This post is part of my ongoing discussion of Alain Badiou’s IMMANENCE OF TRUTHS and allows me to give an overview of my general approach to philosophy in this blog.
To be clear, I think we must seriously and thoroughly work through Badiou’s maths, no short cuts, but with the foreknowledge that we will actively forget it at the end (unless maths is our thing). I call this the Principle of Proamnesis.
As I argued in a previous post, maths is one conceptual character among many, albeit an important one, in THE IMMANENCE OF TRUTHS. Just as we need to read the book’s non-math discussions (which are quantitatively dominant in the book) in constant anamnesis of the maths, we must read the maths in constant proamnesis. And the same for the other truth procedures.
Mathematics is heuristically privileged because it constitutes the easiest path to the Absolute. Badiou constantly emphasises how easy and clear, because explicit, maths is. The other truth procedures are much more complex. There is no monopoly of the Absolute by maths.
Lovers, militants, and poets have their own access, their own paths up to the Absolute and down into finitude bearing its traces, re-indexing its classes and classifications.
Heraclitus tells us « The way up is the way down ».
If we ascend to the Absolute by way of the mathematical path without the necessary proamnesis we will descend by the same path and have only a very one-sided understanding.
This is like the blind men in the Buddhist parable, who touch an elephant and describe it in terms of the part they touch, saying it’s: like a snake (the trunk), a fan (the ear), a pillar (the leg), a wall (the flank). They violently disagree and each suspects the others of stupidity (ideology) or lying (propaganda).
Without proamnesis, whatever the path, we have reductionism. The mathematicists take at face value Badiou’s declaration that « mathematics is ontology », while the militants, the psychoanalysts, the artists find resources for their own perspective’s privilege.
We find the same one-sidedness on the meta-level. Badiousians who are self-identically Badiousian (the formula for turning philosophy into ideology is self-identity) and so anti-Deleuzian, Deleuzians who are self-identically Deleuzian and so anti-Badiousian, etc.
A simple criterion is given in Badiou’s distinction between the « waste product » (that I have argued may be translated as « crap ») and the « work ».
Anytime someone is discussing Badiou and claiming he is right as against for example Deleuze, who is « wrong », we are in the crap, unless this discussion is accompanied by a proamnesis that allows them to go on to use both thinker’s concepts and writings freely, in a « work » of their own.
For my part, my proamnesic approach allows me to read Badiou in terms of Deleuze, Latour, Laruelle, Zizek, Stiegler, and to read all these in terms of the overarching meta-ontology of metaphysical research programmes.
This proamnesic reading and re-thinking of contemporary (mostly French) Continental Philosophy is what I have been doing on my blog for the last twelve years (today is the 12th anniversary of the blog), and I hope to continue as long as I can.