THREE CRITERIA OF DIACHRONIC ONTOLOGY: Badiou and Laruelle

(1) anti-scientism: Badiou’s use of ZFC set theory, and later of category theory, is not a scientific “imposture”, in the sense of Sokal and Bricmont, but it is scientifically tangential. It does not carry forward, or elucidate, the discipline it borrows from. Badiou wishes to avoid Althusser’s scientism, but is unable to break with it completely. This objection applies equally to Laruelle’s use of “the quantum”.

(2) anti-authoritarianism: Both Laruelle and Badiou attempt to ground their system of ideas on a scientific reference that functions as a form of intimidation and legitimation of intellectual authority, despite constantly talking about equality and democracy. I think these concepts can be given even more importance so as to deconstruct from within the scientistic remnants.

(3) anti-literalism or allegorical ontology: An ontological use of ZFC set theory , or of quantum physics, is almost inevitably allegorical, unless one is limiting oneself to one dimensional commentary on a regional ontology. Badiou has occasionally stateded that his use of mathematical concepts is metaphorical. So much the better, as he is at his most interesting when he is at his most allegorical. The same can be said for Laruelle, who separates his quantum concepts from their mathematical formalism.

 

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One Response to THREE CRITERIA OF DIACHRONIC ONTOLOGY: Badiou and Laruelle

  1. The other end is in my opinion Latour, who does not deal with mathematics at all even when they are very relevant to his work. In the Inquiry he just refers to formalism (as if that is enough) and he uses all kinds of geometrical language without making bridges with mathematics (with mathematicians reflection on mathematics as expressed in certain regimes of modern mathematics). Even when he supports monadology in sociology and wants to propose different relatinships between parts and whole there is no connection with Topos theory, category theory or parts of Mathematics where other people have thought really deep in this issue.
    There must be something here revealing of special features of the French academia and the way people collaborate. (For example is it that hard for Badiou to build bridges with some competent mathematician? That would perhaps make clearer the merit of his analogy. Similarly one can think of Laruelle. Doesn’t this lack of collaborations between figures of similar standing put credence in Searle’s and Chomsky’s comments on incomprehensibility? But it seems to be that there is an institutional defect here than a real lack of substance. And Latour is better in this respect).

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