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Stagger
22-05-2009, 12:44 PM
Can anyone here help? I have been browsing the swatches of Deleuze that can be found on the internet. I find it difficult to understand from these what Deleuze is. This, for example, from 'How to make yourself a body without organs':


No longer are there acts to explain, dreams or phantasies to
interpret, childhood memories to recall, words to make signify; instead, there
are colors and sounds, becomings and intensities (and when you become-dog,
don’t ask if the dog you are playing with is a dream or a reality, if it is "your
goddam mother" or something else entirely). There is no longer a Self [Moi]
that feels, acts, and recalls; there is "a glowing fog, a dark yellow mist" that
has affects and experiences movements, speeds.20 The important thing is not
to dismantle the tonal by destroying it all of a sudden. You have to diminish
it, shrink it, clean it, and that only at certain moments. You have to keep it in
order to survive, to ward off the assault of the nagual. For a nagual that
erupts, that destroys the tonal, a body without organs that shatters all the
strata, turns immediately into a body of nothingness, pure self-destruction
whose only outcome is death: "The tonal must be protected at any cost."z’


Is Deleuze a witchdoctor? The question is genuine. If he is not, what is being proposed here?

Mr. Tea
22-05-2009, 01:10 PM
Deleuze is French.

matt b
22-05-2009, 01:27 PM
Surely that extract is self explanatory?

craner
22-05-2009, 01:30 PM
What he's saying is, "woof woof".

craner
22-05-2009, 01:32 PM
That extract sounds more like Guattari going off, I must say.

faustus
22-05-2009, 02:11 PM
there's no point starting with Deleuze's bigger stuff like capitalism and schizophrenia or logic and sense, it's a whole new language.

read D&G's book on Kafka, which is probably the best sustained piece of literary criticism I've ever read

josef k.
22-05-2009, 02:58 PM
I love the title of this thread.

What is Deleuze?

Deleuze is:

“(1) a noise, (2) a proper name, (3) a complex system of ideas, (4) a controlling perception, (5) an instrument of verbal organization, (6) a pretended mode of referring and (7) a source of verbal energy.”

empty mirror
22-05-2009, 03:19 PM
it sounds like the viscous runoff on a delicatessen floor after a long day of slicing meats and cheeses

craner
22-05-2009, 04:05 PM
The worst mistake people make is to start with What is Philosophy? - no, they don't explain it!

empty mirror
22-05-2009, 04:56 PM
^ heidegger?

worse is: what is poetry?

josef k.
22-05-2009, 05:04 PM
Or: What is Dissensus?

massrock
22-05-2009, 05:26 PM
Body without organs = formless warrior?

I always thought as much.

Sick Boy
22-05-2009, 05:32 PM
I thought the body without organs had something to do with potential, like the unrealized you that is still to become (or not). I hardly know anything about Deleuze though.

josef k.
22-05-2009, 05:35 PM
He's the King of the Divan.

Sick Boy
22-05-2009, 05:38 PM
I wonder, is anyone actually going to try and help this poor cunt out at any point in this thread? It is incredible the speed at which some threads descend into recondite tableaux.

josef k.
22-05-2009, 05:52 PM
Deleuze is as Deleuze does.

massrock
22-05-2009, 05:52 PM
It's the eco-gnomic crisis.

craner
22-05-2009, 05:53 PM
wonder, is anyone actually going to try and help this poor cunt out at any point in this thread? It is incredible the speed at which some threads descend into recondite tableaux.


Ha ha, that's what I was thinking! K-Punk would be spinning in his grave, were he dead.

Mr. Tea
22-05-2009, 05:57 PM
it sounds like the viscous runoff on a delicatessen floor after a long day of slicing meats and cheeses

This is brilliant.

josef k.
22-05-2009, 05:59 PM
It is incredible the speed at which some threads descend into recondite tableaux.

Given that he and Guattari invented the ritornello, I don't think Deleuze would be displeased with this outcome.

vimothy
22-05-2009, 06:15 PM
This is probably the best ever title of a thread on Dissensus.

vimothy
22-05-2009, 06:18 PM
/d/ = (HMLT * HTML) + HCC

nomos
22-05-2009, 07:52 PM
Is Deleuze a witchdoctor?
Short answer yes, with an if. Long answer, no with a but.

The question is genuine. If he is not, what is being proposed here?
Genuine answer: Get A Thousand Plateaus, read the Massumi introduction and rhizome chapter a dozen times, experimenting with different levels of wakefulness and sobriety. Don't move on until you can imagine becoming-orchid. Never use the word rhizome in conversation if you want people to keep listening to you. Skip ahead to the part about submarines and re-read the line "never think a smooth space will suffice to save us" (or whatever). Apply to step one. Then start wandering around the rest of it - metalurgists, refrains, war machines, wolf men, etc. Pick one you like and try building yourself a machine with it. If you're happy with the results then try a few more. In that case, be prepared to defend yourself or hide your work because D&G are less fashionable these days, having been replaced by smarter men who keep their socks in kitchen drawers and hang pictures of Stalin over their DVD collections.

Sick Boy
22-05-2009, 07:55 PM
D&G are less fashionable these days, having been replaced by smarter men who keep their socks in kitchen drawers and hang pictures of Stalin over their DVD collections.

http://www.madeinitaly-e.com/sunglassesdolce&gabbana/landing_page_dolce_&_gabbana_1.jpg

franz
22-05-2009, 09:12 PM
i second faustus' suggestion. Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature is a good place to start. as some kind of theoretical backdrop, it's been helpful to me for quite a while now.

i've been wrestling with Mille Plateaux for a few years now... the first chapter seems to be fundamental to the model they are developing... from there they just sort of elaborate in a lot of different directions. the chapter about Nomad Science/State Science was an interesting one (aforementioned stuff about Metallurgy...)... don't have the book in hand now so i can't say precisely what the chapter is called, but i think it's fairly obvious.

as far as the whole Body Without Organs/Organs Without a Body thing goes... i think the basic point is to think of identity boundaries as having a lot of fluidity... affect (and other such energies) having the ability to traverse identities, forming and dissolving 'beings' of various constitutions. a lot of this stuff in and of itself wouldn't distinguish D & G from earlier thinkers, but these sorts of things do seem to form some kind of basis... part of the project seems to be taking on all sorts of different physical phenomena (thermodynamics, migratory patterns, an' good ole rhizomatic root systems) and applying them to questions of identity and other such philosophical concepts...

dunno, it's been a while since i've spent time directly with the feller, but i doubt i'll ever think outside of his massive shadow in my lifetime...

Mr. Tea
22-05-2009, 11:04 PM
/d/ = (HMLT * HTML) + HCC

You've posted this before: what's HCC?

vimothy
23-05-2009, 12:42 AM
Hardcore continuum.

mixed_biscuits
23-05-2009, 12:44 AM
Not Hyderabad Cricket Club, then.

luka
23-05-2009, 01:16 AM
i always got the impression that its carlos castenada for poseurs


not that i would stoop to actually reading the books

faustus
26-05-2009, 10:20 PM
as far as the whole Body Without Organs/Organs Without a Body thing goes... i think the basic point is to think of identity boundaries as having a lot of fluidity... affect (and other such energies) having the ability to traverse identities, forming and dissolving 'beings' of various constitutions. a lot of this stuff in and of itself wouldn't distinguish D & G from earlier thinkers, but these sorts of things do seem to form some kind of basis... part of the project seems to be taking on all sorts of different physical phenomena (thermodynamics, migratory patterns, an' good ole rhizomatic root systems) and applying them to questions of identity and other such philosophical concepts...

i always thought the BwO was best understood in tandem with Foucault's stuff about how modern society/ disciplinary techniques have made the body 'organic' (in a bad way, functional)

poetix
26-05-2009, 10:52 PM
Bergsonism with knobs on.

josef k.
26-05-2009, 11:34 PM
Tyler Durden: Did you know that if you mix equal parts of gasoline and frozen orange juice concentrate you can make napalm?
Narrator: No, I did not know that; is that true?
Tyler Durden: That's right... One could make all kinds of explosives, using simple household items.
Narrator: Really...?
Tyler Durden: If one were so inclined.
Narrator: Tyler, you are by far the most interesting single-serving friend I've ever met... see I have this thing: everything on a plane is single-serving...
Tyler Durden: Oh I get it, it's very clever.
Narrator: Thank you.
Tyler Durden: How's that working out for you?
Narrator: What?
Tyler Durden: Being clever.
Narrator: Great.
Tyler Durden: Keep it up then... Right up.
[Gets up from airplane seat]
Tyler Durden: Now a question of etiquette; as I pass, do I give you the ass or the crotch...?

craner
27-05-2009, 12:54 AM
How did Deleuze stock fall so low?

josef k.
27-05-2009, 12:55 AM
The bewitchments of Zizek and Badiou is one factor... Their politics is more simple then his, more authoritarian, more macho, and ultimately less demanding. They encourage people to continue to be intellectuals, and they privilege the status of intellectuals... which Deleuze doesn't do. They are sources of hope for a new generation of academics looking to displace the incumbents, and they shore-up the claims of the radical academy to constitute the headquarters of militant politics - a status which had been contested by people like Deleuze and Lyotard. And Guattari, whose stock outside the academy intriguingly continues to rise.

craner
27-05-2009, 01:04 AM
That makes a lot of sense, I must say. Though I do agree with Zizek when he said that Guattari was a terrible influence on Deleuze...

josef k.
27-05-2009, 01:10 AM
I cannot agree. Guattari was a beautiful man. After he died, the patients of the experimental clinic La Borde, where he worked, maintained a night of silence in honour of a man who had been a friend to them. Guattari also said:

Yes I believe that there is a multiple people, a people of mutants, a people of potentialities that appears and disappears, that is embodied in social events, literary events, and musical events. I'm often accused of being exaggeratedly, stupidly, stubbornly optimistic, and of not seeing people's wretchedness... I can see it, but... I don't know, perhaps I'm raving, but I think that we're in a period of productivity, proliferation, creation, utterly fabulous revolutions from the viewpoint of this emergence of a people. That's molecular revolution: it isn't a slogan or a program, it's something that I feel, that I live, in meetings, in institutions, in affects, and also through some reflections.

craner
27-05-2009, 01:18 AM
I can see why all those nutcases where so fond of him. Cheers Felix!

I always thought there was a slight Felix and Oscar side to Deleuze and Guattari.

Have you read this book (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Revolution-Ethics-Contemporary-French-Thought/dp/0773531998/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243383445&sr=1-7), by the way? Has anyone?

I have, I thought it was superb.

craner
27-05-2009, 01:20 AM
Very good chapter on Guattari and the anti-psychiatry clinic he was involved in...

josef k.
27-05-2009, 01:28 AM
It does look pretty good.

craner
27-05-2009, 02:10 AM
D&G (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RwFsIR604A)

in full effect! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPC5dQo_Rxk&feature=related)

pajbre
27-05-2009, 07:41 PM
i'm curious, craner, as to why you (and zizek, although zizek less so) think guattari was a bad influence on deleuze?

poetix
27-05-2009, 09:33 PM
(a blog post of today, x-posted here as it seems relevant)

I’ve never come away from any of Deleuze’s texts feeling that I understood any more (about) mathematics than I did when I started. There’s enough in Deleuze about differential calculus, Riemannian manifolds and so on to make you think that there ought, at some point, to be a settling of accounts with mathematical formalization; but the settlement never arrives, and the reader who undertakes (like Manuel DeLanda) to put things in some sort of scientific order must wrestle with the fact that Deleuze’s texts frequently resist such organization through a combination of willed incoherence and masterful pronouncements about the “nomadic” untameability of the matter at hand. They do so with the fine, pleasant and anti-dogmatic intention of evoking a virtual, problematic field behind every conceptual solution or actualization, so that the reader might not be enslaved by a system or held captive by an image of truth. But what is sacrificed by this approach is any experience of what Lacan called the impasse of formalization (Valéry: “Une difficulté est une lumičre. / Une difficulté insurmountable est un soleil.”). It would be illuminating for example to be shown just why the “arborescent” cannot fully comprehend the “rhizomatic”, by means of a demonstration of the exact limit of its ability to do so. As it is, one is sometimes left feeling that some of the most stirring passages of “Capitalism and Schizophrenia” amount to little more than the varied and passionate affirmation of an emotional commitment to untidiness.

There is, nevertheless, something still troubling about Deleuze’s faintly hauntological harping on about old mathematical problematics curtly “obsoleted” by the inhabitants of Cantor’s paradise. Rather than a scientifically normalizing move, DeLanda’s projection of Deleuze’s concerns into the (now not quite so especially) brave new world of chaos and complexity theory can be seen as an attempt to show how science at its very frontiers remains receptive to the Event, continually developing “abnormal” concepts in response to the perennial problems of change, flux and turbulence. Badiou’s account of the (recent, European) history of mathematics is one in which the generation of mathematical novelty occurs through a series of formal impasses resolved by the setting of new foundations: the heroes of this history are the geniuses (collective as may be) who boldly posit new axioms and faithfully elaborate the systems of thought that unfold from them. But the beginnings of chaos theory, as narrated in James Gleick’s tremendously readable Chaos, were to be found in a new assemblage of heterogeneous mathematical techniques, advances in computer technology, problems thrown up by natural science and somewhat maverick metaphorical thinking (e.g. Mandelbrot’s “How long is the coastline of Britain?”). One cannot without distortion represent this development as a militant truth procedure faithful to the vanished trace of an ontological infraction; it seems much closer to Deleuze’s “minor science”, an abnormal enterprise, attending to the little embarrassments of normal theory, that only later submits to regulation by the “royal science” of axiomatics.

I’m reminded here of Lyotard’s suggestion, in The Postmodern Condition, that postmodernity precedes modernity, as the generating matrix of new modernisms. Every modernism is a new foundationalism, albeit often in the guise of a radical undermining of existing foundations; but the postmodern moment is that in which thought and language drift or err away from foundations, forsaking correctness as a criterion in favour of productivity or what Lyotard called “legitimation through paralogy”. It seems that even Badiou, in his call for an “experimental” politics pending the next great foundational upheaval, acknowledges the role of the postmodern moment or modality in the gestation of new modernisms; but for him the role of that moment is precisely to act as a fils conducteur leading towards the revolutionary instant. Deleuze’s “lines of flight”, for better or worse, seem to lead nowhere of the sort.

josef k.
27-05-2009, 10:16 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep

pajbre
27-05-2009, 11:50 PM
poetix, this might sound like a cop out, but i'd suggest that it's not necessarily helpful to read D&G as philosophy per se... it seems like most of the qualms with D&G (and, apparently, especially guattari) revolve around their inability to eventually actualize some kind of coherent scientific or philosophical system (more or less craving an oedipal daddy to assure, no?)

well, i think kodwo eshun has it right when he argues that D&G are more about concept manufacture, 'circuit diagrams of the present.'

kind of an aside, where i went to school there was a half-serious feud between the philosophy dept. and the rhetoric dept (in which much D&G was taught), the rhet. kids basically being seen as too promiscuous, and the philosophy students too moral and imponderable.

josef k.
27-05-2009, 11:53 PM
Deleuze and Guattari teach people how to think for themselves.

Badiou teaches people how to obey, unthinkingly, the fatal seductions of intellectual authority. Which is why so many Badiouvians sound like robots.

faustus
28-05-2009, 02:39 PM
I’ve never come away from any of Deleuze’s texts feeling that I understood any more (about) mathematics than I did when I started. There’s enough in Deleuze about differential calculus, Riemannian manifolds and so on to make you think that there ought, at some point, to be a settling of accounts with mathematical formalization; but the settlement never arrives, and the reader who undertakes (like Manuel DeLanda) to put things in some sort of scientific order must wrestle with the fact that Deleuze’s texts frequently resist such organization through a combination of willed incoherence and masterful pronouncements about the “nomadic” untameability of the matter at hand.

hmmm. well its by no means my area of expertise, but I did once read a very interesting paper linking D&G with geometry, Riemann, etc, and Derrida with algebra, Cantor, Mallarme's stuff on metaphor and number. I could try and remember who it was by if its of any interest (wasnt online though)

poetix
28-05-2009, 04:01 PM
Deleuze and Guattari teach people how to think for themselves.

Nomad this, rhizome that, flavour of the month.


Badiou teaches people how to obey, unthinkingly, the fatal seductions of intellectual authority. Which is why so many Badiouvians sound like robots.

