BECOMING “POST-DELEUZIAN”: the case of Badiou

Deleuze is dead. He died twenty years ago. If he were alive today he would be interested in a lot of things. In philosophy he would be interested in Bruno Latour, François Laruelle, Bernard Stiegler, Alain Badiou. Deleuze “scholars” are interesting and useful, but for me the most important question is how to be “deleuzian” (and thus non-deleuzian) today.

From the very beginning my relation with Deleuze was intensive and existential. I was a Deleuzian in Australia in 1978, when noone was. I attended Deleuze’s seminars for seven years, from 1980 to 1986. I have no care to be a Deleuze scholar, and have now moved on to other things – but always under a Deleuzian inspiration.

This is the point of encounter of Badiou with Deleuze: Badiou suddenly realised that they had similar analyses of the contemporary doxa, and that they could be allies in a common ideological struggle. The prefaces to LOGICS OF WORLDS and DELEUZE THE CLAMOR OF BEING, and also the first chapter, on “Opinion”, in the SECOND MANIFESTO FOR PHILOSOPHY, are quite illuminating in that respect, especially if we keep in mind that Badiou later declares, in METAPHYSICS OF REAL HAPPINESS (untranslated), that what he has come to see that what he calls “truths” has much in common with what Deleuze calls “sense”.

At the end of that book, Badiou compares his concept of “truth” to Deleuze’s concept of “sense”:

Philosophy proposes a triage in the confusion of experience, from which it draws an orientation. This elevation from confusion to orientation is the philosophical operation par excellence and its specific didactics.

That supposes a concept of truth. This “truth” can very well be given another name. Thus, in a large part of Deleuze’s work, what we are here calling “truth” is called “sense” (Métaphysique du bonheur réel, 83-84).

Badiou does not use the same terminology as Deleuze, he has his own conceptual creations and terminological choices. Nor does he follow the same path, juxtaposing his process of immanentising Plato to Deleuze’s process of overturning Plato. His work, however, is in explicit dialogue with Deleuze’s thought, and has been so for over twent-five years. This is what being “post-deleuzian” means:

” What is the best way to follow the great philosophers? Is it to repeat what they said or to do what they did, that is, create concepts for problems that necessarily change?” (WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY?, 28).

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