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The Provocations of Alain Badiou

Benjamin Noys

Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil
by Alain Badiou
London and New York: Verso, 2001, £18 hbk
Manifesto for Philosophy
by Alain Badiou
Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999, £34.75 hbk, £10.75 pbk
Deleuze: The Clamor of Being
by Alain Badiou
Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2000, £33.50
hbk, £16 pbk

T

HE FRENCH philosopher Alain Badiou is a deliberately provocative
thinker, as these three new translations of his work demonstrate. In
each case a cherished element of the current ‘postmodern’ doxa is
violently overturned. The Ethics is a scathing attack on contemporary
‘ethical ideology’, whether that is the celebration of human rights or of a
respect for the Other. In the Manifesto for Philosophy Badiou indicts all talk
of the ‘end of philosophy’ for its arrogant assumption that the task of philosophy is over. Finally, in Deleuze: The Clamor of Being, he overturns the
commonly accepted image of Deleuze as an ‘anarcho-desirer’ amongst ‘the
bearded militants of 1968, bearing the standard of their gross desire’
(Badiou, 2000: 12) and their heirs amongst Anglo-American Deleuzians.
These provocations are not just provocations for the sake of it. Instead
Badiou has a more profound project: to rehabilitate ontology, love, a
universal emancipatory politics and the subject from their current ignominious status as discredited ‘metaphysical’ concepts.1In doing so Badiou
forces us to re-think how we understand our own time and suggests a new 

Theory, Culture & Society 2003 (SAGE, London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi),
Vol. 20(1): 123–132
[0263-2764(200302)20:1;123–132;030924]

2000: 3). however. Perhaps this taste for provocation can be partly explained by his intellectual background. it was in L’Être et l’événement (Being and the Event). The event is the ‘what-is-not-being-qua-being’ (Badiou. His work of this period. in particular. that Badiou set out his new ‘system’. published in 1988. but Badiou’s more recent works have provided a series of useful explications and applications of his ‘system’. In 1982 he published Théorie du sujet. after the events of May 1968. such as Lyotard and Deleuze. However.07 Noys (jr/t) 12/12/02 3:30 pm Page 124 124 Theory. this book was not without ambition. as Badiou also develops a philosophy of the event. was an attempt to create a Marxist science of mathematics. Badiou provides one of his . ‘when a new period is opened and other adversaries climb onto the stage.3 The dissolution of Maoism in France and China and the attempts by the ‘new philosophers’ in France (many ex-Maoists) to call for an end to philosophy because of its ‘totalitarian’ pretensions led Badiou to a more sympathetic engagement with his contemporaries. The event punctures knowledge and leaves behind a trace which it is the task of philosophy to seize. Le Concept de modèle (1972). 2000: 1). Certainly. at this time. 1999: 105). 1999: 81). As Badiou himself puts it. as he states: ‘I have never tempered my polemics: consensus is not one of my strong points’ (Badiou. immanent to it. It undertakes a two-fold task. a supplement to the multiple that is. Then. at the same time. however. and particularly set theory (from Gödel to Cantor).5 That. conceptual alliances shift or are overturned’ (2000: 2). and he still considers Lacan ‘the greatest of our dead’ (Badiou. 2000: 2).4 As the title suggests. 2000: 2). Badiou began a long political and philosophical engagement with Maoism. The title of his major work of this period. indicates his shift away from Althusserianism to Maoism. is only the half of it. angered both Gilles Deleuze and JeanFrançois Lyotard with what they regarded as his attempted ‘Bolshevization’ of the philosophy department (Badiou.2 It was during this period that his polemics and interventions at the University of Vincennes. Badiou was also fascinated by Lacan’s attempts to formalize psychoanalysis through mathematical models. echoing Heidegger’s Being and Time and Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. although he remains politically engaged and still calls for a ‘militant thinking’ (Badiou. For Badiou set theory allows him to develop ‘an ontology of the multiple’ (Badiou. For Badiou. In the 1980s Badiou’s thinking underwent a major shift. After a ‘Sartrean adolescence’ (Badiou. Such a brief description can only be extremely abstract. 1999: 28). which marked the beginning of this re-orientation. the gesture of provocation is central to Badiou’s work. philosophy was also a political matter and this politics demanded a rigorous struggle against ‘revisionism’ without compromise. where he was professor. In Ethics. Théorie de la contradiction. Culture & Society 20(1) emerging configuration of Critical Theory at the beginning of the 21st century. first setting out ontology by understanding being qua being through the discipline of mathematics. Badiou joined the Spinoza research group created by Louis Althusser.

