BADIOU ON EVIL AND LOVE (3): philosophy as act or substance

From the beginning of Theory of Evil, Theory of Love we are faced with the question of how to orient ourselves in thought. The lecture notes available online for this seminar (which diverge slightly from the official published transcription) talk of the “doxographic orientation”). Badiou also comes back obsessively each year to the orienting theme of the “end of philosophy”, a thesis that he combats with great force. He also mentions another orientation, provided by religion, that rivals with philosophy for the definition of evil.

Taken up inside philosophy, these themes become “philosophemes”, images of thought that constitute obstacles to its process. Philosophy is a perpetual combat with its images and philosophemes.

As a philosopheme, the thesis of the end or closure of philosophy is a pseudo-orientation, a disguised form of disorientation. I do not know how Badiou characterises the present conjuncture of thought, we will have to wait for the publication of THE IMMANENCE OF TRUTHS (and perhaps of a third MANIFESTO FOR PHILOSOPHY) to be sure. There are many indications that the dis-orientation has progressed and that our resulting distress has deepened.

Today the situation is different, we no longer have to confront the same philosophemes, or at least not to the same degree, as we have been though a “speculative” revival. There remains one avatar of this sophisticated hostility to speculative philosophy, a fossil from a prior age depicting itself as a more radical programme of research.

François Laruelle’s “non-philosophy” has impressed certain spirits with its purported radicalisation of immanence and its pursuit of “non-standard” assemblages of thought in which philosophy is of its pretensions to self-sufficiency and hegemony. Non-philosophy began under the mask of a scientistically oriented research outside of the enclosure of “sufficient” philosophy, but it came to reveal behind that mask its roots in religionism. The majority of Anglophone Laruelleans are religionists, the rest maintain a self-serving silence on this point.

In Badiou’s terms Laruelle has progressed from philosophy sutured to the condition of science (his self-confessed “scientism”) to its suture to the pseudo-condition of religion. For Badiou religion is not in the current epoch a condition of philosophy, it does not put into operation a fifth truth procedure. Rather, religion proposes an image of truth, it is  in rivality with philosophy’s proposition of a category of truth.

Laruelle’s mistake is to treat philosophy as a substance, and to try to isolate its universal structure. Badiou tells us that philosophy is an act, and not a substance:

“If philosophy is an act, there is no last philosophy” (49).

For Badiou there is no “principle of sufficiency” of philosophy, except when it is replaced by its philosophemes. Philosophy is not sufficient, it does not produce or constitute its truths. Philosophy is conditioned, it seizes on or apprehends its truths from outside.

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4 Responses to BADIOU ON EVIL AND LOVE (3): philosophy as act or substance

  1. landzek says:

    I think it is interesting how, hypothetically, from the position of Land his philosophy it’s self, As Badiou might say, The issue becomes out of the two, and quite 9 Philosophical Way we have the unrecognizable “one” which can only be recognized against what is sufficient of philosophy, and then we have the issue of the “two” as an aspect of sufficient philosophy which begins on one hand as religion and on the other hand an argument that argues unto itself that is not religious, basically two sides of the religious arm, one says that is talking about the truth and let me show it to you and I’m not gonna make any excuses why this may be the case, and then the other side of it that admits it’s dogma and argues around it as an occasion of truth, which is to say that it’s method of argument necessarily relies on a truth that cannot be gotten outside of.

    I find an analogy here to that of a circuit. I have been attempting to slowly learn about electronics electronic components and how they work for the manipulation of sound, and one of the ad features of this whole scheme of electronics is the “ground”. What I’m beginning to see of this idea of ground is that it is orderly theoretical and based in a human necessity for control. Because in the electronic circuit there is no explanation of what a ground “actually“ is, because what it is is dependent upon the other designations of what electricity does, and how what it does is quantified into numbers. Without a ground these numbers can fluctuate radically. You can still use electricity without a ground but it’s behavior, so far is if you’re trying to do something specific with sound say, can get complicated as you proceed in the processing of the signal. What the ground does in essence, is only for our scheme of knowing and really has nothing to do with how electricity behaves in a natural environment, if we could call it that. The ground is placing value of zero within the circuit, That way, because a circuit is a loop a continuous loop, called a closed circuit, without a ground the measurements of any activity along that circuit can get become a Radick highly variable and mathematically difficult or at least complex to control and add or subtract other components depending what you want to get out of that particular function. The only thing a ground does is create a base from which you can do mathematical computations I’m particular segments of the circuit.

    interesting to me because L has defined the ground in the circuit of philosophy.


  2. landzek says:

    Fucking AutoCorrect I hope you can understand it through the stupid AutoCorrect


  3. landzek says:

    I would categorize Badious a product of itself: a political philosopher, proposing ontologies of political-philosophical categories. Diverging little from the philosophical- religious maxim of “everything is political”.

    “Pluralism” is a posture of ‘unity’ by proposal for that “all” takes place under ‘this’ category.

    Philosophy is able to be categorized as a “object”; no argument can rebut this except to rely upon a ‘common’ transcendent’ truth under which all thinkers are able to exist in plurality. Like wise, such plurality can encompass the opposite proposal in its own unity. These categories can only be reconciled in a ‘ideology of the present reality”, which then again presents philosophy to its limit, and thus, its object-Being.


  4. landzek says:

    …. but I think the really significant question of philosophy (of this sort) is: if these guys are saying profound stuff about the nature of reality, the why are we all disagreeing about it? If indeed, these philosophers have access to something really profound, then why can’t we all see it?

    I think it’s all bs. 😆. It doesn’t really explain anything at all except itself. None of it. Lol.


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