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27 of 36 found the following review helpful:
Badiou At His ClearestJan 11, 2010
By Nin Chan
There is a line in 'Logics of Worlds' that is as astonishing as it is clear, delineating in a precise form the problematic that Badiou has attempted to tackle throughout his philosophical engagements. What Badiou has attempted to do, through the use of mathematic writing, is extricate thought from the correlationist snare of 'co-propriation', the subject-object dyad that has confined thinking to the situational confines of time and locality. In short, he has attempted to produce two concepts that, while separate, entertain a relation with one another- an objectless subject and a subjectless object. This is the book that illuminates the import of 'Being and Event' while re-evaluating/updating some of its foundational axioms. Read alongside 'Theory of the Subject', it establishes, in programmatic fashion, the formal framework of a 'materialist dialectic' that forces an exit out of post-structuralism's multiple impasses.
While preserving many of post-structuralism's Heideggerean insights- being is invariably inscribed in a world, and this world is invariably governed by a transcendental logic that structures/orders its modes of appearance- Badiou refuses to accord them any primacy whatsoever. In contradistinction to those who posit the a priori nature of transcendental correlation, which subjects objectivity to the mediation of language, consciousness and so on, Badiou follows Meillasoux in constructing a realist theory of the object that locates logicality in the world itself, free from any conscious percipient. This, as Badiou makes clear, is the intra-worldly logic of the object as such, extricated from its relation to the transcendental subject.
Following this, Badiou proceeds to develop a powerful theory of RELATION, which we can read against the treatment of relationality and articulation in Laclau and Mouffe, Deleuze and his belated epigones. Simply put, Badiou is unequivocal in maintaining that relations, in themselves, create nothing in the orders of being or appearance. Relation is accounted for in the transcendental logic of a world- it exposes already-existing objectivities and relationhips that were unseen from particular vantage points (hence, the affirmation of aboriginal identity against colonial power does not really connote anything new- this solidarity was only regarded as such FROM THE POINT OF VIEW of the colonizer). Relationality, far from creating rhizomatic zones of indiscernibility for all sorts of ontological variations and becomings, often preserves the atomic particularities that are enforced/'policed' by a world's structure. This is to say that relation is exterior to its terms, which remain unaffected by their transit through different relationships. Ultimately, all of these relationships can be mapped onto a logical network, itself explicable by reference to the world's transcendental logic. I can't help but feel that this section, which Badiou explains with the help of clear examples, is among the more rewarding chapters in this formidable tome. The timeliness of this conceptualization cannot be understated, particularly when we think of the pre-eminence of relationality in today's 'network' world.
Now, what of the objectless subject? As we already know, Badiou's retrieval of the subject is itself a response to postmodernity's deconstructive dismissal of it. Beginning with Althusser and his creative appropriation of Lacan, we have been told that the 'subject' is a mere place-marker, a function of interpellation that inscribes the living body into an interlocking syndicate of discursive (ideological) and non-discursive (institutional) apparatuses. This line of thought, which assumes as its point of departure Heidegger's insistence that being-in-the-world is always situated in a specific ontical horizon, affirms that the subject is inseparable from the worldly, 'objective' determinants that he is embedded and immersed in. Badiou accepts this, but he is unwilling to dignify such a figure with the name 'subject'. Such a function remains within the regime of objectivity, the order that is prescribed by the world. If you are familiar with 'Being and Event', you should already be sensitive to the thesis that subjectivity is that which irrupts from the void of any existing situation, tearing a 'hole in sense' that is irreducible to discursive meaning.
As Badiou states in the introduction, 'there are bodies and languages, EXCEPT there are truths'. To the 'bad infinity' of capitalist immanence and its endless proliferation of language games and commodified subjectivities, Badiou introduces the notion of truth as an interruptive exception that fractures every existing frame of reference. In Badiou's formulation, a truth is effectively 'other-worldly'- it punctures the fabric of every transcendental logic, revealing a properly senseless excess of being over appearing. If discourse is that which legislates over what is permissible in the realm of appearance, then truth is consummately 'illegal', forcing the presence of that which, prior to its evental upsurgence, was consigned to the oblivion of in-apparence.
To be faithful to this truth is to give form to this inchoate in-apparent by supplementing and elaborating upon it through a variety of militant truth procedures, each of which is punctuated by a series of 'points'. Such 'points', which reduce the complexity and indeterminacy of the multiple to a decision of the Two, mark the cleavage between fidelity and betrayal, creating a topological space that separates truth's subjective interiority from its worldly outside. Ultimately, the book answers, in a much clearer fashion than its predecessor did, two questions that Badiou had formulated from the outset: What is the nature of the New? What constitutes a real change, a change that outlines, in however vague a fashion, the possibility of a world that is commensurate to our desire?