not least because the book was originally written for a series aimed at secondary school and university students. as Badiou remarks. Already. 2000. Of course. For the partisans of the ethical such anti-humanism is indifferent to human suffering. so soon after its translation. 2001: 24). and a ‘debate’ is already forming. and a reactionary movement away from the political demands that it made into the safety of the ethical. that of a respect for the Other.07 Noys (jr/t) 12/12/02 3:30 pm Page 125 Noys – The Provocations of Alain Badiou 125 clearest statements of his philosophy. 2001: 7). The Other is only acceptable on the condition that he or she remains the good ‘other’. In each case. the anti-humanism of Foucault. from the perspective of the ethics of human rights. 2001: 4). the promise of ethics has been traduced. in fact. Badiou’s second provocation is to go on to argue that the ethical. Why has the Ethics proved so provoking? No doubt it is provoking because of the uncompromising assault Badiou makes on what he regards as our current ‘ethical delirium’ but also it is provoking because of Badiou’s own ‘ethic of truths’. is not at all ethical. it has proved to be an immensely controversial work. However. 2002). in fact it is their discourse of human rights which is supremely abstract while the anti-humanists paid a constant attention to ‘concrete situations’ and an ‘activist inquiry into the situation of the most varied kinds of people’ (Badiou. the opening provocation. then. and of all the forms of progressive engagement that it inspired’ (Badiou. Althusser and Lacan appears to be anti-human. which. so there is a respect for differences as long as those differences remain within the bounds of the ideological consensus (Badiou. On the other side stands the ‘noble’ saviour of the wretched of the earth. which has yet to be translated. While those who extol the ideology of ethics condemn the abstractions of theory. which he offers as a replacement. for Badiou. at least in its current configuration. the model of ethics based on human rights is a rejection of that thought. Keep Going! The opening gesture. The defenders of Continental philosophy in its more familiar forms have been quick to criticize Badiou’s position (Critchley. 1997). it is also the most direct statement of the political and ethical implications of Badiou’s work. Althusser and Lacan were all engaged militants concerned with human suffering. it is a useful place to begin reading Badiou and confirms our thesis of the provocative nature of his work. reproduces the image of the passive suffering human animal as the one who must be saved. Dews. . Where the discourse of human rights claims to be founded on the dignity of the individual human it. He suggests that the obsession with the ethical is the result of ‘the collapse of revolutionary Marxism. Outside of his short book on Saint Paul (Badiou. For Badiou. ‘the truth is exactly the opposite’ (Badiou. is the justification of a new colonialism predicated on the subhumanity of the victims (2001: 13). then there too we find that the Other must stay as Other to receive our pity. If we turn to the alternative dominant ethical discourse. is the call for a reconsideration of the ‘anti-humanism’ of the 1960s. 2001: 6) in that Foucault.6 Therefore.

