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Phantom of consistency: Alain Badiou and Kantian transcendental idealism
Published online: 19 September 2008 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008
Abstract Immanuel Kant is one of Alain Badiou’s principle philosophical enemies. Kant’s critical philosophy is anathema to Badiou not only because of the latter’s openly aired hatred of the motif of ﬁnitude so omnipresent in post-Kantian European intellectual traditions—Badiou blames Kant for inventing this motif—but also because of its idealism. For Badiou-the-materialist, as for any serious philosophical materialist writing in Kant’s wake, transcendental idealism must be dismantled and overcome. In his most recent works (especially 2006’s Logiques des mondes), Badiou attempts to invent a non-Kantian notion of the transcendental, a notion compatible with the basic tenets of materialism. However, from 1988’s Being and Event up through the present, Badiou’s oeuvre contains indications that he hasn’t managed fully to purge the traces of Kantian transcendental idealism that arguably continue to haunt his system—with these traces clustering around a concept Badiou christens ‘‘counting-for-one’’ (compter-pour-un). The result is that, in the end, Kant’s shadow still falls over Badiouian philosophy—this is despite Badiou’s admirable, sophisticated, and instructive attempts to step out from under it—thus calling into question this philosophy’s self-proclaimed status as materialist through and through. Keywords Badiou Á Kant Á Idealism Á Materialism Á Transcendentalism
1 Transcendentalism and its discontents—Badiou between existentialism and structuralism The most important aspect of the work of Alain Badiou, as situated at the intersection of the history of post-Kantian European philosophy and contemporary theory, is his sustained project to bridge the seemingly unbridgeable gap between two distinct
A. Johnston (&) Albuquerque, USA e-mail: email@example.com
orientations represented by two twentieth-century ﬁgures avowedly inﬂuential for him in his youth: Jean-Paul Sartre and Louis Althusser. In terms of the topic of subjectivity, a topic Badiou insistently keeps on today’s intellectual agenda despite so much talk of ‘‘the death of the subject’’ surrounding deconstructionism and the various ‘‘post’’ movements (post-modernism, post-structuralism, and so on), the former (i.e., Sartre) represents a notion of the subject as a kinetic negativity of absolute autonomy free from ultimate determination by nature, nurture, or any combination thereof; by contrast, the latter (i.e., Althusser) represents a notion of the subject as the heteronomous, reiﬁed by-product of trans-subjective socio-historical mechanisms, namely, the subject as subjected to ideologies, interpellations, etc. One of the central philosophical matters separating phenomenological existentialism from Marxist structuralism is, obviously, the enigma of freedom. As Badiou remarks, for him, ‘‘the decisive philosophical task… would be to complete the Sartrean theory of liberty with a careful investigation into the opacity of the signiﬁer’’.1 In an interview with Bruno Bosteels, Badiou discusses his interest in ﬁnding a way to surmount the apparent antinomy between Sartrean-style existentialism and Althusserian-style structuralism. He states: …I have always been concerned in a privileged way by the question of how something could still be called ‘subject’ within the most rigorous conditions possible of the investigation of structures. This question had an echo for me of an even older question, which I had posed at the time when I was fully Sartrean, namely, the question of how to make Sartre compatible with the intelligibility of mathematics… I remember very clearly having raised the question, having formed the project of one day constructing something like a Sartrean thought of mathematics, or of science in general, which Sartre had left aside for the most part. This particular circumstance explains why I nevertheless have always been interested in the question of structural formalism while sustaining a category of the subject.2 A certain question Badiou poses in the introduction to Being and Event should be understood in relation to the above statements—‘‘pure mathematics being the science of being, how is a subject possible?’’3 Articulating himself in this fashion, Badiou makes clear that his efforts to ﬁgure out how to remain faithful to the insights of existentialism regarding autonomous subjectivity while nonetheless fully embracing the framework of structuralism—Peter Osborne is not without justiﬁcation in seeing Badiou’s philosophy, especially its recourse to mathematics, as fundamentally structuralist in inspiration4—are at the very heart of his protracted endeavors across the full range of his many writings. He thus puts himself forward as taking on the task of resolving one of the great unresolved tensions bequeathed to contemporary thought by twentieth-century Continental philosophy; and, like Jacques Lacan, he strives to do so by formulating a model of subjectivity compatible
1 2 3 4
Badiou (1995, p. 7). Badiou (2005a, p. 242). Badiou (2005b, p. 6). Osborne (2007, p. 25).
and embodiment). ﬁnitude. his friend (the young Badiou even goes so far as to accuse the anti-Oedipal duo of Deleuze and Guattari of being closet Kantians). neither LeviStrauss nor Althusser seems to leave space open in their theoretical systems for anything resembling the subject of Sartre’s philosophy of freedom. 57–58). 56). Deleuze (1977.Phantom of consistency 347 with the strictures of structuralism’s emphases on the mediating inﬂuences of asubjective conﬁgurations and matrices. As with Deleuze.9 There are three fundamental reasons why Kant functions as one of the main nemeses for Badiouian philosophy. attempts aiming to elaborate both a nonsubjective transcendental as well as a non-transcendental subject. But. labor to construct a re-worked conception of the transcendental as decoupled from ´ ` any sort of transcendental subject (a la Kant). Ricoeur (2004. 56. as Badiou readily admits. pp.6 ´ Paul Ricoeur. p. 561). p. thus warranting a careful examination of the doctrine of the object whose elaboration occupies the central bulk of Logiques des mondes. the enemy of his enemy isn’t. Badiou simultaneously is at pains to preserve the category of the subject. albeit a subject divorced from its usual partners in certain post-Kantian philosophical circles (especially such notions/ themes as experience.8 so too with Badiou—Kant is one of his key philosophical enemies. culminating in the hulking tome Logiques des mondes (the 2006 sequel to Being and Event.5 What is required. not only does Badiou seek to delineate what one could characterize as a structuralism with a subject—his most recent philosophical reﬂections. unlike this same Levi-Strauss. is nothing less than a quite novel and unprecedented account of the subject. describes classical 1950s ´ French structuralism (a set of which Levi-Strauss is perhaps the only full member) ´ as involving a ‘‘transcendentalism without a subject’’. First. Badiou (2003b. Badiou’s theory of the event. 2006f.10 Badiou’s tirades against this motif recur throughout 5 6 7 8 9 10 Badiou (2006e. 123 . The attempted de-subjectiﬁcation of transcendental structures will be of primary concern here. A thorough critical scrutinizing of Badiou’s theory of evental subjectivities would require a book-length study unto itself. a motif present nowadays in various guises. 79). But. p. p. This exorcizing of the specter of the mediating presence of ﬁnite epistemological subjectivity has everything to do with Badiou’s struggles against Kantian transcendental idealism and its (phenomenological) offshoots. allows for avoiding precisely such stiﬂing subject-foreclosing closure. However. in his latest texts. arising out of the openings provided by the points of incompleteness and inconsistency embedded within structuring situations and states. given Badiou’s tempered hostility toward Deleuze’s vitalist thought. the focus will be on the argumentative tactics and strategies deployed by Badiou in his attempts to divorce transcendentalism and subjectivity. in this case. Badiou (2004a. p. p. a transcendentalism without a ´ subject. Badiou indeed pursues. Badiou blames him for having invented the motif of ﬁnitude. Herein. his 1988 magnum opus). Like Ricoeur’s version of LeviStrauss.7 Admittedly. 50). in reference to Claude Levi-Strauss. 112). Badiou (2006f.
