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THE POLITICS OF BEING

Alexi Kukuljevic

In this essay I take up the question of how to


construct the space of the disjunctive synthesis
that binds Deleuzes and Badious image of
thought. They share an orientation to philosophy that Eric Alliez has recently expressed
theorematically as follows:
Deleuze and Badiou conceive of ontology only
qua politics of being, and they regard this stance
as a fundamental requirement of contemporary
thought. Thus, if it is not unfounded to posit
their respective metaphysics as the two extreme, and absolutely hostile poles which nevertheless constitute the contemporary philosophical field in its materialist necessity, it
wont be so much a question of political
consequentiality and verification (what does
politically mean, for one and the other?) but
rather of radical antecedence of politics tied to
1
their respective metaphysics.

My concern here is not with the disjunct


of their disjunctive synthesis but with the
synthesis which Badiou has articulated as
their shared conviction that it is imperative for
the future of thought (of philosophy) to cede
nothing to the hegemonic theme of the end of
philosophy, whether in its pathetic version,
which ties it to the destiny of Being, or its
bland one, which binds to the logic of judgement.2 This shift in the philosophical conjuncture toward an affirmation of metaphysics
beyond the figure of its closure (which Badiou
describes as a shift in philosophical epochs)3 is
in the last instance political. With the crisis of
Marxism, the materialist image of thought
cannot be sustained by either the hermeneutic,
analytic, or postmodern philosophical orientations since they stand united in the final analysis, as Badiou has argued, in their assent to
what Reiner Schrmann designated most honestly the hypothesis of closure, or the end of
metaphysics. 4 The end announced by
Heideggers dismantling of the metaphysics of
the One, no doubt registers an event (that of the
irreversible irruption of the multiple onto the
stage of history),5 but it is an event that can

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only be thought if philosophy sustains its locus


classicus: the great figure of the metaphysical
proposition (IF 45). The axiom of
Heideggerian thought, which hinges on inscribing the difference between thought and
philosophy, must be undone. 6
For the event that proscribes that philosophy think the metaphysical irruption of the
multiple remains related to that of nihilism, but
nihilism is not to be thought in terms of machination (Machenschaft), but chiefly in terms of
Capitals singular potency to dissolve all
sacralizing representations (MP 56).7 The
event of Capital releases the multiple from the
hegemonic figure of the One. And it is this
event in my view that conditions the philosophical projects of both Deleuze and Badiou:
Our time indubitably sustains itself with a
kind of generalized atomism because no symbolic sanction of the bond is capable of resisting the abstract potency of Capital.8 What is at
stake in the return to metaphysics is the resuscitation of a thought capable of thinking in
level terms with Capital. The philosophical
wager that Badiou acutely articulates concerns
the paradoxical thesis that philosophy has not
known until quite recently how to think in level
terms with Capital, since it has left the field
open, to its most intimate point, to vain nostalgia for the sacred, to obsession with Presence,
to the obscure dominance of the poem, to
doubt about it own legitimacy (MP 58). For
this reason, we can state the two central theses
that any contemporary metaphysics must defend: 1) the ontological primacy of the multiple (or multiplicities), and 2) the intrinsic reality of events (the real occurrence of the new).
For Capital only introduces the multiple onto
the ontological stage through the maintenance
of the illusion of the new, the illusion of innovation, thus reintroducing the figure of the
same (the One) through that of the multiple.
Thus, if Capital is to be resisted by a form of
thought, philosophical thought must maintain
a constitutive relation to the reality of the event
without allowing the One to be reintroduced at
the precise point at which it falters (TW 101).9

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Only the return to metaphysics can provide


