northanger (northanger) wrote,


who is this distinguished looking fellow? my book list has shifted: running with the deleuzians knocking off all things enochian with all things philosophical. badiou's ethics is top of the list. k-punk's keep going post had me searching to understand "a crisis of fidelity", "'keep going!", Immortals and simulacrums. These two reviews helped: one very short and simple and the other a bit longer. One positive and one negative about badiou's ethics. Simon Critchley's, Demanding Approval: On The Ethics of Alain Badiou was also extremely helpful.

Badiou's book makes a clean break with the statist tradition in ethics and proposes, instead, an entirely new perspective. In essence, Badiou asks, "What if, instead of supposing that the existing world is unchangeable, and that the role of ethical behavior is to adapt to this necessary evil as best we can, we were to think of it as the attempt to create a specific good adapted to every specific situation?" ... Badiou's book is meant to help us all decide how to be "faithful to the event"--i.e., to persevere in the construction of a good that a specific event in our lives gave us a glimpse of. —An Ethics for Activists?, by Nicolas Veroli

Badiou clearly has ambitions to found his own school and, to this end, has invented an entire vocabulary of "situations", "events" and "truths". But these terminological innovations cannot conceal that Badiou has nothing original to say ... Badiou's truths are not the universal truths of human nature on which the advocates of natural rights stake their case. His truths are revealed only in extreme "events", which lie outside the circuit of ordinary life. A truth is always a "break" with the "prevailing language and established knowledge of the situation". It is unique and incommunicable. It cannot be known, only "encountered". Ethical action consists in "fidelity" to such truths ... The problem Badiou faces is this: if ethical action (fidelity to a truth) cannot be justified in universal terms, how are we to distinguish it from plain wickedness? ... How does Abraham know for sure that it is God, and not the Devil, who is calling him to sacrifice his son Isaac? —Bogus philosophy, by Edward Skidelsky

i haven't the pleasure, yet, of reading badiou personally so everything i'm picking up is heresay. the problem with Skidelsky using Abraham as an example (is it god or the devil?) is that Abraham never doubted who he was talking with. people have been puzzled by Abraham's seemingly evil god because of this weird request. keep in mind, the story of Abraham appears in the Torah and Jewish thought concerning the nature of evil and the devil is different from the Christian idea.

imho, Critchley provides some clues to Abraham's experience:

Without some experience of a demand - that is, without some experience of a relation to the otherness of a demand of some sort - to which I am prepared to bind myself, to commit myself, the business of morality would not get started. There would be no motivation to the good, the good would not have the power to move the will to act. Kant calls that which would produce the power to act, the motivational power to be disposed to the good, `the philosopher's stone'. What is essential to ethical experience is that the subject of the demand assents to that demand, agrees to finding it good, binds itself to that good and shapes its subjectivity in relation to that good. A demand meets with an approval. The subject who approves shapes itself in accordance with that demand. All questions of value begin here. —Demanding Approval, by Simon Critchley

there is no mention, in Genesis 22:1-19, of any hesitation on Abraham's part concerning this request. as a matter of fact, at the foot of the mountain of sacrifice, Abraham instructs his servants to remain there until "we will come back to you". i would argue that this strange sacrifice supports badiou's argument because of three things emerging from this event: (1) Abraham's experience, (2) Isaac's experience (to know; to experience; to be initiated), and (3) a name of god (Jehovah-jireh, The Lord Will Provide).

the key to Abraham's experience, from a Christian pov, appears in Hebrews 11, which is called the Hall of Faith chapter:

Now faith (pistis) is the substance (hupostasis) of things hoped (elpizo) for, the evidence (elegchos) of things not seen (blepo). For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear ... By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting (pistis) that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead (nekros); from whence also he received him in a figure (parabole; "figuratively speaking"). —Hebrews 11:1-3 & 17-19, AV

someone with better linguistic skills than i needs to compare parabole with badiou's simulacrum. interesting: the root for similar is sem-1: one; also adverbially “as one,” together with. haploid shares the same root and involves the technology of touch. compare this with HAPTIC of 0(rphan)d(rift>), involving tactile tactics to re-engineer the body's sensory responses (you don't need enlightenment in haptic space).

thanks, k-punk. somebody finally put their finger on something. x marks the spot.


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