Alain Badiou on the COVID-19 Pandemic

SubSense

From the start, I thought that the current situation, characterised by a viral pandemic, was not particularly exceptional. From the (viral) pandemic of AIDS, and passing through the avian flu, the Ebola virus, and the SARS 1 virus – not to mention several flus, the appearance of strains of tuberculosis that antibiotics can no longer cure, or even the return of measles – we know that the world market, combined with the existence of vast under-medicalised zones and the lack of global discipline when it comes to the necessary vaccinations, inevitably produces serious and devastating epidemics (in the case of AIDS, several million deaths). Besides the fact that the current pandemic situation is having a huge impact on the rather comfortable so-called Western world – a fact in itself devoid of any novel significance, eliciting instead dubious laments and revolting idiocies on social media – I didn’t see why, beyond…

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The Ultimate Kernel of Deleuze’s Ontological Proposition: Univocity of Being

With Deleuze the Cartesian mind-body dualism has been replaced by body-language dualism. Without being too insistent about it at this initial stage I would like to hint at where the relationship between these dualisms is heading. I propose, therefore, what Deleuze has already pointed out, namely a new possibility of investigating the nature of dialectics... Continue Reading →

32 Contemplative Hegel Quotes

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (born August 27, 1770, Stuttgart, Württemberg (now Germany) – died November 14, 1831, Berlin) was a German philosopher and one of the founding figures of German Idealism. Based on Immanuel Kant’s transcendental idealism and Rousseau’s politics, Hegel created an elaborate system of philosophy which included history, art, ethics, and religion. Apart from... Continue Reading →

From Hegel to Nietzsche: The Revolution in the Nineteenth Century Thought by Karl Löwith

As part of our mission to provide humanity with free educational services, we hereby present to you this marvelous book—a groundbreaking achievement in the study of history of philosophy indeed—with a glee which we can hardly contain to say the least... Beginning with an examination of the relationship between Hegel and Goethe, Löwith discusses how... Continue Reading →

Towards a New Concept of Existence by Alain Badiou

Alain Badiou’s Philosophy in a Nutshell before the Immanence of Truths

[…]

We can apply to existence the formal remarks of the previous part of my lecture.  If, for instance, the degree of identity of a thing to itself is the maximal degree, we can say that the thing exists in the world without any limitation.  The multiplicity, in this world, completely affirms its own identity.  Symmetrically, if the degree of identity of a thing to itself is the minimal degree, we can say that this thing does not exist in this world.  The thing is in the world, but with an intensity which is equal to zero.  So we can say that its existence is a non-existence.  We have here a striking example of the distinction between being and existence.  The thing is in the world, but its appearance in the world is the destruction of its identity.  So the being-there of this being is to be the inexistent of the world.  The theory of the inexistent of a world is very important.  I have shown that the situation of the inexistent is fundamental in Jacques Derrida’s work.

Often, the existence of a multiplicity in a world is neither maximal nor minimal.  The multiplicity exists to some extent.

To conclude I would summarize this abstract theory with a question linked to the concept of existence: the question of death.

To understand the question of death, it is essential to remember that it is only by its being-there that a being exists, and that this existence is that of a degree of existence, situated between inexistence and absolute existence.  Existence is both a logical concept and an intensive concept.  It is this duel status that permits us to rethink death.

We are first tempted to say that a thing is dead when, in the world of reference, its degree of existence is minimal, or when it inexists in this world.  Asserting that a thing is dead would be tantamount to concluding that identity of the thing to itself is equal to the minimal degree.  This would also means that death is the absolute non-identity to self.  But absolute non-identity to self defines inexistence, and not death.  Death must be something other as inexistence, because death happens, and this « happening » necessarily concerns an existent, and not the inexistent of the world.  We  define death as the coming of a minimal value of existence for a thing endowed with a positive evaluation of its identity, and not the minimal value as such.  All that can be asserted of “dying” is that it is a change in appearing, the effect of which is that a thing passes from an existence with a positive intensity—even if it is not maximal—to an existence that is minimal, that is to say null relatively to the world.  The whole problem is what does such a passage consist of? We limit ourselves to two remarks.

1) The passage from one identity or existence value to another cannot be an immanent effect of the multiplicity concerned.  For this being has precisely no other immanence to the situation, and consequently to its own identity, as its degree of existence.  The passage is necessarily the result of an exterior cause, which affects, locally or globally, the logical evaluations, or the laws of the Being-there-in-the-world.  In other words, what occurs in death is a change in the identity function of a given multiple.  This change is always imposed on the dying thing, and this imposition comes from outside the thing.  The precise proposition is Spinoza’s: “No thing whatever can be destroyed, except by an exterior cause.”  So it is impossible to say of a multiple that it is “mortal”.

