Friday, 4 May 2012

Self-Assertion of an English Garden (After-Life Topoi of Nazi Desire) Chapter 6.3.

1.     Il faut cultiver notre jardin   
2.     Pêcheurs de lune
3.     Iterability of the Nazi State (Economy of Genocide)
4.     Growth (and Form/Morphe)
5.     Decay
6.     Pompes Funèbres
6.1.  Type (Model, Example, Tupos)
6.2.  Usus Tyrannus (Interlude)
6.3.  The Ageing of a Note
7.      Critique of Beginnings
8.      Demonology of Defeat 

6.      Pompes Funèbres

6.3.   The Ageing of a Note

31st December 1990 “At the end of the year I am feeling confused and not yet ready to let the year go.  Am I caught in the claws of the German like Ganymede?  Do I squander my whole energy and urge to empathize with alien life, my ‘temptation to love the malformed’ on them, the Germans?  Why?  What are they to me?  The dissection of them and their crimes will never erase them.  Obsession is hard work and I shun any sort of work.  There is no more senseless work around.  I wish someone would liberate me from this tyrannical habit.  I would much rather write novels about ancient Athens or a history of Montezuma than about Germans.  Every Australian murderer and pickpocket is more fascinating, or even about Cornish beach smugglers and wreckers, without memory, without history.”  



Like a model, the ‘good’ example must be typical, representative of the ‘set’ of phenomena – it must be itself and ‘typical’ or representative at the same time.  Mussolini is an example of the fascist dictator and he was one as well.  All of his characteristics function as a model or are ‘equal’ to the model – they are a ‘Vorbild’ or template for anyone aspiring to that office.  He is as such a sort of Realabstraktion of himself.  His person became a canon for all subsequent fascist dictators.  He is the original and the generic type at the same time.
In Badiou’s schema – Mussolini would have been or is (in the eternity of fidelity to the event) the subject of a truth procedure – under the condition of politics.

Is fascism equally original and generic – how does one construe (determine) generic fascism? Is that a simplification?
Generic fascism has become a commonplace denotation of fascism in the more recent studies associating it with palingenetic movements for and against modernity (See David D. Roberts, The Totalitarian Experiment in Twentieth-Century Europe, New York, 2006).  Besides generic fascism, Roberts mentions generic Führer-principle, generic vision of national redemption, generic modern tendency and as a variation original and classic fascism.  Oddly there is no generic communism – although he practises the usual conflation of communism and fascism as generic totalitarianism.  Is fascism the generic ‘forbidden’?
‘Generic fascism’ is the elevation of the ‘commonplace’ to the level of myth.  Should there not also be a generic Nazism?

Simplification is a kind of primitive mathematical or computational model.  Reality is not simple, thus to be able to ‘think’ it, one must construct models which leave out all the deviations and exceptions, what Adorno refers to as those ‘conceptless micrologies’ of the Particular, in which the General likes to hide.  Simple is not just ‘easy’ – an abstraction of the simple kind can be very elaborate, such as Badiou’s applications of set theory.  Simple refers to the tacit assumption that reality is pre-constructed, pre-existing, an anterior unchanging foil to the instruments used to capture it – such as set theory mathematics.

By declaring the identity of mathematics and ontology Badiou would suggest they are simultaneous both in the sense of a continuum or succession in space and in an ideal temporal progress even in a world where temporality is suspended.  But set theory itself is historical and mortal – having been discovered, constructed by mathematicians in the 20th century.  How is it possible that ontology had to wait so long to find its perfect match?  He calls mathematics a thinking independent of conscious experience, but a thinking all the same.  Thinking is itself a conscious act – posterior to being, ontology.  

Simplification or Primitive Models are low forms (breeds) of metaphysics – they suggest a general or universal illusory type to which all empirical data is related.  Badiou’s ubiquitous term ‘generic’ means exactly the type as the union of the Particular and the General or rather the identity of both.  A simplification is a simple kind of abstraction – all formalisations are of the nature of simplification.  If the simplification or formalisation has nothing of the more complex nature of the higher form, it is worthless – if it is equally complex then it is no simplification.  One cannot prove a simplification – it must have some or enough easily recognizable characteristics of the original to remind you of what it is simplifying – like the plot of a story. The major ‘ontological’ characteristics of mathematics, those which it shares with reality or ontology are for Badiou the Void and Infinity. 
An example is a naturally occurring simplification – it represents the whole of a body of phenomena.  That is why it is an example.  In a sense, Badiou’s “mathematics=ontology” turns mathematics into an example of ontology, but an example identical, equal with the whole - like the legendary map which contains everything of which it is a map on a scale of one to one.  Mathematics is the instrument, the thinking-thing merging totally with that which it thinks – ontology – with no remainder.

The value (intensity) of the example or “exemplary consciousness” (Adorno) is itself a historical effect.  Adorno traces it to Husserl and the claim of phenomenology to be directly and ‘objectively’ descriptive and not reflective in its “research” of “examples” or phenomena.  Heidegger has inherited his pretence that Being is not a concept, lies prior to all thought, is both immediate and ‘originary’ (ursprünglich), from the non-reflective ‘objectivity’ of the phenomenological school and its
Wesenschau (intuition of essences). (See Adorno, Negative Dialektik, ibid. pp. 90 ff.)
Wittgenstein’s ‘method’ in the Philosophical Investigations purports to proceed by the presenting of ‘examples’ – these examples have the status of rules.  An example has the virtue of fusing the quasi-empirical – the example as singular case – and the generality of which it is an example.  Any exemplary proof regime implicitly locates the general in the singular case, thus ultimately equating the two.

Such examples lose their immediacy when they serve as primary evidence for the “species”; a particular way of looking which is simultaneously the forming of a judgement turns the object of such “Wesenschau” into not just an element or representative of the species – but into the idea of the species itself.  The phenomenological gaze has an objective foundation beyond the individual author of the judgement – the mode of contemplation is itself grounded in the “collective life of the spirit objectively defined according to its immanent laws.” (Adorno, Negative Dialektik, ibid. p.89)  Phenomenological research or investigation “hypostatizes” its method, its “insight” as later Heidegger hypostatizes Being itself.  In this way Hegel’s sentence – “das Besondere sei das Allgemeine” (“the particular is the general”) is revived, rescued in “Wesenschau”, without the intermediary of a reflective subject.  The functioning of such a figure as Mussolini as himself and the perfection of the species of fascist dictator is a result of the rise of such phenomenological exemplary consciousness.  One can recognize the skeleton of Badiou’s “generic” in this genealogy. Every member of the species is a phantom representative of every other member and thus of the whole species (set) itself.  This is the way a species or series coalesces in its own idea.  In other words, every member of the series or species haunts every other member – and the first of a series anticipates the complete series even if it does not yet exist.  As Adorno writes in “Über den Fetischcharakter in der Musik und die Regression des Hörens” – all tones are contained in the first – heard in advance – “(…) Die im jüngsten Sinn perfekte makellose Aufführung konserviert das Werk um den Preis seiner definitiven Verdinglichung.  Sie führt es als ein mit der ersten Note bereits fertiges vor: die Aufführung klingt wie ihre eigene Grammophonplatte.” [Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung, Herausgegeben im Auftrag des Instituts für Sozialforschung von Max Horkheimer, Jahrgang VII, 1938, Heft 3, p.337: “Perfect, immaculate performance in the latest style preserves the work at the price of its definitive reification.  It presents it as already complete from the very first note.  The performance sounds like its own phonograph record.”, “On the Fetish Character of Music and the Regression of Listening”, in The Culture Industry, London/New York, 1991, p. 44] 