Ibid. 2006c. as philosophically foundational and ultimate. a thorough exegesis of these remarks isn’t possible in this current context. 2006f. p. the inconsistency. Badiou’s transcendental is both asubjective and (materially) immanent to the world of which it is. 24). p. 136–137. Badiou poses a series of questions to which this conception supposedly answers. 111. which.16 Therein. but also upon promotions of mortality. 141.17 Given that he also remains an opponent of idealism. Badiou (2006f. comes to consist as being-there? Or again: how can the essential unbinding of multiple-being present itself as local relation. 561). Third.12 The Kantian critical-transcendental apparatus insists that only a de-ontologized epistemology is philosophically valid and defensible. Badiou carries out a radical de-phenomenalization of ontology in Being and Event.e. being qua being ˆtre en tant qu’e ˆtre) is said to be the inﬁnite inﬁnities of inconsistent (l’e multiplicities-without-oneness ‘‘subtracted’’ from any and every ﬁeld of consistency-dependent presentation. 16. pp. the indifferent dissemination of being qua being. rather than chaos?15 The terminology used in this quotation from Logiques des mondes cannot be exhaustively elucidated in the present introductory discussion. Badiou (2005b. both a structuring scaffolding as well as an internal component. ‘‘being-there’’ ˆtre-la in Badiou’s more recent philosophical vocabulary)18 arise from `]. 202. ﬁnally. 283–284). Badiou sneeringly dubs Kant ‘‘our ﬁrst professor. 12. p. 79. for Badiou as a committed materialist... at one and the same time. 123 . as the stability of worlds? Why. p. of death-bound being. Hallward 2005. pp. are there worlds. pp. the idealism of Kantian transcendental idealism is simply unacceptable. Toscano (2004.11 Second. In the course of beginning to sketch the contours of his peculiar conception of the transcendental. and. 163). 608). 123–124. pp. p. Brassier 2007. 2006c. considering the range of connotations and functions with which this terminology comes to be endowed by Badiou. With implicit reference to the Kantian gesture of enclosing subjects within the prison-houses and shadow-theaters of their own cognition.13 is a position that must be eradicated. pp. pp. Tarby 2005a. He enumerates them thus: …how is it possible that the neutrality. Badiou balks at Kant’s invocation of the ostensible ‘‘limits of possible experience’’ insofar as this boundary-line partitioning noumena from phenomena entails the prohibition of constructing a rational ontology. 133. 10. p. Badiou (2005b. [e 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Badiou (1999. a few things can and should be said here. Badiou (1982. 24–25. 52–53). he is thereby left with the mystery/problem of how phenomena (i. and how. 30.348 A. pp. p. 1–2).’’14 the initiator of a sterile academic orientation in philosophy whose very theoretical content reﬂects the alleged practical fact of its lack of substantial connections to any sort of (so to speak) real world. Badiou (2006f. Nonetheless. Johnston his writings in the form of attacks upon not only epistemologies of ﬁnite subjective knowledge. in light of Badiou’s post-Heideggerian ontological ambitions.
each Badiouian world. the appearances and presentations of transcendentally structured worlds) out of ontological being qua being (as distinct from any and every phenomenology). not only will the positions of Badiou apropos Kantian transcendental idealism be explained—three far-from-insigniﬁcant problems with the Badiouian reaction against Kant and his legacy will be put forward. Badiou’s transcendental is co-extensive with what he calls ‘‘worlds’’.21 Hence. First. 123 .. in his quarrels with Kantian thought. p. Badiou’s transcendental begs the question of the conditions of possibility for its own surfacing out of the Real of being. Badiou seems to be left with the between this domain and l’e en tant qu’e unanswered questions of how and why being(s) give rise to worlds (the latter involving the transcendental as each world’s organizing state/regime). In this sense. would thus require supplementation by a meta-transcendentalism.19 More speciﬁcally. if there is such a thing.. he contends that there are indeﬁnite numbers of worlds both possible and actual. from 1988’s Being and Event through 2006’s Logiques des mondes. 612. 19 20 21 22 Ibid. Badiou’s mature philosophical ediﬁce. Who or what catalyzes the coming into existence of the being-there of appearances? Badiouian transcendentalism. such is not the case. an explanation of that which makes possible this very catalyzing. 124. domain of e ˆtre ˆtre. However. Badiou repeatedly uses the term ‘‘subject’’ in equivocal fashions.. the Badiouian transcendental isn’t a concept-term denoting delineable (pre)conditions for the emergence of phenomenal being-there (i. Johnston (2008). 536. pp. p.22 Third. is ordered by its own ‘‘transcendental regime’’. structured domains of relations between presentable entities) out of the incoherence and disorganization of pure being an sich? One might anticipate that it is in response to precisely this query that Badiou re-deploys the notion of the transcendental.’’ This idea continues to play a part in Badiou’s more recent work in ways that keep him within the orbit of Kant’s critical philosophy despite his violent repudiations of Kantian transcendental idealism. 618.. Ibid. 112. creating confusions that risk generating misleading illusions of there being genuine debates and disputes where there aren’t any. To the extent that Badiou’s transcendental is internal to and entirely entangled with the circumscribed ˆtre-la it cannot simultaneously operate in a mediating transitional role `. In isolation from Kant’s idealism. integrally involves the function of an idea Badiou baptizes ‘‘counting-for-one..20 Additionally. Ibid.Phantom of consistency 349 non-phenomenal being: What accounts for the genesis of the relative coherence and organization of ‘‘worlds’’ (i. In the sections to follow below. the broadest sense of his notion of the transcendental has to do with conditions of possibility. Second.e. Badiou’s anti-naturalism (especially his curt rejection of the life sciences as philosophically interesting and relevant) interferes with him being able to account for the genesis of appearances out of being in a materialist rather than idealist fashion.e. as a regional sphere within which multiple-being is made to appear in the form of localized/situated existences according to the relational logic of this same sphere.
