Archive for the ‘Alain Badiou’ Category

Alain Badiou “”We Need a Popular Discipline”: Politics and the Crisis of the Negative”

April 24, 2014 Leave a comment

Badiou, Alain 2008. “We Need a Popular Discipline”: Contemporary Politics and the Crisis of the Negative. Critical Inquiry, 34(4): 645-659.

Philosophy has as its condition and horizon the concrete situation of different political practices, and it will try, within these conditions, to find instruments of clarification, legitimation, and so on. This current takes seriously the idea that politics is itself an autonomy of thought, that it is a collective practice with an intelligence all its own. (646)
I think it is necessary to distinguish Marxism from communism. I don’t think it is absolutely necessary to keep the wordcommunism.But I like this word a lot. I like it because it designates the general idea of a society and of a world in which the principle of equality is dominant, a world no longer structured by classical social relations—those of wealth, the division of labor, segregation, persecution by the state, sexual difference, and so on. That is, for me, what communism is. Communism in the generic sense simply means that everyone is equal to everyone else within the multiplicity and diversity of social functions. (648)
Both the insurrectional form of the party and today’s electoral form are articulations by state power. In both cases, the party is subordinated to the question of power and the state. I think we have to break with this subordination and, ultimately, engage political organization (whatever form it may take) in political processes that are independent of—“subtracted” from—the power of the state. Unlike the insurrectional form of the party, this politics of subtraction is no longer immediately destructive, antagonistic, or militarized. (650)
The problem for emancipatory politics today, however, is to invent a nonmilitary model of discipline. We need a popular discipline. I would even say, as I have many times, that “those who have nothing have only their discipline.” The poor, those with no financial or military means, those with no power—all they have is their discipline, their capacity to act together. This discipline is already a form of organization. The question is whether all discipline can be reduced to a military model, the model that dominated the first part of the twentieth century. How can we find, invent, exercise, or experiment with—today, after all, is an age of experimentation—a nonmilitary discipline? (650)
“At a distance from the state” signifies that a politics is not structured or polarized along the agenda and timelines fixed by the state. Those dates, for example, when the state decides to call an election, or to intervene in some conflict, declare war on another state. Or when the state claims that an economic crisis makes this or that course of action impossible. (650)
Distance from the state therefore means that the political process and its decisions should be undertaken in full independence from the state and what it deems important, what it decides to impose as the framework of the political. I understandstate here in the large sense, including the government, the media, and even those who make economic decisions. When you allow the political process to be dominated by the state, you’ve already lost the game because you’ve abdicated in advance your own political independence. (651)
On the political side, every revolutionary or emancipatory politics will have to be a certain adjustment or calibration between the properly negative part of negation and the part I call subtractive. A subtraction that is no longer dependent on the dominant laws of the political reality of a situation. It is irreducible, however, to the destruction of these laws as well. A subtraction might well leave the laws of the situation intact. What subtraction does is bring about a point of autonomy. It’s a negation, but it cannot be identified with the properly destructive part of negation. (652-653)
Our problem today is that the destructive part of negation is no longer, in and of itself, capable of producing the new. We need an originary subtraction capable of creating a new space of independence and autonomy from the dominant laws of the situation. A subtraction, therefore, is neither derived from nor a consequence of destruction as such. If we are to propose a new articulation between destruction and subtraction, we have to develop a new type of negation or critique, one that differs from the dialectical model of class struggle in its historical signification. (653)
It is necessary, then, to have a new articulation of the destructive and subtractive parts of negation so that destruction or violence appears in the form of a protective force, capable of defending something created through a movement of subtraction. (654)
The United States, for example, this nation of immigrants, is today constructing a wall and reinforcing its border security system against immigration, an action largely agreed upon by the Democrats—not necessarily concerning the wall but the need for a substantial increase in the border patrol. In France, this rhetoric has poisoned political life for some time now. It feeds the extreme Right, but, ultimately, the Left always aligns itself with this rhetoric. It’s a very interesting phenomenon because it shows that these destructured masses, poor and deprived of everything, situated in a nonproletarianized urban environment, constitute one of the principal horizons of the politics to come. These masses, therefore, are an important factor in the phenomenon of globalization. The true globalization, today, would be found in the organization of these masses—on a worldwide scale, if possible—whose conditions of existence are essentially the same. Whoever lives in the banlieues of Bamako or Shanghai is not essentially different from someone who lives in thebanlieuesof Paris or the ghettos of Chicago. They might be poorer and in worse conditions, but they are not essentially different. Their political existence is characterized by a distance from the state—from the state and its clients, the dominant classes but also the middle classes, all of whom strive to maintain this distance. On this political problem, I have only fragmentary ideas. It’s a question that is as difficult as the problem of organizing workers in the nineteenth century. I am convinced it is the fundamental problem today. (657)
To return to Spinoza, the situation is no doubt one in which the masses have sunken into what he calls sadness, in which the negative aspect prevails. The political, instead, is always a trajectory toward someone different. And it is an essential condition. In both directions at once. After May ’68, I myself set out to engage workers in an exchange that required both of us to assume this type of trajectory toward someone else. This is missing with the youths of the banlieues, shut up in a collective isolation. (658-659)


Bruno Bosteels “Badiou and Politics”

August 15, 2013 Leave a comment

Bosteels, Bruno 2011. Badiou and Politics. Durham; London: Duke University Press.

Elements of dialectical materialism

Between a given situation and the various figures of subjectivity that actually make a truth happen, the real issue is to account for where one can impact the other, for how long, and to what effect. Ultimately, this is nothing more and nothing less that the question of structural change, of how a given situation can be thoroughly transformed in the event of a new and unpredictable truth. (5)

[…] dialectics ultimately means a form of thinking that grasps the truth of a situation not by way of mediation but through an interruption, a scission, or a cut in representation. (16)

[…] a decision in politics does not depend on the positive study of the circumstances in which it takes place (even when these circumstances include the history of the class struggle), nor can politics depend on the moral elucubrations of our (good or bad) conscience […] (26)

Politics is not the art of the possible but the art of the impossible. To be more precise, a political process must make the impossible possible. This means in the first place to give visibility to the excess of power in the normal state of affairs. During the revolt of May ’68, no less than during the still obscure sequence of later events – from the protests of Solidarity in Poland to the uprising in Chiapas to the second Intifada – this process involves a certain gamble, or wager, through which the state is forced to lay bare its inherently repressive nature as a violent excrescence, typically shielded in a military and police apparatus used both inside and outside its own borders. (30)

Politics […] has nothing to do with respect for difference or for the other, not even the absolutely other, and everything with equality and sameness. (31)

[…] we should always come back to the principle that „ontology [does not equal] politics” since politics, like the events that punctuate the historicity of mathematics as a truth procedure, involves that which is not being qua being. In other words, there is no such thing as a political ontology […] (40)


The absent cause

[…] we can surmise what will be needed to think through the possibility of a situation’s becoming historicized by virtue of an event, namely, a theory of the subject that is no longer reduced to a strictly ideological function but accounts for the specificity of various subjective figures and different types of truth procedure. (65)


Lack and destruction

Badiou’s argument is rather that idealism consists in denying the divisibility of the existing law of things, regardless of whether these things are ideal or material: „The indivisibility of the law of the place excepts it from the real. To link up this exception in the domain of theory amounts to stipulating the radical anteriority of the rule,” he writes: „The position of this antecedence is elaborated in philosophy as idealism.” (85 – Theory of the Subject, 184)


One divides into two

Indeed, if politics is to be more than a short-lived mass uprising or manifestation, what the idea of the party is meant to add, even if its name disappears, is precisely the question of material consistency, embodiment, durability, that is, the question of organization. „Without organized application, there is no testing ground, no verification, no truth,” as we already read in Theory of Contradiction. (128)

  1. In the cas of „leftism” it is the structural element inherent in every tendency that is neglected in favor of a viewpoint of pure, unlimited, and affirmative becoming. The typical example of this viewpoint is the adventurist tendencies fostered by May 1968 itself: „If, indeed, one neglects the structural element, one takes the tendency for an accomplished state of affairs.” Everything then fuses into the being of pure becoming.
  2. In the case of „rightism” it is the possibility of radical change that is foreclosed in the name of a purely objective analysis of the structure. The typical example of this is still, not surprisingly, the economism of the Second International: „If one neglects the tendential element, one inevitably represses the new in the name of the old, one supports the established order. One becomes installed in an opportunistic attitude of waiting.” Everything then is made to depend on the pure state of existing conditions. (134 – Théorie de la Contradiction, 81-82)

For the Maoist in Badiou, though, […] everything must always be split – split between itself and something else, as determined by the system in which something finds its place. (139)


The ontological impasse

[…] the fundamental thesis of the whole metaontological enquiry in Being and Event affirms that there is an excess of parts over elements, of inclusion over belonging, of representation over presentation. There are always more ways to regroup the elements of a set into parts than there are elements that belong to this set to begin with […] The state of a situation, in other words, cannot coincide with this situation itself. (160)

[…] the most important argument in all of Being and Event effectively holds that an event, which brings out the void that is proper to being by revealing the undecidable excess of representation over simple presentation, can only be decided retroactively by way if a subjective intervention. (161-162)

[…] far from presupposiing some wild vitality of pure presentation, this impasse of being is nothing but the result of formal counting operations that are impossible to fix. (162)

[…] the break with nature as a gradual and well-ordered structure implies that, for such a break truly to happen, the initial situation will have had to become historical. (164)

A subjective figure […] becomes reactive whenever the logical outcome of a truth process in retrospect is considered to be indifferent as compared to the event that caused it. (171)

An event is a sudden commencement, but only a recommencement produces the truth of this event. (173)


Forcing the truth

Truth, in order to become effective in the situation, must be forced. That this is always the case should not be understood in the sense of a structural invariant. Forcing is, on the contrary, that which in principle breaks, through a symptomatic and reflective torsion, with all structural or transcendental points of view – even with those cases in which, as happens so often today, the structure is supposed to include what we might call its point of internal excess, its constitutive outside. (189-190)


Logics of change

„Finitude, the constant harping on of our mortal being, in brief, the fear of death as the only passion – these are the bitter ingredients of democratic materialism.” (210 – Logics of Worlds, 514)

If we have a prior concept of what constitutes an event, if we know what the conditions are without which it is impossible to speak of an event in the „true” or „proper” sense of the term: if indeed we have such a philosophical concept or transcendental understanding of the conditions of possibility of an event, then by necessity any case that serves as an example of such an event no longer would be an event, since it would be predictable, foreseeable, exemplifiable in advance. If there is an horizon expectation, in other words, there can be no event. Or, to put it the other way around, there is an event only when there is no horizon of expectation, or only when there is an horizon of nonknowledge – of a faltering knowledge, or a powerlessness to know, to comprehend, to foresee, to expect. (217)


