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Elizabeth Balskus “Examining Potentiality in the Philosophy of Giorgio Agamben”

April 24, 2014 Leave a comment

Balskus, Elizabeth 2010. Examining Potentiality in the Philosophy of Giorgio Agamben. Macalester Journal of Philosophy, 19(1): 158-180.

Both Aristotle and Agamben maintain that anything potential is capable of not existing in actuality, and that “what is potential can both be and not be, for the same is potential both to be and not to be”. (160)
Aristotle states that nous, or the intellect, “has no other nature than that of being potential, and before thinking it is absolutely nothing”. This statement leads Agamben to establish the intellect as the perfect example of pure potentiality, a potentiality “which in itself is nothing, [but] allows for the act of intelligence to take place”. (162)
When viewed as the ability to know or reflect, pure potentiality of the intellect becomes extremely important. This potentiality can exist apart from the actualization of any thought of a particular object because it is, in fact, this potentiality itself that allows for an object to even be thought. Therefore, the potentiality of the intellectnot only allows for thought to maintain a supreme position ontologically, it is also the foundation of thought in general. (163)
“Inoperativeness… represents something not exhausted but inexhaustible—because it does not pass from the possible to the actual”. The reason that Bartleby is so disturbing to his employer (who is the narrator of the short story) is that, in removing himself from the constraints of reason and, indeed, the constraints of society as a whole, he is the paradigm of the inoperative, of “the other side of potentiality: the possibility that a thing might not come to pass”. And because Bartleby never offers a reason for his refusal to work and never actually denies the requests made of him, the authorities at hand are completely bewildered as to how to deal with the scrivener. (167 – quotes „Agamben: Critical Introduction”)
Through his phrase “I would prefer not to,” Bartleby challenges the principle of sufficient reason. If the laws of reason do not apply, then there is no legitimate justification for why this world exists and the infinite number of potential worlds were never actualized. This is why Agamben refers to Bartleby as a messiah who has arrived to “save what was not”. Because the laws of reason do not apply to him, Bartleby asserts the right of those possibilities that have never and will never exist to be actualized. (172)
In decreation, contingency is returned to all events, causing us to rememberthat, along with the few potentialities that are actualized, there are an infinite number of potentialities that will never be and, yet, will continue to shape and influence our lives. (174)
The sacred realm of capitalism is, according to Agamben, consumption, and capitalism in its most pure, extreme form is concerned with making experience unusable or unprofanable by separating our actions from ourselves and presenting them back to us as a spectacle, to be observed and not used. A good example of this attempt to alienate ourselves from ourselves is pornography: the human form is appropriated, filmed, and then presented to us as something that can be watched but never experienced. Agamben calls this phenomenon “museification.” “Everything today can become a Museum, because this term simply designates the exhibition of an impossibility of using, of dwelling, of experiencing”. (175)


Jean-Francois Lyotard “The Inhuman”

Lyotard, Jean-Francois 1993. The Inhuman: Reflections on Time. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Introduction: About the Human

In 1913, Apollinaire wrote ingenuously: “More than anything, artists are men who want to become inhuman.” (2)

To go fast is to forget fast, to retain only the information that is useful afterwards, as in ‘rapid reading’. But writing and reading which advance backwards in the direction of the unknown thing ‘within’ are slow. One loses one’s time seeking time lost. (3)

That it always remains for the adult to free himself or herself from the obscure savageness of childhood by bringing about its promise – that is precisely the condition of humankind. (4)

‘Development’ is the ideology of the present time, it realizes the essential of metaphysics, which was a thinking pertaining to forces much more than to the subject. (6)

1. Can Thought Go on without a Body?

Dehumanized still implies human – a dead human, but conceivable: because dead in human terms, still capable of being sublated in thought. (10)

Human death is included in the life of human mind. (11)

You decide to accept the challenge of the extremely likely annihilation of a solar order and an order of your own thought. And then the only left you is quite clear – it’s been underway for some time – the job of simulating conditions of life and thought to make thinking remain materially possible after the change in the condition of matter that’s the disaster. (11-12)

So the problem of the technological sciences can be stated as: how to provide this software with a hardware that is independent of the conditions of life on earth. That is: how to make thought without a body possible. A thought that continues to exist after the death of the human body. This is the price to be paid if the explosion is to be conceivable, if the death of the sun is to be a death like other deaths we know about. (13-14)

