Badiou Dictionary (Form & Formalism)

For those interested in the work of Alain Badiou, I think it’s worth pointing out the recent activity at the Form and Fomalism blog:

…The Form & Formalism Working Group began in November, 2009, in the wake the first annual “Form & Formalism” conference, held at the Jan Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, and orchestrated by Tzuchien Tho of the Versus Laboratory research project. A second conference followed in 2010, and Versus is in the process of planning a third for the coming Fall. (Programmes for both FF conferences can be found here: and here: From the conferences formed the group, and from the group now comes the blog. Nothing else needs to be said about this just yet.

To get the ball rolling, I’ve decided to make available here a few short texts that I’ve been working on, still in a somewhat rough state, for the Badiou Dictionary that Steve Corcoran is in the process of pulling together for Edinburgh University Press. Your comments, corrections, criticism, etc. are of course welcome.

I’ll try to post an entry every day or so over the next week. Today, FORCING. Stay tuned for GENERIC, MODEL, SUTURE, IDEOLOGY, ONE, and VOID.

Read the definition drafts by Concept of the Model translator, Zachary Fraser, here

Ranciere and Badiou: On the Idea of Communism

Here are some clips from some comments Badiou and Ranciere made at the Communism conference held at Birkbeck this weekend.

Below the fold, some clips of Zizek… Continue reading

Badiou: Bad for Philosophy?

An odd comment to an old post about a lecture by Ray Brassier in which I made some rather sarcastic comments about Badiou’s seemingly “monstrous” project of a little Lacan, add some Mao, a bit pinch of set theory, some Plato and voila, a philosophical system:

Badiou is bad for philosophy as he not only ’sets’ up unnecesary barriers to understanding, but he also furthers the divide within philosophy – while all the time radical orthodox theologians (not the run of the mill creationist straw men) gather around and wait for philosophy to collapse. Badiou is bad for philosophy and so are his students.

By no means am I committed to protecting Badiou’s project, but this comment strikes me as strange as it is reactionary. I’d be interested in hearing precisely why Badiou and his students are so dangerous.  Truth be told, I liked the dismisal of the Radical Orthodox theologians who, in all fairness, I haven’t read since I don’t read theology, but I would also like to hear more about the “run of the mill creationist straw men.”

Badiou, Rosenzweig and the word “Jew”

Mostly a thinking out loud post based on some visceral reactions, really. I have heard the charge of antisemitism directed at both Badiou and Zizek for sometime now, and while I’m not completely unsympathetic to such claims, they do tend to misinterpret and simplify both thinkers, which of course, have the effect of missing the mark completely. Now, in particular, with regards to Badiou and the term “Jew,” this seems to me to be an old problem of particularism vs universalism rather than the typical knee jerk reactions towards the state of Israel (see here and here). In this sense, it’s hard not to think of Isaac Deutscher, who remarked in a speech he gave to the World Jewish Congress in 1958:

Religion? I am an atheist. Jewish nationalism? I am an internationalist. In neither sense am I therefore a Jew. I am, however, a Jew by force of my unconditional solidarity with the persecuted and exterminated. I am a Jew because I feel the pulse of Jewish history; because I should like to do all I can to assure the real, not spurious, security and self-respect of the Jews.

Now because I’m without shame, here’s my original comment pertaining to the above passage. This is a very interesting response, and really, a very Jewish one. This begs a number of questions: Is it ever possible to reconcile ethnic fidelities with a commitment to “universal human emancipation? ” Is the only option to simply choose sides, that is, either a nationalist (particularism) or a “non-Jewish Jew” (universalism/cosmpolitanism)? But here’s the thing, if Judaism is a particular community/ethnicity/religion with a universal aims/goals/ramifications (e.g. a light unto the nations) to begin with then there is no choice to be made, the “Jew” as such would not have to choose either/or, but then again, perhaps I’m just not very dogmatic.

I still have the same response, but I often find myself feeling somewhat uncomfortable when I hear Badiou discussing these issues. In an article I dug up on, “The Uses of the Word “Jew,”” Badiou writes this: Continue reading

Review of Badiou’s Being and Event: Too Theological?

