File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0110, message 159

Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2001 20:23:41 +0000
Subject: Re: Why Badiou?


The reason I think it is interesting to think and consider Badiou's work 
is for a number reasons - the challenge Badiou lays down with his 
challenge that contemporary French Philosophers are not practicing 
philosophy because 'they say that philosophy is impossible, completed 
assigned to something else other than itself'.

The specific relationship to Lyotard is established in the first few 
pages of the manisfesto with the initial quote on P28 is 'Philosophy as 
Architecture is ruined....' (quote from The Differend.)...  In fact I'd 
read the first few pages of the manifesto as a direct challenge to the 
late period Lyotard's project, but because the radical nature of 
Lyotard's project is non-marxist and Badiou is directly responding to 
this. Specifically Badiou is attempting to refuse the non-marxist thrust 
of the Lyotard project. (This is a difference from the Ethics text which 
is more blatently an attack on the reactionary New Philosophers but 
that's another narrative.)  Bandiou's argument that the work of Lyotard, 
Nancy, Lacoue-Labarthe and so on is not to be counted as philosophy 
because they are not addressing philosophical issues.
The case he makes needs to be considered and answered - the similarities 
and connections between Badiou and Lyotard (and co) drawn out - the 
differences analysed and understood - the different relationships to 
Marxism and especially Althusser considered - the different 
relationships to Neitsche considered... In other words I think that in 
the differend lies a radical synthesis which is the area that I'd like 
to work on.

Badiou's project is in some senses deeply fascinating and one I am 
personally interested in because of his obvious, so obvious radical 
marxist approach to philosophy and the world. However I regard the 
extremes of his approach by turns laughable, annoying  and personally 
engaging. But this approach is founded on the deliberate and unavoidably 
socially and politically engaged nature of his philosophy and self.

I understand that Deleuze and Lyotard prevented Badiou and co from 
taking over the philosophy department they all worked in - ah politics!

I will think about the other comments on truth and ethics later.

(though actually I would state that if the first half of Inhuman is not 
a neo-marxist text then I don't know what is...).

Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:

>Before we get into the details here, I think it appropriate to ask the
>question - Why should a Lyotard group study Badiou?
>You say: "The 'attack' on Lyotard and others was entertaining but not
>very serious..."
>I remain unconvinced by this.  Regardless of how entertaining it may be,
>I think it is also very serious.  
>Badiou writes: "It is never really modest to declare an 'end', a
>completion, a radical impasse. The announcement of the 'End of Grand
>Narratives' is as immodest as the Grand Narrative itself, the certainty
>of the 'end of metaphysics' proceeds within the metaphysical element of
>certainty, the deconstruction of the concept of subject requires a
>central category - being, for example - the historical prescription of
>which is even more decisive etc."
>It is certainly possible to respond to this charge in various ways, but
>I certainly don't think it was merely meant as a joke.
>What I find even more interesting, however, (and this is why I think it
>is important to discuss Badiou) is that I also see a number of points in
>common between Lyotard and Badiou.  For one thing, Badiou makes a big
>point about never sharing a meal or a drink with Deleuze, but then
>describes a long conversation he had in a car ride with Lyotard in which
>Lyotard invited Badiou to review his book "The Differend". Badiou was
>critical, of course, but this doesn't really seem to matter.  It is
>obvious there was a relationship between the two of them and it seems
>important to understand what impact they may have had on one another.
>I am also intrigued by the fact that the concept of event is central to
>both their philosophies, regardless of how differently they may have
>each interpreted this concept.  
>You write: "the definition of an event, which is related to the
>conflictual struggle based understanding of 'truth', is inevitably
>problematic.  Given that a truth is supposed to derive from an event, a
>situation it's not clear how the truth is derived."
>I am getting ahead of myself here and not willing to discuss this in
>detail yet, but I have a sense that this derivation of the ethical as a
>truth by way of subtraction from a situation in response to an event may
>also be related to Lyotard in some way. 
>What I am suggesting is that the exercise of comparing what Lyotard and
>Badiou have in common and where they differ may help to illuminate both
>philosophies and this is finally why it is appropriate for this group to
>have this discussion.
>My initial hunch, for what it is worth is this.  (We can return to it
>later after I have read and absorbed Badiou's Ethics.)
>Lyotard seems to approach ethics from the standpoint of Kant's Third
>Critique. There Kant develops the idea of the sublime (not as Burke
>thought of it as a phenomenon of nature), but rather as a conflict of
>the faculties. 
>The sublime emerges to the extent the imagination or the understanding
>strive in vain to present something which is in truth an Idea of reason.
>Kant claims that by this very act, reason comes to realize itself in its
>true vocation as the supersensible.  Kant also claims that the sublime,
>by virtue of this fact, is not merely an aesthetic category, but an
>ethical one as well.  As Kant puts it, through the dynamic sublime,
>reason realizes that despite the terrors of nature, it has its own
>supersensible vocation which transcends nature. It therefore has another
>end which is precisely the ethical.
>We can discuss later the way Lyotard utilizes this in developing his own
>approach to ethics.
>What I want to suggest here for now is that Badiou is perhaps using a
>similar approach in order to derive the truth from the event.  In other
>words, Badiou and Lyotard are linked not only by the concept of the
>event, they are also linked by the concept of the sublime.  
>Even so, Badiou does not appear to use this term directly.  He calls it
>the void.  My point is that functionally this may be very close to the
>sublime, if not in fact merely calling the same process by another name.
>This may also help to resolve the difficulty you raised.
>Both Lyotard and Badiou are interested is how the ethical emerges and
>how it is maintained.  Both bear witness to the fact that the ethical is
>sublime because it cannot be represented by the situation through which
>it emerges as the event.  


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