Badiou - Badiou(re Ethics An Essay on the Understanding of...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Badiou (re: Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil ) 7. Ethics in general : thanks to its negative and a priori determination of Evil, ethics prevents itself from thinking the singularity of situations as such, which is the obligatory starting point of all properly human action ” (14). In this sentence, the term “ethics” refers to the conventional ethics that one could associate with the ethics of the modern cultural hegemony, with its imperialisms and other forms of social domination. It assumes that Evil is self-evident and that the Good is simply that which is not-Evil, even though from another perspecive it may not be all that Good. For example, the logic of the U.S. invasion of Irag seems to go something like this: Saddam is Evil, and even if you don’t think George Bush and company are all that Good, they are the Good by comparison with Saddam. For Badiou, this kind of ethics negates what is most valuable about humanity, what he calls the Immortal. It denies man’s ability to formulate a positive Good. His first thesis is that “ Man is to be identified by his affirmative thought, by the singular truths of which he is capable, by the Immortal which makes of him the most resilient and most paradoxical of animals. This idea of the Immortal is hard to swallow in a materialist (and Badiou is a materialist), so we have to try and understand what he means. Man’s immortality lies in his ability to produce a truth that does not transcend a particular situation in the sense of erasing it but transforms the situation. The traditional idea behind a universal truth is that it is self-evident and transcends any particular situation, so that in effect it rises above every situation. It is not singular. For Badiou, truth is immortal not because it transcends time but because it transforms a situation and creates the ground from which a new situation can be constructed. Why the term “Immortal”? Because in order to produce a truth, humans must recognize an infinity of possibilities that lies beyond the finite limitations of any given situation. This leads to his second thesis about “ our positive capability for Good ,” which entails “ our boundary-breaking treatment of possibilities and our refusal of conservatism .” The latter is more than a political position but a relation to the givens of any situation. It constitutes a refusal of the Immortal, of that capacity for recognizing the singular truth within a situation, a possibility of the situation that has gone unrecognized. For Badiou, according to his third thesis, “ There is no ethics in general ,” that is to say, a self-evident knowledge of Good and Evil that transcends any singular situation. There are only—eventually—ethics of processes by which we treat the possibilities
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 10/30/2008 for the course ENGL 3084 taught by Professor Mcgee during the Spring '08 term at LSU.

Page1 / 7

Badiou - Badiou(re Ethics An Essay on the Understanding of...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online