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Alain Badiou - Quotes

My philosophy is classical in nature (a metaphysics of Being and of the ground)… and the idea of truth is central.
Badiou, Alain.

The ethic of truth is the complete opposite of an 'ethics of communication'. It is an ethic of the Real… The ethic of truth is absolutely opposed to opinion, and to ethics in general.
Badiou, Alain.

His philosophy seeks to expose and make sense of the potential of radical innovation (revolution, invention, transfiguration) in every situation.
Badiou, Alain.

Liberal capitalism is not at all the Good of humanity. Quite the contrary; it is the vehicle of savage, destructive nihilism.
Badiou, Alain.

Love can only consist in failure...on the fallacious assumption that it is a relationship. But it is not. It is a production of truth.
Badiou, Alain.

Our democracy is not perfect. But it's better than the bloody dictatorships. Capitalism is unjust. But it's not criminal like Stalinism. We let millions of Africans die of AIDS, but we don't make racist nationalist declarations like Milosevic. We kill Iraqis with our airplanes, but we don't cut their throats with machetes like they do in Rwanda, etc.
Badiou, Alain.

In my view, only those who have had the courage to work through Lacan’s anti-philosophy without faltering deserve to be called ‘contemporary philosophers’.
Badiou, Alain.

Evil is the moment when I lack the strength to be true to the Good that compels me.
Badiou, Alain.

Create the real possibility of our fiction which is a generic fiction in a new form, the new localisation is probably a question of a new political courage. The question of finding the fiction is a question of justice and hope, of representation finally. But the question of the possibility of fiction is the question of courage.
Badiou, Alain.

And Courage is the name of something which is not reducible either to law or desire. Courage is the name for subjectivity which is irreducible to the dialectics of law and desire in its proper form. And its exactly the place of political action today – not political theory, not political conception, political representation, but political action as such – is exactly something which irreducible to law and to desire, creates the place, the local place, for something generic, for something like the generic will.
Badiou, Alain.

What pathetic hogwash Socrates has been subjecting us to for hours now! Why do the two of you kowtow to each other all the while bombarding us by turns with your stupid nonsense? If you really want to know what justice is, Socrates, stop asking pointless questions and rubbing your hands in glee when you've refuted something one of your sidekicks has managed to stammer out. Questions are easy, answers less so. So tell us once and for all how you define justice.
Badiou, Alain and Susan Spitzer (Translator). "Reducing the Sophist to Silence." in: Lacanian Ink. Volume 35, Spring 2010.

And don’t come saying that justice is anything but justice, that it’s duty, the useful, advantage, profit, interest, and so on. Tell us precisely and clearly what you have to say. Because I won’t do what all the other bit players in your three-ring circus do, I won’t put up with all your hot air.
Badiou, Alain and Susan Spitzer (Translator). "Reducing the Sophist to Silence." in: Lacanian Ink. Volume 35, Spring 2010.

It’s a real brave gesture to talk of Communism just after the victory of Barak Obama and when there is a violent crisis of capitalism. However, to do that in a theater in New York is magnificent.
Badiou, Alain. "Is the word 'Communism' forever doomed?" in: Miguel Abreu Gallery. 2009.

An event is the creation of a new possibility. An event changes not only the real, but also the possible. An event is at the level not of simple possibility, but at the level of possibility of possibility.
Badiou, Alain. "Is the word 'Communism' forever doomed?" in: Miguel Abreu Gallery. 2009.

And, I think multimedia is a false idea because it’s the power of absolute integration and it’s something like the projection in art of the dream of globalization. It’s a question of the unity of art like the unity of the world but it’s an abstraction too. So, we need to create new art, certainly new forms, but not with the dream of a totalization of all the forms of sensibility. It’s a great question to have a relation to multimedia and to new forms of images, of art, which is not the paradigm of totalization. So we have to be free about that sort of dream.
Badiou, Alain. "Is the word 'Communism' forever doomed?" in: Miguel Abreu Gallery. 2009.