In this sense, all repetitions of the work are also contained in the first note.

Shoyn Fargessn

Does the moment repeat itself – or is only the repetition repeatable?  Or is the moment without recollection – a moment thus not of knowledge or knowing but of belief or unconscious existence – Dasein.  What sort of life is in the moment – what life is the repetition?  Besides life is mercifully also forgetting – not just remembering.  Perhaps there is even more forgetting than remembering in life.  Greek wisdom honoured recollection because the ordinary condition was one of forgetting.  What is the repetition of forgetting?

[Commentary:  Badiou proposes a ‘forget the forgetting of the forgetting’ modelled on Heidegger’s “Seinsvergessenheit” (forgetting of being) to disencumber philosophy of its own history and historicism itself.  The repetition of forgetting transfers forgetting to a higher order?  (See, “The Return of Philosophy Itself”, Conditions, ibid., p.5)  Oddly Cohn-Bendit has published a book of interviews called Forget ‘68 – a forgetting of history, a kind of self-revisionism.  Should one remember something else instead?
But since forgetting is the natural order (of things) – why bother to command it?  Who would have remembered had they not told you to forget?  As they say in Yiddish – shoyn fargessn.
Although Badiou would certainly not want to forget ’68 – he constructs his whole French political consciousness, his “metapolitics” precisely around this episode.  Should one perhaps finally heed Baudrillard’s apothegm “Forget Foucault” (Oublier Foucault)?]

Repetition is Haunting without Ghosts

Not just the dead haunt us – the ghosts – every other is a potential ghost, haunter of our thoughts – also known as memory – but the form the other has for us is that of a ghost – and the inherent action of ghosts is haunting.  This is something, which takes place in the present.  Haunting based on absence either in space or in time is itself a presence – the ghostly presence.
The past cannot project itself retrospectively without inhabiting as if by natural right or law the bodies of the contemporary.  In this regard, haunting is closely related to possession, vampirism and other forms of supernatural parasitism.  Is ‘Haunting’ the ‘ontological need’?
Is even love a species of haunting? – surely the most powerful haunting an Other is capable of is when a bond of love has been forged.  Love is the emotion, which does not allow one to forget the Other even for an instant – or if one does it is as if one has slipped out of the life of love into another estranged one.  This is how one is supposed to remember Krishna.  Not forgetting actually makes memory unnecessary – or it is a simultaneous sort of memory – no time needs to elapse before memory of the present – the impossibility of forgetting – completely fills the mind.

Repetitive structures are also haunting structures.  Or rather haunting structures are repetitive – like the series – each member haunting all other members of the series (set) – particularly when they are identical (generic).  When repetitive structures in one series haunt repetitive non-identical structures in another series… 
The more immanent, secret, hidden affinity between Badiou and Derrida – in the aspect of their implicit ‘philosophy of history’ or even their idea of historical time – is hauntology.  Hauntology, in which the past inhabits, haunts the present – or as I would say – the present haunts the present (as the spectacle or as amour fou) – is translated in Badiou’s thinking into the backward looking “fidelity to the event” – the act of fidelity to the event presupposes this power of haunting.  The “quality” of the past that it can manifest itself beyond its own ‘evental site’ – to project into the future (retrospectively departing from the present) forcing itself upon the present in the form of fidelity to the event. 
The “indiscernible” of the situation – that which is presented but not represented (?) is another trace of haunting – the notion of the trace itself to which Badiou often refers.  In the “fidelity to the event” the contemporary haunts itself by dividing itself between its contemporary embodiment (body) and its devout impersonation of the past (truth-body).  When we remember the dead we are engaged in a kind of “fidelity to the event” – we do not so much choose to remember the dead and by way of remembering them to love them in the most non-self or selfless way, the dead impose themselves on us in a most natural fashion and this imposition is what we call haunting.  We cannot escape the love of the dead ancestor.  
The religious impulse inscribing even the most primitive of religions invests this human reflex for all manner of worship of ancestors and other prominent antecedents with its desired symbolism.
 A vestige of ancestral worship lingers in Badiou’s definition of the trace: “(…) a truth presupposes an organically closed set of material traces, traces that refer not to the empirical uses of a world, but to a frontal change.  A change that has affected at least one object of this world.  We could say that the trace presupposes that every truth is the trace of an event.” (Alain Badiou, Bodies, Languages, Truths, 2006 online)  The event is the dead ancestor we worship in our “fidelity to the event” – thus prolonging, sustaining the reign of the dead.

Haunting implies what Adorno calls “das permanente Zurück” (“the permanent turning back”, Adorno, Negative Dialektik, ibid., p.70) – fidelity to the event, endlessly open but only in the direction of the past, possible or potential only as repetition. (“Daher die geistige Verhaltensweise des permanenten Zurück zu.”: “Thus the spiritual behaviour of the permanent return to.”, ibid.)  This spiritual behaviour belongs to the characteristics of “the ontological need” –that syndrome (related to the “jargon of authenticity”) Adorno discovered in the Heideggerian ontologies of yesteryear -  Badiou’s precursors?

Is “permanent return” not exactly how Badiou sees philosophy in his brief definition of it – as an eternal return in his sense of Nietzsche? 
“The philosophical seizing of truths exposes them to eternity; with Nietzsche we might say that it exposes them to the eternity of their return.” (Alain Badiou, “Definition of Philosophy” in Conditions, ibid., p. 24)  One might also say, Badiou’s philosophy is an immanent proof of the return – for him truth of philosophy is an eternal return and his philosophy itself is a ‘return’ to an “ontological renaissance” of a previous era, like his, mounted on Heidegger and the resurrected metaphysics of Being – “Heidegger envisagé comme lieu commun” (“Heidegger envisaged as a common place”, Manifeste pour la philosophie, Éditions du Seuil, 1989). 
For Badiou the ‘continual contemporaneousness’ of philosophy is not of an empirical today – but “the always of time”, “the intemporal essence of time” of Plato.  So when Badiou says either today or history – he means in both cases eternity – sub specie aeternitatis.  ‘Today’ in eternity is always the same day.  