Name two Badiouvians. Give examples of robotic articulation.

josef k.
28-05-2009, 06:28 PM
See above.

poetix
28-05-2009, 08:34 PM
I count, I think, as at most one Badiouvian.

josef k.
28-05-2009, 08:47 PM
One divides into two.

poetix
28-05-2009, 08:54 PM
Both as handsome as can be.

poetix
28-05-2009, 09:07 PM
But you are being silly nevertheless. Deleuze is no better than anyone else for learning how to think for oneself (assuming that this is possible) - unthinking knock-off Deleuziana is as easy to churn out as unthinking knock-off Derridiana, and there's been plenty of both over the past couple of decades. Badiou is nowhere nearly as widely cloned, and is in some respects a good deal more difficult to clone convincingly (have a go, some time, at getting something that looks like a proper philosophical argument to cohere neatly with the formal exposition of some mathematical theme; it's quite a trick). My guess is that the next generation of earnest pasticheurs will jump right over him and go straight for Laruelle.

josef k.
28-05-2009, 09:25 PM
Perhaps so. But Badiou is the leader of the emerging power-block, and the weapon of choice for puritanically-minded modern-day militant intellectuals, like yourself. Cold in here, no? Deleuze vs. Badiou is in some sense a fight between the (academic) philosophers (and their colonized captives) and the (institutionalized) artists (and their curatorial allies). But if you read Deleuze carefully, he doesn't take sides in this futile pseudo-war; Badiou does, asserting authority over other forms of creativity (15 Theses on Contemporary Art) in the name of his troops and the Truth, accessible through "weighty demonstrations" (Being and Event) in the teeth of his sophistic/running-dog enemies. Badiou says, once again: "Philosophy takes command." It takes command because finally it will always come back, with his blessing, to a language (jargon) of sets, of "seizures" of "something that looks like a proper philosophical argument"; a master discourse of capitalized (capitalist?) mediation (Event) in which neighboring fields can be tolerated, but in which the terms of engagement have been settled already. Arrogance, power, and willful self-delusion. Or do you disagree?

poetix
28-05-2009, 10:51 PM
Perhaps so. But Badiou is the leader of the emerging power-block

I think this is a hallucination. The up-and-coming thing in academic philosophy is, by all accounts, speculative realism. Latour's getting some serious play at present. Badiou is where, exactly? Nowhere amongst artists, who find him inimical to their creative freedom (yuck! maths!). Nowhere in literature departments, which are still ostentatiously voiding the last traces of their former infatuation with Advanced Notions. Is there a Badiouian school of architecture? Of music? Ironically enough, he seems most popular with the theologians.


, and the weapon of choice for puritanically-minded modern-day militant intellectuals, like yourself. Cold in here, no?

I think you'll struggle to find the thematics of "coldness" and affective withdrawal developed at length anywhere in Badiou. It's really not his tone.


Deleuze vs. Badiou is in some sense a fight between the (academic) philosophers (and their colonized captives) and the (institutionalized) artists (and their curatorial allies).

Well, I'm all for putting the boot into artists*. But not, I hope, in the name of academic philosophy.

* Joyce: "I am an olive - squeeze me".


But if you read Deleuze carefully, he doesn't take sides in this futile pseudo-war; Badiou does, asserting authority over other forms of creativity (15 Theses on Contemporary Art) in the name of his troops and the Truth, accessible through "weighty demonstrations" (Being and Event) in the teeth of his sophistic/running-dog enemies. Badiou says, once again: "Philosophy takes command." It takes command because finally it will always come back, with his blessing, to a language of sets, of "seizures" of "something that looks like a proper philosophical argument"; a master discourse of mediation in which neighboring fields can be tolerated, but in which the terms of engagement have been settled already. Arrogance, power, and willful self-delusion. Or do you disagree?

Again this notion that what the "weighty demonstrations" demonstrate is supposed to be "the Truth" - that Badiou is gifting his readers with the esoteric knowledge of forms, elevating them to a position of supposed intellectual authority. This is a very severe, and I suspect malicious, misreading. What one gets out of slogging through such demonstrations may be sublime - it's great when the penny drops - but it doesn't, in my experience, leave one with the feeling that one now understands reality better than other people. What Badiou calls "truths" are not accessible through the solitary study of settled mathematical topics. They are the coming into being of new forms, not the private comprehension of elite knowledge. None of Badiou's books communicates, or claims to communicate, a single "truth" of this kind.

Undoubtedly, Badiou's a Platonist. Philosophy for him is not a "form of creativity"; it's fundamentally not the same sort of thing as music, poetry or daubing yourself with woad. The arts are a "condition" for philosophy, and "theses" on art are a means by which philosophy can reflect on its own conditions and pose problems - or, better still, insurmountable difficulties - for artists. But the philosopher creates nothing - philosophy is in this sense a wholly second-order discourse. If philosophy "takes command", what it takes command of is - fleetingly - itself. It cannot hope to legislate over the domain of its conditions.

Deleuze has a more energetic notion of the relation between philosophy and the arts, one in which philosophers and artists (or psychiatrists) enliven each other's creative work by liberating "flows" in both directions. That's nice and non-antagonistic and all, but no more particularly immune to effects of institutional authority and the power of big publicity machines than any other arrangement. "Libidinal flow" can be a convenient cant for the circulation of hype.

vimothy
29-05-2009, 12:36 AM
Whar does maths have to do with Badiou?

josef k.
29-05-2009, 12:39 AM
Sorry, what?

vimothy
29-05-2009, 12:47 AM
I mean, why maths?

josef k.
29-05-2009, 12:55 AM
The "what" was directed towards the proud dysphoric.

vimothy
29-05-2009, 01:04 AM
But still, I can't help but think of xkcd...

http://www.mcs.vuw.ac.nz/courses/MATH207/2008T2/purity.png

vimothy
29-05-2009, 01:11 AM
And still more -- it is possible to "read" an author in a variety of ways. Where is any author in our reading of them? Perhaps their location is not that important, nor ever really the point.

josef k.
29-05-2009, 03:22 AM
Aditya Nigam: "Some years ago I had heard Alain Badiou speak in Princeton. There the audience was not communist. And it was not a ticketed show but free. There were Palestinians, north Africans and many others in the hall and Cornell West on the dias. Badiou, the French radical philosopher found himself beseiged after his talk – during the question answer session. Badiou had spoken grandly of why “9/11 was not an Event because it did not enunciate anything new” – a particularly Badiouan notion of event this. Half an hour into his talk, he was smuggling in old universalisms into his exposition, representing 9/11 as Evil. A woman student, possibly Palestinian, got up to ask him why then was Osama bin Laden considered a hero among a large number of people across the world. (By the way, I had been told just a few days ago by Sinclair Thomson of New York University, who had just returned from Bolivia that pictures of bin Laden and Che Guevara could be seen together in many places in the Bolivian capital.) Badiou, ably assisted by Cornell West tried in vain to answer her, giving rise to more and more questions in the process till someone asked: ”What then does your universalism say regarding this complete lack of ability to understand the other?”

josef k.
29-05-2009, 06:47 AM
Brian Massumi: "The annals of official philosophy are populated by "bureaucrats of pure reason" who speak "in the shadow of the despot" and are in historical complicity with the State. They invent a "properly spiritual... absolute State... that effectively functions in the mind. Theirs is the discourse of sovereign judgment, of stable subjectivity legislated by "good" sense, of rocklike identity, "universal" truth and (white male) justice. "Thus the exercise of their thought is in conformity with the aims of the real State, the dominant significations, and with the requirements of the established order."

poetix
29-05-2009, 07:49 AM
What does maths have to do with Badiou?

When Deleuze talks about Riemannian manifolds, the notion - although precise in its mathematical conception - is left formally unexplicated, and operates primarily as a metaphor. When Badiou tells you that "a world" is a Grothendieck topos, he goes to somewhat exhausting lengths to show you in precisely what sense this can be said to be so. Showing one's workings is not an authoritarian trait.

The notion that careful reasoning is the hallmark of bureacratic power-mongering is too stupid for words. To quote Cathal Coughlan: "They don't want reason. They want obedience".

Dial
29-05-2009, 08:22 AM
Brian Massumi: "The annals of official philosophy are populated by "bureaucrats of pure reason" who speak "in the shadow of the despot" and are in historical complicity with the State. They invent a "properly spiritual... absolute State... that effectively functions in the mind. Theirs is the discourse of sovereign judgment, of stable subjectivity legislated by "good" sense, of rocklike identity, "universal" truth and (white male) justice. "Thus the exercise of their thought is in conformity with the aims of the real State, the dominant significations, and with the requirements of the established order."


Peter Hallward: "The supervision of places and functions is the business of what Ranciere calls the 'police'; a political sequence begins, then, when this supervision is interrupted so as to allow a properly anarchic disruption of function and place, a sweeping de-classification of speech".


"Either you are taken in by a universal that is someone else's, that is you trust some idea of citizenship and equality as it operates in a society that in fact denies you these things, or you feel you must radically denounce the gap between idea and fact, usually by recourse to some identitarian logic. At this point, though, whatever you manage to achieve comes because you show yourself to belong to this identity. It's very difficult, but that politics consists of refusing this dilemma and putting the universal under stress. Politics involves pushing both other's universal and one's own particularity to the point where each comes to contradict itself". (Jacques Ranciere in conversation with PH)

Edit: I thought it was time somebody mentioned Ranciere.

pajbre
29-05-2009, 08:26 AM
When Deleuze talks about Riemannian manifolds, the notion - although precise in its mathematical conception - is left formally unexplicated, and operates primarily as a metaphor. When Badiou tells you that "a world" is a Grothendieck topos, he goes to somewhat exhausting lengths to show you in precisely what sense this can be said to be so. Showing one's workings is not an authoritarian trait.




true but demanding scientific/empirical coherence from what is more or less a creative act is somewhat authoritarian.

tbh i think that framing this conversation as oppositional isn't particularly helpful... lacan through guattari is much more like a continuum and the side-taking that happens both in and out of the academy is b.s. posturing. zizek being a culprit of this for sure.

as a side note, in an interview deleuze tells a story about how after the publication of anti oedipus, lacan summoned him to his office and spoke approvingly of the book, saying 'what i need is someone like you.'

vimothy
29-05-2009, 09:59 AM
The notion that careful reasoning is the hallmark of bureacratic power-mongering is too stupid for words.

Has anyone actually said that? It's certainly not a position I hold -- in fact I work for quantitative maths ed researchers who would commit seppuku if accused of lacking "careful reasoning", and am studying for a maths degree in my spare time.

poetix
29-05-2009, 11:55 AM
true but demanding scientific/empirical coherence from what is more or less a creative act is somewhat authoritarian.

I think it's a false opposition. Badiou's position would be that any worthwhile creation is a straitening, something that arrives at its own coherence (Geoffrey Hill: "the poem moves grudgingly to its extreme form"). This isn't a question of measuring up to an external norm, or satisfying an examiner...

vimothy
29-05-2009, 12:56 PM
The discourse of mathematics -- and its attendants (rigour, proof, etc) -- is important. Within Badiou’s philosophical discourse, I’d venture, mathematics has a precise function, which is not equal to its ostensible function of the production of scientific knowledge, proof, hypothesis testing, formality and so on, but rather operates as a signal: “proof” is its meaning, as well as its function.

But of course – why should Badiou be any different from any other thinker? And let us not be for or against a particular thinker, whether Guattari, Badiou, Deleuze or anyone else – that really would be too stupid, or worse, boring, for words.

Buick6
29-05-2009, 03:14 PM
Isn't Deleuze the poster boy for asexuals as they traverse their way from My Bloody Valentine records to The Gossip and end up becoming Lacanian Queer-core marxists hell bent on destroying the hetero paradigm and moder of identity, only to get smashed in the face by the homophobic tribal warriors from Africa with massive penises and asses you can have a picnic on.

Realising the ultimate futility they become rhizomes, spreading their ideas like pollen catching a whiff of gendered cowpat to once again be nourished into growth of capitalist subverted religion, doctored by a dominant patriarchal paradigm, filtered by colonialism, only to understand the eco-biology of everything is 42.

josef k.
29-05-2009, 04:05 PM
Badiou and (particularly) Badiouvians make me feel sick... Maybe it isn't really Badiou's fault, I don't know... the nakedness of the operation... A lot of really mediocre, pretentious and superficial work is being produced under his influence, from Hallward on down...

poetix
29-05-2009, 04:12 PM
I make you feel sick - fair enough. One can't delight everybody.

But really, how many Badiouvians are there out there? Where is their power? Over whom is it exercised? I can't believe that you personally have been particularly oppressed by any Badiouvians recently...

josef k.
29-05-2009, 04:15 PM
What would that even mean? I haven't been personally oppressed by the NPD recently either, but that doesn't mean that I feel ambivalent about German nationalism. Or better: I'm not personally oppressed by Jonathan Safran-Foer, but I know that he's a pretty crappy novelist... Or: I know that the reason why a lot of things are popular (celebrities, shitty books and movies) is not because they are valuable, but because a) because they have a large marketing campaign behind them (Badiou! The New French Philosopher!) and b) because they appeal to people's desires and drives. In this case, the desire for (intellectual) mastery, and the master of the intellectual, amongst other things... A desire sharply illustrated by the kinds of Badiou-informed statements you've been making recently on your blog. "Love is a transversal transfinite multiple vector-actant," or whatever it is. Right.

The question of the power of theory and theorists is an important question that many people on here have spent some time discussing. Perhaps, informed by Badiou as you are, you could make a contribution yourself to this issue, and thereby prove me wrong.

josef k.
29-05-2009, 04:51 PM
The discourse of mathematics -- and its attendants (rigour, proof, etc) -- is important. Within Badiou’s philosophical discourse, I’d venture, mathematics has a precise function... operates as a signal: “proof” is its meaning, as well as its function."

But of course – why should Badiou be any different from any other thinker?

The burden of proof, and the means through which it is achieved is significant. If the proof of my philosophy is woven into Being itself (and its "ontology", mathematics) it is clear that my philosophical enemies are in some sense against nature. A tempting dream, this. The world is complex and sinuous, but I who knows its codes will give it back its coherency.

vimothy
29-05-2009, 04:58 PM
"Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true."

Tentative Andy
29-05-2009, 06:36 PM
Would this be an appropriate place to ask whether Badiou's use of mathematics is widely recongnised as formally correct or not? I ask because I am aware that the employment of mathematical terminology and notation in the work of Lacan (who is explicitly an influence on Badiou) and Deleuze (who to be fair Badiou does seem to partially set himself in opposition to) has been widely criticised. Which of course doesn't mean that there work isn't valid in lots of other respects. But my impression is that B's maths is generally considered to be more sound or at least demonstrative of more careful study; however, I would like to know the views of those more knowledgeable on the subject than me on this.

I suspect I am going to have start reading Badiou soon, if only because he does seem so influential on current intellectual discourse, but it's a very disheartening prospect because I'm already very confident that I'm in fundamental disagreement with him, so the process is going to be one of discovering precisely where and why I disagree.

poetix
29-05-2009, 09:14 PM
Would this be an appropriate place to ask whether Badiou's use of mathematics is widely recongnised as formally correct or not?

The mathematicians I've spoken to tell me that it's basically OK - there's plenty of scope for disagreement over the "meta-ontogical" philosophical framework he builds around them, but the technical presentation of mathematical topics in Badiou is usually pretty faithful to his sources (e.g. Goldblatt on topoi) and often quite a bit easier to follow.

I did a fair bit of preparatory work before starting to read Logics of Worlds, and didn't find Badiou's discussion of Heyting algebras jarringly inconsistent with what I'd read of them up to that point. I think he tends to take the advice of working mathematicians. I imagine it would be a mortifying embarrassment to him if it turned out that he had got something egregiously wrong.

Lacan uses mathematical notation the same way he uses natural language, as material for puns; and Deleuze is more interested really in the intuitions behind mathematical notions than in deploying them in any formally consistent way. Neither is committed to the mathematics in such a way that their non-kosher use of it invalidates them as a thinker; whereas a fault in Badiou's maths really would amount to a fault in his system, simply because of the way in which the maths is used to give form to the system. (Nowhere is it suggested, however, that the maths proves the system...)

poetix
29-05-2009, 09:40 PM
What would that even mean? I haven't been personally oppressed by the NPD recently either, but that doesn't mean that I feel ambivalent about German nationalism. Or better: I'm not personally oppressed by Jonathan Safran-Foer, but I know that he's a pretty crappy novelist... Or: I know that the reason why a lot of things are popular (celebrities, shitty books and movies) is not because they are valuable, but because a) because they have a large marketing campaign behind them (Badiou! The New French Philosopher!) and b) because they appeal to people's desires and drives. In this case, the desire for (intellectual) mastery, and the master of the intellectual, amongst other things... A desire sharply illustrated by the kinds of Badiou-informed statements you've been making recently on your blog. "Love is a transversal transfinite multiple vector-actant," or whatever it is. Right.

