File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0112, message 53

Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 20:54:21 +0000
Subject: Re: Critique of Badiou


I had expected your critique to be more throughly negative than this. 
I'd be interested in hearing more from Diane, Shawn and Glen....

For myself the major issue I have with the text is a lack of openness 
towards both his (Badiou's) targets and his sources/direction - 
admittedly this is probaly because of the nature of the audience that he 
is writing for but still it seems inexcusable. I disagree with the 
notion of the 'Other' that you use below,  that "...ethics must come to 
face the Other..."  this would be a just critique only if the Other is 
the rather more specialised and limited psychoanlytical Other and not 
the Other that you are referring to... In this context given the 
materialist basis of his ethic it becomes apparant that his version of 
the 'truth' is pleasantly different - it is as is well stated in the 
introduction an interventist approach, militant, interventionist and 
engaged - it is a thought engaged in a theorisation of the situation - a 
truth as such can only be something that is taking place at a given 
moment. Of course this engages us indirectly with the theories of 
situationism (another unspoken reference?) especially the work of 
Debord. As such Badious work is nearly as militant as the utilitarian 
ethics of Peter Singer.... but only nearly... and I can't remember the 
'Other' being mentioned in Singer at all. Hence the question must be why 
the return, the seemingly endless return to the Other ?

To answer your question - what badiou gives us is a way out of the trap 
of the Other.


Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:

>To keep things simple, I will limit myself to three points where I find
>Badiou's conception of ethics problematic, then I will suggest a way his
>concepts can be re-interpreted in a more productive manner.
>1. There is an implicit dualism is Badiou's distinction between the
>Immortal and the animal.  This is in keeping with his asserted Platonic
>stance, but it seems to involve skyhooks rather than Darwin.  It also
>doesn't show how there can be intermediate stages.  Just the break where
>one leaves for the other world.
>2. I find the reference to the simulacrum somewhat ludicrous as way to
>distinguish between the 'real' truth (like Mao's cultural revolution!)
>and a 'false' one like Nazism.  It seems that Badiou simply wants to
>assert the truth value without establishing the procedures by which a
>truth can be established and known.
>3. The concept of Evil, even though it is situated in the context of the
>Good does not go far enough to break with the theological conception of
>ethics that Badiou otherwise condemns.  It might be more fruitful to
>naturalize this conception into terms of good and bad, even though this
>might risk jettisoning Badiou's Platonic project.
>One of the fascinating things for me in reading Badiou's ethics is
>this.  Once the metaphysical and rhetorical components of Badiou are
>toned down and naturalized, then his ethics comes very close to
>resembling that of John Dewey.  For those who may not be familiar with
>Dewey, he began as a Hegelian, but later broke from Idealism and
>developed a more Darwinian approach that Dewey named instrumentalism,
>and which Rorty and others have pointed out, constituted a kind of
>postmodernism avant la lettre.
>Dewey sees ethics as embedded in a situation and sees inquiry as a way
>to transform that situation in order to realize a various end in view. 
>This seems the be the central core of what Badiou is discussing as well.
>What is also interesting about this is that the other influence on Dewey
>and someone who is an interesting philosopher in his own right was
>George Herbert Mead.  His contribution was to place all of this into a
>social context.  Mead distinguishes between the 'I' and 'me' and points
>out that one becomes a person only through the mediation of others. 
>This conception of the generalized other that Mead argues for shows how
>the social construction of the self precedes and supports the ethics of
>the Other.
>Against Badiou's ethics of truth, it is possible to argue that truth
>emerges, not as a solitary act, but through a community of
>interpretation, and that as such the Other must remain as a underlying
>ethical concern.  By focusing so intently on the abuses of the liberal
>multicultural approach to human rights which subsumes ethics under 'the
>colors of Benneton', Badiou misses the deeper problem where ethics must
>come to face the Other, even when one is an atheist because who the
>atheist is remains a function of the social construction mediated
>through the generalized Other.
>My question is this.  What does Badiou give us that goes beyond Dewey
>and Mead?  That said, is there a way to re-interpret Badiou through them
>that does justice to the Other as well as to what Badiou calls the
>ethics of truth?


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