[…] what makes thought and the body inseparable isn’t just that the latter is the indispensable hardware for the former, a material prerequisite of its existence. It’s that each of them is analogous to the other in its relationship with its respective (sensible, symbolic) environment: the relationship being analogical in both cases. (16)

Thinking, like writing or painting, is almost no more than letting a givable come towards you. (18)

In what we call thinking the mind isn’t ‘directed’ but suspended. You don’t give it rules. You teach it to receive. You don’t clear the ground to build unobstructed: you make a little clearing where the penumbra of an almost-given will be able to enter and modify its contour. (19)

The unthought hurts because we’re comfortable in what’s already thought. And thinking, which is accepting this discomfort, is also, to put it bluntly, an attempt to have done with it. That’s the hope sustaining all writing (painting, etc.): that at the end, things will be better. As there is no end, this hope is illusory. So: the unthought would have to make your machines uncomfortable, the uninscribed that remains to be inscribed would have to make their memory suffer. Do you see what I mean? Otherwise why would they ever start thinking? (20)

2. Rewriting modernity

A secret would not be a ‘real’ secret if no-one knew it was a secret. For the crime to be perfect, it would have to be known to be perfect, and by that very fact it stops being perfect. To make the point differently, but within the same order of memory, à la John Cage, there is no silence that is not heard as such, and therefore makes some noise. (28)

By endeavouring to find an objectively first cause, like Oedipus, one forgets that the very will to identify the origin of the evil is made necessary by desire. For it is of the essence of desire to desire also to free itself of itself, because desire is intolerable. So one believes one can put an end to desire, and one fulfils its end (this is the ambiguity of the word end, aim and cessation: the same ambiguity as with desire). One tries to remember, and this is probably a good way of forgetting again. (29)

3. Matter and time

The soul has at its disposal the only language. The body is a confused speaker: it says ‘soft’, ‘warm’, ‘blue’, ‘heavy’, instead of talking straight lines, curves, collisions and relations. Matter thus denied, foreclosed, remains present in this violently modern thinking: it is the enigmatic confusion of the past, the confusion of the badly built city, of childhood, ignorant and blind, of the cross-eyed look of the little girl loved by René Descartes as a child. Of everything that comes to us from behind, ‘before’. Confusion, prejudice, is matter in thought, the disorder of the past which takes place before having been wanted and conceived, which does not know what it is saying, which must be endlessly translated and corrected, currently and actively, into distinct intuitions. Childhood, the unconscious, time, because ‘then’ is ‘now’, the old, are the matter that the understanding claims to resolve in the act and actuality of the instantaneous intuitus. All energy belongs to the thinking that says what it says, wants what it wants. Matter is the failure of thought, its inert mass, stupidity. (38)

Pragmatism, as its name suggests, is one of the many versions of humanism. The human subject it presupposes is, to be sure, material, involved in a milieu, and turned towards action. The fact remains that this action is given a finality by an interest, which is represented as a sort of optimum adjustment of subject to environment. But if one looks at the history of the sciences and techniques (and of the arts, of which I have said nothing, even though the question of matter, of material especially, is decisive for them), one notices that this was not, and is not – especially today – in fact their finality. (44)

An immaterialist materialism, if it is true that matter is energy and mind is contained vibration. One of the implications of this current of thinking is that it ought to deal another blow to what I shall call human narcissism. Freud already listed three famous ones: man is not the centre of the cosmos (Copernicus), is not the first living creature (Darwin), is not the master of meaning (Freud himself). Through contemporary techno-science, s/he learns that s/he does not have the monopoly of mind, that is of complexification, but that complexification is not inscribed as a destiny in matter, but as possible, and that it takes place, at random, but intelligibly, well before him/herself. S/he learns in particular that his/her own science is in its turn a complexification of matter, in which, so to speak, energy in itself comes to be reflected, without humans necessarily getting any benefit from this. And that thus s/he must not consider him/herself as an origin or as a result, but as a transformer ensuring, through techno-science, arts, economic development, cultures and the new memorization they involve, a supplement of complexity in the universe. (45)

