Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Affirmative and the Infinite

If the situation is as we say it is--the disjunctive synthesis of two nihilisms--then, as we see it, it is a frightening one. It announces the repetition of disasters.

As such, it is incumbent upon philosophy to welcome into thought everything that distracts itself from that synthesis. Philosophy must make the condition of its own existence everything that affirmatively seizes something real and raises it to the level of the symbol.

But to do that, it must break with whatever leads it through nihilistic detours, that is, with everything that restrains and obliterates affirmative power. It must push beyond the nihilistic motif of the 'end of Western metaphysics'. And more generally, it must de-link itself from the Kantian heritage, from the perpetual exmination of limits, from the obsession with critique, and from narrow forms of judgement. For a single thought is far greater than any judgement.

In a word: it is essential to break with the motif, omnipresent today, of finitude. With origins in the critical as well as hermenutical traditions, as well regarded by phenomenologists as by positivists, the motif of finitude is the discrete form by which thought crumbles in advance, by which thought is forced to play the modest part of conserving, in all circumstances, the fierce contemporary nihilism.

So Philosophy's duty is clear: to reconstitute rationally the infinite reserve of the affirmative that every liberating project requires. Philosophy is not, and never has been, that which disposes by itself of the effective figures of emancipation. Such is the primordial task of what concentrates on making thinking political. Instead, philosophy is like the attic where, in difficult times, one accumulates resources, lines up tools and sharpens knives. Philosophy is exactly that which proposes an ample reserve of means to other forms of thought. Right now it is on the side of the affirmative and the infinite that philosophy must select and accumulate its resources, its tools and its knives.
~ Alain Badiou

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