Revolution of the Present (Full Film)

“Humanity seems to be stuck in the perpetual now that is our networked world. More countries are witnessing people taking to the streets in search of answers. Revolution of the Present, the film, features interviews with thought leaders designed to give meaning to our present and precarious condition. This historic journey allows us to us re-think our presumptions and narratives about the individual and society, the local and global, our politics and technology. This documentary analyzes why the opportunity to augment the scope of human action has become so atomized and diminished. Revolution of the Present is an invitation to join the conversation and help contribute to our collective understanding.

As Saskia Sassen, the renowned sociologist, states at the outset of the film, ‘we live in a time of unsettlement, so much so that we are even questioning the notion of the global, which is healthy.’ One could say that our film raises more questions than it answers, but this is our goal. Asking the right questions and going back to beginnings may be the very thing we need to do to understand the present, and to move forward from it with a healthy skepticism.

Revolution of the Present is structured as an engaging dinner conversation, there is no narrator telling you what to think, it is not a film of fear of the end time or accusation, it is an invitation to sit at the table and join an in depth conversation about our diverse and plural world.”

Copyright 2016, Multiplicities, LLC

Identity and Universality + Radical Grace by Alain Badiou (Video)

Being, Non-Being and Becoming Non-Identical of the Subject as ∅


If the one is not, nothing is. ~ Parmenides

In a recent article citing my Postnihilistic Speculations on That Which Is Not: A Thought-World According to an Ontology of Non-Being, the giant of philosophical blogosphere and my fellow para-academic colleague S.C. Hickman has succintly outlined the roots of contemporary ontology. Drawing upon Parmenides, Plato, Meillassoux, Žižek and Badiou in praticular, he has provided new insight concerning the relationship between being, non-being and becoming. After quoting my take on the retroactively speculative new direction in philosophy he goes on to say this:

“As I was reading this post of his I felt a deep underlying, almost religious tone in his voice; the power of the absolute filtering its banal surprise (maybe a non-God, non-All, rather than the mundane gods or God religion or the philosophers). Whatever the absolute may be, it seems to ride the edges, or borderlands of between thought and non-being rather than the metaphysical realms of Being. Though secular through and through the incorporation of the themes of eternity, time, mortality, immortality, etc. like those others who have influenced our thinking: Nietzsche, Badiou, Zizek, Laruelle, Henry, Deleuze, etc. – and, lest we forget, Freud (Lacan: lack?) with his mythology of drives, that endless war of eros and thanatos, life and death, love and war – comes through Erdem’s essay. What struck me above all is the underlying mythos and movement toward transcension, toward elsewhere, immortality, transcendence. Of course as he says, this is nothing new, and it is everywhere in our present transcendental field of speculation, as if between a totalistic closure upon metaphysics had brought with it – not a rational kernel, but rather an irrational kernel of ancient thought. For do we not hear that oldest of songsters, Orpheus, the Greek singer, theologian, poet, philosophical forbear out of whose roots Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle and their ancient antagonists Leucippas, Democritus, and Lucretius down to our day still wage a war over the body of a dead thought (God?).”~ S.C. Hickman, Social Ecologies

When it comes to philosophy I usually avoid dialogue, in that sense I am strictly Deleuzean, a man of “free indirect speech”, always sustaining a kind of internal dialogue with the philosopher’s image of thought he created in his mind. Rather than engaging in polemics with the philosophers, Deleuze used to think with them, although not always in accordance with them, sometimes for and sometimes against them, always disjunctively synthesizing affirmation and negation as well as transcendence and immanence. For Deleuze the important thing was to bring out that which matters in thought. So, what I intend to do in this brief note will be an active reading of Craig’s article rather than a reaction to it. I shall therefore point out that which is missing in his account, namely the relationship between time and change.

Now, for Kant the thing-in-itself, or the noumenon, could be thought but couldn’t be known. We could only know the transcendental ground of our thought, and therefore the thing-in-itself is not submitted to change. For change requires the transcendental constitution of the subject to take place in time. The subject constitutes and is constituted by the transformation of the thing-in-itself(noumenon) into the thing-for-us (phenomenon).

In his Critique of JudgementKant distinguishes between the determinative and the reflective modes of judgement.

If the universal (the rule, the principle, the law) is given, the judgement that subsumes the particular under it is determinative. If, however, only the particular for which the universal is to be found is given, judgement is merely reflective. [1]

If we keep in mind that the reflective mode of judgement reflects on particulars in such a way as to produce universals to which they can be subjected, and that the determinative mode of judgement determines a particular by subjecting it to a universal, it becomes understandable why among these two it is the reflective mode which splits as it unites the subject of enunciation and the enunciated subject. But it must also be kept in mind that the subject of enunciation which refers to the universal is itself a constitutive illusion, or a regulatory idea necessary for the emergence of the subject as the enunciated content. It is only in and through a position of non-being within and without being at the same time that the becoming non-identical of the subject can take place. For change requires the localisation of being in a particular world submitted to time as Badiou puts it in his Being and Event. Therein Badiou asserts that there can be multiplicities not submitted to change and there can also be ones submitted to change. Change is not on the side of multiplicity but on the side of the relationship between multiplicities. There can only be a relation between multiplicities in a particular world. Change is the property of being when being is localised in a world. Change is not the destiny of being as in Heraclitus, but is submitted to the relation between multiples. Hence Badiou can say that “the one does not exist.” It exists neither as a totality as in Parmenides, nor as a multiplicity as in Heraclitus. While for Heraclitus being is in constant change, for Parmenides being is that which never changes. Kant splits being into two halves, one half of being ever changes(phenomenon), while the other half of being never changes(noumenon). For Heraclitus there is only multiplicity, while for Parmenides there is only one. If we have mutltiplicity then there is also change, if we have the one there is no change at all. Being an atomist, Democritus says that being is composed of atoms and the universe is composed of an infinity of atoms. Democritus is the atomic explosion of Parmenides and the sub-atomic implosion of Heraclitus at the same time.[2]

We find ourselves on the brink of the decision, a decision to break with the arcana of the one and the multiple in which philosophy is born and buried, phoenix of its own sophistical consumption. This decision can take no other form than the following: the one is not.[3]

Is there an existing totality before thought? If there is one, is there a part of this existing totality which is outside change? We exist in a world of change and when we think the world we think its change. For change to be thought there has to be an identity first. The relationship between identity and difference is probably the oldest and most complicated philosophical problem. The two orientations of thought concerning the problem of change and the interaction between identity and difference have their roots in Socrates and Zeno as analysed by Badiou in Being and Event.

If one allows that being is being-in-situation—which means unfolding its limit for the Greeks—it is quite true that in suppressing the ‘there is’ of the one, one suppresses everything, since ‘everything’ is necessarily ‘many’. The sole result of this suppression is nothingness. But if one is concerned with being-qua-being, the multiple-without-one, it is true that the non-being of the one is that particular truth whose entire effect resides in establishing the dream of a multiple disseminated without limits. It is this ‘dream’ which was given the fixity of thought in Cantor’s creation. Plato’s aporetic conclusion can be interpreted as an impasse of being, situated at the deciding point of the couple of the inconsistent multiple and the consistent multiple. ‘If the one is not, (the) nothing is’ also means that it is only in completely thinking through the non-being of the one that the name of the void emerges as the unique conceivable presentation of what supports, as unpresentable and as pure multiplicity, any plural presentation, that is, any one-effect. Plato’s text sets four concepts to work on the basis of the apparent couple of the one and the others: the one-being, the there-is of the one, the pure multiple and the structured multiple. If the knot of these concepts remains undone in the final aporia, and if the void triumphs therein, it is solely because the gap between the supposition of the one’s being and the operation of its ‘there is’ remains unthought. This gap, however, is named by Plato many times in his work. It is precisely what provides the key to the Platonic concept par excellence, participation, and it is not for nothing that at the very beginning of the Parmenides, before the entrance of the old master, Socrates has recourse to this concept in order to destroy Zeno’s arguments on the one and the multiple.[4]

Badiou proclaims “the multiple as heterogeneous dissemination,”[5] while Žižek rightly criticizes Meillassoux in particular and Speculative Realism in general for not having an adequate theory of the subject for the present, for the time of being in change.

I think that, in its very anti-transcendentalism, Meillassoux remains caught in the Kantian topic of the accessibility of the thing-in-itself: is what we experience as reality fully determined by our subjective-transcendental horizon, or can we get to know something about the way reality is independently of our subjectivity. Meillassoux’s claim is to achieve the breakthrough into independent ‘objective’ reality. For me as a Hegelian, there is a third option: the true problem that arises after we perform the basic speculative gesture of Meillassoux (transposing the contingency of our notion of reality into the thing itself) is not so much what more can we say about reality-in-itself, but how does our subjective standpoint, and subjectivity itself, fit into reality. The problem is not ‘can we penetrate through the veil of subjectively-constituted phenomena to things-inthemselves’, but ‘how do phenomena themselves arise within the flat stupidity of reality which just is, how does reality redouble itself and start to appear to itself ’. For this, we need a theory of subject which is neither that of transcendental subjectivity nor that of reducing the subject to a part of objective reality. This theory is, as far as I can see, still lacking in speculative realism.[6]

Today philosophy has a tendency to think outside the contemporary world, whereas the goal of Ancient Greek philosophy had been to find an orientation of thought for the good life in time. The quest was how to live in accordance with a conception of goodness in mind. This is not an abstract goal, but rather aims at transforming subjectivity as it is here and now.

If one took the point of being which seemed to be the smallest, much like a dream within sleep, it would immediately appear multiple instead of its semblance of one, and instead of its extreme smallness, it would appear enormous, compared to the dissemination that it is starting from itself.[7]

In his Logics of Worlds, Badiou makes a distinction between being and existence.

I have posed that existence is nothing other than the degree of self-identity of a multiple-being, such as it is established by a transcendental indexing. With regard to the multiple-being as thought in its being, it follows that its existence is contingent, since it depends—as a measurable intensity—on the world where the being, which is said to exist, appears. This contingency of existence is crucial for Kant, because it intervenes as a determination of the transcendental operation itself. This operation is effectively defined as ‘the application of the pure concepts of the understanding to possible experience’. In my vocabulary—and obviously with no reference to any ‘application’—this can be put as follows: the logical constitution of pure appearing, the indexing of a pure multiple on a worldly transcendental. But, just as with the object, Kant will immediately distinguish within this operation its properly transcendental or a priori facet from its receptive or empirical one.[8]

As the subject’s intensity of self-consciousness increases, so does its pain and anxiety in the face of death. This causes hopelessness and despair which may or may not lead to a total devastation of the project of inverting and putting into the spotlight the nothingness at the centre of the subject. Heidegger repeatedly puts all this down in Being and Time when he says that “being-towards-death is angst.” One cure for expelling anxiety has been to believe in god, any other metaphysical construct, or in some cases it has even taken the form of a materialist system of thought; in all these cases, however, an escape is seen as a solution when in fact it is the problem itself. For our concerns, an escapist attitude, and especially one that tries to go beyond the present, does not work at all, for what we are looking for is a way of learning to make use of the reality of the death drive as an interior exteriority constitutive of the subject as a creative agent of change at present, in the time of the living and the dead at once.

