BADIOU “THE IMMANENCE OF TRUTHS”: Argument 2012-2013

Alain Badiou, Argument Seminar 2012-2013:

“In BEING AND EVENT, published in 1988, I proposed a new theory (at least I think it is…) concerning the triplet of being, the subject and truth. It was a matter of showing that, under the condition of a chance (the event), and in a determinate situation, a creative process could be deployed, a process that is both infinite and of universal value, and that we had good reasons to call a truth. I further showed that the being of a truth is not different from that which constitutes the being of the situation where this truth arises, namely a multiplicity of multiplicities, whose possible thought is always mathematical in type (this is the equation : mathematics = ontology). There is thus no dualism, a truth is constructed of the same stuff as the place where it is progressively created. Lastly, I defined what a subject is — different from the individual in that it is always the subject of a truth — as the local differential point of a process of truth.

As can be seen, my concern at that time was to guarantee the possibility of a thought of the being of truths on the basis of the particularity of situations, without having to accord to truths, and thus to the possible universality of thought, an irreducible type of being. The assemblage: multiplicities, event, subject, allowed me, thanks to the appropriate mathematics drawn from the work of Paul Cohen, to establish that a truth is universal because its being is generic, which means: as little marked as possible by the particularities of its situation. I could rationally affirm that a truth is, in a given particular world, an immanent exception.

This year I would like to return to this notion of immanence, and by a sort of reversal of perspective to examine not only what a truth is from the point of view of the world where it arises, but what the world becomes when it it is perceived and thought from the point of view of the truth. Or: not to justify that a mundane order can tolerate an exception, but to examine what happens to this order when it is worked on by an exception. The question can also be stated very simply : in what way can a truth change the perception of “its”world, or even the figure of being of this world?  And what, in this supposed transformation, is the function of the subject?

We shall see that to get to this thought (capital today, when what dominates are the conjoined motifs of the invariable world, of the non-existence of truths, and of the impotence of the subject), we will have to destroy the even more dominant thesis of the obligatory  finitude of existential or cognitive experiences. The affirmation that the finite, strictly speaking, does not exist, and that the dogma of “human finitude” is an imposture, is the beginning of all liberation”. (My translation).

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