As anybody that reads this blog in even a less than cursory way, it’s clear that I have some problems with Badiou’s work, particularly methodological and interpretative ones. That said, there’s something in Badiou that keeps me coming back for more. Regardless, the NDPR has a fine review of Badiou’s Being and Event by Peter Dews, who concludes by noting:

As we saw at the beginning of this review, it is not easy — even for proclaimed philosophical atheists ­– to avoid recycling religious and theological tropes in their very effort to break with the past. But Badiou goes one step further than this, since his philosophy plays deliberately and provocatively with religious language (not just the language of fidelity, but of ‘conversion’, and even of ‘grace’). Some of his most admired militants of the event belong to the religious sphere, such as Pascal and Saint Paul. And on some occasions, in Being and Event, he admits the possibility of religious truth (e.g., p. 399) — even though this disrupts his own categorization of truths. The problem is that Badiou’s transposition of the notion of fidelity from the sphere of love (to which he concedes that it directly refers (p. 232)), the misdirection of his passion for the unconditional towards happenings in the mutable socio-historical world, brings with it the dangers of dogmatism and exclusivism, if not worse. And it also raises one final issue. Badiou repeatedly declares that God ‘does not exist’ (e.g., p. 277). But the whole of Being and Event is an intense and intricate exploration of what does not exist — namely the event, for which there is ‘no acceptable ontological matrix’ (p. 190). Furthermore, Badiou’s own thinking cannot help but lead towards the question: why ought we to become subjects, why should we commit ourselves to a life of fidelity? Indeed, Badiou himself later poses this question in terms of the ‘fidelity to fidelity that defines ethical consistency’ (Ethics, pp. 49-50). And although this may not be Badiou’s answer, it is not clear what aspect of his system would rule it out as a response: because we are called by God, who is the event of events.

This seems to be particularly ironic, because it resembles Badiou’s criticism of Levinas in Ethics, namely, that Levinas is a theologian masquerading as a philosopher. The whole review nicely contextualizes Badiou’s work in light of the controversies in the 19th century about the superseding of religion, esp. Feuerbach. Read the full review here.

Badiou CFP


Here’s your chance (and mine) to do our academic duty and contribute to the piles of craptastic academic drek out there!  Today’s announcement is a CFP on the work of living philosopher Alain Badiou from Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy!  


Badiou represents an important point in contemporary Continental thought. He employs set theory, historical analysis of traditional Continental thinkers, including Rousseau, Marx, Heidegger, and Deleuze, and his own theoretical meditations in order to think through some of the foundational concepts of multiplicity, “the one” or “counting as one,” the world, subjectivity, and the event. He believes that philosophy is possible only when it is de-sutured from the events of mathematics, poetry, politics, and love. We welcome papers around these various aspects of Badiou’s work. Also, we welcome papers attempting to answer some of the following questions: What is the significance of Badiou’s work for the Continental/analytic divide in contemporary philosophy? What is the relation between subjects and events, and is Badiou’s account sufficient? Are there worlds that can resist Badiou’s logic or counting? Can one think of events on micro and macro levels? These questions are meant to stimulate ideas, but they are by no means comprehensive. All papers focused on Badiou’s work are welcome. 

Continue reading

Every One Loves Alain: More Badiou Resources (UPDATED)

There are a number of interesting resources available on the website of the Colloque Autour de Logiques des Mondes de Alain Badiou, including a couple of 2006 lectures by usual suspects Oliver Felthman and Peter Hallward:

Via the comments to this post, Moses Boudourides was kind enough to alert us to some other lectures Badiou gave in Greece:

Alain Badiou’s Lecture “La méditation philosophique sur la guerre autrefois et aujourd’hui” (”Philosophical Meditation on War in the Past and Presently”) at the Institut Francais d’Athenes on 29 Jan 2008 (5 videos)

Alain Badiou’s Lecture “Introduction à L’Etre et l’événement et aux Logiques des mondes” at the National Technical University of Athens on 30 Jan 2008 (10 videos)

Badiou and Critchley: Best Friends Forever

Continuing on with my monotonous, but oddly rewarding Badiou kick (well over 100 pages into Being and Event, I fear I may be wasting my time…see Alexei’s (Now Times) cogent response to Badiou here).

From the Slought Foundation in Philadelphia a few weeks ago: a public conversation between Alain Badiou and Simon Critchley called “Democracy and Dissapointment: Alain Badiou/Simon Critchley on the Politics of Resistance.” This event features a 30 minute presentation by Simon Critchley about his recent quasi-Levinasian/Badiouan/Lacanian/Kantian, but somehow readable Infinitely Demanding, followed by remarks and public conversation with Alain Badiou on metapolitics and the politics of resistance and dissensus. You can hear the audio here. And now for some quotes and bonus material: Continue reading