Some have said that Badiou merely mobilizes set theory and formal logic to 'mathematize' his political agenda. I think that this book is unlikely to convince those who remain unsympathetic to his political commitments, which hold doggedly to certain Maoist principles. It is a lot more explicit about Badiou's ethics of commitment, a position that is supplemented by a much-needed discussion on Badiou's relationship with Sartre and Kierkegaard. It is here that Badiou tells us exactly what he meant when he affirmed the Eternality of a Truth- if, as "Theory of the Subject" affirms, 'There is no History' and truth is effectively trans-temporal (Eternal), then we can put forth the (somewhat Benjaminian) thesis that 'history' designates a 'readable succession of eternity's fragments', each of which can be retrieved, resurrected and subjectivated IN THE PRESENT. Whatever your political inclinations, I have to say that the systematicity of this book is virtually unparalleled in contemporary philosophy- the typologies that Badiou devises to distinguish various modalities and intensities of change are applicable to a broad range of practices, whether you are a militant, a lover, a scientist or an artist.
32 of 47 found the following review helpful:
an admirable sequel to 'Being and Event'Aug 23, 2009
By Christopher Kingman
"Philosopher / Revolutionary"
I generally find reviews of books that simply recapitulate what the book contains distasteful--I usually try to censor myself from exuberently ejaculating about the books I like and only write reviews when I have something pithy and useful to say about a book that hasn't already been said. Reviews on Amazon should give clear indications as to why one should (or perhaps shouldn't) read the book in question... Having said that, I note with disappointment that concerning this truly monumental work, 'Logics of Worlds', there is a paucity of useful descriptive material to discern what this book is about and why one should read it. In the interest of closing that gap, I offer these few (perhaps inadequate) thoughts.
Of course, the effort of (perhaps) convincing others to read this book is handicapped from the start, as this book is truly a philosophical sequel to Being and Event. As the other reviewer has correctly (though obliquely) noted, if you have not read 'Being and Event' much of 'Logics of Worlds' may remain obscure. Thus, the reviewer of 'Logics of Worlds' is in a double bind. Either the potential reader HAS already read 'Being and Event', is already familiar with Badiou's work and thus already knows whether or not they find his thought worth pursuing, and thus knows whether or not they want to read this book (the only thing to add here is that 'Logics of Worlds' is as central to Badiou's work as 'Being and Event', and if you are serious about understanding him, you have to read it). On the other hand, if one has not already read 'Being and Event', the most useful advice to be given is to go read that book first. Either way, a review that goes beyond simply stating this much is, in a certain sense, obsolete.
Nonetheless, I will carry on with this Sisyphean task for the benefit of the curious, and attempt to provide a brief overview of what this book contains. Whereas 'Being and Event' articulated Badiou's (mathematical) ontology (or theory of being-qua-being) based on axiomatic set theory--in the process profoundly rethinking the old philosophical categories of Being, Event, Truth, and Subject--Badiou is here concerned with elaborating a phenomenology of appearance (or theory of situated being or being-there). In this effort, Badiou draws resources from contemporary category theory to develop what he calls a Greater Logic. If mathematical set theory is really a theory of ontology, then in the same way, logic is a theory of appearance. This allows Badiou to elaborate on the notion of a 'World' (what in 'Being and Event' were termed situations), or the situatedness of being as it appears (or is-there) in determinate worlds, and how this affects being-in-itself.
If the conceptual trajectory of 'Being and Event' reworked the old philosophical concepts of Being, Event, Truth, and Subject, then 'Logics of Worlds' allows Badiou to traverse (and rehabilitate in new ways) the concepts of Transcendental, Object, Relation, Body, and of course, World. Along the way, Badiou offers substantial revision/extension to the concepts of Subject and Event. In particular, Badiou elaborates a typology of subjective forms: in addition to the faithful Subject (as elaborated in 'Being and Event'), there is also the reactive subject and the obscure subject. In this way Badiou accounts for how the illumination, enthusiasm, and enchantment of being a Subject of an evental Truth are sometimes employed or mobilized by reactive or destructive subjects in an effort to deny or erase Events and their Truths. Similarly, Badiou elaborates a typology of Events, or rather almost-Events, a typology of changes in worlds that don't quite constitute true Events.