On the other hand. which is an ‘objective’ situation. Culture & Society 20(1) Whether we turn to human rights or the respect for the Other we encounter an ethics that is not properly ethical and which. the artistic and the amorous. political agitation. 2001: 12). not something general but something that maintains fidelity to the truth emerging from a particular event. Then the ethical comes into play through the requirement of a fidelity to that event. events occur in four fields: the political. situated in a situation but also subtracted from it. This list is obviously not exhaustive and is particular to Badiou. 2001: 41). 2001: 42) with the situation to produce the truth of the event through a process of fidelity. However. In the case of the Russian Revolution this process of fidelity to the Revolution is maintained through Leninism and the subject of it is the Bolshevik. is the beginning of ethics. There is a situation. and the meeting of Héloïse and Abélard and Lacan’s theory of love (amorous events). what there is is the multiple. In both cases. For Badiou.7 These events include the French Revolution and the Chinese Cultural Revolution (political events). This process convokes a subject who bears this truth (in the sense of tolerates this truth and carries it). that of human rights and of a respect for the Other. which requires a ‘real break’ (Badiou. is the last nameable political event (Badiou. As Žižek points out (2002: 553). is complicit with the limits of our current politics. the military situation at the end of the First World War. there is an event which supplements that situation and which compels us to ‘a new way of being’ (Badiou. the event. Galileo’s creation of physics and Grothendieck’s creation of Topos theory in mathematics (scientific events). etc. when Lenin publishes the ‘April Theses’ calling for revolution even his comrades regard him as mad! The event requires a naming that subtracts itself from the situation and is unnameable within it. 1994: 123). The ethical then is the ‘ethic of a truth’. to a call that calls us to become something more than a living animal. Badiou’s alternative ethics is an ethics that is both situated and that affirms man as a ‘tissue of truths’ (Badiou. the scientific. Haydn’s invention of the classical musical style and Schoenberg’s invention of the 12-tone scale (artistic events). there is no abstract ethical subject but only a subject who comes about through the response to an event. and that is the naming of what is happening as the ‘Russian Revolution’. This then returns us to Badiou’s philosophy of Being and the event.07 Noys (jr/t) 12/12/02 3:30 pm Page 126 126 Theory. There is no ethics in general but only an ethics of singular situations and ethics is the name for how we respond to the demands of these situations. that of the Russian peasantry. which. ethics is both fatally abstract and reproduces an image of ‘man’ (or woman) as suffering animal. the Russian Revolution. in fact. So. exchanging opinions and living within the circulation of knowledge. The event. for Badiou. cannot be named from within that situation but instead supplements that situation and profoundly alters it. 1999: 12). it is also obviously contestable (Lecercle. Let us take an example. On the one hand. or of how we respond to the event. That is why the maxim of this ethic of truths is ‘Keep going!’ or . the Russian Revolution of 1917. In the situation we get by as best we can.

If ‘a truth is what within time exceeds time’ (Badiou. This step requires that we call an end to all talk of the end of philosophy and instead maintain philosophy as that which makes it possible to seize our time in thought. At the same time this ethics carries us beyond our animal existence to the Immortal through maintaining our fidelity to a truth. the artistic and the amorous. and to his Manifesto for Philosophy (1999).9 Instead. These conditions of philosophy are the fields from which truths emerge: the political. the scientific. and so it cannot be an abstract universal.07 Noys (jr/t) 12/12/02 3:30 pm Page 127 Noys – The Provocations of Alain Badiou 127 ‘Continue!’ For Badiou. then philosophy must act as the witness of these truths as they emerge. 2000a: 27). where politics will answer the problems of philosophy. To take this extra step within the modern configuration requires an inquiry into the possibility of philosophy today. Badiou’s thinking of truths depends far more on mathematics than it does on religion (Hallward. One More Step The Ethics then returns us to the question of philosophy for Badiou. 1999: 32). It is internal to the process of fidelity and can only make sense in relation to a situated event. Then there is a fidelity which tries to maintain this immanent break with the situation and. Badiou’s provocations demand that we take ‘one more step’. finally. It is to renounce the imperative to keep going and so leads to an accommodation with our time. In this case. In Marxism. 1994: 124). the . To declare an end to philosophy is to declare an end to this task of capturing the opening that truths make in time. 1994: 118). It is the pressure of truths (which are always post-evental) that carry us beyond ourselves and toward philosophy.’ There is an event which is an unpredictable or evanescent supplement to a situation.8 Badiou’s ethics is an ethics written under the ‘merciless rule of immanence’ (Badiou. the one that since Descartes has bound the three nodal concepts of being. In the Manifesto Badiou calls us again to ‘Keep going’: we must take ‘a step within the modern configuration. 1994: 87). Therefore ‘Philosophy tries to seize truth’s endurance. The possibility of philosophy can only be established through a consideration of the conditions of philosophy and the relation of philosophy to its conditions. to one particular condition of philosophy. Rather than the ‘postmodern’ retreat from philosophy and ontology. but not totalized. However. the truth that this process of fidelity produces. Lacan had already formulated this ethical demand as ‘Do not give way on your desire. The suturing of philosophy to politics can be found in Marxism. Although the word ‘Immortal’ has a religious connotation it should not be mistaken for a new religiosity. philosophy delegates its function of constructing a space where truths can be gathered. truth and the subject to the conditions of philosophy’ (Badiou. What this means is that philosophy does not produce truths but instead it is conditioned by truths that originate from events in these fields. philosophy can become blocked when it becomes sutured (the word is derived from Lacan) to one of its conditions. to capture the eternity contained within time’ (Badiou.

