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A Theory of Feelings Anger and Forgiveness"My Madness Saved Me"10 Good Questions about Life and Death12 Modern Philosophers50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a GodA Cabinet of Philosophical CuriositiesA Case for IronyA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to Buddhist PhilosophyA Companion to FoucaultA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to HumeA Companion to KantA Companion to Phenomenology and ExistentialismA Companion to PragmatismA Companion to the Philosophy of ActionA Companion to the Philosophy of BiologyA Companion to the Philosophy of LiteratureA Conceptual History of PsychologyA Critical Overview of Biological FunctionsA Critique of Naturalistic Philosophies of MindA Cursing Brain?A Delicate BalanceA Farewell to AlmsA Frightening LoveA Future for PresentismA Guide to the Good LifeA History of PsychiatryA History of the MindA Life Worth LivingA Manual of Experimental PhilosophyA Map of the MindA Metaphysics of PsychopathologyA Mind So RareA Natural History of Human MoralityA Natural History of Human ThinkingA Natural History of VisionA Parliament of MindsA Philosopher Looks at The Sense of HumorA Philosophical DiseaseA Philosophy of BoredomA Philosophy of Cinematic ArtA Philosophy of CultureA Philosophy of EmptinessA Philosophy of FearA Philosophy of PainA Physicalist ManifestoA Place for ConsciousnessA Question of TrustA Research Agenda for DSM-VA Revolution of the MindA Sentimentalist Theory of the MindA Stroll With William JamesA Tear is an Intellectual ThingA Theory of FreedomA Thousand MachinesA Universe of ConsciousnessA Very Bad WizardA Virtue EpistemologyA World Full of GodsA World Without ValuesAbout FaceAbout the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the SelfAction and ResponsibilityAction in ContextAction Theory, Rationality and CompulsionAction, Contemplation, and HappinessAction, Emotion and WillAdam SmithAdaptive DynamicsAddictionAddictionAddiction and ResponsibilityAddiction Is a ChoiceAdvances in Identity Theory and ResearchAftermathAfterwarAgainst AdaptationAgainst AutonomyAgainst BioethicsAgainst HappinessAgainst HealthAgency and ActionAgency and AnswerabilityAgency and EmbodimentAgency and ResponsibilityAgency, Freedom, and Moral ResponsibilityAl-JununAlain BadiouAlain BadiouAlasdair MacIntyreAlien Landscapes?Altered EgosAn Anthology of Psychiatric EthicsAn Ethics for TodayAn Intellectual History of CannibalismAn Interpretation of DesireAn Introduction to EthicsAn Introduction to Kant's Moral Philosophy An Introduction to Philosophy of EducationAn Introduction to the Philosophy of MindAn Introduction to the Philosophy of MindAn Introduction to the Philosophy of PsychologyAn Introductory Philosophy of MedicineAn Odd Kind of FameAnalytic FreudAnalytic Philosophy in AmericaAncient AngerAncient Models of MindAncient Philosophy of the SelfAngerAnimal LessonsAnimal MindsAnimals Like UsAnnihilationAnother PlanetAnswers for AristotleAnti-ExternalismAnti-Individualism and KnowledgeAntigone’s ClaimAntipsychiatryAre We Hardwired?Are Women Human?Arguing about DisabilityArguing About Human NatureAristotle and the Philosophy of FriendshipAristotle on Practical WisdomAristotle's ChildrenAristotle's Ethics and Moral ResponsibilityAristotle, Emotions, and EducationArt & MoralityArt After Conceptual ArtArt in Three DimensionsArt, Self and KnowledgeArtificial ConsciousnessArtificial HappinessAspects of PsychologismAsylum to ActionAtonement and ForgivenessAttention is Cognitive UnisonAutobiography as PhilosophyAutonomyAutonomy and Mental DisorderAutonomy and the Challenges to LiberalismBabies by DesignBackslidingBadiouBadiou's DeleuzeBadiou, Balibar, Ranciere: Rethinking EmancipationBare Facts And Naked TruthsBasic Desert, Reactive Attitudes and Free WillBattlestar Galactica and PhilosophyBeautyBecoming a SubjectBecoming HumanBehavingBehavioral Genetics in the Postgenomic EraBeing AmoralBeing HumanBeing Mentally Ill: A Sociological Theory Being No OneBeing Realistic about ReasonsBeing ReducedBeing YourselfBelief's Own EthicsBending Over BackwardsBerlin Childhood around 1900Bernard WilliamsBertrand RussellBetter than BothBetter Than WellBetween Two WorldsBeyond HealthBeyond Hegel and NietzscheBeyond KuhnBeyond LossBeyond Moral JudgmentBeyond PostmodernismBeyond ReductionBeyond the DSM StoryBioethicsBioethics and the BrainBioethics in the ClinicBiological Complexity and Integrative PluralismBiology Is TechnologyBiosBipolar ExpeditionsBlackwell Companion to the Philosophy of EducationBlindsight & The Nature of ConsciousnessBlues - Philosophy for EveryoneBlushBob Dylan and PhilosophyBody ConsciousnessBody Image And Body SchemaBody ImagesBody LanguageBody MattersBody WorkBody-Subjects and Disordered MindsBoundBoundaries of the MindBoyleBrain Evolution and CognitionBrain FictionBrain, Mind, and Human Behavior in Contemporary Cognitive ScienceBrain-WiseBrainchildrenBrains, Buddhas, and BelievingBrainstormingBrave New WorldsBreakdown of WillBrief Child Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and FaithBrief Therapy Homework PlannerBritain on the CouchBrute RationalityBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyBut Is It Art?Camus and SartreCartesian LinguisticsCartographies of the MindCarving Nature at Its JointsCase Studies in Biomedical Research EthicsCassandra's DaughterCato's TearsCausation and CounterfactualsCauses, Laws, and Free WillChanging Conceptions of the Child from the Renaissance to Post-ModernityChanging the SubjectChaosophyCharacter and Moral Psychology Character as Moral FictionCharles DarwinCherishmentChildhood and the Philosophy of EducationChildrenChildren, Families, and Health Care Decision MakingChoices and ConflictChoosing Not to ChooseChristmas - Philosophy for EveryoneCinema, Philosophy, BergmanCinematic MythmakingCity and Soul in Plato's RepublicClassifying MadnessClear and Queer ThinkingClinical EthicsClinical Psychiatry in Imperial GermanyCodependent ForevermoreCoffee - Philosophy for EveryoneCognition and the BrainCognition of Value in Aristotle's EthicsCognition Through Understanding: Self-Knowledge, Interlocution, Reasoning, ReflectionCognitive BiologyCognitive FictionsCognitive Neuroscience of EmotionCognitive Systems and the Extended MindCognitive Systems and the Extended Mind Cognitive Theories of Mental IllnessCoherence in Thought and ActionCollected Papers, Volume 1Collected Papers, Volume 2College SexComedy IncarnateCommitmentCommunicative Action and Rational ChoiceCompetence, Condemnation, and CommitmentConcealment And ExposureConceptual Analysis and Philosophical NaturalismConceptual Art and PaintingConceptual Issues in Evolutionary BiologyConfessionsConfucianismConnected, or What It Means to Live in the Network SocietyConquest of AbundanceConscience and ConvenienceConsciousnessConsciousnessConsciousnessConsciousness ConsciousnessConsciousness and Its Place in NatureConsciousness and LanguageConsciousness and Mental LifeConsciousness and MindConsciousness and the NovelConsciousness and the SelfConsciousness EmergingConsciousness EvolvingConsciousness ExplainedConsciousness in ActionConsciousness RecoveredConsciousness RevisitedConsciousness, Color, and ContentConsole and ClassifyConstructing the WorldConstructive AnalysisContemporary Debates In Applied EthicsContemporary Debates in Moral TheoryContemporary Debates in Philosophy of BiologyContemporary Debates in Philosophy of MindContemporary Debates in Political PhilosophyContemporary Debates in Social PhilosophyContemporary Perspectives on Natural LawContested Knowledge: Social Theory TodayContesting PsychiatryContext and the AttitudesContinental Philosophy of ScienceControlControlling Our DestiniesConversations About Psychology and Sexual OrientationCopernicus, Darwin and FreudCrazy for YouCreating a Life of Meaning and CompassionCreating ConsilienceCreating HysteriaCreating Mental IllnessCreating Scientific ConceptsCreating the American JunkieCreation, Rationality and AutonomyCreatures Like Us?Crime and CulpabilityCrime, Punishment, and Mental IllnessCrimes of ReasonCritical New Perspectives on Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity DisorderCritical PsychiatryCritical PsychologyCritical ResistanceCritical Thinking About PsychologyCritical VisionsCross and KhoraCruel CompassionCTRL [SPACE]Cultural Psychology of the SelfCultural Theory: An IntroductionCulture and Psychiatric DiagnosisCulture and Subjective Well-BeingCulture of DeathCultures of NeurastheniaCurious EmotionsCurrent Controversies in Experimental PhilosophyCustom and Reason in HumeCustomers and Patrons of the Mad-TradeCutting God in Half - And Putting the Pieces Together AgainCylons in AmericaDamaged IdentitiesDamasio's Error and Descartes' TruthDangerous EmotionsDaniel DennettDaniel DennettDark AgesDarwin and DesignDarwin's Dangerous IdeaDarwin's LegacyDarwin, God and the Meaning of LifeDarwinian PsychiatryDarwinian ReductionismDarwinizing CultureDating: Philosophy for EveryoneDeathDeathDeath and CharacterDeath and CompassionDeath and the AfterlifeDebating DesignDebating HumanismDecision Making, Personhood and DementiaDecomposing the WillDeconstructing PsychotherapyDeconstruction and DemocracyDeeper Than DarwinDeeper than ReasonDefending Science - within ReasonDefining Psychopathology in the 21st CenturyDegrees of BeliefDelusion and Self-DeceptionDelusions and Other Irrational BeliefsDelusions and the Madness of the MassesDementiaDemons, Dreamers, and MadmenDennett and Ricoeur on the Narrative SelfDennett’s PhilosophyDepression Is a ChoiceDepression, Emotion and the SelfDepthDerrida, Deleuze, PsychoanalysisDescartesDescartes and the Passionate MindDescartes' CogitoDescartes's Changing MindDescartes's Concept of MindDescribing Inner Experience?Descriptions and PrescriptionsDesembodied Spirits and Deanimated Bodies Desert Islands and Other Texts (1953-1974)Desire and AffectDesire, Practical Reason, and the GoodDiagnosing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental DisordersDialectics of the SelfDid My Neurons Make Me Do It?Difference and IdentityDigital SoulDimensional Models of Personality DisordersDisability, Difference, DiscriminationDisjunctivismDisorders of VolitionDisorientation and Moral LifeDispatches from the Freud WarsDisrupted LivesDistractionDisturbed ConsciousnessDivided Minds and Successive SelvesDo Apes Read Minds?Do Fish Feel Pain?Do We Still Need Doctors?Does Consciousness Cause Behavior?Does the Woman Exist?Doing without ConceptsDon't Believe Everything You ThinkDonald DavidsonDonald Davidson on Truth, Meaning, and the MentalDoubting Darwin?Dreaming and Other Involuntary MentationDSM-IV SourcebookDSM-IV SourcebookDSM-IV-TR CasebookDworkin and His CriticsDying to KnowDynamics in ActionDysthymia and the Spectrum of Chronic DepressionsEccentricsEducational MetamorphosesEffective IntentionsElbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth WantingEmbodied Minds in ActionEmbodied RhetoricsEmbodied Selves and Divided MindsEmbryos under the MicroscopeEmergencies in Mental Health PracticeEmerging Conceptual, Ethical and Policy Issues in BionanotechnologyEmotionEmotion and ConsciousnessEmotion and PsycheEmotion ExperienceEmotion RegulationEmotion, Evolution, And RationalityEmotional IntelligenceEmotional ReasonEmotional ReasonEmotional TruthEmotions in Humans and ArtifactsEmotions in the Moral LifeEmotions in the Moral LifeEmotions, Value, and AgencyEmpathyEmpathy and AgencyEmpathy and Moral DevelopmentEmpathy and MoralityEmpathy in the Context of PhilosophyEmpirical Ethics in PsychiatryEnchanted LoomsEngaging BuddhismEngineering the Human GermlineEnjoymentEnvyEpicureanismEpistemic LuckEpistemologyEpistemology and EmotionsEpistemology and the Psychology of Human JudgmentEros and the GoodErotic MoralityEssays in Social NeuroscienceEssays in the Metaphysics of Mind Essays on Derek Parfit's On What MattersEssays on Free Will and Moral ResponsibilityEssays on Nonconceptual ContentEssays on Philosophical CounselingEssays on Reference, Language, and MindEssays on the Concept of Mind in Early-Modern PhilosophyEssential Sources in the Scientific Study of ConsciousnessEsssential Philosophy of PsychiatryEternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindEthical Conflicts in PsychologyEthical Issues in Forensic Mental Health ResearchEthical Issues in Human CloningEthical TheoryEthicsEthicsEthics and the A PrioriEthics and the Metaphysics of MedicineEthics and Values in PsychotherapyEthics Done RightEthics ExpertiseEthics in Plain EnglishEthics in PracticeEthics in Psychiatric ResearchEthics of PsychiatryEthics without OntologyEuropean Review of Philosophy. Vol. 5Everyday IrrationalityEvil in Modern ThoughtEvolutionEvolution and the Human MindEvolution's RainbowEvolutionary Origins of MoralityEvolutionary PsychologyExamined LifeExamined LivesExistential AmericaExistentialismExistentialism and Romantic LoveExperimental PhilosophyExperimental PhilosophyExperimental PhilosophyExperimental Philosophy, Rationalism, and NaturalismExperiments in EthicsExplaining ConsciousnessExplaining the BrainExplaining the Computational MindExplanatory PluralismExploding the Gene MythExploring HappinessExploring the SelfExpression and the InnerExpressions of JudgmentFaces of IntentionFact and ValueFact and Value in EmotionFacts, Values, and NormsFads and Fallacies in the Social SciencesFaith and Wisdom in ScienceFatherhoodFear of KnowledgeFearless SpeechFeeling Pain and Being in PainFeelings and EmotionsFeelings of BeingFellow-Feeling and the Moral LifeFeminism and Its DiscontentsFeminism and Philosophy of ScienceFeminist Ethics and Social and Political PhilosophyFeminist Interpretations of Rene DescartesFeminist TheoryField Notes from ElsewhereFinding Consciousness in the BrainFingerprints of GodFlesh in the Age of ReasonFolk Psychological NarrativesFolk Psychology Re-AssessedForces of HabitForgivenessForgiveness and LoveForgiveness and RetributionFoucault 2.0Foucault and PhilosophyFoucault NowFoucault, Psychology and the Analytics of PowerFoundational Issues in Human Brain MappingFoundations of Ethical Practice, Research, and Teaching in PsychologyFour Views on Free WillFree WillFree WillFree WillFree WillFree Will and Action ExplanationFree Will and LuckFree Will And Moral ResponsibilityFree Will as an Open Scientific ProblemFree Will, Agency, and Meaning in LifeFree: Why Science Hasn't Disproved Free WillFreedomFreedom and DeterminismFreedom And NeurobiologyFreedom and ResponsibiltyFreedom and ValueFreedom EvolvesFreedom RegainedFreedom vs. InterventionFreedom, Fame, Lying, and BetrayalFreudFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFreud As PhilosopherFreud's AnswerFreud, the Reluctant PhilosopherFriedrich NietzscheFrom Chance to ChoiceFrom Clinic to ClassroomFrom Complexity to LifeFrom Enlightenment to ReceptivityFrom Knowledge to Wisdom: A Revolution for Science and the HumanitiesFrom Morality to Mental HealthFrom Passions to EmotionsFrom Philosophy to PsychotherapyFrontiers of ConsciousnessFrontiers of JusticeFurnishing the MindGalileo in PittsburghGenderGender and Mental HealthGender in the MirrorGender TroubleGenesGenes, Women, EqualityGenetic Nature/CultureGenetic ProspectsGenetic ProspectsGenetic SecretsGenocide's AftermathGenomes and What to Make of ThemGerman Idealism and the JewGerman PhilosophyGetting HookedGilles DeleuzeGlobal PhilosophyGluttonyGod and Phenomenal ConsciousnessGoffman's LegacyGoing Amiss in Experimental ResearchGoodness & AdviceGrassroots SpiritualityGrave MattersGrave MattersGreedGreek Models of Mind and SelfGut ReactionsHabilitation, Health, and AgencyHabits of MindHallucinationHandbook of BioethicsHandbook of EmotionsHappinessHappinessHappinessHappinessHappiness and EducationHappiness and the Good LifeHappiness Is OverratedHappiness, Death, and the Remainder of LifeHard LuckHarmful ThoughtsHaving the World in ViewHealing PsychiatryHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHealth, Illness and DiseaseHealth, Science, and Ordinary LanguageHegelHeidegger and a Metaphysics of FeelingHeidegger, Metaphysics and the Univocity of BeingHermann von Helmholtz's MechanismHermeneutics As PoliticsHeterophobiaHeterosyncraciesHeuristics and BiasesHeuristics and the LawHidden ResourcesHidden SelvesHiding from HumanityHigh Art LiteHistorical OntologyHistory of Psychiatry and Medical PsychologyHistory, Historicity And ScienceHobbesHomosexualitiesHope and Dread in PsychoanalysisHot ThoughtHow Can I Be Trusted?How Can the Human Mind Occur in the Physical Universe?How Children Learn the Meanings of WordsHow Could Conscious Experiences Affect Brains?How Do We Know Who We Are?How Emotions WorkHow Emotions WorkHow History Made the MindHow Images ThinkHow is Nature Possible?How Propaganda WorksHow Science WorksHow Scientific Practices MatterHow Scientists Explain DiseaseHow The Body Shapes The MindHow the Body Shapes the Way We ThinkHow the Mind Explains BehaviorHow the Mind Uses the BrainHow to Make Opportunity EqualHow to Solve the Mind-Body Problemhow to stop timeHow to Think More About SexHow We HopeHow We ReasonHuman CloningHuman Development, Language and the Future of MankindHuman EnhancementHuman Evolution, Reproduction, and MoralityHuman GoodnessHuman Identity and BioethicsHuman NatureHuman NatureHuman Nature and the Limits of ScienceHuman-Built WorldHumanismHumanism, What's That?HumanityHumans, Animals, MachinesHumeHumeHume on Motivation and VirtueHusserlHystoriesI of the VortexI Was WrongIdeas that MatterIdentifying the MindIdentity and Agency in Cultural WorldsIgnorance and ImaginationIllnessImagination and Its PathologiesImagination and the Meaningful BrainImagining NumbersImmortal RemainsImproving Nature?In Defense of an Evolutionary Concept of HealthIn Defense of SentimentalityIn Love With LifeIn Praise of Athletic BeautyIn Praise of the WhipIn Pursuit of HappinessIn Search of HappinessIn the Name of GodIn the Name of IdentityIn the Space of ReasonsIn Two MindsIncompatibilism's AllureIndividual Differences in Conscious ExperienceInfinity and PerspectiveInformation ArtsInformed Consent in Medical ResearchIngmar Bergman, Cinematic PhilosopherInhuman ThoughtsInner PresenceInsanityIntegrating Psychotherapy and PharmacotherapyIntegrity and the Fragile SelfIntelligent VirtueIntentionIntentionality, Deliberation and AutonomyIntentions and IntentionalityIntentions and IntentionalityInterpreting MindsInterpreting NietzscheIntroducing Greek PhilosophyIntrospection and ConsciousnessIntrospection VindicatedIntuition, Imagination, and Philosophical MethodologyIntuitionismInvestigating the Psychological WorldIrrationalityIrrationalityIs Academic Feminism Dead?Is It Me or My Meds?Is Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Is Oedipus Online?Is Science Neurotic?Is Science Value Free?Is the Visual World a Grand Illusion?Is There a Duty to Die?Issues in Philosophical CounselingJacques LacanJacques RancièreJacques RanciereJean-Paul SartreJohn McDowellJohn SearleJohn Searle's Ideas About Social RealityJohn Stuart MillJohn Stuart Mill and the Writing of CharacterJoint AttentionJokesJonathan EdwardsJudging and UnderstandingJustice for ChildrenJustice in RobesJustice, Luck, and KnowledgeKantKant and MiltonKant and the Fate of AutonomyKant and the Limits of AutonomyKant and the Role of Pleasure in Moral ActionKant on Freedom, Law, and HappinessKant on Moral AutonomyKant's Anatomy of EvilKant's Anatomy of the Intelligent MindKant's Theory of VirtueKarl JaspersKarl PopperKey Concepts in PhilosophyKierkegaardKierkegaard as PhenomenologistKierkegaard's Concept of DespairKinds of MindsKinds, Things, and StuffKnowing, Knowledge and BeliefsKnowledge MonopoliesKnowledge, Belief, and CharacterKnowledge, Possibility, and ConsciousnessLacanLack of CharacterLack of CharacterLanguageLanguage in ContextLanguage, Consciousness, CultureLanguage, Culture, and MindLanguage, Vision, and MusicLaw and the BrainLaw, Liberty, and PsychiatryLaws, Mind, and Free WillLeaving YouLectures on the History of Political PhilosophyLevelling the Playing FieldLiberal Education in a Knowledge SocietyLiberatory PsychiatryLife and ActionLife at the Texas State Lunatic Asylum, 1857-1997Life Is Not a Game of PerfectLife of the MindLife's FormLife, Death, & MeaningLife, Death, and Meaning: Key Philosophical Readings on the Big Questions Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of UtilityLife, Sex, and IdeasLight in the Dark RoomLike a Splinter in Your MindLiving and Dying WellLiving NarrativeLiving Outside Mental IllnessLiving with DarwinLiving With One’s PastLockeLocke LockeLogic and the Art of Memory Loneliness in Philosophy, Psychology, and LiteratureLooking for SpinozaLooking for The StrangerLost SoulsLOT 2LoveLoveLove's ConfusionsLove's VisionLove, Friendship, and the SelfLove, Sex & TragedyLuckyLudwig WittgensteinLustLyingMachine ConsciousnessMad for FoucaultMad TravelersMade with WordsMadness And Death In PhilosophyMadness and DemocracyMadness at HomeMadness Is CivilizationMaking Natural KnowledgeMaking Sense of EvolutionMaking Sense of Freedom and ResponsibilityMaking the DSM-5Making the Social WorldMaking TruthMale Female EmailMan, Beast, and ZombieMandated Reporting of Suspected Child AbuseManiaManic Depression and CreativityMapping the Edges and the In-betweenMapping the Future of BiologyMarcus AureliusMaster PassionsMatters of the MindMe++Meaning and Moral OrderMeaning and Value in a Secular AgeMeaning in LifeMeaning in Life and Why It MattersMeaning, Basic Self-Knowledge, and MindMeasuring HappinessMeasuring PsychopathologyMedia MadnessMedical Enhancement and PosthumanityMedicine and Philosophy in Classical AntiquityMedicine of the PersonMedicine, Mental Health, Religion, Science and Well-BeingMelancholy And the Care of the SoulMelancholy and