The problem that Badiou raises with Deleuze’s philosophy is one of place and not of sense. Badiou has already said (in METAPHYSICS OF REAL HAPPINESS) that for him “sense” in Deleuze corresponds to “truth” in his own system.Badiou argues that Deleuze posits an “absolute place” that is both unifying and totalizing.

We have seen that in WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? Deleuze and Guattari talk of a plane that is a “reservoir”, “reserve” or “absolute horizon”.

Previously, in RHIZOME they criticised the notion of the Eternal Return as introducing a “supplementary”, or transcendent, dimension, implicitly criticising Deleuze’s earlier philosophy expressed in DIFFERENCE AND REPETITION.

The hunt for transcendences is unceasing, so it is a continuation of the same process when Badiou uncovers and rejects a subjacent unifying and totalising instance in the notion of the plane of immanence. This is an onto-theological element, turning immanence into the Presence of a plane.

I think that this needs further argument, but I certainly do not belong to the “Deleuze can do no wrong” school that will just paste on any ad hoc explanation that comes to mind to cover over any serious objection.

My hypothesis is that Badiou is involved in a slow becoming-Deleuzian. Unfortunately we will never see the possible fourth volume in his BEING AND EVENT series, which could be called: “ONTOLOGY OF PLURALISM: Deleuze as Educator”.

In considering Badiou’s critique of Deleuze one should in a first approach forget about the mathematics. Badiou explicates mathematics (specifically set theory) as foundational for ontology (this is his scientism) but his actual use of it is metaphorical. The main question is: is Deleuze misreading himself when he critiques the eternal return?

IBadiou captures very well the moment of totalisation in Deleuze and Guattari’s thought that can be criticised, as does Laruelle. This is Latour’s critique too. Unfortunately, Badiou regresses from this insight into a real problem in Deleuze’s system with his foundational use of maths.

But we cannot remain fixated on one phase of the historical process. Deleuze died 22 years ago, when he was 70. Badiou is writing today, he is 80, and he is still evolving. Despite his wrong-headedness and his “weirdness”, he is a more legitimate inheritor of Deleuze than the Anglophone business machine academics who dominate the discussion of Deleuze in English.

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5 Responses to BADIOU CRITIC OF DELEUZE: absolute place

  1. Oh Blake means those careerist academics writing on Deleuze. He is a wonder. I love reading just him and no one ON him.On Lewis Carroll?


    • terenceblake says:

      I mean rather those who write on Deleuze as if time has stopped, and as if any other approach since then was automatically inferior or wrong. It is this combination of historical fixation, academism, dogmatism, and rejection of the new that creates an image of Deleuze that hinders thinking rather than helping it.

      I read lots of people on Deleuze with profit, but I accept no authority in this domain. Thought is not dead, and it is not all decadence and decline after Deleuze. I read Badiou, Zizek, Laruelle, Stiegler, and Latour and search for their views on Deleuze, both when they mention him explicitly and when his thought is entwined inextricably in theirs.


  2. Bill says:

    I wonder if the plane of immanence as conceptualised by Deleuze is either ‘present’ or ‘unified’?. Isn’t it precisely what exceeds ‘presence’ and ‘is’ nothing but the undercutting of any unity or whole? Don’t you get to it precisely by subtracting any unifying term or instance (N-1)? I am not saying this as a Deleuze fanboy, btw, as I think there are serious problems raised by Deleuze’s work. To my mind, the most limiting problem is a severe rhetorical hostility to any mention of ‘centre’ and a complete failure to distinguish between ‘centre’ as a noun denoting something fixed and ‘centring’ as a verb (perhaps in the infinitive form) denoting something irreducibly dynamic that comes into play precisely because there is no fixed centre. This is very clear in D’s passing comments on surfing and ‘new sports’, in which he claims these are distinguished by renunciation of the desire to act as ‘origin of movement’ through leverage. It is a patently false dichotomy. Surfers constantly use leverage exactly because they are acting in an environment with no fixed centre, and are as much ‘fighting the wave’ as surrendering to it (not either/or, but both/and). Moreover the shot putter he cites as an example of leverage in old sports is already riding a wave, one generated within his/her own body by angular momentum.I think the rhetorical limits of D’s thought are all expressed in these seemingly marginal comments on sport in Control Soceties. (yes, I’m doing a PhD on this).


  3. Pingback: The Immanence of Truths – Alain Badiou – Senselogic

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