Love weaves within its singular duration these four functions: wandering, immobility, imperative, and story.
Badiou, Alain. "Figures of a Subjective Destiny: On Samuel Beckett." in: Jack Tilton Gallery. 2009.

Happiness also distinguishes the process of love, for happiness can only exist in love. In the case of happiness the void of being is captured in the between-the-Two, in that which constitutes the effective character of the Two, and which is its separation, that is to say, the difference of the sexes as such.
Badiou, Alain. "Figures of a Subjective Destiny: On Samuel Beckett." in: Jack Tilton Gallery. 2009.

This is also what I would like to call the writing of the generic: to present in art the passage from the misfortune of life and of the visible to the happiness of a truthful arousal of the void. This requires the immeasurable power of the encounter, the wager of inventing a name, as well as the combination of wandering and fixity, of imperative and story.
Badiou, Alain. "Figures of a Subjective Destiny: On Samuel Beckett." in: Jack Tilton Gallery. 2009.

Plato will be our guide. He was the one who first introduced the idea that conducting our lives in the world implies that some access to the absolute is available to us … because the materiality of which we are composed participates—above and beyond individual corporeality and collective rhetoric—in the construction of eternal truths.
Badiou, Alain and Susan Spitzer (Translator). "For Today Plato: The Republic." in: Lacanian Ink. Volume 34, Fall 2009.

Adorno's proposition consists in retaining (simultaneously and at the same time going beyond) Kant's negative critique as well as Hegel's dialectical negativity. One joins Kant's critical gesture, which is a gesture of separation, of limiation of the pretensions of reason, with the Hegelian dialectical negativity shorn of its affirmative absoluteness.
Badiou, Alain and Jake Bellone, Barbara P. Fulks, Peter Bradley (Translators). "Adorno's Negative Dialectics and Wagner." in: Lacanian Ink. Volume 33, Spring 2009.

What does our era enjoin us to do? Are we equal to the task? It seems to me too easy to claim that the imperative of the times is one of completion, and that, as modem Narratives linking subject, science and History are foreclosed, we must either explore the formless dis-covered this foreclosure bequeaths us or sustain turning back towards the Greek origin of thinking – a pure question. I propose instead the following hypothesis: what is demanded of us is an additional step in the modem, and not a veering towards the limit, whether it be termed “post-modem” or whatever.
Badiou, Alain. "On a Finally Objectless Subject." in: The Symptom. Vol. 10, Spring 2009. (English).

Which amounts to asking: can we think an objectless subject?
Badiou, Alain. "On a Finally Objectless Subject." in: The Symptom. Vol. 10, Spring 2009. (English).

I would argue that the process of the destitution of the subject has, over the course of a complex history going back at least as far as Kant, been confused with the ineluctable process of the destitution of the object. From within the modem imperative – to which the predication of an “end” opposes but a dissipated torment – we must base what succeeds on the fact that the form of the object cannot in any way sustain the enterprise of truth. This imperative thus raises the following question: is it possible to de-objectify the space of the subject?
Badiou, Alain. "On a Finally Objectless Subject." in: The Symptom. Vol. 10, Spring 2009. (English).

The subject is at the core of a problem of twofold origin concerning fidelity procedures. We have the name of the event, which I say results from an intervention, as well as a faithful connection operator which regulates the procedure and institutes truth. To what extent does this operator depend upon the name? And doesn’t the emergence of this operator constitute a second event?
Badiou, Alain. "On a Finally Objectless Subject." in: The Symptom. Vol. 10, Spring 2009. (English).

There is no longer any doubt that Sarkozy’s conception of a head of the State is basically an authoritative and repressive conception.
Badiou, Alain. "On Communism." in: Lacan Dot Com. January 26, 2009.

My position on this matter, reinforced by a recent trip to Palestine, is that today it is absolutely imperative to separate politics from religion, just like it should be separated, for example, from racial or identity questions. Religions can and must coexist in the same country, but only if politics and the State are separate.
Badiou, Alain. "On Communism." in: Lacan Dot Com. January 26, 2009.

