LI received a letter from a friend yesterday. We’d asked what he thought about the Badiou posts, and he said he’d comment after he knew where we were going.
Where are we going?
As we said before, the thing that concerns us here is what Badiou could mean, as a philosopher, by claiming that there are four independent domains that generate different truth procedures. These domains are: science, politics, art, and love.
Now, whether or not one thinks that science is defined by its truth procedures, it is easy to figure out what that claim would mean. Whether you take truth to be correspondence to an object – hence, the fight over whether realism, which claims the objects of science are real, or anti-realism, which claims that they are somehow artifices – or whether you take truth to be correspondence – thus, the debate over whether science consolidates its ‘discoveries” in such a way that coherence with previous discoveries and theories is preserved, or whether it proceeds by discontinuous paradigms, each themselves coherent, you can still easily understand what Badiou is talking about.
There is, however, a third school which has a different idea about the truth. This truth is the Capital T truth. In this school, represented by Heidegger in the last century, truth depends on disclosure. A positivist reading of such a claim would say, sure, the chain of evidence has to be clear, and clearly the clues for understanding the truth of an event refer to something that can’t, strictly, be present, so disclosure, as a secondary factor, is important in discovering the truth. But Heidegger was making a stronger point. It is disclosure itself, unveiling, apokalupsis, that never to be preserved moment, which is what makes the truth the truth. In other words, the truth isn’t affirmed by referring its claim to those canons of logic that would make revelation legitimate – no, the moment itself, the presenting of the present, is the truth. Derrida, with that exemplary malice of his, wrote an essay on this moment as the apocalyptic moment, with apocalypse, by various forced etymologies, leading us back to the moment that the bride is stripped bare by the exemplary bachelor, the groom. A bareness that is both instantiated and ceremonially represented by the removal of the veil. It is, in Derrida’s account, a sexual event – or constitutive of the truth of sex, and the irreducible sexual supplement of the truth.
However, let’s suspend our Derrida talk. The important thing is to see that the disclosure notion of truth is the point of convergence for, on the one side, logic, and on the other side, events. This is important for Badiou. The eventimential (which we will call it, dragging a term with a slight change of letters from the French into the English) – the eventimential turn – is how we know that Badiou is not a sixties philosopher, and why a philosopher like Deleuze fascinates and repels him. We seem, here, to have finally jimmied truth out of that depressing job it has been doing since the logical positivists decided to try to make it a mere function in a formal language (which, famously, never succeeded). The truth, since then, has been working like a princess in a hamburger joint. It is exciting to think that the Truth can be rescued from the infinite abjection, not to mention the French fry smell, of such circumstances.
There is also an analytic tradition of interpreting events. We will cover a bit of that in the next post, then go on and finish up this Badiou stuff.