thought with the means to adequately resist the
present.
These are the contemporary stakes of ontology for both Deleuze and Badiou and the reason for their resolutely classical turn. The turn
to metaphysics should be understood as an intervention in the philosophical conjuncture,
conforming to the following Althusserian thesis: Philosophy is the practice of political intervention carried out in a theoretical form.10
The stakes of the return to metaphysics accomplished serenely by Deleuze and blusterously
by Badiou thus are political in the last instance.
This turn has already produced ideological
reactions and the most common accusation is
that of Dogmatism, reinstalling that most
epistemological of philosophical requirements: that of the criterium legitimating the
claim posited. If Badiou and Deleuze offend so
many philosophical tastes, it is doubtless in
large part due to their brazen abjuration of the
Copernican revolution, a turn whose
doxographical self-evidence has become the
veritable reflex of a new philosophical common sense. What I want to present here is a defense (a preemptive strike) to prevent any deviation from their constitutive ontological
frameworkoffering what to many may
appear grotesque: a defense of Dogmatism in
philosophy.
In order to counter the attack that this turn
toward metaphysics in Badiou, and perhaps by
proxy Deleuze, condemns their thought to
neo-classicism, falling into a reactionary modernism surpassing Heideggers Being and
Time in its rigouran attack recently leveled
by Peter Osborne.11 We must see how this turn
to metaphysic is nonetheless Newnew in the
precise sense that in Deleuze and Badiou we
can find a new practice of metaphysicsa
practice that does not leave the essence of the
metaphysics they practice theoretically unaffected. To mime a formulation of Althusser:
What is new in Deleuze and Badious contribution to philosophy is a new practice of metaphysics. Their philosophy is not a (new) metaphysics of praxis, but a (new) practice of
metaphysics.12 By thinking the practice of
metaphysics we can see how their respective
metaphysics separates in metaphysics itself
precisely that which has led the philosophical
orientations of the last century (in particular

the hermeneutic and postmodern) to declare its


endturning the very reason for its overcoming into the reason for its perseverance.
E ve r y t h i n g h i n g e s t h e r e f o r e o n t h e
construction of the concept of practice.
Let me begin this strange detour through the
thought of Althusser, leaving behind the work
of Deleuze and Badiou, while nevertheless
keeping in view that this detour through
Althusser serves the purpose of thinking their
respective affirmations of the metaphysical
proposition. I will focus on Althussers selfcritique which is already underway in the late
sixties, tracing the manner in which Althusser
subjects his early determination of philosophy
to what Badiou in the essay What does Louis
Althusser Understand by Philosophy? calls
its de-epistemologisation (dspistmologisation de la philosophie).13 As Badiou
maintains, this tendency in Althussers later
thinking is never explicitly declared, nor does
his thought secure its de-epistemologisation.
Nevertheless we can assert that the whole of
the becoming (devenir) of his thought, when
considering the problem of philosophy, is animated by this tendency. By locating this tendency in Althussers self-criticism, we can see
how the turn to metaphysics is undertaken out
of political exigency.

I
The whole of Althussers thought is placed
under the condition of thinking the event of
Marxs thoughtits radical singularity and its
irreversibility. Althusser infamously marks
this event not in the early Marx, but with
Marxs attempt to critique his old philosophical conscience. The theoretical event inaugurated by Theses on Feuerbach and The German Ideology is the invention of historical
materialism: the science of history. The thesis
that then guides the rest of Althussers thought
is the paradoxical claim that Marxist science
contains the seeds of a philosophydialectical materialismwhich nonetheless has yet to
be produced as philosophy. A central thesis is:
that philosophy is conditioned by the
preexistence of science. The Platonic event is
conditioned by Thales discovery of the continent of mathematics, the Cartesian event by
Galileos discovery of the continent of mathematical physics, and likewise the Kantian

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event is conditioned by Newton. According to


Althusser, Marx opens up the continent of history. The task of philosophy (as dialectical materialism) is to elaborate the theory that Marx
practiced. Althusser writes, It is this theoretical necessity that gave birth to dialectical materialism, the only philosophy that treats
knowledge as the historical process of production of knowledges and that reflects its new object at once within materialism and within dialectics.14 The practice of the science of
historical materialism, like all sciences, is a
theoretical practice, which produces the truth
through its practice and, by apprehending this
truth, philosophy can expose the errors of
ideology. Marx thus enables us to think theory
materially, i.e., as a practice that has specific,
determinable conditions. Althusser defines
theoretical practice as follows:
To know is to produce the adequate concept of
the object by putting to work means of theoretical production (theory and method), applied to a
given raw material. This production of knowledge in a given science is a specific practice,
which should be called theoretical practicea
specific practice, distinct, that is, from other existing practices (economic, political, ideological practices) and absolutely irreplaceable at
its level and in its function. (PSPS 15)

The labor involved is not the labor of the universal (Hegel), but as Althusser develops in
close proximity to Maos On Contradiction,
to quote For Marx, labour on a pre-existing
universal, a labour whose aim and achievement is precisely to refuse this universal the
abstractions or the temptations of philosophy
(ideology), and to bring it back to its condition
by force.15 The practice of a science does not
reflect the sensuously given, nor is it based
upon a lived experience (Erlebnis), for the production of a new truth challenges the various
manners in which the lived or the sensuous
was spontaneously taken up and understood.
Althusser writes, The important point is that a
science, far from reflecting the immediate
givens of everyday experience and practice is
constituted only on the condition of calling
them into question, and breaking with them, to
the extent that its result, once achieved, appear
indeed as the contrary of the obvious facts of
practical everyday experience, rather than as