Art is not the sublime descent of the infinite into the finite abjection of the body and sexuality. It is the production of an infinite subjective series through the finite means of a material subtraction.
Badiou, Alain and Jake Bellone (Translator). "Fifteen Theses on Contemporary Art." in: Lacanian Ink. Volume 23, Fall 2008.

The second meaning of subtraction is not to be obsessed with finitude, with cruelty, body, suffering, with sex and death, because it’s only the reversal of the ideology of happiness. In our world there is something like an ideology of happiness. Be happy and enjoy your life and so on. In artistic creation we often have the reversal of that sort of ideology in the obsession with suffering bodies, the difficulty of sexuality, and so on. We need not be in that sort of obsession. Naturally a critical position about the ideology of happiness is an artistic necessity, but it’s also an artistic necessity to see it as a new vision, a new light, something like a positive new world. And so, the question of art is also the question of life and not always the question of death ... we have to search for an artistic creation which is not obsessed with formal novelty, with cruelty, death, body, and sexuality.
Badiou, Alain and Jake Bellone (Translator). "Fifteen Theses on Contemporary Art." in: Lacanian Ink. Volume 23, Fall 2008.

An artistic truth is not a copy of the sensible world nor a static sensible expression.
Badiou, Alain and Jake Bellone (Translator). "Fifteen Theses on Contemporary Art." in: Lacanian Ink. Volume 23, Fall 2008.

The obsession of new forms, the artistic obsession with novelty, of critique, of representation and so on, is really not a critical position about capitalism because capitalism itself is the obsession of novelty and the perpetual renovation of forms … So, it’s a necessity for us to see that the complete obsession with new forms is not really a critical position about the world as it is. It’s a possibility that the real desire, which is subversive desire, is the desire of eternity. The desire for something which is a stability, something which is art, something which is closed in-itself. I don’t think it’s quite like that, but it’s a possibility because the perpetual modification of forms is not really a critical position, so the desire of new forms is certainly something important in art, but the desire for the stability of forms is also something important. And, I think we have to examine the question today. Badiou, Alain and Jake Bellone (Translator). "Fifteen Theses on Contemporary Art." in: Lacanian Ink. Volume 23, Fall 2008.

We will call "body" the worldly dimension of the subject and "trace" that which, on the basis of the event, determines the active orientation of the body. A subject is therefore a formal synthesis between the statics of the body and its dynamics, between its composition and its effectuation.
Badiou, Alain and Justin Clemens (Translator). "A Musical Variant of the Metaphysics of the Subject." in: Parhesia. Winter, 2007.

We will call "body" the worldly dimension of the subject and "trace" that which, on the basis of the event, determines the active orientation of the body. A subject is therefore a formal synthesis between the statics of the body and its dynamics, between its composition and its effectuation.
Badiou, Alain and Justin Clemens (Translator). "A Musical Variant of the Metaphysics of the Subject." in: Parhesia. Winter, 2007.

Those numerous types who declare that they like only the classical style (or the romantic, it's the same subject), and that serial music repels, can certainly know what they love, but remain ignorant of its truth. Is this truth arid? It is a question of use and continuation. It is with the body of the new music that it is necessary, patiently, to associate its own listening. Pleasure will come, beneath the market. Love ("I truly don't love this..."), which is a distinct truth procedure, doesn't enter into the account. For, as Lacan recalled with his customary frankness, it's to religious obscurantism and misguided philosophies that we have to abandon the motif of a "love of truth." It is enough to desire to incorporate ourselves to the subject of an arbitrary truth, that it be eternal, and thus, by the discipline participation imposes, the human animal sees itself accorded the chance - of which it hardly matters if it is arid - of a becoming Immortal.
Badiou, Alain and Justin Clemens (Translator). "A Musical Variant of the Metaphysics of the Subject." in: Parhesia. Winter, 2007.