In a sense then. In the Manifesto. Although Badiou argues that mathematics is the science of being qua being. However. In politics this is the series of ‘obscure events’ from 1965 to 1980 that have yet to receive a name. The task of philosophy is not to draw these truths together into Truth. Finally. where Marxism becomes a science of history or of all reality (as in Stalinism). Badiou reads Deleuze as. he also separates ontology from philosophy as well (Badiou.07 Noys (jr/t) 12/12/02 3:30 pm Page 128 128 Theory. it is. as the articulation of the multiple and the model for a secularized infinity. Then. the suturing of philosophy to love is rarer. Therefore philosophy must be de-sutured to restore it to its proper place. This openness to its own time is perhaps most evident in Badiou’s own ‘debate’ with the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. from Cantor to Paul Cohen. philosophy must draw on the truths that emerge from all the fields that condition it. so long as the truth procedures of this time find shelter for their compossibility with it’ (1999: 38). if we look back to Being and the Event we can see it not only as the statement of Badiou’s philosophy but also as the attempt by Badiou to force philosophy to accede to its time through these events and their concomitant truths. in an interview given in 1994 Badiou stated that ‘Today. which was meant only as an indication’ (1994: 123). The result is both a clarification of Badiou’s position and a provocative reading of Deleuze. From art Badiou draws on the ‘age of the poets’. Therefore. Badiou attempts to respond to a mute interlocutor. I would certainly rework this mapping of events. a philosopher of the . 1999: 13). and the closure of that age in the work of Paul Celan. although Badiou claims that this can be found in some comments of Levinas. Instead. not least the events of May ’68. it does not hold a necessarily privileged position in his philosophy. particularly in its linking of philosophy to poetry. Culture & Society 20(1) political suture can also be crossed with a scientific suture. silenced by death. to its time. Of course the importance of mathematics in Badiou’s philosophy could lead to the suspicion that he is suturing his philosophy to mathematics. 1994: 123). In the book Deleuze. on the contrary. Instead philosophy opens ‘a general space in which thought accedes to time. In the amorous field it is Lacan’s theorization of love as an event of the Two that must be thought. Badiou’s philosophy is still in development and still responding to its time (Badiou. philosophy is sheltering four particular events from its four conditions that allow it to accede to its time. To maintain philosophy we must maintain it in relation to all its conditions without allowing it to become sutured to any one of its conditions. that would be disaster. open to its time without reserve. As the preface to the English edition of the Ethics also suggests. 2001: liii–lviii). Other examples of the suturing of philosophy to science can be found in positivism and in Anglo-American analytic philosophy. The suturing of philosophy to art is found most in post-Nietzschean Continental philosophy. Despite the impression Badiou’s work might give of being an unassailable system (Lecercle. fundamentally. it is the mathematics of set theory. although mathematics is important for Badiou as the thinking of ontology. in science.

