BADIOU AND A PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE: eliminating doxic residues

Badiousians often put the dogmatic cart before the investigative horse. For example they talk smugly of noone ever having proposed an acceptable fifth « candidate » for the status of truth procedure as if they formed some transcendental tribunal applying a pre-existing body of statutory law.

But there is no reason to assume that the four officially recognised procedures have been adequately vetted and are now safely ensconced in their status.

For example I think that the status of « love » as truth procedure should be revoked and that it should be re-convoked as candidate to be examined by a more more scrupulous jury:

The « matheme » too should be forced to re-present its candidature. Bruno Latour’s REF (referential truth) is a more satisfying and more generic term. My argument here is that Badiou’s account of the science procedure suffers from an internal suture or reduction of its internal complexity and multiplicity to the mononomic matheme. However, the diverse natural sciences are not reducible to the matheme and should rightly be considered to constitute separate strands of the composite procedure, whatever its still to be determined generic name.

Badiou has already implicitly given some material for a philosophical account of the more complete version of the procedure and of its internal divisions, but this needs to be further elaborated.

If Badiou in talking about art can comment on the motif of the horse as an eternal truth in the art procedure, from Chauvet to Picasso, then in talking about science it should be quite possible to treat the motif of the atom from Democritus to Bohr as an eternal truth in the same way. There is an astonishing lack of respect for a principle of symmetry in Badiou’s treatment of the different procedures, which suggests the continuing presence within the system of ideological clichés or doxic residues.

Karl Popper used to criticise Darwinian evolution as « metaphysical » but he later changed his mind on that categorisation. f Badiou is not intent on simply pontificating infallibly he should be able to change his mind on the categorisation of biology for example, which is far from being a case of vulgar empiricism.

In other words a Badiousian philosophy of nature should be possible if the system is not to remain a dead statue but have a life of its own.

Stated more generally, I am in agreement with Tristan Garcia’s analysis that there are big problems of categorisation present everywhere in Badiou’s system.

Note: I am indebted to a discussion with Friedrich Keunermann for helping me to clarify my ideas on this point.

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