From potentiality to inexistence

Political conflict […] cannot be derived from prior data that would be given at the level of society or the economy. (232)

Precisely because of this, politics is an art and not a science, namely, because there is no objctive guarantee, in the sense of existing class contradictions, for the emergence of political antagonisms; instead, all such antagonisms are themselves the product of an artful intervention, with which a subject responds to the unpredictability of an event. (233)

For Derrida, in contrast, because there is never or there must never be any actualization into the living present of ontology, much less a certain or necessary one, a spectral possibility or potentiality is also always a form of inactuality or impotentiality. (234-235)

As I repeatedly mentioned above, an event is always an event for a specific situation, as defined by the evental site that is symptomatic of this situation as a whole. It is not an absolute ex nihilo creation but a production that starts out from the edges of the concrete void that is proper to this situation and to this situation alone: „There are events uniquely in situations which present at least one site. The event is attached, in its very definition, to the place, to the point, in which the historicity of the situation is concentrated. Every event has a site which can be singularized in a historical situation.” (242 – Being and Event, 178-179)


For lack of politics

Modern would be that period in which nothing „is” if it does not fall under the domain of consciousness, that is, under the control of the representational system that always seeks to oppose the world to the mirror of human reason. Finally, if the idea of forcefully dominating reality, according to this way of thinking, is what defines the essence of the metaphysical project, then the modern age of technique and science will also have been the nihilist age of the fulfillment of metaphysics, which at one and the same time is its exhaustion and its end. (254)

„I say archi-aesthetic, because it is not a question of substituting art for philosophy. It is rather a question of posing within the scientific or propositional activity the principle of a clarity the (mystical) element of which is beyond this activity, and the real paradigm of which is art. It is a question therefore of firmly establishing the laws of the sayable (the thinkable), in such a way that the unsayable (the unthinkable, which in the final instance is given only in the form of art) be situated as ‚upper limit’ of the sayable itself.” (267 – L’Antiphilosophie de Wittgenstein)


Appendix 1: Can Change Be Thought? An Interview with Alain Badiou Conducted by Bruno Bosteels (Paris, June 10, 1999) (289-317)

[…] I have always been concerned in a privileged way by the question of how something could still be called „subject” within the most rigorous conditions possible of the investigation of structures. (295)

Can we think that there is something new in the situation, not the new outside the situation nor the new somewhere else, but can we really think of novelty and treat it in the situation? The system of philosophical answers that I elaborate, whatever its complexity may be, is subordinated to that question and to no other. (307)

The event is self-referential and, in addition, it is nothing else than the set of elements of its site. Here, the same principle applies: if you isolate self-referentiality and the set of elements of the site, you cannot adequately think through what I propose as the event’s figure. Because as multiple, the event’s figure mobilizes the elements of the site, delivered from the axiom of foundation. Subtracted from this axiom, and thus unfounded, the multiple of the elements of the site is going to act in a peculiar manner, namely, by immanentizing its own multiplicity. But you cannot isolate this point of the event’s material singularity as such, since the event is tied to the situation by way of its site, and the theory of the site is fairly complex. It was Deleuze who, very early on, even before our correspondence, at the time when Being and Event had just appeared, told me that the heart of my philosophy was the theory of the site of the event. It was this theory, he told me, that explained why one is not in immanence, which he regretted a lot, but neither is one in transcendence. That’s what he told me. The site is that which would diagonally cross the opposition of immanence and transcendence. (308-309)

Nathan Coombs “Political Semantics of the Arab Revolts/Uprisings/Riots/Insurrections/Revolutions”

Coombs, Nathan 2011. Political Semantics of the Arab Revolts/Uprisings/Riots/Insurrections/Revolutions. Journal of Critical Globalisation Studies 4: 138-146.

But why exactly is the term ‘revolution’ so politically=charged in comparison to others such as ‘revolt’, ‘uprising’, ‘riot’ or ‘insurrection’? Let us propose that it is because of all the above terms, ‘revolution’ is the one that implies the deepest content. It does not simply  describe  mass  political  actions,  crowds  on  the  street,  or  governments  falling. Instead, it announces an affirmation of the systematic overhaul of existing socio=economic conditions,  within  which  the  popular  mobilisation  plays  an  essential  role  even  while  it remains  insufficient  to  represent  the  overhaul  itself […] (139)

Hence, our first Badiouian axiom regarding revolutions is that the complete social overhaul indicated by the word cannot be fully predicted: a revolution relies on the introduction of novelty that reconfigures the sense of what is possible. (140)

Revolutsioon tugineb uudsuse sissetoomisele, mis muudab võimalike tegevuste välja. Kas seda ei tee ka mäss/ülestõus? Või on siin mõeldud pigem seda, et revolutsiooni käigus organiseerub uudne tegevusväli (korra haaramine, ülevõtmine ennustamatu poolt), mille kuju ei ole võimalik ette ennustada. Ilmselt viimane.

Instead of presenting the idea of the event  as an abstraction, he conceives it as a subtraction, and likewise for the subjective process of affirming an event. The essential difference can be put as follows: the revolution conceived of by social science is one based on  the  accumulation  of  knowledge  of  the  phenomenon  filed  under  the  signifier ‘revolution’,  whereas  for  Badiou  the  event—in  an  ambiguous  mathematico=epistemological register—is the occurrence of the void: the empty set of inconsistency asserting itself as a momentary, vanishing, partitive excess over belonging (see Badiou, 2006, meditations 16=20, pp. 173=211). Or, dropping the quasi set=theoretic language, the difference is that Badiou’s event occurs and recedes as quickly as it happens, leaving only an  indelible  mark  on  those  subjects  given  the  choice  to  affirm  it  and  see  through  its consequences to the end.  It disrupts the regime of knowledge with an irreducible novelty. (140)

Sotsioloogiline revolutsioon: subjektitu ajalooline sündmus; filosoofiline: ainult subjekti toel toimuda saav protsess, mis hõlmab truudust sündmusele.

Let us first mark the most crucial difference: namely, that the term ‘event’ operates as an idea,  whereas  a  revolution,  on  the  other  hand,  consists  of  a  concrete  set  of  factual occurrences. (141)

In rendering the possibility for splits like these into formal language, we have to go beyond Badiou to make the distinction that a revolution has to be both a revolution (a term of itself, much the same as how Badiou constructs the matheme of the event), and also must contain at least one event thought separately from the revolution itself. (141-142)

[…] for a non=subject, a specific revolution Rx is solely the sum of what is known of revolutions past framing the contemporary evental site X. This expresses particularly well non=subjects’ inability to perceive anything more than contingent spatial and temporal variants  in  each  revolution,  and  also  the  social  science  methodology,  which  conceives revolution by cumulatively adding the features of each past revolution to just modify the definition,  controlling  it  within  the  encyclopaedic  regime  of  knowledge. (142)

Mitte-subjekt, ehk revolutsioonist väljaspool seisev pealtvaataja/ajaloolane/sotsioloog jne, kes loendab sündmusi kui fakte, teeb üldistusi, loob entsüklopeedilise revolutsiooni “keele”, mille põhjal saab hinnata/ennustada tulevaste sündmuste “revolutsioonilisust”. Ent subjekti jaoks, kes praktiseerib truudust, ei ole taolist keelt olemas, sellist hinnangukriteeriumit: subjekt on see, kes mõneski mõttes tegutseb pimeduses, tundmata iga järgneva teo tagajärgi.

For  the  non=subjective sociological understanding of revolution, there would probably be no problem in labelling events  in  the  Arab  world  as  revolution  as  long  as  they  match  an  adequate  number  of features present within the sociological knowledge. (144)

Alain Badiou “Being and Event”

January 3, 2013 Leave a comment

Badiou, Alain 2005. Being and Event. London, New York: Continuum


The One and the Multiple

What has to be declared is that the one, which is not, solely exists as operation. In other words: there is no one, only the count-as-one. […] In sum: the multiple is the regime of presentation; the one, in respect to presentation, is an operation result; being is what presents (itself). (24)

I term situation every presented multiplicity. […] Every situation admits its own particular operator of the count-as-one. This is the most general definition of a structure; it is what prescribes, for a presented multiple, the regime of its count-as-one. […] One must not forget that every situation is structured. (24)

It is therefore in the after-effect of the count that presentation is uniquely thinkable as multiple, and the numerical inertia of the situation is set out. Yet there is no situation without the effect of the count, and therefore it is correct to state that presentation as such, in regard to number, is multiple. (24-25)

I will maintain, and it is the wager of this book, that ontology is a situation. (27)


The Void: Proper Name of Being

Any situation, seized in its immanence, thus reverses the inaugural axiom of our entire procedure. It states that the on is and that the pure multiple – inconsistency – is not. (52)

To be sure, there is no antecedence of the multiple which would give rise to presentation because the latter is always already-structured such that there is only oneness oneness or consistent multiples. But this ’there is’ leaves a remainder: the law in which it is deployed is discernible as operation. And although there is never enythong other – in a situation – than the result (everything, in the situation, is counted), what thereby results, marks out, before the operation, a must-be-counted. It is the latter which causes the structured presentation to waver towards the phantom of incosistency. (53)

A situation never proposes anything other than multiples woven from ones, and the law of laws is that nothing limits the effect of the count. (54)

The nothing names that undecidable of presentation which is its unpresentable, distributed between the pure inertia of the domain of the multiple, and the pure transparency of the operation thanks to which there is oneness. The nothing is as much that of structure, thus of consistency, as that of the pure multiple, thus inconsistency. It is said with good reason that nothing is subtracted from presentation, because it is on the basis of the latter’s double jurisdiction, the law and the multiple, that the nothing is the nothing. (55)

I term void of a situation this suture to its being. Moreover, I state that every structured presentation unpresents ’its’ void, in the mode of thus non-one which is merely the subtractive face of the count. (55)

I will establish later on (Meditation 17) that for the void to become localizable at the level of presentation, and thus for a certain type of intra-situational assumption of being qua being to occur, a dysfunction of the count is required, which results from an excess-of-one. The event will be this ultra-one of a hazard, on the basis of which the void of a situation is retroactively discernible. (56)

Naturally, because the void is indiscernible as a term (because it is not-one), its inaugural appearance is a pure act of nomination. This name cannot be specific; it cannot place the void under anything that would subsume it – this would be to reestablish the one. The name cannot indicate that the void is this or that. The act of nomination, being a-specific, consumes itself, indicationg nothin other than the unpresentable as such. In ontology, however, the unpresentable occurs within a presentative forcing which disposes it as the nothing from which everything proceeds. The consequence is that the name of the void is a pure proper name, which indicates itself, which does not bestoq any index of difference within what it refers to, and which auto-declares itself in the form of the multiple, despite there being nothing which is numbered by it. (59)