e. is utterly unacceptable to Badiouian philosophy. an underside akin to the noumenal realm of things-in-themselves imagined by Kant as inaccessibly dwelling behind or beneath the facade of accessible phenomena. Before doing so. 25). p. p. that cognition indeed can transgress these purported limits so as to seize being qua being in an unmediated fashion. Badiou (2002. ‘‘Against Kant.28 Panning back to a more general level. being-in-itself. As regards the former ˆtre en tant qu’e ˆtre).. Badiou’s critical transformations of the notion of the transcendental will be addressed later.30 This particular manner of expressing himself reveals a detail that it’s important to note apropos his position with respect to Kant’s distinction between phenomenal objects-as-appearances and noumenal 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 Kant (1965. the image of worlds (i. a degree of ontological heft. is deemed to be entirely inaccurate and ¸ false. Again and again.26 In Logiques des mondes. the insistence that knowable reality conforms to the mediating templates of subjective cognition (rather than this cognition directly apprehending real being in and of itself). 184). both his conception of transcendentalism as well as his de-ontologized idealist epistemology. this aspect of Badiou’s antiKantianism can be encapsulated with the axiomatic proposition that being itself ˆtre ˆtre ˆtre-la 29 `. that l’e en tant qu’e discloses itself in and through e Elsewhere. Badiou (2007. 22. a direct knowledge of l’e maintenance of the limits of possible experience.. Badiou (2006c.350 A. 182. an insistence entailing a denial of the possibility of access to anything enjoying. Ibid. For Badiou.. B xvi–xvii p. it will be useful to discuss the anti-idealist fork of Badiou’s two-pronged attack on Kant. 67). 2004b. Johnston 2 What counts—the lingering specter of Kant Badiou takes issue with both halves of Kant’s transcendental idealism. against Kant’s (i.27 Later in this text. 91–92). Badiou opposes the crucial move at the heart of the Kantian critical ‘‘Copernican revolution. 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’’24—whether Badiou adequately explains the latter is worth calling into question. 162. Ibid. Badiou states his opposition to Kant’s de-ontologizing epistemology of the limits of possible experience thus—‘‘There are indeed a noumenon and a phenomenon. pp.. B xxii p. He protests that. pp. as it were. Badiou (2006d.23 This insistence upon epistemological ﬁnitude. but the noumenon is knowable’’. appears. Badiou (2006f. p. he claims.’’ namely. p. 323–324. p. 254). transcendentally organized regions in which being manifests itself in speciﬁc forms of being-there) as having an external underside. p. unlike das Ding an sich.e. he disagrees with readings of Lacan in which the register of the Real is treated as akin or equivalent to Kant’s realm of noumena. he speaks of thought’s ability to operate ‘‘beyond the limits of sensibility’’ so as to ‘‘synthetically think the noumenal and the phenomenal’’ (Hegel’s post-Kantian aspirations are mentioned here too). 11). 123 . is ‘‘entirely knowable’’25 (for this same reason.
e. ‘‘being qua being. infer something (i. is structured by a situation-speciﬁc operation of counting-for-one. p. pp. Badiou (2005b.41 Besana proceeds to describe. 58). strictly speaking.e. 123 . for Badiou.. 36). p. 12). p. p. Badiou deﬁnes this ‘‘count’’ as distinct from being. 64.. posited as anterior to this situational structuring and organization. pp. Ibid. being qua being an sich) while Logiques des mondes deals with phenomena (i.35 and. 93. while being as such. See Hallward (2003. 2005. Hallward (2003. is neither one nor multiple’’40—with ‘‘multiple’’ here meaning many uniﬁed ones). 28–29. After remarking that. being qua being as pure multiplicities-without-one) retroactively presupposed as prior to this process of counting. ‘‘in-consists’’ of multiplicities without one-ness or unity39 (hence. Ibid. Ibid. 1985’s Peut-on penser la politique?..33 Instead. consistent multiplicities). See Tarby 2005b. as an operation. the former is what presumably precedes the consistency-producing intervention of counting-for-one and the latter is what is created as a result of this unifying operation.e.’’ as a locality within which uniﬁed entities can and do appear. something inhering within ˆtre ˆtre). one could say that Being and Event deals with noumena (i. Badiou (2005b. Badiou (2005b. 504). p. evanescent. Bruno Besana provides a re-translation of these terms and concepts back into Kantian parlance. 72). he even defends the Kantian thing-in-itself against Hegelian criticisms of this idea. isn’t itself a being in the strict ontological sense (i.37 This leads Badiou to propose a distinction between ‘‘inconsistent multiplicity’’ and ‘‘consistent multiplicity’’. 52.. 61). ‘‘the pure multiple and the count for one designate two different regimes which fall under the sphere of ontology and that of phenomenology respectively’’. from within any situation arising as an outcome of such a count.32 This unifying operation. he merely denies that it constitutes an un-crossable border strictly separating possible epistemologies from impossible ontologies (in a relatively early text. 63. pp. p. ‘‘Unity is transitory.38 A situation structured by a count contains many ones (i. One of the core concepts entangled with the ontology elaborated in Being and Event is that of ‘‘counting-for-one’’ (compter-pour-un). Tarby (2005a. after-the-fact of this operation.31 In Kant’s language.. l’e en tant qu’e although (supposedly) always-already having acted upon it so as to render beingin-itself presentable34 (as Fabien Tarby explains.e. 80). even at this basic starting-point. with reference ´ to Badiou’s 1998 Court traite d’ontologie transitoire (a text Badiou identiﬁes as a 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 Badiou (1985. Furthermore. p.. 23–24. Badiou’s means of taking distance and differentiating himself from Kant aren’t always so clear and convincing. Badiou (2007a. 24–25). 33. operational’’).Phantom of consistency 351 things-in-themselves: Badiou doesn’t seek to dissolve this distinction—instead. 86).. p. ‘‘the unity of something is operational and not substantial’’. being-there as transcendentally ordered appearances). Badiou (2005b. 25. pp.e. However. p.36 Any ‘‘situation.. one can. p.
in conjunction with remarks regarding the role of the count-for-one occurring in the immediately following pages of Being and Event. given that these multiplicities of pure being an sich allegedly escape the grasp of any and every one-ifying count and.’’ Elsewhere in Being and Event as well as in various subsequent texts. ontology itself is a world. in the language of this 2006 tome. between ˆtre ˆtre ˆtre-la Badiou further complicates matters—with these `). 130. insofar as it exists.e. 123 . Simont (2002.42 a passage from the noumenal (i. 608). 2004d. p. insofar as counting-for-one establishes situations in which multiplicities are rendered consistent. apropos the quotation above. 29).e. Finally.e. hence. further difﬁculties requiring resolution. he unambiguously treats ontology as one situation/world among others. he maintains that: …ontology can be solely the theory of inconsistent multiplicities as such. of l’e en tant qu’e 49 Badiou’s introductory framing of his 1988 magnum opus 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 Badiou (2006b. To begin with.48 Of course. Ontology. Johnston pivotal hinge situated between Being and Event and Logiques des mondes). p. In ‘‘Meditation One—The One and the Multiple: a priori conditions of any possible ontology’’ (one cannot help but be struck by the Kantian language of this sub-title). p.. 36). appearing as counted and consistent multiplicities). Badiou (2007a. Badiou (2006f. 38). p. ‘As such’ means that what is presented in the ontological situation is the multiple without any other predicate than its multiplicity. any and every situation? This question will be returned to momentarily.45 But. p. Badiou (2005b. Badiou (2005b. p.352 A.44 Several facets within this passage deserve attention. xii). p.e. p. In the last sentence of the quotation above. 597). pp. one might wonder whether the caveat attached to ontology (i. pp. 197–198. 28). pp. this operation’s unavoidable mediation. 174. Badiou (1988. Badiou qualiﬁes ontology as a ‘‘situation... bars direct access to the un-situated inconsistent multiplicities ˆtre ˆtre. must necessarily be the science of the multiple qua multiple. 2003c. 2005b. in the vocabulary of Logiques des mondes. how can ontology also address inconsistent multiplicities. being as un-counted and inconsistent multiplicities) to the phenomenal (i.. 463–465). 2006f. p. as such. Badiou (2003a. ‘‘insofar as it exists’’ [‘‘pour autant qu’elle existe’’])46 harbors a premonition of the contrast between being and ‘‘existence’’ so crucial for Logiques des mondes (wherein ‘‘existence’’ pertains to the being-there of appearing within a transcendentally governed world). a mediation turning even ontology itself into a situation. l’e en tant qu’e and e complications already popping up as early as the ﬁrst two meditations of Being and Event. 25–27. Badiou’s deﬁnition of ontology as ‘‘the science of the multiple qua multiple’’ generates.47 since. 233.43 On the basis of the positioning of compter-pour-un between inconsistent and consistent multiplicities (i. Badiou proceeds to identify compter-pour-un as ‘‘the system of conditions through which the multiple can be recognized as multiple’’.