the Otherness of GodMementoMemory and NarrativeMental ActionsMental CausationMental Causation and OntologyMental HealthMental Health At The CrossroadsMental Health Policy in BritainMerit, Meaning, and Human BondageMerleau-PontyMerleau-Ponty and the Possibilities of PhilosophyMetacognition and Theory of MindMetacreationMetaethical SubjectivismMetaethicsMetal and FleshMetaphors of MemoryMetapoliticsMethods in MindMichel FoucaultMill's UtilitarianismMindMindMind and ConsciousnessMind and CosmosMind and MechanismMind GamesMind in a Physical WorldMind in Everyday Life and Cognitive ScienceMind in LifeMind TimeMind's LandscapeMind, Brain and the Elusive SoulMind, Brain, and Free WillMind, Reason and ImaginationMinding MindsMindreadersMindreading AnimalsMinds and PersonsMinds, Brains, and LawMinds, Ethics, and ConditionalsMindshapingMindsightMindworldsMirror, MirrorMixed FeelingsMockingbird YearsModels of the SelfModern Social ImaginariesModern Theories of JusticeModernity and SubjectivityModernity and TechnologyMoody Minds DistemperedMoral DimensionsMoral FailureMoral ImaginationMoral LiteracyMoral MachinesMoral ParticularismMoral PsychologyMoral Psychology and Human AgencyMoral Psychology, Volume 1Moral Psychology, Volume 2Moral Psychology, Volume 3Moral Psychology: Volume IVMoral RepairMoral Responsibility and Alternative PossibilitiesMoral TribesMoral Value and Human DiversityMorality and Self-InterestMorality in a Natural WorldMorality, Moral Luck and ResponsibilityMotherhoodMotive and RightnessMoving Beyond Prozac, DSM, and the New PsychiatryMultiple Analogies in Science and PhilosophyMultiple Identities & False MemoriesMusic, Madness, and the Unworking of LanguageMy Brain Made Me Do ItMy Double UnveiledMy WayNarrativeNarrative and IdentityNarrative MedicineNarrative PsychiatryNarrative Theory and the Cognitive SciencesNatural Ethical FactsNatural Kinds and Conceptual ChangeNatural MindsNatural-Born CybogsNaturalism and the First-Person PerspectiveNaturalism and the Human ConditionNaturalism in the Philosophy of HealthNaturalism in the Philosophy of HealthNaturalized BioethicsNaturalizing the MindNatureNature and NarrativeNear Death ExperienceNeither Bad nor MadNeither Victim nor SurvivorNeuro-Philosophy and the Healthy MindNeuroethicsNeuroethicsNeurological Foundations of Cognitive Neuroscience Neurophilosophy at WorkNeurophilosophy of Free WillNeuropoliticsNeuropsychoanalysis in PracticeNeuroscience and PhilosophyNew Essays on the Explanation of ActionNew Philosophy for a New MediaNew Versions of VictimsNew Waves in Philosophy of ActionNietzscheNietzsche and Buddhist PhilosophyNietzsche on Ethics and PoliticsNietzsche's TherapyNietzsche, Culture and EducationNietzsche: The Man and His PhilosophyNihil UnboundNoir AnxietyNormative EthicsNormativityNorms of NatureNotebooks 1951-1959Notes Toward a Performative Theory of AssemblyNothing So AbsurdOblivionOn AnxietyOn ApologyOn Being AuthenticOn Being AuthenticOn BeliefOn BetrayalOn BullshitOn DelusionOn DesireOn EmotionsOn HashishOn Human RightsOn Loving Our EnemiesOn Nature and LanguageOn PersonalityOn ReflectionOn Romantic LoveOn the EmotionsOn the Freud WatchOn the Government of the LivingOn the Human ConditionOn the InternetOn the Meaning of LifeOn the Philosophy of LawOn the Pragmatics of CommunicationOn the Punitive SocietyOn TruthOn Virtue EthicsOn What MattersOn What We Owe to Each OtherOne Hundred DaysOnflowOnly a Promise of HappinessOntology of ConsciousnessOpen MindedOpen Your EyesOrgans without BodiesOther MindsOur Last Great IllusionOur Own MindsOur Posthuman FutureOur StoriesOut of Its MindOut of Our HeadsOxford Guide to the MindOxford Handbook of Psychiatric EthicsOxford Textbook of Philosophy of PsychiatryPanic DisorderPanpsychism in the WestPartialityPassionate EnginesPassionate EnginesPathologies of BeliefPathologies of ReasonPatient Autonomy and the Ethics of ResponsibilityPC, M.D.Perceiving the WorldPerception & CognitionPerception and Basic BeliefsPerception, Hallucination, and IllusionPerceptual ExperiencePerfecting VirtuePerplexities of ConsciousnessPersistencePersonal AutonomyPersonal Autonomy in SocietyPersonal IdentityPersonal Identity and EthicsPersonal Identity and Fractured SelvesPersonhood and Health CarePersonsPersons and BodiesPersons, Humanity, and the Definition of DeathPersons, Souls and DeathPerspectives on ImitationPerspectives on PragmatismPessimismPhenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal KnowledgePhenomenal ConsciousnessPhenomenal IntentionalityPhenomenology and ExistentialismPhenomenology and Philosophy of MindPhilosophersPhilosophers on MusicPhilosophers without GodsPhilosophical CounselingPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPhilosophical DevicesPhilosophical Foundations of NeurosciencePhilosophical History and the Problem of ConsciousnessPhilosophical Issues in PsychiatryPhilosophical Issues in PsychiatryPhilosophical Issues in Psychiatry IIPhilosophical MethodologyPhilosophical MidwiferyPhilosophical Myths of the FallPhilosophical Perspectives on DepictionPhilosophical Perspectives on Technology and PsychiatryPhilosophical PracticePhilosophical Reflections on DisabilityPhilosophizing About Sex Philosophizing the EverydayPhilosophy and HappinessPhilosophy and LivingPhilosophy and PsychiatryPhilosophy and PsychotherapyPhilosophy and Science FictionPhilosophy and the EmotionsPhilosophy and the EmotionsPhilosophy and the Interpretation of Pop CulturePhilosophy and the Moving ImagePhilosophy and the NeurosciencesPhilosophy and This Actual WorldPhilosophy As FictionPhilosophy BitesPhilosophy Bites BackPhilosophy for Counselling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy for LifePhilosophy in a New CenturyPhilosophy in an Age of SciencePhilosophy in Children's LiteraturePhilosophy of ActionPhilosophy of ActionPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of BodyPhilosophy of Film and Motion PicturesPhilosophy of LovePhilosophy of Love, Sex, and MarriagePhilosophy of MindPhilosophy of Mind and CognitionPhilosophy of Personal Identity and Multiple PersonalityPhilosophy of PsychologyPhilosophy of Public HealthPhilosophy of SciencePhilosophy of SciencePhilosophy of Technology: The Technological ConditionPhilosophy of the Social SciencesPhilosophy on TapPhilosophy PracticePhilosophy the Day after TomorrowPhilosophy's Role in Counseling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy, Neuroscience and ConsciousnessPhilosophy, Politics, DemocracyPhotography and PhilosophyPhysical RealizationPhysicalism and Its DiscontentsPhysicalism and Mental CausationPhysicalism, or Something Near EnoughPhysician-Assisted DyingPillar of SaltPin-up GrrrlsPlatoPlatoPlato, Not Prozac!Platonic Ethics, Old and NewPluralistic CasuistryPolarities of ExperiencesPolitical EmotionsPopper, Objectivity and the Growth of KnowledgePornPorn StudiesPornography, Sex, and FeminismPortrait of the Psychiatrist as a Young ManPostcolonial DisordersPostpsychiatryPosttraumatic Stress DisorderPower and the SelfPower SplitPractical Autonomy and BioethicsPractical ConflictsPractical Identity and Narrative AgencyPractical PhilosophyPractical RulesPractical Tortoise RaisingPractically ProfoundPracticing Feminist Ethics in PsychologyPragmatic BioethicsPragmatismPragmatism, Old And NewPraise and BlamePredicative MindsPreferences and Well-BeingPrescriptions for the MindPresocraticsPrimary and Secondary QualitiesPrimates and PhilosophersPrivacyPrivileged AccessProblems in MindProblems of RationalityProzac As a Way of LifeProzac BacklashProzac on the CouchPsyche and SomaPsychiatric Aspects of Justification, Excuse and Mitigation in Anglo-American Criminal Law Psychiatric Cultures ComparedPsychiatric Diagnosis and ClassificationPsychiatric EthicsPsychiatric PowerPsychiatric SlaveryPsychiatry and Philosophy of SciencePsychiatry and ReligionPsychiatry as a Human SciencePsychiatry as Cognitive NeurosciencePsychiatry in SocietyPsychiatry in the New MilleniumPsychiatry in the Scientific ImagePsychiatry, Psychoanalysis, And The New Biology Of MindPsycho-Physical Dualism TodayPsychoanalysis and Narrative MedicinePsychoanalysis and the Philosophy of SciencePsychological Concepts and Biological PsychiatryPsychology and PhilosophyPsychology and the Question of AgencyPsychology's Interpretive TurnPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychotherapy and ConfidentialityPsychotherapy As PraxisPublic PhilosophyPunishmentPure ImmanencePurple HazePursuing MeaningQuality of Life and Human DifferenceQueer PhilosophyQuestions for FreudQuestions for FreudQuine and Davidson on Language, Thought and RealityRaceRace in Contemporary MedicineRadiant CoolRadical AlterityRadical ExternalismRadical HopeRational and Social AgencyRational CausationRational Choice in an Uncertain WorldRationality + Consciousness = Free WillRationality and FreedomRationality and the Reflective MindRationality in ActionRawls, Dewey, and ConstructivismRe-creating MedicineRe-EmergenceRe-Engineering Philosophy for Limited BeingsReading AutobiographyReading Bernard WilliamsReading SartreReadings in the Philosophy of TechnologyReal MaterialismReal Natures and Familiar ObjectsReal ScienceRealism in ActionReason & EmancipationReason in ActionReason in PhilosophyReason's GriefReasonably ViciousReasoning About Rational AgentsReasoning in Biological DiscoveriesReasons from WithinReasons without RationalismReclaiming CognitionReclaiming the SoulReconceiving SchizophreniaReconstructing Reason and RepresentationReconstructing the Cognitive WorldRecreative MindsRediscovering EmotionRediscovering EmpathyReference and ExistenceReference and the Rational MindReflections On How We LiveReframing Disease ContextuallyRefusing CareRegulating SexReinventing the SoulRelativism and Human RightsRelativism and the Foundations of PhilosophyRelativism and the Foundations of PhilosophyReliable ReasoningReligion without GodRelying on OthersRemembering HomeResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility from the MarginsRestraining RageRethinking ExpertiseRethinking IntrospectionRethinking Mental Health and DisorderRethinking RapeRethinking the DSMRethinking the Sociology of Mental HealthRethinking the Western Understanding of the SelfReturn to ReasonRevolt, She SaidRichard RortyRichard RortyRichard RortyRichard RortyRichard RortyRichard Rorty's New PragmatismRightsRights, Democracy, and Fulfillment in the Era of Identity PoliticsRise And Fall of Soul And SelfRitalin NationRobert NozickRousseauRousseau and the Dilemmas of Modernity Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Derrida on DeconstructionRules, Reason, and Self-KnowledgeSaints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics: Mental 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Alain BadiouReview - Alain Badiou
Strong Thought
by Jason Barker
Pluto Press, 2002
Review by Adrian Johnston, Ph.D.
Jul 31st 2002 (Volume 6, Issue 31)