4. Logos and Techne, or Telegraphy

Current technology, that specific mode of tele-graphy, writing at a distance, removes the close contexts of which rooted cultures are woven. It is thus, through its specific manner of inscription, indeed productive of a sort of memorization freed from the supposedly immediate conditions of time and space. The question to follow here would be as follows: what is a body (body proper, social body) in tele-graphic culture? It calls up a spontaneous production of the pas in habit, a tradition or transmission of ways of thinking, willing and feeling, a sort of breaching, then, which complicates, counters, neutralizes and extenuates earlier community breachings, and in any case translates them so as to move them on too, make them transmissible. If the earlier remain there at all, resist a bit, they become subcultures. The question of hegemonic teleculture on a world scale is already posed. (50)

It is perfectly possible to say that the living cell, and the organism with its organs, are already tekhnai, that ‘life’, as they say, is already technique: the fact remains that its ‘language’ (genetic code, say) not only limits the performance of this technique but also (in fact it’s the same thing) does not allow it to be objectified, known and complexified in a controlled way. The history of life on earth cannot be assimilated to the history of technique in the common sense, because it has not proceeded by remembering but by breaching. (52)

5. Time Today

The event makes the self incapable of taking possession and control of what it is. It testifies that the self is essentially passible to a recurrent alterity. (59)

Why do we have to save money and time to the point where this imperative seems like the law of our lives? Because saving (at the level of the system as a whole) allws the system to increase the quantity of money given over to anticipating the future. This is particularly the case with the capital invested in research and development. The enjoyment of humanity must, it is clear, be sacrificed to the interests of the monad in expansion. (67)

Capital is not an economic and social phenomenon. It is the shadow cast by the principle of reason on human relations. Prescriptions such as: communicate, save time and money, control and forestall the event, increase exchanges, are all likely to extend and reinforce the ‘great monad’. That ‘cognitive’ discourse has conquered hegemony over other genres, that in ordinary language, the pragmatic and interrelational aspect comes to the fore, whilst ‘the poetic’ appears to deserve less and less attention – all these features of the contemporary language-condition cannot be understood as effects of a simple modality of exchange, i.e. the one called ‘capitalism’ by economic and historical science. They are the signs that a new use of language is taking place, the stake of which is that of knowing objects as precisely as possible and of realizing among ordinary speakers a consensus as broad as that supposed to reign in the scientific community. (70)

Being prepared to receive what thought is not prepared to think is what deserves the name of thinking. (73)

7. The Sublime and the Avant-Garde

The inexpressible does not reside in an over there, in another world, or another time, but in this: in that (something) happens. (93)

Art does not imitate nature, it creates a world apart […] (97)

The avant-gardist attempt inscribes the occurrence of a sensory now as what cannot be presented and which remains to be presented in the decline of great representational painting. Like micrology, the avant-garde is not concerned with what happens to the ‘subject’, but with: ‘Does it happen?’, with privation. This is the sense in which it still belongs to the aesthetics of the sublime. (103)

The availability of information is becoming the only criterion of social importance. Now information is by definition a short-lived element. As soon as it is transmitted and shared, it ceases to be information, it becomes an environmental given, and ‘all is said’, we ‘know’. It is put into the machine memory. The length of time it occupies is, so to speak, instantaneous. Between two pieces of information, ‘nothing happens’, by definition. A confusion thereby becomes possible, between what is of interest to information and the director, and what is the question of the avant-gardes, between what happens – the new – and the Is it happening?, the now. (105-106)

‘Strong’ information, if one can call it that, exists in inverse proportion to the meaning that can be attributed to it in the code available to its receiver. It is like ‘noise’. It is easy for the public and for artists, advised by intermediaries – the diffusers of cultural merchandise – to draw from this observation the principle that a work of art is avant-garde in direct proportion to the extent that it is stripped of meaning. Is it not then like an event? (106)

8. Something like: ‘Communication … without Communication’

In the conflict surrounding the word communication, it is understood that the work, or at any rate anything which is received as art, induces a feeling – before inducing an understanding – which, constitutively and therefore immediately, is universally communicable, by definition. Such a feeling is thereby distinguishable from a merely subjective preference. This communicability, as a demand and not as a fact, precisely because it is assumed to be originary, ontological, eludes communicational activity, which is not a receptiveness but something which is managed, which is done. This, in my view, is what governs our problematic of ‘new technologies and art’, or, put differently, ‘art and postmodernity’. This communicability, as it is developed in the Kantian analysis of the beautiful, is well and truly ‘anterior’ to communication in the sense of ‘theories of communication’, which include communicative pragmatics […] This assumed communicability, which takes place immediately in the feeling of the beautiful is always presupposed in any conceptual communication. (109)