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their reflection (PSPS 15). To quote Balibar,


For Althusser, as for Bachelard and above all
for Canguilhem, science is identified with the
scientific process of destroying obviousness or
initial abstractions; its problematic is constructed in and by the break.16 Philosophy
conceives the break, which science effects
with what we may for shorthand call doxa, but
does not think.
The infamous epistemological break refers to the difference produced by science of
history and the thought specific to philosophy
(dialectical materialism) which separates science (the event of Marxs thought) from Ideology (pre-Marxist thought)transforming philosophy from an ideology into a scientific
discipline (PSPS 10). For the practice of science transforms the raw material of Ideology (the abstractions of lived-experience as
well as the classical assumptions of political
economy) by producing new concepts (e.g.,
mode of production, social formation, infrastructure, superstructure, ideology, class
struggle, etc.) that expose the transcendental
illusion of classical political economy. Thus
Marxs science similar to the Galilean hypothesis of the mathematization of nature poses a
provisional truth that opens up a new domain infinite in scope and a new truth that retroactively enables one to grasp ideology as
ideology (since Ideology presents itself as
truth). So defined, philosophy is a theory of
knowledge. However, it is released from its
ideological construal as a guarantee of cognition. Philosophy is not a theory of the guarantee of knowledge, but a theory of the practice
of knowing: theoretical practice. Marxist philosophy exists, yet has never been produced as
philosophy.17
Knowledge for Althusser is not a matter of
reflection, adequation, or any other classical
figure of cognition; it is a matter of production.
The true is not measured by any external relation or plane of reference, but can only be
grasped through the effects it induces in a system of knowledge. For example, the effect that
Marxs thought induces in philosophy is that
of a break or rupture (coupure or rupture).
Althussers guide in reading Marx is Spinozas
famous claim that what is true is a sign of itself and of what is false.18 Philosophy separated from ideology becomes the theory of the
history of knowledgethat is, of the real con-

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ditions (material and social on the one hand,


internal to scientific practice on the other) of
the process of production of knowledge. The
theory of knowledge, thus understood, constitutes the heart of Marxist philosophy
(PSPS 8). A Marxist philosophy must grasp
the difference in philosophy itself between
ideology and sciencea difference that can
only be grasped by accepting the notion of the
break. As Balibar suggests, there is thus a
certain undecidability concerning whether the
break is produced by Althusserian thought or
uncovered by it.
Yet, what remains unthought in defining
philosophy as a theory of knowledge is the distinctive practice of philosophy. If the event of
Marxs thought consists in a new practice
which induces a break in the continuity of
philosophy itselfseparating it from its ideological pastthen what is the function of philosophy, its peculiar operation? Is philosophy
a theory or a practice? What is its ideological
function and what is its role after Marxs critique of ideology? To treat philosophy as the
theory of theoretical practices risks repeating
the very ideological deviation that the turn to
theoretical practice presumably occludes. In
other words, the theorization of practice risks
reintroducing into philosophy precisely the
structure that Marxs thought had critiqued:
the philosophical suppression of practice and
therefore of politics.

II
In Lenin and Philosophy, Althusser under
the constraint of Lenins Materialism and
Empirio-criticism attempts to theorize philosophy itself in order to preemptively resist its
spontaneous, almost natural, impulse to negate
practice/politics. Such resistance can only be
secured by thinking the distinctive practice of
philosophy. The danger of failing to do so lies
in claiming that philosophy, by thinking the
event of Marxist science, can lay claim to being the science of sciences, which is of course
perfectly consonant with philosophys self-understanding prior to the event of Marx. As
such, philosophy rather than being conditioned by the event of Marxist science becomes the enunciator of its truth in a manner
that undoes the truth of its event (namely, the
priority of practice). Practice is then re-subor-