            Exactly who is Alain Badiou?  His name is being mentioned with increasing frequency amongst English-speaking theorists.  Slavoj Žižek publicly proclaims that he is the next major philosophical figure emerging from France after Derrida.  But, despite this, only three of his many books—Badiou has been steadily publishing since the late 1960s—have been translated:  Deleuze, Ethics, and Manifesto for Philosophy.  Most problematically, his sizeable magnum opus, L’Être et l’événement (Being and the Event), remains untranslated.  And, up until now, no comprehensive introduction to his work has been available in English.  Jason Barker’s overview of Alain Badiou’s thought is thus a timely text placed in a position where it will almost certainly influence discussions of Badiou in the near future due to it’s being the first lengthy piece of secondary literature on this interesting thinker.

            Barker begins the book by summarizing Badiou’s intellectual itinerary and, in the first chapter, sketching a picture of his philosophical beginnings as a Maoist student of the French Marxist Louis Althusser.  Given his background, one might expect that Badiou would resemble other well-known thinkers who are part of the generation that matured in the continental European context surrounding the May ‘68 events, namely, those authors closely associated with post-structuralism and post-modernism.  Instead, what one encounters when reading Badiou is someone virulently opposed to nearly all of the central tenets he associates with the “new sophists” (i.e., those promoting a sort of pervasive relativism inspired by such influences as Nietzsche, Heidegger, the later Wittgenstein, and the hermeneutic/linguistic turn dominating twentieth-century philosophy on both sides of the Atlantic).  Pushing off against this pervasive sophistical relativism, Badiou provocatively dubs himself a “Platonist.”  What could he mean?  Why would anyone embrace a paradigm that has fallen into such widespread disrepute?

