AESTHETICS IS NOT FIRST PHILOSOPHY: Badiou against withdrawal

For Badiou the “age of the poets”, that is to say the age of the aesthetic suture, is over. Philosophy reasserts itself by refusing the conception of Being as lost or withdrawn and by rejecting the consequences of such a vision:

1) the real is inaccessible Being outside temporal predicates

2) truth arises from indirect access to inaccessible Being

3) aesthetic intuition is the method of indirect access to inaccessible Being

4) aesthetics is first philosophy.

Heidegger’s philosophy is merely one example of a more general problematic: an aesthetic ontology of withdrawal. More recent examples can be found, but these are mere delusional artefacts, the product of circus clowns playing at ontology, proposing a groovy hyper-real metaphysics for the neoliberal age, in the form of a grandiloquent withdrawal-oriented “hyper-philosophy”.

In Badiou’s analysis the philosophy of withdrawal amounts to a paradoxical assertion of philosophy as unconditioned, combined with its functional suture to one of its conditions: the aesthetic. Philosophy is de-conditioned, but only partially: it is  de-politicised and de-scientised, but correspondingly re-erotised or re-aestheticised.

Recent withdrawal-oriented ontologies go one step further in conflating the aesthetic and the erotic conditions into one allusive hyper-condition. The maxim of this failed operation of de-conditioning is “aesthetics is first philosophy”. The only real it can propose is not only outside all temporal predicates, but outside all sensible or knowable predicates.

Against withdrawal-oriented philosophies, Badiou is in agreement with Laruelle and Deleuze that non-philosophy is first philosophy. Philosophy is not concerned with the unconditioned, but its genesis is driven by non-philosophical conditions. Badiou’s theses can be summarised in counterposition to those of withdrawal-oriented ontology:

1) events are real and provoke new modes of accessibility of Being

2) truth arises from events immanent to philosophy’s conditions

3) immanent trial, deductively deployed, is the method of access to Being

4) non-philosophy is first philosophy

 

 

 

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