Disiplinlerarası Çalışmalar Dergisi Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

Badiou’s “Fight for Philosophy”: Being, Event, Subject, Truth

This article focuses on the contemporary French philosopher Alain Badiou. Writing his primary works after 1980, his views have become popular in virtue of both the emerging social and political developments, and the retrenchment of the postmodern agenda of the 1990s. Badiou reappraises the truth in an atmosphere in which such concepts as metanarratives come to an end, and philosophy is reduced to discourse and truth is claimed to be no longer possible. For this main target, he challenges multi-culturalist positions and identity politics at the ethical-political level, as well as cultural studies and relativistic approaches at social-scientific and philosophical levels. He thus re-invokes philosophy to come into existence by criticizing those approaches that declare the end of philosophy, such as hermeneutics, and analytical and postmodern philosophies. For him, philosophy has not died. Philosophy is a distinct realm that operates based on its own conditions of truth. Badiou envisions four capacities of truth for human beings: politics, science, art and love. Philosophy is nothing but thinking these four truths together. Criticizing those approaches declaring the end of truth by taking “language” as a model, Badiou embarks on grounding the truth on mathematics. Starting an ontological debate in his principal book, Being and Event, he takes mathematics as ontology, ad philosophy as meta-ontology: Thinking being qua being is mathematics, and “set theory” in particular. In his ontological project Badiou seks a solution to a classical metaphysical problem, i.e., is Being, in essence, “multiple” or “one”? He tries to solve this metaphysical problem by means of his conceptions of “consistent multiplicity” and “inconsistent multiplicity”. The main thrust of his ontological project is to think Being through a “void” with an aim to develop an ontological model justifying the openness (genesis) of Being. In set theory the void is referred to as an empty set. Since consistent multiples always contain the empty set in them after the operation of counting as one, Being should be seen as eternally open. The void, signified by empty set, is the limit of ontology and what follows it is “the analysis of the event”. The event, which means a rupture from given conditions, is the beginning of the truth process, that is, the truth is a process of production emerging after the event. Badiou examines the truth process trough such notions as “undecidability,” “indistinguishability,” “fidelity” and “subject.” These also constitute the essential axis of this article: being, event, subject, truth and the truth processes. It systematically presents the thoughts developed by Badiou, within the framework of this axis. It also discusses the political ramifications of his thought and the aspects that differentiate him from the classical Marxist framework. In the concluding section, the reception of Badiou’s thought in Turkey will be discussed in light of the debates following the Gezi protests, considering the question of whether the Gezi protests were an “event” in Badiouian terms. Hüseyin ETİL
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