Badiou suggests that while Deleuze offered a thinking of immanence and the multiple based on a Bergsonian filiation. Badiou goes on to claim that although Deleuze’s thought announces itself as an immanent philosophy of multiplicity. What readers of Deleuze have tended to ignore is Deleuze’s claim that being is univocal: ‘A single and same voice for the whole thousand-voiced multiple. 2001). it also alters our understanding of our present. 2000b. In particular. In Deleuze. it has led to a reconsideration of the type of ‘singular’ thought that Deleuze exemplifies (Hallward. as well as on those of organized emancipatory politics (against “democratic” consensus)’ (Badiou. This ‘conflictual friendship’ did allow for a certain clarification. Badiou vigorously defends this second line against Deleuze. 2000: 1). that time which. for Badiou. had never taken place’ (Badiou. 2000: 19). This second line draws ‘on the resources of logic. although in very different ways. his own work depends on ‘a second line’ (Badiou. there is little doubt that the century has been ontological. a single clamor of Being for all beings’ (Deleuze in Badiou. This proximity makes all the stranger what Badiou calls the ‘strange story’ of his ‘nonrelationship’ with Deleuze (Badiou. 2000: 99). Both the Manifesto and Deleuze represent not only the statement and clarification of Badiou’s own philosophy. Deleuze restores a transcendence of the virtual into a thought of immanence. Whatever its merits. This deeply provocative reading has not passed without comment. Despite an exchange of letters between them begun in 1991. 2000: 6). Therefore. and abstraction (against logicizing “grammaticalism”). Badiou argues that ‘when all is said and done. but they also open a new understanding of that configuration. 2000: 11).07 Noys (jr/t) 12/12/02 3:30 pm Page 129 Noys – The Provocations of Alain Badiou 129 One-All rather than as a philosopher of difference. it is the duty of philosophy to grasp. Badiou’s provocations shatter our image of the current representation of ‘Continental Philosophy’ or ‘French thought’ (neither very adequate names for many reasons). It is also a statement of Badiou’s own position in relation to Deleuze. In Deleuze. Badiou and Deleuze never met and they shared ‘a conflictual friendship that. and because they are both committed to a thinking of the multiple. mathematics. of their respective positions. In fact what Deleuze produces is a Platonism of the virtual. instead of the ‘linguistic turn’ we would be more justified of speaking of an ‘ontological turn’ in 20th-century thought running. in a certain sense.10 In doing so. either in France or amongst Anglo-American Deleuzians. in particular. from Heidegger to Lacan and Deleuze and on to Badiou. he gives us a new sense of what is at stake in that configuration that lies far from the clichés of the ‘postmodern’ that too often are thought to stand for all that is taking place today. 2000: 99). his closest contemporary. Badiou is closest to Deleuze because they both share a commitment to philosophy. at least for Badiou. Not only does this alter our image of the history of 20th-century thought. and that this destiny is far more essential than the “linguistic turn” with which it has been credited’ (Badiou. of his own extra step within the modern configuration. at least according to Badiou. . it fails to obey the ‘merciless rule of immanence’. a single and same Ocean for all the drops.

agree to regard the word “ontology” as a password.12 Even if we consider the ‘exception’ to this new ‘ontological’ configuration. Barker (2002) and the introductions in each of the works under review here. Lecercle (1999). This is a provocation that cannot be ignored. This confining of events to these four fields is a result of Badiou’s Platonism. A translation of this work by Oliver Feltham is forthcoming in Athlone Press scheduled for 2003 (see Badiou. we can find a complicated relation to ontology even in his recent writings. The clarity of his wager and his sensitivity to the political and social stakes of his philosophy make a reckoning with Badiou all the more necessary. 2000). not least in its insistence on a ‘Platonism of the multiple’ (Badiou. We might then understand ontology as a ‘password’ that allows us to grasp this new configuration despite its heterogeneity. 1999: 12) he concedes. Despite the fact that his work might seem so ‘untimely’ in its style and its references. Notes 1. in fact. 1999: 261). It . a word arbitrarily established by convention. and so we must analyse this ‘ontological turn’ with great care.11 A wide range of heterogeneous works have all re-opened the question of ontology in particular ways. See Hallward (2000a) for a reply to Critchley’s criticisms. 7. Žižek (1999: 127–243). from now on. For Badiou’s use of set theory see Barker chapter 2 ‘The Science of Being’ (2002: 39–58) and Hallward (1998: 90–2). for a description of this work. 2001: 151). it may well be that ‘ontology’ only pretends to mean what it has always been taken to mean. As the most rigorous and provocative statement of this turn. 6. that ‘perhaps the two of us could. which only pretends to mean what the word “ontology” has always meant’ (Derrida in Sprinker. Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer (1998). as well as Badiou’s own writing. 2001: 95–144). the work of Antonio Negri and his collaborations with Michael Hardt (see Hardt and Negri. there have been an increasing number of interventions that are evidence of the resurgence of the ‘ontological turn’ as central to critical thought today. a demand to think the events of our time. 4. When Derrida responds to Antonio Negri’s criticism of Specters of Marx for its refusal to elaborate a ‘postdeconstructive ontology’ (Negri in Sprinker. such as Jean-Luc Nancy’s Being Singular Plural (2000). For more detailed accounts in English of Badiou’s project see Hallward (1998). Culture & Society 20(1) The Ontological Turn? As we have left the 20th century and entered the new millennium. Jacques Derrida. with a certain humour. 1999: 103) it is. Badiou’s work will therefore demand particularly close attention. 5. Slavoj Žižek’s The Ticklish Subject (1999). On Badiou’s ‘politics without a party’ and his group L’Organisation politique see ‘Politics and Philosophy: An Interview with Alain Badiou’ (in Badiou. 3.07 Noys (jr/t) 12/12/02 3:30 pm Page 130 130 Theory. As Derrida notes. chapter 1 ‘Maoist Beginnings’. a shibbloeth [sic]. 2. See Barker (2002: 13–38).