And finally here is the Lacanian definition of the subject referred to by Badiou towards the very end of Being and Event

I am not, there where I am the plaything of my thought; I think of what I am, there where I do not think I am thinking.[9]


Reference Matter

[1] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, trans. James Creed Meredith (London: Wilder Publications, 2008), 13

[2] Alain Badiou, Being and Event, Meditation Two: Plato, trans. Oliver Feltham (New York: Continuum, 2005), 31-7

[3] Badiou, BE, 23

[4] Badiou, BE, 36

[5] Badiou, BE, 33

[6] Slavoj Žižek, Interview with Ben Woodard, in The Speculative Turn: Continental Realism and Materialism, Graham Harman, Nick Srnicek, Levi Bryant (eds.), (Melbourne:, 2011), 415

[7] Badiou, BE, 34

[8] Alain Badiou, Logics of Worlds, Section Two, Kant, trans. Alberto Toscano (London: Continuum, 2009), 237

[9] Badiou, BE, 431

Hermetico-Promethean Postnihilism



To begin at the beginning we shall say that philosophy is the dialectical process of truth in time, it is an infinite questioning of that which is known, a continuity in change of the unknown, a practice of situating eternity in time. Without a relation to the requirements of one’s own time philosophy may still mean many things, but these do not amount to anything worthy of rigorous consideration much. This doesn’t mean that philosophy must have an absolute conception of good and constantly strive towards it. Quite the contrary, if anything, philosophy would much rather resist against the evil within this inconsistent multiplicty falsely named world. No, there is no one world against which philosophy can situate itself, but rather many multiplicities out of which philosophy infers meanings and values in accordance with a better future in mind. Not necessarily better than today, but less worse than it will have been if nothing is done to slow down worsening. So having an idea of a better future is not necessarily imposing a totality, an absolute conception of goodness upon the multiplicity of existents. What’s at stake might as well be that the resistance aganist evil in time is itself a creative act sustaining the less worse condition of future existence. It’s all bad and it can only get worse, the question is this: How can we decelarate this worsening condition of we humans, we animals and we the plants?

My interest in science in general and neuroscience in particular derives from this understanding of philosophical activity as a dialectical process in nature. For me science is not an object of philosophy but a condition of it. Presumably you can already hear Badiou’s voice here, and rightly so I must say. Badiou had once said that “philosophy is the conceptual organisation of eternity in time.” What, then, is dialectic? Dialectic is simply “the unity of opposites,” as Fredric Jameson defines it in his Valences of the Dialectic. Everything has within itself nothing and inversely. The self and the other are always already reconciled, but in order to actualise this unity philosophy splits the one in such a way as to sustain the process of its reconciliation within itself. The one is not, it all begins with two and continues ad infinitum. Of course a designation such as Hermetico-Promethean post-nihilism is paradoxical, but this being paradoxial is itself creative of the space out of which something not only new but also good, or less worse than that which is or could be, can emerge. That said, a positively altered future itself only ever emerges from a split introduced in-between the past and the present, the good and the bad…


Now, I see nothing bad in interrupting the process of negativity, but needless to say one cannot achieve this by affirming it. One still needs negativity to interrupt negativity. It is in this sense that nihilism turned against itself becomes a condition of progressive philosophy. If science is making a huge progress while the whole planet is rapidly dying, what’s the point of that progress in science? It becomes a meaningless activity for its own sake. Without a future there can be no science either, but it is only by way of putting science into good uses that we can have a future. And when I say we I mean we humans, we animals and we the plants. Paradoxical though as it may sound, robots are of no concern to me, but enhancement technologies such as neuroplasticity softwares are…

I take whatever rings true to me in accordance with my intention. Intending something is not necessarilly willing without consciousness. One may be driven to anything at all, including willing nothingness as Nietzsche has taught us, adding that “man would much rather will nothingness than not will.” Although Nietzsche’s proclamation may be valid for some, it is not necessarily valid for all. To say again now what I’ve already said some other time, I’m still up for consciously desiring good life. That said, I reckon it’s not even worth mentioning that will, drive and desire are not the same thing. As for the difference between consciousness and self-consciousness, we must return to Hegel as always. There are indeed many illusions in this life, some for life yet some others not, some necessary while some irrelevant. Not that I am one, and yet it’s not for nothing that Hegel had once said, “the great man of his time is he who expresses the will and the meaning of that time, and then brings it to completion; he acts according to the inner spirit and essence of his time, which he realizes.” This, I think, is still true and ever will be, if we are to have a future worthy of the name, that is…


A letter from Badiou to Deleuze on Heidegger (July 1994)


I would like to resume, today, the parallel between you and Heidegger that I was sketching in my last letter.

1) A crucial difference seems to count against the comparison. In your work there is no “historial” set up, of the type “history of the forgetting of being”, “decline”, etc. As you say, you are certainly not tormented by the “end” of philosophy. You pick up the energy of your epoch, as must be done for each epoch. You love and think the cinema, the American novel, singular popular movements, Bacon’s paintings…The peasant from the Black Forest does not impress you. You are a man  of the imperial metropolis, a man of the bestial power of capitalism, a man of invisible subtractions, also, and of the finest of contemporary capillarities.

2) Being for you is not at at all a “question”, and moreover you do not in any way consecrate philosophy to “questioning”, any more than to “debates”, that French parliamentary form of German “questioning”.

3) Your personal philosophical genealogy (the Stoics, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hume, a certain Kant, Nietzsche, Bergson…) is very different from Heidegger’s (the Pre-Socratics, Aristotle, a different Leibniz, Schelling, a different Nietzsche, Husserl…).

4) Nevertheless three points strike me as the distant indication of a resonance.

The hostility to Plato. And, in a certain sense, for the same reason as for Heidegger: Plato is the establishment of a régime of Transcendence.

The hostility to Descartes. There too, a common motif, in almost opposite languages, can be devined: Descartes is the establishment of a régime of mastery subordinated to the Subjet.

The conviction that Nietzsche is an essential “turning point”. You argue very finely against Heidegger’s interpretation of Nietzsche. But at stake, for you as much as for him, is a decisive question: how to give meaning to affirmation? And this donation of meaning to affirmation (this “meaning of active force”) is tied to the critique of Plato. Because Plato extenuates active (or immanent) force in the (transcendent) separation of the Idea.

5) What distances you from Plato is the conviction that the access to the real must be thought as immanent (or creative) trial, and not as inscription, or matheme. What distances you from Descartes is the conviction that this immanent trial does not have its criterion in the clarified chain of reasons, but in a descriptive finesse, of which Art is the veritable paradigm. What ties you to Nietzsche is the conviction that the Multiple must be thought as duplicity of Life (active and reactive forces), and not as inertia, or simple extension.

6) The decisive point seems to me to be your conception of Being as pure virtuality. This is not at all Heidegger’s vocabulary. Nevertheless, his “latence” and your Chaos are co-thinkable. They are co-thinkable as ultimate reserve, of which there exists no direct experience, and of which the thought is simultaneously exposing and sheltering.

There is in Heidegger a pathetic version of the trial of thought: the “height of distress”, etc. You avoid this sort of jargon. But you too come to think of thought as the “traversal”, that is at once demanding, proximate, and sheltered, of the infinite virtual. That Being is pure virtuality entails that thoughtful creation is always like a fragmentary witnessing in view of a voyage on the edge of chaos.

This is why the figure of Christ can serve you as a metaphor, as much for Spinoza as for Bartleby the scrivener. Just as it is constantly sub-jacent to the way in which Heidegger describes the “nostos”, or the endurance of Hölderlin. It’s that your general logic of fluxes is like a version without pathos of what Heidegger describes as the liberty of the Open.

Finally, the decision to think Being, not as simple unfolding, neutral, entirely actual, with no depth, but as virtuality constantly traversed by actualisations; the fact that these actualisations are like the populating of a cut (cut of the plane of immanence for you, cut of beings for Heidegger); all that entails a logic of reserved power, that I think is common, in this century, to Heidegger and to you.

My question would thus be the following: what in your view essentially distinguishes your relation virtual/ actualisations from Heidegger’s relation of Being and beings?

We are here (as when you seek to situate me as a Neo-Kantian) in a protocol of investigation of your own creation of concepts, and not in what is your most intimate enemy: Analogy.


A letter from Alain Badiou to Gilles Deleuze, first published in Libération, 07-11-95. Translation by Terence Blake.

via Agent Swarm

Alain Badiou on Communism and Multiculturalism

The Red Flag and the Tricolore

1. Background: the world situation

Today the figure of global capitalism has taken over the entire world. The world is subject to the ruling international oligarchy and enslaved to the abstraction of money – the only recognised universal. Our own time is the painful interval between the end of the second historic stage of the communist Idea (the unsustainable, terroristic construction of a ‘state communism’) and its third stage (the communism that realises the politics of ‘emancipating humanity as a whole’ in a manner adequate to the real). A mediocre intellectual conformism has established itself in this context – a both plaintive and complacent form of resignation that goes hand in hand with the lack of any future. Any future, that is, other than rolling out what already exists in repetitive fashion.

And now we see the emergence of its counterpart. This is a logical and horrifying reaction, a hopeless and fatal one, a mix of corrupt capitalism and murderous gangsterism. Giving subjective form to the death drive, it maniacally retreats into the most varied identities. This identitarian retreat in turn sparks arrogant, identitarian counter-identities.

The general plot of this story is the West – homeland of the dominant, civilised capitalism – clashing with ‘Islamism’ – the reference point of bloody terrorism. Appearing against this backdrop we have, on the one hand, murderous armed gangs or individuals with stockpiles of their own, which they wave around in order to force everyone to honour the corpse of some deity; on the other hand, savage international military expeditions mounted in the name of human rights and democracy, which destroy entire states (Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Sudan, Congo, Mali, the Central African Republic…). These wars have thousands of victims, and they never achieve anything more than negotiating a precarious peace with the worst bandits in order to secure the oil fields, mines, food resources and enclaves where big business can prosper.

Things will go on like this until real universalism – humanity itself taking its own fate in hand, with the emergence of the new, decisive historical-political incarnation of the communist idea – deploys its new power at a world scale. At the same time, this will put an end to the enslavement of states to the oligarchy of property-owners and their servants, to the abstraction of money, and finally, to the identities and counter-identities that ravage peoples’ minds and call them to their deaths.

The world situation is a delay – the delayed arrival of the time when every identity (for there will always be different, formally contradictory identities) is integrated into the destiny of humanity in general in an egalitarian and peaceful way. Its arrival is delayed, but it will come, if enough of us want it.