            For Badiou, being a Platonist signifies, first and foremost, affirming an idea of truth as invariant and universal.  Contemporary philosophy is underwritten by a series of possible permutations for denying this affirmation:  truth doesn’t exist; truth is the illusory effect of social, historical, and economic constructions; truth is relative to the symbolic-linguistic systems framing it; truth is a fictional tool manipulated by power mechanisms… and so on and so forth.  Of course, critical readings of Plato often point out that the standards for “truth” articulated by Socrates in the dialogues are borrowed directly from the then-novel discovery of mathematical and geometrical laws.  The insinuation is, obviously, that a particular knowledge-domain from the ancient Greek world is arbitrarily elevated into a general, overarching standard for all thought.  Rather than defend Platonism in the style of an apologist by downplaying the references to Pythagorean themes, Badiou happily affirms the central role of mathematics in both epistemology and, even more controversially, the formulation of a genuine ontology.  However, the mathematics that Badiou employs in his endeavor to revive Platonism, as well as the supposed “Platonism” resulting from this exercise, wouldn’t be known or recognized by Plato (in the field of mathematics, Badiou’s principle point of reference is set theory, especially as developed by Georg Cantor).  Barker succeeds in conveying the basic gist of Badiou’s system without getting mired in lengthy explanations of the mathematical ideas employed by Badiou, ideas with which most of his reading audience probably isn’t acquainted.  However, for those interested, Barker includes a short appendix at the end of the book listing the axioms of set theory that are crucial for grasping the notions at stake here.