The question of the power of theory and theorists is an important question that many people on here have spent some time discussing. Perhaps, informed by Badiou as you are, you could make a contribution yourself to this issue, and thereby prove me wrong.

I am curious to know what's generating your fantasy that Badiouvians constitute a power-block. I would like to know, first of all, who the Badiouvians are that you have in mind. You certainly can't mean me: I'm a minor figure in a minor scene, and even the most respected and energetic participants in that scene have only very limited visibility or cultural influence outside of it. So where is the power you're speaking of? Across whom does its shadow fall? Suppose I were seeking a sinecure, and wished to make the acquaintance of some powerful Badiouvians - with whom ought I to seek to ingratiate myself?

poetix
29-05-2009, 11:22 PM
Albeit, with slightly uncanny timing, I just received an email from a graduate student in a US university referring to an online conversation I was having a while back with Levi Bryant and Graham Harman about Badiou and correlationism, and asking if I had any pointers to relevant background literature (or had published anything myself...). Which was kind of nice.

josef k.
30-05-2009, 12:14 AM
I suggest you try thinking about what a power block is.

josef k.
30-05-2009, 12:16 AM
Start with this:

http://www.powerblocktv.com/site3/index.php/magazine

josef k.
30-05-2009, 12:18 AM
Then go here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HrSN7176XI).

scottdisco
30-05-2009, 03:32 AM
baby and bath-water, eh, Josef?

poetix
30-05-2009, 09:52 AM
No doubt the tacticians of the IDF, having thoroughly mastered their nomadology, will presently be poring over Badiou's account in Logics of Worlds of the rout of the Persian army:


...But we have shown that it is just here that Alexander's genius lies. The oblique formation, the two ranks of heavy infantry, the slide to the left, the gap and the charge - Alexander undertakes the undoing of the real synthesis to which Darius had subordinated the evaluations of intensity of his own military arrangement. Once the element that played the role of envelope is no longer operative, we witness the alteration of the whole of appearing, namely the collapse of the Persian army.

This reveals the extent to which military genius is really the genius of the transcendental functor; the genius of the ascent from the measures of intensity towards the effectiveness of opposing masses, the genius of the undoing of real syntheses and their conversion into inconsistency, into the rout of unbound multiplicities.

Useful if you ever run into a bunch of Palestinian militants with scythed chariots.

josef k.
30-05-2009, 06:30 PM
IDF = Bad

IDF read Deleuze.

Therefore Deleuze = Bad.

And Badiou = Good.

josef k.
30-05-2009, 07:13 PM
They confirmed their mutual understanding on a higher level by excluding one who did not pronounce the same credo they repeated to one another. What they fought for on a spiritual and intellectual plane they marked down as their ethos, as if it elevated the inner rank of a person to follow the teachings of higher ideals, as if there were nothing written in the New Testament against the Pharisees. Even forty years later, a pensioned bishop walked out of the conference of a Protestant academy because a guest lecturer expressed doubt about the contemporary possibility of sacred music. He too had been warned against, and dispensed from, heaving dealings with people who do not toe the line; as though critical thought had no objective foundation but was a subjective deviation. People of his nature combine the tendency that Borchardt called a putting-themselves-in-the-right with the fear of reflecting their reflections - as they didn't completely believe in themselves... Heretics baptized this circle "The Authentic Ones."

Adorno, Jargon of Authenticity

poetix
30-05-2009, 08:05 PM
If only I had read Deleuze, and learned to think for myself! Now I'm trapped - trapped! - in a dogmatic in-crowd of unreflective Pharisees and zealots, whose sole delight is in identifying dissenters and Deleuzian free-thinkers and viciously excluding them.

I weep for my generation.

josef k.
30-05-2009, 08:21 PM
Perhaps you would be better served by thinking about what Adorno says, rather than instantly identifying with his target, and then abjecting that identification in the form of weak sarcasm?

Here is a handkerchief: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qSBc5IdiWg

EDIT: Actually, this one (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3Ebo4UhloU&feature=player_embedded) is probably more pertinent with respect to your own individual case.

poetix
30-05-2009, 10:17 PM
Perhaps you would be better served by thinking about what Adorno says, rather than instantly identifying with his target, and then abjecting that identification in the form of weak sarcasm?

Very well: let's consider in detail what Adorno is saying in the passage you have quoted.


They confirmed their mutual understanding on a higher level by excluding one who did not pronounce the same credo they repeated to one another.

The purpose of the credo is not so much to express a belief - the content of the credo need not be believable, or sincerely believed by those who express it - as to function as a schibboleth. It is a question of pronunciation. Moreover, the person who is to be excluded is not necessarily identified by an inability to pronounce the credo, but simply by the fact that they do not participate in the rite of public repetition.

This rite of repetition therefore serves two purposes. The first is performative reinforcement of the creed itself, reinstating it as an object of shared commitment. The second is purification of the body of believers (or creed-sayers). Pronunciation of the creed provides a criterion for selecting the one to be excluded, and the function of this exclusion is to elevate the "mutual understanding" of those who remain: the very act of exclusion binds them together as a group, refining and consolidating their identity.

What Adorno is saying here is somewhat of a sociological truism, but let's continue:


What they fought for on a spiritual and intellectual plane they marked down as their ethos, as if it elevated the inner rank of a person to follow the teachings of higher ideals, as if there were nothing written in the New Testament against the Pharisees.

Here the subjective knotting of "spiritual and intellectual" polemics and inner "ethos" is named as Pharisaism. What is a Pharisee? Within the Christian tradition, a Pharisee is one for whom there exists a system of "inner rank", of lower and higher persons distinguished by the quality of their ethos and the consistency with which they observe its demands. The Pharisee has a clear notion of what it is to be good, and strives to adhere to that notion in his own conduct. The sinner justified by grace knows that his own ethos is irrevocably compromised, and that his conduct brings him to condemnation before the law.

The sinner's first problem is one of weak observance of the law: what he calls evil, he does, and what he calls good he does not do. His second problem is one of ethical disorientation: what he calls evil and what he calls good are confused with each other, so that even his best efforts inevitably lead him into error. By the Pharisee's standards, the sinner is not a moral success. He would be a better person, a person of higher spiritual rank, if he attended to "the teachings of higher ideals", acquiring an ethos in which good and evil were clearly discernible in all cases, and fought for those ideals, both within himself and against others who did not live up to them.

What is written in the New Testament against the Pharisees is that they are hypocrites and vipers. Why? There are two reasons. Firstly, the Pharisee is often a hypocrite, unable to maintain his own standard of moral success and self-deceiving in the account he gives himself of his own conduct. Even if his conduct is really impeccable, however, his ethical rectitude is accomplished at the cost of a shutting down of situational awareness: he knows what is "right" in all conceivable situations, but the range of situations he is actually able to conceive of, the range of ethical demands he is imaginatively able to entertain, is fatally narrow. So long as he treads in the path of righteousness as he understands it, he is able to be "good"; but he has little empathy for the lives of others, and is apt to behave cynically and selfishly if he is thrown out of his usual moral routine. (The novels of Iris Murdoch are full of illustrations of Pharisaism undone in this way).

Secondly, the Pharisee is a viper, because his battle with himself to control his own conduct is invariably confused with a battle against others: he strikes venomously and compulsively against those who do not display the virtues he esteems, as if they represented a terrifying threat to his own integrity. The Pharisee is never solely concerned with his own goodness. When he evaluates the spiritual rank of others, and finds them wanting, he finds that their very proximity to him places his own moral elevation in jeopardy. They must be reformed, or blasted into nothingness.

Adorno's Pharisees are polemicists, immaterial warriors on "a spiritual and intellectual plane". Intellectual combat is essential to the maintenance of their own fragile inner peace. The little victories that they win on that plane serve to reassure them of the purity of their ethos, to uphold the elevation of their inner rank. They are always better people, in their own minds, than those they defeat.


Even forty years later, a pensioned bishop walked out of the conference of a Protestant academy because a guest lecturer expressed doubt about the contemporary possibility of sacred music. He too had been warned against, and dispensed from, having dealings with people who do not toe the line; as though critical thought had no objective foundation but was a subjective deviation.

This example neatly condenses the character of the Pharisee that I have just given. It is well understood that the "subjective deviation" against which he takes up arms is his own. Here Adorno also brings in "doubt" and "critical thought", both of which might potentially have some "objective foundation": that is, they might arise from awareness of some aspect of the situation that the Pharisee has suppressed within his own awareness. The doubter, or critical thinker, is not the person weak in belief, but the person who has noticed something with which his former beliefs were incompatible. The critical line of thought is the one which attends to this something, even at the risk of ethical disorientation. The Pharisee is someone who cannot tolerate any such risk.


People of his nature combine the tendency that Borchardt called a putting-themselves-in-the-right with the fear of reflecting their reflections - as they didn't completely believe in themselves... Heretics baptized this circle "The Authentic Ones."

"The fear of reflecting their reflections" is a very Adorno-ish way of describing the intersubjective mechanism whereby the proximity of someone who seems to me to be ethically compromised causes me to fear for my own ethical integrity. I fear that they reflect badly on me, and that I will come to reflect my own "bad" reflection. (This, interestingly, is a major theme in the lyrics of Xasthur: the mirror that shows me the falsity of everything I believe about myself, that reflects me as deformed, grotesque, a parody of my ideal self. It is a distorting mirror, but one that truly shows me my own "loss and inner distortion").

Adorno's final flourish is to adopt the "heretics"' name for the circle of Pharisees, "The Authentic Ones". What ultimately characterises the Pharisee is an overweening concern for authenticity: a fear that one is not really what one "is", that one is not wholly credible even to oneself. Only what is authentic has the right to exist; therefore the existence of everything that can be suspected of inauthenticity is in peril. (Badiou calls this the destructive passion for the real, which seeks to purify reality of everything inauthentic in order to arrive, finally, at the true life, the occluded substrate of dependable reality). The repentant sinner, by comparison, submits to the unconditional heteronomy of grace, no longer demanding of himself that he satisfy his own ethical conscience but recognising himself as justified through faith, and delivered to the subjective unbinding of hope and charity. But I doubt that is Adorno's conclusion.

Have I understood the passage correctly? Is there anything you would add to, or substract from, my account of it?

Further: could you now explain to me precisely what it has to do with Badiou and "Badiouvians"? Can you show, for example, that Badiou's Ethics expresses an essentially Pharisaical conception of righteousness?

nomadthethird
30-05-2009, 10:25 PM
Badiou is nowhere nearly as widely cloned...My guess is that the next generation of earnest pasticheurs will jump right over him and go straight for Laruelle.

Snicker.

josef k.
30-05-2009, 10:26 PM
Have I understood the passage correctly? Is there anything you would add to, or substract from, my account of it?

I'm sorry, I really can't say. Your post was too boring to read.

Forgive me, I have a very short attention span.

poetix
30-05-2009, 10:31 PM
Ah, Daniel. You used to play clever, and now you play stupid...

josef k.
30-05-2009, 10:34 PM
Ah, Daniel. You used to play clever, and now you play stupid...

One of us has to... And I actually am stupid.

poetix
30-05-2009, 10:34 PM
The odds are, however, that you're a person of at least mediocre intelligence. Is it too much to ask you to use it?

josef k.
30-05-2009, 10:38 PM
I feel it is more fair on you if I proceed as I'm doing.

Let me see put it like this: Why not lighten-up your discourse a little? The hermeneutic repair man act has limited applications, politically as well as intellectually. And, in fact, this is one of my problems with Badiou - with his "weighty demonstrations" and his privileging of the intellect over other, more rhizomatic-nomadological-schizophrenic (blahblahblah), modes of communication.

nomadthethird
30-05-2009, 10:43 PM
The problems with trying to use geometric logic(s) to plot the "morphology of the event" or whatever it is you want to prove with abstruse semi or quasi-mathematical mysticism on a given day (and you can prove basically anything this way)--the act of which is of course meant to imbue such thinking with proper amounts of authority and thus silence anything but "mathematical" arguments to the contrary--are many.

1) You don't reach anyone who doesn't know the math and you don't reach anyone who does. As far as I know there are no mathematicians who are interested in ontologizing their purely formal system. That sort of sullies things for them. They're above it. The rest of everybody else thinks themselves above math entirely, so there goes the masses, too.

2) There is no formal "inroads" to Being (if that exists). Duh.

3) Nobody cares about anything like this--no one with bills to pay at least--so how you could possibly tout it as some kind of politically viable alternative to everything else going among the leagues of fashion victim academics is beyond me. Thinking this sort of thing is necessary and vital is everything that's wrong with the self-appointed "Left". Tokenism. Vanguardism. Necrophilia. Etc.

4) You could make all of the same claims without the math and they'd carry the same weight and be just as easy to respond to negatively by critics, but at least you'd do away with the charges of obfuscation and equivocation, etc.

It's fun in maybe the same way hyperstition is fun. I'll buy it as an attempt to make a new more symbolically efficient, more efficiently coded game-matrix within "philosophy" for those who care about that kind of thing. Its formal viability outside of the world of academic theory is highly suspect/unlikely, however, and this remains to be acknowledged.

nomadthethird
30-05-2009, 10:49 PM
5) If you'd actually read Plato, you probably wouldn't want to be responsible for the Plato Tent Revival.

josef k.
30-05-2009, 10:50 PM
5) If you'd actually read Plato, you probably wouldn't want to be responsible for the Plato Tent Revival.

I hear that Von C (http://www.dissensus.com/showthread.php?p=186683#post186683) is headlining.

nomadthethird
30-05-2009, 10:56 PM
Remember when Descartes proved substance dualism using "logic" and Cartesian geometry? I do.

nomadthethird
30-05-2009, 11:00 PM
I hear that Von C (http://www.dissensus.com/showthread.php?p=186683#post186683) is headlining.

See now you're being hysterical. Those people couldn't organize to save their lives. That would be too liberal. Fearing them is playing into their hands, really.

Think of them like a sort of Al Qaida, except they haven't (can't or won't?) hijacked any planes yet.

Better to just sit around thinking and making grandiose claims. Otherwise your intellectual purity might get tainted by the World.

josef k.
30-05-2009, 11:08 PM
See now you're being hysterical. Those people couldn't organize to save their lives.

No, they reformed. Chris Cornell is singing for them.

nomadthethird
30-05-2009, 11:14 PM
(Badiou! The New French Philosopher!)

As someone else who shall remain nameless put it so eloquently: Badiou's career has benefited immensely from his having outlived Deleuze by some 20 years.

What I find sort of sad is that academics and their admirers find it necessary to fight Badiou's 50-year-old battle against Deleuze, to become more famous and well-regarded than Deleuze was, for him, even still.

Is there really any need anymore? Deleuze has gone the rounds and been chewed up and spit back out by the important parties. All that's left is revisionism.

Btw, even Hewlett Packard sees potential in this geometric logic business:

Geometric Logic, Causality, and Event Structures (http://www.hpl.hp.com/techreports/91/HPL-91-119.html)

So much for being outside the reach of capitalism.

poetix
30-05-2009, 11:16 PM
I have bills to pay. I'm not what you would call a person of independent means.

Anyhow:

1) In between not knowing the math, and knowing the math, there is learning the math. Very little existing knowledge is presupposed in B&E. There are always some prerequisites, but they're really not that heavy (I didn't study mathematics formally past GCSE, but I didn't find myself completely unable to proceed). Intellectual curiosity is a strong motivating factor for some people - e.g., in theory, those who read philosophy books and talk about them. Writing philosophy books for people who have no intellectual curiosity strikes me as a fairly unrewarding exercise.

2) Nowhere is it claimed that mathematics provides access to being. The claim (or "wager", since it's not exactly a truth-claim as such) is that mathematics "is ontology"; that is, that it lays out just the kind of empty framework, systematically voided of substance, that one might use if one wanted to talk about being without presuming to be able to make any "inroads" into it whatsoever.

