flawlessly, the mission would still be delirium: the war would still be sadistic and unjustified.

The notion of a war on terror is as incoherent as this administration’s delusional vision of the prospects of the Iraq war (“We will be greeted with open arms, as liberators!”) I say even if Bush had never told a lie and never made a mistake, the doctrine underlying the war is inherently flawed: the very concept of a war on terror (which is not a war of terror) is unstable, and has led Bush to an apocalyptic worldview where only brutality is significance. Of course, this is nothing more than a misguided nihilism. But the fact remains that this war is as unjust as it is hopelessly paradoxical.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying human rights, democracy, freedom and so on aren’t important values; I am saying that we are dreaming if we think these are universally coherent notions upon which we can forcibly establish a benevolent government in a tumultuous region torn by millennia of ethnic strife and religious conflict. This dreaming is precisely the point–we now must consider pivotal role fantasy has played in the presentation of this conflict. A simple question can illustrate this point: why, despite the humanistic and democratic image we vainly uphold, is so much of U.S. foreign policy concerned with the more or less brutal assertion of American hegemony?

The central fantasy around which all this orbits is the ethos of “militaristic humanism” or even “militaristic pacifism,” which is an otherwise ordinary military intervention, but supposedly conducted to advance the cause of peace or of humanity. We must protect human rights, as long as these have a consistent meaning. This also means we have a right (and a duty) to a consistent interpretation: we must be critical when the government tells us we have a duty to intervene militarily on the basis of a “morality” of human rights. Such a morality is already suspect, but when it asserts itself as higher than international law, and higher because of terrorism or the new world order, we must protest.

The most obvious feature of this morality of human rights and promoting democracy is that it actually separates and marginalizes human beings. This ideology does this in the same way religion separates rather than unites and in the same way capitalism exploits workers and marginalizes the poor. The Bush doctrine is a misguided ideology of entitlement, constructed to protect entrenched wealth and U.S. business interests. Such a “morality” disfigures lust for power, transforms it into “love” for humanity, but the ideology remains completely congruent with expanding the reach of global capitalism. The whole spectacle (Christianity, democracy, capitalism) is espoused as an apocalyptic, military-invigorated “humanism.” This supposedly “enlightened” philosophy ultimately means nothing more or less than the U.S. asserting its unilateral right to supersede state sovereignty in defiance of international law on behalf of national interest.

My problem with all this is not that the fact that the rapacious pattern of globalization is exploitative, or that its perpetrators are delusional, or even that our moral gestures in the international arena are little more than cynical performances presented in bad faith. My issue with the imperialistic policy of this government is the blatant lust for ascendancy, for unquestioned American dominion. We must bring an end to hiding this lust for power behind a veil of “spreading freedom” not because it’s wrong but because it’s disgusting and dishonest. Disguising an obsession with control behind humanism and “bringing new hope and opportunity” is an easily recognized fascist pattern. A much stronger injunction is concealed behind offering a seemingly free choice (e.g., to Iraqis, to consumers): to obey, to enjoy, to belong, to be the same.

The hypocrisy of militaristic pacifism is that it is a pure fantasy. The thing which causes the illness is supposed to cure it. Opposite ends of the political spectrum coincide. This confused war is at once pure idealism and real materialism. On the one hand, we are obviously fighting to increase security—that is, to protect American business interests, especially oil—and of course this is pure materialism, capitalistic expansionism of the kind we’re getting pretty used to by now. On the other hand, we are also fighting (ostensibly) to protect human rights and democracy, though this is a web of fantasy which shields us from the trauma the rest of the world experiences as the vicious declaration of American supremacy.

This is not morality as in a question of business “ethics,” of reigning in corporate or government corruption; this is now a question of empire and global peace, of theocracy and extremism, of eschatology and theology proper. The secret desire is not that different, only more carefully concealed, from the underlying motivation of countless other religious wars: to know whether or not our conceptions of God are identical, which is also to prove our God “true.” God is the unspoken word that structures the entire discourse in debate regarding this conflict. The stain, the irremovable split in humanity’s (un)shared understanding of God is the true significance of this war.

God pervades the logic and rationale of American military intervention as the basis of a morality which suspends the consensual democratic ethics of state sovereignty and international law. This is a clear-cut example of religious fundamentalism. The cure is the cause of the disease. We are combating extremism with extremism, force against force, violence against violence in a purely un-religious struggle for power (which is then disguised and represented as a religious struggle.) What we secretly desire is a clean war, a war without casualties, only converts. In other words, we desire the transformation of war into a pure operation, an obscene video game–a virtual war.

The goal and by-product of this perverse, neurotic desire is real death: the fantasy that guards us from the encounter with reality thereby structures our relationship to the world through aversion and fear. This fear becomes hatred and then annihilation in an ever-quickening circuit of greed, deception and violence. There is no single answer: we must each begin to think for ourselves. The more we look for some savior to illuminate the path to freedom, the more we are guilty. The more we demand some great leader show us the way to universal justice, the more we sink deeper into a permissive, sloth-like society of perverse enjoyment without freedom, into the commercialized herd mentality of addiction without truth.

So we must criticize warlords when they argue their violence is justified by appealing to a humanity which they truly desire to subjugate. We must confront them with their bald contradictions, hold them accountable for their greed and its consequences, force theocratic and nationalistic ideologies from the halls of power and from our own minds. In other words, we must combat complacency and “militaristic pacifism” with direct action, with a militancy of our own. The struggle for peace is at once a struggle for freedom, and as such it can only be achieved through greater understanding, through communication, through collective action and solidarity.

We must reject the false unification of fantastic ideology, and reach for a higher collective based not upon an “ideal of humanity,” but upon nothing. That is, upon being free. Force and violence cannot create anything. Only thinking, speaking and actively working for freedom and justice can establish a lasting peace. In closing, I urge you to see the threat posed by our delusional aggression and to act on behalf of humanity and history. To act for all of us, for the question of peace is stark, inescapable and glaring— shall we universally renounce war, or shall we abandon humanity to extinction?