chapter 1
Taking Sides

Badiou presents his enterprise as another step taken in the ancient struggle of philosophy against dogmatic prejudice or doxa. Badiou's philosophy is militant in its very essence. At its core, his philosophy involves taking a principled stand, distinguishing between claims for and against. He likes to quote Mao's dictum “If you have an idea, one will have to divide into two” (E, 31; cf. TS, 131). He has no interest in a merely deliberative resolution of differences or a merely procedural concept of justice. This is not to say that he advocates a kind of generalized agonism based on the dubious incommensurability of language games or cultural orientations. Indeed, his position has nothing to do with perspective as such. But like any position worth the name, it does separate its rivals into groups according to what they contribute or threaten, inspire or discourage.

Badiou is fond of distinguishing dominant philosophical trends according to a number of different criteria, as so many sets of rival claims made with respect to ontological multiplicity, the relation of truth and meaning, the status accorded to the event, to the undecidable, or to the inaccessible. All of these schemas of distinction provide variants on what is a generally consistent division of the partisans of affirmative truth from their rivals, namely the partisans of structure, continuity, meaning, language, or knowledge.

First and foremost, what Badiou calls the “great philosophical war” is the argument that separates those who, like Spinoza and Leibniz, identify eternity

-3-

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