3) Neither is it claimed that theorems are politically decisive, or that one should care about them the way one cares about food, shelter, paying the bills and so on. There are however other things it's possible to care about than bare animal survival, and other ways of caring about them. And the different objects and modalities of concern do sometimes link up, in sometimes unpredictable ways, over the course of an average human lifetime. It's why people get baptized, say, or learn to speak another tribe's language so that they can marry someone from that tribe (I was speaking to someone the other day who did this). I get the impression that Badiou's political radicalisation was a life-event of a rather similar sort.

4) The mathematics doesn't have the function of supporting other truth claims by somehow magically "proving" them. It provides a framework for making the various things you're claiming consistent with each other. They might all be false at once; the point is for them to be consistently false. (Also, of course, the consistency of Badiou's "meta-ontology" is not as rigorous as the consistency of the mathematical "ontology" it tracks - the one isn't a model for the other, although the mathematical concept of model does provide a metaphor - and it is no more than a metaphor - for their relationship).

5) If there can be left-Heideggerians, there can be left-Platonists.

nomadthethird
30-05-2009, 11:22 PM
Parlor games for the "Left" while 9/10 of the world starves and continues being exploited.

I like it!

nomadthethird
30-05-2009, 11:30 PM
I actually think writing philosophy for people who ostensibly have no reason to care about it or bother with it is a very good idea and would be a very noble cause.

As I see it, the problem with people who want power, especially political power--even those who sincerely believe this would only be for the good, and disavow their own sadism--is that they're naive enough to believe they'd obviously do a better job than whoever's running Empire in its current incarnation.

Anyone who knows anything about power doesn't want it. At least not the way its defined you know phallic-ly.

poetix
30-05-2009, 11:37 PM
I actually think writing philosophy for people who ostensibly have no reason to care about it or bother with it is a very good idea and would be a very noble cause.

Intellectually incurious people do not even read the books that are written especially for them. And if a curiosity should arise, it is hardly likely to be satisfied by something that's obvously pandering to the incurious. You think Malcolm X in prison would have been delighted by a book written especially for the person he was desperately trying to escape being?

josef k.
30-05-2009, 11:44 PM
"Intellectually incurious people..."

An interesting category of people.

nomadthethird
30-05-2009, 11:45 PM
Intellectually incurious people do not even read the books that are written especially for them. And if a curiosity should arise, it is hardly likely to be satisfied by something that's obvously pandering to the incurious. You think Malcolm X in prison would have been delighted by a book written especially for the person he was desperately trying to escape being?

I don't know if I believe in "curiosity" the way you do. I think people cling to whatever their ego needs to cling to in order to get through the day. For some people that's intellect. For others, it's looks. For others, it's athleticism. Etc. Each person develops that trait throughout their lives in order to feel valuable to the world in some way, usually defining themselves over and against everyone they despise (usually whoever rejected them or intimidated them early in life).

I don't know if being more intellectual than the next guy is better than the alternative, or more laudable, or something everyone should strive for. There are a lot of very philosophically uncurious people who accomplished important things. Some of the smartest people I've ever met or known or worked for, who've accomplished things I probably couldn't even dream of accomplishing for the world, would laugh derisively at "disputes" regarding "ontology".

josef k.
30-05-2009, 11:58 PM
I don't know if being more intellectual than the next guy is better than the alternative, or more laudable, or something everyone should strive for. There are a lot of very philosophically uncurious people who accomplished important things. Some of the smartest people I've ever met or known or worked for, who've accomplished things I probably couldn't even dream of accomplishing for the world, would laugh derisively at "disputes" regarding "ontology".

Amen to that.

nomadthethird
31-05-2009, 12:00 AM
Speaking of Plato, the dialogues were actually performed among common men (or at least, non-philosopher statesman and politicians), for the benefit of the entire polis in entirely common language, not for the benefit of a small elite of fully washed philosophers in barely intelligible jargon.

nomadthethird
31-05-2009, 12:07 AM
And by the way, Malcolm X was fighting for those leagues of "common" uneducated intellectually uncurious black folk regardless of their philosophical shortcomings.

pajbre
31-05-2009, 03:40 AM
And by the way, Malcolm X was fighting for those leagues of "common" uneducated intellectually uncurious black folk regardless of their philosophical shortcomings.

true that. the argument that people who haven't gotten into badiou or any other philosopher (or work of art, etc) are simply lazy or incurious is spurious at best. maybe it has more to do with (in part) an unequal distribution of social capital, and/or as was mentioned above, most people in the world are more concerned with not being shot or not starving.

poetix
31-05-2009, 12:44 PM
true that. the argument that people who haven't gotten into badiou or any other philosopher (or work of art, etc) are simply lazy or incurious is spurious at best. maybe it has more to do with (in part) an unequal distribution of social capital, and/or as was mentioned above, most people in the world are more concerned with not being shot or not starving.

That would indeed be a strange argument to be making.

My point is simply that people who are interested in philosophy but know very little maths ought not to be deterred from learning the mathematics employed by Badiou simply by the fact that they don't already know it. There is a sort of inculcated math-phobia that a lot of people have, possibly due to being taught very boring maths very badly at school. Some people, otherwise quite motivated, will be put off Badiou by this. There is an extent to which Badiou throws down the gauntlet to the less mathematically well-equipped reader (myself, for example): the message is very much the Rancierian "all that matters is the will to understand". There is something quite liberating about finding that this is in fact the case. But not everyone will want or need to be liberated in this particular way.

People who are not interested in philosophy are generally just not interested
in philosophy - this goes for Deleuze as much as Badiou. If they should happen to develop such an interest, they will seek out real philosophy books to read, not books written for people who are not interested in philosophy. Autodidacts don't like being condescended to; a dislike of being condescended to is often among the reasons why they become autodidacts in the first place.

Being interested in philosophy is not a form of moral virtue, and will not make the world a better place. The capacity to be interested in things, philosophy included, is more or less universal however; one of the things it might mean for the world to be a better place is that more people would be able to develop and exercise this capacity with respect to a wider variety of possible objects of interest. There is certainly no privileged place for philosophy among these objects.

It seems an odd thing to demand of a work of speculative metaphysics that it should possess a universal relevance to the immediate concerns of the world's struggling population, and somewhat incharitable to suggest that any activity that does not possess such relevance is merely a "parlour game". If someone were claiming that a knowledge of "mathematical ontology" were necessary for personal salvation, or essential for proper determination of the correct political line, one would be entitled to laugh at them a little. But I don't find such a claim in Badiou, any more than I find the claim that his systematic thinking "proves" the validity of his (generally admirable) political positions. Here is what he says, in fact:



Philosophy does not have, and has never had at its own disposal the effective figures of emancipation. That is the primordial task of what is constituted in political doing-thinking. Instead, philosophy is like the attic where, in difficult times, one accumulates resources, lines up tools, and sharpens knives. Philosophy is exactly that which proposes an ample stock of means to other forms of thought.


It would be a marvel of interpretation if anyone could detect here an appeal to intellectual authority, or a demand that "other forms of thought" submit to philosophical regulation.

nomadthethird
31-05-2009, 04:50 PM
You're not getting it, which leads me to believe that you've never had much trouble paying the bills even if you have them to pay (which even the Duponts and Rockefellers do, btw, tho I am not accusing you of being rich).

How can you expect people to be "curious" and interested in becoming more "curious" about things like books (which cost money and if not that precious time) when they can't even afford to eat, their neighborhood is a war zone, their kids are on their way to jail, or they are, and they have to work several jobs to stay afloat, etc?

This is the situation that a good 90% of the 6 billion + human population finds itself in.

Philosophy is what Thorstein Veblen would have called a "leisure class activity", today more than ever.

No one asked "speculative metaphysics" to address these problems of basic survival and international crisis. The question is whether speculative metaphysics is important in a world where these problems exist. AFAIC, I couldn't care less if people waste time on nonsense--just don't pretend you're the world's greatest leftist if all you care about is metaphysics and you aren't doing a damn thing about the problems you're blaming entirely on the Right.

nomadthethird
31-05-2009, 04:56 PM
As for the "proving" aspect of Badiou's math:

In case you haven't noticed yet, geometry, logic, and geometric logic are all systems of MATHEMATICAL PROOFS. That is how math works. By proposing axioms and then proving them with what else? Math.

This means that Badiou's "axioms" are meant to be proved with his mathematical work on sets and geometric logic. I doubt they are, but he tries, all the same.

nomadthethird
31-05-2009, 05:29 PM
I've never once in my life met anyone who was "mathphobic". I have, however, met people who struggle with math and find it nearly impossible to understand, and in more cases, people who simply do not have the means nor the opportunity (to borrow a phrase from the law) to spend years and years on the sort of schooling it takes to master advanced mathematics such as set theory or geometric logic. I did exceptionally well in the maths that I've taken, but I have no interest in continuing in it, because it's more important that I learn cell and molecular biology and biochemistry so I can do well in medical school.

I am lucky to have the means and opportunity to pursue the career I want to have. Most people are not so lucky. If I one day end up with a practice of my own, or work for a hospital, or work in research, it won't be because I'm more "curious" than anybody else, it's because I was lucky, up and down the line, basically from conception.

Life/the world is not a meritocracy. Far from it.

josef k.
31-05-2009, 06:01 PM
...the claim that his systematic thinking "proves" the validity of his (generally admirable) political positions.

Such as his professions of support for Mao and Pol Pot...

poetix
31-05-2009, 06:16 PM
You're not getting it, which leads me to believe that you've never had much trouble paying the bills even if you have them to pay (which even the Duponts and Rockefellers do, btw, tho I am not accusing you of being rich).

I found that graduate student poverty started seriously sucking when I had a small infant to feed. That was the point at which I gave up being a graduate student. I appreciate that the exigencies of keeping body and soul together can impinge fairly forcefully on people's life choices, even in an affluent society.


How can you expect people to be "curious" and interested in becoming more "curious" about things like books (which cost money and if not that precious time) when they can't even afford to eat, their neighborhood is a war zone, their kids are on their way to jail, or they are, and they have to work several jobs to stay afloat, etc?

People do sometimes get peculiar notions about what really matters in life, in the most unpromising circumstances. Religious revivals and political movements both demand time and money that their most dedicated adherents can little spare. People think.


This is the situation that a good 90% of the 6 billion + human population finds itself in.

This is unquestionably true. However, I don't accept the Maslow's Hierarchy view of human needs where the material desperation of those billions drives out every other form of need or aspiration, reducing them to bodies to be clothed and bellies to be filled. That isn't how people see themselves. We fight for bread and roses.


No one asked "speculative metaphysics" to address these problems of basic survival and international crisis. The question is whether speculative metaphysics is important in a world where these problems exist. AFAIC, I couldn't care less if people waste time on nonsense--just don't pretend you're the world's greatest leftist if all you care about is metaphysics and you aren't doing a damn thing about the problems you're blaming entirely on the Right.

Who is pretending to be the world's greatest leftist?

Badiou, as is well-known, has long been involved in political work for the rights of "undocumented" migrants. I doubt he overrates the significance of speculative metaphysics in the accomplishment of that work. His writing and his politics meet in his polemics, books like Ethics and The Meaning of Sarkozy, which exhort their readers in fairly plain terms to reject the naturalised metaphysics of capitalist realism and commit themselves to collective political thought and action.

I've been politically inert for most of my adult life, which has been swallowed up by first study and then parenthood and work. At the time when I could have done the most, I was a complacent liberal who was more or less happy to let the grown-ups run things. Now I'm trying to find ways of making myself useful. I certainly don't consider knowing an awful lot about Badiou and set-theoretic ontology to be one of those ways.

poetix
31-05-2009, 06:21 PM
As for the "proving" aspect of Badiou's math:

In case you haven't noticed yet, geometry, logic, and geometric logic are all systems of MATHEMATICAL PROOFS. That is how math works. By proposing axioms and then proving them with what else? Math.


No, that is not how math works. Axioms are not proved. Theorems are proved, on the basis of axioms. Such proofs amount only to the demonstration that, given such and such axioms, such and such a theorem follows. Badiou works through some of these proofs - generally only very simple ones - as part of a demonstration of how axiomatic set theory hangs together, and uses the way in which it hangs together as a guide-rail for making his meta-ontology hang together. That's all!

josef k.
31-05-2009, 06:26 PM
Now I'm trying to find ways of making myself useful. I certainly don't consider knowing an awful lot about Badiou and set-theoretic ontology to be one of those ways.

So what exactly is Badiou doing for you, philosophically-speaking?

nomadthethird
31-05-2009, 06:29 PM
I found that graduate student poverty started seriously sucking when I had a small infant to feed. That was the point at which I gave up being a graduate student. I appreciate that the exigencies of keeping body and soul together can impinge fairly forcefully on people's life choices, even in an affluent society.

Poor graduate students, being in the top--what?--10th percentile of employability. You still don't get it. The people who live in Bogota who can either work for the cartels, prostitute themselves, both very high risk occupations, or very literally starve to death. Sort of the same way we can either work for our Capitalist Overlords or starve.


People do sometimes get peculiar notions about what really matters in life, in the most unpromising circumstances. Religious revivals and political movements both demand time and money that their most dedicated adherents can little spare. People think.

What really matters is thinking, curiosity, and high mindedness, then? That's exactly what I thought you were saying.

I don't think religious revivals are important at all. Nor do I think most political movements are "important". They're gain-motivated, selfish, stupid, and messy.

People do not think very well. That is where you're very, very wrong. The thoughts and "accomplishments" of humans so far have amounted to pathetic stabs in the dark that have actually caused much more harm than they have good. We know just enough about, say, chemistry to be very, very dangerous to our own ecosystems and survival. Abstraction is not very efficient, productive thinking, after all. It's actually hugely inadequate to the world. Computers are much better with information than people are--that's why we let them do the important stuff now.


Who is pretending to be the world's greatest leftist?

Go ahead and take a wild guess as to who I was talking about there.


I've been politically inert for most of my adult life, which has been swallowed up by first study and then parenthood and work. At the time when I could have done the most, I was a complacent liberal who was more or less happy to let the grown-ups run things. Now I'm trying to find ways of making myself useful. I certainly don't consider knowing an awful lot about Badiou and set-theoretic ontology to be one of those ways.

Thank christ you were converted to the ways of righteousness, otherwise, what would the rest of the world do?

poetix
31-05-2009, 06:30 PM
I've never once in my life met anyone who was "mathphobic". I have, however, met people who struggle with math and find it nearly impossible to understand, and in more cases, people who simply do not have the means nor the opportunity (to borrow a phrase from the law) to spend years and years on the sort of schooling it takes to master advanced mathematics such as set theory or geometric logic.

I've not been in a maths lesson since I was 16. And, in fact, I haven't "mastered" any "advanced" mathematics either. But it's certainly possible to get a grip on basic axiomatic set theory or category theory without a college education in maths. I mean, provided you're not living in the middle of a war-zone, etc.

Life/the world is not a meritocracy. Far from it.[/QUOTE]

Thank you for the gift of this wisdom. Do you have an opinion on whether or not it is possible for hard-working shoe-shine boys to become billionaires through grit, determination and good character?

nomadthethird
31-05-2009, 06:33 PM
No, that is not how math works. Axioms are not proved. Theorems are proved, on the basis of axioms. Such proofs amount only to the demonstration that, given such and such axioms, such and such a theorem follows. Badiou works through some of these proofs - generally only very simple ones - as part of a demonstration of how axiomatic set theory hangs together, and uses the way in which it hangs together as a guide-rail for making his meta-ontology hang together. That's all!

From Wikipedia:

Modern proof theory treats proofs as inductively defined data structures. There is no longer an assumption that axioms are "true" in any sense; this allows for parallel mathematical theories built on alternate sets of axioms (see Axiomatic set theory and Non-Euclidean geometry for examples).

Yes, theorems are what are proved, not axioms, but Badiou is trying to prove his politically motivated ontological "axioms" with set theory and geometric logic.

nomadthethird
31-05-2009, 06:40 PM
I've not been in a maths lesson since I was 16. And, in fact, I haven't "mastered" any "advanced" mathematics either. But it's certainly possible to get a grip on basic axiomatic set theory or category theory without a college education in maths. I mean, provided you're not living in the middle of a war-zone, etc.

Life/the world is not a meritocracy. Far from it.