The  Mark Ø

The  solution to the problem is quite striking: maintain the position that nothing  is delivered  by  the  law  of  the  Ideas,  but  make  this  nothing be through  the assumption of a  proper name. In other words: verify,  via  the excedentary choice  of a  proper  name,  the  unpresentable  alone  as existent;  on  its basis the Ideas will subsequently cause all admissible forms of presentation to proceed. (66-67)

The unpresentable is that to which nothing,  no multiple, belongs; consequently,  it cannot present itself in its difference. To  negate belonging  is  to  negate presentation  and therefore  existence because existence is being-in-presentation. The  structure of  the  statement that  inscribes  the  ‘first’  existence  is  thus,  in truth,  the  negation  of  any

existence according to belonging. This statement will say something like: ‘there  exists  that  to  which  no  existence  can  be  said  to  belong’;  or,  ‘a ‘multiple’  exists  which  is  subtracted  from  the  primitive  Idea  of  the multiple.’ (67)

In  its metaontological formulation the axiom says:  the unpresentable is presented, as a subtractive term of the presentation of presentation. Or: a multiple is, which is not under the Idea of the multiple. Or: being lets itself be named, within the ontological situation, as that from which existence does not exist. (67-68)

We  thus arrive  at  the  following remarkable conclusion:  it is  because  the one is  not that the void is  unique. Saying that the null-set is unique is equivalent to saying that its mark is a proper name. Being thus invests the Ideas of the presentation of the pure multiple in the form of unicity signalled by a proper name. (69)


The Point of Excess

[…] even  if for commodity’s sake  we  sometimes  use  the  word  ‘part’  to designate a  subset, there is no more  a concept of a  whole,  and thus of a part,  than  there  is  a  concept  of  the one.  There  is  solely  the  relation  of belonging. (83)

The  non -coincidence  of inclusion and belonging signifies that there is an excess of inclusion over belonging; that it is impossible that every part of a  multiple belongs to it. On the other hand, it is in no way ruled out that everything which belongs to a multiple is also included in it. (89)

[…] in set theory,  what  I  count  as  one  under  the  name  of  a  set  a,  is  multiple­of-multiples. It is thus necessary to distinguish the count-as-one, or structure, which produces the  one  as  a nominal seal  of the multiple,  and  the one as effect, whose fictive being is maintained solely by the structural retroaction in  which  it  is  considered. (90)

I  can thus consider that the set  {0},  which counts-as-one the result of the  originary count-the one-multiple which  is  the  name of the  void is the  forming-into-one of this  name. Therein  the  one  acquires  no further being than that conferred upon it operationally by being the structural seal of the multiple.  Furthermore,  {0}  is a multiple,  a  set. It so happens that what belongs to it,  0,  is unique, that’s all. But  unicity is not the one. (91)


The State, or Metastructure, and the Typology of Being

All multiple-presentation is exposed to the danger of the void: the void is its being. The consistency of the multiple amounts to the following: the void, which is the name of inconsistency in the situation (under the law of the count-as-one), cannot, in itself, be presented or fixed. (93)

The  apparent solidity  of the  world  of presentation  is merely a result of the action of structure, even if nothing is outside such a result. It is necessary to prohibit that catastrophe of presentation which would be its encounter  with  its  own  void,  the  presentational  occurrence  of  inconsistency as such,  or the ruin of the One. (93)

[…] something, within presentation, escapes the count: this something is nothing other than the count itself. The ‘there is Oneness’ is a pure operational result, which transparently reveals the very operation from which the result results. It is thus possible that, subtracted from the count, and by consequence a-structured,  the structure  itself be the point where  the  void  is  given.  In  order  for  the  void  to  be  prohibited  from presentation,  it  is  necessary  that  structure  be  structured,  that  the  ‘there  is Oneness’  be  valid for the  count-as-one.  The  consistency  of presentation thus requires that all structure be doubled by a metastructure which secures the former against any fixation of the void. (93-94)

[…] all situations are structured twice. This also means: there is always both presentation and representation. (94) – structure and metastructure

Any ordinary  situation  thus contains  a  structure,  both  secondary  and supreme, by means of which the count-as-one that structures the situation is in turn counted-as-one, The guarantee that the one is is thus completed by the following:  that  from which its being proceeds-the count-is,  ‘Is’ means ‘is-one’, given that the law of a  structured presentation dictates the reciprocity of ‘being’ and ‘one’ therein, by means of the consistency of the multiple. (95)

[…] I will hereinafter term state of the situation that by means of which the structure of a situation – of any structured presentation whatsoever – is counted as one, which is to say the one of the one-effect itself […] (95)

A structure  is  precisely not a Term  of  the  situation,  and  as  such  it  cannot  be  counted,  A  structure exhausts itself in  its effect. which is  that there is  oneness, Metastructure therefore cannot simply re-count the terms of the situation  and  recompose  consistent  multiplicities,  nor  can  it  have  pure operation as its operational domain; that is, it cannot have forming a one out of the  one-effect  as  its direct role. (95)

[…] the theorem of the point of excess. This theorem establishes that within the framework of the pure theory of the multiple, or set theory, it is formally impossible, whatever the situation be, for everything which is included (every subset) to belong to the situation. (97)

The definition of the state of a situation is then clarified immediately. The domain of meta structure is parts: metastructure guarantees that the one holds for inclusion, just as the  initial  structure  holds for belonging.  Put  more precisely,  given  a  situation  whose  structure  delivers  consistent  one­multiples,  there  is  always  a  meta structure-the  state  of  the  situation -which counts as one any composition of these consistent multiplicities. What is included in a situation belongs to its state. The breach is thereby repaired via which the errancy of the void could  have fixed itself to the multiple,  in  the  inconsistent  mode  of  a  non-counted  part.  Every  part receives the seal of the  one  from  the  state. (97)

We should note that the state is a  structure which is intrinsically separate from  the  original structure of the  situation. (98)

On  the  other  hand,  the  state  is  always that  of  a  situation:  what  it presents, under the sign  of the one, as consistent multiplicities, is in turn solely composed of what  the situation presents; since what is included is composed of one-multiples which belong. As  such,  the  state  of a  situation  can  either be  said to be  separate  (or transcendent) or to be attached (or immanent) with regard to the situation and its native  structure. (98)

Once  counted  as  one  in  a  situation,  a  multiple  finds  itself  presented therein.  If it is also counted as  one  by  the  metastructure,  or state of the situation, then it is appropriate to say that it is represented. This means that it belongs to the situation (presentation), and that it is equally included in the situation (representation). It is a term-part. Inversely,  the theorem of the point of excess indicates that there are included  (represented)  multiples which  are not presented  (which do not belong). These multiples are parts  and  not  terms.  Finally,  there  are  presented  terms  which  are  not represented,  because  they  do  not  constitute  a  part  of the  situation,  but solely one of its immediate terms. I will call normal a term which is both presented and represented. I will call excrescence a term which is represented but not presented. Finally, I will term Singular a term  which is presented but not represented. (99)

Singular terms are subject to the one-effect. but they cannot be grasped as parts because they are  composed, as multiples,  of elements  which are not  accepted by  the  count. (99)

Thus it must be understood that:

– presentation,  count-as-one,  structure,  belonging and element are on the side of the situation;

– representation,  count  of  the  count  metastructure,  inclusion,  subset and part are on the side of the state of the situation. (103)


The state of the historical-social situation

[…] the essence of the State is that of not being obliged to recognize individuals-when it is obliged to recognize them in concrete cases, it is always according to a  principle of counting which does not concern the individuals as such. (105)

The State is simply the necessary metastructure of every historico-sociol situation, which is to say the law that guarantees that there is Oneness, not in the immediacy of society – that is always provided for by a non-state structure – but amongst the set of its subsets. (105)

[…] the State is not founded upon the social bond, which it would express, but rather upon un-binding, which it prohibits. Or, to be more precise, the separation of the State is less a result of the consistency of presentation than of the danger of inconsistency. (109)

[…] politics can be defined therein as an assault against the State, whatever the mode of that assault might be, peaceful or violent. It ‚suffices’ for such an assault to mobilize the singular multiples against the normal multiples by arguing that excrescence is intolerable. However, if the government and even the material substance of the State apparatus can be overturned or destroyed; even if, in certain circumstances it is politically useful to do so, one must not lose sight of the fact that the State as such – which is to say the re-securing of the one over the multiple of parts (or parties) – cannot be so easily attacked or destroyed. (110)

[…] politics  stakes  its  existence  on  its capacity  to  establish  a  relation  to  both  the  void  and  excess  which  is essentially different from  that of the State;  it is this difference alone that subtracts politics from the one of statist re-insurance. (110)


Evental Sites and Historical Situations

It is rational to think the ab-normal or the anti-natural, that is, history, as an omnipresence of singularity – just as we have thought nature as an omnipresence of normality. The form-multiple of historicity is what lies entirely within the instability of the singulat; it is that upon which the state’s metastructure has no hold. It is a point of subtraction from the state’s re-securing of the count. (174)

I will term evental site an entirely abnormal multiple; that is, a multiple such that none of its elements are presented in the situation. The site, itself, is presented, but ‚beneath’ it nothing from which it is composed is presented. As such, the site is not a part of the situation. I will also say of such a multiple that it is on the edge of the void, or foundational […] (175)

The border effect in which this  multiple touches upon the void originates in its consistency (its one-multiple) being composed  solely  from  what,  with  respect  to  the  situation,  in-consists. Within  the situation,  this multiple  is,  but  that  of which  it  is multiple  is not. (175)

One of the profound characteristics of singularities is that they can always be normalized: as is shown, moreover, by socio-political History; any evental site can, in the end, undergo a state normalization. However, it is impossible to singularize natural normality. […] history can be naturalized, but nature cannot be historicized. (176)

[…] the negative aspect of the definition of evental sites – to not be represented – prohibits us from speaking of a site ‚in-itself’. A multiple is a site relative to the situation in which it is presented (counted as one). A multiple is a site solely in situ. In contrast, a natural situation, normalizing all of its terms, is definable intrinsically, and even if it becomes a sub-situation (a sub-multiple) within a larger presentation, it conserves its character. (176)

[…] there are in situation evental sites, but there is no evental situation. (176)

I will term situations in which at least one evental site occurs historical. I have chosen the term ‘historical’ in opposition to the intrinsic stability of natural situations. I  would insist  upon  the  fact  that  historicity is a  local criterion:  one  (at  least)  of the  mUltiples  that  the  situation  counts  and presents is a site, which is to say it is such that none of its proper elements (the multiples from which  it forms a one-multiple)  are presented in the

situation. A historical situation is therefore, in at least one of its points, on the edge of the void. (177)