Haunting definitely belongs to the dominion of the past – or how would the future haunt us?  What is past is not new – it is old.  Youth is opposed to haunting – although under certain circumstances – even youth if it is corrupted enough – can also be haunted.  Such a haunting of youth is told in Henry James’s Turn of the Screw.  The dead valet Peter Quint comes back to pick up his still living charge Miles – because some ineffable debt had been incurred.  The boy had been left in pawn.  Haunting though is not mathematical – the process of equating knowns and unknowns.  Haunting is the equating of knowns with knowns.  The first procedure is fluid – the second rigid.

Not Every Repetition is Musical

How much has to repeat itself for a structure to be a repetition?  How much has to not repeat itself for a structure to be different than the first, not a repetition even if not something new?   The difference between things, which are false, and things, which could be true.  This sort of situation is not a potentiality in the sense of a surplus projected towards an indefinite future – but in the judging of the past.  “There’s some truth in it”, my grandfather Solomon Zachari Semonovitch Kinsbursky confided to me about Freud’s conjecture that Moses was not a Jew.  What Moses was is not a potential variable – but the estimation of his historical identity can vary in accordance with new ways of ascertaining the historical evidence.  All prefiguration ideologies of history (Christianity) in which the future is the determinant of the past also dispense with potentiality.

Repetition is only what happens after the first time – otherwise it would not be repetition.  Decay, entropy, ageing are only related to repetition (if not identical with it), not to the original phenomenon or event and all its constituents.

‘Philosophy for the Others’

Pour moi, quand j’ai désiré d’apprendre, c’était pour savoir moi-même et non pas pour enseigner; (…) toutes les études que j’ai tâché de faire en ma vie au milieu des hommes, il n’y en a guère que je n’eusse faites également seul sans une île déserte (…)”(“For me, when I desired to learn, it was to know for myself and not to teach; (…) all the studies I endeavoured to do in my life amongst people, it would not be much to say that I could have equally done so alone on a deserted island (…)”, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Les Rêveries du Promeneur Solitaire, Troisième Promenade)

Some philosophies are pleas for disciples; some are devised to make it impossible to become a disciple.  Heraclitus in his self-banishment eschewed followers.  The propagators of wisdom and knowledge of many fields, the Pythagoreans, he considered swindlers – and Pythagoras (behind the veil) as the greatest swindler of them all.  Is the cult of Pythagoras a swindle for us as it was for Heraclitus?  Socrates’ philosophy was both against disciples and for them.  He became his own disciple and broke away from himself. (Borges and I)  To have disciples is to be forced by their most ardent fidelity never to abandon a stance, which has aroused their fidelity in the first place.  Fidelity forces you to be as your disciples first saw you – to vary the doctrine first understood by them only in the most minimal of fashions.  The first doctrine is the one, which attracted their fidelity, the one they understand and remember so that it can be repeated to others who join the ranks of disciples.  That is called teaching and learning, transmission of fidelity.  Disciples are by nature conservative.  This makes them highly prone to betrayal of their masters.  It is not so much due to venality as an innate love of established order. 

Socrates’ teaching was a method of becoming ignorant of certainties.  What he despises most in his interlocutors is their certitude in what they profess to know.  If there is certainty, says Socrates, there can only be error and inexactitude.  The more certain the claim, the further it is from the truth.  Conversely in reducing certainties to uncertainties Socrates moves infinitesimally towards the unknowable truth. 

Who is more Socratic?  Badiou who declares Plato and Althusser as his masters, or Wittgenstein who discarded and undermined the certainties of his master Russell?  Who is more revolutionary?  Is being Socratic a virtue?  Socrates himself had no master.  Kierkegaard boasted of going beyond Socrates, although like him in so many ways, but unlike him in his new sort of ignorance:  the ignorance of the human in the face of the God-teacher who is both human and God.  Is it enough to say teacher to imply one is a pupil?  The new sort of incommensurability, which came into the world with this man-God teacher, is given the name paradox.  Instead of error and exactitude as parameter of truth, one must be concerned with sin, consciousness of sin and sin-transcending belief.  A Socratic paradox would be believing to disbelieve.  Disciples, masters and pupils are essential figures/types of the ‘bad class’.

The question of the disciples:  Is the fidelity of a disciple like the fidelity to the event?  What is the relation between master and disciple?  Is it the ‘scene of two’ – in other words love.  Is this love a truth process – the essential one of philosophy?  What about seduction or ‘corruption of youth’ (Socrates’ crime) – the other truth process?  The difference between a pupil and a disciple – the permanence of the disciple. Pupils come and go.  Only certain pupils can become disciples.  They stay.  A disciple ages with his master.  Master-disciple is a disguised master-slave relation – the habits of slavery seep into the aristocratic sphere of education, pedagogy (like the institution of fagging in English boarding schools).   Führer and Gefolgschaft (followers).  The escaped disciple who breaks with his master in the Chassidic tradition fulfils his disciplehood.  He is comparable to the runaway slave – “a rebel, only now am I loyal.” (Celan) 

A variation of the master-disciple relation – the ménage à trois between Jean-Luc Nancy, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jacques Derrida.  Nancy and Lacoue-Labarthe are the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of contemporary French philosophy.   They form with Derrida a golden pyramid or triangle of mutual masterhood and disciplehood.  But Derrida was no Hamlet despite his undecidability.  He was more of a Claudius-machine.  Claudius was the consummate Baroque statesman-intriguant, the perfect mask of legitimacy, “our sovereign process” – arch conspirator and usurper, a brother.  Although beset by raging affects like any Baroque courtier, better than most at concealing them.  Almost a Renaissance figure, Claudius possesses more sprezzatura than the others.  He is far more interesting than Hamlet – who appears almost oafish by comparison.  Finally, Claudius has to initiate the endgame-conspiracy more or less on Hamlet’s behalf.  Claudius sets the Selbsthenker (self-executioner) machine into motion – which destroys the court, the state and Hamlet.  Despite his excesses and scheming, Hamlet is just a cog in King Claudius’ machine. Since murdering his brother, Hamlet’s father, and wedding Hamlet’s mother (the pre-history of the play), Claudius is the only real ‘actor’ in the play. He remains the author of the play’s intrigues from beginning to end.  Hamlet never ‘decides’ not due to some innate weakness of character – but because the ‘machine’ has already decided for him.  Strictly speaking, Hamlet is the character of no character.  Who is the Hamlet of philosophy today?  
For Socrates a truth procedure aims to produce ignorance, because it can never be false when someone says he does not know or does not know for sure.  Or at least, it is less likely to be false.  The infinite moment in Socrates’ truth procedure is just after having established ignorance where others were certain there was knowledge or truth, when others (his interlocutors) and not just Socrates must go on with their inquiries – seeking what they do not know forever.  On the other hand, what they know, they have always known, but forgotten.  Their innate knowledge or truth has always been in their soul.  But the soul is not really theirs – it has previously been circulating amongst other mortal bodies – and what knowledge is theirs is imported into their body via the soul.  But this knowledge must be recollected.  It is not clear if the soul can lose or gain knowledge on its endless journey from body to body.