Thank you for the gift of this wisdom. Do you have an opinion on whether or not it is possible for hard-working shoe-shine boys to become billionaires through grit, determination and good character?[/QUOTE]

I haven't been in math since I was 15 with calculus, and I was far too high to remember any at this point.

No, it isn't easy to master set theory. It's time consuming, and it's largely unrewarding unless you already agree with Badiou, which believe it or not a lot of people know that they don't agree with him without the mathbabble.

Do you have any opinion that isn't self-righteous, self-serving and severely limited by your own experience?

josef k.
31-05-2009, 06:44 PM
Do you have an opinion on whether or not it is possible for hard-working shoe-shine boys to become billionaires through grit, determination and good character?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Carnegie#Early_life

nomadthethird
31-05-2009, 06:49 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Carnegie#Early_life

Sometimes I really get the feeling that what people resent most about the American Empire is the fact that it does not reward self-righteousness.

josef k.
31-05-2009, 06:51 PM
I like America, and America likes me.

nomadthethird
31-05-2009, 07:11 PM
America doesn't like anyone.

What people really want is to feel like they matter, but the problem is that they don't. The world belies this stark fact at every turn but no one wants to believe it. "Life finds a way", and in humans this usually means that life preserves itself partially through the illusion of meaning and feeling and thinking that is the result of some relatively simple electrochemical mechanisms that we are too dense to fully understand.

If you really understand the meta-system that determines everything, if you're reeeally smart, you understand that we are at our best worm food, and that the time will come when we are all gone, and our species is all gone, and in all probability a time will come after that when microorganisms will be the last of the organic lifeforms that exist on this planet, if any do, and it will be as if none of this ever happened, because matter and energy will just keep moving and making space and time without us, and they won't remember us, except as a vague and impersonal (and metaphorical) causal blip on the cosmic radar.

So the highest possible aspiration for humanity, if that makes sense (and I don't think it does) is not to find out how to feel that you matter more but to let go of needing to matter and realize all of that Zen shit about nothingness and how everything is really nothing and none of it matters.

poetix
31-05-2009, 07:18 PM
From Wikipedia:

Modern proof theory treats proofs as inductively defined data structures. There is no longer an assumption that axioms are "true" in any sense; this allows for parallel mathematical theories built on alternate sets of axioms (see Axiomatic set theory and Non-Euclidean geometry for examples).

Yes, theorems are what are proved, not axioms, but Badiou is trying to prove his politically motivated ontological "axioms" with set theory and geometric logic.

This is nonsense. Badiou is not trying to prove axioms. How could one possibly do so?

There are some weak norms for mathematical axioms - some rules of thumb about what makes a "good" axiom. There shouldn't be too many of them, and they should fit together elegantly. It should be possible to derive powerful and interesting frameworks from them. These are really criteria of efficiency and productivity. It would be interesting to try to devise a deliberately ugly and cumbersome set of axioms, from which it was possible to get useful results but only by fighting with the system they generated. Joke programming languages like Intercal and the fearful Malgebolge are inventions along those sorts of lines.

nomadthethird
31-05-2009, 07:33 PM
Axioms like "the one is not" is what Badiou is trying to fit into all of the mathematic proofs. It's a fairly simple and straightforward statement to make and it's not rocket science. I don't think that you can prove that a statement or axiom like that is more coherent than any other using math. More formalism doesn't make what you're saying more viable or true or real or important.

Formalism for formalism's sake is always an option, like I said before, but you have to acknowledge that this is what's going on or you most certainly are appealing to math for its authority and purity.

poetix
31-05-2009, 10:02 PM
Axioms like "the one is not" is what Badiou is trying to fit into all of the mathematic proofs. It's a fairly simple and straightforward statement to make and it's not rocket science. I don't think that you can prove that a statement or axiom like that is more coherent than any other using math.

You can prove that certain conceptions of "the one" are incoherent, which is what "the one is not" really means. In particular, you can prove that given a certain definition of what a set is, supposing the existence of a set of all sets leads to contradiction.


More formalism doesn't make what you're saying more viable or true or real or important.

No, of course not. But it can make it more internally consistent, and formal elaboration can demonstrate the internal inconsistency of other notions.

Consistency - or the dialectic of consistency and inconsistency - is something that comes up again and again in Badiou. He is really a thinker of consistency and its limits, or the limits a consistent multiplicity must assume in order to remain consistent.

poetix
31-05-2009, 10:19 PM
Poor graduate students, being in the top--what?--10th percentile of employability.

It certainly felt that way when I started temping for the Alliance & Leicester, at very slightly above minimum wage.

The particular way in which I effectively cashed in my accumulation cultural capital over the subsequent few years bears examination, as there was very little direct utilisation of acquired credentials or social connections. People imagine that you flash a degree certificate at someone with the same school tie and doors magically open. It is actually a lot more insidious than that. But I digress.

My point is not that I've known true poverty and therefore empathise fully with the desperation of a prostitute in Bogota; just that I've known just enough poverty to be able to observe in my own life that it can have a sharply constraining effect on people's options. I would say that graduate student poverty is a kind of minimal poverty, poverty-lite, really the least poor you can get while actually being poor (or the most poor you can get while actually still being astoundingly privileged). Graduate student poverty plus parenthood tips it just over the line into where it starts to properly bite.


What really matters is thinking, curiosity, and high mindedness, then?

No, so..


That's exactly what I thought you were saying.

...no.

poetix
31-05-2009, 10:31 PM
No, it isn't easy to master set theory. It's time consuming, and it's largely unrewarding

I said it was possible to learn the basics without a college-level education in mathematics, which indeed it is. It's not especially easy, but nothing worthwhile is. I didn't find it unrewarding, but YMMV.


Do you have any opinion that isn't self-righteous, self-serving and severely limited by your own experience?

I don't appear to have any opinions that can't be construed by you as self-righteous, self-serving and severely limited by my own experience. But you have formidable powers of inattention, so I shalln't worry too much about that.

nomadthethird
31-05-2009, 10:35 PM
You can prove that certain conceptions of "the one" are incoherent, which is what "the one is not" really means. In particular, you can prove that given a certain definition of what a set is, supposing the existence of a set of all sets leads to contradiction.



No, of course not. But it can make it more internally consistent, and formal elaboration can demonstrate the internal inconsistency of other notions.

Consistency - or the dialectic of consistency and inconsistency - is something that comes up again and again in Badiou. He is really a thinker of consistency and its limits, or the limits a consistent multiplicity must assume in order to remain consistent.

But of course formal systems "cohere", that's what the point of them is. If your premises are false then I have no interest in the further elaboration of points no matter how tight their formal consistency is.

poetix
31-05-2009, 10:45 PM
The premises are usually fairly uncontroversial, bland, almost meaningless in themselves: e.g. "there exists some set such that no other set is an element of that set". They don't have the property of being objectively true or false, they're just chosen starting points.

poetix
31-05-2009, 10:47 PM
You could try developing a set theory in which there was no empty set, or in which there were several that were somehow distinguishable from each other. Really, the proof of the axiomatic pudding is in the theorematic eating.

nomadthethird
31-05-2009, 10:52 PM
I don't appear to have any opinions that can't be construed by you as self-righteous, self-serving and severely limited by my own experience. But you have formidable powers of inattention, so I shalln't worry too much about that.

That's what opinions are, self-righteous, self-serving, and severely limited by individual experiences.

nomadthethird
31-05-2009, 10:53 PM
The premises are usually fairly uncontroversial, bland, almost meaningless in themselves: e.g. "there exists some set such that no other set is an element of that set". They don't have the property of being objectively true or false, they're just chosen starting points.

In that case, wake me up when it's oovverrr...

nomadthethird
31-05-2009, 10:55 PM
What was it that Lacan said about how claims to being misunderstood are misplaced and beside the point because language speaks us and so forth?

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 12:02 AM
I would say that graduate student poverty is a kind of minimal poverty, poverty-lite, really the least poor you can get while actually being poor (or the most poor you can get while actually still being astoundingly privileged).


I wouldn't know, since I worked full-time throughout graduate school.

josef k.
01-06-2009, 12:18 AM
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7f/Ishihara_Mishima.jpg

josef k.
01-06-2009, 12:20 AM
Human sacrifice, bloodthirsty suns, Aztec hieroglyphics, excellent pornography.


I will simply state, without waiting further, that the extension of economic growth itself requires the overturning of economic principles—the overturning of the ethics that grounds them. Changing from the perspectives of restrictive economy to those of general economy actually accomplishes a Copernican transformation: a reversal of thinking—and of ethics. If a part of wealth (subject to a rough estimate) is doomed to destruction or at least to unproductive use without any possible profit, it is logical, even inescapable, to surrender commodities without return. Henceforth, leaving aside pure and simple dissipation, analogous to the construction of the Pyramids, the possibility of pursuing growth is itself subordinated to giving: The industrial development of the entire world demands of Americans that they lucidly grasp the necessity, for an economy such as theirs, of having a margin of profitless operations. An immense industrial network cannot be managed in the same way that one changes a tire... It expresses a circuit of cosmic energy on which it depends, which it cannot limit, and whose laws it cannot ignore without consequences. Woe to those who, to the very end, insist on regulating the movement that exceeds them with the narrow mind of the mechanic who changes a tire.

josef k.
01-06-2009, 06:42 AM
‘It’s just the simple thing that’s hard, so hard to do’

The BIH, or Boys’ Institute for the Humanities, as the Birkbeck Institute is widely known, has had a coming of age – that is to say, gender. Long-simmering complaints in the College over the apparent inability of the Institute’s directors (Žižek and Douzinas) to think of women who might have something to contribute to its extensive programming finally boiled over when the Club’s international division (Žižekian) could muster only one female speaker among the thirteen it advertised for ‘On the Idea of Communism’. Given the publicity surrounding the event, and the already-existing disquiet about the conference organizers’ proud declaration of unanimity among all the speakers, in advance, on one ‘precise and strong thesis’, this was finally something that the Institute’s steering committee could no longer ignore.

It agreed to set guidelines for organizers of future events requiring them to ensure that speaker lists do not ‘over-represent’ any particular group. No sooner said than undone: the Institute then went on to advertise a debate on Cosmopolitanism (for the weekend prior to the Communism event) without a single woman speaker, leaving the director scrambling around for excuses, about how precipitate publication of the programme (ten days before the event) had given the impression that there were no women speakers, when there was actually to be… one more added to the publicity.

This is not just an institutional issue for Birkbeck, of course, but a symptom of the political culture surrounding the Žižek–Badiou ‘Gang of Two’, for whom the whole thirty-year period of the New Left must be travestied and its political gains forgotten (feminism, anyone?) – especially within the Left itself – in order to clear the ground for the ‘return to reason’ represented by the latest French philosophico-political vanguard.

Institutional anxiety about the event was intensified when the combination of its success at attracting an audience and its pricing policy (Ł100 and Ł45 for students) placed the Idea of Communism in danger of looking like it was even more in tune with the times than it realized: to wit, a cynical and hypercritical financial scam. But when a group of students gave advance warning of interrupting proceedings they were quickly bought off with the promise of a free live video room and a little platform time.

By the time the day arrived, an alternative, ‘updated’ programme had been composed (it is said by students at SOAS). This sprinkled women speakers in among the boys throughout and replaced Badiou’s Introduction and Žižek’s final remarks with talks by Stuart Hall and Sandra Harding, respectively; adding for good measure, Subcomandante Marcos on ‘Intergalactic Decentralized Communism’, a Skills Sharing Workshop on ‘Alter-Communisms!’ and a concluding ‘Collective Trance: Channelling Karl Marx’. Jean-Luc Nancy, whose participation had been heralded as his being ‘in attendance’ throughout, but not speaking from the platform – in the end, he was unable to make it – was to be joined by Christine Delphy and ‘members of migrant and feminist groups’.

Thus, for the first day, Angela Davis on ‘Women, Race and Class’, Lynne Segal on ‘What Feminism Did to Communism’ and Nancy Hartsock on ‘The Proliferation of Radical Standpoints’ interspersed themselves between Michael Hardt, Bruno Bosteels and Peter Hallward. At the conference itself, Hardt acknowledged at the outset of his talk that this would certainly have been a more interesting event. But he spoilt that a bit by then emphasizing, US-style, how much his thought owed to the women speakers on the ‘fantasy’ programme – sending some bemused listeners back for another look at the index of Empire. Day two saw Silvia Federici and Vandana Shiva offering papers on ‘Creating Communities of Care’ and ‘Ecofeminism and the Challenge to Western Communism’; with Sheila Rowbotham teaming up with Huw Beynon to oppose Rancičre’s ‘Communism without Communists?’ with ‘Communists without Communism’, and Hilary and Steven Rose sympathizing, ‘Alas Poor Marx’. (It was a characteristic feature of the conference itself that few of the speakers dwelt on Marx, to the puzzlement and annoyance of a large section of the audience. There is little room for Marx when Badiou is setting the agenda for unanimous agreement.) The programme for the final day pitched Donna Haraway (‘On Interspecies Communism’) against Vattimo’s ‘Weak Communists’, and bell hooks (‘Ain’t I a Communist?’) against Balso’s Badiou masquerade, ‘Communism: A Hypothesis for Philosophy, An Impossible Name for Politics?’

All of which leaves a question hanging in the air: who are the more imaginative political thinkers: Badiou, Žižek, Rancičre, Negri and the rest, or the anonymous students of SOAS? It’s not hard to imagine what even old Bertie Brecht would have answered to that.

VIA (http://www.radicalphilosophy.com/default.asp?channel_id=2192&editorial_id=27994)

poetix
01-06-2009, 07:49 AM
That's what opinions are, self-righteous, self-serving, and severely limited by individual experiences.

Then the question "do you have any opinions that aren't..." is somewhat otiose, isn't it?

Do you have any points to make that aren't just expressions of general truculence and resentment?

josef k.
01-06-2009, 07:59 AM
Heretics are resentful and truculent.

scottdisco
01-06-2009, 09:21 AM
Such as his professions of support for Mao and Pol Pot...

really?

wow.

what a cunt.

rockypoppy2
01-06-2009, 02:10 PM
How can you expect people to be "curious" and interested in becoming more "curious" about things like books (which cost money and if not that precious time) when they can't even afford to eat, their neighborhood is a war zone, their kids are on their way to jail, or they are, and they have to work several jobs to stay afloat, etc?




i think thats a bit naive

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 04:50 PM
Then the question "do you have any opinions that aren't..." is somewhat otiose, isn't it?

It's a question of degree.


Do you have any points to make that aren't just expressions of general truculence and resentment?

Probably not.

I think it's telling that a thread called "What is Deleuze?", a very strangely worded question, ends up focusing almost entirely on Badiou. Maybe the flavor of the month has changed.

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 04:51 PM
i think thats a bit naive

i think its a bit naive to expect everyone with "curiosity" to like ontology, but maybe that's just my personal downfall

i have a lot of character flaws

including but not limited to:

not taking the internet dead seriously
not giving a shit about other peoples' pieties and sacred cows
not thinking my interests are universal
not privileging intellect over every other quality a creature might have
in general, not respecting the "important" things enough

i also think it's naive to talk as if human "curiosity" actually accomplishes anything, but see above for why.

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 04:56 PM
I guess all of those single moms should be saving up 10 hours of their minimum wage pay to afford the latest Toscano masterpiece or other similar shining beacon of human achievement.

It's so naive of me to think they might have more pressing financial matters to attend to.

poetix
01-06-2009, 05:01 PM
i think thats a bit naive

I call this the "not in the slums of Calcutta!" troll.

It goes like this:

A: Playing chess is good - it's a fun social activity that also teaches mental discipline. Once you understand chess, you have a deeper insight into strategic thinking...
B: Pah! Chess is an elite passtime! It takes years to become a grandmaster! Very few people have that kind of time. How dare you look down on people just because they haven't had the opportunities you've had to enjoy the game of chess!
A: Actually, it's quite easy to pick up the rudiments - you don't have to be a grandmaster to play. Most people could learn to play chess if they wanted to.
B: Not in the slums of Calcutta*!

* Or the mean streets of Baltimore...

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 05:09 PM
VIA (http://www.radicalphilosophy.com/default.asp?channel_id=2192&editorial_id=27994)

But Josef, all of that "identity" stuff, you know that Cosmo magazine female rights bullshit those disgusting American feminists engage in, is so LIBERAL and decadent. After the revolution comes, there will be no need for worrying about trifling issues like "consensual" sex, since there will be a universal standard for sexual conduct that the Politburo will draft up and enforce at all times using bedroom surveillance cams and violence when necessary. There will be no need for feminism (ick, so much estrogen, so trivial, all of that talk about "gender" versus "sex"). Women are most of them incapable of being "pure" intellectuals, who tackle the real philosophical issues--i.e. the UNIVERSAL ones. Leave that to the real thinkers, who know how to discuss how many fairies speak Being on the head of a pin.

