Reading Badiou’s METAPHYSICS OF REAL HAPPINESS (2): desire and its obstacles

Continuing in this Deleuzian vein, Badiou presents his philosophy of real happiness as a philosophy of desire. He claims to “take from poetry” the idea that philosophy “as oriented towards the universality of happiness” has four fundamental dimensions: revolt, logic, universality, and risk. According to Badiou, these four components of the desire of the philosopher are also the four components of the desire for revolution.

However, modern society places many obstacles in the way of this desire both repressing it and ideologically undermining it: “the contemporary world … exerts a strong negative pressure on the four dimensions of such a desire” (12).

1) Revolt: no need for revolt as we are already free. But for Badiou this is merely the freedom of the market, the obligation to consume in a world of merchandise.

2) Logic: no need for logic, as we are immersed in a flood of communication. But for Badiou this world is incoherent, a spectacle without memory. What it lacks most essentially is a “logic of time”.

3) Universality: no need for universality as we have money (materialised universality). But for Badiou this world is fragmentary, based on the competition of specialised interests.

4) Risk: no room for chance, we calculate the risks and insure against them. But for Badiou the felicific calculus can never succeed, as “real happiness is incalculable”.

Thus the four components of real desire, of the “philosophical desire for a revolution of existence” (revolt, logic, universality, and risk) encounter four obstacles: the rule of merchandise, communication, money, and specialisation, “the whole bound subjectively by the calculus of personal security” (15).

There is a balance between the components of revolt and risk, which embody chaos, and logic and universality, which incarnate system. Despite the presence of non-academic or chaotic elements Badiou’s “classicism” gives primacy to the system, even if as we shall see his system is non-deterministic.


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One Response to Reading Badiou’s METAPHYSICS OF REAL HAPPINESS (2): desire and its obstacles

  1. Then in order to make this current system pass over we have to come up with something wholly and entirely new. A true triple Negation.


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