Maybe the repetition of the theme of the end of metaphysics and the correlative repetitive theme of a new beginning of thinking is the sign of a fundamental immobility of philosophy as such. Maybe philosophy has to put its continuity, its repetitive nature in the form of the dramatic couple of death and birth.
Badiou, Alain. "Philosophy as Creative Repetition." in: The Symptom. Issue 8, Winter 2007.

We will leave the peace of analyses, the calmness of being. Damaged torments of subjectivation, true things, and no-things tout court. The Lights, in sum. Politics. Love. Science. Art. And thus in succession.
Badiou, Alain and Jake Bellone (Translator). "35 Propositions from Logiques des mondes." in: Lacanian Ink. Volume 32, Spring 2007.

Nothing has held the place, predicative descriptions are adequate, and what general value is strictly objective, or in the shape of the object. That is to say, ultimately lies in the mechanisms and power of the state capital and its accommodations. In this case, the destiny of mankind is animal pens in the special relationship between predicative and general legislation.
Badiou, Alain. "Eight Theses on the Universal." in: Lacan Dot Com. 2006.

One could even say that in this seminar Lacan dedicates his speech to it, to simplicity: "There is no teaching which does not refer to what I would call an ideal of simplicity." And anxiety, signified canonically as affect, is no less at the service of this Enlightenment. Enlightenment co-present with that untranslatable appearance.
Badiou, Alain and Barbara P. Fulks (Translator). "Lacan. Seminar. Book X: Anxiety." in: Lacanian Ink. Volume 26, Fall 2005.

Evil is decisive. Under the pretext of not accepting Evil, we end up making believe that we have, if not the Good, at least the best possible state of affairs—even if this best is not so great. The refrain of "human rights" is nothing other than the ideology of modern liberal capitalism: We won't massacre you, we won't torture you in caves, so keep quiet and worship the golden calf.
Badiou, Alain. “On Evil: An Interview with Alain Badiou." in: Cabinet. Issue 5, Winter 2001/2002.

My philosophy desires affirmation. I want to fight for; I want to know what I have for the Good and to put it to work. I refuse to be content with the "least evil." It is very fashionable right now to be modest, not to think big. Grandeur is considered a metaphysical evil. Me, I am for grandeur, I am for heroism. I am for the affirmation of the thought and the deed.
Badiou, Alain. “On Evil: An Interview with Alain Badiou." in: Cabinet. Issue 5, Winter 2001/2002.

The ethics of Truth always returns, in precise circumstances, to fighting for the True against the four fundamentals forms of Evil: obscurantism, commercial academicism, the politics of profit and inequality, and sexual barbarism.
Badiou, Alain. “On Evil: An Interview with Alain Badiou." in: Cabinet. Issue 5, Winter 2001/2002.

Today we see liberal capitalism and its political system, parlimentarianism, as the only natural and acceptable solutions. Every revolutionary idea is considered utopian and ultimately criminal. We are made to believe that the global spread of capitalism and what gets called "democracy" is the dream of all humanity. And also that the whole world wants the authority of the American Empire, and its military police, NATO.
Badiou, Alain. “On Evil: An Interview with Alain Badiou." in: Cabinet. Issue 5, Winter 2001/2002.

I must particularly insist that the formula "respect for the Other" has nothing to do with any serious definition of Good and Evil. What does "respect for the Other" mean when one is at war against an enemy, when one is brutally left by a woman for someone else, when one must judge the works of a mediocre "artist," when science is faced with obscurantist sects, etc.? Very often, it is the "respect for Others" that is injurious, that is Evil.
Badiou, Alain. “On Evil: An Interview with Alain Badiou." in: Cabinet. Issue 5, Winter 2001/2002.

Properly speaking, theory is thus what integrates within thought the moment of a question. The moment of the question of democracy is in no way fixed by a local and tactical decision, such as that of the prohibition of the right to vote for the rich and the exploiters, a decision linked in this instance to the particularity of the Russian revolution. This moment is instead fixed by the general principle of victory: we are, Lenin says, in the moment of victorious revolutions, in the moment of the real overthrow of the exploiters.
Badiou, Alain. "One Divides into Two." in: Collège International de Philosophie. 1999.