Everyone will be so happy to churn out manual labor that all of these issues of identity will simply melt away in the blood, sweat, and tears of das Volk. We will all be one under the new Fuhrer. The poets will summarily be sent to slowly work themselves to death in camps, and we will be FREE, and everything will finally be equal.

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 05:12 PM
I call this the "not in the slums of Calcutta!" troll.

It goes like this:

A: Playing chess is good - it's a fun social activity that also teaches mental discipline. Once you understand chess, you have a deeper insight into strategic thinking...
B: Pah! Chess is an elite passtime! It takes years to become a grandmaster! Very few people have that kind of time. How dare you look down on people just because they haven't had the opportunities you've had to enjoy the game of chess!
A: Actually, it's quite easy to pick up the rudiments - you don't have to be a grandmaster to play. Most people could learn to play chess if they wanted to.
B: Not in the slums of Calcutta*!

* Or the mean streets of Baltimore...

Yes, how dare someone point out that "intellectual" pursuits might be less important than old white men think they are. The Central Committee won't have it!

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 05:18 PM
It's a good thing there are all of these deeply engaged leftists around to make sure that everybody has time and money to do the really important things--like worship Old Dead Whitey, and conform to the lofty standards of his institutions like the academy.

We have the Left alone to thank for any advance in the human condition, obvs.

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 05:23 PM
A: Playing chess is good - it's a fun social activity that also teaches mental discipline. Once you understand chess, you have a deeper insight into strategic thinking...

I'm pretty sure the latest in cognitive science more or less proves that being good at playing chess is not that big of a deal, and doesn't really apply to much but being good at playing chess, and that the skills that chess requires have little to nothing to do with "strategic thinking".

josef k.
01-06-2009, 05:35 PM
The problem is, Badiou is defensible.

It's just the present company lack the self-understanding, humility and wit to do the job.

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 05:44 PM
The problem is, Badiou is defensible.

It's just the present company lack the self-understanding, humility and wit to do the job.

For me it's like, the set theory stuff is decent reading, it's plausible as a revival of Royal Philosophy if a little dry, and then there's the stuff on politics and the role of philosophy/art/love/science in the world-cum-events, then there's the political commitments and allegiances, and the three seem so disjointed and out of synch. If philosophy is just supposed to hang back and survey things and make pronouncements about the Forms or whatever, why are Badiou readers so convinced that anyone who disagrees on any level with Badiou is their political enemy. Perhaps it's not entirely Badiou's fault that there's a disconnect.

Then there are the ludicrously indefensible and ridiculous PR junket statements he's made that I tend to ignore. Most philosophers have those, just like most Hollywood actors or musicians do, so you take them with the salt they deserve.* It's how visibility perserves itself.

*Professor Griff, for instance

josef k.
01-06-2009, 05:47 PM
I have to go to the world-cum-events now.

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 05:51 PM
Anyone who really cares about philosophy, or who is a sincere Leftist, you'd think, would be happy to admit at least this much:

-that philosophy is a leisure class activity. (Or does class suddenly and magically go poof when "intellectuals" are involved?)

-that being philosophical, Badiou's work is going to invite criticism, revision, disagreement, and counterarguments. There's nothing instantly heretical about questions as to the importance of reviving Platonism. From a philosophical perspective, it's the most obvious begged question, yet I still haven't heard any coherent answer as to why this is a Good Thing.

I waste more time than anyone. I'm not saying there's something wrong with wasting time. But it does seem completely hypocritical and lacking in broader awareness that some people who criticize anyone who doesn't buy into their particular ideological blend of Marxism with Maoism/vanguardism at the same time consider their own leisure class activities more elevated and politically righteous than everyone else's. It's so middle school.

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 05:52 PM
I have to go to the world-cum-events now.

I have to go to the world-cum-TV and eat lots of saturated fats now.

Mr. Tea
01-06-2009, 07:46 PM
I call this the "not in the slums of Calcutta!" troll.

It goes like this:

A: Playing chess is good - it's a fun social activity that also teaches mental discipline. Once you understand chess, you have a deeper insight into strategic thinking...
B: Pah! Chess is an elite passtime! It takes years to become a grandmaster! Very few people have that kind of time. How dare you look down on people just because they haven't had the opportunities you've had to enjoy the game of chess!
A: Actually, it's quite easy to pick up the rudiments - you don't have to be a grandmaster to play. Most people could learn to play chess if they wanted to.
B: Not in the slums of Calcutta*!

* Or the mean streets of Baltimore...

I bet if you looked, you'd find chess players in the slums of Calcutta.


Yes, how dare someone point out that "intellectual" pursuits might be less important than old white men think they are. The Central Committee won't have it!

Not that chess is synonymous with intellectual pursuits, but I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of chess players around the world are neither white (China, India, Middle East?) nor old - some may even be female.

A great many white males in Britain, both young and old, consider an interest in intellectual pursuits to be symptomatic of being sad, a nerd and very probably a poof to boot (or to sneer at, at any rate).

poetix
01-06-2009, 08:35 PM
Why I think Badiou is worth bothering with:

i) He presents a concept of truth which does two important things at the same time:

i.i) It says that there are truths (plural), and that these are not reducible to opinions, cultural preferences or figures of ideology.

i.ii) It completely separates truth from knowledge. You don't come to know a truth by studying higher mathematics, reading deeply of the great poets of the Western Tradition (tm) and attending reverently to the sage words of an intellectual master. You construct a truth by doing-thinking, in equality with others, and come to embody a finite part of the truth in doing so. A truth can only appear where knowledge gives out, where there is something genuinely new to be thought and done.

ii) He does not present his own philosophy as a truth of this kind. Knowing Badiou - knowing his texts and his arguments exceedingly well, down to the last detail - will not bring you the slightest bit closer to any truth. It may however help to persuade you that there are truths, and that they are worth fighting for.

iii) He esteems cultural and intellectual greatness, but does not regard it as the centre of all human value. He acknowledges plainly that no amount of philosophy or mathematics will emancipate suffering humanity. He does not regard philosophy and mathematics as worthless activities because of this. The humanity he wishes to see emancipated is a humanity that is capable - all of it, no matter how mean its circumstances or limited its horizons - of creation, of participation in the doing-thinking that makes a new truth, be it artistic, scientific, political or amorous.

iv) He recognises that violence and terror are an unavoidable part of the creativity of political truths. He rejects the contemporary moral consensus that says that a world without truths is a price worth paying for the physical safety and social peace of a sheltered minority.

iv.i) Speaking as a member of that sheltered minority, I don't feel at all comfortable about this. I don't want to indulge in any false bravado about being ready to die for a worthy cause. Still less do I wish to surrender myself to the reckless obscenity of declaring my readiness to kill for one. When I think about the last hours of the Paris Commune, or the frenzy of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, I am afraid.

iv.ii) Nevertheless, I agree with Badiou that we must not allow the managers of our wealthy societies to use the fear of violence and terror to force us to accept the world as it - precariously - is. That world is already a violent and terrible place. We must accept rationally, even if it is impossible to accept emotionally, that history has not ended with us, that our safety and prosperity are a temporary illusion, and that there is a great deal still to be done.

v) He makes intelligible, for the educated reader who is not a mathematical adept, mathematical concepts of tremendous beauty and power.

v.i) Only a minority of people, even in our wealthy societies, are fortunate enough to have been educated to the point where they will be able to encounter these concepts through Badiou's texts. And of those that have, not all will want to progress through the often ponderous demonstrations through which they are carefully exposed. Nevertheless, for those who have had the good fortune to become members of that large literate public that an affluent society affords, and who have the desire to educate themselves about some of the great intellectual accomplishments of 20th century mathematics, Badiou is an able and enabling tutor.

v.ii) Politically speaking, Badiou's commitment to conceptual clarity and transmissibility militates against the authoritarian obscurantism of a Heidegger or a Lacan. His prose style is certainly "elevated", and his language full of the terms of art of the specialist discourse that 20th century French philosophy has become, but when it comes to the formal dimension of his argument, he takes enormous pains to be unambiguous and consistent. Quite simply, it is possible for him to be wrong - demonstrably and corrigibly wrong - in a way that it is never possible for Lacan to be wrong.

vi) He pisses off all the right people. Badiou reports that Derrida said to him, during a period of late rapprochement, "at least we have the same enemies". Those are enemies worth having: one should be proud to have acquired them, and endeavour to affront them in all things.

poetix
01-06-2009, 08:43 PM
I bet if you looked, you'd find chess players in the slums of Calcutta.

A Persian-Iranian friend was telling me that the clerical authorities in Iran once issued a decree stating that chess-playing was un-Islamic. They then discovered that most of the Iranian soldiers in the front line of the Iran-Iraq war that was raging at the time were playing chess with each other in between getting gassed, bombed and shot at, and found it expedient to reverse that judgement.

Talk about being too concerned with basic survival for cerebral distractions. I bet some of them were writing poetry too, like the inmates at Guantanamo. The incorrigible elitists!

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 08:56 PM
Not that chess is synonymous with intellectual pursuits, but I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of chess players around the world are neither white (China, India, Middle East?) nor old - some may even be female.


Who would be surprised by that? I wasn't addressing chess there. I was speaking to a very specific contingent of academia.

Ever played mancala? I don't know how popular it really is but an Indian person taught me to play. It's very simple, but somehow more addictive for it. Somewhat like tetris.

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 09:13 PM
Why I think Badiou is worth bothering with:

i) He presents a concept of truth which does two important things at the same time:

i.i) It says that there are truths (plural), and that these are not reducible to opinions, cultural preferences or figures of ideology.

i.ii) It completely separates truth from knowledge. You don't come to know a truth by studying higher mathematics, reading deeply of the great poets of the Western Tradition (tm) and attending reverently to the sage words of an intellectual master. You construct a truth by doing-thinking, in equality with others, and come to embody a finite part of the truth in doing so. A truth can only appear where knowledge gives out, where there is something genuinely new to be thought and done.

...


When the first two are so obviously wrong, why continue?

I've accepted rationally the fact that the world is a violent and terrible place and that it most likely always will be until there aren't any organic life forms living in it.

That is why I will refuse to actively participate in violence, for any reason, even and especially not in service of the delusion that if I only kill/maim myself or my cronies into "power" (which is so diffuse now as to be completely out of reach anyway), that the world will be a better place. Were I to successfully do so, thenI would be no better than any other power broker, and then I would be the one who needed overthrowing, and the one with the sin to answer for. Violence is base and lewd and sadistic, and I won't have anything to do with it. It's the least rational act there is.

The endless cycle of destruction, idiocy, and mindless self-preservation can proceed without me. You can have your lame hunger for "power", and let yourself be destroyed by it. Don't expect everyone to laud you as humanity's great hope and salvation for it.

josef k.
01-06-2009, 09:18 PM
Politically speaking, Badiou's commitment to conceptual clarity and transmissibility militates against the authoritarian obscurantism of a Heidegger or a Lacan.

Here is an example of how Badiou's vocabulary transmits in practice:

http://k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/archives/005025.html

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 09:23 PM
Here is an example of how Badiou's vocabulary transmits in practice:

http://k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/archives/005025.html

:rolleyes:

In a fight, I put my money on those same big dumb jocks who don't give a shit about the Forms and whose frat buddies probably work for Goldman Sachs.

This was just priceless:

"In other words, it was Spinoza's dogmatism that allow him to overthrow the 'authority' of the Torah."

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 09:27 PM
Nostalgia for the phallic center is so politically progressive.

poetix
01-06-2009, 09:32 PM
I'd forgotten that piece. One of his best I think.

josef k.
01-06-2009, 09:33 PM
See also:

http://eventmechanics.net.au/?p=155 (http://eventmechanics.net.au/?p=155)

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 09:33 PM
Yeah, can't wait till you and Kpunk kick everyone's ass.

roffle

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 09:36 PM
I'm glad someone finally clued me in that the Torah's authority is non-existent since Spinoza's day. For most of my life I was foolish enough to believe that there was a sizeable population of practicing Jews in the world for whom the Torah's authority is still very real and significant.

josef k.
01-06-2009, 09:37 PM
“It comes down to the fact that this giant of human thought, who [thinks] about neither mediation (the Party), nor mediators (party cadres) nor milieus (like those of the intelligentsia) nor the means (of distribution) [is] the least political of theoreticians. The author of [Being and Event] would not be able, I think, to adequately explain to himself the power that his mobilizing -ism would one day exert over...men”

Tentative Andy
01-06-2009, 09:40 PM
The mathematicians I've spoken to tell me that it's basically OK - there's plenty of scope for disagreement over the "meta-ontogical" philosophical framework he builds around them, but the technical presentation of mathematical topics in Badiou is usually pretty faithful to his sources (e.g. Goldblatt on topoi) and often quite a bit easier to follow.

I did a fair bit of preparatory work before starting to read Logics of Worlds, and didn't find Badiou's discussion of Heyting algebras jarringly inconsistent with what I'd read of them up to that point. I think he tends to take the advice of working mathematicians. I imagine it would be a mortifying embarrassment to him if it turned out that he had got something egregiously wrong.

Lacan uses mathematical notation the same way he uses natural language, as material for puns; and Deleuze is more interested really in the intuitions behind mathematical notions than in deploying them in any formally consistent way. Neither is committed to the mathematics in such a way that their non-kosher use of it invalidates them as a thinker; whereas a fault in Badiou's maths really would amount to a fault in his system, simply because of the way in which the maths is used to give form to the system. (Nowhere is it suggested, however, that the maths proves the system...)

Thank you Poetix, that was actually really helpful

But this:
"I'd forgotten that piece. One of his best I think. "
Surely you must be joking? (Please?) :eek:

poetix
01-06-2009, 09:40 PM
When the first two are so obviously wrong, why continue?

That - "obviously wrong" - sounds less like "heresy" to me than it does like an assertion of orthodox commonsense.

Needless to say, it's supposed to feel wrong - viscerally wrong, so wrong you'd be wasting your time even trying to begin to reason with someone who didn't just viscerally feel how wrong it was, who didn't feel its wrongness in the same way as you and every right-thinking person. It is an infuriating, heretical position, a brazen repudiation of what "everybody thinks"...

poetix
01-06-2009, 09:43 PM
“It comes down to the fact that this giant of human thought, who [thinks] about neither mediation (the Party), nor mediators (party cadres) nor milieus (like those of the intelligentsia) nor the means (of distribution) [is] the least political of theoreticians. The author of [Being and Event] would not be able, I think, to adequately explain to himself the power that his mobilizing -ism would one day exert over...men”

Heidegger on Hitler, presumably.

I now declare this thread officially Godwinned.

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 09:45 PM
That - "obviously wrong" - sounds less like "heresy" to me than it does like an assertion of orthodox commonsense.

Needless to say, it's supposed to feel wrong - viscerally wrong, so wrong you'd be wasting your time even trying to begin to reason with someone who didn't just viscerally feel how wrong it was, who didn't feel its wrongness in the same way as you and every right-thinking person. It is an infuriating, heretical position, a brazen repudiation of what "everybody thinks"...

You must be joking.

This is exactly the same sort of shit you'd hear sitting in front of many pulpits west of Turkey. You'd hear it at a neo-nazi rally. You'd hear it if you were sitting within ear shot of a 9-11 truther. It's a very simplistic, easy statement to make. And it's made all the time. "There are Truths, and these must be adhered to at all costs."

This is stupid either/or thinking. Difference is difficult to negotiate therefore let's pretend it doesn't exist and simply seek power over all of those Others towards whom we have no responsibility. Because there's a certain discourse of multiculturalism that is problematic it's either choose that or choose dogma. There's never any other option.

Btw, the difference between us is that I don't believe that I am heretical. You seem to believe you are, however. I don't think I have all the answers. When I look at the world I mostly have questions and no answers. I also do not believe that I understand capital-t Truths that others don't, and therefore anyone who doesn't subscribe to the Truths I've settled on deserves to die.

Mr. Tea
01-06-2009, 09:48 PM
Talk about being too concerned with basic survival for cerebral distractions. I bet some of them were writing poetry too, like the inmates at Guantanamo. The incorrigible elitists!