Truth is the retrieving of this presumably unchanging inborn knowledge – the truth is never new, in fact, it is very old. 
Technically, knowledge or truth is not inborn in the body – it is inborn in the soul, which circulates from body to body.  Socrates (like Swedenborg) applies the laws of motion to the soul.

One could question Socrates’ deus ex machina of the immortality of the soul – but certainly the Socratic questioning undermines any idea of truth being new.  Socrates is always eager to hear the latest gossip from his rivals the sophists, because they are his real source of newness – truth is old but error or gossip is new. 
In a Socratic ‘gesture’ – Badiou writes in The (Re)turn of Philosophy Itself (Conditions, ibid.) that philosophy needs its sophists, the “enemy brother”, especially the great ones – meaning in this century or last century – Wittgenstein.

How then, can Badiou see himself returning to Plato while at the same time declaring: “Truth is first of all something new.”?  One could again object in a Socratic fashion – as Socrates does in Meno – Badiou has not told us what truth is, but now he tells us that it is new.  New is equally undefined or indefinable.

By comparing these most diverse thinkers have I made them commensurate in some sort of quantifiable way – have I insinuated some kind of inexact mathematical judgements into my table of elements?  Have I placed them implicitly in a set?  If Wittgenstein is Badiou’s enemy – is he his mathematical enemy?
But can one determine an enemy mathematically?  Is there an enemy in mathematics?  How does one locate the mathematical enemy?

Whenever one compares largely non-quantifiable entities one must operate with a quasi-mathematical empirical spatial logic – dimensions of absence, presence, more, less, change, non-change, near, far, here, beyond, after.  New would appear to escape quantifiability – but only without relating it to oldness.   New in the sense of never having been present until this moment is also inextricably connected to measurement of time or increments of time.  New must also mean ‘the first’ otherwise it would not be new – so it is always assigned this number.  The New has a claim on being the ‘First’.  The ‘first love’ though is not the New – love is not new.  The second time of the New is not the second it is merely another ‘one’.  Incommensurability is a negative mathematical term – implying the failure to measure or a failed measurement because quantities alias things or matters have no common basis for measurement.  The mere existence of incommensurability suggests a host of phenomena not touched by quantification or mathematics.  Incommensurability is a scandal for commensurability.  How does one determine commensurability?
Is there a new ignorance (or new sort of ignorance)?  Does Ignorance, being so often espoused by Socrates have a place in Plato’s realm of unchanging realities, the intellectual truths of his Ideas?  Platonic is an appellation which comes after Plato – for him his ideas were just ideas.  Is “New “ something, which Plato could think?  How would the New rank amongst the Unchanging Ideas?  An unchanging new?  Badiou must have extracted his idea of Novelty, which is closely related in his system to the Revolutionary from some other source than from Plato (probably from Hegel; Hegel incorporated the French Revolution directly into his concept of the Weltgeist).  Or from Baudelaire?  “(…) Au fond de l’inconnu pour trouver du nouveau!
(“(…) To the bottom of the unknown to find the new!” Le Voyage)
The New must be related to the accident – as it cannot be something entirely foreseeable – otherwise it would not be new.  When does the new cease being new – is there a specific measurable point upon the unending scale of  ‘fidelity to the event’? (Nothing new under the sun.) 

In his way of reasoning Badiou is more like Meno than Socrates.  Meno is a gentleman used to ruling and commanding.  He has learned his arguments from Gorgias and attempts to repeat them to Socrates.  Meno desires to know of Socrates if virtue can be taught.  Socrates wants Meno to first tell him what virtue is.  Instead of telling him about virtue, Meno gives him a list or ‘swarm’ of parts of virtue, none of which stands up under Socrates’ questioning.  Similarly, Badiou asks what truth is, partitions it into an arbitrary quartet of truth discourses – sometimes collapsing the one into the other.  He declares them commensurable (“compossible”) – per axiom.  The four discourses are art, love, politics and science.  They obviously reflect the personal interests of the philosopher himself – at least the ones to which he ‘confesses’.  Just as Heidegger or Kierkegaard confess in their philosophies to their personal obsession with fear and anxiety (dread).   Badiou is a more robust nature – he correlates only positive ‘affects’ with these four truth procedures - for politics – enthusiasm, for arts – pleasure, for love – happiness, for sciences – joy.  Of course all of these ‘conditions’ can turn sour each in its own way – as a result of a historical ‘occultation’ following what Badiou calls “denial”.  But these deteriorated circumstances do not correspond to any other affects.  They are merely corruptions of the ideal of each respective truth procedure.

Love is a highly personal matter – but general as well, especially since its ‘symptoms’ seem to be the same for everyone.  Badiou does not usually speak of a particular love, for instance of Heloise and Abelard, Tristan and Isolde, etc. but he speaks of particular world historical events such as the French Revolution, or art events such as the Tragedy of Aeschylus or the discoveries of Galileo as an example of a scientific event (more or less synonymous with truth procedure – trial by history).  Love one might assume is the non-historical ‘generic’ truth procedure– whereas politics, science and art are inseparable from historical circumstances and a specific individual or collective producer. 