2. The French specifics: Charlie Hebdo and the ‘Republic’

A child of the rebellious leftism of the 1970s, Charlie Hebdo became – like many intellectuals, politicians, ‘new philosophers’, impotent economists and various jokers – a both ironic and feverish defender of Democracy, the Republic, Laïcité, freedom of expression, free enterprise, sexual freedom, the free state… in short, the established political and moral order. There has been a proliferation of this type of renegade – as spirits grow old across changing circumstances – and in themselves they’re not of much interest.

More of a novelty is the patient construction of a domestic enemy of a new kind – the Muslim. Such an effort began in France in the 1980s, and has proceeded by way of various truly criminal laws, pushing ‘freedom of expression’ as far as the painstaking control of people’s clothes; new prohibitions concerning the historical narrative; and new cop series on TV.  It has also advanced via a sort of ‘left-wing’ attempt to rival the irresistible rise of the Front National, which since the Algerian war practiced a frank and open colonial racism. Whatever the variety of causes we could discuss, the fact is that the Muslim – from Mohammed to our own time – became Charlie Hebdo’s ‘bad object of desire’. Mocking Muslims and making fun of their mannerisms became this declining ‘comedic’ magazine’s stock in trade, a bit like how a century ago Bécassine made fun of the poor (and at that time, Christian…) peasants who came from Brittany to wipe the arses of the children of the Parisian bourgeoisie.

So at root all this isn’t so new. In this war of identities, France tries to distinguish itself by a totem of its own invention: the ‘secular democratic Republic’ or ‘Republican pact’. This totem glorifies the established French parliamentary order – at least since its founding act, namely Adolphe Thiers, Jules Ferry, Jules Fauvre and other stars of the ‘republican’ Left massacring  20,000 workers in the streets of Paris in 1871.

This ‘republican pact’ to which so many former leftists have rallied – including Charlie Hebdo – has always suspected that trouble was brewing in the suburbs, the factories on the periphery and the gloomybanlieue hang-outs. It has always sent big police battalions into these areas, and under countless pretexts filled its prisons with the suspect, ill-educated young men who lived there. It infiltrated its snitches and grasses into these ‘gangs’ of youths. Moreover, the Republic carried out a vast array of massacres and implemented new forms of slavery in the interests of keeping order in its colonial empire, torturing ‘suspects’ in the smallest African or Asian village police station. Indeed, it was Jules Ferry – who was without doubt, a fighter for the republican pact – who outlined the programme of this blood-soaked empire, exalting France’s ‘civilising mission’.

But you’ll see that a considerable number of the young people in thebanlieues are not only good-for-nothings with a flagrant lack of education (strangely, the famous ‘republican school system’ seems not to have been able to do anything about this… but it can’t accept that this its own fault, rather than somehow being the kids’ responsibility). Moreover, they have proletarian parents of African origin, or else they themselves came from Africa for survival’s sake: and as such, they are often of Muslim faith. In short, they are both colonised and proletarian. Two reasons to distrust them, and to deal with them using heavy repressive measures.

Let’s imagine that you’re a young black man, or a young man of Arab appearance, or perhaps a young woman who’s decided to cover her hair because it’s forbidden and she wants to rebel. Well, in that case you are seven or eight times more likely to be stopped in the street by our democratic police (and very often detained at the police station itself) than if you look like you’re ‘French’ – which means, and only means, that you have the features of a person who is probably neither ex-colonised nor proletarian. And not Muslim, either, of course. In this sense, Charlie Hebdo is just imitating the police’s old habits.

Here and there, people say that Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons aren’t attacking Muslims as such, but rather the fundamentalists’ terrorist activity. That is objectively false. Let’s take a typical example of their cartoons: we see two naked buttocks and the caption ‘Et le cul de Mahomet, on a le droit?’ (‘And what about Mohammed’s arse – can we use that?’). So is the Muslim faithful’s Prophet, a constant target for such stupidity, a contemporary terrorist? No, that’s not any kind of politics. It’s got nothing to do with the solemn defence of ‘freedom of expression’. It is a ridiculous, provocative obscenity targeting Islam itself – and that’s all. And it’s nothing more than third-rate cultural racism, a ‘joke’ to amuse the local pissed-up Front National supporter.  It may be amusing for the comfortably-off, but it is an indulgent ‘Western’ provocation against not only vast popular masses in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, but also a very large section of the working population in France itself: the people who empty our bins, wash our plates, man our pneumatic drills, hurriedly clean luxury hotel rooms and clean the big banks’ windows at 4 a.m.

In sum, that part of the people who through its work alone but also through its complex life, its risky journeys, its knowledge of many languages, its existential wisdom and capacity to recognise what a real politics of emancipation would be, deserves at least some consideration and even – yes – admiration. Putting aside any question of religion.

Already in another time, in the eighteenth century, all these seemingly anti-religious sexual jokes – which were in fact jokes mocking the people – had provided a certain ‘barracks’ humour. Look at Voltaire’s obscene comments on Joan of Arc: his La Pucelle d’Orléans is entirely worthy ofCharlie Hebdo. This dirty poem about this sublimely Christian heroine is alone proof enough that this third-rate Voltaire didn’t provide much illustration of the real shining lights of critical thought.  It shows how wise Robespierre was to condemn all those who made anti-religious violence the heart of the Revolution and thus achieved nothing but popular disaffection and civil war. It invites us to consider that what divided French democratic opinion was whether people (knowingly or not) were on the side of Rousseau’s really democratic and constantly progressive approach, or else on the side of the lascivious wheeler-dealer and the wealthy speculator who also happened to be a hedonist and a sceptic. This latter was a sort of ‘devil’ on Voltaire’s shoulder, who in other cases did sometimes prove capable of mounting real struggles.

But today all these jokes stink of a colonial mentality – as indeed the law against the ‘Islamic’ veil provided a much more violent re-run ofBécassine mocking the Bretons’ head-dress. These are all points where lurid cultural racism fuses with blind hostility, crass ignorance and the fear that the vast mass of Africans or banlieue residents – the wretched of the earth – inspires in the hearts of our self-satisfied petty-bourgeois.

3. What happened, 1: a fascist type of crime

And the three young Frenchmen who the police so quickly finished off?

Let’s mention in passing that their killing saved us from a trial that would have meant discussing the situation and where blame really lay – and most people were pretty happy about this. It also meant forgetting about the abolition of the death penalty: returning to pure public vengeance, like in the Westerns.

I would say that they committed something that we ought to call fascist-type crimes. A fascist-type crime, in my view, has three characteristics.

Firstly, it is not blind, but targeted: its motivation is an ideological one, of a fascistic character, which means a narrowly identitarian one: national, racial, communal, folk, religious… In this case, the murderers visibly targeted three identities that classical fascism often attacked: journalists considered to represent the enemy camp, policemen defending the hated parliamentary order, and Jews. So in the first case it was a matter of religion, in the second case a nation state, and in the third case a supposed ‘race’.

Secondly, it is an extreme violence: an unabashed, spectacular violence, because it seeks to give the impression of cold, absolute determination – also in a suicidal vein, with the murderers accepting that their own deaths will likely result. That is the nihilist allure, the ‘viva la muerte!’ sentiment behind such actions.

Third, in its sheer enormity, extraordinariness and surprise effect, the crime is intended to sow terror, and as such to provoke the state and public opinion into excessive reactions. The idea is that this response will be nothing more than the assertion of a vengeful counter-identity; and in the outlook of the criminals and their patrons, this will justify the bloody attack post facto, by way of symmetry. And that is indeed what happened. In this sense, the fascist crime did achieve something of a victory.

This type of crime requires killers whom their manipulators can abandon to their fate once the action has been accomplished. These are not great professionals, secret service agents or seasoned killers. These were working-class kids drawn away from lives in which they saw no meaning – and thought they had no escape from – by the fascination of the pure act. Then add a few wild identitarian ingredients into the mix, as well as the sophisticated weapons, the travels, the gang identity, the forms of power, the pleasure [jouissance] and bit of money that they were thus able to access. Already in the France of another era we saw how recruits to fascistic groups could become murderers and torturers for the same kind of reasons. Particularly during the Nazi occupation of France: this was true of many of the miliciens that the Vichy régime employed under the banner of the ‘National Revolution’.

If we want to reduce the risk of fascist crimes, then we have to draw some lessons from the picture I have just outlined. We can clearly see the factors that were decisive in allowing these crimes to take place. There is society’s negative image of these young people – with their background in global poverty – and the way in which society treats them. There is the unconsidered way in which we throw around questions of identity, and the unchallenged – or even, encouraged – use of racist and colonialist categories, and the truly criminal laws that impose segregation and stigmatisation. There is also, without doubt, the consideration that political proposals apart from the ruling consensus – proposals of a revolutionary and universal nature, able to organise these young people around an active, solid, rational political conviction – are disastrously weak, internationally. (That is not to say they do not exist at all – in our country there are activists full of ideas, and who are linked to real people). Only on the basis of a constant activity working to change all these negative factors, with a call to change the dominant political logic from top to bottom, might public opinion have been made to understand the real importance of what was going on. This could have allowed for the subordination of police activity – which is always dangerous when it’s left to its own devices – to a capable, enlightened public conscience.

Yet now the government and media reaction has done exactly the opposite.

4. What happened, 2: the State and Public Opinion

Indeed, right from the get-go the state instrumentalised the fascist crime in an extremely dangerous and unhinged way. It responded to a crime with identitarian motives by advancing another, symmetrical identitarian cause. It unashamedly counterposed the good French democrat to the ‘fanatical Muslim’. It took the disgraceful theme of ‘national unity’ or even the ‘union sacrée’ – which in France has only ever served for sending young people to die for nothing in the trenches – back out of the mothballed cupboards again. And we also saw the identitarian and bellicose nature of ‘national unity’ when Hollande and Valls – followed by all the media – struck up the tune of the ‘war on terror’, a tune Bush composed for his sinister invasion of Iraq (whose absurd, devastating effects are today plain to see). And that’s true even if after this isolated, fascist-type crime, they didn’t actually exhort people to hole up at home or to stick on their reservists’ uniforms and head for Syria at the sound of the clarion.

The confusion reached its climax when we saw the state calling on people to come and demonstrate – in true authoritarian style. Here in the land of ‘freedom of expression’, we have a demo at the state’s command! We might even wonder if Valls thought about imprisoning the people who didn’t show up for it. Here and there people were punished for not going along with the one minute’s silence.

Amazingly, at the low point of their popularity, our leaders could get a million and more people to march, thanks to three perverted fascists who couldn’t have dreamt that they would score such a triumph. The people who attended were simultaneously both terrorised by ‘Muslims’ and nourished on the vitamins of democracy, the republican pact and the superb grandeur of France. Even the colonial war criminal Netanyahu could march in the front rank of the demonstration, supposedly in the name of freedom of opinion and civil peace.

