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Article Title: Alain Badiou; Towards a new concept of existence

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I also shall PABLO ORTIZ MONASTER10. You can find a less arid but not complete exposition in a chapter of my "Briefings on Existence. I intend to propose a new concept of existence. It is the case for Heidegger. to be in the world. As all of you know perfectly well. Dispara. And in fact. is a topological concept. 1988 . I hope. which is out in French and will be published in English at the end of next year. Ciudad de Mexico. Logiques des mondes. being qua being. we can see that "existence. existence. This difference between being and existence is often the result of the consideration of a special type of being." which depends on Dasein. the fundamental problem is to distinguish on the one hand. If we take into account the etymological framework. It means to be here. on the other hand. And I shall be as abstract as this intention forces me to be. Instead. being as such. as a category which precisely is not reducible to that of being." and a complete one in my last book. It is the heart of the matter.Towards a New Concept of Existence ALAIN BADIOU Tonight I am not going to engage in any kind of criticism. and. with the distinction between Sein and Dasein.

or human being. If we now examine the work of Sartre. in a world. And that is the reason for v ing other than a multiplicity. and even less with freedom. in its place. for crucial and creative experience of the becoming of being itself. except precisely can speak of an object of the world. But clearly for Heidegger. existence is the effect of nothingness within the full and stupid massiveness of being qua being. without subject. we can see that the distance between being and existence is a dialectical consequence of the difference between being and nothingness.E propose to determine the very general concept of « existence » by the necessity of thinking the place. The Thing is: das Ding. First. and finally. existence. it is the question of negation. namely. maybe das form of being which certainly is after the ingness. My proposal will be in three parts. but also before the qualitative cliff must formalize the concept of "thing" betw the absolute priority of nothingness and. or from essence to phenomenon. The end point is of necess The multiplicity which is the multiplicity of the thing which is also no-thing: the void. a network of differences multiplicities. I shall construct before you a pure relational concept of the slight distance between a multiplicity and the same multiplicity here. tl . Not a multipl system of qualities. Is there an end to that sort of "dis like Jacques Derrida? Yes. experience. it is for me the question of the void. A thing is no the hero of the great novel by Robert Musil without qualities. or seeming-as Hegel explains in two obscure and profound chapters of his Logics. And this place is not deducible from being as such. or the world. This effect is the absolutely free subject in whom existence precedes essence. that existence is something like a degree or an intensity. of everything which is.the world. or appearing. for historical destiny of thinking. Da-sein. Second. We ce world by its properties or predicates. But I am attempting to do the same thing without a transcendental subject. What is a thing as some thing whi termination of its being. and a multiplicity of multiplic And so on. that existence has to be thought as the movement from pure being to being-there. We must think of the thin tion in a precise world. or an atomic form of the One. a very short onto our concept of being qua being? The ans a multiplicity. I shall also propose to determine the concept of existence under the condition of something like negation. what is our concep something which is? What is being-there? transcendental field. This idea we can find in the famous passage of the first Critique. and without the becoming of the absolute idea. is a name for human being. of being-there or of being-in. You will certainly notice that I am taking something from Kant: precisely. the question of the empty set. Ontologically. A thing is always tI of objectivity. in its intuitionist sense.64 lacanian ink Towards a New Concept of. In fact. I shall propose a concept of being-here and of existence without any reference to something like consciousness. concerning the anticipations of perception. But all that will have no relationship with something like a subject. And I am taking something from Hegel. "What is a thing?" It is the title of essay. 0 complexity of objects. In fa the complex network of identities and diff object is clearly not identical to another obj But a thing is not an object. Thi The answer will be: the degree of someth in a world is its existence in this world. Logically. there is an enc point is not a primitive object.