According to Badiou, everything that can be said to exist is also, necessarily, “numerable” (i.e., subsumable under the laws of mathematics).  At first, this might sound like nothing more than an explicit version of the implicit ontology spontaneously secreted by the natural sciences, grounded, as these sciences are, by physics:  since all material entities, ranging from the smallest microscopic organisms to the largest clusters of galaxies, are composed of atoms and sub-atomic particles—and since these microscopic constituents of all entities are ostensibly described in an exhaustive manner by the formal representational frameworks of mathematics as employed by physics—it follows that mathematics is the universal language of being itself.  Although Badiou’s insistence on mathematizing ontology resonates with modern, post-Galilean science, it isn’t simply a reiteration of this worldview.  For Badiou, the recourse to set theory in particular enables an “enumeration” not only of material nature, which is as far as the “spontaneous philosophy of the scientists” (to quote Althusser) goes, but also of social formations, political institutions, economic configurations, and similar domains of human being.  The groupings and orderings that take shape in these areas admit of mathematization too.  These moves on Badiou’s part do indeed represent an attempt to revive a form of Platonism, especially if one remembers that, throughout the Socratic dialogues, truths just as eternal as the relations between numbers are sought after in every domain of inquiry:  statesmanship, art, love, ethics, and many other matters.

L’Être et l’événement was published in 1988.  Ten years later, a shorted, revised summary of this central text, entitled Court traité d’ontologie transitoire (Short Treatise on Transitory Ontology), appeared.  Its closing chapter, “L’être et l’apparaître,” provides a concise, condensed argument encapsulating some of the most profound results of Badiou’s use of set theory in the articulation of an ontology.  With reference to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, one could claim that Badiou launches a sort of “Copernican counter-revolution” through his contention, arrived at via the premises outlined immediately below, that the categorically/conceptually expressible relations between phenomena qua appearances arise immanently from being itself, as opposed to issuing from the de-ontologized understanding sitting at the center of Kantian idealism’s subjectivity.  Whereas Kant bars the subject from having a direct and unmediated relation to being by depriving all appearances accessible to the knowing individual of any ontological weight, for Badiou, the very nature of being is to appear.  How does he reach this conclusion?  His demonstration consists of five steps.  First, there is no set of all sets, no being of all beings; being per se, in and of itself, is non-existent.  Badiou maintains that set theory, under the assumption that mathematics is, to a greater or lesser extent, a direct expression of the Real, forces one to side with the antitheses of Kant’s first two antinomies of pure reason.  This first premise expresses Badiou’s most foundational ontological principle, namely, that “being qua being” is “pure multiplicity.”  Second, following from the first premise, every ontological investigation is local(ized), that is to say, restricted to dealing with particular incarnated beings rather than a given whole.  Third, all being is a “being-there,” and Badiou designates the local sites of being’s disclosure as “situations.”  Fourth, situations frame specific appearances (of beings), with the essence of appearance defined as the being-there of being.  Fifth and finally, it therefore follows that appearing is an intrinsic determination of being.  What’s more, appearance, which necessarily entails differential determination (i.e., each appearance takes on its meaning, value, significance, and so in connection and/or contrast with other appearances), always-already implicitly refers to the impossible, non-existent totality of being as the greatest set of all possible relations between beings-as-appearances (with this reference thus accounting for the transcendental illusion of wholeness, the specter of ontological completeness haunting human reason as a regulative idea).  This similarly means that logic and its grounding categories, as expressions of relations obtaining between appearances, arise from, instead of somehow “preceding,” the manifestation of appearances.  In the course of this argument, Badiou also notes that the key starting premise here is an internal result of (formal-mathematical) reason itself, rather than having anything to do with either a hasty reference to the inaccessibility of a directly given noumenal realm or the dogmatic assertion of a presumed limit transcending the powers of reason.