So let’s talk about this ‘freedom of expression’! Was that the demonstration was about? No, quite the contrary: amidst its sea oftricolores it asserted that being French firstly requires that everyone have the same opinion, guided by the state. During the first days of this affair, it was practically impossible to express any opinion contrary to the one that consisted of making paeans to our freedom, to our Republic; damnation of the corruption of our identity by young Muslim proletarians and the horribly veiled girls; and virile preparations for the war on terror. We even heard the following slogan, a fine example of freedom of speech: ‘We are all police!’

And besides, how can anyone dare speak of ‘freedom of expression’ today in a country where, with very few exceptions, all the papers and TV stations are in the hands of the big private industrial and/or financial groups? Our ‘republican pact’ must be flexible and accommodating indeed if we are to imagine that these big groups like Bouygues, Lagardère, Niel and all the others are ready to sacrifice their private interests on the altar of democracy and freedom of expression!

In fact, it’s only natural that the law of our country is that of a single way of thinking and fearful submission. Does freedom in general, including freedom of thought, of expression, of action, of life itself, today consist of us all helping the police hunt down a few dozen fascist brigands; universalised grassing on dodgy types with their beards and veils; and constantly casting a suspicious gaze toward the banlieues, heirs to thefaubourgs where the Communards were slaughtered? Isn’t the central task of emancipation, of public freedom, in fact to act in common with as many of these young banlieue proletarians as possible, and with as many of these young women – whether veiled or not, it doesn’t matter – as possible, within the framework of a new politics? That is, a new politics that is not based on any identity (‘the workers have no fatherland’), and which prepares the egalitarian future where humanity finally takes charge of its own destiny? A politics with a rational perspective for getting rid of our merciless real masters, the wealthy rulers of our fate?

In France there have long been two kinds of demonstration: protests marching under the red flag and those marching under the tricolore flag. Believe me: the tricolore flags controlled and used by our masters aren’t the right kind. Even if what we want is to reduce murderous, identitarian little fascist gangs to nothing (and no matter whether these fascists are promoting sectarian forms of Islam, French national identity or the supremacy of the West). No: it’s the other flags, the red ones, that we need to bring back into the fray.

By Alain Badiou

Translated by David Broder.

An abridged version of this piece was originally published in French in Le Monde 27 January.

via Verso

Hegel’s Science of Logic: Quantum


(a) Its Notion

§ 497

Quantum alters and becomes another quantum; the further determination of this alteration, namely, that it goes on to infinity, lies in the circumstance that quantum is established as being immanently self-contradictory. Quantum becomes an other; but it continues itself into its otherness; the other is thus also a quantum. This, however, is not only the other of a particular quantum, but of quantum itself, the negative of quantum as limited; hence it is the unlimitedness of quantum, its infinity. Quantum is an ought-to-be; it is by implication determined as being for itself, and this being-determined-for-itself is rather the being-determined-in-an-other, and, conversely, it is the sublation of being-determined-in-an-other, is an indifferent subsisting for itself.

§ 498

In this way, finitude and infinity each acquire in themselves a dual, and indeed, an opposite meaning. The quantum is finite, in the first place simply as limited, and secondly, as impelled beyond itself, as being determined in an other. But the infinity of quantum is first, its unlimitedness, and secondly, its returnedness into itself, its indifferent being-for-self. If we now compare these moments with each other, we find that the determination of the finitude of quantum, the impulse to go beyond itself to an other in which its determination lies, is equally the determination of the infinite; the negation of the limit is the same impulsion beyond the determinateness, so that in this negation, in the infinite, quantum possesses its final determinateness. The other moment of infinity is the being-for-self which is indifferent to the limit; but the limiting of quantum itself is such that quantum is explicitly indifferent to its limit, and hence to other quanta and to its beyond. In quantum, finitude and infinity (the spurious infinity supposedly separate from the finite) each already has within it the moment of the other.

§ 499

The difference between the qualitative and quantitative infinite is that in the former the finite and infinite are qualitatively opposed and the transition of the finite into the infinite, or the relation of each to the other, lies only in the in-itself, in their Notion. Qualitative determinateness, as an immediacy, is related to otherness essentially as to an alien being; it is not posited as having its negation, its other within it. Quantity, on the other hand, is, as such, sublated determinateness; it is posited as being unlike and indifferent to itself, consequently as alterable. Therefore the qualitative finite and infinite stand absolutely, that is abstractly, opposed to each other; their unity is their underlying inner relation; and therefore the finite continues itself into its other only implicitly, not affirmatively. The quantitative finite, on the other hand, is self-related in its infinite, in which it has its absolute determinateness. This their relation is displayed in the first place in the quantitative infinite progress.

(b) The Quantitative Infinite Progress

§ 500

The progress to infinity is in general the expression of contradiction, here, of that which is implicit in the quantitative finite, or quantum as such. It is the reciprocal determining of the finite and infinite which was considered in the sphere of quality, with the difference that, as just remarked, in the sphere of quantity the limit in its own self dispatches and continues itself into its beyond and hence, conversely, the quantitative infinite too is posited as having quantum within it; for quantum in its self-externality is also its own self, its externality belongs to its determination.

§ 501

Now the infinite progress is only the expression of this contradiction, not its resolution; but because the one determinateness is continued into its other, the progress gives rise to the show of a solution in a union of both. As at first posed, it is the problem of attaining the infinite, not the actual reaching of it; it is the perpetual generation of the infinite, but it does not get beyond quantum, nor does the infinite become positively present. It belongs to the Notion of quantum to have a beyond of itself. This beyond is first, the abstract moment of the non-being of quantum: the vanishing of quantum is its own act; it is thus related to its beyond as to its infinity, in accordance with the qualitative moment of the opposition. Secondly, however, quantum is continuous with its beyond; quantum consists precisely in being the other of itself, in being external to itself; this externality is, therefore, no more an other than quantum itself; the beyond or the infinite is, therefore, itself a quantum. In this way, the beyond is recalled from its flight and the infinite is attained. But because the infinite now affirmatively present is again a quantum, what has been posited is only a fresh limit; this, too, as a quantum, has again fled from itself, is as such beyond itself and has repelled itself into its non-being, into its own beyond, and as it thus repels itself into the beyond, so equally does the beyond perpetually become a quantum.

§ 502

The continuity of quantum with its other produces the conjunction of both in the expression of an infinitely great or infinitely small. Since both still bear the character of quantum they remain alterable, and the absolute determinateness which would be a being-for-self is, therefore, not attained. This self-externality of the determination is posited in the dual infinite — which is opposed to itself as a ‘more’ and a ‘less’ — in the infinitely great and infinitely small. In each, the quantum is maintained in perpetual opposition to its beyond. No matter how much the quantum is increased, it shrinks to insignificance; because quantum is related to the infinite as to its non-being, the opposition is qualitative; the increased quantum has therefore gained nothing from the infinite, which is now, as before, the non-being of quantum. In other words, the increase of quantum brings it no nearer to the infinite; for the difference between quantum and its infinity is essentially not a quantitative difference. The expression ‘the infinitely great’ only throws the contradiction into sharper relief; it is supposed to be great, that is, a quantum, and infinite, that is, not a quantum. Similarly, the infinitely small is, as small, a quantum, and therefore remains absolutely, that is, qualitatively, too great for the infinite and is opposed to it. In both, there remains the contradiction of the infinite progress which in them should have reached its goal.

§ 503

This infinity which is perpetually determined as the beyond of the finite is to be described as the spurious quantitative infinite. Like the qualitative spurious infinite, it is the perpetual movement to and fro from one term of the lasting contradiction to the other, from the limit to its non-being, and from this back again to the limit. It is true that in the quantitative progress the movement is not simply towards an abstract other in general, but towards an explicitly different quantum; but this remains in the same way opposed to its negation. The progress, too, is therefore not a real advance but a repetition of one and the same thing, a positing, a sublating, and then again a positing and again a sublating, an impotence of the negative, for what it sublates is continuous with it, and in the very act of being sublated returns to it. Thus there are two terms, the bond between which is such that they simply flee from each other; and in fleeing from each other they cannot become separated but are joined together even in their flight from each other.

Remark 1: The High Repute of the Progress to Infinity

§ 504

The spurious infinite, especially in the form of the quantitative progress to infinity which continually surmounts the limit it is powerless to remove, and perpetually falls back into it, is commonly held to be something sublime and a kind of divine worship, while in philosophy it has been regarded as ultimate. This progression has often been the theme of tirades which have been admired as sublime productions. As a matter of fact, however, this modern sublimity does not magnify the object — rather does this take flight — but only the subject which assimilates such vast quantities. The hollowness of this exaltation, which in scaling the ladder of the quantitative still remains subjective, finds expression in its own admission of the futility of its efforts to get nearer to the infinite goal, the attainment of which must, indeed, be achieved by a quite different method.

§ 505

In the following tirades of this kind it is also stated what becomes of such exaltation and how it finishes. Kant, for example, at the close of the Critique of Practical Reason, represents it as sublime ‘when the subject raises himself in thought above the place he occupies in the world of sense, reaching out to infinity, to stars beyond stars, worlds beyond worlds, systems beyond systems, and then also to the limitless times of their periodic motion, their beginning and duration. Imagination fails before this progress into the infinitely remote, where beyond the most distant world there is a still more distant one, and the past, however remote, has a still remoter past behind it, the future, however distant, a still more distant future beyond it; thought fails in the face of this conception of the immeasurable, just as a dream, in which one goes on and on down a corridor which stretches away endlessly out of sight, finishes with falling or fainting.’

§ 506

This exposition, besides giving a concise yet rich description of such quantitative exaltation, deserves praise mainly on account of the truthfulness with which it states how it fares finally with this exaltation: thought succumbs, the end is falling and faintness. What makes thought succumb, what causes falling and faintness, is nothing else but the wearisome repetition which makes a limit vanish, reappear, and then vanish again, so that there is a perpetual arising and passing away of the one after the other and of the one in the other, of the beyond in the here and now, and of the here and now in the beyond, giving only the feeling of the impotence of this infinite or this ought-to-be, which would be master of the finite and cannot.

§ 507

Also Haller’s description of eternity, called by Kant terrifying, is usually specially admired, but often just not for that very reason which constitutes its true merit:

‘I heap up monstrous numbers,
Pile millions upon millions,
I put aeon upon aeon and world upon world,
And when from that awful height
Reeling, again I seek thee,
All the might of number increased a thousandfold
Is still not a fragment of thee.
I remove them and thou nest wholly before me.’

§ 508

When this heaping and piling up of numbers is regarded as what is valuable in a description of eternity, it is overlooked that the poet himself declares this so-called terrifying journey into the beyond to be futile and empty, and that he closes by saying that only by giving up this empty, infinite progression can the genuine infinite itself become present to him.