In the reception of works of art, what is involved is the status of a sentimental, aesthetic community, one certainly ‘anterior’ to all communication and all pragmatics. The cutting out of intersubjective relations has not yet happened and there would be an assenting, a unanimity possible and capable of being demanded, within an order which cannot ‘yet’ be that of argumentation between rational and speaking subjects. (110)

Any industrial production pays homage to this profound and fundamental problematic of re-presentation, and aesthetic feeling presupposes something which necessarily is implied, and forgotten, in representation: presentation, the fact that something is there now. (111)

[…] what is hit, first of all, and complains, in our modernity, or our postmodernity, is perhaps space and time. What is attacked would be space and time as forms of the donation of what happens. The real ‘crisis of foundations’ was doubtless not that of the foundations of reason but of any scientific enterprise bearing on so-called real objects, in other words given in sensory space and time. (112)

We find sublime those spectacles which exceed any real representation of a form, in other words where what is signified is the superiority of our power of freedom vis-à-vis the one manifested in the spectacle itself. In singling out the sublime, Kant places the accent on something directly related to the problem of the failing of space and time. The free-floating forms which aroused the feeling of the beautiful come to be lacking. In a certain way the question of the sublime is closely linked to what Heidegger calls the retreat of Being, retreat of donation. For Heidegger, the welcome accorded something sensory, in other words some meaning embodied in the here-and-now before any concept, no longer has place and moment. This retreat signifies our current fate. (113)

What we live by and judge by is exactly this will to action. If a computer invites us to play or lets us play, the interest valorized is that the one receiving should manifest his or her capacity for initiative, activity, etc. We are thus still derivatives from the Cartesian model of ‘making oneself master and possessor …’ It implies the retreat of the passibility by which alone we are fit to receive and, as a result, to modify and do, and perhaps even enjoy. This passibility as jouissance and obligatory belonging to an immediate community is repressed nowadays in the general problematic of communication, and is even taken as shameful. But to take action in the direction of this activity which is so sought-after is only to react, to repeat, at best to conform feverishly to a game that is already given or installed [gestellt?]. Passibility, in contrast, has to do with an immediate community of feeling demanded across the singular aesthetic feeling, and what is lost is more than simple capacity, it is propriety. Interactional ideology is certainly opposed to a passivity but it remains confined in a completely secondary opposition. (117)

Not to be contemplative is a sort of implicit commandment, contemplation is perceived as a devalorized passivity. (118)

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)

Alain Badiou “Logics of Worlds” (III & IV raamat)

October 24, 2012 Leave a comment

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

Book III. Greater Logic, 2. The Object.

This book proposes an entirely new concept of what an object is. We are obviously dealing with the moment of the One in our analysis. That is because by  ‘object’ we must understand that which counts as one within appearing, or that which authorizes us to speak of this being-there as inflexibly being ‘itself’. The main novelty of this approach is that the notion of object is entirely independent from that of subject. (193)

So our trajectory can be summed up as follows: (object-less) subjective formalism, (subject-less) object and objectivity of the subject (bodies). It inscribes into the logic of appearing the generic becoming of truths which Being and Event had treated within the bounds of the ontology of the pure multiple. (194)

Since we posit that appearing has nothing to do with a subject (whether empirical or transcendental), naming instead the logic of being-there, we clearly cannot oppose an inner to an outer experience. In fact, no experience whatsoever is involved. But we are obliged to establish that an object is indeed the being-there of an ontologically determinate being; or that the logic of appearing does not exhaustively constitute the intel-ligibility of objects, which also presupposes an ontological halting point that is at the basis of appearing as the determination of objects-in-the-world. (195)

[…] being itself may, under certain conditions, be synthesized (enveloped), and therefore be ascribed a unity other than the one that counts its pure multi-plicity as one. Everything happens as if appearance in a world endowed pure multiplicity—for the ‘time’ it takes to exist in a world—with a form of homogeneity that can be inscribed in its being. This (demonstrable) result—which shows that appearing infects being to the extent being comes to take place in a world—is so striking that I have named it the ‘fundamental theorem of atomic logic’. (196-197)

