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Alain Badiou “Logics of Worlds” (I & II raamat)

Badiou, Alain 2009 [2006]. Logics of Worlds. Being and Event, 2. London, New York: Continuum. Preface

Where the materialist dialectic advocates the correlation of truths and subjects, democratic materialism promotes the correlation of life and indi-viduals. This opposition is also one between two conceptions of freedom. For democratic materialism, freedom is plainly definable as the (negative) rule of what there is. There is freedom if no language forbids individual bodies which are marked by it from deploying their own capacities. Or again, languages let bodies actualize their vital resources. Incidentally, this is why under democratic materialism sexual freedom is the paradigm of every freedom. Such freedom is in effect unmistakably placed at the point of articulation between desires (bodies), on the one hand, and linguistic, interdictory or stimulating legislations, on the other. The individual must be accorded the right to ‘live his or her sexuality’ as he or she sees fit. The other freedoms will necessarily follow. And it’s true that they do follow, if we consider every freedom in terms of the model it adopts with regard to sex: the non-interdiction of the uses that an individual may make, in private, of the body that inscribes him or her in the world. (34)

It turns out, however, that in the materialist dialectic, in which freedom is defined in an entirely different manner, this paradigm is no longer tenable. In effect, it is not a matter of the bond—of prohibition, tolerance or validation—that languages entertain with the virtuality of bodies. It is a matter of knowing if and how a body participates, through languages, in the exception of a truth. We can put it like this: being free does not pertain to the register of relation (between bodies and languages) but directly to that of incorporation (to a truth). This means that freedom presupposes that a new body appear in the world. The subjective forms of incorporation made possible by this unprecedented body—itself articulated upon a break, or causing a break—define the nuances of freedom. As a consequence, sexuality is deposed from its paradigmatic position—without thereby becoming, as in certain religious moralities, a counter-paradigm. Reduced to a purely ordinary activity, it makes room for the four great figures of the ‘except that’: love (which, once it exists, subordinates sexuality to itself), politics (of emancipation), art and science. (34)

Book I: Formal Theory of the Subject (Meta-physics)

It is clear then that the subject is that which imposes the legibility of a unified orientation onto the multiplicity of bodies. The body is a composite element of the world; the subject is what fixes in the body the secret of the effects it produces. […] The fact that the theory of the subject is formal means that  ‘subject’ designates a system of forms and operations. The material support of this system is a body, and the production of this ensemble—the formalism borne by a body—is either a truth (faithful subject), a denial of truth (reactive subject) or an occultation of truth (obscure subject). (46-47)

The crucial thing here is to gauge the gap between reactive formalism and obscure formalism. As violent as it may be, reaction conserves the form of the faithful subject as its articulated unconscious. It does not propose to abolish the present, only to show that the faithful break (which it calls ‘violence’ or ‘terrorism’) is useless for engendering a moderate, that is to say extinguished present (a present that reaction calls  ‘modern’). (61)

Things stand differently for the obscure subject. That is because it is the present which is directly its unconscious, its lethal disturbance, while it de-articulates in appearing the formal data of  fidelity. The monstrous full Body to which it gives  fictional shape is the atemporal  filling of the abolished present. Thus, what bears this body is directly linked to the past, even if the becoming of the obscure subject also crushes this past in the name of the sacrifice of the present: veterans of lost wars, failed artists, intellectuals perverted by bitterness, dried-up matrons, illiterate muscle-bound youths, shopkeepers ruined by Capital, desperate  unemployed workers, rancid couples, bachelor informants, academicians envious of the success of poets, atrabilious professors, xenophobes of all stripes, Mafiosi greedy for decorations, vicious priests and cuckolded husbands. To this hodgepodge of ordinary existence the obscure subject offers the chance of a new destiny, under the incomprehensible but salvific sign of an absolute body, whose only demand is that one serves it by nurturing everywhere and at all times the hatred of every living thought, every transparent language and every uncertain becoming. (61)

Having said that, we have seen how the effective concern of a figure of the subject is the present as such. The faithful subject organizes its  pro-duction, the reactive subject its denial (in the guise of its deletion) and the obscure subject its occultation (the passage under the bar). We call destination of a subjective figure this synthetic operation in which the subject reveals itself as the contemporary of the evental present, without necessarily incorporating itself into it. (62)

Therefore we will say that every faithful subject can also reincorporate into the evental present the fragment of truth whose bygone present had sunk under the bar of occultation. It is this reincorporation that we call resurrec-tion. What we are dealing with is a supplementary destination of subjective forms. (66)

Our idea of the subject is anything but ‘bio-subjective’. But in every case we must be able to think:

–the compatibility between the elements of the multiple that this body is in its being;

–the synthetic unity through which this multiple, unified in appearing (or as a ‘worldly’ phenomenon), is also unified in its being;

–the appropriateness of the parts of the body for the treatment of such and such a point (and, while we’re at it, what a point is);

–the local efficacy of the body’s organs. (68)