§ 509

There have been astronomers who liked to pride themselves on the sublimity of their science because it had to deal with an innumerable host of stars, with such immeasurable spaces and times in which distances and periods, already vast in themselves, serve as units which, in whatever multiples taken, are again abbreviated to insignificance. The shallow astonishment to which they surrender themselves, the absurd hopes of wandering in another life from one star to another and into immeasurable space to acquire fresh facts of the same kind, this they declare to be a cardinal factor in the excellence of their science — a science which is admirable not on account of such quantitative infinitude but, on the contrary, on account of the relations of measure and the laws which reason recognises in these objects and which are the infinite of reason in contrast to that other, irrational infinite.

§ 510

To the infinity of outer, sensuous intuition, Kant opposes the other infinite, when ‘the individual withdraws into his invisible ego and opposes the absolute freedom of his will as a pure ego to all the terrors of fate and tyranny, and starting with his immediate surroundings, lets them vanish before him, and even what seems enduring, worlds upon worlds, collapse into ruins, and, alone, knows himself as equal to himself.’

§ 511

The ego in being thus alone with itself is, it is true, the reached beyond; it has come to itself, is with itself, here and now; the absolute negativity which in the progress beyond the quantum of sense was only a flight, in pure self-consciousness becomes affirmative and present. But this pure ego, because it has fixed itself in its abstraction and emptiness, has determinate reality, the fulness of the universe of nature and mind, confronting it as a beyond. We are faced with that same contradiction which lies at the base of the infinite progress, namely a returnedness-into-self which is at the same time immediately an out-of-selfness, a relation to its other as to its non-being; and this relation remains a longing, because on the one side is the unsubstantial, untenable void of the ego fixed as such by the ego itself, and on the other, the fulness which though negated remains present, but is fixed by the ego as its beyond.

§ 512

On these two sublimes Kant remarks ‘that admiration (for the first, outer) and reverence (for the second, inner) do indeed stimulate inquiry but cannot be a substitute for their defect’. Thus he declares those exaltations to be unsatisfying for reason, which cannot stop at them and the feelings associated with them, nor can it let the beyond and the void rank as ultimate.

§ 513

But it is specially in its application to morality that the infinite progress has been taken as ultimate. The just quoted antithesis of finite and infinite in the shape of the manifold world and the ego raised to its freedom, is primarily qualitative. The ego in its self-determining forthwith proceeds to determine nature and to liberate itself therefrom; it thus connects itself through itself with its other which, as an external reality, is manifold and quantitative. The relation to the quantitative becomes itself quantitative; the negative relation of the ego to it, the power of the ego over the non-ego, over sense and outer nature, is consequently so conceived that morality can and ought continually to increase, and the power of sense continually to diminish. But the perfect adequacy of the will to the moral law is placed in the unending progress to infinity, that is, is represented as an absolutely unattainable beyond, and this very unattainableness is supposed to be the true sheet-anchor and fitting consolation; for morality is supposed to be a struggle, but such it can be oily if the will is inadequate to the moral law which thus becomes a sheer beyond for it.

§ 514

In this opposition, ego and non-ego or the pure will and the moral law, and nature and the sensuousness of the will, are presupposed as completely self-subsistent and mutually indifferent. The pure will has its own appropriate law which stands in an essential relationship to the sphere of sense; and nature and sense on its side has laws which neither stem from nor are conformable to the will nor, although distinct from it, have they even in principle an essential connection with it but are determined independently, are finished and complete in themselves. At the same time, however, both are moments of one and the same simple being, the ego; the will is determined as the negative in relation to nature so that the will only is in so far as there is a sphere distinct from it which it sublates, but with which it thereby comes into contact and by which it is itself affected. Nature itself and nature as the sensuous sphere of man, as an independent system of laws, is indifferent to limitation by an other; it preserves itself in this process of limitation, enters into the relation as an independent factor and limits the will of law just as much as this limits it. The two processes comprise a single act: the self-determining of the will with the sublating of the otherness of nature, and the positing of this otherness as continuing itself as a reality in the process of being sublated, so that the otherness is not sublated. The contradiction involved in this is not resolved in the infinite progress: on the contrary, it is represented and affirmed as unresolved and unresolvable; the conflict of morality and sense is represented as the ultimate, absolute relation.

§ 515

This standpoint which is powerless to overcome the qualitative opposition between the finite and infinite and to grasp the idea of the true will which is substantial freedom, has recourse to quantity in order to use it as a mediator, because it is sublated quality, the difference which has become indifferent. But since both members of the antithesis remain implied as qualitatively distinct, the fact is rather that each is straightway made indifferent to this alteration because it is as quanta that they are related to each other. Nature is determined by the ego, sense by the will of the good; the alteration produced in sense by the will is only a quantitative difference, one which leaves sense itself unchanged.

§ 516

In the more abstract exposition of the Kantian philosophy, or at least of its principles, namely in Fichte’s Theory of Science, the infinite progress in the same way constitutes the foundation and the ultimate. In this exposition, the first axiom, ego = ego, is followed by a second, independent of it, the opposition of the non-ego; the relation between the two is also directly assumed as a quantitative difference, that is, the non-ego is partly determined by the ego, and partly not. In this way, the non-ego is continued into its non-being in such wise that in its non-being it remains opposed as something not sublated. Consequently, after the contradictions contained in this have been developed in the system, the final result is that relationship which formed the beginning: the non-ego remains an infinite obstacle, an absolute other; the final relation of the non-ego and the ego to each other is the infinite progress, a longing and aspiration — the same contradiction with which the system began.

§ 517

Because the quantitative is determinateness posited as sublated it was thought that much, or rather everything, had been gained for the unity of the absolute, for the one substantiality, when opposition generally had been reduced to a merely quantitative difference. That all opposition is only quantitative was for some time a cardinal thesis of recent philosophy; the opposed determinations have the same nature, the same content; they are real sides of the opposition in so far as each of them has within it both determinations, both factors of the opposition, only that on one side one of the factors preponderates, on the other side the other, that is, one of the factors, a material substance or activity, is present in a greater quantity or in an intenser degree in one side than in the other. But in so far as substances or activities are presupposed, the quantitative difference rather confirms and completes their externality and indifference to each other and to their unity. The difference of the absolute unity is supposed to be only quantitative; the quantitative, it is true, is immediate, sublated determinateness, but only the imperfect, as yet only first, negation, not the infinite, not the negation of the negation. When being and thought are represented as quantitative determinations of absolute substance they too, as quanta, become completely external to each other and unrelated as, in a subordinate sphere, do carbon, nitrogen, etc. It is a third, an external reflection, which abstracts from their difference and recognises their unity, but a unity which is inner, implicit only, not for itself. This unity is, therefore, in fact conceived only as a first, immediate unity, or only as being, which in its quantitative difference remains like itself, but does not of itself posit itself as like itself; hence it is not grasped as a negation of the negation, as an infinite unity. Only in the qualitative opposition does the posited infinitude, being-for-self, emerge and the quantitative determination itself pass over into the qualitative, as we shall presently find.

Remark 2: The Kantian Antinomy of the Limitation and Nonlimitation of the World in Time and Space

§ 518

It was remarked above that the Kantian antinomies are expositions of the opposition of finite and infinite in a more concrete shape, applied to more specific substrata of conception. The antinomy there considered contained the opposition of qualitative finitude and infinitude. In another, the first of the four cosmological antinomics, it is the conflict arising rather from the quantitative limit which is considered. I shall therefore proceed to examine this antinomy here.

§ 519

It concerns the limitation or non-limitation of the world in time and space. This antithesis could be considered equally well with reference to time and space themselves, for whether time and space are relations of things themselves or are only forms of intuition, the antinomy based on limitation or non-limitation in them is not affected thereby.

§ 520

The detailed analysis of this antinomy will likewise show that both statements and equally their proofs (which, like those already considered, are conducted apagogically) amount to nothing more than the two simple opposite assertions: (1) there is a limit, and (2) the limit must be transcended.

The thesis is:

‘The world has a beginning in time and is also enclosed within spatial limits.’

That part of the proof which concerns time assumes the opposite:

‘The world has no beginning in time; therefore, up to any given point of time, an eternity has elapsed and consequently an infinite series of successive states of things in the world has passed away. Now the infinity of a series consists precisely in the impossibility of ever completing it by successive synthesis. Therefore an infinite world series which has passed away is impossible and consequently a beginning of the world is a necessary condition of its existence — which was to be proved.’

§ 521

The other part of the proof which concerns space is based on time. To comprehend a spatially infinite world would require an infinite time and this time must be regarded as having already elapsed in so far as the world in space is to be regarded not as gradually coming to be but as completely given. But it was shown of time in the first part of the proof that it is impossible to assume an infinite time as elapsed.

§ 522

But it is at once evident that it was unnecessary to make the proof apagogical, or even to carry out a proof at all, since the basis of the proof itself is the direct assertion of what was to be proved. Namely, there is assumed some or any given point of time up to which an eternity has elapsed (eternity here has only the trivial meaning of a simply endless time). Now a given point of time means nothing else than a definite limit in time. In the proof therefore, a limit of time is presupposed as actual; but that is just what was to be proved. For the thesis is, that the world has a beginning in time.

§ 523

There is only this difference, that the assumed limit of time is a now as end of the time already elapsed, but the limit which is to be proved is a now as beginning of a future. But this difference is immaterial. The now is taken as the point in which an infinite series of successive states of things in the world is supposed to have passed away, therefore as end, a qualitative limit. If this now were considered to be merely a quantitative limit which flows on and which not only must be transcended but is only as the transcending of itself, then the infinite time series would not have passed away in it, but would continue to flow on, and so the argument of the proof would vanish. On the other hand, if the point of time is assumed as a qualitative limit for the past, in which case it is also a beginning for the future (for each point of time is in itself the connection of the past and the future), then it is also an absolute, that is, abstract beginning for the future — and it was this that was to be proved. The fact that its future and this its beginning is already preceded by a past does not affect the argument; because this point of time is a qualitative limit — and that it is to be taken as qualitative is implied in the description of it as completed, elapsed, and therefore as not continuing — therefore in it time is broken off and the past lacks a connection with this time which could only be called future with reference to that past and, consequently, without such connection is only time as such, which has an absolute beginning. But if — as is, then, the case — it were related to the past through the now, the given point of time, and were thus determined as a future, then this point of time, too, regarded from the other side, would not be a limit; the infinite time series would continue itself in what was called future and would not be, as was assumed, completed.

§ 524

In truth, time is pure quantity; the point of time in which it is supposed to be interrupted, which is employed in the proof, is really only the self-sublating being-for-self of the now. All that the proof does is to represent the absolute limit of time asserted in the thesis as a given point of time, and then straightway to assume it as a completed, that is, abstract point — a popular determination which sensuous conception readily lets pass as a limit, thus allowing as an assumption in the proof what had been put forward as the thing to be proved.

§ 525

The antithesis runs:

‘The world has no beginning and no limits in space but is infinite with reference both to time and space.’