[Commentary: Badiou does present at least one very distinctive example of the resemblance of an amorous encounter and a political historical event in Logics of Worlds – that of the romance of Julie and Saint-Preux in Rousseau’s Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse and the Paris Commune – the uprising of 1871.  What the two ‘events’ have in common is the preponderance of the imaginary, the brevity of the immediate action, ending in failure, death and hopelessness, and the long posterity in the memory (a quasi-imaginary) of the participants, - in the case of the Commune in the revolutionary tradition.  But is this comparison really to be understood as between ontological grades of existence, logics of ontological sites?  Although a failure and mercilessly suppressed, the Commune was an encyclopaedia of revolt for Lenin, the October Revolution and the whole Communist International.  It has the status/posterity of the martyr-precursor in history.  Badiou though forces commensurability between this unsuccessful revolution and the “thwarted affair” of Julie and Saint-Preux in fiction; – Rousseau’s la nouvelle Héloïse is a typical romance of frustrated love between the classes – a bourgeois scholar (a ‘commoner’) versus a member of the gentry (the ‘wise cold Colmar’) to whom the aristocratic Julie was wed by command of her father.  The ontological equation Badiou undertakes is one between a fictional domestic love affair within the bourgeois-aristocratic class and an intermediate figure (the philosophy tutor Saint-Preux – similar to Julien Sorel in Stendhal’s The Red and the Black) and a mass insurrection of the working class.  How are they remotely comparable or “compossible”?  One event is historical, real – with tens of thousands of participants executed (the martyrs) – the other is a fiction in a rather dated novel of mores and social barriers between lovers, one of whom, Julie, dies.  How can the suffering of two individuals because of frustrated passion, “sublime renunciation” (“impossible love” in a novel) be the same sort of ‘ontological site’ as the revolutionary uprising of a population – be inscribed by the same mechanisms?  Both novel and the historical-political event are seen as elements of a ‘logic of appearing’ (being-there) – whereas not ‘the novel’ as an event, but an episode involving certain characters – the types needed by metaphysics.  Jacques le fataliste et son maître, a fiction from the same time by Diderot also shows love and betrayal between the classes (aristocratic ex-lovers and a mother and her daughter turned prostitute from the bourgeoisie déclassé) as a tragic farce of the death of love, misled passion, deception and revenge. (The story formed the base for Robert Bresson’s and Jean Cocteau’s film Les Dames de Bois de Boulogne.)  Why is this not an event – or comparable/compossible with the Paris Commune?  If following Lenin – revolution is war – the only ‘just war’ – an act of absolute hostility – the logic (of appearing) which equates the amorous encounter of the fictional couple Saint-Preux and Julie (their ‘mental affair’) and the Paris Commune – must imply that their tender passion was really the semblance of deep enmity.  The ‘posterity’ of the fictional pair of lovers belongs to Rousseau – the puppet master of these marionettes.  They are figures in his marionette-theatre.  Perhaps Badiou is inclined to relate the ‘mystical’ unfulfilled passion (torrid renunciation) in fiction with the ‘absolute hostility’ of an insurrection ending in the massacre of the insurrectionaries – because of his transcendent Ur-concept of “fidelity” – derived as he admits from the paradigm of love.  But here one is again confused by the seeming retraction of his ironclad axioms on love – love is absolute disjunction (sexual non-rapport); there is no union between the position of the man and the position of the woman; on the contrary – “An objection against the fusional conception of love.  Love is not that which from a Two taken as structurally given creates a One of ecstasy. (…) – in my categories, I call this a figure of disaster, as it is related to the generic amorous procedure.  The disaster here is not even a disaster of love; it harks to a philosopheme, the philosopheme of the One.” (Alain Badiou, “What is Love?”, Conditions, ibid., p. 181; see also “The Scene of Two”, Lacanian Ink 21, online))
And yet, is it not precisely the One of love which Saint-Preux and Julie exemplify (with Badiou’s complete approval): “(…) this possibility (‘of a life in love’ sm) enacts the irreversible destruction of (…) a widespread and socially legitimate prejudice: the prejudice according to which two individuals are necessarily each other than the other, so that one can and must distinguish between the one and the other, between ‘you’ and ‘me’.  Having enacted, in the event of passion-love, the over-existence of sexed in-difference, Saint-Preux objects to this prejudice, in words valid for all time: ‘two lovers love one another? No, “you” and “me” are words banished by their tongue; they are no longer two, they are one’.” (Alain Badiou, Logics of Worlds, translated by Alberto Toscano, London/New York, 2009, p. 380)  Would that mean then, that lovers, in Badiou’s “generic amorous procedure”, are not two but only one ‘subject of truth’…  Is the love of Saint-Preux and Julie such an ‘exceptional’ case for Badiou - allowed to be a One not a multiple; its momentousness, on a par with the Paris Commune, because somewhere in the dark romantic past of the philosophy tutor Badiou there was also a beautiful aristocratic ‘Julie’?  (But is Badiou not more a Dr. Pangloss than a Saint- Preux - especially for his “ex-disciple” Mehdi Belhaj Kacem?)]

Love, science and politics are related according to Badiou in another way – they all have attributes similar or comparable to totalitarianism or despotism.  This is Badiou’s favourite metaphor.  The truth of these discourses is closest to absolute power.  For love ‘it is the romantic problem of absolute love’; in politics ‘it’s the political problem of totalitarianism’ and science once again is compared with totalitarianism because in science ‘there is always a desire for the omnipotence of truth’. (Alain Badiou, “On the Truth-Process”, August 2002, European Graduate School, Saas-Fee, Switzerland, online) 

Why then does he so object to Wittgenstein or to Wittgenstein’s pursuit of holiness – this being so eminently totalitarian in its structure?  Or to Wittgenstein’s understanding of orders, rules – the question of absolute obedience?  Does not Badiou himself occupy the position of the “modern sophist” – the one he has reserved for the “great Wittgenstein”, “our Gorgias” or at least to an equal degree – with his notion of truth plunging toward/orbiting about the planet of ‘absolute power’, of ‘totalitarianism’?  “The modern sophist seeks to contrast the force of the rule, (…) with the revelation or the production of the true.” (Alain Badiou, Conditions, ibid., p. 7)  Truth for Badiou is always a “forcing” of bits or elements of knowledge into truth – but ultimately this forcing is a “naming” – an act within and of language (conventional speech) limited/restrained only by what is “unnameable” (silence) – “(…) the action of forcing to give a name to all the terms of the situation.” (Alain Badiou, “On the Truth-Process”, ibid.)
So even there Badiou’s truth returns to the “modalities of language authority” (ibid.), which he attributes to the modern sophist (Wittgenstein) through the backdoor.
And yet – following his own sophistic rule of forcing a proposition/axiom and then its opposite into a non-contradictory “unity of thought” (so-called “compossibility”) – Badiou claims in his “provisional definition of philosophy” that it “(…) draws up a persuasive strategy that has no stakes in power.  The whole process is prescribed by the conditions that are art, science, love and politics in their evental figures.” (Conditions, ibid. p. 14)
Der Glaube macht selig: folglich lügt er.” (“Belief is bliss: therefore it lies.”, Nietzsche, Der Antichrist, paragraph 50)