In fact, a truth is that by which ‘we’, of the human species, are committed to a trans-specific pro-cedure, a procedure which opens us to the possibility of being Immortals. A truth is thus undoubtedly an experience of the inhuman. Nevertheless, the fact that it is from ‘our’ point of view that (in philosophy) the theory of truths and subjective  figures is formulated comes at a price: we cannot know if the types of truths that we experience are the only possible ones. (71)

But we do truly know them. So that even if some typical expressions of the true evade us, our relation to truths is absolute. If, as is appropriate and as has always been done, we call ‘Immortal’ that which attains absolutely to some truth, ‘we’, of the human species, have the power to be Immortals. (71)

First of all, the global production of the faithful subject of the four types of truths, or the name of their present (sequence, configuration, enchant-ment and theory) must not lead us to lose sight of the local signs of this present, the immediate and immanent experience that one is participat-ing, be it in an elementary fashion, in the becoming of a truth, in a creative subject-body. In their content, these signs are new intra-worldly relations; in their anthropological form, they are affects. It is thus that a political sequence signals its existence point by point through an enthusiasm for a new maxim of equality; art by the pleasure of a new perceptual intensity; love by the happiness of a new existential intensity; science by the joy of new enlightenment. (76)

On the one hand, the subject is only a set of the world’s elements, and therefore an object in the scene on which the world presents multiplicities; on the other, the subject orients this object—in terms of the effects it is capable of producing—in a direction that stems from an event. The subject can therefore be said to be the only known form of a conceivable ‘compromise’ between the phenomenal persistence of a world and its evental rearrangement. We will call ‘body’ the worldly dimension of the subject and ‘trace’ that which, on the basis of the event, determines the active orientation of the body. A subject is therefore a formal synthesis between the statics of the body and its dynamics, between its composition and its effectuation. (79)

1. A subject is an indirect and creative relation between an event and a world.

2. In the context of a becoming-subject, the event (whose entire being lies in disappearing) is represented by a trace; the world (which as such does not allow for any subject) is represented by a body.

3. A subject is the general orientation of the effects of the body in conformity with the demands of the trace. It is therefore the form-in-trace of the effects of the body.

4. The real of a subject resides in the consequences (consequences in a world) of the relation, which constitutes this subject, between a trace and a body.

5. With regard to a given group of consequences which conform to the imperative of the trace, it practically always happens that a part of the body is available or useful, while another is passive, or even harmful. Consequently, every subjectivizable body is split (crossed out).

6. There exist two kinds of consequences, and therefore two modalities of the subject. The first takes the form of continuous adjustments within the old world, of local adaptations of the new subject to the objects and relations of that world. The second deals with closures imposed by the world; situations where the complexity of identities and differences brutally comes down, for the subject, to the exigency of a choice between two possibilities and two alone. The first modality is an opening: it continually opens up a new possible closest to the possibilities of the old world. The second modality—which we will study in detail in Book VI—is a point. In the first case, the subject presents itself as an infinite negotiation with the world, whose structures it stretches and opens. In the second case, it presents itself both as a decision—whose localization is imposed by the impossibility of the open—and as the obligatory forcing of the possible.

7. A subject is a sequence involving continuities and discontinuities, openings and points. The ‘and’ incarnates itself as subject. Or again, it is em-bodied [Ou encore (en-corps)]: A subject is the conjunctive form of a body.

8. The sequential construction of a subject is easier in moments of opening, but the subject is then often a weak subject. This construction is more difficult when it is necessary to cross points; but the subject is then much sturdier.

9. A new world is subjectively created, point by point.

10. The generic name of a subjective construction is ‘truth’.

11. Four affects signal the incorporation of a human animal into a subjective truth-process. The  first testifies to the desire for a Great Point, a decisive discontinuity that will institute the new world in a single blow, and complete the subject. We will call it terror. The second testifies to the fear of points, the retreat before the obscurity of the discontinuous, of everything that imposes a choice without guarantee between two hypotheses. To put it otherwise, this affect signals the desire for a continuity, for a monotonous shelter. We will call it anxiety. The third affirms the acceptance of the plurality of points, of the fact that discontinuities are at once inexorable and multiform. We will call it courage. The fourth affirms the desire for the subject to be a constant intrication of points and openings. With respect to the pre-eminence of becoming-subject, it affirms the equivalence of what is continuous and negotiated, on the one hand, and of what is discontinuous and violent, on the other. These are merely subjective modalities, which depend on the construction of the subject in a world and on the capacities of the body to produce effects within it. They are not to be hierarchically ordered. War can have as much value as peace, negotiation as much as struggle, violence as much as gentleness. This affect, whereby the categories of the act are subordinated to the contingency of worlds, we will call justice.

12. To oppose the value of courage and justice to the ‘Evil’ of anxiety and terror is to succumb to mere opinion. All the affects are necessary in order for the incorporation of a human animal to unfold in a subjective process, so that the grace of being Immortal may be accorded to this animal, in the discipline of a Subject and the construction of a truth.