The Matheme of the Event

Ordinarily, conceptual construction is reserved for structures whilst the event is rejected into the pure empiricity of what-happens. My method is the inverse. The count-as-one is in my eyes the evidence of presentation. It is the event which belongs to conceptual construction,  in the double sense that it can only be thought by anticipating its abstract form, and it can only be revealed in the retroaction of an interventional practice which  is itself entirely thought through. (178)

In natural or neutral situations, there are solely facts. (178)

[…] the existence of a multiple on the edge of the void merely opens up the possibility of an event. It is always possible that no event actually occur. Strictly speaking, a site is only ‚evental’ insofar as it is retroactively qualified as such by the occurrence of an event. (179)

I term event of the site X a multiple such that it is composed of, on the one hand, elements of the site, and on the other hand, itself. (179)

If there exists an event, its belonging to the situation of its site is undecidable from the standpoint of the situation itself. (181)

In our hypothesis, the event blocks its total singularization by the belonging of its signifier to the multiple that it is. In other words, an event is not (does not coincide with) an evental-site. It ‘mobilizes’ the elements of its site, but it adds its own presentation to the mix. (182)

To  declare that an event belongs to  the situation comes down  to saying  that it is conceptually distinguished from its site by the interposition of itself between the void and itself This interposition, tied to self-belonging, is the ultra-one, because it counts the same thing as one twice:  once as a presented multiple, and once as a multiple presented in its own presentation. (182)

The undecidability of the event’s belonging to the situation can be interpreted as a double function. On the one hand, the event would evoke the void, on the other hand, it would interpose itself between the void and itself. It would be both a name of the void, and the ultra-one of the presentative structure. And it is this ultra-one-naming-the-void which would deploy, in the interior-exterior of a historical situation, in a torsion of its order, the being of non-being, namely, existing. (182-183)


Being’s Prohibition of the Event

[…] the ontological situation originally names the void as an existent multiple, whilst every other situation consists only insofar as it  ensures  the  non-belonging  of  the  void,  a  non-belonging  controlled, moreover, by the state of the situation. The result is that the ontological matrix  of  a  natural  situation,  which  is to say an  ordinal,  is  definitely founded, but it is done so uniquely by the void. In an ordinal, the Other is the name of the void, and it alone. We will thus allow that a stable natural situation  is  ontologically  reflected  as  a  multiple  whose  historical  or foundational term is the name of the void, and that a historical situation is reflected by a multiple which possesses in any case other founding terms, non-void terms. (188)

In non-ontological situations, foundation via the void is impossible. Only mathematical ontology admits the thought of the suture to being under the mark Ø. (188)

[…] an event is ontologically formalized by an extraordinary set. We could. But the axiom of foundation forecloses extraordinary sets from any existence,  and ruins any possibility of naming  a  multiple-being  of the event. Here  we  have  an  essential  gesture:  that  by  means  oj’  which  ontology declares that the event is not. (190)


The Intervention: Illegal choice of a name of the event

I term intervention any procedure by which a multiple is recognized as an event. (202)

An intervention consists, it seems, in identifying that there has been some undecidability, and in deciding its belonging to the situation. However, the second sense of intervention cancels out the first. For if the essence of the event is to be undecidable, the decision annuls it as event. (202)

[…] if the essence of the event is to be undecidable, the decision annuls it as event. (202)

The essence of the intervention consists – within the field opened up by interpretative hypothesis, whose presented object is the site (a multiple on the edge of the void), and which concerns the ‚there is’ of an event – in naming this ‚there is’ and in unfolding the consequences of this nomination in the space of the situation to which the site belongs. (203)

The Revolution of 1789 is certainly ‘French’, yet France is not what engendered and named its eventness. It is much rather the case that it is the revolution which  has  since  retroactively  given  meaning-by  being  inscribed,  via decision, therein-to that historical situation that we call France. (203)

The initial operation of an intervention is to make a name out of an unpresented element of the site to qualify the event whose site is the site. […] The name of the event is drawn from the void at the edge of which stands the intrasituational presentation of its site. (204)

The intervention touches the void, and is thereby subtracted from the law of the count-as-one which rules the situation, precisely because its inaugural axiom is not tied to the one, but to the two. As one, the element of the site which indexes the event does not exist, being unpresented. What induces its existene is the decision by which it occurs as two, as itself absent and as supernumerary name. (205)

‚The’ term which serves as name for the event is, in itself, anonymous. The event has the nameless as its name: it is with regard to everything that happens that one can only say what it is by referring it to its unknown Soldier.(205)

This nomination is essentially illegal in that it cannot conform to any law of representation. […] Given a multiple of presented multiples, its name, correlate of its one, is an affair of the state. But since the intervention extracts the supernumerary signifier from the void bordered on by the site, the state law is interrupted. (205)

Intervention generates a discipline: it does not deliver any originality. There is no hero of the event. If we now turn to the state of the situation, we see that it can only resecure  the belonging of this supernumerary name, which  circulates at random, at the price of painting out the very void whose foreclosure is its function. (207)

Every time that a site is the theatre of a real event, the state – in the political sense, for example – recognizes that a designation must be found for the couple of the site (the factory, the street, the university) and the singleton of the event (strike, riot, disorder), but it cannot succeed in fixing the rationality of the link. This is why it is a law of the state to detect in the anomality of this Two – and this is an avowal of the dysfunction of the coutn – the hand of a stranger (the foreign agitator, the terrorist, the perverse professor). (208)

[…] the possibility of the intervention must be assigned to the consequences of another event. It is evental recurrence which founds intervention. In other words, there is no interventional capacity, consitutive for the belonging of an evental multiple to a situation, save within the network of consequences of a previously decided belonging. An intervention is what presents an event for the occurrence of another. It is an evental between-two. (209)

Time – if not coextensive with structure, if not the sensible form of the Law – is the intervention itself, thought as the gap between two events. (210)

One  important  consequence  of  evental  recurrence  is that no  intervention whatsoever can legitimately operate according to  the idea of a primal event,  or a  radical beginning. […] This thought is unaware  that the event itself only exists insofar as it is submitted,  by an intervention whose possibility  requires  recurrence-and  thus  non-commencement-to  the ruled  structure  of the  situation;  as such,  any  novelty  is  relative, being legible solely after the fact as the hazard of an order. What the doctrine of the event teaches us is rather that the entire effort lies in following the event’s consequences, not in glorifying its occurrence. There is no more an angelic  herald  of  the  event  than  there  is  a  hero.  Being  does  not commence. (210-211)

[…] its [event’s] sole foundation lies in a discipline of time, which controls from beginning to end the consequences of the introduction into circulation of the paradoxical multiple, and which at any moment knows how to discern its connection to chance. I will call this organised control of time fidelity. (211)


Fidelity, Connection

First, a  fidelity is always particular,  insofar as it depends on an event. There is no general faithful disposition. Fidelity must not be understood in any way as a capacity, a subjective quality, or a virtue. Fidelity is a situated operation which depends on the examination of situations.  Fidelity is a functional relation to  the event.

Second, a  fidelity is not a  term-multiple of the situation, but, like the count-as-one,  an operation,  a  structure.  What  allows  us  to  evaluate  a fidelity is  its  result: the count-as-one of the regulated effects of an event. Strictly  speaking,  fidelity  is  not.  What  exists  are  the  groupings  that  it constitutes of one-multiples which are marked,  in one way or another, by the evental happening.

Third, since a fidelity discerns and groups together presented multiples, it counts the parts of a situation. The result of faithful procedures is included in the situation. Consequently, fidelity operates in a  certain sense on the terrain of the state of the situation. A fidelity can appear, according to the nature of its operations, like a counter-state, or a sub-state. There is always something institutional in a fidelity, if institution is understood here, in a

very general manner,  as what is  found in  the  space of representation, of the  state,  of the  count-of-the-count;  as  what  has  to  do  with  inclusions rather than belongings. (233)

What must  be  retained  and  conceptually  fixed  is  that  a  fidelity  is conjointly defined by a situation-that in which the intervention’s effects are  linked  together according  to  the  law  of the  count-by  a  particular multiple-the event as named and introduced into circulation-and by a rule  of connection  which  allows  one  to  evaluate  the  dependency  of any particular existing multiple with respect to the event. given that the latter’s belonging to the situation has been decided by the intervention. (234)

A fidelity, on the other hand, discerns the connection of  presented  multiples  to  a  particular  multiple,  the  event,  which  is circulated  within  the  situation  via  its  illegal  name. (236)

For my part,  I will call subject  the process itself of liaison between the event  (thus  the  intervention)  and  the  procedure  of  fidelity  (thus  its operator of  connection). (239)


The Folding of Being and the Sovereignty of Language

[…] if one assumes that every multiple is constructible, the event is not, the intervention is non-interventional  (or legal), and the un-measure of the state is exactly measurable. (304)

With  the  hypothesis  of  constructibility,  everything  changes. This  time one can actually demonstrate that no (constructible)  multiple is evental. In other  words,  the  hypothesis  of  constructibility  reduces  the  axiom  of foundation to the rank of a theorem, a  faithful consequence of the other Ideas of the multiple. (304)

At base,  the  sovereignty  of language-if one  adopts the constructivist vision-produces the following statement (in which I short-circuit quantitative explanation,  and  whose  charm  is  evident):  the  state  succeeds  the situation. (309)

Everybody can see that the constructible universe is-in its refined procedure even more than in  its result-the  ontological symbol of knowledge. (309)

The  ethic  of  knowledge  has  as  its  maxim:  act  and  speak such  that everything be clearly decidable. (314)


The Thougth of the Generic and Being in Truth

‘Generic’ and ‘indiscernible’  are  concepts which are almost equivalent. Why play on a  synonymy?  Because  ‘indiscernible’  conserves a  negative connotation, which indicates uniquely,  via non-discernibility, that what is at stake is subtracted from knowledge or from exact nomination. The term ‘generic’  positively  designates  that  what  does  not  allow  itself  to  be discerned is in reality the general truth of a situation, the truth of its being, as considered as the foundation of all knowledge to come.  ‘Indiscernible’ implies a negation, which nevertheless retains this essential point: a truth is always that which makes a hole in a  knowledge. (327)

Knowledge is the capacity to discern multiples within the situation which  possess  this  or that property;  properties  that  can be  indicated by explicit phrases of the language, or sets of phrases. The rule of knowledge is  always  a  criterion  of  exact  nomination.  In  the  last  analysis,  the constitutive  operations  of  every  domain  of  knowledge  are  discernment (such  a  presented  or  thinkable  multiple  possesses  such  and  such  a property)  and classification  (I  can  group  together,  and designate  by  their common  property,  those  mUltiples  that  I  discern  as  having  a  nameable characteristic in common). Discernment concerns the connection between language and presented or presentable realities.  It is  orientated towards presentation. Classification concerns the connection between the language and  the  parts  of  a  situation,  the  multiples  of multiples.  It is  orientated towards representation. (328)