We have called the ‘phenomenon’ of a multiple-being, relative to the world in which it appears, the giving of the degrees of identity that measure its relationship of appearance to all the other beings of the same world (or, more precisely, of the same object-of-the-world). This definition is relative and by no means rests, at least in an immediate sense, on the intensity of appearance of a being in a world. (207)

Given a world and a function of appearing whose values lie in the transcendental of this world, we will call ‘existence’ of a being x which appears in this world the transcendental degree assigned to the self-identity of x. Thus defined, existence is not a category of being (of mathematics), it is a category of appearing (of logic). In particular, ‘to exist’ has no meaning in itself. In agreement with one of Sartre’s insights, who borrows it from Heidegger, but also from Kierkegaard or even Pascal, ‘to exist’ can only be said relatively to a world. In effect, existence is nothing but a transcendental degree. It indicates the intensity of appearance of a multiple-being in a determinate world, and this intensity is by no means prescribed by the pure multiple composition of the being in question. (208)

We will now establish a fundamental property of existence: in a given world, a being cannot appear to be more identical to another being than it is to itself. Existence governs difference. (210)

That existence subsumes difference (through its transcendental degree) does not make existence into the One of appearing. The fact that existence is not a form of being does not make it into the unitary form of appearing. As purely phenomenal, existence precedes the object and does not constitute it. (211)

Given a world, we call object of the world the couple formed by a multiple and a transcendental indexing of this multiple, under the condition that all the atoms of appearing whose referent is the multiple in question are its real atoms.

In an abstract sense, it should be underscored that an object is jointly given by a conceptual couple (a multiple and a transcendental indexing) and a materialist prescription about the One (every atom is real). It is therefore neither a substantial given (since the appearing of a multiple A presupposes a transcendental indexing which varies according to the worlds and may also vary within the same world) nor a purely  fictional given (since every one-effect in appearing is prescribed by a real element of what appears). (220)

In a general sense, we will call  ‘localization of an atom on a transcendental degree’ the function which associates, to every being of the world, the conjunction of the degree of belonging of this being to the atom, on one hand, and of the assigned degree, on the other.

It appears then that every assignation of an atom to a degree—every localization—is itself an atom. Mastering the intuition of this point is both very important and rather difficult. In essence, it means that an atom which is ‘relativized’ to a particular localization gives us a new atom. (224)

Let us restate this definition more explicitly: Take an object presented in a world. Let an element ‘a’ of the multiple ‘A’ be the underlying being of this object. And let ‘p’ be a transcendental degree. We will say that an element ‘b’ of A is the ‘localization of a on p’ if b prescribes the real atom resulting from the localization on the degree p of the atom prescribed by element a. (225)

At this point in our discussion, it is very important to emphasize once again that localization is a relation between elements of A, and therefore a relation that directly structures the being of the multiple. (225)

At the point of a real atom, being and appearing conjoin under the sign of the One. It only remains to formulate our  ‘postulate of materialism’, which authorizes a definition of the object. As we know, this postulate says: every atom is real. It is directly opposed to the Bergsonist or Deleuzean pre-supposition of the primacy of the virtual. In effect, it stipulates that the virtuality of an apparent’s appearing in such and such a world is always rooted in its actual ontological composition. (250-251)

It is crucial to remember that existence is not as such a category of being, but a category of appearing; a being only exists according to its being-there. And this existence is that of a  degree of existence, situated between inexistence and absolute existence. Existence is both a logical and an intensive concept. It is this double status which makes it possible to rethink death. (269)

Just like existence, death is not a category of being. It is a category of appearing, or, more precisely, of the becoming of appearing. To put it otherwise, death is a logical rather than an ontological concept. All that can be affirmed about ‘dying’ is that it is an affection of appearing, which leads from a situated existence that can be positively evaluated (even if it is not maximal) to a minimal existence, an existence that is nil  relatively to the world. (269-270)