It is obvious that for Badiou there is a ‘master discourse’ amongst the four he proposes – that of politics.  If love and science are potential truth discourses it is in the manner and the measure by which they resemble a political idea of absoluteness – that of despotic rule.  One could imagine a different indispensable attribute of truth – not one of coercion but one of irresistibility (charisma, seduction).  The way in which something seems irrefutable by inciting a process of ‘auto-persuasion’ in the subject.  How could there be ‘love at first sight’ if love were a matter of an outside force?  The power, which commands love, must be of another nature than the power, which compels self-negating obedience as in a despotic system.  If love can occur as a coup de foudre it does so without precedence – it is difficult to imagine absolute power ‘at first sight’ – or totalitarianism ‘at first sight’.  (Although ‘hate at first sight’ is immensely conceivable.)  Totalitarian forms require elaborate constructions to establish their ‘omnipotence’.  The absolute states throughout history are known for their vast bureaucracies and organisations and some sort of class of propagandists such as the Egyptian priests or sycophants in ancient Greece.  In more recent times the supremacy of a Party and its Leader combines all of these functions, excluding any spontaneous expression.  Spontaneity is replaced in the volatile mode of dictatorship by direct terror.  Badiou’s model of truth, his ‘world of all’ is either despotic or amorous, but it can hardly be both.

It is interesting to compare Badiou’s four discourses with Giordano Bruno’s ‘four guides’ of hermetic philosophy.  Bruno’s supreme guide is love followed by art, mathesis and magic.  Badiou sometimes refers to the discourse of science as mathesis – certainly mathematics has the highest place in his system as the sole guarantor of being  - as ontology.  But mathesis slips into the truth discourse itself conjoined to science.  Love for Bruno is not the sexual explosion of two persons as suggested by Badiou, but it is a furor of another kind.  In love the subject is raised to the level of the divine, by divine furor – a kind of ecstasy inimical to despotism.  Art similar to love is the possibility of becoming joined to the soul of the world; mathesis is the magic use of figures (magic is religious or mystical but not in a specifically Christian sense).  Bruno’s terrain was the multiple worlds of the universe and the heart of the poet – in some way equivalent/comparable.  Badiou, although in many ways seeming to echo Bruno’s hermetic philosophy (perhaps filtered through freemasonry) introduces politics as the discourse of the discourses, an idea which would have been unthinkable in Bruno’s system of magical infiltration of the world.

“(…) Infolgedessen glaubt der Heros von sich, nicht weniger ruhmvoll durch sein Herz, die Gedanken und Tränen gekrönt zu werden, als andere durch die Hand von Königen, Herrschern und Päpsten.” (“Following that the hero believes he will not be less gloriously crowned through his heart, his thoughts and his tears than others are by the hand of kings, rulers and popes.”, Giordano Bruno, Von den heroischen Leidenschaften, Hamburg, 1989, p. 3o)
Truth for Badiou is defined with itself – truth is the omnipotence of truth in love, science, politics, art, all of which are variations of despotism or approximations of despotic rule.  One could call Badiou’s idea of truth Nietzschean (Faustian) in a vulgar sense – the will to power in all forms of human life.  But then truth would be deprived of any claim to universalism, which Badiou also asserts.  Love, science, art and politics (never defined merely assumed) are all like one another because they have the potential for the ‘omnipotence of truth’, meaning they desire it or even will it.  Truth takes over from what precedes it – untruth perhaps?  Not exactly – truth is still historical and material.  Pierre Boulez used ‘Terror’ to extract French music out of the ‘mud’ of 19th century mannerism, but these mannerisms were also once new before they became decadent.  One could not then just denounce them as original untruth.  Or is a truth which is obsolete, terrorized out of existence by a new truth?  Badiou’s truth processes imply some sort of movement from one truth to another – although the movement is not exactly historical.  At its extreme end, (a fiction of infinitude) unrestrained truth can be a disaster; it contains evil or becomes identical with evil.  Truth pursued to the extreme is evil, says Badiou, but cautiously restrained it is presumably good.  If even truth is evil when pursued or installed “without compromise”, one could conclude that, in Badiou’s judgement, the extreme is in itself evil, restraint is good under any circumstances.  Would this then be Faust without his fall, without Faust 2, the Damnation?  If art is to have a claim to the absolute power of truth, some kind of extreme must still be allowed – in Badiou’s formal scheme.  How otherwise could a new art form ‘terrorize’ an old one as in the case of Boulez?  Art is never easy for Badiou to factor into his truth processes –the absolute power of truth.  Art has at best a tenuous relation with truth.  (How does Badiou’s concept of art differ from the traditional German Goethean view – das Wahre, Schöne, Gute?) 

Curiously in his polemic against Wittgenstein, Badiou ‘accuses’ Wittgenstein of conceiving philosophy as an “act” – one wonders why with his own emphatic idea of the militant of truth and philosophy’s “seizing” as an act, he would object so strongly to an apparently similar idea in Wittgenstein – why would he resent Wittgenstein’s showing/exposing philosophy as a ‘form of life’ rather than a hermetic ‘teaching’?
In the paragraph cited by Badiou in the Tractatus – Wittgenstein seems to be advancing a rather innocent claim.  Philosophy, he says in 4.112, is not a teaching (Lehre) but an activity.  Badiou pounces on this sentence as if it were the corpus delicti – exposing Wittgenstein as the “anti-philosopher” – or as he refers to him in Conditions – the greatest sophist of the 20th century.  (Although Badiou already slants Wittgenstein’s meaning – translating Lehre as “theory/théorie” which it is not.)
Wittgenstein may or may not be an “anti-philosopher” – but in this paragraph he also assigns a rather anodyne role to philosophy, not just to be any ‘act’ but an activity of logical elucidation – not of just anything – but of thought and sentences.  What’s wrong with that?  Even Adorno would agree with such a ‘Kantian’ task for philosophy – “Philosophie erheischt heute wie zu Kants Zeiten Kritik der Vernunft durch diese, (…)” (“Philosophy today needs, as it did in Kant’s time, the critique of reason through itself (…)” Negative Dialektik, ibid. p. 92) 
Badiou sees Wittgenstein’s description of philosophy (it is not quite a definition) as most sinister.  Although in his own definition of philosophy – it is also an act: “Philosophy is never an interpretation of experience.  It involves the act of Truth with regard to truths.”(Alain Badiou, “Definition of Philosophy” in Conditions, ibid., p. 24)  Badiou’s act is also immediately “theatrical” – as he is a dramatist.  So that philosophy’s “seizure” (its essence) is implicitly a staging of a seizure.  His staging of truth is also “imitative” of philosophy’s conditions – it is a “fiction of knowledge”, a “fiction of art”, etc impersonating that to which it wants to come close, some species of the Real – but without any risk, being always once removed from the actual subjects of truth. 
In the seizure “in Truth” - Badiou’s dramatic gesture of philosophy – but one not productive of truth (hence within a zone of premeditated security) one is reminded of Adorno’s description of the “contemporary philosophies” of fifty years ago: “Sie (die zeitgemäßen Philosophien) fühlen sich bereits im Einklang mit der heraufdämmernden Ordnung der mächtigsten Interessen, während sie, wie Hitler, das einsame Wagnis tragieren.” (“They (the contemporary philosophies) already feel themselves in unison with the dawning order of the mightiest interests, while they, like Hitler, tragically play the role of lonely risk. (Negative Dialektik, ibid., p. 96))  Politics as philosophy’s condition of truth is not the substance of a new state or revolutionary truth etc – rather it is the modus/style of the staging of philosophy’s own so-called seizure or act of Truth.