for Heidegger. First. examine the work of Sartre. But I am same thing without a transcendental subject. a thing is something without qualities. A thing is not yet an object. In fact. that existence has to be thought om pure being to being-there. without subject. Second. What is a thing as some thing which is without any determination of its being. Like the hero of the great novel by Robert Musil. maybe das Ur-Ding. for historical destiny of thinking. the absolute priority of nothingness and. Is there an end to that sort of "dissemination.on of the void. But a thing is not an object. In fact. ticipations of perception. My proposal will be in three parts." to speak like Jacques Derrida? Yes. Not a multiplicity of objects. except precisely being as such? We can speak of an object of the world. a network of differences. on the one hand. we can see that n being and existence is a dialectical conseence between being and nothingness. We can distinguish it in the world by its properties or predicates. The end point is of necessity also a multiplicity. oming of the absolute idea. ertainly notice that I am taking something ly. we can experience the complex network of identities and differences by which this object is clearly not identical to another object of the same world. or from essence r appearing. or huconstruct before you a pure relational concept e between a multiplicity and the same multilace. that existence is something like a degree being-there or of being-in. or the world. it is not a form of the One. This effect is the absolutely free istence precedes essence. of everything place is not deducible from being as such. The multiplicity which is the multiplicity of no multiplicity at all. . in a world. And so on. question of negation. what is our concept of the localization of something which is? What is being-there? The answer will be: a transcendental field. and finally. there is an end point. what is existence? The answer will be: the degree of something's identity to itself in a world is its existence in this world. or seeming-as Hegel explains profound chapters of his Logics. ve no relationship with something like a subith freedom. the empty multiplicity. But this end point is not a primitive object. experience. existence. not a system of qualities. namely. the question of the empty set. ect of nothingness within the full and stupid g qua being. Da-sein. A thing is always the pre-objective basis of objectivity. Onto logically.lacanian ink Towards a New Concept of Existence 65 e the very general concept of « existence » hinking the place. n being. or an atomic component. propose to determine the concept of existence of something like negation. for experience of the becoming of being itself. the thing which is also no-thing: the void. This n the famous passage of the first Critique. a very short ontological part. "What is a thing?" It is the title of a famous Heidegger's essay. And I am taking gel. We must think of the thing before its objectivation in a precise world.the world. but also before the qualitative difference of object. a multiplicity. and a multiplicity of multiplicities of multiplicities. And that is the reason for which a thing is nothing other than a multiplicity. in its intuitionist sense. I cept of being-here and of existence without ething like consciousness. on the other hand. Third. but a multiplicity of multiplicities. The Thing is: das Ding. We must formalize the concept of "thing" between. it . That is this form of being which certainly is after the indifference of nothingness. the complexity of objects. What is our concept of being qua being? The answer will be: multiple.

How can a pure multiplicity. we have a great A thing can be very similar to another. it is because a pure multiplicity is composed of the void. So every be related to others by what we shall nan The fundamental characteristic of a worl that sort of degrees to all multiplicities whi So. You ha or difference. 0 and different in others. in a much more Hegelian than Husserlia we have to maintain that we know being also know the way by which the thing as : Mathematics of multiplicities. what is exactly the appearing. If a thing is between indifference and difference. qualities. The rational science of the first point is mathematical ontology. ultimately composed of the purity of the void. it is because the inscribed in a completely new evaluatioi becomes possible to say that this element or less identical to another element. Existence is a gene of appearance." we must conclude that ontology is mathematics. That's why I have written that if ontology is the science of the thing. and so on. which can be formalized as a set. in a world. or a little identical not really the same. This logic must be that of the distribution of intensities in the field where multiplicities not only are. We have f with an elementary structure which autho degrees. "existence" is an a-subj Let us suppose now that we hay thing. truth and subjec talk about that today. but also to be-there as appearing (as objects). identities. The rational science of the second point is logical phenomenology. The law of things is to be as pure multiplicities (as things). The idea is that whe is localized in a world. the elements of this sets are sets. the logic of worlds cannot be purely extensional. as a framework for mathematics. or x is not at all identical to y. or for being-there. logics of tl adopt the Kantian distinctions-our first one is the theory of event. which are composed of sets of sets. And all that is on the basis of a place for appearance. in the very concept of appearii of a world. nothingness and objectivity. We must be able to observe that t cal to this other thing than to that third thi tainly have the formal structure of an ord . for i ontology. or being-t determinate world. and the point of departure of the whole construction is the empty set. After the mathematics of being qua being we have to develop the logic of the worlds. and we can talk about exi from any consideration about subjectivit the present paper. but also appear here. Our question now is to understand the birth of objectivity. From the work of Cantor at the end of the 19th century. in a very complex network of differences. phenomenology as the theory of appearing and objectivity concerns the relationship between qualitative differences. a place we name: a world. there are only two possibilities: y. If ontology as a theory of things without qualities is mathematics. Unlike the logic of things. problems of identities and of existence. The void has to do with indifference and complete lack of object. a set. of the pure "something. intensities and so on? It is impossible to deduce something like that from the purely mathematical thinking of the multiplicities as set of sets. in a concrete' ing-there of multiplicities.66 lacanian ink Towards a New Concept of the empty set. By contrast. appear in a world. we know that it is perfectly rational to propose that sort of construction of pure multiplicities from the void. we have two things. The multiple as such has to do with difference and pre-objectivity. The thing is formalized as a set.

