File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0111, message 27

Date: Tue, 06 Nov 2001 22:51:35 -0600
Subject: Re: Does the Other Exist?


I can appreciate your struggle with Badiou. Please understand that I am
writing out these summaries to understand Badiou's argument more clearly
(and I hope that by stimulating discussion here this will also achieve a
similar effect.) That certainly doesn't mean I believe in everything
Badiou is saying. I am not a Badiou fundamentalist.

You mention the Deleuze book... (maybe after the ethics, we can discuss
this some more) My position is ambivalent, somewhere between what you
call "outrageous--incredibly arrogant and self-serving" and what Steve
calls simply a misreading.

My own view is that Deleuze emerges from this book as a much stranger
figure, but Badiou does clarify some of the issues regarding Deleuze,
Heidegger and himself. Badiou regards Deleuze seriously and respectively
and his criticisms point toward a greater philosophical understanding of
what Deleuze's achievement really is.

(As you can see, my reading of this book is more positive.  Here again
though I certainly don't completely agree with the way Badiou positions
Deleuze or himself for that matter. With the exception of "The Fold"
Badiou concentrates on the early Deleuze and pretty much ignores
Anti-Oedipus and 1,000 Plateaus)

Regarding Levinas, I think my comments were close to the overall
argument Badiou is making. (Keep in mind, this is a short book and very
polemical.) I would agree Badiou makes Levinas into something of a straw
man, but I also think it is possible to make the charge that there is
something anti-philosophical about Levinas, if only for the way that he
attempts to have ethics trump over ontology and the Other over the
(I think this is the basis for some of Lyotard's critique of Levinas as
well in the essay "Levinas' Logic" and in the chapter on ethics in "The

This really demands a huge discussion.  I know we started it this past
summer and never really did it full justice.

I agree with you that Badiou also doesn't really do justice either to
the complexity of Levinas' philosophy and the link he makes between
Levinas and other philosophers of difference with regard to piety seems
just a little too facile.

I confess I did enjoy reading Badiou's Ethics, but also feel somehow as
though I was reading Badiou aslant. Certainly the arguments against
difference did not make the impression on me that they clearly did with

I was much more taken with the positive statement on ethics that Badiou
makes - the figure of the Immortal. (Even though here as well, there is
much that is problematic.  What makes Heidegger's reading of Nazism a
simulcra and Badiou's reading of the Chinese Cultural Revolution an
event? I wish I knew the criterion of truth Badiou uses!)

It would take too long to go into my own philosophical project tonight,
but basically I see it as attempting to develop a postmodern
reconstruction of Epicurean philosophy.  

The classic figures in ethics that seem most relevant for me with regard
to ethics are Aristotle (with his ethics centered on eudaemonia and the
distinctions made between differing pleasures which prefigures
Epicurus), Spinoza (who I see as combining both Epicurean and Stoic
elements in his philosophy) and Kant (who I read more in terms of the
autonomous and sublime components of his ethics rather than the
normative and universal. For me, the third critique is ethical in many
ways.) Then there is Lyotard, of course.

What I find provocative is that Badiou helps to illuminate this
tradition in some provocative ways, even when he is muleheaded and
wrong. Sometimes when a man carries a candle in broad daylight he helps
reveal things that might otherwise stay hidden.

Hope this helps to show you where I am coming from a little bit more.



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