Alain Badiou lectures in the USA

Like Foucault, he cut his teeth with Althusser as a teacher, and both defended Althusser during Louis’ down years when the pencilneck midgets were taking their shots. As I’m fond of saying, if you defend your mentor only out of loyalty, s/he’s not your mentor. Badiou writes constantly of the ‘return of philosophy’ while Foucault frequently said that he wasn’t a philosopher. This may have related in Foucault’s case to that stage of structuralism and not wanting to be weighed down by the demands of sorting out questions of traditions, a function that Badiou relishes in his own way. Both referenced Althusser rarely, if ever, in their work. Just as Althusser said avoiding ideology is ideological, avoiding Althusser the mentor is Althusserian, and their divergent approaches can speculatively be seen this way. The Sartreanism of avoiding Sartre is another can of worms here.

Later in the same piece:

It is sort of comical in that context that Simon Critchley, Badiou’s designated opponent on the West Philly fight card, in his exhaustive examination of the options presenting themselves to the Anglophone philosopher, noted an affirmative interest in a Third Way, sheepishly admitting its being a Blairism while we sat safe from the explosive devices in Baghdad. Critchley stood in the ring as one of the ‘anarcho-desirers’ that Badiou had taken on for years so there was no affirmation of the dialectic coming from either side, just the Third Way, as the Third and First ways never do take the time to lift a finger on behalf of the dialectic that forms the basis of their existence. As Blair, Gordon Brown and the others have proved once again, the Third Way is the First Way without the baggage. In the context of Badiou’s refinement of Deleuze’s critique of the dialectic, we can see the Third Way as an embodiment of the reductive, irrelevant, fabricated side of the dialectic, containing nothing of Athusser’s increasingly convincing and resilient case that all thought is ideological.

And then:

Ethics begins with the refusal of the world.

Ontologically, truth to Badiou is the creation of something new, not a judgement; truth is an artistic creation, process of making the new in the world. He noted the logical definition of truth as an organization of the world, a consequence of fact, but stated that existence is a modification of truth, the sublimation of ‘something’ in existence. He asked Simon Critchley to respond to that definition but ‘No Wittgenstein!!’

Recordings here.


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