51 In other words. among other things. 24. 7–8).56 In the fourth meditation. he declares: …the inconsistent multiple is actually unthinkable as such.53 The second and fourth meditations of Being and Event. Badiou (2005b.52 The ﬁrst meditation of Being and Event draws to a close with Badiou proposing. the inconsistent multiple is solely—before the one-effect in which it is structured—an ungraspable horizon of being. 5.55 Subsequently in the second meditation. 52.54 A few lines later. this is merely to assert that.Phantom of consistency 353 hints at this from the very start: Proclaiming an equivalence between mathematics (as post-Cantorian. 27). p.. On the other hand. p. Ibid. 30). Badiou succinctly stipulates that. 34. See Hallward 2003. which is to say a structure.50 Rather.. Consequently. he claims that the noumenal realm of Real being an sich indeed can be grasped cognitively in ways forbidden by Kant’s de-ontologizing epistemology. 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 Badiou (2005b. Kant (1965. the inconsistency of being qua being as multiplicities-without-one is deemed to be ‘‘unthinkable’’. in which the presented multiple is consistent and numerable. Tarby (2005a. always-already there intervention of a count-for-one imposes certain constraints and limitations on thought’s relation to the (inconsistent) multiplicities of being per se. pp. All thought supposes a situation of the thinkable. Badiou oscillates between two incompatible stances: On the one hand. p. 123 . p. Ibid.57 Kant speaks of noumenal things-in-themselves as thinkable but not knowable. that ontology requires the inconsistent being made consistent so as to be addressed within its discursive parameters. Ibid. 88). Badiou (2005b. p. 34. B xxvi-xxvii p. contain propositions that bring Badiou back into proximity with Kant-the-enemy. he sometimes seems to reinstate essential features of the Kantian divide between the phenomenal and the noumenal when speaking of un-sayble being-in-itself as inconsistent multiplicities-without-one inaccessible to all discourse and thought (even that of pure mathematics). when railing against Kantian epistemological ﬁnitude with its limits of possible experience denying direct access to noumena. a particular mathematical ‘‘discourse’’ is what is ‘‘pronounceable’’ or ‘‘expressible’’ of being an sich. ‘‘What thought needs is the— non-being—mediation of the one’’. such inconsistency is similarly qualiﬁed as incapable of being ‘‘presented’’.. p. for several reasons. 35. In the second meditation.. p. p. 63). trans-ﬁnite set theory) and ontology isn’t tantamount to claiming that the ‘‘stuff’’ of being qua being in and of itself is numerical in nature. Ibid.58 With respect to this matter. a count-asone. the necessary. in relation to the countdependent distinction between consistent and inconsistent multiplicities.
Gillespie (2007. Gillespie (2007. the ground. since inconsistency is a valid category or concept only relative to consistency. as unstructured. pp. 123 . Sam Gillespie’s ˆ ´ ´ ´ ´ posthumously published paper ‘‘L’etre multiple presente. Acotto (2007.. Johnston What could be called Badiou’s ‘‘Kant trouble’’ becomes more apparent and serious once additional attention is turned to the concept of compter-pour-un. any delineable difference between consistent and inconsistent multiplicities can be legitimately and defensibly afﬁrmed.’’ Additionally. in an absolute. Gillespie notes that it makes little sense to talk about being as inconsistent in itself (i. p. given the inescapability of the count-for-one (an inescapability constraining even ontology itself to be one situation/world among others). represente. Badiou (2005b. Besana inquires into from where compter-pour-un comes. 103). 77–78). in fact. 77). the operator? This is one of the mysteries of the philosophy of Badiou. p.60 In this vein. raise similar questions. likewise comments: Badiou deﬁnes it… as an operation. namely. 130). and of its exclusion of perceptual and cognitive mechanisms from ontological discourse. p. concretely. in the absence of a possible position or perspective outside of a count-shaped situation. Besana (2007b.. good reasons for denying operations an ontological status (one might inquire about this also as regards 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 Besana and Feltham (eds. between. and.) (2007). he rightly remarks that. an inconsistency arising from and inhering within the structures of situations (with their presentations as countings) and states-ofsituations (with their representations as countings of countings)62 and. in Being and Event. 99.61 Following Gillespie’s indications. or source of this operation remains mysteriously unspeciﬁed. in the same collection of essays.63 Why should the operation of this count be entirely deontologized? Besana and Edoardo Acotto. 86). Arguably—this would be an argument to advance on another occasion—Badiou’s failure to draw such a distinction is linked to what could be critiqued as. pp. 96–97. three of the contributors to this volume articulate a series of unsettling queries and problems for the Badiouian philosophical framework on the basis of the role played by this operation of counting therein. Ibid. given Badiou’s adamant anti-naturalism. non-relative mode). rendu vrai’’ makes several important points. as structured. 93–94. 83–84. an inconsistency presumably characteristic of being qua being apart from its manifestations both ontic and ontological. it becomes doubtful whether. origin. perhaps it also should be observed that Badiou fails to distinguish between structured and unstructured inconsistency.354 A. In a ´ ´e recently published collection of papers on Badiou (Ecrits autour de la pense 59 d’Alain Badiou).e. an equivocal use of the word ‘‘inconsistency. Gillespie asks why Badiou denies counting-for-one any sort of ontological status. But who is.65 Critically inquiring into whether there are.64 Acotto. 77–78. pp. First. discussing the count-for-one.
