507856202_505bd054ddAlex over at Splintering Bone’s to Ashes has an interesting post up on his developing antipathy towards Badiou. As Alex writes,

Whilst his ontological position has a certain minimalist elegance about it, everything he builds atop it is little more than a ridiculous hyper-structure of nonsense piled upon nonsense, an unsteady philosophical folly whose absurd (yet po-faced) architecture has only been exacerbated by (what I have read thus far of) Logics of Worlds. Whilst I admire Badiou’s style (an admittedly masterful mixture of crisply cumulative argument, mathematical abstraction, and poetic/polemic turn of phrase, indeed the style above all of the master, the father, the priest… in the best and worst senses) Increasingly I find his work unbearable… The whole notion of the relational body of a truth is ridiculously simplistic, and fails to resolve the chief spectre haunting Badiou (i.e.- Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason). His absolutism, exceptionalism, his rejection of management- well I think politics must always, in the end, return to that question, the issue of organisation, the issue of management… of relation- it is the political question. The question of relation sat uncomfortably over Being & Event – and it is with his relational supplement that Badiou is revealed as a pathological system-builder, but to what end- to what avail does he build his awkward tower? These fragments he shores against his ruins, a ziggurat of ruins, the ruin of a thought… (my thought, I think perhaps, rather than his own…).

I confess that after having read the first 200 pages of Logics of Worlds, I simply couldn’t read it any more. The more I read the greater my feelings of frustration and disappointment. Where I was looking for a realist theory of relations, the theory Badiou develops strikes me as inevitably wedded to the human such that we never genuinely reach the domain of objects or things. In other words, Badiou strikes me as being guilty of what Roy Bhaskar calls “the epistemic fallacy” which consists in conflating questions of epistemology with questions of ontology.

Throughout Logics of Worlds we find Badiou pre-occupied with questions of how to measure, identify, and evaluate objects. However, these are all epistemological terms that have little or nothing to do with the ontological status of an object as real. Badiou tells us that his account of the transcendental and objects makes no reference to the subject, but with the exception of a very brief discussion of galaxies, all of his examples of worlds refer to cultural phenomena.

Badiou claims that every object has an intensive degree that indexes its being-there or appearing in a world. To illustrate this thesis Badiou spends a tremendous amount of time analyzing Hubert Robert’s painting Bathing Pool (above). It is here, I think, that the difficulties of Badiou’s account of objects, from a realist standpoint, become clear. Badiou asserts, for example, that the columns to the left behind the foliage have a lower degree of intensity or being-there than those in the front. He makes similar observations about the women among the pillars compared to those bathing in the foreground and the statue to the right of the pool compared to the one on the left. These sorts of claims make me want to pull my hair out in frustration and ire. Such a thesis can only be epistemological and made from the standpoint of a viewing subject because the degree to which a being is or is not is an absolute binary such that it make not one bit of difference whether or not some appears intensely to us or not. From the realist standpoint something either is or is not, it is absolutely actual. I realize this sort of frustration or criticism sounds minor, but this type of conflation of reality with phenomenological appearing is pervasive throughout the text. One’s time is far better spent reading Zubiri’s On Essence where these sorts of conflations are carefully unpacked and where he develops a thoroughly realist account of essence that pertains to the things themselves, not whether or not the things themselves appear to us or whether we can know them.

At any rate, there’s much more to Alex’s post. Read the rest here.

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