The Ur-Event in Badiou

I had three finals this semester, two of which are done. I wrote the first on Graham Harman and OOP (on the topic of responsibility). The second was for a seminar on political philosophy, specifically focused on political constitutionalism. The prof said we could write on anything that pertains to the course and its material provided we wrote a proposal and she approved it, otherwise she assigned us a list of topics based on the different readings. Ever the maverick, I proposed to write on Badiou’s reading of Rousseau (the latter was covered in the first week of “background” readings along with Kant, prior to the actual material of the course. Anyway, she approved it and so I wrote a rather frantic paper on the subject.

I’m not thrilled with the final product (I’m much happier with the piece on OOP*, and not only because I got an A+ on it). This is mostly due to the fact that I had a spell of insight while writing it and got distracted with something that had bothered me about Badiou for a while but that I couldn’t fully flesh out in the context of the paper. Basically, I started writing on Badiou and Rousseau and realized that I really wanted to be writing on Badiou and the concept of the Ur-Event. This is something that has been bandied about on various blogs, I think Reid wrote something about it and I want to say Nick has as well, though my memory is terrible. The important thing is, the Ur-Event is a problem for Badiou, something which seems necessary but which he refuses when asked about it. What has bothered me about this is that in Meditation 33 he speaks of the “event-without-event” and describes it in such a way as to say it’s more than the “conditions” we’re used to (art, science, politics, love), and actually seems to be the conditions for the possibility of conditions at all.

I finally figured something out though. He really does seem to have an Ur-Event in his philosophy, whether he wants it there or not. Not only does he need one in order to kickstart the whole chain of events, but it’s entirely connected to what I referred to before as his anthro-ontology or what could perhaps be seen as a sort of transcendental ego at work. I have said before that I agreed with those who claimed the count-as-one remains as a vestigial anthro-centrism that cripples Badiou’s philosophy, seemingly leading him back to some mathematical Fichteanism. I think it’s actually much deeper than that however.

I think the necessary Ur-Event must simply be the birth of humanity as we know it. This is connected directly to his readings of both Rousseau as well as Lacan. He ties his wagon to two foundationalists (actually three if you count Descartes, which I think we must) both of whom connect the origin of humanity with the origin of the Symbolic, literally for Lacan, it’s trickier with Rousseau, though I think working through Rousseau for this essay has given me the necessary material to connect the dots.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to. I’m hoping to polish this thing up, taking chunks of this paper I’ve written and turn it into a proper piece on the necessity of the Ur-Event and where Badiou gets it, while also considering where to publish such a piece.

* I’m sure this is something that people would like to read since OOP is still forming itself. I sent the piece to Graham upon completion (with a couple of typos that I missed, oops!) and will gladly post it or publish it or whatever once I’ve gotten some feedback from him.


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One response to “The Ur-Event in Badiou

  1. Pingback: public apology to Michael Austin « Object-Oriented Philosophy

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