The proof likewise assumes the opposite:

‘The world has a beginning. Since the beginning is an existence preceded by a time in which the thing is not, there must have been a preceding time in which the world was not, that is, an empty time. Now no originating of anything is possible in an empty time; because no part of such a time possesses in itself and in preference to any other, any distinguishing condition of existence or non-existence. In the world, therefore, many groups of things can indeed begin, but the world itself can have no beginning and with respect to past time is infinite.’

§ 526

This apagogical proof, like the others, contains the direct and unproved assertion of what it was supposed to prove. That is, it first assumes a beyond of the existing world, an empty time; but it also equally continues the existence of the world beyond itself into this empty time which is thereby sublated, with the result that the existence of the world is continued into infinity. The world is an existence; the proof presupposes that this existence comes into being and that the coming-to-be has an antecedent condition which is in time. But the antithesis itself consists in the very fact that there is no unconditioned existence, no absolute limit, but that the existence of the world always requires an antecedent condition. Thus, what was to be proved is found as an assumption in the proof. Further, the condition is sought in empty time, which means in effect that it is taken as temporal and therefore as an existence and as limited. Altogether, then, the assumption is made that the world as an existence presupposes another conditioned existence in time, and so on, therefore, to infinity.

§ 527

The proof regarding the infinity of the world in space is the same. Apagogically, the spatial finiteness of the world is assumed; ‘this (the world) would therefore exist in an empty unlimited space and would stand in a relation to it; but such a relation of the world to no object is a nullity’.

Here, too, what was supposed to be proved is directly presupposed in the proof. It is directly assumed that the spatially limited world exists in an empty space and is supposed to stand in a relation to it, that is, there must be a movement out beyond it — on the one hand into the void, into the beyond and non-being of the world, but on the other hand, in order that it be in relation with its beyond, that is, continue itself into it, the beyond must be imagined as filled with the existence of the world. The infinity of the world in space which is asserted in the antithesis is nothing else than, on the one hand, empty space, and on the other the relation of the world to it, that is, the continuity of the world in empty space or the filling of space — which contradiction, namely, space as simultaneously empty and also filled, is the infinite progress of existence in space. This very contradiction, the relation of the world to empty space, is directly made the basis of the proof.

§ 528

The thesis and antithesis and their proofs therefore represent nothing but the opposite assertions, that a limit is, and that the limit equally is only a sublated one; that the limit has a beyond, with which however it stands in relation, and beyond which it must pass, but that in doing so there arises another such limit, which is no limit.

§ 529

The solution of these antinomies, as of those previously mentioned, is transcendental, that is, it consists in the assertion of the ideality of space and time as forms of intuition — in the sense that the world is in its own self not self-contradictory, not self-sublating, but that it is only consciousness in its intuition and in the relation of intuition to understanding and reason that is a self-contradictory being. It shows an excessive tenderness for the world to remove contradiction from it and then to transfer the contradiction to spirit, to reason, where it is allowed to remain unresolved. In point of fact it is spirit which is so strong that it can endure contradiction, but it is spirit, too, that knows how to resolve it. But the so-called world (whether it be called an objective, real world or, according to transcendental idealism, a subjective intuition and a sphere of sense determined by the categories of the understanding) is never and nowhere without contradiction, but it is unable to endure it and is, therefore, subject to coming-to-be and ceasing-to-be.

(c) The Infinity of Quantum

§ 530

1. The infinite quantum as infinitely great or infinitely small is itself implicitly the infinite progress; as great or small it is a quantum and at the same time it is the non-being of quantum. The infinitely great and infinitely small are therefore pictorial conceptions which, when looked at more closely, turn out to be nebulous shadowy nullities. But in the infinite progress, this contradiction is explicitly present and with it that which is the nature of quantum which, as an intensive magnitude, has attained its reality and now in its determinate being is posited as it is in its Notion. It is this identity which we have now to consider.

§ 531

Quantum as degree is unitary, self-related and determinate within itself. Through this unitary nature, the otherness and determinateness in quantum are sublated, so that the determinatensess is external to it; it has it determinateness outside it. This its self-externality is in the first place the abstract non-being of quantum generally, the spurious infinity. But, further, this non-being is also quantitative and this continues itself into its non-being, for it is in its externality that quantum has its determinateness; this its externality is, therefore, itself equally a quantum., this non-being of quantum, infinity, is thus limited, that is, this beyond is sublated, is itself determined as quantum which, therefore, in its negation is with itself.

§ 532

But this is what quantum as such is in itself. For it is itself just by being external to itself; externality constitutes that whereby it is quantum and is with itself. In the infinite progress, therefore, the Notion of quantum is posited.

§ 533

Let us take the progress at first in its abstract determinations as we find them; then in it we have the sublating of quantum, but equally too of its beyond, therefore the negation of quantum as well as the negation of this negation. Its truth is their unity in which they are, but only as moments. It is the resolution of the contradiction of which it is the expression, and its immediate significance is, therefore, the restoration of the Notion of quantity, namely, that quantity is an indifferent or external limit. In the infinite progress as such, the only reflection usually made is that every quantum, however great or small, must be capable of vanishing, of being surpassed; but not that this self-sublating of quantum, the beyond, the spurious infinite itself also vanishes.

§ 534

Even the first sublation, the negation of quality as such whereby quantum is posited, is in principle [an sich] the sublating of the negation — the quantum is sublated qualitative limit, hence sublated negation — but at the same time it is this only in principle; it is posited as a determinate being, and then its negation is fixed as the infinite, as the beyond of quantum, which remains on this side as an immediate; thus the infinite is determined only as a first negation and it appears as such in the infinite progress. But we have seen that in this something more is present, the negation of the negation, or that which the infinite in truth is. We regarded this previously as the restoration of the Notion of quantity; this restoration means in the first place, that its determinate being has received a more precise determination; we now have quantum determined in conformity with its Notion, which is different from quantum in its immediacy; externality is now the opposite of itself, posited as a moment of quantity itself — quantum is posited as having its determinateness in another quantum by means of its non-being, of infinity; that is, it is qualitatively that which it is. However, this comparison of the Notion of quantum with its determinate being belongs more to our reflection, to a relationship which is not yet present here. The immediately following determination is that the quantum has reverted to quality, is from now on qualitatively determined. For its peculiarity, its quality, is the externality, the indifference of the determinateness; and quantum is now posited as being in fact itself in its externality, as self-related therein, in simple unity with itself, that is, qualitatively determined. This qualitative moment is still more closely determined, namely as being-for-itself; for the self-relation to which it has attained has proceeded from mediation, from the negation of the negation. Quantum has infinity, self-determinedness, no longer outside it but within itself.

§ 535

The infinite, which in the infinite progress has only the empty meaning of a non-being, of an unattained but sought beyond, is in fact nothing else than quality. Quantum as an indifferent limit goes out beyond itself to infinity; in doing so it seeks nothing else than to be determined for itself, the qualitative moment, which, however, is thus only an ought-to-be. Its indifference to limit, and hence its lack of an explicit determinateness of its own and its passage away from and beyond itself, is that which makes quantum what it is; this its passage into the beyond is to be negated and quantum is to find in the infinite its absolute determinateness.

§ 536

Quite generally: quantum is sublated quality; but quantum is infinite, goes beyond itself, is the negation of itself. Thus its passage beyond itself is, therefore, in itself the negation of the negated quality, the restoration of it; and thus quantum is explicitly determined as possessing as its own moment, the externality which formerly appeared as a beyond.

§ 537

Quantum is thus posited as repelled from itself, with the result that there are two quanta which, however, are sublated, are only as moments of one unity, and this unity is the determinateness of quantum. Quantum as thus self-related as an indifferent limit in its externality and therefore posited as qualitative, is quantitative ratio. In the ratio, quantum is external to itself, is distinguished from itself; this its externality is the relation of one quantum to another, each of which has meaning only in this its relation to its other; and this relation constitutes the determinateness of the quantum, which is as such a unity. It has in this unity not an indifferent, but a qualitative, determination; in this its externality it has returned into itself, and in it quantum is that which it is.

Remark 1: The Mathematical Infinite

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Gilles Deleuze’s Opus Corpus and Beyond (1925 – 1995)

GILLES DELEUZE (1925 - 1995)



  • Deleuze, Philosophy, Transdisciplinarity, Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London, February 10-11, 2012


  • Deleuze and Visual Art, Faculty of Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Nederlands Genootschap voor Esthetica, October 14, 2010


  • Deleuze in Context, Department of Philosophy, University of Dundee, September 24, 2010
  • Deleuze and Nomadic Methodologies, Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam and Centre for the Humanities, Utrecht University, July 12-14, 2010
  • Deleuze: Ethics and Politics, 4th Biennial Philosophy and Literature Conference, Purdue University, April 9-10, 2010
  • Deleuze and Activism, Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory, Cardiff University, November 11-13, 2009
  • Connect Deleuze: Transdisciplinary Perspectives, Second International Deleuze Studies Conference, Department for American Studies, University of Cologne, August 10-12, 2009
  • On ‘Foucault’: a Workshop on Gilles Deleuze’s Book Foucault, Volcanic Lines: Deleuzian Research Group, University of Greenwich, April 18
  • Deleuze and the Political, Scottish Centre for Contemporary French Philosophy, University of Dundee, November 1, 2008

  • One or Several Deleuzes?, First International Deleuze Studies Conference, Cardiff University, August 11-13, 2008

  • The Deleuzian Event, English Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University, September 8-9, 2007

  • The Strange Encounter of Kant and Deleuze, Department of Philosophy, Greenwich University, July 7, 2007

  • Integrations #1: an Introductory Workshop on Deleuze and the Differential Calculus, Department of Philosophy, Greenwich University, April 14, 2007

  • Deleuze: Texts and Images, 9th Annual Conference, Department of Comparative Literature, University of South Carolina, April 5-8, 2007

  • Deleuze and Rationalism, Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Middlesex University, March 15-16, 2007

  • The Work of Gilles Deleuze, Department of Philosophy, University of Greenwich, July 1, 2006

  • Deleuze and Literature, Centre for Research in Philosophy and Literature, Department of Philosophy, University of Warwick, March 20-21, 2006

  • The Living Thought of Gilles Deleuze, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, November 3-4, 2005

  • Deleuze and the Fold, Research Group in Post-Kantian European Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, University of Warwick, June 27, 2005

  • Philosophy and Aesthetics: Lyotard and Deleuze, University of Melbourne, Australia, June 22-24, 2005

  • Virtual Mathematics: the Logic of Difference, Centre for the History of European Discourses, University of Queensland, June 20, 2005

  • Gilles Deleuze: Experimenting with Intensities: Science, Philosophy, Politics, the Arts, Department of Philosophy, Trent University, May 12- 15, 2004





  • Anthologies:
    • Pure Immanence: Essays on a Life.  New York: Zone, 2005.

    • Deux régimes de fous et autres textes.  Ed. David Lapoujade.  Paris: Minuit, 2003.