We shall posit that discernment is founded upon the capacity to judge (to speak of properties), and classification is founded upon the capacity to link judgements  together  (to  speak  of  parts).  Knowledge  is  realized  as  an encyclopaedia. An encyclopaedia must be understood here as a summation of judgements under a common determinant. Knowledge-in its innumerable  compartmentalized  and  entangled  domains-can  therefore  be thought. with regard to its being.  as assigning to this or that multiple an encyclopaedic  determinant  by means  of  which  the  mUltiple  finds  itself belonging  to  a  set  of  multiples,  that  is,  to  a  part.  As  a  general  rule,  a multiple (and its  sub-multiples) fall under numerous determinants. These determinants  are  often  analytically  contradictory,  but  this  is  of  little importance. (328)

Remember that  knowledge  does  not  know  of the  event  because  the name  of  the  event  is supernumerary,  and  so  it does  not  belong  to  the language of the situation. When I say that it does not belong to the latter, this  is  not  necessarily  in  a  material  sense  whereby  the  name  would be barbarous,  incomprehensible,  or non-listed.  What  qualifies the name of the event is that it is drawn from the void.  It is a matter of an evental  (or historical) quality, and not of a signifying quality. But even if the name of the event is very simple, and it is definitely listed in the language of the situation,  it is supernumerary as name of the event,  signature of the ultra­one, and therefore it is foreclosed from knowledge. It will also be said that the event does not fall under any encyclopaedic determinant. (329)

[…] every finite part of the situation is classified by at least one  knowledge:  the  results  of  an  enquiry  coincide  with  an  encyclopaedic determinant. This is entailed by every presented multiple being nameable in the language of the situation. (331)

It is as though  knowledge  has  the  power  to  efface  the  event  in  its  supposed effects,  counted  as  one  by  a  fidelity;  it  trumps  the  fidelity  with  a peremptory  ‘already-counted!’ This is the case,  however,  when these effects are finite.  Hence a  law,  of considerable weight: the true only has a chance of being distinguishable from the veridical when it is infinite. A truth (if it exists) must be an infinite part of the situation,  because  for  every  finite  part  one  can  always  say  that  it  has already been discerned and classified by knowledge. (333)

The general idea is to consider that a  truth groups together all the terms of the situation  which  are positively  connected  to  the event. (335)

Our problem is finally the following: on what condition can one be sure that the set  of terms of the situation which are positively connected to the event is in no manner already classified within the encyclopaedia of the situation?  We cannot  directly  formulate  this  potential  condition  via  an ‘examination’ of the infinite set of these terms, because this set is always to-come  (being infinite)  and moreover,  it  is  randomly composed  by the

trajectory of the enquiries: a term is encountered by the procedure, and the finite enquiry in which it figures attests that it is positively connected, that it is an x(+). Our condition must necessarily concern the enquiries which make up the very fabric of the procedure of fidelity. (336)

Thus: if an infinite faithful procedure contains at least one finite enquiry  which  avoids  an  encyclopaedic  determinant,  then  the  infinite positive result of that procedure (the class of x(+)’s) will not coincide with that part of the situation whose knowledge is designated by this determinant.  In  other  words,  the  property,  expressed  in  the language  of  the situation which founds this determinant,  cannot be  used,  in any case,  to discern the infinite positive result of the faithful procedure. (337)

The  fact  that  the  procedure  is  generic  entails  the  non­coincidence  of  this  part  with  anything  classified  by  an  encyclopaedic determinant.  Consequently,  this part is  unnameable by the resources  of the language of the situation alone. It is subtracted from any knowledge; it has not been already-counted by  any of the domains of knowledge, nor will be, if the language remains in the same state-or remains that of the State.  This part, in which a truth inscribes its procedure as infinite result, is an indiscernible of the situation. (338)

For what the faithful procedure  thus rejoins is none other  than  the  truth  of  the  entire  situation.  insofar  as  the  sense  of  the indiscernible is that of exhibiting as one-multiple the very being of what belongs insofar as it belongs. Every nameable part. discerned and classified by  knowledge,  refers  not  to  being-in-situation  as  such.  but  to  what language  carves  out therein  as  recognizable  particularities.  The  faithful procedure. precisely because it originates in an event in which the void is summoned. and not in the established relation between the language and the state. disposes, in its infinite states. of the being of the situation. It is a one-truth  of  the  situation.  whilst  a  determinant  of  knowledge  solely specifies veracities. (339)

1 have to say that philosophy does not generate any truths either,  however painful this admission may be. At best, philosophy is conditioned by the faithful procedures of its times. Philosophy can aid the procedure which conditions it. precisely because it depends on it: it attaches itself via such intermediaries to the foundational events  of  the  times,  yet  philosophy itself does  not  make  up  a  generic procedure.  Its  particular  function  is  to  arrange  mUltiples  for  a  random encounter with such a  procedure. However,  whether such an encounter takes  place,  and  whether  the  multiples  thus  arranged  turn  out  to be connected to the supernumerary name of the event, does not depend upon philosophy.  A  philosophy worthy  of the  name-the name  which  began with  Parmenides-is  in  any  case  antinomical  to  the  service  of  goods, inasmuch  as it endeavours to be at the service of truths;  one can always endeavour to be at the service of something that one does not constitute. Philosophy is thus at the service of art, of science and of politics. That it is capable of being at the service of love is more doubtful (on the other hand, art, a  mixed procedure,  supports truths of love). In  any case, there is  no commercial philosophy. (340-341)

The ultimate effect of an evental caesura, and of an intervention from  which  the  introduction  into  circulation of  a  supernumerary  name proceeds, would thus be that the truth of a situation, with this caesura as its principle, forces the situation to accommodate it: to extend itself to the point at  which  this  truth-primitively  no  more  than  a  part,  a  representation-attains belonging, thereby becoming a presentation. (342)

However,  it would remain subtracted from knowledge if the language of the situation was not radically transformed. Not only is a truth indiscernible, but its procedure requires that this indiscernibility be. A truth would  force  the  situation  to  dispose  itself  such  that  this  truth-at  the outset  anonymously counted  as  one  by  the  state  alone,  pure indistinct excess over the presented multiples-be finally recognized as a term, and as  internal.  A  faithful  generic  procedure  renders  the  indiscernible immanent. (342)

As such, art science and politics do change the world, not by what they discern, but by what they indiscern therein. And the all-powerfulness of a truth is merely that of changing what is, such that this unnameable being may be, which is  the  very being of what-is. (343)


The Existence of the Indiscernible: the Power of Names

[…]the  indiscernible  is  without being.  In reality,  an inhabitant of S can only believe in the existence of an indiscernible-insofar as if it exists, it is outside the world. (373)

Certainly,  an indiscernible  for S exists outside S-but where is the paradox? What we want is an indiscernible internal to  a situation.  Or,  to be precise, a set  which:  a.  is  indiscernible in a  situation;  b. belongs to that situation. We want the set to exist in the very place in which it is indiscernible. The entire question resides in  knowing to which  situation  SJ  belongs.  Its floating exteriority to S cannot satisfy us, because it is quite possible that it belongs  to  an as yet unknown  extension  of  the situation,  in  which,  for example,  it would be constructible with  statements of the  situation,  and thus completely discernible. (375)

The  ‘nominalist’  singularity of  the  generic extension  lies  in  its elements being  solely  accessible  via  their  names. (381)


Theory of the Subject

I  term subjectivization  the  emergence  of an  operator,  consecutive  to  an interventional  nomination .  Subj ectivization  takes place  in  the  form of  a Two.  It is  directed towards  the  intervention on  the  borders of the  evental site .  But  it  is  also directed towards  the situation  through  its  coincidence with  the  rule  of  evaluation  and  proximity  which  founds  the  generic procedure.  Subj ectivization  is  interventional  nomination from  the  standpoint of the situation,  that  is,  the  rule  of the intra -situational effects  of the supernumerary  name’s  entrance  into  circulation .  It  could  be  said  that subjectivization  is  a  special  count,  distinct  from  the  count-as-one  which orders  presentation,  just  as  it  is  from  the  state’s  reduplication.  What subjectivization  counts  is whatever is faithfully connected to the name of the event. (393)

What the proper name designates here is that the subject, as local situated configuration, is neither the intervention nor the operator of fidelity, but the advent of their Two, that is, the incorporation of the event into the situation in the mode of a generic procedure. The absolute singularity, subtracted from sense, of this Two is shown by the in-significance of the proper name. But it is obvious that this in-significance is also a reminder that what was summoned by the interventional nomination was the void, which is itself the proper name of being. Subjectivation is the proper name in the situation of this general proper name. It is an occurrence of the void. (393)

[…] subjectivization is that through which truth is possible. (393)

Subjectivization, aporetic knot of a name in excess and an un-known operation, is what traces, in the situation, the becoming multiple of the true, starting from the non-existent point in which the event convokes the void and interposes itself between the void and itself. (394)

A  truth  alone  is  infinite,  yet  the  subject  is  not coextensive with it. The truth of Christianity-or of contemporary music. or  ‘modern  mathematics’-surpasses  the  finite  support  of  those  subjectivizations  named  Saint  Paul.  Schoenberg  or  Cantor;  and  it  does  so everywhere, despite the fact that a truth proceeds solely via the assemblage of those enquiries,  sermons, works and statements in which these names are realized. (395)

[…] the subject is consituted by encountering its matter (the terms of the enquiry) without anything of its form (the name of the event and the operator of fidelity) prescribing such matter. If the subject does not have any other being-in-situation than the term-multiples it encounters and evaluates, its essence, since it has to include the chance of these encounters, is rather the trajectory which links them. However, this trajectory, being incalculable, does not fall under any determinant encyclopedia. (395-396)

The subject is literally separated from knowledge by chance. The subject is chance, vanquished term by term, but this victory, subtracted from language, is accomplished solely as truth. (396)

Because the subject is a local configuration of the procedure, it is clear that the truth is equally indiscernible ‚for him’ – the truth is global. ‚For him’ means the following precisely: a subject, which realizes the truth, is nevertheless incommensurable with the latter, because the subject is finite, and the truth is infinite. Moreover, the subject, being internal to the situation, can only know, or rather encounter, terms or multiples presented (counted as one) in that situation. Yet a truth is an un-presented part of the situation. (396)