or ce we name: a world. it is because the elements of the set are inscribed in a completely new evaluation of their identities. we have two things. By contrast. it is because a pure multiplicity is . in a determinate world. identities. ectivity. or very identical but not really the same. logics of the worlds. in the very concept of appearing. n now is to understand the birth of objecure multiplicity. We want to understand what is exactly the appearing. but also appear e law of things is to be as pure multiplicities to be-there as appearing (as objects). etwork of differences. The third one is the theory of event. Unlike the logic of things. thematics of being qua being we have to dee worlds. for instance y. The multiple as such has to do with differity. and the point of departure of the s the empty set. erfectly rational to propose that sort of conltiplicities from the void. or difference. we have a great variety of possibilities. of this thing. ets are sets. The void has to do with indifference and ect. a set. is more or less identical to another element. a thing. which of sets. there are only two possibilities: either x is the same as y. So the degrees certainly have the formal structure of an order. But I am not going to talk about that today. maybe . or similar in some ways and different in others. for instance x. In classical ontology. We must be able to observe that this thing is more identical to this other thing than to that third thing. A thing can be very similar to another. The fundamental characteristic of a world is the distribution of that sort of degrees to all multiplicities which appear in this world. Existence is a general category of the logic of appearance. qualities. n? ible to deduce something like that from the thinking of the multiplicities as set of sets. truth and subject. You have either strict identity. So every element of a thing can be related to others by what we shall name: a degree of identity. The he second point is logical phenomenology. Mathematics of multiplicities. phenomenology aring and objectivity concerns the relationtive differences. which can be formalized as a set. as a framework for s why I have written that if ontology is the of the pure "something. in a much more Hegelian than Husserlian sense. appear in a world. So. that is-if we adopt the Kantian distinctions-our first two "critics". or a little identical to. or the set. "existence" is an a-subjective concept. is localized in a world. In the framework of the present paper. of the purity of the void. or x is not at all identical to y. If ontology as a out qualities is mathematics. and we can talk about existence completely apart from any consideration about subjectivity. Let us suppose now that we have a pure multiplicity. or being-there. the logic of worlds cannot be purely ic must be that of the distribution of intensie multiplicities not only are. we have to maintain that we know being qua being and that we also know the way by which the thing as such appears in a world . The thing is formalized as a set. problems of identities and of at is on the basis of a place for appearance. or of a world. Against Kant. and so on. We have first a system of degrees. with an elementary structure which authorizes the comparison of degrees. They admit. It becomes possible to say that this element. The idea is that when the thing. in a concrete world as a place for being-there of multiplicities. or of being-there. rk of Cantor at the end of the 19th century. The e first point is mathematical ontology." we must conclude hematics.lacanian ink Towards a New Concept of Existence 67 hing is between indifference and difference.