[…] what comes to pass with death is an exterior change in the function of appearing of a given multiple. This change is always imposed upon the dying being, and this imposition is contingent. The right formula is Spinoza’s:  ‘No thing can be destroyed except through an external cause’. It is impossible to say of a being that it is ‘mortal’, if by this we understand that it is internally necessary for it to die. At most we can accept that death is possible for it, in the sense that an abrupt change in the function of appearing may befall it and that this change may amount to a minimization of its identity, and thus of its degree of existence. (270)


Book IV. Greater Logic, 3. Relation

[…] a relation is a connection between objective multiplicities—a function—that creates nothing in the register of intensities of existence, or in that of atomic localizations, which is not already prescribed by the regime of appearance of these multiplicities (by the objects whose ontological support they are). It is on this basis that the question of the universality of a relation poses itself. We will say that a relation is universally exposed in a world if it is clearly ‘visible’ from the interior of this world, in a sense which will be specified below. (301)

[…] a relation is universal if its intra-worldly visibility is itself visible. It is then effectively impossible to cast doubt on its existence. Within the full extension of the world, it is a relation for all. These considerations allow us to establish one of the most striking results of the analytic of worlds. We will demonstrate that every relation is uni-versal. More precisely, we will demonstrate that the infinity of a world (its ontological characteristic) entails the universality of relations (its logical characteristic). The extensive law of multiple being subsumes the logical form of relations. Being has the last word. It already did at the level of atomic logic, where we affirmed, under the name of ‘postulate of material-ism’, that every atom is real. That is why the universality of relations—which is itself not a postulate but a consequence—is accorded the status of ‘second constitutive thesis of materialism’. (302)

[…] we must think two types of relations, in order to secure an intelligible answer to the question of what a world is:

a. the constitutive relations (or operations) of the theory of the pure multiple, or theory of being-qua-being; in effect, every world is con-structed on the basis of multiple-beings, and it is important to know under what conditions these multiple-beings are globally exposed to constituting the being of a world;

b. the relations between apparents of the same world, that is to say the relations between objects. (305)

[…] if you totalize the parts of an (ontological) component of a world, counting as one the system of these parts, you get an entity of the same world. This is the second fundamental property with regard to the operative extension of a world thought in its being: a world makes immanent every local totalization of the parts of that which com-poses it. Its state (the count as one of the subsets of the beings that are there) is itself in the world, and not transcendent to it. Just as there is no ultimate formless matter, so there is no principle of the state of affairs. (308)

The extension of a world remains inaccessible to the operations that open up its multiple-being and allow it to radiate. Like the Hegelian absolute, a world is the unfolding of its own infinity. But, unlike that Absolute, the world cannot internally construct the measure or the concept of the infinite that it is. This impossibility is what assures that a world is closed, without it thereby being representable as a Whole from the interior of the scene of appearance that it constitutes. (309)

This paradoxical property of the ontology of worlds—their oper-ational closure and immanent opening—is the proper concept of their infinity. We will sum it up by saying: every world is affected by an inaccess-ible closure. (310)

A relation, within appearing, is necessarily subordinated to the transcen-dental intensity of the apparents that it binds together. Being-there—and not relation—makes the being of appearing. This is what we could call the axiom of relations. I say ‘axiom’ because of the intuitive, or phenomeno-logical, manifestness of its content: relation draws its being from what it binds together. The most rigorous formulation of the axiom could then be the following: a relation creates neither existence nor difference. Let’s recall that an object, the unit of counting of appearing, is the couple formed by a multiple-being and its transcendental indexing (or function of appearing) in a determinate world. We will then call ‘relation’ between two objects of a given world every function of the elements of the one towards the elements of the other, such that it preserves existences and safeguards or augments identities (that is, maintains or diminishes differences). (310)

A relation is an oriented connection from one object towards another, on condition that the existential value of an element of the first object is never inferior to the value which, through this connection, corresponds to it in the second object, and that to the transcendental measure of an identity in the one there corresponds in the other a transcendental measure which also cannot be inferior.