Badiou's general philosophical thrust is always materialist, which may make it seem counter-intuitive that he relies so extensively on the abstract formalisms of mathematics and logic. However, this formalism is always at the service of examining concrete situations (or worlds) to discern what sort of Truths are capable within them. In this respect, one of the interesting didactic strategies of 'Logics of Worlds' (as a "phenomenolgy") is an abundance of examples of different worlds and how the conceptual apparatuses elaborated apply to them: the world of an autumn landscape, the world of a classical painting, the world of the political sequence of Paris in 1871 (the Paris Commune), the world of a lovers' relationship (via a novel of Rousseau's), the world of algebra in the early 19th century... Thus, if one found 'Being and Event' interesting, but struggled to connect its austere formalism to "everyday life", 'Logics of Worlds' elaborates every concept not only formally but also via the detour through (several) concrete worlds.
Thus, the book concludes with a brief but dense inquiry into the question "What is it to Live?", the animating inquiry sustaining every genuine philosophical endeavor. Badiou's answer is that one should unashamedly "Live for an Idea" and his theoretical work (the whole of 'Being and Event' and 'Logics of Worlds') serve to provide the conceptual means to discern how that is to be done. Which, if one is willing to follow him, is an admirable and commendable philosophical achivement.
BADIOU'S CLEAREST "THOUGHT-PICTURE"Jul 14, 2013
BADIOU'S CLEAREST "THOUGHT-PICTURE":Badiou and Zizek are on a mission. They want to be the dominant voices of the post-modern movement; and things are evolving to be just that way.
Badiou has determined to lay down his philosophy in three large volumes of 600 pages each. In 2005, volume one appeared as "being and event". In 2009, this volume appeared as volume two of his overall philosophy. And like the philosopher he truly admires, Hegel; Badiou waited until he had finished these two volumes before writing the "Introduction". That's really the best way to approach an introduction. The introduction was just released this year as "philosophy and the event". You should probably read the small 2013 paperback first, but that's up to you. I did read the paperback first, and it is extremely helpful for understanding this second volume of Badiou's system.
So what is a logic, according to the Hegelian scheme of things? (By the way, Badiou has a love/hate relationship to Hegel; loves his psychology, hates his ontology). A "logic" is to articulate the entire process within psychology that leads up to the positing of the "notion". Badiou calls this "notion" a "body", specifically a "new-body-of- truth". He denies all metaphysics and ontologies; and therefore, states that each encounter with a situation, is a fresh encounter with the "true".
he is so detailed in this middle volume that you will have to approach the content slowly. These 600 pages have no "filler-material"; he has something to say. He clarified some major blank spots for me in this volume. The focus of this middle volume is the detail in the explored unconscious that builds the "proposal" for consciousness, along with generating the birth of subjectivity, with its "three" figures. And he also fully articulates "consciousness" and even reveals the secret of his system and gives the reader the praxis-based articulation of "ideological-space"; in series of specific steps (that's very good of him to clear that up). And "positing" gets a wake-up-call!! He gives us the "sequence" of positing not just the singular act.
Now, even though he does not allow you to have an ontology; he does offer his version of that which functions as a "critique": his version of "IDEA". He assigns this reality the concept of "temporal-meta-history; which is the trans-national experiences of liberation and freedom. But, he even gives us the "specifics" again. His opinion of this history contains "4" essential moments:
. The 3rd servile war of 73-71 BC; [2.] the Jacobin club of 1792-1794; [3.] the Finish civil war of 1915-1917; and [4.] China's cultural revolution of 1966-1976. Regardless of their outcome, this history illustrates the "truth-procedure" he is articulating here.
I enjoyed getting so much specific information to answer the finer-points that were missing before.
The "thought-picture" he draws here is one of the most precise I've ever seen. There will be commentaries about this volume in the future. "5" stars all the way.
0 of 8 found the following review helpful:
Excellent ServiceMay 28, 2013
By York College of PA
This was purchased as a gift. The recipient was very pleased with the selection of this text. He will be using it to further his research on Badiou before entering Graduate School.
10 of 61 found the following review helpful:
On logics/worlds--Jun 06, 2009
By D. Vargas
a Work of monstrous import but without reading his Being and Event, logics of worlds is pure cypher--
so, assuming fluency: theory of point, bodies, formalism of the subject, distributivity, antonic worlds, real change etc.
indefinitely extend (extensity) and vitalize his programme:
Materialist Dialectic-- "there are only bodies and languages, except that there are truths!"
freely dis-coursing on His Axiomatic-set theory, 'artifactual philosophy', historical situationalism etc. he sets about lobotomizing the obscure and reactive among us. he remains faithful to his previous iterations while extending it infinitely. stylistically he combines poetics and patient enumeration with incredulous force.
closest to T.O.E. (theory of pas-tout: the 'except that' or everything).
treat this book with proper Fear.