it is very important to remember that there are many types of orders. pi the logical framework of a world. the study of the transcendental is the study of some types of structural order. If a pure multiplicity is a thing. atoms of appearing. You have. there always are s appearing in a world. we have a relationship between the things. With these two determinations we have the meaning of the becoming object of the thing. and therefore many possibilities for the logical organization of a world. the "more" and the "less. Second of all. an ( by the intermediate transcendental degre. Let us suppose that we have a couple of elements of a multiplicity which appears in a world. I name the ordinal organization of the degrees of identities: the transcendental of the world. but at the logical level. in the transcendental or identity. An identity function which is active between some multiplicities and the transcendental of the world is the fundamental concept of the logic of being-there or of appearing. to every couple of elements there corresponds a degree of the transcendental of the world. We have to assume the existence of an infinite multiplicity of different worlds. 1 existence. elements are identical to some extent. not only at the ontological level (some multiplicity. Two worlds with the same different from each other. So the complete logic of objectivity is the study of the form of the transcendental. or have the same appearing. it is a technical matter. A degree of identity corresponds to this couple. There is here an interplay between formal fragments of mathematics and logics and fundamental philosophical intuition." This structure is the rational disposition of the infinite shades of a concrete world. ( If the identity function takes the minim. two elements are absolutely different frc identity function takes an intermediate v. we say that the two elements are. And the study of the identity function is in fact the study of an important philosophical problem: the problem of the relationship between things and objects. some thing. Third of all. That is precisely the meaning of being-in-a-world for a thing. Here we can restrict ourselves to three points. It expresses the "more" or "less" of identity between the two elements in this world. and a maximal degree of identit you have a whole lot of intermediate del for a couple of elements. First. Formally. And between these two lin can express the fact that the two elerner identical. nor absolutely different. This relationship we call: an identity function. That is to say: a d two elements varies between two limit can in fact be « absolutely» identical. identical. That is to say: the identities betw multiplicity can radically differ at the I from one world to another world. We have here a profound and di what happens to a multiplicity when it rea . Second of all.68 lacanian ink Towards a New Concept ( within certain limits. a multiplicity with its identity-function is an object in a world. You idea. between indifferent multiplicities and their concrete being-there. So. and not only of some t develop a theory of the smallest parts of. they Cl identical. and the study of the identity function between multiplicities and the transcendental. there are structural Is which let us speak of more global dete We can examine for example the intensit part of the world. is in a world and not in another world). because thei ferent. the identity fur value. (the multiplicities) and the degrees of identities. absolutely different from each in common. as a structural order.

it is a technical matter. An identity e between some multiplicities and the tranld is the fundamental concept of the logic ppearing. we say that the two elements are. some thing. e that we have a couple of elements of a ears in a world. is in a world and not in another world)." This structure is of the infinite shades of a concrete world. And between these two limits. You have. absolutely different from each other. We have to assume the existence of an f different worlds. Two worlds with the same things can be absolutely different from each other. or we can develop a theory of the smallest parts of an object. absolutely identical. Second of all. Third of all. practically indiscernible in the logical framework of a world. and not only of some elements of it. because their transcendentals are different. and if the identity function takes an intermediate value. And most of the time you have a whole lot of intermediate degrees. if. or . as a structural order. If a pure multiplicity is a thing. from one world to another world. the level of appearing and existence. That is to say: the identities between elements of the same multiplicity can radically differ at the level of their being-there. and a maximal degree of identity. or have the same appearing. So. Second of all. for a couple of elements. without any point in common. in this world. the identity function can express the fact that the two elements are neither absolutely identical. There is een formal fragments of mathematics and al philosophical intuition. a minimal degree of identity. So. We have here a profound and difficult understanding of what happens to a multiplicity when it really appears in a world. they can also be absolutely nonidentical. an extent which is measured by the intermediate transcendental degree. identity-function is an object in a world. and the study of tween multiplicities and the transcendental. but at the logical level. study of the transcendental is the study of ral order.lacanian ink Towards a New Concept of Existence 69 e "more" and the "less. not only at the ontologiiplicity. important to remember that there are many therefore many possibilities for the logical rld. we have a relationgs. we say that the two elements are identical to some extent. That is to say: a degree of identity between two elements varies between two limit cases : the two elements can in fact be « absolutely» identical. And the study of is in fact the study of an important philoproblem of the relationship between things indifferent multiplicities and their concrete can restrict ourselves to three points. in the transcendental order. ete logic of objectivity is the study of the ental. We can examine for example the intensity of the being-there of a part of the world. what I call the atoms of appearing. anization of the degrees of identities: the orld. to every couple of onds a degree of the transcendental of the ip we call: an identity function. A degree of identity correIt expresses the "more" or "less" of identity ents in this world. we say that the two elements are absolutely different from each other. If the identity function takes the minimal value. in a world. nor absolutely different. You can easily formalize this idea. the identity function takes the maximal value. (the multiplicities) and the degrees of isely the meaning of being-in-a-world for a determinations we have the meaning of the thing. there are structural laws of the transcendental which let us speak of more global determinations of an object. or the same Being-there. there always are some limits of intensity of appearing in a world.

