What follows is a hyper-transcription of a debate that occurred in 2010 between Slavoj Zizek and Alain Badiou. It was called “Is Lacan an Anti-Philosopher?” Most of hyper-links will bring you to other pages in my blog which further develop various concepts, and so I encourage those of you who are first encountering this material to follow them and read them through one at a time.
Badiou, unlike Zizek, provides us with a very nice definition of anti-philosophy. Anti-philosophy is any system of thought (or thinking) which opposes the singularity of its experience to the properly philosophical category of truth. Anti-philosophy thereby lives somewhere in between the contradiction between philosophy and the pure activity or creative aspect of life. Thus, the common strategy of an anti-philosopher is to draw from personal experience in order to launch an attack on the universal abstractions of philosophical discourse. Badiou names three great classical anti-philosophers: Pascal against Descartes, Rousseau against Voltaire and Hume, and Kierkegaard against Hegel. There are also three great modern anti-philosophers who launched an attack on the entire philosophical tradition: Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, and, perhaps, to some extent, Lacan.
Nietzsche, for example, was perhaps the most important modern thinker during the last century. Notably, he was important for Deleuze and Foucault. Nietzsche was the horizon of their experience. Nietzsche wrote something like: “We have abolished the world as truth. This abolition of truth is the negative condition for the Dionysian affirmation.” The justification that Nietzsche used to affirm the Dionysian affirmation was his own proper existence. This was the decisive rupture with the philosophical tradition. Nietzsche wrote, in a letter, the following: “It is not inconceivable that I am [Nietzsche] the first philosopher of the age, perhaps even a little more. I am something decisive and fatal that springs up between two millennia.” This, Badiou maintains, is the pure form of anti-philosophy. It is always an act involving violent subjectivity and which destroys the philosophical tradition and its enclosure of life by truth. Thus, what the anti-philosopher arms himself with is his experience and his act – this is his radical potency of life. It is the uprising of the anti-philosopher’s life against the dead and dying philosophical rhetoric.