and Desanti is nothing less than the matter of whether Badiou succeeds at moving beyond the Kantian-style idealism with which he presents himself as having broken. So what? The essential framework of the critical system still stands. For instance. criticisms of Kant’s ‘‘idealist subject’’ fall into the trap of what a committed Kantian transcendental idealist could easily and convincingly condemn as crude metaphorical ‘‘picture thinking’’: the ‘‘Transcendental Aesthetic’’ of the ﬁrst Critique clearly stipulates that spatiality is conﬁned to being solely one of the two ‘‘pure forms of intuition. from a Kantian perspective. he continues explicitly to invoke this problematic concept. Besana.. 134–135). Kant may be even more radical than Badiou here. a cheap-and-easy criticism ultimately reliant upon a simplistic. were one to ask oneself this ‘preliminary’ question: what is it to operate? Who operates here and in what realm? In this case. remaining serenely unaffected by this merely terminological concession. experience is somehow ‘‘in’’ a subject rather than being ‘‘out there’’ beyond the closed circle of cognition) is. unreﬁned category mistake. in 1998. Badiou (2006c. Badiou’s difﬁculties arising from the enigmas surrounding compter-pour-un do not go away. long after Being and Event (up through Logiques des mondes). pp.’’ And. fading with time and through successive revisions to his system. ‘‘Fine. That is to say.e. one should respond thusly (a response revealing the complications created by Badiou failing to clarify the different meanings of the word ‘‘subject’’ at stake in his scattered readings of Kant): Throughout almost the entirety of the Critique of Pure Reason. 60). Moreover.’’ Hence. Jean-Toussaint Desanti similarly argues: It seems clear to me that the project of a pure ontology (an intrinsic theory of being as being) would stumble here with its very ﬁrst step. p. 123 . such a critique betrays the fact that the critics have yet to make the leap from picture thinking sorts of depictions of subjectivity (the Innenwelt of the subject versus the Umwelt of being)— 66 67 Desanti (2004. he deﬁnes the one-ifying operation of counting as Kant’s transcendent unity of apperception minus a self-conscious subject. More often than not. A Kantian could nonchalantly reply to Badiou along the lines of. the term ‘subject’ won’t be used as somehow equivalent to the conﬁguration of transcendental conditions for reality. accusations that Kant ultimately relies upon a simplistic idealist inside/ outside dichotomy (i.66 What is at stake in the answers (or lack thereof) to these critical questions formulated by Acotto.’ or even annulling its object.67 To this. Kant abstains from speaking of ‘‘the subject’’ or ‘‘subjectivity’’ in his delineation of the conditions of possibility for experience and its correlative forms of legitimate knowledge.Phantom of consistency 355 Badiou’s later withholding of such status from relations). if we are to avoid postponing indeﬁnitely a pure theory of ‘being as being. clariﬁcation of the object-act correlation would at least have to be the (transcendental) propaedeutic required for any meaningful ontology.
and only one. ﬁguratively. Badiou’s post–1988 reﬂections (especially in and around Logiques des mondes) on the being-appearance rapport perhaps establish more convincingly that Badiou is indeed. as a disembodied. fundamental skeletal structure of these possibility conditions shared by all mental 68 69 Johnston (2005. an impersonal. 3 Anonymous appearances—the asubjective transcendental Quickly encapsulated. by certain of Hegel’s reactions to Kant) that being itself can and does appear within the parameters of circumscribed phenomeno-logical frames. Johnston Kant might note that the subject cannot be envisioned in this way. he alludes to an anonymous ‘‘One’’ at work in the Kantian critical apparatus. Therein. 137–138. two.e. in part. Kant’s transcendental. as with most criticisms of it. 126). sounds awfully akin to how Kant discusses what is at the core of the ‘‘Transcendental Deduction’’ (which itself arguably is the very heart of the Critique of Pure Reason).68 ´ Oddly enough. through his insistence (admittedly inspired. maybe Badiou succeeds at taking distance from Kant not so much through the concept of this count (as an ethereal. However. To the extent that Kant’s idealism commits him to consign any connection or link between appearances (as objects) and being (as things) to the darkness of an unknown about which nothing can be said.. subjective (this scaffolding of possibility conditions for a reality of presentable objects is associated with the mind of a cognizing individual agent). involves four features. selﬂess unifying dynamic not so different from the operation of counting described in Being and Event. 141). The Kantian subject is not spatially localizable. always-already prior structuring condition or principle of basic formal unity for situations as ﬁelds of both possible and actual object-level presentations/appearances. 123 . according to criteria implicitly or explicitly derived from the limited domain of intuition—to a transcendental level in which the very question of ‘‘inside or outside’’ (i. whether literally or. as characterized by Badiou. instead. Badiou (2006c. by contrast with Kant. a committed anti-idealist. p. pp. Properly envisioning this form of subjectivity demands dispensing with the prosthetic crutch of visual metaphors. on a more sympathetic reading. assessing the differences between the Kantian and Badiouian notions of the transcendental is in order. but. singular qua universal (there is one. with it being: one. the spatial ‘‘where?’’) with respect to subjectivity is simply irrelevant. namely. spectral operation of uniﬁcation) in relation to ontology.69 Counting-for-one.356 A. Badiou appears to acknowledge certain key points made in the quotation immediately above. before addressing these reﬂections through a thorough analysis of Badiou’s doctrine of the transcendentally constituted object (as elaborated in Logiques des mondes). But. in Court traite d’ontologie transitoire (the same book in which counting-for-one is equated with a subject-less transcendental unity of apperception).
trans-individual matrix common to all individual minds. More precisely. their degrees of identity or difference from one another. Alberto Toscano sees in it the signal of a not-to-be-overlooked shift between Being and Event and Logiques des mondes. 2006f. This element is deﬁned as the transcendental of the ‘world’—it is. contingent (given the open-ended multiplicity of worlds with varying transcendental regimes. but rather an abstract schema to consider how. 201. 2006f. 111–112. p.70 two. Toscano (2004. Badiou (2004b. no one transcendental conﬁguration is absolutely necessary). 185–186. he views Badiou as moving away from the vexed concept of counting-for-one as deployed in the former book: Where Badiou’s recent work goes further is in the postulate that every arrangement (read ‘world’) is endowed with one element (a multiple) which functions as its structuring principle. transcendent (this transcendental. positioning himself as Kant’s polar opposite here. Badiou (2006f. p. there is no reality).Phantom of consistency 357 agents). providing it with maximal and minimal degrees of appearance and intensity…74 Toscano continues: Rather than relegating the structuring agency to the nebulous domain of a perennial and unquestionable law (a danger arguably incurred by the focus on the ‘count’ in Being and Event). with it being: one. pp. p. 215). What we are given is not the ubiquitous pertinence of ‘structure’ per se. 2004c. in other words. necessary (without this singular. 2006f. 171).73 It seems Badiou couldn’t be further from Kant as regards the transcendental. four. three. Badiou’s determination of the transcendental as a structured element (or multiple) within the situation itself heralds the possibility of a far more immanent. of necessity. 64–65. consideration of order and placement than the one provided in Being and Event. localising all other existent (or appearing) multiples and determining their degrees of existence (or appearance). pp.72 and. pp. Badiou (2004b. p. Badiou’s transcendental is the mirror-image inversion of this. so to speak. 123 . what individuates the world. 130–131. 317–318). of a substantially more materialist. rather than being shrouded in ontological invisibility. multiple qua non-universal (given both the co-extension of transcendental regimes with worlds as well as the alleged plurality of worlds. 183. four. asubjective (there is no central mental agent or cognizing individual invariably organizing worlds of appearances). 207. 67). 251). there are as many transcendentals as there are innumerable ` worlds—thus further justifying the denial of a unique transcendental subjecta la Kant). which is to say. p. 182–183. Addressing the topic of the Badiouian transcendental. and. 11. pp. isn’t internally included within the ﬁeld it nonetheless makes possible). 168.71 three. 2007. the organisation of a particular ontological region is determined by an identiﬁable element or complex… 70 71 72 73 74 Badiou (2002. pp. immanent (those things functioning as conditions of possibility for a particular world simultaneously appear as elements within this same world).