      • Two Regimes of Madness: Texts and Interviews, 1975-1995New York: Semiotext(e), 2006.

    • L’île déserte et autres textes.  Ed. David Lapoujade.  Paris: Minuit, 2002.

      • Desert Islands and Other Texts, 1953-1974.  Trans. Mike Taormina.  New York: Semiotext(e), 2003.

    • Critique et clinique.  Paris: Minuit, 1993.
      • Essays Critical and Clinical  Trans. Daniel Smith and Michael Greco.  Minneapolis: U  of Minnesota P, 1997.
    • The Deleuze ReaderEd. Constantin Boundas.  New York: Columbia UP, 1993.

    • On the Line.  By Deleuze and Félix Guattari.  New York: Semiotext(e), 1983.
  • Selected Individual Works:
    • Psychanalyse et transversalité: Essai d’analyse institutionnelle.  By Deleuze and Félix Guattari.  Paris: La Découverte, 2003.
      • Nomadology: the War Machine.  By Deleuze and Félix Guattari.  New York: Semiotext(e), 1996.
    • Qu’est-ce que la philosophie?.  By Deleuze and Félix Guattari.   Paris: Minuit, 1991.
      • What is Philosophy?.  Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell.  New York: Columbia UP, 1994.
    • Le Pli: Leibniz et le Baroque.  Paris: Minuit, 1988.
      • The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque.  Trans. Tom Conley.  Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1993.
    • Foucault.  Paris: Minuit, 1986.
      • Foucault.  Trans. Sean Hand.  Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1988.
    • Cinéma II: l’Image-temps.  Paris: Minuit, 1985.
      • Cinema II: the Time-Image.  Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam.  Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1989.
    • Cinéma I: l’Image-Mouvement.  Paris: Minuit, 1983.
      • Cinema I: The Movement-Image.  Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam.  Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1986.
    • Francis Bacon: Logique de la sensation.  2 Vols.  Paris: La différence, 1981.
      • Francis Bacon: the Logic of Sensation.  Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2004.
    • Kafka: pour une littérature mineure.  By Deleuze and Félix Guattari.  Paris: Minuit, 1975.
      • Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature.  Trans. Dana Polan.  Minnesota: U of Minnesota P, 1986.
    • Capitalisme et schizophrénie.  By Deleuze and Félix Guattari.   Paris: Minuit.
      • Mille plateaux.  Vol. 2.  1980.
        • A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia.  Trans. Brian Massumi.  Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1987.
      • L’Anti-Oedipe.  Vol. 1.  1972.
        • Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia.  Trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem and Helen R. Lane.  New York: Viking, 1977.  Rpt. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1983.
          • Critical Theory Since 1965Ed. Hazard Adams and Leroy Searle.  Tallahassee: UP of Florida, 1986.  285-308.
    • Spinoza.  Paris: PUF, 1970.  Rev. in 1981 as Spinoza: Philosophie pratique.
      • Spinoza: Practical PhilosophyTrans. Robert Hurley.  San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1988.
    • Logique du sens.  Paris: Minuit, 1969.
      • The Logic of Sense.  Trans. Mark Lester with Charles Stivale.  New York: Columbia UP, 1990.
    • Différence et répétition.  Paris: PUF, 1968.
      • Difference and Repetition.  Trans. Paul Patton.  New York: Columbia UP, 1994.
    • Spinoza et le problème de l’expression.  Paris: Minuit, 1968.
      • Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza.  Trans. Martin Joughin.  New York: Zone Books, 1990.
    • Présentation de Sacher-Masoch.  Paris: Minuit, 1967.
      • Masochism: an Interpretation of Coldness and Cruelty.  Trans. Jean McNeil.  New York: G. Braziller, 1971.
    • Le Bergsonisme.  Paris: PUF, 1966.
      • Bergsonism.  Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam.  New York: Zone Books, 1988.
    • Marcel Proust et les signes.  Paris: PUF, 1964.
      • Proust and Signs.  Trans. Richard Howard.  New York: G. Braziller, 1972.
    • La Philosophie critique de Kant: Doctrine des facultés.  Paris: PUF, 1963.
      • The Critical Philosophy of Kant: the Doctrine of the Faculties.  Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam.  Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1984.
    • Nietzsche et la philosophie.  Paris: PUF, 1962.
      • Nietzsche and Philosophy.  Trans. Hugh Tomlinson.  London: Athlone, 1983.
    • Empirisme et subjectivité: Essai sur la nature humaine selon Hume.  Paris: PUF, 1953.
      • Empiricism and Subjectivity: an Essay on Hume’s Theory of Human Nature.  Trans. Constantin Boundas.  New York: Columbia UP, 1991.
  • Selected Interviews:
    • Pourparlers.  Paris: Minuit, 1990.
      • Negotiations, 1972-1990.  Trans. Martin Joughin.  New York: Columbia UP, 1995.
    • Dialogues.  (avec Claire Parnet).  Paris: Flammarion, 1977.
      • Dialogues.  Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam.  New York: Columbia UP, 1987.  Rpt. 2002.




  • Anthologies:
    • Ansell-Pearson, Keith, ed.  Deleuze and Philosophy: the Difference Engineer.  London: Routledge, 1997.
    • Boundas, Constantin V., and Dorothea Olkowski, eds.  Gilles Deleuze and the Theater of PhilosophyLondon: Routledge, 1994.
    • Buchanan, Ian, and Adrian Parr, eds.  Deleuze and the Contemporary World: Deleuze Connections.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2006.

    • Buchanan, Ian, and Gregg Lambert, eds.  Deleuze and Space.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2005.

    • Buchanan, Ian, and John Marks, eds.  Deleuze and Literature.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2001.

    • Buchanan, Ian, and Claire Colebrook, eds.  Deleuze and Feminist Theory.  Edinburgh: U of Edinburgh P, 2000.

    • Buchanan, Ian, ed.  A Deleuzian Century?  Durham: Duke UP, 1999.

    • Cull, Lawrence, ed.  Deleuze and Performance.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2009.

    • Diagrams of Sensation: Deleuze and AestheticsPli 16 (2005).

    • Flaxman, G., ed.  The Brain is the Screen: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Cinema.  Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2000.

    • Fuglsang, Martin, and Bent Meier Sørensen, eds.  Deleuze and the SocialEdinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2006.
    • Herzogenrath, Bernd, ed.  Deleuze/Guattari and Ecology.  London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

    • Holland, Eugene W., Daniel W. Smith, and Charles J. Stivale, eds.  Gilles Deleuze: Image and Text.  London: Continuum, 2009.
    • Patton, Paul, and John Protevi, eds.  Between Deleuze and Derrida.  London: Continuum, 2003.
    • Patton, Paul, ed.  Deleuze: a Critical Reader.  Oxford: Blackwell, 1996.
    • Parr, Adrian, ed.  The Deleuze Dictionary.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2005.
    • Protevi, John, and Mark Bonta, eds.  Deleuze and GeophilosophyEdinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2004.
    • Schwab, Gabriele, ed.  Derrida, Deleuze, Psychoanalysis.  New York: Columbia UP, 2007.
    • Willatt, Edward, and Matt Lee, eds.  Thinking Between Deleuze and Kant: a Strange Encounter.  London: Continuum, 2009.
    • Williams, James, and Bill Ross, eds.  The Transversal Thought of Gilles Deleuze: Encounters and Influences.  Clinamen, 2005.
  • Selected Individual Works:
    • Alliez, Eric.  Deleuze: philosophie virtuelle.  Paris: Synthélabo, 1996.
    • Ansell-Pearson, Keith.  Germinal Life: the Difference and Repetition of Deleuze.  London: Routledge, 1999.
    • Badiou, Alain.  Deleuze: la Clameur de l’Etre.  Paris: Hachette, 1997.
      • Deleuze: the Clamour of Being.  Trans. Louise Burchill.  Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1999.

    • Baugh, Bruce.  “Beyond Hegel?  Deleuze, Foucault, and the New Empiricism”  French Hegel: From Surrealism to Postmodernism.  London: Routledge, 2003.  147-174.
    • Bogue, Ronald.  Deleuze on Cinema.  London: Routledge, 2003.
    • Bogue, Ronald.  Deleuze on Literature.  London: Routledge, 2003.
    • Bogue, Ronald.  Deleuze on Music, Painting and the Arts.  London: Routledge, 2003.
    • Bonta, Mark, and John Protevi.  Deleuze and Geophilosophy: a Guide and Glossary.  New York: Columbia UP, 2004.
    • Boundas, Constantin V.  Deleuze and Philosophy.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2006.
    • Brusseau, James.  Isolated Experiences: Gilles Deleuze and the Solitudes of Reversed Platonism.  Albany: SUNY Press, 1998.
    • Colebrook, Claire.  Deleuze: a Guide for the Perplexed.  London: Continuum, 2006.

    • Colebrook, Claire.  Understanding Deleuze.  London: Allen and Unwin, 2003.

    • Colebrook, Claire.  Gilles Deleuze.  London: Routledge, 2001.

    • Descombes, Vincent.  “Difference (Derrida, Deleuze).”  Modern French Philosophy.  Trans. L. Scott-Fox and J. M. Harding.  Cambridge: CUP, 1980.  136-167.

    • Descombes, Vincent.  “The End of Time (Deleuze, Klossowski, Lyotard).”  Modern French Philosophy.  Trans. L. Scott-Fox and J. M. Harding.  Cambridge: CUP, 1980.  168-190.

    • Foucault, Michel.  “Theatrum Philosophicum.”  Critique 282 (1970): 885-908.

      • “Theatrum Philosophicum.”  Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews.  Ed. Donald F. Bouchard.  Trans. and ed. Donald F. Bouchard and Sherry Simon.  Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1977.  165-196.
    • Goodchild, Philip.  Gilles Deleuze and the Question of Philosophy1996.

    • Gutting, Gary.  “Deleuze.”  French Philosophy in the Twentieth Century.  Cambridge: CUP, 2001.  331-341.

    • Hallward, Peter.  Out of this World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation.  London: Verso, 2006. [review]

    • Hansen, Mark.  “Becoming as Creative Involution?  Contextualizing Deleuze and Guattari’s Biophilosophy.”  Postmodern Culture 11.1 (): .

    • Hardt, Michael.  Gilles Deleuze: an Apprenticeship in PhilosophyMinneapolis: U Minnesota Press, 1993.

    • Howie, Gillian.  Deleuze and Spinoza: an Aura of Expressionism.  London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.

    • Hughes, Joe.  Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition: a Reader’s Guide.  London: Continuum, 2009.

    • Hughes, Joe.  Deleuze and the Genesis of Representation.  London: Continuum, 2008.

    • Kennedy, Barbara M.  Deleuze and Cinema: the Aesthetics of Sensation.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2000.

    • Kerslake, Christian.  Deleuze and the Unconscious.  London: Continuum, 2006.