[…] the  subject  cannot  make  a  language  out  of anything except  combinations  of  the  supernumerary  name  of the  event and  the  language  of the  situation.  It  is  in  no  way  guaranteed  that  this language will suffice for the discernment of a truth,  which, in any case,  is indiscernible for the resources of the language of the  situation alone.  It is absolutely  necessary  to  abandon  any  definition  of  the  subject  which supposes that it knows the truth,  or that it is adjusted to the truth. (396)

The singular relation of a subject to the truth whose procedure it supports is the following: the subject believes that there is truth, and this belief occurs in the form of a knowledge. I term this knowing belief confidence. (397)

[…] the names used by a subject – who supports the local configuration of a generic truth – do not, in general, have a referent in the situation. Therefore, they do not double the established language. But what use are they? These are words which designate terms, but terms which ‚will have been’ presented in a new situation: the one which results from the addition to the situation of a truth (an indiscernible) of that truth. (398)

With the resources of the situation, with its multiples, its language, the subject generates names whose referent is in the future anterior: this is what supports belief. Such names ‚will have been’ assigned a referent, or a signification, when the situation will have appeared in which the indiscernible – which is only represented (or included) – is finally presented as a truth of the first situation. (398)

Every subject can thus be recognized by the emergence of a language which is internal to the situation, but whose referent-multiples are subject to the condition of an as yet incomplete generic part. (398)

[…] the reference of the names, from the standpoint of the subject, remains for ever suspended from the unfinishable condition of a truth. (399)

Here, language (la langue) is the fixed order within which a finitude, subject to the condition of the infinity that it is realizing, practices the supposition of reference to-come. Language is the very being of truth via the combination of current finite enquiries and the future anterior of a generic infinity. (399)

They [names] displace established significations and leave the referent void: this void will have been filled if truth comes to pass as a new situation […] (399)

A subject is thus, by the grace of names, both the real of the procedure […] and the hypothesis that its unfinishable result will introduce some newness into presentation. A subject emptily names the universe to-com which is obtained by the supplementation of the situation with an indiscernible truth. At the same time, the subject is the finite real, the local stage, of this supplementaion. Nomination is solely empty inasmuch as it is full of what is sketched out by its own possibility. A subject is the self-mentioning of an empty language. (399-400)

Sliding  without  quilting  point.  In  fact,  the  meaning  of  a  subject­language is under condition. Constrained to refer solely to what the situation presents,  and  yet  bound  to  the  future  anterior  of  the  existence  of  an indiscernible, a statement made up of the names of a subject- language has merely a  hypothetical Signification. […] I say ‘will have been’ because the veracity in question is relative to that other situation, the situation to-come in which a  truth  of  the  first  situation  (an  indiscernible  part)  will  have  been presented. (400)

A subject always declares meaning in the future anterior. What is present are  terms  of  the  situation  on  the  one  hand,  and  names  of  the  subject­language on the other. Yet this distinction  is artificiaL beca use the names, being  themselves  presented  (despite  being  empty),  are  terms  of  the situation. What exceeds the situation is the referential meaning of the names; such meaning exists solely within the retroaction of the existence (thus of the representation) of an indiscernible part of the situation. […] such a statement of the subject-language will have been veridical if the truth is such or such. (400)

[…] a fundamental law of the subject (it is also the law of the future anterior). […] if a statement of the subject-language is such that it will have been veridical for a situation in which a truth has occurred, this is because a term of the situation exists which both belongs to truth (belongs to the generic part which is that truth) and maintains a particular relation with the names at stake in the statement. (401)

I will term forcing the relation implied in the fundamental law of the subject. That a term of the situation forces a statement of the subject-language means that the veracity of this statement in the situation to come is equivalent to the belonging of this term to the indiscernible part which results from the generic procedure. It thus means that this term, bound to the statement by the relation of forcing, belongs to the truth. […] A term forces a statement if its positive connection to the event forces the statement to be veridical in the new situation (the situation supplemented by an indiscernible truth). (403)

A subject is a local evaluator of self-mentioning statements: he or she knows – with regard to the situation to-come, thus from the standpoint of the indiscernible – that these statements are either certainly wrong, or possibly veridical but suspended from the will-have-taken-place of one positive enquiry. (404)

[…] a subject is at the intersection, via its language, of knowledge and truth. Local configuration of a generic procedure, it is suspended from the indiscernible. Capable of conditionally forcing the veracity of a statement of its language for a situation to-come (the one in which the truth exists) it is the savant of itself. A subject is a knowledge suspended by a truth whose finite movement it is. (406)

Grasped in its being, the subject is solely te finitude of the generic procedure, the local effects of an evental fidelity. What it ‚produces’ is the truth itself, and indiscernible part of the situation, but the infinity of this truth transcends it. It is abusive to say that truth is a subjective production. A subject is much rather taken up in fidelity to the event, and suspended from truth; from which it is forever separated by chance. (406)

[…] it is not possible to modify the established veracity of a statement by adding to a situation a truth of that situation; for what would mean that in truth the statement was not veridical in the situation. Truth is subtracted from knowledge, but it does not contradict it. […] it is impossible by means of the existing resources of knowledge alone to decide whether it is veridical or erroneous. (406)

This capacity [to decide] is so important that it is possible to gve the following definition of a subject: that which decides an undecidable from the standpoint of an indiscernible. Or, that which forces a veracity, according to the suspense of a truth. (407)

[…] empirically, novelty (for example, political novelty) is accompanied by destruction. But it must be clear that this accompaniment is not linked to intrinsic novelty; on the contrary, the latter is always a supplementation by a truth. Destruction is the ancient effect of the new supplementation amidst the ancient. (407) A destruction is not true: it is knowledgeable. (408)

The autonomy of the generic procedure excludes ant thinking in terms of a ‚balance of power’ or ‚power struggles’. A ‚balance of power’ is a judgement of the encyclopaedia. What authorizes the subject is the indiscernible, the generic, whose supplementary arrival signs the global effect of an event. There is no link between deciding the undecidable and suppressing a presentation. (408)

A subject is thus also that which measures the possible disqualification of a presented multiple. And this is very reasonable, because the generic or one-truth, being an indiscernible part, is subtracted from the determinants of knowledge, and it is especially rebellious with regard to the most artificial qualifications. The generic is egalitarian, and every subject, ultimately, is ordained to equality. (408-409)

[…] if a presentation’s qualification in the new situation is linked to an inexistence, then this presentation was already qualified thus in the ancient situation. This is what I term the principle of inexistents. […] inexistence is retroactive. […] The positive version of the principle of inexistents runs as follows: a subject can bring to beat a disqualification, but never a de-singularization. What is singular in truth was such in the situation. (409)

A subject is that which, finite instance of a truth, discerned realization of an indiscernible, forces decision, disqualifies the unequal, and saves the singular. By these three operations, whose rarity alone obsesses us, the event comes into being, whose insistence it had supplemented. (409)


Forcing: from the indiscernible to the undecidable

[…]the  names are all that the inhabitants of the situation know of the  generic  extension,  since  the  latter  does not  exist in  their universe. (410)

[…] although  an  inhabitant  of  the  situation  does  not  know anything  of the  indiscernible,  and  so  of the  extension,  she  is capable  of thinking that the belonging of such  a  condition to a  generic description is equivalent to the veracity of such a  statement within that extension. It is evident  that  this  inhabitant  is  in  the  position  of  a  subject  of  truth:  she forces  veracity  at  the  point  of  the  indiscernible.  She  does  so  with  the nominal resources of the situation alone,  without having to represent that truth  (without  having  to  know  of  the  existence  of  the  generic extension). (411)

a.  Given a quasi-complete denumerable situation, in which the Ideas of the multiple are for the most part veridical-thus, a  multiple which realizes the schema of a  situation in which the entirety of historical ontology is reflected-one can find therein a set of conditions whose principles,  in  the  last  analysis,  are  that  of  a  partial  order  (certain conditions are ‘more precise’ than others), a coherency  (criterion of compatibility), and a  ‘liberty’  (incompatible dominants).

b. Rules intelligible to an ‘inhabitant’  of the situation allow particular sets of conditions to be designated as correct parts.

c.  Certain  of these  correct  parts,  because  they  avoid any coincidence with parts which are definable or constructible or discernible within the situation,  will be said to be generic parts.

d.  Generally,  a  generic part  does  not  exist  in  the  situation,  because  it cannot  belong  to  this  situation  despite  being  included  therein.  An inhabitant of the situation possesses the concept of generic part, but in no way possesses an existent mUltiple which corresponds to this concept. She can only ‘believe’ in such an existence. However, for the ontologist  (thus, from the outside), if the situation is denumerable, there exists a generic part.

e.  What  do  exist  in  the  situation  are  names,  multiples  which  bind together conditions  and  other  names,  such  that  the  concept  of  a referential  value  of these  names  can  be  calculated  on  the  basis  of hypotheses concerning the  unknown generic part  (these hypotheses are  of  the  type:  ‘Such  a  condition  is  supposed  as belonging  to  the generic part.’).

f  One terms generic extension of the situation the multiple obtained by the fixation of a  referential value for all the names which belong to the  situation.  Despite  being unknown, the  elements  of the  generic extension are thus named.

g.  What is at stake is definitely an extension, because one can show that every  element  of  the  situation  has  its  own  name.  These  are  the canonical names,  and they are independent of the particularity of the supposed  generic  part.  Being  nameable,  all  the  elements  of  the situation are also elements of the generic extension, which contains all the referential values of the names.

h.  The  generic  part,  which  is  unknown  in  the  situation,  is  on  the contrary an element of the generic extension.  Inexistent and indiscernible  in  the  situation,  it  thus  exists  in  the  generic  extension. However, it remains indiscernible therein. It is possible to say that the generic extension results from the adjunction to the situation of an indiscernible of that situation.

i.  One can define,  in the situation, a  relation between conditions,  on the one hand, and the formulas applied to names, on the other. This relation is called forcing. […]

j.  In using forcing, one notices that the generic extension has all sorts of properties which were  already those of the situation. It is in this manner that  the  axioms,  or  Ideas  of the  multiple,  veridical  in the situation, are also veridical in the generic extension. If the situation is quasi-complete, so is the generic extension: it reflects, in itself, the entirety of historical ontology within the denumerable. In the same manner the part of nature contained in the situation is the same as that contained by the generic extension, insofar as the ordinals of the second are exactly those of the first.

k.  But certain statements which  cannot be demonstrated in ontology,

and  whose  veracity  in  the  situation  cannot  be  established,  are veridical in the generic extension. It is in such a manner that sets of conditions exist which force, in a generic extension, the set of parts of Wo  to  surpass any given cardinal of that extension.