we will call "existence" of a being that appears in this world. and n world. completely affirms its own identity. D other as inexistence. It is. In particular. So the being-t the inexistent of the world. The appearing multiplicity must be understood as a very complex network of degrees of identity between its elements. and this intensity is in no way prescribed by the pure multiple composition of the being in consideration. We define death as the coming of ( tence for a thing endowed with a positive e and not the minimal value as such. "to exist" has no sense in itself. According to an intuition of Sartre's. Given a world and an identity function having its values in the transcendental of this world. the a thing passes from an existence with a P if it is not maximal. Symmetrically. because death happer » necessarily concerns an existent. We can apply to existence the formal remarks of the previous part of my lecture. we can say that the thing exists in the world without any limitation. We are first tempted to say that ( the world of reference. Asserting that a tantamount to concluding that identity ( equal to the minimal degree. the existence of a multipli maximal nor minimal. The thing is in the world. In effect. its degree of existe it inexists in this world. If. the degree of identity of a thing to itself is the maximal degree. Thus defined. parts and atoms. We have to take care of the logic of its qualities. of something like an existential intensity. and not only the mathematics of its extension. beyond its pure being. in this world. the transcendental degree assigned to the identity of this being to itself. The thing is in the world. The multiplicity. it is a category of appearing (in logic). We have here a striking example of the distinction between being and existence. or being-there? I give you immediately my conclusion: Existence is the name for the value of the identity function when it is applied to one and the same element.to an existence that is null relatively to the world. There I have said it: existence. But ( self defines inexistence. The multiplicity e To conclude I would summarize t question linked to the concept of existenc To understand the question of de member that it is only by its being-there that this existence is that of a degree of exi inexistence and absolute existence. we can say that this thing does not exist in this world. It is thi: us to rethink death.70 lacanian ink Towards a New Concept 0 when it is not merely reducible to its pure immanent composition. I have shown that the ~ is fundamental in Jacques Derrida's worl Often. in the transcendental framework of appearing. existential. All that ing" is that it is a change in appearing. The theory 01 is very important. existence is a transcendental degree which indicates the intensity of appearance of a multiplicity in a determined world. so to speak. but with an intensity which is equal to zero. existence is not a category of being (in mathematics). and not death. The whole pro a passage consist of? We limit ourselves tc 1) The passage from one identity 0 other cannot be an immanent effect of the: . the measure of the identity of a thing to itself. Exi concept and an intensive concept. So we can say that its existence is a non-existence. I am finally under the title of my lecture. This wouk is the absolute non-identity to self. for instance. What is the process of definition of existence. but its appeal destruction of its identity. "to exist" can only be said relatively to a world. if the degree of identity of a thing to itself is the minimal degree. We must think.