which could easily be extended to previous and forthcoming works by the thinkers listed as well as a range of other contemporary thinkers. . G. Hallward. Badiou argues that the truth that results from an event is generic because it refers to the pure multiplicity of any multiple (1999: 103–9). Rather than politics giving way to ontology. this is what makes it true (universal). 12. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Badiou. 1999: 12). Radical Philosophy 100(March/April): 16–27. (1982) Théorie du sujet. Lecercle. Radical Philosophy 102(July/August): 27–30. (2002) Alain Badiou: A Critical Introduction. Badiou. P. Barker. This is simply the beginning of a sketch of this new configuration. A. A. This ontological turn. 2002: 112). A. Badiou. Critchley. both of Badiou and of the ‘ontological turn’ that I have sketched. Dews. 9. As does Peter Dews (2002: 36). CA: Stanford University Press. (2000a) ‘Ethics without Others: A Reply to Critchley on Badiou’s Ethics’. 1999: 11. interview with Lauren Sedofsky. London and New York: Verso. 10. References Agamben. is not a matter of (as Jason Barker suggests of Badiou) ‘politics having given way to ontology’ (Barker. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press. 123–4. such as the religious (Critchley. Badiou’s Deleuze ‘soon becomes yet another celebration of Badiou’s system’ (1999: 7). (2000) Deleuze: The Clamor of Being. Paris: Seuil. Hallward. it is a matter of politics and ontology being thought together to analyse how they pass over and through each other. chapter 5 ‘The Cult of Deleuze’ (2002: 111–29) for an even-handed discussion of the ‘debate’ between Badiou and Deleuze. VA: Pluto Press. London and Sterling. 8. 11. Paris: Maspéro. 183) or the historical (Lecercle. (2001) Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil. (1994) ‘Being by Numbers’. (2002) ‘Uncategorical Imperatives: Adorno. Artforum 33(2): 84–7. As Lecercle notes. (1998) ‘Generic Sovereignty: The Philosophy of Alain Badiou’. (1998) Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. This is an extremely misleading characterization. P. (1997) Saint Paul: la fondation de l’universalisme. (1999) Manifesto for Philosophy. J. A. Albany: State University of New York Press. (2000) ‘Demanding Approval: On the Ethics of Alain Badiou’. (1972) Le Concept de modèle. Stanford. A. see also Barker. Badiou. Angelaki 3(3): 87–111. A. Badiou. Žižek. 1999: 141–4.07 Noys (jr/t) 12/12/02 3:30 pm Page 131 Noys – The Provocations of Alain Badiou 131 has been argued by his critics that Badiou should add more fields where events can take place. P. 2000: 21. Badiou and the Ethical Turn’. Badiou. despite appearances to the contrary. A. Badiou. S. 118. Radical Philosophy 111(January/February): 33–7.

Critical Inquiry 28(winter): 542–66. Žižek. Lecercle. Michael (ed. (1999) ‘Cantor. S. Žižek. Même Combat: The Philosophy of Alain Badiou’. Cambridge.) (1999) Ghostly Demarcations: A Symposium on Jacques Derrida’s Specters of Marx. P. Radical Philosophy 99(January): 6–18. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press. 2000). Lacan. Sprinker. Mao. He has written extensively on the work of Georges Bataille and Critical Theory. MA and London: Harvard University Press. London and New York: Verso. Radical Philosophy 93(January/February): 6–13. P.-J.07 Noys (jr/t) 12/12/02 3:30 pm Page 132 132 Theory. Currently he is researching the question of desire in contemporary Critical Theory. J. Negri (2000) Empire. and A. M. (2000b) ‘The Singular and the Specific’.-L. CA: Stanford University Press. London and New York: Verso. Beckett. (1999) The Ticklish Subject. Hallward. Benjamin Noys is Lecturer in English at University College Chichester. (2001) Absolutely Postcolonial. J. . Culture & Society 20(1) Hallward. (2002) ‘A Plea for Leninist Intolerance’. Stanford. (2000) Being Singular Plural. He is the author of Georges Bataille: A Critical Introduction (Pluto Press. S. Hardt. Nancy.