Is Badiou’s theoretical universe a fully mathematized one?  Answering in the affirmative would be to forget the second term in the title L’Être et l’événement—what does Badiou mean by “event?”  Perhaps this can be explained through a brief recourse to Hegel.  The starting point of Hegel’s logic is the dialecticized distinction between being and nothing.  In the attempt to think pure, brute being an sich, above and beyond all individual given beings, one arrives at the thought of nothingness (i.e., of no given being in particular).  The reconciliation of this artificial or false dichotomy—it shows itself to be artificial/false as an opposition due to one term (being) passing into or converging with the other (nothing)—yields the category of “becoming,” thereby setting in motion the unfolding movement of the dialectic.  At various moments in his exposition, Barker notes that Badiou is often influenced by Hegelian modes of thought.  However, when it comes to the two fundamental nodes of his own system, Badiou is decidedly non-Hegelian.  He proposes that an unbridgeable gulf, a sharp break or rupture, separates “being” and “event,” with no potential for eventual synthesis in and through a third term.  Being designates everything which can be said to exist as part of an infinite multiplicity of (e)numerable sets, groups, and classes.  Events, on the other hand, lack being, and therefore cannot be “counted” as integrated parts of the extant field of being(s).  Barker’s third chapter, “The Event of Non-Being,” phrases this in several ways, including, among others—“The event is the forbidden multiple, prohibited from being.  It is being’s gap or interval…  The event cannot be, its non-being is unthinkable” (pg. 67);  “the event… is ‘that which is not being as being’…  an event is irreducible to any kind of logic or intuition…  The event of philosophy always registers an impact, disturbing an equilibrium of whatever kind, or in other words and invoking Badiou’s generic categories, ruptures the prevailing scientific, political, amorous or artistic norms of a situation” (pg. 75).  Is there any way to make these seemingly abstract proclamations a little more concrete?  For instance, how could one explain the fashion in which Badiou’s conception of event cuts against the grain of a certain prevalent contemporary Hegelianism?

Barker’s introduction to Badiou, in order to effectively function as an introduction, restricts itself to focusing on some texts rather than others.  This is necessary when outlining the entire oeuvre of a prolific author.  Nonetheless, one of Badiou’s pieces of writing neglected in Barker’s summary, Saint Paul:  La fondation de l’universalisme (1997), is especially helpful in clarifying the nature of the non-dialectical opposition between being and event.  Badiou observes that Saint Paul treats Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection as a pure event in his precise sense, in other words, as an occurrence that in no way can be reduced to the socio-ontological background coordinates (i.e., the historical/cultural event-site) out of and against which it emerges (in this case, a world divided up between Roman and Jewish life-worlds).  A dialectical view always attempts to show how even what appears to be the most radical and complete rupture with a given historical continuum is itself, ultimately, an immanently produced result of this same historical continuum.  In the end, dialectics invariably seeks to locate a thread of consistency between seemingly heterogeneous elements, and this deep-seated bias reveals itself in nearly every variation of historicism practiced in twentieth-century philosophy.  Against this historical/philosophical stance, Badiou invokes the example of Saint Paul’s insistence that the “truth” of Christ (i.e., the event of his crucifixion and resurrection), while occurring in a context involving Roman society, Jewish tradition, and the influence of Greek thought, utterly and completely surpasses this multifaceted contextual event-site to such an extent that it can in no way be reconciled or reintegrated with this background.  Badiou speaks of Saint Paul’s “anti-dialectics.”  After the event of this truth’s advent, the old guiding references (Roman, Jew, Greek, etc.) lose their relevance, proving themselves unable to measure the impact of a truth that shatters their meaning and stability; for Badiou, timeless truths surface through the contingent vicissitudes of temporally unfolding history, and the universal is born out of the particular without, for all that, being any less universal.  Treating Christ, for instance, as an innovative representative of Judaism would be, in Saint Paul’s view, to miss and betray the genuine import of the figure of Christ.  Against Hegelianism’s tendency to conclude, with a self-satisfied sigh of smug resignation, that “there’s nothing new under the sun,” Badiou’s overall project could be engaged with, in large part, as a sustained effort to contemplate the new, to ponder how it is indeed possible for the extant reality of existence to be taken by surprise again and again:  How can what is seen as impossible in a present situation sometimes actually happen?  An approach unswervingly oriented towards continuity is incapable of doing justice to the truths unveiling themselves through events that “break the mold” of accumulated givens.  Similarly, despite moments where he might sound vaguely akin to someone like Heidegger, Badiou is no existentialist:  events are definitely not, for him, features of “being-in-the-world,” if by “world” one means (to paraphrase the young Wittgenstein of the Tractatus) “all that is the case” or the experiential, environmental horizons of Dasein’s being.

In his fourth chapter, “The Politics of Truth,” Barker is careful to nuance his interpretation of the above notions.  Badiou stipulates that the status of an event as an event per se is volatile and uncertain.  Whether or not a given occurrence should—with this “should,” one sees the tip of the ethico-political iceberg rear up in Badiou’s thought—qualify as an event qua emergence of a truth cannot be firmly decided during the moments surrounding it.  As is the case for Lacan (a major influence on Badiou), truth is held captive by a futur antérieur.  Risking a formulation in layman’s terms, truth only becomes truth as such through the retroactive “verdict of history,” that is to say, by proving, through its endurance, to be immune to any subsequent upheavals and fluctuations in the state of knowledge; it becomes indispensable to thought.  Thus, bringing the truth of an event to fruition requires what Badiou calls the “fidelity” of a subject, since the event’s truth has to endure long enough in a quasi-indeterminate status to, so to speak, reap the benefits of a favorable historical verdict.  The beginning of the truth-process at work between the event and its subject resides in deciding, without further ground or guarantee, that an event has, in actuality, occurred.  In other words, one has to decide whether an occurrence represents a previously inconceivable break with the paradigms endemic to the status quo:  Does a certain discovery really represent the foundation of a new science?  Is a particular social disturbance the manifestation of a genuine revolutionary upheaval and should it be treated as such?  Will a given cultural product such as a novel, painting, or film usher in an unprecedented aesthetic genre?  The event is then named, assigned markers capable of singling it out and attesting to its having taken place.  This process of decision and nomination involves the creation of a subject, more specifically, a type of subjectivity whose identity is conditioned by the event and its truth (using an example from above, for Saint Paul, the event of Christ is that which gives rise to the Christian subject, and this event and its truth are sustained through this same subject naming and remaining faithful to them).  The subject is thereby the support of truth.  Although the margin of doubt subsisting during the sometimes lengthy period of truth’s becoming cannot be eliminated—this explains why Badiou chooses a word like “fidelity” to describe the stance of a subject-of-the-event towards the event’s truth—this doesn’t mean, as the skeptic is always too eager to conclude, that there is no truth.  It simply means that the emergence of timeless truth takes time.