dinated to theory, which the move to theoretical practice was supposed to obviate. One can
claim that philosophy too is a theoretical practice, but, unless the distinctive practice of philosophy is thought, philosophy and science become isomorphic and in the final analysis
undifferentiable: what Althusser calls
theoreticism.19
Yet, the renewed attempt to allow practice
to irrupt into philosophical tranquility necessitates a break of Althussers own in which philosophy is separated from theory of knowledge and history of knowledge. We can
now begin to see the strange alliance between
Deleuze, Badiou, and Althusser. In the period
of Althussers self-critique, already underway
in 1967 with the crucial series of lectures titled
Philosophy and the Spontaneous Philosophy
of the Scientists, philosophy will be defined
as an ahistorical practice, differentiating the
practice of philosophy from that of science
proper. With this turn in his thinking,
Althusser begins the movement that we called
above its de-epistemologization.
In the theoreticist version, philosophy like
science is defined by its objectthe object
produced by a distinctive theoretical practice.
The break is made clearly in Lenin and Philosophy, in which Althusser claims: The object of philosophy is radically subtracted from
the domain of proof. The domain of proof is restricted to science (an ideal and demonstrative discipline [LP 41]). Philosophy is subtracted from knowledge because philosophy
strictly speaking has no object, in the sense
that a science has an object (LP 56). The
philosophical object of thought is not an object strictly speaking but a tendency (either
materialist or idealist). Since these tendencies
are not objects, they cannot be proven (LP
56). Their ultimate principles are a matter of
thetic affirmation, and in this sense are subtracted from the domain of proof. The ultimate principles of either materialism or idealism cannot become objects of knowledge.
Further, since philosophy has no object, and,
as Badiou puts it, since all history is normed
[norme] by the objectivity of its process, philosophy qua philosophy has no history.20 History is always the history of a constituted objectknowledge of which [the sciences] can
increase (LP 57). Althusser writes, As philosophy has no object, nothing can happen in

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it. The nothing of its history simply repeats the


nothing of its object (LP 57). Philosophy is
nothing but the interminable conflict (the
Kampfplatz) between tendencies (materialist
and idealist), which are revealed by the
hierarchic order philosophy establishes
between the two terms or tendencies:
What is at stake in philosophy in the ultimate
categories which govern all philosophical systems, is therefore the sense of this hierarchy, the
sense of this location of one category in the
dominant position, it is something in philosophy which irresistibly recalls a seizure of power
or an installation of power. Philosophically, we
should say: an installation in power is without
an object. (LP 58)

The distinctive task of a philosophy therefore


is not to comprehend an object, but to stake out
a claim. We can now see how philosophy separates itself from science and in so doing separates philosophy from the theoreticist temptation that treats philosophy as a science or the
science of sciences, which is precisely the
ideological function of philosophy. Let us now
turn to the ideological function of philosophy,
which Althusser locates in its hegemonic
character.

III
Turning to the peculiar structure of philosophy, Althusser attends to how philosophy itself
can be interpreted as a distinctive theoretical
practice in the sense that philosophy must
produce itself as philosophy. Philosophy as
a distinctive discourse (which can neither be
confused strictly speaking with literary genres
or science) produces itself by means of the
constitution of an object that is neither object
of science nor that of literature. Philosophy
thus is conditioned by science, gleaning from
science its scientificity, distinguishing itself
from religion, myth, rhetoric, etc. by means of
adopting a rational discourse which philosophy models on the rigorous discourse of
existing sciences (PSPS 244).
Yet, even though philosophy is conditioned
by science (in general by mathematicity), the
unique and instituting gesture of philosophy as
discourse is to subordinate its conditions to itself. Philosophy inverts its conditions, trans-

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forming itself into the science of sciences


(prote philosophia). Althusser writes,
The singular and highly contradictory bond
uniting philosophy with the sciences (this operation that transforms philosophys conditions of
existence, and hence those of the sciences, into
determinations subordinated to philosophy itself, and through which philosophy, declaring
that it alone possesses their truth, installs itself
in power over the sciences, which supply the
model of its own rational and systematic discourse)this forms part of the production of
philosophy as philosophy. (PSPS 245)