Not to mention soldiers in the trenches in WWI. Isn't war one of the great catalysts and inspirations for poetry? - not from a position of detached reflection, I mean, but as it's experienced by the poor fuckers on the front line. I dunno, I guess that's your department really (poetry I mean, not war).

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 09:49 PM
Not every other is an "enemy"...if that's the way you think I seriously feel sorry for you.

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 09:55 PM
That - "obviously wrong" - sounds less like "heresy" to me than it does like an assertion of orthodox commonsense.

Needless to say, it's supposed to feel wrong - viscerally wrong, so wrong you'd be wasting your time even trying to begin to reason with someone who didn't just viscerally feel how wrong it was, who didn't feel its wrongness in the same way as you and every right-thinking person. It is an infuriating, heretical position, a brazen repudiation of what "everybody thinks"...

By the way, it's not even slightly "infuriating", it's just kind of sad and embarrassing that people on the "Left" think being Timothy McVeigh is something everyone should attain to.

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 10:02 PM
Hegel + Plato does not = heresy

by any stretch of the imagination

Tentative Andy
01-06-2009, 10:10 PM
Ok, that k-punk post has got me fairly annoyed, but that's probably what he wanted, and it's useful in a way because it's got me geared up to make a topic about some of the presuppositons behind it and some other blogland posts. Come soon. In the meantime, something vaguely relevant to this thread and the question about whether Badiou is a hegemonic figure currently, and if so, why is this annoying people?

I'll happily admit that I know next to nothing about the higher echelons of academia, and so can't comment on whether there a huge number of card-carrying Badiouvians about at the level, or how being one affects people in terms of conference reception, presitgeous job appointments, publishing deals etc (though the recent Communism Conference and the ammount of attention that was paid Badiou at it must mean something, I think, even if it's just that he's held as something as a figurehead for the oppositional/marginalised parts of the academy).
Where Badiouvian thought does appear to be very influential however, to the point of often being accepted without question or justification, is... not perhaps this site in particular, but certainly the larger network of message boards, websites and blogs of which it is a part. It seems to me that a particulary strong influence is notable on the sort of blogs which dabble in a bit of philosophy, a bit of general cultural theory, a bit of more specific criticism on music, film etc (and I'm not the first by any means to make this accusation, of course) - there's definately a small but very influential network that exists between k-punk, Infinite Though, owen h and Poetix's own blog (however modest he may be about it), one of the functions of which has to been to promote central Badiouvian ideas. It should also be noted that k-punk in particular has been influential in the passing-down of similar ideas to other bloggers and critics like Reynolds and Woebot, who do not primarily deal with philosophy and who may not be formally philosophically trained. (I'm aware this may all seem a bit paranoid, but reckon it contains some undeniable truth).

Edit: I forgot to mention gek/Mr Splintering, who's clearly another important part of the Badiouvian on-line merry-go-round (or austerity-go-round? ;D ), but to his credit he's far more self-aware and self-critical than most. If there's anyone else that I've missed, then no offence, I've probably just not read you yet.

Oh and Poetix, I really don't mean to pick a fight with you, but as regards Heidegger and 'authoritarian obscuratanism', I really don't find Being and Time on the whole to be obscure in any needless or oppressive way. His later work I struggle with though, I'll acknowledge that.

Tentative Andy
01-06-2009, 10:12 PM
That was longer than required, but I could sense a bit of an elephant in the room, and you know how much I hate them. :)

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 10:26 PM
I agree with you on later Heidegger, Andy. The later the Heidegger the stranger it gets.

Unfortunately, the hype trickle down effect is how "philosophy" works/gets distributed now. Along the way, theory has become the purview of journalists (that ultimate the liberal ideal, the "public intellectual", that check and balance against the power of the government). Derrida hated this situation, and I do too. I think it's pathetic. I'll get on the formalism train when journalists and mediagentsia (and the parent companies who pay them) no longer decide what is important and relevant to philosophy.

Funny, isn't it, how capitalists love to publish these allegedly heretical tomes? Sort of the same way they love a Bill O'Reilly or a Glenn Beck or an Anne Coulter. (All of whom believe there are Truths--like American supremacy and entitlement--that need fighting for, with violence if necessary.) Extremism sells, in this complicated time of global visibility and data overload. Easy answers, that good old "because Daddy says so" insistence, is refreshing and like water to dying men when the world gets out of hand and too much for us.

We've finally built networks that we know we can't control, and this is what happens.

Tentative Andy
01-06-2009, 10:31 PM
Extremism sells, in this complicated time of global visibility and data overload. Easy answers, that good old "because Daddy says so" insistence, is refreshing and like water to dying men when the world gets out of hand and too much for us.


This is very, very true.

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 10:33 PM
I love the opposition Poetix makes between a statement like "there are truths that should be adhered to at all costs" and "no, obviously not" (which is a statement made based on the fact that truths, whatever they may be, are not self-evident and therefore cannot sustain entire networks or social matrices without negotiation). His statement about truth is, of course, somehow beyond "common sense", somehow a statement that transcends the common man's grasp, and so it is superior to any reactions that are, like mine, not published in the New Left Review. My hesitation can only be based on a complete lack of intellectual reflection and capability.

Any reaction to or dispute with a statement of Badiou's, or for that matter, Poetix's, is a lowly appeal to common sense, and so it could never have the validity of the powerful and magical utterances of the Philosophers. It couldn't be that intellectual stances could diverge from each other. Nope.

This kind of logic makes a giant circle around itself.

Tentative Andy
01-06-2009, 10:45 PM
Yeah, and the other thing that bothers me is the slippage which sometimes occurs from the position that there are certain truths which contradicts common sense (which is correct and important) to the unjustified and often dangerous position that any claim which is in opposition to common sense must always be true (and worthy of attention, approval etc.) simply because of this fact. Now admittedly this sort of argument is more often implied than stated outright, but still, the whole 'I am a persecuted crusader against the tyranny of common sense!' stance is getting rather long in the tooth, imo.

poetix
01-06-2009, 10:50 PM
Ok, that k-punk post has got me fairly annoyed, but that's probably what he wanted

There is an element of wind-up I think, and also of following Lyotard's example of saying the "evil" thing ("hang on tight and spit on me" being a phrase from one of the most infamous passages of Libidinal Economy). A lot of the writing on k-punk is a probe for thinking with: "how can I know what I think until I see what I say?", although part of the point is to unearth what one "really" thinks, in the way of unconscious commitments and prejudices, and openly contest it in writing.


there's definately a small but very influential network that exists between k-punk, Infinite Though, owen h and Poetix's own blog (however modest he may be about it), one of the functions of which has to been to promote central Badiouvian ideas. It should also be noted that k-punk in particular has been influential in the passing-down of similar ideas to other bloggers and critics like Reynolds and Woebot, who do not primarily deal with philosophy and who may not be formally philosophically trained. (I'm aware this may all seem a bit paranoid, but reckon it contains some undeniable truth).

Well, if this small knot of bloggers isn't who Daniel means when he says "Badiouvians", then I honestly don't know who the fuck he thinks he means. There's a certain amount of old, warmed-over cuntishness in his furious attempts to portray us as heretic-burning elitists consumed by our own intellectual vanity. But "power-block"? Come on.

There is a sort of minor eminence - like being the kid with the high-score on the pinball machine in the local cafe - which makes you, locally, the person to beat. I can't say that it's an eminence particularly worth aspiring to. But, really, that's about the scale of power and influence we're talking about here. Only in the demented imagination of Dejan Nikolevic are any of us figures of the remotest importance.

There is the book series, which shifts the game up a register, and Owen's recently been doing very well for himself in architecture journalism (but he's not particularly into Badiou...). It's possible that one or other of us will eventually amount to something, although I don't think it's going to be me. Mark K-P would like to assemble a vast anonymous kollektive to swarm over the karkass of defunkt kapital, but there's a slight risk of us just turning into the wankers from Slate, and I don't think anybody really wants that.

If you ever see me pontificating on the Late Review, feel free to call me a careerist twat, as that's certainly what I will have become by that point.


Oh and Poetix, I really don't mean to pick a fight with you

How refreshingly novel.


, but as regards Heidegger and 'authoritarian obscuratanism', I really don't find Being and Time on the whole to be obscure in any needless or oppressive way. His later work I struggle with though, I'll acknowledge that.

I've never tried reading it in German, but my impression is that Heideggerian is an idiom that "comes clear" when you tune into it, and can seem terribly murky until you do. The later work, as you say, is problematic.

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 10:51 PM
Science long ago debunked the idea that there is a "common sense" and then some sort of other kind of more proper, more rational thinking.

Humans don't think rationally. That's simply not how the brain machine works. It didn't evolve that way. It evolved to react to situations to avoid predation and danger and perceived threats.

If you want to think rationally, why would you give in to the most autonomic, "mindless" impulse that humans experience ("fight or flight")?

Btw, the guy who killed Tiller believed in Truths that needed fighting for:
http://www.kansascity.com/news/nation/story/1226722.html

Tentative Andy
01-06-2009, 11:06 PM
If you ever see me pontificating on the Late Review, feel free to call me a careerist twat, as that's certainly what I will have become by that point.


I will now to be keenly watching it in anticipation of a bloke in full clown clothing and make-up showing up. ;)

But yeah, I can accept that my perception could be trick of the light, that the apparent dominance of Badiouvian-informed discourse only appears as such to people like me that move within these fairly small, enclosed circles. But equally I think you ought to accept, that within that particular circle, you and some of your friends (if that's the right word, which it almost certainly isn't) have a degree of influence. I don't really know anything about Daniel/josef k, and so can't comment on any broader axes to grind.
I should also mention that I feel that the 'provacative' school of writing which you describe is also getting a bit overdone; or, if not overdone as such, then too easy to produce a poor example of. But I can understand the position it comes from, bascially the Nietzchean that people sometimes need to be scared or alarmed into thought. Why attempts to do this often fail is something I need to reflect on more.

Being & Time has reasoned arguments and everything! :)

nomadthethird
01-06-2009, 11:21 PM
It's not even close to a "power block", it's a small clique. The internet is very good at creating this sort of circle of influence, and also in magnifying its apparent significance: it draws together a "self-selected" group which has little reach outside of its own spheres of habit. This group will tend to visit similar websites, read similar blogs, have mutual friends, etc., and so they're "everywhere" to one another, but to anyone who isn't within the radius, its influence is invisible.

Polemics are interesting to me, but the Badiouvian stuff seems much more earnest than that. Maybe it's not, I don't know. If its extremism were merely a rhetorical flourish, there would be no need for the extremely arch self-righteousness (which sometimes I like), would there?

I could do without the utterly weird pretense to originality and shocking newness. Otherwise--this too shall pass. They always do.

Tentative Andy
01-06-2009, 11:24 PM
The internet is very good at creating this sort of circle of influence, and also in magnifying its apparent significance: it draws together a "self-selected" group which has little reach outside of its own spheres of habit. This group will tend to visit similar websites, read similar blogs, have mutual friends, etc., and so they're "everywhere" to one another, but to anyone who isn't within the radius, its influence is invisible.


Again, a good point well put.

vimothy
01-06-2009, 11:24 PM
In summary, then: there were violent, communist revolutions (called "truths"), and we want to have more of them?

vimothy
01-06-2009, 11:57 PM
"Dying for the "truth."— We should not let ourselves be burnt for our opinions: we are not so certain of them as all that. But we might let ourselves be burnt for the right of possessing and changing our opinions."

poetix
02-06-2009, 07:15 AM
In summary, then: there were violent, communist revolutions (called "truths"), and we want to have more of them?

May '68, the civil rights movement, Stonewall...more! But different! Fail better!

poetix
02-06-2009, 07:16 AM
Science long ago debunked the idea that there is a "common sense" and then some sort of other kind of more proper, more rational thinking.

Science pretty much embodies the notion that there is a more rational way of thinking about reality than "common sense".

poetix
02-06-2009, 09:09 AM
I mean, any sentence starting "science long ago debunked...", is clearly making some appeal to the rationality of the debunking agent ("science") over and above that of the debunked.

Is that appeal - gulp! - authoritarian? I don't believe so: scientific assertions of fact rest on evidence and demonstration, not a "...because I said so". The evidence can be enlarged, reframed or contested, the demonstration - if its form is rigorous - shown to contain inconsistencies.

A scientific "truth" in Badiou's sense is not a fact, but the "figure" (type of formal process) through which a fact is produced, its evidential basis demonstrated and its consequences derived. For the scientist, certainly, there are truths, and they are not reducible to opinions -although the facts they establish remain in principle contestable.

poetix
02-06-2009, 10:01 AM
Here is a critique of Badiou with some polemical bite (http://cultstud.blogspot.com/2009/06/scattered-speculations-on-badiou.html).

vimothy
02-06-2009, 11:01 AM
George Tiller?

padraig (u.s.)
02-06-2009, 11:28 AM
well unsurprisingly I find myself again with nomad, in the common sense corner, against the Badiouists/apologists/etc

the $ quote. or a $ quote.


In a fight, I put my money on those same big dumb jocks who don't give a shit about the Forms and whose frat buddies probably work for Goldman Sachs.

all of K-Punk's (& etc) truth-to-power business, which also unfortunately comes off like an upscale version of bog standard old New Leftist ranting*, would be so much easier to take seriously if any the things/people he was rejecting cared. no compromise with the bourgeois liberals! FFS.

it reminds me of nothing so much as the kinds of hardcore anarchopunk bands I grew up proclaiming their hatred of commercialism as loudly & as often as possible. if no one is interested in offering you the chance to sell out what's the point of whinging on & fooking on about it...

the thing is, despite how learnedly stupid it all is, I would still be with the hardliners in a heartbeat if I thought there was the smallest, most remote, most infinitesimal fraction of a percent that any good would come of it. or that it was relevant to anyone, anywhere, beyond a few cloistered circles of leftist academics.

*tho that may be a compliment to some people

swears
02-06-2009, 01:17 PM
There is an element of wind-up I think, and also of following Lyotard's example of saying the "evil" thing ("hang on tight and spit on me" being a phrase from one of the most infamous passages of Libidinal Economy). A lot of the writing on k-punk is a probe for thinking with: "how can I know what I think until I see what I say?", although part of the point is to unearth what one "really" thinks, in the way of unconscious commitments and prejudices, and openly contest it in writing.



Nope, I think he really actually means it, his whole schtick is super-earnestness.

My problem with what he was saying there is that it's not dogmatic to point out something like God's non-existence. It's about as "dogmatic" as pointing out the fact that unicorns aren't real. The dogmatic bit is when you actively start to prevent people from worshipping.

The idea of dogmatism is that you believe in something no matter what, and that's inherently stupid. I believe in the theory of evolution, but if it was proved to me tomorrow that the theory was flawed and a better theory replaced it, that would change my mind. I think pluralism and tolerance are often good things, not because they're "nice" or "liberal" but because I could be wrong. You don't always have all the facts, there's nothing anti-realist or anti-sceptical about listening to the views of others.

swears
02-06-2009, 01:40 PM
At the time when I could have done the most, I was a complacent liberal who was more or less happy to let the grown-ups run things.

I'm getting quite into liberalism at the moment. Reading some José Ortega y Gasset and Isaiah Berlin. Next time an angry leftist calls me a liberal, I'll just nod my head and say "Yep, that's me!"

I'm rather tired of all this baby Baader-Meinhof bullshit, all these Net 2.0 Wolfie Smiths.

scottdisco
02-06-2009, 01:49 PM
I should also mention that I feel that the 'provacative' school of writing which you describe is also getting a bit overdone; or, if not overdone as such, then too easy to produce a poor example of. But I can understand the position it comes from, bascially the Nietzchean that people sometimes need to be scared or alarmed into thought. Why attempts to do this often fail is something I need to reflect on more.

well said.

i didn't half enjoy that Paul Bowman piece from poetix!

massrock
02-06-2009, 01:54 PM
It's only Net 2.0 if you allow comments on your blog. :)

Mr. Tea
02-06-2009, 02:15 PM
Next time an angry leftist calls me a liberal, I'll just nod my head and say "Yep, that's me!"


Additionally, remind them that it's the favourite term of abuse of Bill O'Reilly, Anne Coulter et cetera, ad nauseam.

swears
02-06-2009, 02:28 PM
Additionally, remind them that it's the favourite term of abuse of Bill O'Reilly, Anne Coulter et cetera, ad nauseam.

