I do not believe that a historical epoch is characterised by one episteme to the exclusion of all other ways of perceiving, thinking, and being in the world. The present is more complex and more multiple than this monist vision of the episteme may suggest. There are also relics and remainders of past epistemes, germinal sketches of epistemes to come, parallel epistemes developping and deploying their régimes of perception and of practice nearly unperturbed by the transformations and sedimentations occurring around their field of influence. Yet one episteme may come to embody and to dictate, to reflect and to reinforce, the dominant self-understanding of an age. Such an episteme may come to expression in pure or distorted form, or it may lead a more obscure, unstated and unperceived, but nonetheless potent existence beneath the threshold of awareness or knowledge.
Badiou states in its purest, most general form the speculative metaphysics that corresponds to the currently dominant episteme. Unfortunately, his philosophy is a mere make-do compromise bridging the gap between his great pluralist predecessors (Deleuze, Lyotard, Foucault, Derrida) and the pluralist wave (Laruelle, Latour, Stiegler) that has already succeeded him without him or his followers even noticing. Badiou’s ontology is not a new start but a spatialising recuperation of the attainments of the previous philosophical generation. Spatialised pluralism, synchronic pluralism, is a caricature of what has gone before, yet conserves even in reduced form some of its conceptual demands and some of its vitality. But even here Badiou was obliged to complete his synchronic ontology (and epistemology) with a diachronic supplement, in his doctrine of the event.
Speculative metaphysics is back, we are told by some commentators. But in fact it never left us. Be that as it may, the new speculative experiments and reseach programmes must choose either to align themselves at least implicitly with the Badiousian paradigm (this is the OOOxian choice as it generates naturalised, lacanian, machinic, de-politicised, de-scientised, or more simply “artistic” and “literary” variants of the same general meta-ontology). Or they must confront the more radical pluralism of Laruelle, Latour, and Stiegler, and leave behind the new conformism that the OOOxian version of Badiousism is trying to impose more by rumour and marketing than by actual argument. Regression and stasis are not progress, no matter how much a tiny lobby may assure us of the contrary.