2) It follows that the meditation of death is in itself vain, as Spinoza also declares: “The free man thinks of nothing less than of his death, and his wisdom is a meditation on life, and not a meditation on death.”  It is because death is only a consequence.  What thought must turn towards is the event which locally transforms the identity function.

All of this indicates why we cannot agree with a philosophy of mortality and finitude.  There is no ontological status of death.  Of no existent we can say that it is a “being-for-death”.  Because existence is a transcendental degree and nothing else, we must ask with Saint Paul: “Death, where is thy victory?”  Dying, exactly like existing, is a mode of being-there, and therefore a purely logical correlation.  The philosophy of death is included in one sentence: Do not be afraid by the logic of a world, or by the games of existence.  We are living and dying in many different worlds.

Alain Badiou’s Biography

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This piece originally appeared in lacanian ink 29, which is now sold out.

SubSense

Tonight I am not going to engage in any kind of criticism.  Instead, I intend to propose a new concept of existence.  And I shall be as abstract as this intention forces me to be.  You can find a less arid but not complete exposition in a chapter of my “Briefings on Existence,” and a complete one in my last book, Logiques des mondes, which is out in French and will be published in English at the end of next year, I hope.

As all of you know perfectly well, the fundamental problem is to distinguish on the one hand, being as such, being qua being, and, on the other hand, existence, as a category which precisely is not reducible to that of being.  It is the heart of the matter.  This difference between being and existence is often the result of the consideration of a special type of…

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Theodor Adorno: Ontology and Dialectics

DOWNLOAD “Adorno’s lectures on ontology and dialectics from 1960-61 comprise his most sustained and systematic analysis of Heidegger’s philosophy. They also represent a continuation of a project that Adorno shared with Walter Benjamin – ‘to annihilate Heidegger’. Following the publication of Heidegger’s magnum opus, Being and Time,and long before his notorious endorsement of Nazism at... Continue Reading →

Badiou and Hegel: Infinity, Dialectics, Subjectivity by Jim Vernon and Antonio Calcagno

DOWNLOAD "Badiou and Hegel: Infinity, Dialectics, Subjectivity offers critical appraisals of two of the dominant figures of the Continental tradition of philosophy, Alain Badiou and G.W.F. Hegel. Jim Vernon and Antonio Calcagno bring together established and emerging authors in Continental philosophy to discuss the relationship between the thinkers, creating a multifarious collection of essays by... Continue Reading →

The Occult: A History by Colin Wilson

The Occult will shake the foundation of your being like an earthquake shakes the ground beneath your feet, thereby leading you to be who you really are--or rather capable of becoming--if you can gather the strength to endure the shock of truth and find the courage within to let it set you free from your... Continue Reading →

Slavoj Zizek: Sex and the Failed Absolute [Audio | Video]

"In his new book entitled "Sex and the Failed Absolute" #SlavojZizek returns to his philosophical roots and addresses the very basic question: how is reality structured so that something like human subjectivity can arise in it? His paradoxical answer is that for humans sexual difference offers the privileged access to the #Absolute, and he grounds... Continue Reading →

Collected eBook Library of Slavoj Žižek

1989, The Sublime Object of Ideology 1991, For They Know Not What They Do 1991, Looking Awry 1992, Enjoy Your Symptom! 1993, Tarrying With the Negative 1994, The Metastases of Enjoyment 1995, Mapping Ideology 1996, The Indivisible Remainder 1997, The Abyss of Freedom 1997, The Plague of Fantasies 1999, The Ticklish Subject 2000, The Art... Continue Reading →

Slavoj Žižek: Alienated to the Core and Loving It [Video]

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VALIS by Philip K. Dick [AudioBook]   High-Rise by J.G. Ballard   Slavoj Zizek Retroactively Reading Signs From the Future     Vem Kan Segla Förutan Vind [Who Can Sail Without the Wind] ~ Kira Skov & DR PigeKoret   Slavoj Žižek: The Effects of Capitalist Dynamics and the Causes of Depression   Slavoj Žižek:... Continue Reading →

The Unhappy Consciousness, or, Stoics and Sceptics Locked in Klein’s Projection-Introjection Mechanism (Audio)

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A Conversation Around Nietzsche Between a Stoic and a Sceptic [Audio]

Scripture

Science and Metaphysics in The Matrix and eXistenZ

| Listen on YouTube | Download PDF | In his Organs Without Bodies Slavoj Žižek points out Deleuze’s emphasis on the passage from metaphor and towards metamorphosis in terms of the difference between “machines replacing humans” and the “becoming-machine of humans.” The problem is not how to reduce mind to neuronal “material” processes (to replace the... Continue Reading →

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