Second. at least in Logiques des mondes. In ‘‘Section 2’’ (entitled ‘‘Kant’’) of ‘‘Book III’’ (‘‘Grande Logiques. the 2006 conceptualization of the transcendental is purportedly less. ‘‘one could construct a deﬁnition of the 75 76 Ibid.358 A. this is not without major problems. as seen. certain of its internal constituents (i. obviously treats ‘‘existence’’ and ‘‘appearance’’ as equivalent (in the ‘‘Dictionary of Concepts’’ at the very end of Logiques des mondes. as it were. Several other details of Toscano’s observations merit being noted and submitted to criticism. Toscano. L’objet’’) of this recent book. given his general scholarly scrupulousness—that the idea of counting-for-one is abandoned after Being and Event (nonetheless.e. Badiou (2006f. Badiou. the ‘‘small book’’ serving as a transitional bridge between the two ‘‘big books’’ of 1988 and 2006—it resurfaces again in Logiques des mondes itself. 603. Within a world. the immanence of each transcendental regime to its respective world supposedly (re-)secures Badiouian thought as a form of strict materialism (a standing Toscano indicates is jeopardized by the enigmas and obscurities surrounding compter-pour-un). pp. Toscano stresses that structuring.76 As will be seen shortly. Toscano believes that these anxieties about Badiou’s less-than-fully-materialist status circa 1988 subsequently are assuaged in two ways after 1988: First. in the passages quoted above. Not only is this ´ concept-term deployed in 1998’s Court traite d’ontologie transitoire (in passages referenced earlier here).. it would be correct to claim that this idea is much less explicitly prominent in the current version of Badiou’s system).. The multiple-entities of a world are not evenly weighted relative to one another. p. those functioning as components of the given world’s transcendental regime) are more privileged than others to the extent that these certain constituents (like a Lacanian point de capiton or Laclauian hegemonic articulator) are endowed with the power to organize and govern the plethora of inner-worldly appearances. especially considering the issue of Badiou’s fraught relations with Kantian transcendental idealism. mysteriously faceless than the anonymous count-for-one (and yet. Johnston a collection of multiples is articulated through the (transcendental) agency of another multiple…75 Toscano’s lucid and insightful remarks highlight the important implications of Badiou’s insistence on the immanence of those multiplicities operating as transcendentally-structuring principles to the worlds they shape and regulate. one also should pay attention to Toscano’s justiﬁed concerns about the potential (quasi-)idealist implications of the de-ontologized operation of compter-pour-un in Being and Event. Following Badiou. in Being and Event. actually does maintain that each situation has its own speciﬁc structuring count). Through emphasizing the dimension of immanence in Badiou’s post-1988 account of the transcendental. The most obvious ﬂaw initially to be remarked upon here is a scholarly one: Toscano’s comments erroneously imply—this is quite surprising. 215. 608). Prior to addressing the difﬁculties arising from the notion of appearing for Badiou’s transcendentalism. 123 . Badiou’s deﬁnitions of these two terms make manifest this equivalence). evidently isn’t imposed from anywhere else other than the immanent interiority of the worlds thus-structured. 2. Badiou says.
Additionally. pp.’’ Toscano emphasizes the immanence of Badiou’s transcendental. transcendentals here are said to structure (phenomenal) logics of inner-worldly appearing. 9. one of this notion’s other four characteristics.. Besana. this is a difference between ‘‘onto-logy’’ and ‘‘onto-logy’’.78 or. its alleged asubjective character. consequently. 11. minus experience itself. 127. pp.. in this case. Instead. more generally. Ibid. A distinction absolutely central to Logiques des mondes is that between the being qua being of ontology (as extensive differences-in-kind) and the beingthere of phenomenology (as intensive differences-in-degree). insofar as there can be transcendental regimes sans any subjective mediation. 104. p. Badiou and Toscano use ‘‘existence’’ (i.79 the latter signaling Badiou’s equation of appearance with the relational structures of logics80 (as will be seen below in the exposition to follow of the Badiouian nonidealist doctrine of the transcendental constitution of objects..e. can one convincingly claim to have constructed a phenomenology in the strict sense? And.e. the being-there of entities in a particular world ordered by a speciﬁc transcendental regime) and ‘‘appearance’’ interchangeably as synonyms. 167–168. hence the ‘‘logy’’ remaining connected to the ‘‘onto’’). does the very distinction between ontology and phenomenology stand up in the face of such doubts and questions? Speaking of Badiou’s anti-Kantian transcendental-without-a-transcendental-subject. Ibid. isn’t established in as clear and unproblematic a fashion as its immanent character (and this not simply because of the downplayed post-1988 persistence of the not-so-obviously-anti-Kantian operation of counting). pp.77 It would now be appropriate to examine the Badiouian conceptterms ‘‘appearance’’ and ‘‘object. 109.. 112.. to perceiving and/or conceiving mental agents (what Badiou takes to be the referent of Kant’s notion of transcendental subjectivity as the set of possibility conditions for experience). 248. as Badiou sometimes expresses it. and Desanti) apropos the operation of compterpour-un—‘‘Who or what is the operator doing the counting?’’—ought to be raised with respect to Badiou’s phenomenology: To whom or what do appearances appear? Badiou maintains that there can be worlds without subjects (insofar as there are asubjective transcendentals)—with ‘‘subjects’’ referring. 123 . A question resembling that posed above (in agreement with Acotto. pp. Peter Hallward warns readers that the word ‘‘appearing’’ isn’t employed in this context in a manner conforming to any of its typical quotidian or traditional philosophical meanings. 611). Badiou’s choice of the word ‘‘appearance’’ for localized asubjective organizations of multiple-being is still incredibly perplexing. appearances are simply the regionally constrained manifestations of being caught in the nets and webs of various relational matrices. these logics interface with being itself. there can be worlds without subjects—and. For Badiou. there can be appearances without anything (i. this being one of the four characteristics of it. Badiou (2002. But. 2006f. 48. a who or what) to which these appearances appear. Hence. 127. 77 78 79 80 Ibid. However.Phantom of consistency 359 object common to Kant and me: the object is that which is counted for one in appearance’’. 199.
