File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0112, message 75

Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2001 21:02:29 +0000
Subject: Re: Critique of Badiou


But Eric.. the issue hasn't changed for me - the Other always returns to 
some form of  ethical construction in your discussions - its not the 
material construction of the other which might be human, non-human or 
indeed anything outside of your skin. All of the reference points for 
the Other are 'human' within the ethical constructions you are making - 
it is this which is the core problem - the only form of the Other in 
human terms I find close to intellectually accurate is in the 
psychoanalytical/schzioanalytical formation. But this is not the form 
from which the majority of the ethicical work derives... If the other 
you refer to - is simply the human we relate to/with, communicate with, 
this is simply another human subject, which I of course understand and 
sympathise with, but that is not the Other you are referring to through 
the work of ethicists such as Levinas etc, which is as you say theistic. 

Perhaps I can restate my issue thus:  if self/other refers to the 
self/other human issue. That which is non-human cannot be incorporated 
within the ethical structure because of the absence.   

Interestingly I believe that Badiou is accurate in his critique of 
Levinas and as yet have seen little in the email line which persuedes me 
otherwise. Where Badiou is probably wrong (not clear) is in the 
construction of a universalising situational  and event based ethics - I 
have some sympathy for this but am uncertain about the universalising 
aspect. (I agree that his critique does not work for Lyotard or probably 
for Derrida either nor are they the target of this aspect Badious work...).

With regard to how badiou refutes the Other aspects: I'll get back to 
you on this...


"It occurs to me that Badiou's whole critique of the ethics of the Other
derives from the following syllogism:

1. Levinas is a theistic philosopher.
2. All ethics of the Other derive from Levinas.
3. Therefore, all ethics of the Other are implicitly theistic.

I will willingly grant that Levinas is a theistic philosopher.  It is
far less clear to me that others such as Derrida and Lyotard can be
described in such terms. Thus, something seems problematic about
Badiou's logic.  Even though Levinas may be an influence, it seems there
are also other factors at work to which I will loosely give the name
social construction. According to this view, the following non-theistic
argument applies.

1. Individuals arise in a social matrix which is mediated by others.
2. Therefore, an ethics of the Other is implicit in these relationships.

John Dewey writes: "A one-sided psychology, a reflex of
eightenth-century "individualism" treated knowledge as an accomplishment
of a lonely mind.  We should now be aware that it is a product of the
cooperative and communicative operations of human beings living
together.  Its communal origin is an indication of its rightful communal

Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:

>Why is the Other necessarily a trap?  
>I write, you write, Hugh writes, Shawn writes, Judy writes, Matthew
>writes, Glen writes....
>Doesn't ethics emanate from these relationships with Others?
>Doesn't truth emanate from these relationships with Others?
>How does Badiou refute this?
>If something like social construction, however you define it, exists,
>then isn't the Other necessary since we do not live alone? Don't I come
>to know who I am only in the context of the Others who confront me?
>I find much that is stimulating in Badiou, but his polemics fail to
>convince me.  I agree with his critique of human rights as a form of
>disguised politics, but it seems there is a deeper level that he simply
>does not confront. 


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