Philosophy is the science of the whole as the


science of sense (phenomenology). Thus, philosophy has no special object and can speak
to all objects insofar as each can be assigned a
place within the legitimating discourse of philosophy. Philosophy speaks the Truth about
all human practices and ideas (PSPS 246).
The object of philosophy is intra-philosophical in the sense that philosophy produces
its own object in the strong sense. Philosophy is related to social practices (practical and
theoretical). They provide the raw material of
the philosophical operation that decomposes
these practices, selecting only that which is vital for its enterprise. Philosophy thus
reconfigures the social practices in light of the
elements extracted from them, recomposing
them in the image of the philosophical enterprise.21 The philosophical system is thus a
system of domination that imposes a law or
Truth upon the social practices, which is neither external nor internal to them. This process
of philosophical deformation and
recomposition of practice produces philosophical objects that resemble real objects, but
are different from them (PSPS 253). Philosophy invents special objects (Truth, Oneness,
Totality, theory of knowledge, transcendental
subject, being, etc.) that cannot be discerned
outside of the conditions of philosophical intuition, which enable philosophy to place the
whole of social practice under its providence.
Philosophy in its classical formation constitutes an inside (comparable to Kantian immanence) that assigns a meaning (order, place) to
the elements extracted from an outside such
that philosophy can reverse its subordination
to social practice.

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The event of Marxgrasped as the irruption of practice into the field of philosophy
constitutes at base a radical critique of that
classical form of the existence of philosophy
which I have defined as the production of philosophy as philosophy (PSPS 248). Practice
is opposed to Greek contemplation, and the
object form of philosophy. Althusser writes,
Practice is a process of transformation which
is always subject to its own conditions of existence and produces, not the Truth, but rather
truths (or the truth, let us say, of results or of
knowledge, all within the field of its own conditions of existence). Practice is a process
without subject or goal (PSPS 249). The danger lies in seeing in Marxs philosophy a
philosophy that does not revolutionize the production of philosophy, leaving its hegemonic
determination of objects intact. Practice is
precisely what philosophy has repressed radically throughout its history, being the unthought of philosophical history. For philosophy to know itself in theory, it must grasp itself
as practice and it can only do so by affirming
the following: philosophy has to recognize
itself as a certain investment of politics (LP
33).
However, Althusser stresses that it is insufficient to simply critique philosophy (a critique carried out by Nietzsche, Heidegger,
Levinas, et al., all of whom discover in philosophy the archetype of power, the model of
all power (PSPS 251). One must go further
by introducing the scandalous fracture of
practice into the very heart of philosophy
(PSPS 252). To understand philosophical
practice it is necessary to deemphasize the hegemonic structure of philosophy in favor of
marking the manner in which it decomposes
and recomposes the sphere of social and theoretical practice. Althusser writes, What
makes [philosophy] significant is not that philosophy dominates its object but that it decomposes and recomposes them in a special order
of internal significance (PSPS 252). Philosophy has power and certainly exercises it over
the domain of object which it constitutes, order
and hierarchizes, but as Althusser declares,
power never signifies power for powers
sake for power is only what one does with it.
The power of philosophy which lies in its indeterminacy (philosophy has no object) entails
that philosophy can be put to use. Philosophy

is not science but politics in theory. In declaring the void of the object, philosophy
declares the void of the whole, of totality and
thus of Truth with a capital T. Philosophy does
not contemplate or apprehend but intervenes in
the battlefield (Schlachtfeld).
The irruption of practice, which takes philosophy from behind, forces philosophy to
acknowledge an exteriority (a condition) that
is interior to the practice of philosophy as such.
Marxs central contribution, according to
Althusser, consists in unmasking philosophy
as a system of dominationas a most serious game whose effects are not merely infralogical. Marx allows us to stateeven if he
never explicitly does so himselfthe role that
philosophy plays once its classical pretension
as a search for truth has been exposed, similarly to Nietzsche, as a will to truth. Marx
shows us what this little private conceptual
matter has to do with history (PSPS 254).
Althusser writes,
It is not by chance that philosophy survives, that
these sacred abstract texts, interminably read
and reread by generations of students, incessantly commented upon and glossed, can
weather the storms and high seas of our cultural
universe, to play their part in it. And since it is
not the love of art that inspires their reading or
fidelity to their history, if such texts survive,
paradoxical as it may seem, it is because of the
results they produce; and if they produce results, it is because these are required by the societies of our history. (SPSP, 254)

Althusser maintains that the virtue of philosophy lies in its impossibility to accomplish precisely what it has asserted since its inception as
its chief enterprise. In the words of Kant, philosophy aims at completion, at bringing all disputes to an end in the name of Truths simple
enunciation. However, despite this goal philosophy interminably returns to the battleground from which each philosophy sought
to escape. Thus philosophy, as Althusser
writes, (and with an insistence and a constancy so striking as to reveal its nature) is a
perpetual war of ideas (SPSP 255). Yet, the
war is not for idle fancy, for the whims and
pleasures of a petty-bourgeois intelligentsia.
Althusser cuttingly remarks, The innumerable sub-philosophers, rule-of-thumb philoso-