I.  One can thus force an indiscernible to the point that the extension in which it appears is such that an undecidable statement of ontology is veridical therein,  thus decided. (427-428)

Veracity  thus  has  two  sources:  being,  which  multiplies  the  infinite knowledge of the pure multiple; and the event, in which a truth originates, itself  mUltiplying  incalculable  veracities.  Situated  in  being,  subjective emergence forces the event to decide the true of the situation. There  are  not  only  significations,  or interpretations.  There  are  truths, also. But the trajectory of the true is practicaL and the thought in which it is delivered is in part  subtracted from language  (indiscernibility),  and in part subtracted from the jurisdiction of the Ideas (undecidability) . (430)



What still  attaches Lacan  (but this still  is the modern perpetuation of sense)  to the  Cartesian  epoch  of science  is the thought that the subject must be maintained in the pure void of its subtraction if one wishes to save truth.  Only  such  a  subject allows itself to be  sutured  within the  logical, wholly transmissible, form of science. (432)

A truth,  if it is thought as being solely a generic part of the situation, is a  source  of  veracity once a  subject  forces  an  undecidable  in  the  future anterior. But if veracity touches on language  (in the most general sense of the term), truth only exists insofar as it is indifferent to the latter,  since its procedure is generic inasmuch as it avoids the entire encyclopaedic grasp of judgements. (433)

Justin Clemens & Oliver Feltham “An Introduction to Alain Badiou’s Philosophy”

December 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Clemens, Justin; Oliver Feltham 2004. An Introduction to Alain Badiou’s Philosophy. – Badiou, A. Infinite Thought: Truth and the Return of Philosophy. London; New York: Continuum: 1-38.

Badiou’s guiding question: How can a modern doctrine of the subject be reconciled with an ontology? (3)

The problem with poststructuralism is that exactly the same of negative definitions serves to delimit its implicit ontology (whether of desire or difference): there are no self-identical substances, there are no stable products of reflection, and since there are no stable objects there can be no correlates of such objects. Thus in poststructuralism there is no distinction between the general field of ontology and a theory of the subject; there is no tension between the being of the subject and being in general. Where Badiou sees an essential question for modern philosophy, then, poststructuralism sees nothing. (3-4)

[…] Badiou recognizes a distinction between the general domain of ontology and the theory of the subject. […] he defers the problem of identity […] while he concentrates on the problem of agency. (6)

For Badiou, the question of agency is not so much a question of how a subject can initiate an action in an autonomous manner but rather how a subject emerges through an autonomous chain of actions within a changing situation. That is, it is not everyday actions or decisions that provide evidence of agency for Badiou. It is rather those extraordinary decisions and actions which isolate an actor from their context […] For this reason, not every human being is always a subject, yet some human beings become subjects; those who act in fidelity to a chance encounter with an event which disrupts the situation they find themselves in. (6)

A subject is born of a human being’s decision that something they have encountered, which has happened in their situation – however foreign and abnormal – does in fact belong to the situation and thus cannot be overlooked. (6)

There is nothing other than chance encounters between particular humans and particular events; and subjects may be born out of such encounters. […] Thus, Badiou displaces the problem of agency from the level of the human to the level of being. (8)

Thus the relation between the being of the subject and the general domain of Badiou’s ontology is a contingent relationship, which hinges on the occurrence of an event and the decision of a subject to act in fidelity to that event. (9)

Situations include all those flows, properties, aspects, concatenations of events, disparate collective phenomena, bodies, monstrous and virtual, that one migth want to examine within and ontology. The concept of ’situation’ is also designed to accomodate anything which is, regardless of its modality […] (10)

[…] unity is the result of an operation termed the count-for-one. This count is what Badiou terms the situation’s structure. A structure determines what belongs and does not belong to the situation by counting various multiplicities as elements of the situation. An element is a basic unit of a situation. A structure thereby generates unity at the level of each element of the situation. It also generates unity at the level of the whole situation by unifying the multiplicity of elements. This is a ’static’ definition of a situation: a situation is a presented multiplicity. (11)

[…] for Badiou unity is the effect of structuration – and not a ground, origin, or end. The consequence of the unity of situations being the effect of an operation is that a multiple that belongs to one situation may also belong to another situation: situations do not have mutually exclusive identities. (11)

The distinction between a situation and its structuring count-for-one only holds, strictly speaking, within ontology; the situation is nothing other than this operation of ’counting-for-one’. If a situation is a counting-for-one, then Badiou also has a dynamic definition of a situation. Once he has both a dynamic as well as a static definition of a situation – the operation of counting-for-one, and unified presented multiplicity – he is able to join his doctrine of multiplicity to a reworking of Heidegger’s ontological difference. (11)

Unlike Heidegger, however, the being of a situation is not something that only a poetic saying can approach; it is, quite simply and banally, the situation ’before’ or rather, without the effect of the count-for-one; it is the situation as a non-unified or inconsistent multiplicity. (12)

Badiou’s ’inconsistent multiplicity’ is therefore not to be equated with Aristotelian ’prime matter’; its ’actual’ status is, moreover, ’undecidable’. Precisely because a situation provokes the question ’What was there before all situations?’ but provides no possible access to this ’before’ that is not irremediably compromised by post-situational terminology and operations, it is impossible to speak of in any direct way. With the thought of ’inconsistent multiplicity’, thought therefore touches on its own limits; what Badiou calls, following Lacan, its ’real’. (13)

The void of a situation is simply what is not there, but what is necessary for anything to be there. […] This is the null-set, a multiple of nothing or of the void. On the sole basis of this set, using operations regulated by formal axioms, set theory unfoldas an infinity of further sets. Set theory thus weaves its sets out of a ’void’, out of what, in any other situation, is the substractive suture to being of that situation. […] In each and every non-ontological situation, its inconsistent multiplicity is a void. The only possible presentation of a ’void’ in set theory is the null-set. (16)

If one compares set theory to classical ontologies, indeed even to that of Deleuze, its modernity is immediate. It makes no claims concerning the nature of being, nor concerning the adequation of its categories to being. (18)

Consequently, in set theory ontology, the regime of identity and difference is founded upon extension, not quality. That is, every difference is localized in a point: for two sets to be different, at least one element of one of the sets must not belong to the other. (19)

The conclusion Badiou thus draws from set theory for the traditional philosophical problem of the relationship between language and being is that, although language bestows identity on being, being is in excess of language. […] In meta-ontological terms, the axiom of separation states that an undefined existence must always be assumed in any definition of a type of multiple. (22)

[…] it [set theory] has nothing to say about beings themselves – this is the province of other discourses such as physics, anthropology and literature. This is one reason why Badiou terms set theory a subtractive ontology: it speaks of beings without reference to their attribute or their identity; it is as if the beings ontology speaks of have had all their qualities subtracted from them. (23)

In meta-ontological terms, the power-set is the state of a situation. This means that every multiple already counted as one, is counted again at the level of its sub-multiples: the state is thus a second count-for-one. (24)

There are three types of multiple: normal multiples, which are both presented in the situation and represented by its state (they are counted-for-one twice); excrescent multiples, which are only represented by the state; and singular multiples, which only occur at the level of presentation, and which escape the effect of the second count-for-one. (24)

Natural situations are defined as having no singular multiples – all of their multiples are either normal or excrescent, and each normal element in turn has normal elements. Neutral situations are defined as having a mix of singular, normal and excrescent multiples. Historical situations are defined by their having at least one ’evental-site’; a sub-type of singular multiple. In set theory terms, a singular multiple is an element of a set, but not one of its subsets. Since each of a set’s subsets is made entirely of elements that already belong to the initial set, the definition of a singular multiple is that, first, it is an element of an initial set, and, second, some of its own elements in turn do not belong to the initial set. It is these foreign elements which are responsible for the singularity of a singular multiple. An evental-site is an extreme variety of a singular multiple: none of an evental-site’s elements also belong to the initial set. (24-25)

Howver, the existence of an evental-site in a situation does not guarantee that change will occur. For that something extra is required, a ’supplement’ as Badiou says, which is an event. […] The occurrence of an event is completely unpredictable. There is no meta-situation – ’History’ – which would programme the occurrence of evetns in various selected situations. (27)

[…] every multiple found in the model can be discerned using the tools of language. A generic set, on the other hand, is a subset that is ’new’ insofar as it cannot be discerned by that language. For every property that one formulates, even the most general such as ’this apple and this apple and this apple …’, the generic set has at least one element which does not share that property. […] The generic subset is only presented at the level of inclusion, and, unlike all the other subsets, it cannot be known via its properties. (29-30)

For Badiou, the actual work which carries out the wholesale change of a historical situation – in his terms, the fidelity practised by subjects to an event – consists of such experiments; infinite enquiries into the nature of the event, using an invented idiom to approximate what is discovered throug such enquiries. […] What results from such subtractions is a praxis made up of a hazardous series of bets, bets on the nature of the situation to come. Many of these bets will fall wide of the mark, but those that hit the target will help construct the new situation. (31)

Ontology only speaks of the structure of multiplicity: it has nothing to say about the qualities or identity of any concrete situation. (32)

Alain Badiou “The Communist Hypothesis”

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Badiou, Alain 2008. The Communist Hypothesis. New Left Review 49: 29-42.