    • Khalfa, Jean.  Introduction to the Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze.  London: Continuum, 2003.

    • Lambert, Gregg.  The Non-Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze.   London: Continuum, 2002.

    • Lambert, Gregg.  “The Deleuzian Critique of Pure Fiction.”  Sub-Stance 84 (1997): .

    • Lecercle, Jean-Jacques.  Philosophy through the Looking GlassHutchinson, 1985.

    • Marks, John.  Gilles Deleuze: Vitalism and Multiplicity.  London: Pluto, 1998.

    • Martin, Jean-Clet.  Variations: la philosophie de Gilles Deleuze.  Paris: Pyot, 1993.

    • Martin-Jones, David.  Deleuze and World Cinemas.  London: Continuum, 2011.

    • Martin-Jones, David.  Why Deleuze?  Deleuze and Visual Culture.  I. B. Taurus, 2007.

    • Martin-Jones, David.  Deleuze, Cinema and National Identity.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2006.

    • Massumi, Brian.  “Deleuze.”  A Companion to Continental PhilosophyEd. Simon Critchley and William R. SchroederOxford: Blackwell, 1998.  559-573.

    • May, Todd.  Gilles Deleuze: an Introduction.  Cambridge: CUP, 2005.
    • Mengue, Phillipe.  Gilles Deleuze ou le système du multiple.  Paris: Kimé, 1994.
    • Olkowski, Dorothy.  Gilles Deleuze and the Ruin of Representation.  Berkeley: U of California P, 1999.
    • Patton, Paul.  Deleuze and the Political.  London: Routledge, 2001.
    • Pisters, Patricia.  The Matrix of Visual Culture: Working with Deleuze in Film Theory.  Stanford: Stanford UP, 2003.
    • Powell, Anna.  Deleuze and the Horror Film.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2005.
    • Protevi, John.  Political Physics: Deleuze, Derrida and the Body Politic.  London: Continuum / Athlone, 2001.
    • Rajchman, John.  The Deleuze Connections.  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000.
    • Rich, Jennifer.  “Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995).”  Twentieth-Century European Cultural Theorists.  2nd Series.  Vol. 296 of Dictionary of Literary Biography.  Ed. Paul Hansom.  Detroit: Gale, 2004.  82-90.

    • Rodowick, David.  Gilles Deleuze’s Time Machine.  Durham: Duke UP, 1997.

    • Sedgwick, Peter.  The Philosophy of Deleuze.  Montreal: McGill-Queen’s UP, 2005.

    • Schrift, Alan D.  “Deleuze: Putting Nietzsche to Work: Genealogy, Will to Power, and Other Desiring Machines.”  Nietzsche’s French Legacy: a Genealogy of PoststructuralismLondon: Routledge, 1995.  60-81.

    • Welchman, Alistair.  “Into the Abyss: Deleuze.”  Edinburgh Encyclopedia of Continental Philosophy.  Ed. Simon Glendenning.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1999.  615-627.

    • Wicks, Robert.  “Gilles Deleuze, Philosopher and Social Psychologist (`925-1990).”  Modern French Philosophy: from Existentialism to Postmodernism.  Oxford: Oneworld, 2003.  269-278.

    • Williams, James.  Gilles Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition: a Critical Introduction and Guide.  Edinburgh: U of Edinburgh P, 2004.
    • Žižek, Slavoj.  Organs Without Bodies: Deleuze and Consequences. London: Routledge, 2004.
    • Zourabichvili, François.  Deleuze: Une philosphie de l’événement.  Paris: PUF, 1994.








 ANCIENT PERIOD (c.700 BCE - c. 350 BCE)
Ancient (Classical) Thought
Ancient Feminist Thought / Feminist Perspectives on Ancient Thought and Literature
Ancient Non-Western Thought / Postcolonial Perspectives on Ancient Thought and Literature
 MEDIEVAL PERIOD (c.300 - c.1400)
Medieval Thought
Medieval Feminist Thought / Feminist Perspectives on Medieval Thought
Medieval Non-Western Thought / Postcolonial Perspectives on Medieval Thought
 RENAISSANCE PERIOD (c.1400 - c.1600)
Renaissance Thought
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Renaissance Non-Western Thought / Postcolonial Perspectives on Renaissance Thought
 EARLY MODERN PERIOD (c.1600 - c.1785)
Early Modern Thought
Early Modern Feminist Thought / Feminist Perspectives on Early Modern Thought
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 THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (c.1785 - c.1890)
Nineteenth Century Thought:
19th Century Feminist Thought / Feminist Perspectives on 19th Century Thought
19th Century Non-Western Thought / Postcolonial Perspectives on 19th Century Thought

Romantic and Neo-Romantic Literature and Literary Theory (c.1785 – c.1830)

‘Victorian’ Literature and Literary Theory (Mid-Nineteenth Century and Fin-de-Siecle)  (c.1830 – c.1900)
Twentieth Century Thought:
Twentieth Century Feminist Theory:
Twentieth Century Postcolonial Theory:
Analytic Philosophy Analytic Feminist Philosophy Analytic Postcolonial Philosophy
Anglo-American Formalism: Anglo-American Feminist Literary Theory (Modernist, Mythological, Neo-Aristotelian and New Critical) Postcolonial Literary Theory (Modernist, Mythological, Neo-Aristotelian and New Critical)
Myth Criticism
New Criticism
Neo-Aristotelianism (Chicago School)
Continental Theory: Continental Feminist Theory: Continental Postcolonial Theory:
Marxism: Marxist Feminist Theory Marxist Postcolonial Theory
Frankfurt School of Critical Theory
New York Intellectuals
Phenomenology: Phenomenological / Existentialist / Hermeneutical Feminist Theory Phenomenological / Existentialist / Hermeneutical Postcolonial Theory
Existentialist Phenomenology (Existentialism)
Hermeneutical Phenomenology
Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalytic Feminist Theory Psychoanalytic Postcolonial Theory
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(Post-)Structuralisms: (Post-)Structuralist Feminist Theory (Post-)Structuralist Postcolonial Theory
Derridean Deconstruction
Deleuzean Theory
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Saussurean Semiology / Structuralism
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Pragmatism Pragmatist Feminist Theory Pragmatist African American Theory
Twentieth Century Literature
African and African Diasporic Literature and Literary Theory
African and African Diasporic Feminist Theory
Central Asian Thought1
East Asian Thought:2
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East Asian Literature and Literary Theory
South Asian Thought:3
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South Asian Literature and Literary Theory
South East Asian Thought4
Australasian Literature and Literary Theory
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Canadian Literature and Literary Theory
Canadian Feminist Theory
Caribbean Literature and Literary Theory
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Central European Thought5
Eastern European Thought6:
Russian Thought:
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Northern European (Scandinavian) Thought7
Southern European Thought:8
Greek Thought
Italian Thought:
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Spanish Thought:
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UK and Eire: British and Irish Thought:
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Slavoj Žižek On 9/11: New Yorkers faced the fire in the minds of men

World Trade CenterTwo Hollywood films mark 9/11’s fifth anniversary: Paul Greengrass’s United 93 and Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center. Both adopt a terse, realistic depiction of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. There is undoubtedly a touch of authenticity to them and most critics have praised their sober styles and avoidance of sensationalism. But it is the touch of authenticity that raises some disturbing questions.

The realism means that both films are restrained from taking a political stance and depicting the wider context of the events. Neither the passengers on United 93 nor the policemen in WTC grasp the full picture. All of a sudden they find themselves in a terrifying situation and have to make the best out of it.

This lack of “cognitive mapping” is crucial. All we see are the disastrous effects, with their cause so abstract that, in the case of WTC, one can easily imagine exactly the same film in which the twin towers would have collapsed as the result of an earthquake. What if the same film took place in a bombed high-rise building in Beirut? That’s the point: it cannot take place there. Such a film would have been dismissed as “subtle pro-Hizbullah terrorist propaganda”. The result is that the political message of the two films resides in their abstention from delivering a direct political message. It is the message of an implicit trust in one’s government: when under attack, one just has to do one’s duty.

This is where the problem begins. The omnipresent invisible threat of terror legitimises the all-too-visible protective measures of defence. The difference of the war on terror from previous 20th-century struggles, such as the cold war, is that while the enemy was once clearly identified as the actually existing communist system, the terrorist threat is spectral. It is like the characterisation of Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction: most people have a dark side, she had nothing else. Most regimes have a dark oppressive spectral side, the terrorist threat has nothing else.

The power that presents itself as being constantly under threat and thus merely defending itself against an invisible enemy is in danger of becoming a manipulative one. Can we really trust those in power, or are they evoking the threat to discipline and control us? Thus, the lesson is that, in combating terror, it is more crucial than ever for state politics to be democratically transparent. Unfortunately, we are now paying the price for the cobweb of lies and manipulations by the US and UK governments in the past decade that reached a climax in the tragicomedy of the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Recall August’s alert and the thwarted attempt to blow up a dozen planes on their way from London to the US. No doubt the alert was not a fake; to claim otherwise would be paranoiac. But a suspicion remains that it was a self-serving spectacle to accustom us to a permanent state of emergency. What space for manipulation do such events – where all that is publicly visible are the anti-terrorist measures themselves – open up? Is it not that they simply demand too much from us, the ordinary citizen: a degree of trust that those in power lost long ago? This is the sin for which Bush and Blair should never be forgiven.

What, then, is the historical meaning of 9/11? Twelve years earlier, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin wall fell. The collapse of communism was perceived as the collapse of political utopias. Today, we live in a post-utopian period of pragmatic administration, since we have learned the hard lesson of how noble political utopias can end in totalitarian terror. But this collapse of utopias was followed by 10 years of the big utopia of global capitalist liberal democracy. November 9 thus announced the “happy 90s”, the Francis Fukuyama dream of the “end of history”, the belief that liberal democracy had, in principle, won, that the search was over, that the advent of a global, liberal community was around the corner, that the obstacles to this Hollywood happy ending are merely local pockets of resistance where the leaders have not yet grasped that their time is over.

September 11 is the symbol of the end of this utopia, a return to real history. A new era is here with new walls everywhere, between Israel and Palestine, around the EU, on the US-Mexico and Spain-Morocco borders. It is an era with new forms of apartheid and legalised torture. As President Bush said after September 11, America is in a state of war. But the problem is that the US is not in a state of war. For the large majority, daily life goes on and war remains the business of state agencies. The distinction between the state of war and peace is blurred. We are entering a time in which a state of peace itself can be at the same time a state of emergency.

When Bush celebrated the thirst for freedom in post-communist countries as a “fire in the minds of men”, the unintended irony was that he used a phrase from Dostoevsky’s The Possessed, where it designates the ruthless activity of radical anarchists who burned a village: “The fire is in the minds of men, not on the roofs of houses.” What Bush didn’t grasp is that on September 11, five years ago, New Yorkers saw and smelled the smoke from this fire.


Slavoj Zizek is international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities,

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