Wittgenstein is a purist, a minimalist in philosophy – he considers philosophy’s task not to be imitative of what it is not (the poem, mathematics, politics or love) – and most certainly Badiou’s “knotting” of philosophy to science (in particular) would be loathsome for Wittgenstein.  As he writes in paragraph 4.1122 “Die Darwinsche Theorie hat mit der Philosophie nicht mehr zu schaffen als irgendeine andere Hypothese der Naturwissenschaft.” (“The Darwinist theory has no greater connection to philosophy than any other hypothesis of natural science.”, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus)  Or even more bluntly in 4.111 “Die Philosophie ist keine der Naturwissenschaften. (Das Wort “Philosophie” muß etwas bedeuten, was über oder unter, aber nicht neben den Naturwissenschaften steht.)” (“Philosophy is not one of the natural sciences.  (The word “Philosophy” must mean something which stands above or below, but not next to the natural sciences.)”) (ibid.)

Of course Badiou might argue – that Wittgenstein’s act (as a sophist) cannot possibly be an “act of truth” – because Wittgenstein does not acknowledge truth in the first place.
Wittgenstein has degraded philosophy in this paragraph (4.112), according to Badiou, to a “bavardage” (chatter) – in other words non-thought pretending to be thought.  One could certainly find evidence in Wittgenstein’s thinking for the view that philosophy fabricates sentences devoid of meaning or sense – thus nonsense – but in this paragraph he also assigns philosophy the task of self-critique.  Philosophy is the activity of sharpening and clarifying thought – above all – its own.  In this paragraph Wittgenstein still aspires to the dissolution of vague and blurred thinking – later in the Philosophical Investigations, when so-called ordinary language is opposed to metaphysical utterances – he is much more lenient towards vagueness – but only in ordinary language.  But is ordinary language what Badiou means by “bavardage”?  If so, then Wittgenstein would in a certain sense embrace such bavardage.
But Badiou understands the “act” (Tätigkeit) of philosophy in paragraph 4.112 already as the activity of “pseudo-theory”: “Simplement, dans l’histoire de la philosophie, cette activité se présente en général comme pseudo-théories.” (“Simply, in the history of philosophy, this activity presents itself in general as pseudo-theories.”, Alain Badiou, L’Anti-Philosophie de Wittgenstein (1993-1994), Notes d’Aimé Thiault et transcription de Francois Duvert, online, PDF, p. 8) 
Whereas, in Wittgenstein’s paragraph the “activity” of philosophy is expressly the task of clarifying thought, rather the opposite of ‘pseudo-theory’.  How and why does Badiou read so much more into or misread this paragraph?  Not only does Wittgenstein, according to Badiou, accuse philosophy of being incapable of anything but pseudo-theories, this is the point at which the evil ill-fated disastrous character (néfaste) of philosophy can be detected – in its disguising of thoughtless chatter as a theory of truth and falsehood.

Both Badiou and Wittgenstein are drawn to simplifications, the example.  Wittgenstein’s whole method rests on the providing of examples, homiletic proverbs and therapies.  This is a habit of formalized mathematical thought a relic or reflex even Wittgenstein finds hard to shed – the formulaic, the insistent distinction between truth and error, sense or nonsense.  As Badiou states in an interview published in Infinite Thought – he is nowhere concerned with “qualitative identity”.  The real existence of falsehood goes beyond such thinking, except perhaps the thinking of “its original foundational duplicity (sophist/philosopher)”. (Alain Badiou, The definition of philosophy, in: Infinite Thought, London, 2004, p.168)

Did Badiou think by denying that philosophy was a “teaching” (Lehre) – Wittgenstein was implicitly rejecting ‘school philosophy’ – Badiou’s métier?

Badiou (the philosopher) objects to Wittgenstein’s (the sophist’s) use of “rule” – or rather replacing truth with the (linguistic) rule as the product of philosophy, or what philosophy ‘seizes’ from the truth procedures.  But Badiou himself cannot do without rules or language.  Rules are immanent to mathematical systems of thought.  Language is a medium of multiplicity.
The ontological-historical state for Badiou is a “rule of counting”, which, although ‘obscenely permanent’, has no relation to truth.
Whereas for Wittgenstein all rules (in the sense of command/power and as the matrix of a contingent game) are ephemeral. 
The authoritarianism of Wittgenstein is based on passing forms of life, a natural-historical linguistic ‘community’; Badiou’s authoritarianism is based on a corrupted relic of the Hegelian absolute spirit/knowledge reified and emptied of its truth-value in the ontological-historical state.  (See Being and Event, Meditations 7,8 and 9 and “Philosophy and Politics” in Conditions, ibid. pp. 167-168)

Badiou versus Wittgenstein - Legal and Illegal Fictions

Infidelity is not simple.  Worse than infidelity is giving up.  How can you fix giving up?  It belongs to endings.  Infidelity means nothing if there is only a void.  Infidelity to the event is a luxury. If the event is of this world then the world is rich, it can afford infidelity.  If the event is not of this world except as a broken memory, then infidelity is a phantom.  Less than nostalgia.  Treason is an indiscernible; it is a mask of the hero.

Giving up is not the opposite of going on.  The imagination of going on taints the void.  Just as mathematical habits taint thought of things eluding mathematics.  Going on has to do with numbers, or even less, with counting, perhaps the counting of things, even imaginary things like money, but one can never deduce giving up from going on.

Adorno referring to Hegel’s “Große Logik” (the great logic) says that for Hegel quantity is itself a quality, quantity returns to quality.  Although Badiou is anxious to trace his philosophical lineage to Hegel, his mathematical ontology can never revert to quality.  Besides he creates a new paradox or antinomy – if mathematics is ontology what is the ontology of mathematics?  Has he eliminated the “ontological difference” in the case of mathematics – or what is the difference between mathematics qua Being (Sein) and mathematics as beings (Seiendes)?  How does mathematics qua Being abstain (withdraw) from the world of the lower intermediate (ontic) sphere – for example in the exacting of retribution or compensation, historically a mathematical branch of justice?