122–124). apart from its (potential) accessibility as always-already formed into the one-ness of the uniﬁed consistency of the being-there of worldly objects. l’e en tant qu’e is always locally instantiated as ˆtre-la83 (an insistence repeated in Logiques des mondes). pp.85 and that.86 Taking into consideration the lines of criticism suggested above. Badiou indeed limits appearing to mere. 4 The ghost of unity—Badiou’s unﬁnished materialist project `-vis Kant is Perhaps the key place for achieving a deﬁnitive assessment of Badiou vis-a the Badiouian theory of objectivity as carefully formulated at length in Logiques des mondes. consequences distasteful to Badiou. bare being-there (not necessarily perceived and/or conceived by a perceiver/conceiver)—‘‘Appearance is being plus its place’’. 296–297). 162. the distinction between noumena and phenomena is reinstated in its classical Kantian guise— with being qua being. and un-thinkable. p. Badiou (2006a. 123 . Apart from blaming Kant for allegedly inventing the modern (and postmodern) motif of ﬁnitude. Badiou (2006f. either there is no being-in-itself distinct from being-there or the being distinct from being-there is noumenal in the old Kantian sense of an inaccessibility exceeding set limits. there are no phenomena present here strictly speaking due to the hypothesized absence of any locus of experience.82 Hallward cites some ´ key passages on this topic from the fourteenth and ﬁnal chapter of Court traite d’ontologie transitoire (a chapter entitled ‘‘Being and Appearing’’). Badiou (2006c. The second consequence would be that. he ` e maintains that. p. remaining un-presentable.81 In an interview conducted soon after the publication of Logiques des mondes. p. can result at this juncture.360 A. Johnston within the ‘‘there’’ of a logically governed locality. Two.84 In this vein. Badiou (2006c. un-sayable. pp. The ﬁrst consequence would be that the distinction between noumenal being and phenomenal being-there completely collapses—and this for two reasons: One.e. ‘‘Appearing is an intrinsic determination of Being’’. 162).. a ‘‘logy’’) as what l’e can be said in consistent terms regarding inconsistent being. ‘‘It belongs to Being to appear. it seems that only one of two consequences. Ibid. Put differently. and thus to be a singular existent’’. Therein. 162).. 250). Badiou’s self-proclaimed distance from Kant is in question. ˆtre-la is ‘‘an intrinsic determination’’ of l’e ` ˆtre en tant qu’e ˆtre as a de-totalized e non-All not-One. as is risked earlier in Being and Event thanks to propositions about ˆtre en soi being separate from ontology-qua-discourse (i. in light of the non-existence of Being as the totality of a One-All (ostensibly demonstrated via the post-Cantorian mathematical ˆtre ˆtre ontology of Being and Event). Once again. Badiou credits him with inventing the philosophical category 81 82 83 84 85 86 Hallward (2003. p. Badiou not only denies that appearances appear for anyone or anything (itself an extremely puzzling statement)—he insists that.
93 A Badiouian object is a transcendentally indexed multiple (i. Two.87 As with his version of the transcendental. set-theoretic ontology of l’e en tant qu’e composed of constituents drawn from (material) being. (phenomeno-)logical domain of e noumenal-ontological and phenomenal-logical). 2. then there are objects minus any subjectivity whatsoever. p.e. and both of these halves are situated within the non-ontological realm of epistemological subjectivity.92 worded differently. 123 . p. is the declaration that. so too with his version of objectivity—Badiou’s object. To the extent that the object takes ˆtre ˆtre shape at the intersection of the ontological domain of l’e en tant qu’e and the ˆtre-la the object is ‘‘onto-logical’’ (i.. 245). the Kantian object is a combination of the transcendental and the empirical (with the latter presented through the receptivity of intuition). Unlike Kant’s idealist doctrine of the experiential object-quaappearance as lacking any speciﬁable rapport with the presumed-but-inaccessible ontological density of das Ding an sich. unlike Kant’s. namely. Ibid. pp. is without a corresponding subject (as an idealist power of constitution)...90 One of the fundamental postulates of materialism. its being an sich can be known in its pure multiplicity ˆtre ˆtre.. pp. 255. 245. 248. Ibid. p. 187.e. By contrast.95 It consists of a synthesis of pure multiple-being(s) and the relations prescribed by the transcendental regime of a world (with its other thus-constituted objects). 231. Ibid.89 This second reason makes reference to what Badiou calls ‘‘real atoms’’ (to be deﬁned and analyzed soon in what follows below). both `. ‘‘Every atom is real’’. Badiou maintains that his object isn’t an idealist category for two reasons: One. Badiou proclaims that he conceives of the transcendentally constituted object as existing without a corresponding subject. phenomenal being-there is always tethered to noumenal being. the Badiouian object is a combination of the ontological and the (phenomeno-)logical. L’objet’’] of Logiques des mondes). p. according to Badiou. a constellation of being localized as being-there by virtue of its being situated within the coordinates of a given world) consisting of real atoms94 (again. these atoms will be discussed here shortly).. no entirely de-ontologized phenomena. p. 205. it’s through a mathematical. 2006f. 233. 232. All of the facets of the Badiouian critique of Kantian transcendental idealism appear together in condensed form in this new doctrine of the subject-less transcendental constitution of objects (a doctrine elaborated primarily in ‘‘Book III’’ [‘‘Grande Logique. p. 233–234). Badiou (2004b. Ibid. Ibid..88 If there are transcendentals independent of transcendental subjects (the latter in the Kantian sense). free-ﬂoating appearances unanchored in and completely disconnected from actual multiple-being(s). Of course.. Ibid.. Ibid. p. p. 265. ‘‘Every object is the being-there of the being of an entity’’.Phantom of consistency 361 of the object too. Ibid. p.. 613..91 This axiomatic materialist thesis asserts that there can be no purely virtual.96 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 Badiou (2006f.
239. ‘‘An atom is real when the authority of the One in appearance is dictated by that of the One in being: the atom of appearance is prescribed by an element (in the ontological sense) of the multiple that appears’’. lower-level stopping-points to the inﬁnite proliferation of multiplicities-without-one). p. 23–24. 26). 234–235. 234. p. in and of itself.e.’’ The deﬁnition of ‘‘atom (of appearance)’’ makes reference to ‘‘the authority of the One in appearance’’ as ‘‘that which counts for one in the object’’98 (the resurfacing of the concept of compter-pour-un again should be noted). Badiou suggests that this onto-logical synthesis isn’t an entirely smooth and harmonious affair. 123 ... Ibid. isn’t any instance of one-ness a result of the non-ontological operation of counting-for-one superimposing its structuring inﬂuence upon a being ˆtre en tant qu’e ˆtre) depicted by Badiou as. 598. 29. p..97 What about these strange ‘‘real atoms’’ which Badiou invokes in his discussions of the category of the object? Turning to the ‘‘Dictionary of Concepts’’ at the back of Logiques des mondes is again helpful. p. 34. indivisible atomic kernels?101 In ‘‘Meditation Two’’ of Being and Event. According to Badiou’s post-Cantorian mathematized ontology. 276–277. 235. neither (at the macroscopic level) the unity of an allencompassing cosmic totality nor (at the microscopic level) the unities of indissoluble. the situating of bits of being as beingthere within the frame of a world) ‘‘inscribes the transcendental in multiple-being itself’’.104 This has to do with a question asking.. an entity qua counted unity) within ‘‘the transcendental ﬁction’’ (la ﬁction transcendantale) of a world of appearances. The immediately subsequent entry for ‘‘real atom’’ states that.e. 300.. There are two separate entries relevant in this context: one for ‘‘atom (of appearance)’’ and the other for ‘‘real atom. Ibid. 618). devoid of (l’e structure?100 Isn’t being qua being said to be inﬁnitely proliferating multitudes of multiplicities-without-one..e. 33. Badiou even speaks of ‘‘the dissemination of all supposed atoms’’102 (i.103 He claims that the ˆtre ˆtre objectiﬁcation of l’e en tant qu’e (i. pp. it ‘‘objects’’ (i.. ‘‘what are the ontological consequences of logical seizure?’’105 One aspect of what Badiou is concerned with at this point is the danger of lapsing into either a crude reductive monism (as in 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 Ibid. 316. p. 604. the liquidation of any minimal.. Insofar as the object involves being as irreducible to beingthere.99 For someone familiar with the Badiou of Being and Event. Ibid.362 A.e.. Ibid. Badiou (2006f.. 234. 603. This initially bafﬂing shift concerning the One (plus the count-for-one) between Being and Event and Logiques des mondes becomes somewhat more comprehensible with Badiou’s introduction of the notion of what is described (subsequently in the latter book) as ‘‘the retroaction of appearance on being’’. p.. Johnston Furthermore. p. pp. offers and poses resistance) to its ‘‘ﬁxation’’ (ﬁxion) as a ‘‘one’’ (i. Ibid. Badiou (2005b. Ibid. this talk of ‘‘the One in being’’ ought to sound very odd.