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phers, or tear-out-your-hair philosophers (as


Marx used to say), who entered the war out of
sheer contrariness, as failed authors spoiling
for a fight, have left no traces in history (SPSP
255). The battlefield is a theoretical battle with
political stakes.
The act of philosophy is that of seizure or
installation in power, in which certain theses
are declared as a practice of intervention in
the theoretical domain (LP 61). The power of
philosophy lies in its capacity to intervene.
Philosophy is an act of intervention that
draws the dividing line in theory between
the chief tendencies in philosophy. Badiou
writes, That is to say that philosophy is not the
cognitive appropriation of particular objects,
but rather an act of thought, whose categories
place the gap (cart) of the operation, the interval of seizure or of effectuation (QAP 34). As
such philosophy is the imposition of a thesis or
its declaration (QAP 3435). In short, philosophy is pure affirmation without an object. Most
remarkable about Althussers critique of philosophy is that he exposes the ideological dimension of the philosophical dispositif without exiting philosophy, without inscribing its
limit. Furthermore, one arrives at a position
from which one can situate the desire to exit
philosophy within philosophy itself. The desire to exit philosophy cannot but reintroduce
the ideological tendency of philosophy, which
subordinates philosophical practice to its
theorization.
If philosophy is to separate itself from
knowledge/science, while nonetheless remaining conditioned by it, and thus short-circuit the hegemonic temptation of philosophy
to totalize its conditions, it must separate itself
from the criterium of knowledge/judgment.
Yet if philosophy accomplishes the break from
the criterium, how can philosophy evaluate the
efficacy of thought? The Marxist event demands that philosophy transform its hegemonic power by separating it from the domain
of science (knowledge)thus becoming a political act while nonetheless being an act of
pure thought. In abandoning the survey of the
entire field of knowledge, philosophy is
thrown back upon the immanence of its positional theses. Yet, what distinguishes philosophy after Marx is that it must affirm the
positionality of its thesesan affirmation that
deprives philosophys hegemonic tendency

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of its efficacy. By saying the affirmation and


not simply doing it (as does all philosophy),
Althusser separates philosophy from philosophy (PSPS 75). By saying what philosophy
has always done or effected, one transforms
the theoretical act of philosophy into a practice. Rather than turning to a theoretical survey, a philosophy now affirms or declares its
positional status within a field of theoretical
battle. Philosophy is not the enunciator of a
Truth of the whole, but a truth: a singular universal that resistsbeing both a sign of itself
and the falseby drawing a line between science (the production of truth) and ideology
(doxa). The new measure of this truth is not its
susceptibility to justification; rather, it lies in
the effects of freedom that the thesis itself
produces. Althusser writes,
The truth of a philosophy lies entirely in its effects, while in fact it acts only at a distance from
real objects, therefore, in the space of the freedom that it opens up to research and action and
not in its form of exposition alone. This form
could be systematic or not, but in any event it
was in itself dogmatic to the extent that every
philosophy posits, not without reason but without any possible empirical verification apparently arbitrary theses, which in reality are not
arbitrary, since they are a function of the space
of freedom (or servitude) that the philosophy
intends by its effects to open up at the heart of
the space of theses already posed by existing
philosophies with a given philosophical con22
juncture.

The space of freedomradically incommensurate with narrowly defined requirements of


conditions of knowledgedefines the space
of philosophical thought.
Thus, contra Kant, Althusser opens up the
distinction theorematic to contemporary philosophy between knowledge/judgment and
thought. There is philosophical truth that cannot be known but that can be produced as an
effect of the marking of theses that produces an
immanent, dogmatic system (Spinozistic immanence contra Kantian immanence), and not
as in the Kantian tradition (broadly construed)
through the transgression of the limit.