If we posit a definition of politics as ‘collective action, organized by certain principles, that aims to unfold the consequences of a new possibility which  is  currently  repressed  by  the  dominant  order’,  then  we  would have to conclude that the electoral mechanism is an essentially apolitical procedure. (31)

What is the communist hypothesis? In its generic sense, given in its canonic Manifesto,  ‘communist’  means,  first,  that  the  logic  of  class—the  fundamental  subordination  of  labour  to  a  dominant  class,  the arrangement  that  has  persisted  since  Antiquity—is  not  inevitable;  it can be overcome. The communist hypothesis is that a different collective organization is practicable, one that will eliminate the inequality of wealth and even the division of labour. The private appropriation of mas-sive fortunes and their transmission by inheritance will disappear. The existence of a coercive state, separate from civil society, will no longer appear a necessity: a long process of reorganization based on a free association of producers will see it withering away. (34-35)

‘Communism’ as such denotes only this very general set of intellectual representations. It is what Kant called an Idea, with a regulatory function,  rather  than  a  programme.  It  is foolish  to  call  such  communist principles utopian; in the sense that I have defined them here they are intellectual patterns, always actualized in a different fashion. As a pure Idea of equality, the communist hypothesis has no doubt existed since the beginnings of the state. (35)

The political problem, then, has to be reversed. We cannot start from an  analytic  agreement  on  the  existence  of  the  world  and  proceed  to normative action with regard to its characteristics. The disagreement is not over qualities but over existence. Confronted with the artificial and murderous division of the world into two—a disjunction named by the very term, ‘the West’—we must affirm the existence of the single world right from the start, as axiom and principle. The simple phrase, ‘there  is  only  one  world’,  is  not  an  objective conclusion.  It  is  perfor-mative:  we  are  deciding  that  this  is  how  it  is  for  us. (38)

A first consequence is the recognition that all belong to the same world as myself: the African worker I see in the restaurant kitchen, the Moroccan I see digging a hole in the road, the veiled woman looking after children in a park. That is where we reverse the dominant idea of the world united by objects and signs, to make a unity in terms of living, acting beings, here and now. (39)

The single world of living women and men may well have laws; what it cannot have is subjective or ‘cultural’ preconditions for existence within it—to demand that you have to be like everyone else. The single world is precisely the place where an unlimited set of differences exist. Philosophically, far from casting doubt on the unity of the world, these differences are its principle of existence. (39)

The  simplest  definition  of  ‘identity’  is the series of characteristics and properties by which an individual or a group recognizes itself as its ‘self’. But what is this ‘self’? It is that which, across all the characteristic properties of identity, remains more or less invariant. It is possible, then, to say that an identity is the ensemble of properties that support an invariance. (39-40)

Defined  in  this  way,  by  invariants,  identity  is  doubly  related  to  difference: on the one hand, identity is that which is different from the rest;  on  the  other,  it  is  that  which  does  not  become  different,  which is invariant. The affirmation of identity has two further aspects. The first form is negative. It consists of desperately maintaining that I am not  the  other. […] The second involves the immanent development of identity within a new situation—rather like Nietzsche’s famous maxim, ‘become what you are’. The Moroccan worker does not abandon that which constitutes his individual identity, whether socially or in the family; but he will gradually adapt all this, in a creative fashion, to the place in which he finds himself. He will thus invent what he is—a Moroccan worker in Paris—not through any internal rupture, but by an expansion of identity. (40)

The political consequences of the axiom, ‘there is only one world’, will work  to  consolidate  what  is  universal  in  identities.  An  example—a local experiment—would be a meeting held recently in Paris, where undocumented  workers  and  French  nationals  came  together  to demand the abolition of persecutory laws, police raids and expulsions; to demand that foreign workers be recognized simply in terms of their presence: that no one is illegal; all demands that are very natural for people who are basically in the same existential situation—people of the same world. (40)

The virtue of courage constructs itself through endurance within the impossible; time is its raw material. What takes courage is to operate in terms of a different durée to that imposed by the law of the world. The point we are seeking must be one that can connect to another order of time. (41)

Alain Badiou “Deleuze: The Clamour of Being”

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Badiou, Alain 2000. Deleuze: The Clamour of Being. Minneapolis; London: University of Minnesota Press.

The Outside and the Fold

It is certain that,  “as  long as we continue  to  contrast history directly with structure, we can believe  that the  subject conserves  a  sense  as  a  constitutive,  receptive  and  unifying  activity”  (ibid.;  translation  modified).  Foucault’s  great  merit  (but  Deleuze,  in  using the free indirect style, makes  it his  own)  is to have constructed  thinlcing configurations  that have  nothing to  do with  the  couple  formed  by structural objectivity  and constitutive  subjectivity. (82)

Thinking a situation always  involves going toward  that,  in  it,  which  is  the  least  covered  by  the  shelter  that  the  general regime  of things  offers  it,  just  as in order  to think the  situation  of France today one must  start from  the  “dis-sheltering”  by  the  state  of those  who  are  without  papers. This is what, in my own language, I  name  (without needing for this  either the virtual or the Whole)  an event site. I determine this ontologically (with all the required mathematical  formulations)  as  that which  is  “on  the  edge  of the  void” -that is to say,  that which is  almost withdrawn  from  the  situation’s  regulation  by  an  immanent norm, or its state.5 In a situation  (in a set), it is like a point of exile where it is possible that something, finally,  might happen. And  I must say  that I was very  pleased when, in  detailing in depth  at the start of 1994 the  “political” similarities between his  thesis  of dis-sheltering  and my  thesis  of the  event site,  Deleuze  compared  the expression “on the edge  of the void” to  the  intersection between the  territory (the  space of actualization)  and  the  process  of deterritorialization  (the  overflowing  of the  territory by the event that is the real-virtual  of all  actualization), which is to say that it is the point at which what occurs  can no longer be  assigned  to  either the  territory (the site)  or the  nonterritory,  to  either  the inside  or the  outside.  And  it is  true  that the void has neither an interior nor an exterior. (85)

The  outside cannot be confused with anything so commonplace as  a  sort of external world. The automaton (thinking in  its  ascesis)  is  a  simulacrum that  is  without  any  relation  to  other  simulacra.  It  is,  itself, the  pure  assumption  of the  outside. (86)

But what is the underlying principle of all animation?  What populates  the  impersonal  outside;  what  is  it  that  composes  forms  therein?  Let us  call this  “element”  of the  outside  “force.” The  name  is  appropriate  for,  inasmuch  as  it is  translated  only by  a  constrained  animation  or  by  a  setting  into motion  of the automaton-thought,  the outside is only manifest as the imposition of a force.  One of Deleuze’s most constant themes is, moreover,  that we only think when forced to think. Let  this  be  a warning to those who would see in Deleuze an  apologia for spontaneity: whatever is spontaneous is inferior to thought, which only begins when it is constrained to become animated by the forces of the outside. (86)

[…] the element that comes from the outside is force. (86)

The  diagram  of forces -pure inscription  of the  outside – does not entail any interiority;  it does  not as yet communicate with the  One  as  such.  It nevertheless causes the disjointed objects  (or the regimes  of objects, such as the visible  and the  articulable)  to  enter into  a formal composition, which rests  characterized by exteriority,  but  as now activated by its  “forceful”  seizure.  We  pass  from a  simple disjunctive  logic  of exteriority to  a  topology of the outside as  the  locus  of the  inscription  of forces  that,  in  their  reciprocal  action  and  without  communicating  between themselves in any way,  produce singular exteriorities as a local figure of the outside. (87)

What  does  matter is how the intuition  goes beyond  the  setting up  of the  topology of forces toward the act of its identity with the  One. This movement of the intuition involves  topological concepts ­ concepts  that profoundly think the  outside  as a  space  of forces. […] It  is  at  this  moment  that  thought,  in  first  following  this  enveloping  (from the  outside  to  the  inside)  and then  developing it (from  the  inside  to the outside), is an ontological coparticipant in the  power  of the One. It is the fold of Being. (87)

For my part, I am Mallarmean:  being qua being is only the multiple­composition  of the void, except that it follows  from  the  event alone  that there can be truths of this void or empty ground. (89)

For what the fold presents  as  a limit on the sheet as pure outside is, in its being, a movement of the sheet itself. The  most profound moment of  the  intuition is, therefore, when the limit is thought as  fold, and when,  as  a  result,  exteriority becomes reversed into interiority.  The limit is no longer what affects the  outside,  it is a fold of the outside. It is auto-affection of the outside (or of force: it amounts to the same). […] That there  is  a  fold  of the outside (that the outside folds itself) ontologically signifies that it creates an inside. (89)

We can therefore  state that the intuition in which  Being coincides with thinking is the creation, as the fold of the outside, of a figure of the inside. And it is then possible  to  name this folding  a  “self” -this  is  Foucault’s  concept -and even,  if one insists,  a  subject.  Except  that we  must immediately  add:  first,  that  this  subject results from  a  topological  operation that can  be  situated  in  the  outside,  and  that it  is  thus in no way constitutive,  or autonomous,  or spontaneous; second, that this subject,  as the  “inside-space,” is  not  separate  from  the  outside  (whose  fold it is),  or yet  again, that it is “completely co-present with the outside-space on the line of the fold” (ibid., p.  11 8;  see the selection of texts [Appendix:  “The  Thought  of  the  Outside”]);  and, third, that it only exists  as  thought,  and  thus  as the process of the double ascesis (in which  one  must  endure  the  disjunction  and  hold on to  the  imperceptible  thread  of the One), which alone renders it capable of becoming the limit as fold. On these  conditions, we can say that  the subject (the inside) is the identity of thinking and being. Or again,  that  “To  think is  to  fold, to  double the  outside with a coextensive inside”  (ibid.). (90)

The fold makes every thought an immanent trait of the already-there, from which it follows that everything new is an enfolded selection of the past. (91)

As  for  myself,  however,  I  cannot  bring  myself to think  that  the new is  a  fold  of the  past,  or that  thinking  can  be reduced  to  philosophy or a  single configuration  of its  act.  This is why I  conceptualize  absolute  beginnings  (which requires  a  theory  of the  void)  and  singularities  of thought  that  are  incomparable  in their  constitutive  gestures  (which requires  a  theory -Cantorian,  to  be precise -of the plurality of the types  of infinity). Deleuze always maintained that, in doing this, I  fall  back into  transcendence  and  into  the  equivocity of analogy.  But,  all  in  all,  if the  only way to  think a  political  revolution,  an  amorous encounter, an  invention  of the sciences,  or a creation of art as  distinct infinities – having  as  their  condition incommensurable separative events -is by sacrificing immanence (which I do not actually believe is the case, but that is not what matters here) and the univocity of Being, then  I  would  sacrifice  them. (91-92)

A Singularity

Whereas  philosophy’s  task  is  to  determine  in  the  concept  that which is opposed to  opinions,  it is  nevertheless  true  that  opinion  returns,  such that there exist philosophical opinions. These can be recognized by the fact that they form sorts  of referential  and  labeled blocs,  capable of being harnessed by almost any ideological operation whatsoever, and that all the fuss  around their respective positions (which is where the  small fry come to  the  fore) only serves, in  fact,  to  shape,  under the heading of ” debate,”  a sort of shoddy consensus. (95)

[…] for  those like myself who rule out that Being can be thought as All, to say that all is grace means precisely that we are never ever accorded any grace.  But  this  is  not  correct.  It  does  occur, by interruption  or  by  supplement, and however rare  or transitory it may be, we are forced to be lastingly faithful  to it. (97)

But perhaps the imperative is completely different:  that it is not Platonism that has to be overturned, but the anti-Platonism taken as evident throughout the  entire  century.  Plato has to  be  restored, and  first  of all by the  deconstruction of “Platonism” – that common figure, montage of opinion,  or configuration that circulates from Heidegger to Deleuze, from Nietzsche to Bergson, but also from Marxists  to positivists,  and which is still used by  the  counterrevolutionary New Philosophers (Plato as the first of the totalitarian “master thinkers”), as well as by neo-Kantian moralists.  “Platonism”  is  the  great  fallacious  construction  of modernity  and  postmodernity alike.  It serves  as  a  type  of general negative  prop:  it only exists  to  legitimate the  “new” under the heading of an anti-Platonism. (101-102)