namely. 247–248.. with Kant.108 It seems that. Having cast his object in the terms of this dialectical movement between the noumenal and the phenomenal. 239–240. ‘‘an ontico-transcendental synthesis’’. ‘‘the non-being of existence makes it such that it is otherwise than according to its being that being is. p. It is. 253). despite an idealist shadow remaining cast over Badiouian thought thanks to the continued role of compter-pour-un (more will be said about this momentarily). an interaction in which appearing comes to leave its marks in being itself. Badiou adds two more embellishments to his doctrine of the onto-logical object worth highlighting. Instead of an unbridgeable divide between being and appearing. Badiou proudly proclaims to have found a solution sought after in vain by Kant. but ties his own hands through the critical insistence on the limits of possible experience and thereby traps himself in the enclosure of a sterile idealism unable to explain how phenomena entertain connections with noumena. Ibid. has real effects within ontological registers of (material) being.’’ Badiou insists that the co-mingling dialectical dynamic he allows for between being and appearing assures that the current version of his theoretical apparatus is thoroughly materialist. purportedly delineated in the Badiouian system. 316–317.109 Interestingly. onto-logical conjunction of l’e en tant qu’e and e roads at which this interaction between being and appearing takes place.110 And yet. First. Kant is compelled to assume some sort of rapport between object-as-appearance and thing-in-itself. 240.. as per certain types of idealism. pp.. in the 2006 interview ‘‘Matters of Appearance. are left languishing as aporias in the Kantian system. being-there in a world).107 In other words. powerless epiphenomena of no ontological consequence) or an equally crude idealist dualism (in terms of an absolute dichotomous split between noumenal being and phenomenal being-there—something Kant’s transcendental idealism arguably entails). pp.. pp. Badiou (2006a. p. the object is a point of tension-ridden convergence for the ontological (i. 326–327).e. these connections.Phantom of consistency 363 mechanistic or eliminative materialisms that treat appearances as residual. the object is reduced to being nothing more than a de-ontologized phenomenal appearance without speciﬁable links to the noumenal being of das Ding an sich.106 The object. with Badiou. Ibid. Badiou proposes that. pp. p. 123 . Ibid. Badiou’s above-cited admissions that he and Kant agree apropos the notion of the object as ‘‘that which is counted for one in appearance’’ occur a couple of pages after these assertions. unlike the ineffective epiphenomena of vulgar materialisms.e. 316. precisely. and not.111 Later on in Logiques des mondes. the being of an object’’. Ibid. he posits a dialectical interaction/oscillation between these two dimensions. a dialectic in which appearing. Badiou (2006f. as an ˆtre ˆtre ˆtre-la is the condensed cross`. in Badiou’s eyes. it isn’t the case that an ephemeral network of relational 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 Ibid. whereas. 245–246... the other way around..112 For Badiou. he argues that objects determine relations. being qua being irreducible to worlds) and the transcendental (i.
quite unlike Kant (and many others in the philosophical tradition. readers continue to be presented with an unaccounted-for count. in this same book..e. already-constituted objects dictate the organizations and rules of relations. pp. 246. Badiou ties his own supposedly materialist hands with a virulent. For instance. the network takes shape around its nodes. that it somehow makes sense to speak of experiences sans experiencers? However. ideology-driven anti-naturalism that leads him. the possible contours of appearances that can and do come to be ‘‘there’’ in the guise of objects (obviously. Badiou. the Badiouian `. Rather. in Lacanese. Also recall that. to dismiss perception and the brain as utterly irrelevant to his endeavors. Second. 339–341.) pre-ﬁgures. to phrase things once more in Lacanian parlance. In closing. from the viewpoint of a non-Badiouian perspective. in deﬁning ‘‘atoms’’ (as situated within both appearances and an ontological Real) as well as in describing the onto-logical ˆtre-la ‘‘retroacts’’ `) object’s function as a locus of intersection in which appearing (e ˆtre ˆtre). Ibid. maintains that the contingency of transcendentals is legible in objects themselves. 225. perhaps the phenomenal beings-there of Badiouian transcendentally structured worlds are not without a who or what. he goes so far as to permit viewing his vision of possible worlds as equivalent to Kant’s conception of possible experience. in the form of a previously established template. Worse still. Badiou re-invokes the operation of compter-pouron being (l’e en tant qu’e un ﬁrst deployed in Being and Event. not vice versa.. to be more precise. see Johnston (2008).. ‘‘not all’’ of the object is in its world). to forge a de-phenomenalized phenomenology in which there are appearances (ostensibly) without a who or what to which they appear? Isn’t this to suggest. This count is a unity-producing synthesizing function/process as an ephemeral nonbeing arising from God-knows-where. logics. up to this point at least. p. instead of being constituted by these same organizations and rules.114 What might this mean juxtaposed side-by-side with Badiou’s paradox-plagued struggle. Johnston structures (i. to be 113 114 115 Ibid. this sounds a lot like Kant’s account of the part played by the faculty of the understanding with respect to the faculty of intuition in the [subjective] constitution of experience).. concepts. it remains troublingly unexplained who or what performs this enigmatic. in Logiques des mondes. to whom Badiou is very sympathetic).113 There are components and ˆtre en tant qu’e ˆtre sheltering within the transcendentally constituted traces of l’e ˆtre-la Succinctly stated. it should be explained why. at one moment in Logiques des mondes during the elaboration of the doctrine of the object as summarized in the preceding pages. Ibid. including Descartes. etc. Recall that. albeit not from precisely those multiplebeings that might appear. p. further buttressing his de-Kantianization of the transcendental.115 So. the present analysis still contends that Badiou fails to separate himself convincingly and sufﬁciently from Kantian transcendental idealism. mysterious operation as well as from where it comes.364 A. 123 . object embedded as a localized instance of e object is never entirely situated in and structured by its respective world without reserve (or. in the latter text. given that all objects contain a surplus of being in excess relative to being-there.
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