Barker’s fifth chapter, “The Cult of Deleuze,” sketches the relation between Badiou and Gilles Deleuze.  Deleuze is, arguably, the French contemporary closest to Badiou on numerous philosophical points.  In Deleuze:  The Clamor of Being, Badiou launches his critique of Deleuze.  Typically, due to impressions stemming from his later “capitalism and schizophrenia”
work with Félix Guattari, Deleuze is portrayed as someone who celebrates (to put it in the same jargon used by Deleuzians) the plurality of the thriving, rhizomatic machines of anti-Oedipal desire.  Cutting through this verbiage, one could say that Deleuze is a thinker of lawless, heterogeneous “multiplicity.”  Badiou convincingly destroys this image:  beneath his rhetoric, Deleuze is, like Spinoza (one of Deleuze’s favorite philosophers), a die-hard ontological monist.  The absolute oneness of being, the fact that all temptations to formulate multi-tiered ontologies must be resisted, is monotonously stressed in text after text—Badiou’s emphasis on the virtual status of unities and correlative insistence on the multiple character of being, while sounding Deleuzian, is evidently, on Badiou’s own reading of Deleuze, incompatible with this ontological monism.  Barker claims that, “the dispute between Badiou and Deleuze is that which exists, in principle, between an ordered conception of chaos, one which is mathematically definable, and a chaotic conception of order, one which is philosophically intuitive” (pg. 118).  The Deleuzian project involves the effort to push both logic and sense so far that they start to break down and, in so doing, reveal that the “logic of sense” is, oddly enough, ultimately grounded on a foundation of nonsense (the notion of sense arising from nonsense, or meaning being based on meaninglessness, also plays an important part in the trajectory of structural linguistics after Saussure, especially as developed by Roman Jakobson).  Rather than base an ontology on a homogenous-yet-chaotic flux of intensities, Badiou chooses to affirm that multiple being is itself capable of an orderly, systematic delineation vis-à-vis the formal apparatuses of mathematics.  To put it in Lacanian terms, “mathemes” of being can be traced.

The sixth and final chapter of Barker’s book turns to Badiou’s “ethics of philosophy.”  On this topic, Badiou is at his very polemical best when confronting the new sophists of post-modernism.  In the continental philosophical tradition ever since Levinas, an ethics of the “difference of the Other” has predominated to the point of effectively crowding out any serious alternative.  Proponents of this stance adamantly insist that the root of all evils is a lack of sufficient and proper respect for the differences of others.  This bit of academic dogma reflects a broader popular ideology of (multi)culturalism:  once people become comfortable with each other’s lifestyles and tastes, things will be just fine.  In his Ethics:  An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, Badiou launches a scathing attack on the ethics of difference.  A passage from this text offers the finest summary of his position:

The objective (or historical) foundation of contemporary ethics is culturalism, in truth a tourist’s fascination for the diversity of morals, customs and beliefs. And in particular, for the irreducible medley of imaginary formations (religions, sexual representations, incarnations of authority…).   Yes, the essential ‘objective’ bias of ethics rests on a vulgar sociology, directly inherited from the astonishment of the colonial encounter with savages (pg. 26).

(Alain Badiou, Ethics:  An Essay on the Understanding of Evil [trans. Peter Hallward], London:  Verso, 2001)

Badiou continues:

Against these trifling descriptions (of a reality that is both obvious and inconsistent in itself), genuine thought should affirm the following principle:  since differences are what there is, and since every truth is the coming-to-be of that which is not yet, so differences are then precisely what truths depose, or render insignificant.  No light is shed on any concrete situation by the notion of the ‘recognition of the other.’  Every modern collective configuration involves people from everywhere, who have their different ways of eating and speaking, who wear different sorts of headgear, follow different religions, have complex and varied relations to sexuality, prefer authority or disorder, and such is the way of the world (pg. 27).

“Difference” as such isn’t worthy of the labor of thinking, being what is most obvious and immediately given in today’s globalized living spaces.  Instead, the challenge to “think the same,” to grasp what is true for all and thus what should be dignified as universal, is increasingly more relevant and pressing in contemporary socio-political contexts.  Given the plurality of cultures and lifestyles, what ethical truths, as truths in Badiou’s strong sense, can still be endorsed?  What happens when the ethics of the recognition of alterity fails, when “the Other” refuses to reciprocate this cheap-and-easy gesture of recognition?  For instance, what about the ethico-political crises of Western societies faced with others who, on principle, refuse to accept the underlying, fundamental democratic social contract of these societies attempting to integrate them?  How should one respond in these real-world situations that give the lie to the hollow rhetoric of limitless tolerance?  Slicing through a whole series of Gordian knots and specious falsehoods, Badiou realizes that, in the reign of a doctrine of otherness where each and every individual is defined chiefly in terms of differences, difference is a difference that makes no difference.  As Barker puts it, “If everyone is different then it must follow that such difference simply adds up to the same thing” (pg. 137).  The twentieth-century’s relativism isn’t just theoretically questionable; it might also be morally suspect, tacitly promoting an intellectual laziness (usually dressed up as chic pessimism) that refuses to continue philosophy’s traditional task of seeking, beneath the scintillating-yet-superficial façade of little differences, the true, the same, and the universal.  As Žižek has passionately advocated in his recent writings, thought mustn’t allow itself to be blackmailed into backing down from its quest for the indifferently invariant by ivory tower squeals that every such quest ends in “totalitarianism.”

            Jason Barker’s book is well worth recommending to anyone who is beginning the process of grappling with the corpus of Alain Badiou.  Barker lucidly outlines the contours of Badiou’s system and furnishes readers with concise definitions of its key technical terms.  Furthermore, a hoped-for consequence of Barker’s introduction is that it will hasten the arrival of more English translations of texts by Badiou.  Given the originality, complexity, and sheer rigor of his thought, Badiou ought to be generating more intellectual excitement in the years to come.

 

© 2002 Adrian Johnston

 

Adrian Johnston, Ph.D. will take up a position as interdisciplinary research fellow in psychoanalysis at Emory University this fall. 


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