13. When the incorporation of a human animal is at stake, the ethics of the subject, whose other name is ‘ethics of truths’, comes down to this: to find point by point an order of affects which authorises the continuation of the process. (79-89)

Book II: Greater Logic, 1. The Transcendental

We will say that a multiple, related to a localization of its identity and of its relations with other multiples, is a being [étant] (to distinguish it from its pure multiple-being, which is the being of its being [son pur être-multiple, qui est l’être de son être]). As for a local site of the identification of beings, we will call it, in what is still a rather vague sense, a world. (112-113)

This notwithstanding, the human animal cannot hope for a worldly pro-liferation as exhaustive as that of its principal competitor: the void. Since the void is the only immediate being, it follows that it figures in any world whatsoever. In its absence, no operation can have a starting point in being, that is to say, no operation can operate. Without the void there is no world, if by ‘world’ we understand the closed place of an operation. Conversely, where something operates [où ça opère]—that is, where there is world—the void can be attested. (114)

What does it really mean for a singular being to be there, once its being (a pure mathematical multiplicity) does not prescribe anything about this ‘there’ to which it is consigned? It necessarily means the following:

a.Differing from itself. Being-there is not ‘the same’ as being-qua-being. It is not the same, because the thinking of being-qua-being does not envelop the thinking of being-there.

b.Differing from other beings of the same world. Being-there is indeed this being [étant] which (ontologically) is not an other; and its inscrip-tion with others in this world cannot abolish this differentiation. On one hand, the differentiated identity of a being cannot account on its own for the appearing of this being in a world. But on the other hand, the identity of a world can no more account on its own for the differentiated being of what appears. (117)

What Plato, Kant and my own proposal have in common is the acknow-ledgment that the rational comprehension of differences in being-there (that is, of intra-worldly differences) is not deducible from the ontological identity of the beings in question. This is because ontological identity says nothing about the localization of beings. Plato says: simply in order to think the difference between movement and rest, I cannot be satisfied with a Parmenidean interpretation which refers every entity to its self-identity. I cannot limit myself to the path of the Same, the truth of which is never-theless beyond dispute. I will therefore introduce a diagonal operator: the Other. Kant says: the thing-in-itself cannot account either for the diversity of phenomena or for the unity of the phenomenal world. I will therefore introduce a singular operator, the transcendental subject, which binds experience in its objects. And I say: the mathematical theory of the pure multiple doubtlessly exhausts the question of the being of a being, except for the fact that its appearing—logically localized by its relations to other beings—is not ontologically deducible. We therefore need a special logical machinery to account for the intra-worldly cohesion of appearing. I have decided to put my trust in this lineage by reprising the old word ‘transcendental’, now detached from its constitutive and subjective value. (121-122)

The delicate point is that it is always through an evaluation of minimal identity that I can pronounce on the non-apparent. It makes no sense to transform the judgment ‘Such and such a being is not there’ into an onto-logical judgment. There is no being of the not-being-there. What I can say about such a being, with respect to its localization—with respect to its situation of being—is that its identity to such and such a being of this situation or this world is minimal, that is nil according to the trans-cendental of this world. Appearing, that is the local or worldly attestation of a being, is logical through and through, which is to say relational. It follows that the non-apparent conveys a nil degree of relation, and never a non-being pure and simple. (124)

We call ‘envelope’ of a part of the world that being whose differential value of appearance is the synthetic value adequate to that part. (130)

It’s remarkable that what will serve to sustain negation in the order of appearing is the  first consequence of the transcendental operations, and by no means an initial given. Negation, in the extended and ‘positive’ form of the existence of the reverse of a being, is a result. We can say that as soon as we are dealing with the being of the being of being-there, that is with the being of appearing as bound to the logic of a world, it follows that the reverse of a being exists, in the sense that there exists a degree of appear-ance ‘contrary’ to its own. (136)

[…] there is no Universe, only worlds. In each and every world, the immanent existence of a maximal value for the transcendental degrees signals that  this world is never  the world. A world’s power of localization is determinate: if a multiple appears in this world, there is an absolute degree of this appearance; this degree marks the being of being-there for a world. (139)

[…] it is not true that to a well-defined concept there necessarily corresponds the set of the objects which fall under this concept. This acts as a (real) obstacle to the sovereignty of language: to a well-defined predicate, which consists within language, there may only correspond a real inconsistency (a deficit of multiple-being). (153)

Here then is our  first phenomenological motif correlated to the One: from the existence of a capacity for a degree zero of identity in appearing it follows that this degree is in every case unique. There exists, in general, an infinity of measures of appearance, but only one of non-appearance. (160)

I regard the usual linguistic inter-pretation of logic as an entirely secondary anthropomorphic subjectivism, which must itself be accounted for by the intrinsic constitution of being-there. Husserl, on the contrary, only discerns the ultimate seriousness of all logic once the (conscious) subjective basis of formal operations has been constituted. For the phenomenologist, the real is in the  final analysis consciousness. For me, consciousness is at best a distant effect of real assemblages and their evental caesura, and the subject is through and through—as the examination of its forms in Book I showed—not constitu-ent, as it is for Husserl, but constituted. Constituted by a truth. (173-174)

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