Yeah, but at least those people really believe in something. :rolleyes:

Besides, Didn't Zizek once say that the American Christian right with all their iron will and moral rectitude could be courted as allies rather than considered as opponents?

poetix
02-06-2009, 02:28 PM
Bowman essentially does a Bourdieuian number on Badiou (how does Badiou function in terms of questions of taste and distinction, whose cultural status and identity is shored up by that function, etc.).

Probably the best line of counter-attack would be Rancierian: most of what I've been saying about the will to understand, the ability to participate in the practico-theoretic construction of a truth etc. presupposes a generic intellectual and political (and artistic, and amorous) capacity that Ranciere/Badiou thinks everybody just has, and Bourdieu thinks is the by-product of an uneven social process of cultivation. The idea here would not be to argue, against the evidence of one's own eyes, that the cultivation of people's capacities is not uneven, but to uphold Ranciere's point that such cultivation presupposes a capacity that does not depend upon it. Anyway, I'll work out the details later on.

vimothy
02-06-2009, 02:32 PM
The people who murdered Dr George Tiller were possessed by a violent belief, by a certainty, a "truth" no less, and heroically unprepared to let the liberal world continue to spin on its axis as if everything was okay. Are they so distinct from Badiou's imagined revolutionaries? And if they are, is it merely that pro-life, bad, communism, good?

poetix
02-06-2009, 02:47 PM
Yes, yes, I get it: being too certain about anything is teh bad, we should be tolerant of conflicting viewpoints, after all we're only human etc. etc.

Generally good rules for ordinary human sociality, which is why they're part of everybody's kindergarten-level moral training.

In what circumstances might someone (who wasn't simply psychologically damaged and looking for excuses to hurt other people) legitimately suspend or revoke those rules? Do they apply in all situations? This is a trick question.

vimothy
02-06-2009, 03:01 PM
Ah, the tr00 kvlt! And where might we find such people – Birkbeck College refectory?

Mr. Tea
02-06-2009, 03:16 PM
Yeah, but at least those people really believe in something. :rolleyes:

Besides, Didn't Zizek once say that the American Christian right with all their iron will and moral rectitude could be courted as allies rather than considered as opponents?

Allies against whom, I wonder? Presumably lilly-livered bourgeois liberals like you and me, who'd prefer not to have to live under either Soviet-style state communism or a sort of cheerfully fascistic, Jesus-flavoured version of Shari'a law.

poetix
02-06-2009, 03:18 PM
It's not about some special cadre of human beings who place themselves above the moral codes that govern ordinary mortals. It's about the conditions under which ordinary mortals might commit themselves, with courage and anxiety, to an uncertain cause.

poetix
02-06-2009, 03:19 PM
The French Resistance, say. Or partisans in the Warsaw ghetto.

vimothy
02-06-2009, 03:20 PM
You have the cart rather before the horse in that case.

josef k.
02-06-2009, 03:37 PM
Heidegger on Hitler, presumably.

I now declare this thread officially Godwinned.

Regis Debray on Karl Marx.

poetix
02-06-2009, 03:42 PM
I may perish from the irony.

josef k.
02-06-2009, 03:45 PM
Well, if this small knot of bloggers isn't who Daniel means when he says "Badiouvians", then I honestly don't know who the fuck he thinks he means. There's a certain amount of old, warmed-over cuntishness in his furious attempts to portray us as heretic-burning elitists consumed by our own intellectual vanity. But "power-block"? Come on.

You're really losing it Dominic... For the record, what I mean by the Badiouvian power-block is the network which organized the Communist Conference at Birkbeck, who collectively control journals, academic appointments, and who were all over the media as a result of that exploit. Every network of people associated with each other operates as a power-block. People do favors for their friends, and there is an excess of power generated by every association - a material process that is more significant then things that they say ("Truth" "The Revolution" "The Working Class") they are committed to. Things which are often said to camouflage and/or justify their real ambitions. Including from themselves.

.

vimothy
02-06-2009, 03:56 PM
So we are a network in search of a ghetto, a resistance in search of an occupation. Not a lonely destiny; we are ordinary middle class people who want to do something extraordinary. And we are not scared of violence. Or rather, we are scared, but committed. Or rather, we might be committed, if this wasn’t hypothetical. Or rather, we are not certain yet if this is hypothetical. But we want to retain the possibility of the possibility of collective revolt. So we shall continue our search.

poetix
02-06-2009, 04:41 PM
Something that I think is being elided too freely in this discussion is the difference between being broadly or even powerfully convinced that Badiou has certain things right, and thinking of oneself (or wishing to think of oneself) as a "militant of a truth" in the sense he establishes. There has been no Badiou-event; Badiou's philosophy is not a truth procedure. Whatever else it is to be a "Badiouvian" (and I am unconvinced that the organisers of the Birkbeck conference were anything of the sort), it is not incorporation into the body of a truth.

poetix
02-06-2009, 04:49 PM
I can't say that I personally have a tremendous desire to live in interesting times.

vimothy
02-06-2009, 05:04 PM
Something that I think is being elided too freely in this discussion...

But might Badiou enable such a thing -- I mean, how did we get from the academy to the ghetto in the course of this conversation?

josef k.
02-06-2009, 05:31 PM
I can't say that I personally have a tremendous desire to live in interesting times.

Right. Because you are conservative.


Why I think Badiou is worth bothering with:

vi) He pisses off all the right people...

And the symbolic provocations you enjoy in Badiou substitute for your own practical accommodations and conventionalism.

No?

poetix
02-06-2009, 05:49 PM
I am a physical coward, yes. I try not to let it determine my political outlook.

josef k.
02-06-2009, 05:52 PM
Fetishist disavowal?

Slothrop
02-06-2009, 06:00 PM
The French Resistance, say. Or partisans in the Warsaw ghetto.
Not entirely responding to your point, but it seems worth mentioning that both of those groups were fundamentally pragmatic / empiricist. If you'd put the question to either of them, they'd have responded that a) what they want is for the Nazis to go aways and stop fucking over their nation / race and for things to be run roughly as they were prior to the Nazis taking over or roughly as they are somewhere that the nazis haven't taken over yet and that b) they believe that this situation would be better because they were in that situation five or ten years ago and it was better or because people in that somewhere seem to be doing better.

This seems to me to be practically quite different from the position of the communist revolutionary who says that a) what they want is for capitalism to go away and be replaced by something else (which they may or may not be willing to describe) and that b) they believe this situation will be better because they've proved it (fsvo proved).

nomadthethird
02-06-2009, 06:00 PM
Science pretty much embodies the notion that there is a more rational way of thinking about reality than "common sense".

No, it doesn't. It embodies a method of data interpretation that has little to do with "thinking", as little to do with it as is humanly possible.

poetix
02-06-2009, 06:02 PM
Systematic interpretation of data is not thinking? I think you have a somewhat narrow conception of what "thinking" is. In the sense you seem to mean, I don't believe mathematical reasoning is "thinking" either.

josef k.
02-06-2009, 06:04 PM
The polemic against common sense, the sense of the common, in favor of a superior meta-language, is elitist.

nomadthethird
02-06-2009, 06:05 PM
Something that I think is being elided too freely in this discussion is the difference between being broadly or even powerfully convinced that Badiou has certain things right, and thinking of oneself (or wishing to think of oneself) as a "militant of a truth" in the sense he establishes. There has been no Badiou-event; Badiou's philosophy is not a truth procedure. Whatever else it is to be a "Badiouvian" (and I am unconvinced that the organisers of the Birkbeck conference were anything of the sort), it is not incorporation into the body of a truth.

You keep saying "truth" as if simply uttering this is the final word on any political subject, and if people only had more "truths" they'd be more politically viable.

People already have their petty little opinions and "truths", and there are thousands and millions of organizations and institutions and political militias and so forth that believe in their "truths" enough to do really stupid, selfish, pig-minded shit in order to either get what they want or make a spectacle trying.

The problem is the world is a complicated place. It's often the case that even the most ABSOLUTIST truths have little bearing on what's actually at hand.

Scientists, when they're wrong, and the data proves it, move on. Dogmatists don't. That's the difference, and that's why scientists keep making things and dogmatists keep making genocide and societies that collapse within 50 years.

nomadthethird
02-06-2009, 06:06 PM
Systematic interpretation of data is not thinking? I think you have a somewhat narrow conception of what "thinking" is. In the sense you seem to mean, I don't believe mathematical reasoning is "thinking" either.

I don't believe in "thinking" as an abstract entity, nope.

nomadthethird
02-06-2009, 06:08 PM
Talk about your ridiculous "common sense" ideas...

Thinking is not some kind of ghost that flies around getting things done in the ether between peoples' heads, even though that's what most people who've not learned anything about neurology or cognitive science believe.

Mr. Tea
02-06-2009, 06:09 PM
No, it doesn't. It embodies a method of data interpretation that has little to do with "thinking", as little to do with it as is humanly possible.

Sometimes I just don't know what to think...


Yeah, that's us scienticians, always not thinking.

poetix
02-06-2009, 06:10 PM
You keep saying "truth" as if simply uttering this is the final word on any political subject, and if people only had more "truths" they'd be more politically viable.

What do you think I mean when I say "a truth"?

josef k.
02-06-2009, 06:10 PM
You really should have been a vicar Dominic, one of those quiet, liberal English-village types, talking earnestly about Jesus and resurrection to old ladies, rather than Events and Truths on an internet message board.

If anyone needs me, I'll be in the world-cum-event.

poetix
02-06-2009, 06:11 PM
Talk about your ridiculous "common sense" ideas...

Thinking is not some kind of ghost that flies around getting things done in the ether between peoples' heads, even though that's what most people who've not learned anything about neurology or cognitive science believe.

Well, people's commonsense notions about things can be pretty...wrong.

nomadthethird
02-06-2009, 06:12 PM
Sometimes I just don't know what to think...

I think there is thinking involved in science, often quite nominally, sometimes very rigorously, but that were it not for the scientific method which corrects and reins in thinking, science wouldn't work or be what it is.

The problem is, what humans generally "perceive" to be true about the world isn't at all. What the world actually is is counter-intuitive to creatures with repitilian deep brain structures that are barely mediated by temporal and frontal lobes that overvalue things like human faces, language, music, etc. It is very, very difficult to correct for human "thinking". Science is very hard because of the limited brains we have to work with.

nomadthethird
02-06-2009, 06:14 PM
What do you think I mean when I say "a truth"?

I don't really care. Your particular rendition of "truth" is not somehow going to trump anyone or everyone else's.

swears
02-06-2009, 06:15 PM
Poetix: when you've talked about "common sense" on this thread do you mean received wisdom? The hegemonic common sense imposed by ruling interests, the kind Gramsci was on about? Just wanted to clear that up.

nomadthethird
02-06-2009, 06:16 PM
Well, people's commonsense notions about things can be pretty...wrong.

Yes, and so can their philosophical abstractions.

Most scientists don't put much stock in things like "truth", "belief", "values"...ever wonder why?

nomadthethird
02-06-2009, 06:17 PM
ruling interests

Academic, commercial, political, which? Are there really "ruling" interests or is there a vast network of exchange that nobody "rules"?

Mr. Tea
02-06-2009, 06:18 PM
The problem is, what humans generally "perceive" to be true about the world isn't at all. What the world actually is is counter-intuitive to creatures with repitilian deep brain structures that are barely mediated by temporal and frontal lobes that overvalue things like human faces, language, music, etc. It is very, very difficult to correct for human "thinking". Science is very hard because of the limited brains we have to work with.

Well yeeees, but I don't think that implies "science involves as little thinking as possible".

I put it to you that Galileo, Newton, Lavoisier, Darwin, Einstein and Feynman were all at least averagely good at "thinking", for any remotely reasonable definition of the word.

massrock
02-06-2009, 06:19 PM
Thinking is not some kind of ghost that flies around getting things done in the ether between peoples' heads, even though that's what most people who've not learned anything about neurology or cognitive science believe.
I think that most people think that thinking is something that goes on inside people's heads actually.

nomadthethird
02-06-2009, 06:20 PM
Well yeeees, but I don't think that implies "science involves as little thinking as possible".

I put it to you that Galileo, Newton, Lavoisier, Darwin, Einstein and Feynman were all at least averagely good at "thinking", for any remotely reasonable definition of the word.

Oh lord how hard is it to get Westerners to stop believing in the powers of their own minds.

You might as well ask them to stop watching TV or playing x-box.

nomadthethird
02-06-2009, 06:23 PM
I think that most people think that thinking is something that goes on inside people's heads actually.

No, they think that their thinking extends far outside of their own heads, and gets all sorts of things done. They think that if they only think harder, all will be revealed. I doubt that.

In a sense, it's correct to believe that our sense-perception organs are not limited to our internal brain structures. But that doesn't mean that "thinking" is the be-all, end-all of human interaction.

nomadthethird
02-06-2009, 06:31 PM
In fact, the entire body thinks. But don't tell people that. The body below the head is bad and dirty. It couldn't possibly be full of the very nerves that send sensory information to the brain in the first place.

There is no "pure" thinking in a human brain, and there's no "pure" thinking outside of it. Abstract systems are worthwhile, imo, only insofar as they make things better according to the people who decide to employ them. Science is by no means straightforwardly a "good thing" any more than anything else is. But I don't want to live in a world where I can't take antibiotics if I get a UTI, so I'm not going to complain too much about it.

Humans need to remember that they actually don't know much of anything.

massrock
02-06-2009, 06:35 PM
Except for those people who've learned lots about neurology and cognitive science, because they know lots of things and always see where they have lapsed into dogma.

nomadthethird
02-06-2009, 06:38 PM
Except for those people who've learned lots about neurology and cognitive science, because they know lots of things and always see where they have lapsed into dogma.

I don't know if I'm sure about what you mean here, but I've never met any dogmatist neurologists, just people who have studied the brain empirically and are willing to make hypotheses and abandon them very quickly when their work can't stand up to peer review.

Of course, there's the occasional asshole who fakes data, and many companies who bend it, however, so there's no such thing as "pure" science. I have no illusions about science being pure.

Ask for "purity" from the world and you'll be waiting in silence for the rest of eternity.

nomadthethird
02-06-2009, 06:45 PM
A scientific "truth" in Badiou's sense is not a fact, but the "figure" (type of formal process) through which a fact is produced, its evidential basis demonstrated and its consequences derived. For the scientist, certainly, there are truths, and they are not reducible to opinions -although the facts they establish remain in principle contestable.

No, to scientists there are facts, and these are subject to change at a moment's notice.

Scientist do not give a shit about Badiou or philosophically abstract truths, believe it or not. If they do, they care about it on their own time, since this would have nothing to do with science.

nomadthethird
02-06-2009, 06:49 PM
Not entirely responding to your point, but it seems worth mentioning that both of those groups were fundamentally pragmatic / empiricist. If you'd put the question to either of them, they'd have responded that a) what they want is for the Nazis to go aways and stop fucking over their nation / race and for things to be run roughly as they were prior to the Nazis taking over or roughly as they are somewhere that the nazis haven't taken over yet and that b) they believe that this situation would be better because they were in that situation five or ten years ago and it was better or because people in that somewhere seem to be doing better.

This seems to me to be practically quite different from the position of the communist revolutionary who says that a) what they want is for capitalism to go away and be replaced by something else (which they may or may not be willing to describe) and that b) they believe this situation will be better because they've proved it (fsvo proved).

Slothrop, these same Badiou readers who will put down anyone for looking for social justice outside of "total transformation" or revolution (e.g. feminists) will in the next breath talk about how the civil rights movement (which was pragmatic and demanded nothing like total transformation, but actually small, incremental, legal-procedural changes and largescale social reform) is a Truth.

Mr. Tea
02-06-2009, 06:49 PM
Oh lord how hard is it to get Westerners to stop believing in the powers of their own minds.

You might as well ask them to stop watching TV or playing x-box.

OK, you've completely lost me now. Is this part of your ongoing polemical broadside against "common sense"?

If it wasn't Darwin's mind that came up with the theory of speciation by natural selection, which part of him did, exactly? And if it wasn't any part of him, why is he popularly given credit for it?

Mr. Tea
02-06-2009, 06:52 PM
In fact, the entire body thinks. But don't tell people that. The body below the head is bad and dirty. It couldn't possibly be full of the very nerves that send sensory information to the brain in the first place.

Stephen Hawking seems to do OK, and his body is rubbish.