Philosophy for Badiou – although distinct from sophistry – relies absolutely upon fictions.  Certain fictions are licit others illicit.  The truth much vaunted by him is also not of the provable kind – in fact all of the great philosophers never proved anything.  Whatever fictions though are loose in the spheres; Badiou’s philosophy is motivated by a conviction that logos shapes the “the worldhood of the world” (“mondanité du monde”).  Perhaps here is located a deep crack in his otherwise solid ‘fidelity’ to Heidegger.

Wittgenstein’s philosophy reflects his disenchantment with the conviction (Russell’s and his own) that logic is foundational for mathematics expressed through language.  Consequently Wittgenstein ended philosophy.
The negative symmetry between Wittgenstein and Badiou is striking.
It is quite logical that Badiou should name Wittgenstein as the great sophist of our age. (see “The Return of Philosophy Itself”, Conditions, ibid.)  Much of Badiou’s philosophy in particular the intervention of mathematics in Being and world (reality) – the continuation of the Cantor-Frege and Russell program of the “logic of the world” - was condemned and abandoned by Wittgenstein.  He saw this program as an impossible and worthless quest for a system/foundation of unified truth.  Badiou’s “compossibility”?

Badiou’s philosophy is driven by a re-enchantment with the idea that logic is not only foundational for mathematics, but mathematics is Being itself – and by extrapolation Being becomes logical as in the “logic of the world”.  He has declared the end of the end of philosophy, in other words its resurrection.
Perhaps that is why he so favours the ‘resurrection’ of Christ as an event or as the birth of subjectivity.

Mathematics and the “real world” – the “non-ontological situation”:

How does one know if mathematics fits the world, which is not mathematical? One of Badiou’s interviewers in “Ontology and Politics” (see Alain Badiou, Infinite Thought, ibid.) asks him a similar question:  “How can non-ontological situations be differentiated if not on the basis of some universal language into which they are translated?”  This question annoys Badiou – hinting as it does at deep empiricist roots.  In Badiou’s system the “real world” is the “concrete situation” – there are always only situations – and if in such a situation an event is lurking indiscernibly the situation is not ontological, neither is it non-ontological, it is a truth process.  If however no event is imminent or immanent – such a situation possesses or is structured by an “encyclopaedia of knowledge” more or less accessible to all.

The interviewer could be forgiven for his insistence on such an empiricist-sounding question.  Badiou drifts continuously between claims of strictest empirical or at least mathematical-scientific proof regimes for his thesis mathematics is ontology and apriori (axiomatic) convictions such as “all situations are infinite” (ibid., p. 182) or that “nothing attests that a generic (truth) procedure is authentically generic.” (ibid. p. 173).  Mathematics itself is a truth procedure, a condition and at the same time the discourse of ‘being as such’ (ontology) – by definition absolutely separate from the truth conditions themselves and from philosophy.  How does this tri-partite schizophrenic split inscribe itself in the situation which is ontology?  On the other hand, the concrete situation of the subject in a truth procedure “has nothing to do with ontology.” (ibid. p. 179)  The demonstrability of his thesis is thus reserved only for mathematics using mathematical means – but the application of these borrowed concepts to the situation and event is absolutely unprovable.  “On this point I have the same conception of truth as Spinoza.  Truth is index sui.  Truth is the proof of itself.  There is no external guarantee.  So, the genericity of the procedure of truth is effective in the process itself.  This point is very important because major philosophical differences are linked to it.  For very different thinkers – Heidegger, Lacan, Spinoza, Deleuze, myself – there is a conviction that truth has no guarantee, and for other analytical philosophers it is necessary for truth to have guarantees in thought and judgement.  It is the principal split today.” (Badiou, ibid., pp.173-174).  Elsewhere Badiou declares categorically there is no difference between continental and analytical philosophy.

If truth is absolutely unprovable but being qua ontology qua mathematics qua truth is absolutely and uniquely demonstrable and provable – what if anything does the one have to do with the other?

Although he is most sanguine about the unprovability of truth, Badiou seems incredulous almost offended by a remark he quotes from Russell in Being and Event implying mathematics is also less than verifiable – Russell had cast doubt on mathematics’ coherence and veracity.  The tone of disillusionment seems quite ‘Wittgensteinian’:   “Russell said—without believing it, of course, no one in truth has ever believed it, save the ignorant, and Russell certainly wasn’t such—that mathematics is a discourse in which one does not know what one is talking about, nor whether what one is saying is true. Mathematics is rather the sole discourse which ‘knows’ absolutely what it is talking about: being, as such, despite the fact that there is no need for this knowledge to be reflected in an intra-mathematical sense, because being is not an object nor does it generate objects.  Mathematics is also the sole discourse, and this is well known, in which one has a complete guarantee and a criterion of truth of what one says, to the point that this truth is unique inasmuch as it is the only one ever to have been encountered which is fully transmissible.”  (Alain Badiou, Being and Event, ibid., p.8)

The form of this sequence is a classic syllogism: Russell said mathematics is a discourse in which one does not know what one is talking about etc. without himself believing it.  Only the ignorant have ever believed that.  Russell was not ignorant.  So Russell did not believe what he said. (All men are mortal.  Socrates was a man.  Socrates was mortal.)  Badiou’s syllogism opens up a whole new type of infinite grid or truth table – making it possible to believe or disbelieve anything he himself says – depending upon what one considers to be the opinion of the “ignorant” and the “not ignorant” – whereby ignorance itself can be considered a positive or desirable condition vis-à-vis knowledge as in Socratic ignorance or the docta ignorantia of Cusanus.  Cusanus’ thinking about infinity and the universe, derived from his metaphysics of the divine, influenced Giordano Bruno, Kepler, Leibniz and even Cantor.  Mathematical discoveries have metaphysical roots.  Mathematical rules are most likely of a completely different breed – a kind of “Hilfswissenschaft” (auxiliary science) as Novalis would say, like secondary virtues.  Mathematical propositions, according to Wittgenstein are “(…) norms of description correctly explain(ing) applied mathematics, by identifying the role of mathematical propositions within empirical discourse.” (Hans-Johann Glock, A Wittgenstein Dictionary, Oxford, 1996, p.234).
Such norms differ from speculative mathematics - no more limited or bound by rules than any other form of speculative thought.  If Badiou’s “mathematics are ontology” pertains to normative rule following mathematics, (as he implies), then these are conventions for empirical description – neither infinite nor without object.  (Although the logical rules determining these mathematical propositions are not objects – according to Wittgenstein of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.)  If the mathematics intended by Badiou are speculative or infinite – then they cannot be normative nor a model for coherence nor “fully transmissible”.

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