the effect of which is that a thing passes from an existence with a positive intensity-even if it is not maximal. existential. Symmetrically. that is to say null relatively to the world. The thing with an intensity which is equal to zero. to existence the formal remarks of the preIf. because death happens. parts and atcare of the logic of its qualities. Often. and not only extension.>11. All that can be asserted of "dying" is that it is a change in appearing. we can say that the thing without any limitation. 1) The passage from one identity or existence value to another cannot be an immanent effect of the multiplicity concerned. and that this existence is that of a degree of existence. beyond its pure an existential intensity.. it is essential to remember that it is only by its being-there that a being exists. This would also means that death is the absolute non-identity to self.". The multiplicity exists to some extent. The multiplicity.. and not the inexistent of the world. is a non-existence.. or beimmediately my conclusion: Existence is of the identity function when it is applied It is. and not the minimal value as such. The thing is in the world. . Existence is both a logical concept and an intensive concept. I have shown that the situation of the inexistent is fundamental in Jacques Derrida's work. we will call "existence" of a be. Death must be something other as inexistence. and an identity function having its values in this world.to an existence that is minimal.lacanian ink Towards a New Concept of Existence 71 reducible to its pure immanent composition. It is this duel status that permits us to rethink death. said it: existence. But absolute non-identity to self defines inexistence. To understand the question of death. the transcendental degree assigned being to itself. The whole problem is what does such a passage consist of? We limit ourselves to two remarks. situated between inexistence and absolute existence. but its appearance in the world is the destruction of its identity.._. We have here a the distinction between being and existence. the existence of a multiplicity in a world is neither maximal nor minimal. I am finally lecture. or when it inexists in this world. Asserting that a thing is dead would be tantamount to concluding that identity of the thing to itself is equal to the minimal degree.. We must think. "to exist" has no sense in itself. and not death.. So the being-there of this being is to be the inexistent of the world. Thus defined. in affirms its own identity. and this « happening » necessarily concerns an existent.s world..". must be understood as a very complex identity between its elements. We are first tempted to say that a thing is dead when. To conclude I would summarize this abstract theory with a question linked to the concept of existence: the question of death. the measure of the itself. AccordSartre's. so to speak. of a thing to itself is the minimal degree. "to exist" can only be said relatively existence is a transcendental degree which of appearance of a multiplicity in a deterintensity is in no way prescribed by the pure of the being in consideration. thing does not exist in this world. it is a category of appearing . the degree of identity of maximal degree.. We define death as the coming of a minimal value of existence for a thing endowed with a positive evaluation of its identity. in the world of reference. for instance. So 1\.. its degree of existence is minimal. existence is not mathematics). What is the process of definition of framework of appearing. The theory of the inexistent of a world is very important.

Because existence is a transcendental degree and nothing else. 2) It follows that the meditation of death is in itself vain. This change is always imposed on the dying thing. All of this indicates why we cannot agree with a philosophy of mortality and finitude. and this imposition comes from outside the thing. and therefore a purely logical correlation." So it is impossible to say of a multiple that it is "mortal". We are living and dying in many different worlds. Its title is Logique des moi without haste. There are thirty-five of them. locally or globally. I adjoin a glossary. a formal exposition. What thought must turn towards is the event which locally transforms the identity function. where is thy victory?" Dying. The first thre ished: The One. The Lights." It is because death is only a consequence. 1 centration. In other words. Damaged torments of subjectival things tout court. And thus in succession. when I can. which affects. the logical evaluations. Of no existent we can say that it is a "being-for-death". a conceptual exposition. I offer here the propr chapters. as Spinoza also declares: "The free man thinks of nothing less than of his death. and finally tl sitions of the chapter. The passage is necessarily the result of an exterior cause. what occurs in death is a change in the identity function of a given multiple. intei inevitable dictionaries are the gargoyles . and consequently to its own identity. in sum. and his wisdom is a meditation on life. The first three chapters have a in' troduction. is "The Transcendental" the Three "The World". I Art. or by the games of existence. and not a meditation on death. After which thi to accelerate. or the laws of the Being-there-in-the-world. as its degree of existence. exactly like existing. if not. The precise proposition is Spinoza's: "No thing whatever can be destroyed. ALAIN BADIOU translated by JAKE BELLONE There has been a book in the process of I three years. There is no ontological status of death. The philosophy of death is included in one sentence: Do not be afraid by the logic of a world. 35 Propositions from Chapters of Lo giqu.72 lacanian ink For this being has precisely no other immanence to the situation. we must ask with Saint Paul: "Death. except by an exterior cause. is a mode of being-there. We will leave the peace of: being. a con author).