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Alain Badiou takes on the standard bearer of the “linguistic turn” in modern philosophy, and anatomizes the “anti-philosophy” of Ludwig Wittgenstein, in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Addressing the crucial moment where Wittgenstein argues that much has to be passed over in silence—showing what cannot be said, after accepting the limits of language and meaning—Badiou argues that this mystical act reduces logic to rhetoric, truth to an effect of language games, and philosophy to a series of esoteric aphorisms. in the course of his interrogation of Wittgenstein’s anti-philosophy, Badiou sets out and refines his own definitions of the universal truths that condition philosophy. Bruno Bosteels’ introduction shows that this encounter with Wittgenstein is central to Badiou’s overall project—and that a continuing dialogue with the exemplar of anti-philosophy is crucial for contemporary philosophy.
which he subverts, via disloca tion, the latter's pure coincidence with self, its reflexive transparency," explains Badiou. He continues : . The subject thus finds itself ex-centred from the place of transparency in which it pronounces itself to be: yet one is not obliged to read into this a 5 TRA N S LATOR ' S I N TRODUCT I O N complete rupture with Descartes. Lacan signals that he "does not misrecognize" that the conscious certi tude of existence, at the centre of the caBita, is not
Philosophy <1 Riaht, trans. T. M . Knox (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1 95 2 ) , p. 1 1 , just before the line about the owl o f Minerva. Badiou also affirms: " I have assigned philosophy the task of constructing thought's embrace of its own time, of refracting newborn truths through the unique prism of concepts," in Theoretical Writinas, ed. and trans. Alberto Toscano and Ray Brassier (London: Continuum, 2004) , p. 1 4 . 5 5 Slavoj Zizek, Welcome t o the Desert <1 the Real! Five Essays on
doubt time for us to synthesize how this construction has worked in the service of antiphiloso phy while at the same time, animated by the spirit of philosophical resistance, marking our differences , or at least the risks to which Wittgenstein exposes us. Everything that is at play, of course, depends on the line of demarcation traced between thought and non thought, since it is Wittgenstein's strategic goal to subtract the real (what is higher, the mystical element) from thought, so as to
within to a terrible torsion. Let us observe first of all that the syntactical solidity, the idea of a definitive presentation of planes arranged between the sayable and the unsayable, the motive of what one might call an aphoristic completeness: all this is fmally conditioned by its inessential character, even in the eyes of Wittgenstein himself. Let us say that the presentative syntax is all the more complex and peremptory the more what is presented has no decisive importance for the author's
something like an injunction without a law. Or: every ethical style is linguistically solipsistic , which means that language can be measured therein only by its immediate effects. I maintained that, in the Tractatus, the element of equivocation is always severely framed by the syntax . The second Wittgenstein suppresses the framing and installs himself within a free -floating methodology. The semantic drift is a maj or procedure of the style of harassment, which seeks to impose the 5 6 Quoted