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IV
What links Althusser, Badiou, and Deleuze
is a certain commitment to subtractingif you
permit me Badious idiomthought from the
heritage of Kantian critique, or what we can
more generally describe as the
epistemological determination of philosophy.23 Badiou has most insistently announced
this contemporary turn against Kantian critique, drawing common cause with a certain
Heidegger, the late Althusser, and Deleuze and
Guattari. To trace the abstract line that binds
their respective projects, each attempts to reorient philosophy by means of its deepistemologisation. For each of them, in quite
different ways, the catalyst for this break is
Spinoza. As I here suggest, Spinozas notion of
truth. But, and this is profoundly significant in
my view, it is a Spinoza read after Heidegger,
for the truth produced must be separated from
knowledge/judgment. The task that Badious
thought sets for itself is to challenge the hegemony of epistemology (anti-metaphysics and
ultimately anti-philosophy) without falling
back upon the resources of religious-spiritualist tradition (Deleuze in the last instance remains determined by this tradition, according
to Badiou). Althusser for Badiou, despite
Althussers innovations, ultimately fails to accomplish the break between truth and knowledge. The trace of the French epistemological
traditionand thus of his own beginning

can still be discerned in Althusser, as Badiou


instructs us in his identification of knowledge
and truth (connaissance and vrit) (QAP 44).
The refusal of this distinction bars
philosophical access, according to Badiou,
to the thought of the event as such (QAP 44).
To conclude, the practice of metaphysics
can be seen as a positioning within a definite
philosophical conjuncture, which I have identified as the end of metaphysics. Althussers
account of philosophical practice when transposed to metaphysics allows Deleuze and
Badiou to take up a position within metaphysics while nonetheless separating metaphysics
from the idea that metaphysics is the science of
sciences. Metaphysics is separated from its
classical definition and from its hegemonic
character of enunciating the Truth of the
whole, while nonetheless maintaining its classical vocation of constructing the position of a
thesis. Philosophy must remain Dogmatic lest
it perish from itself.
Rather than being authoritarian (symptomatic of being a reactionary avant-garde
as Peter Osborne claims), the dogmatic resumption of ontological thesesin their affirmation and as a practicecarves out a space of
freedom without strategically attempting to
prevent the philosophical exit from the battleground. It is an affirmation of philosophy as
infinite strugglean authorization to philosophize without being authoritarian. In short, a
metaphysics without being metaphysical.

ENDNOTES
1. ric Alliez, Badiou: The Grace of the Universal, trans. Ashley Kind and revised by Alberto
Toscano. Polygraph 17 (2005): 268.
2. Alain Badiou, One, Multiple, Multiplicities in
Theoretical Writings, ed. and trans. Ray Brassier
and Alberto Toscano (New York: Continuum,
2004), 67.
3. Alain Badiou, Deleuze: The Clamour of Being,
trans. Louise Burchill (Minneapolis: University
of Minnesota Press, 2000), 3.
4. For Badious description of the hermeneutic, analytic, and post-modern orientation to philosophy,
see Philosophy and Desire in Infinite Thought:
Truth and the Return of Philosophy, ed. and trans.
Oliver Feltham and Justin Clemens (New York:
Continuum, 2005), 4250. Henceforth cited as IF.

5. I cannot here think through the real proximity in


distance between Badiou and Deleuze and
Heidegger. At present suffice it to say that for
Badiou, Heidegger is the first to show that the
question of being today can only be posed by beginning from the separation of being from the one
(the ones metaphysical domination of being
[Theoretical Writings, 40])a separation, however, that can only be effected within Heideggerian
thought by entering into the destinal apparatus
which opens philosophical history (i.e., metaphysics) to its unthought through the thought figures
of delimitation and transgression. A strategy
whose woeful inadequacy is the starting point in
my view of Deleuzes and Badious respective
speculative metaphysical projects. See Alain

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6.

7.

8.

9.