If we wish to move to a positive definition of relations, we will say: a relation between two objects is a function that conserves the atomic logic of these objects, and in particular the real synthesis which affects their being on the basis of their appearing. It is this definition in terms of conservation or invariants which we will adopt in the formal exposition. (312)

Every object—considered in its being as a pure multiple—is inexorably marked by the fact that in appearing in this world it could have also not appeared and, moreover, it may appear in another world. (321)

Generally speaking, given a world, we will call ‘proper inexistent of an object’ an element of the underlying multiple whose value of existence is minimal. Or again, an element of an apparent which, relative to the transcendental indexing of this apparent, inexists in the world. The thesis on the rationality of the contingency of worlds can then be stated as follows: every object possesses, among its elements, an inexistent. (322-323)

The inexistent of an object is suspended between (ontological) being and a certain form of (logical) non-being. We can conclude the following: given an object in a world, there exists a single element of this object which inexists in that world. It is this element that we call the proper inexistent of the object. It testifies, in the sphere of appearance, for the contingency of being-there. In this sense, its (onto-logical) being has (logical) non-being as its being-there. (324)

We will posit in effect that a functional connection between objects is identifiable as a relation only to the extent that it ‘conserves’ the principal transcendental particularities of these objects, in particular the degrees of existence and the localizations. This means that no relation has the power to upset the real atomic substructure of appearing. There is a resistance of matter. (336)

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

October 10, 2012 Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book II: Greater Logic, 1. The Transcendental

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John D. Caputo “Instants, Secrets, and Singularities”

Caputo, John D. 1995. Instants, Secrets, and Singularities: Dealing Death in Kierkegaard and Derrida. – Matuštik, Martin J.; Westphal, Merold (eds). Kierkegaard in Post/Modernity. Indiana University Press: 216-238.

[…] undecidability does not mean aesthetic indecision but supplies instead the condition of possibility of deciding, i.e., of taking a risk. (216)

So there are two levels of secrecy at work in the story: the secret that God keeps from Abraham, who does not know what God’s pleasure is; and the secret that Abraham keeps from Isaac and Sarah, from the servants who accompany him to Moriah, from family and friends, from anyone who would ask what he is doing, who do not know what the patriarh is up to, because he does not know himself. (220)

The sphere of absolute responsibility is beyond duty, because in doing one’s duty one is related to the universal, not God. So Abraham is beyond ethics, beyond duty qua duty, transcending Kantianism in favor of the religious, which is absolute duty, which means to be related to God. (221)

[…] „ethics“ […] means the calculability of obligation, allowing the power of the rationem reddere to hold sway over the question of obligation. (225)

Kierkegaard and Derrida, on the other hand, are willing to make the sacrifice of ethics; they think that obligation is an abyss, that any attempt to formulate such a wisdom of love, or of obligation, is caught up in aporia, scandal and paradox, that our duties clash in irreconcilable conflicts, awash in incommensurability. (225)

[…] if every other is infinitely other it would not be possible to distinguish the ethical as an order of generality that would then have to be sacrificed to the religious as an order of singularity. (228)

The Pauline-Christian economy culminates in the idea of an infinite, unpayable debt, of a state of guilt/indebtedness (Schuldigkeit) that is so vast and deep that only God Himself can pay Himself back. (232)

With the „kingdom of heaven“ the kingdom of God is given just the economic twist that Derrida exposes, even as Mathhew has also redacted „the poor“ (hoi ptochoi) into „poor spirit“ (pneumeati). (233)

Griogio Agamben “Remnants of Auschwitz”

March 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Agamben, Giorgio 1999. Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive (Homo Sacer III). New York: Zone Books

4 – The Archive and the Testimony

If enunciation, as we know, does not refer to the text of what is uttered but to its taking place, if it is nothing other than language’s pure reference to itself as actual discourse, in what sense is it possible to speak of a „semantics“ of enunciation? (137-138)

Like the philosophers’ concept of Being, enunciation is what is most unique and concrete, since it refers to the absolutely singular and unrepresentable event of discourse in act; but at the same time, it is what is most vacuous and generic, since it is always repeated without its ever being possible to assign it any lexical reality. (138)

In other words: enunciation is not a thing determined by real, definite properties; it is, rather, pure existence, the fact that a certain being – language – takes place. Given the system of the sciences and the many knowledges that, inside language, define meaningful sentences and more or less well formed discourses, archaeology claims as its territory the pure taking place of these propositions and discourses, that is, the outside of language, the brute fact of its existence. (139)

What gives his [Foucault’s] inquiry its incomparable efficiency is its refusal to grasp the taking place of language through an „I“, a transcendental consciousness or, worse, and equally mythological psychosomatic „I“. (140)