Badiou, The Question of Being Today, in Theoretical Writings, 3948. For an account of the operation of delimitation and transgression, see
John Sallis, The End of Metaphysics: Closure
and Transgression, in Delimitations: Phenomenology and the End of Metaphysics (Bloomington:
University of Indiana Press, 1995), 1728. For an
account of Badious project situated vis--vis
Heidegger, see Peter Hallward, Depending on
Inconsistency: Badious Answer to the Guiding
Question of All Contemporary Philosophy,
Polygraph 17 (2005): 1125, and Bruno Bosteel,
Vrit et forage: Badiou avec Heidegger et
Lacan, in Charles Ramond, ed., Alain Badiou:
Penser Le Multiple (Paris: LHarmattan, 2002),
25993.
What I am here calling the axiom of Heideggers
thought, which in a Deleuzian register orients his
image of thought, is aptly expressed by Philippe
Lacoue-Labarthe: In speaking of Heideggers
thought, one grants no less, indeed, than the difference between thinking and philosophizing.
This difference is never simple. It is nevertheless
upon it, as we know, that Heideggers entire strategy concerning metaphysics is organized.
Obliteration, trans., Thomas Trezise, in The
Subject of Philosophy, ed. Thomas Trezise (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993),
63.
Alain Badiou, Manifesto for Philosophy, trans.
and ed. Norman Madarasz (Albany: SUNY Press,
1999), 56. Henceforth cited as MP. For Badiou,
the event of Capital can only be construed as nihilism from a thought that remains nostalgically
bound to the figure of the bond and thus of the
One. Thus, thought must release itself from the
figure of nihilism so as to articulate the positive
dimension of the dissolution of the One, which,
according to Badiou, opens thought onto the
genericity of the true (ibid., 57).
Ibid., 55. For an account of how Capitalism functions as a quasi-condition transversal to the four
domains of truth (Love, Science, Art, and Politics), as the over-event of universal unbinding,
see Ray Brassier, Nihil Unbound: Remarks on
Subtractive Ontology and Thinking Capitalism,
in Peter Hallward, ed., Think Again: Alain Badiou
and the Future of Philosophy (New York: Continuum, 2004), 5058.
It is for this precise reason that Badiou situates the
ontological dispute with Deleuze in terms of the
One. The metaphysical problem that animates

PHILOSOPHY TODAY
102

both of their constructions concerns how to best divest thought of the constitutive power of the One.
10. Louis Althusser, Lenin Before Hegel in Lenin
and Philosophy and Other Essays, trans. Ben
Brewster (New York: Monthly Review Press,
1971), 107. Henceforth cited as LP.
11. See Peter Osbornes acerbic, rigorous, and splendidly written, Neo-Classic: Alain Badious Being
and Event, Radical Philosophy 142 (March/April
2007): 1929.
12. Louis Althusser, Lenin and Philosophy in Lenin
and Philosophy and Other Essays, 68. The original reads, What is new in Marxisms contribution
to philosophy is a new practice of philosophy.
Marxism is not a (new) philosophy of praxis, but a
(new) practice of philosophy.
13. Alain Badiou, Quest-ce que Louis Althusser
entend par philosophie, in Sylvain Lazarus, ed.,
Politique et philosophique dans loeuvre de Louis
Althusser (Paris: Presses Universitaire de France,
1993), 34. Hereon cited as QAP.
14. Louis Althusser, Theory, Theoretical Practice
and Theoretical Formation: Ideology and Ideological Struggle, trans. James H. Kavanagh, in Philosophy and the Spontaneous Philosophy of the
Scientists and Other Essays, ed. Gregory Elliot
(New York: Verso, 1990), 11. Hereafter cited as
PSPS.
15. Louis Althusser, For Marx, trans. Ben Brewster
(New York: Verso, 1969), 183.
16. Etienne Balibar, Althussers Object, trans. Margaret Cohen and Bruce Robbins, Social Text
39 (Summer, 1994): 163.
17. Louis Althusser, The Transformation of Philosophy, trans. Thomas E. Lewis in Philosophy and
the Spontaneous Philosophy of the Scientists, 243.
18. See Louis Althusser, Notes sur la philosophie in
crits philosophiques et politiques: Tome II (Paris:
STOCK/IMEC, 1995), 301. Also, Philosophy and
the Spontaneous Philosophy of the Scientists, 10.
19. See Louis Althusser, Notes sur la philosophie in
crits philosophiques et politiques: Tome II (Paris:
STOCK/IMEC, 1995), 330.
20. Badiou writes, The immediate consequence of
this point is that philosophy has no history, since
all history is normed (norme) by the objectivity of
its process. [Sans rapport quelque objet reel que
ce sout, la philosophie est telle que, proprement
parler, il ne sy passe rien] (Politique et
philosophique, 34).
21. See Philosophy and the Spontaneous Philosophy
of the Scientists, 253.

SPEP SUPPLEMENT 2008

22. Louis Althusser, Part I: Spinoza, trans. Ted


Stolze, in The New Spinoza, ed. Warren Montag
and Ted Stolze (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 4.
23. This is also Lenins position, according to
Althusser. In the Notebooks, Lenin writes, Kant
disparages knowledge in order to make way for

faith: Hegel exalts knowledge, asserting that


knowledge is knowledge of God. The materialist
exalts the knowledge of matter, of nature, consigning God, and the philosophical rabble that defends
God, to the rubbish heap (as quoted in Lenin and
Philosophy, 116).

Villanova University, Villanova, PA 19085

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