In truth, to take seriously the statement „I speak“ is no longer to consider language as the communication of a meaning or a truth that originates in a responsible Subject. It is, rather, to conceive of discourse in its pure taking place and of the subject as „a nonexistence in whose emptiness the unending outpouring of language uninterruptedly continues“ (Foucault 1998: 148). In language, enunciation marks a threshold between an inside and outside, its taking place as pure exteriority; and once the principal referent of study becomes statements, the subject is stripped of all substance, becoming a pure function or pure position. (140-141)

The subject of enunciation, whose dispersion founds the possibility of a metasemantics of knowledges and constitutes statements in a positive system, maintains itself not in a content of meaning but in an event of language; this is why it cannot take itself as an object, stating itself. There can thus be no archaeology of the subject in the sense in which there is an archaology of knowledges. (142)

Foucault gives the name „archive“ to the positive dimension that corresponds to the plane of enunciation, „the general system of the formation and transformation of statements“ (Foucault 1972: 130). (143)

As the set of rules that define events of discourse, the archive is situated between langue, as the system of construction of possible sentences – that is, possibilities of speaking – and the corpus that unifies the set of what has been said, the things actually uttered or written. The archive is thus the mass of the non-semantic inscribed in every meaningful discourse as a function of its enunciation; it is the dark margin encircling and limiting every concrete act of speech. (143-144)

[…] the archive is the unsaid or sayable inscribed in everything said by virtue of being enunciated; it is the fragment of memory that is always forgotten in the act of saying „I“. (144)

In opposition to the archive, which designates the system of relations between the unsaid and the said, we give the name testimony to the system of relations between the inside and the outside of langue, between the sayable and the usayable in every language – that is, between a potentiality of speech and its existence, between a possibility and an impossibility of speech. (145)

Precisely because testimony is the relation between a possibility of speech and its taking place, it can exist only through a relation to an impossibility of speech – that is, only as contingency, as a capacity not to be. (145)

The subject is thus the possibility that language does not exist, does not take place – or, better, that it takes place only through its possibility of not being there, its contingency. (146)

But the relation between language and its existence, between langue and the archive, demands subjectivity as that which, in its very possibility of speech, bears witness to an impossibility of speech. This is why subjectivity appears as witness; this is why it can speak for those who cannot speak. Testimony is a potentiality that becomes actual through an impotentiality of speech; it is, moreover, an impossibility that gives itself existence through a possibility of speaking. These two movements cannot be identified either with a subject or with a consciousness; yet they cannot be divided into two incommunicable substances. Their inseparable intimacy is testimony. (146)

The subject, rather, is a field of forces always already traversed by the incandescent and historically determined currents of potentiality and impotentiality, of being able not to be and not being able not to be. (147-148)

An author’s act that claims to be valid on its own is nonsense, just as the survivor’s testimony has truth and a reason for being only if it is completed by the one who cannot bear witness. The survivor and the Muselmann, like the tutor and the incapable person and the creator and his material, are inseparable; their unity-difference alone constitutes testimony. (150)

Bichat could not have foretold that the time would come when medical resuscitation technology and, in addition, biopolitics would operate on precisely this disjunction between the organic and the animal, realizing the nightmare of a vegetative life that indefinitely survives the life of relation, a non-human life infinitely separable from human existence. (154)

[…] a formula that defines the most specific trait of twentieth-century biopolitics: no longer either to make die or to make live, but to make survive. The decisive activity of biopower in our time consists in the production not of life or death, but rather of a mutable and virtually infinite survival. (155)

With its every word, testimony refutes precisely this isolation of survival from life. (157)

The authority of the witness consists in his capacity to speak solely in the name of an incapacity to speak – that is, in his or her being a subject. Testimony thus guarantees not the factual truth of the statement safeguarded in the archive, but rather its unarchivability, its exteriority with respect to the archive – that is, the necessity by which, as the existence of language, it escapes both memory and forgetting. (158)

If we now return to testimony, we may say that to bear witness is to place oneself in one’s own language in the position of those who have lost it, to establish oneself in a living language as if it were dead, or in a dead language as if it were living – in any case, outside both the archive and the corpus of what has already been said. […] Poets – witnesses – found language as what remains, as what actually survives the possibility, or impossibility, of speaking. (161)