Note that there is no Badiou-equivalent in the US. We could’ve easily springboarded off Emerson, and we decided to take a more materialistic route. Thinking hasn’t been something of utmost importance to us. The closest thing we’ve had to a Badiou were theorists known as Pragmatists, so go figure. So when we speak of him we’re speaking of the actually existing high culture of Europeans, depending who you ask of course. Possibly the peak of “culture” in a planetary sense, if one were forgiven for being a western chauvinist. At least many intelligent people regard him that way. First obvious question to ask- does his Maoism taint everything? He has over 100 books, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt.
I woke up today wanting to answer the question What is Theology? so I’m going to see what Badiou has to say about that.
Just going into this without any guide
Peter Hallward, author of what is widely regarded as the most comprehensive introduction to Badiou’s philosophy available to date, has suggested that “[n]o one, perhaps, has taken the death of God as seriously as Badiou”
There’s a tendency in our time to simply call God “life”. Why didn’t people call it that before? Seems like something’s missing when you just call it life. And then on the other side of that, to us moderns, using the word “God” is perceived as tasteless or ignorant or arrogant. Is “life” all that it is, or is there something more?
“No, there’s just this world, let it go, that’s all there is.”
Is calling it life a way to remember the beauty of life? Seems like life is kind of dull and lifeless when you call it life. That’s kind of the meaning of the “death of God”- it’s really more a statement about humanity, that humanity is dull and lifeless. “The beauty of life is an illusion.” That sounds like an ugly thing to say, are you sure that statement itself isn’t an illusion?
Note that this isn’t theology, it’s the philosophy of religion. Saying “God made the world beautiful”, that’s theology.
Thinking of that idea from yesterday that it’s not that Being is indifferent, it’s that Being hates us, is it inaccurate to speak figuratively and say “God loves you”? Seems true to me. Well, God loves us and God hates us.
This is why it’s so taboo to say the word at all! Because so many corrupt people have put themselves in the place of God.
The political order I find myself in really seems to try to instill the idea in me that God hates me. I wonder if there are corrupt people, once again in history, doing that.
The media wants you to think you should hate yourself, and from there one extrapolates to the notion “Everyone hates me”, and implied in that is that it’s a reality that you’re hated. And that’s not much different, in my eyes at least, from saying God hates you. Reality hates you. Humanity hates you.
Everyone is a philosopher in our secular age. They prefer to use the word reality to god. And I think the “theologians” who try to impose that idea of reality on us should themselves be hated.
I take the formula ‘God is dead’ literally. It has happened.
It sounds like something from the “old times”, this idea of a loving God. God died, and what is there now? A hating God? Certainly seems that way a lot of the time.
Just like in the Pale, they “hold the keys to the church”.
God loves slobs and strippers.
That’s true about our political order, right? Is it true… outside of that?
If you’re offended by those questions then you’ll understand why people in my sphere often point out a “theological” quality to the reigning secularism.
If I personally have ever made you feel emotionally unwell then you can probably understand why the people from the “old times” appreciated the story that is theology. Reality can be brutal, you don’t want to know what humanity is like. People prefer a “story”. They don’t want to hear about how they’re automata that might as well be walking on all fours. The thing is, if they believed that life is beautiful in an Absolute sense, they would try to be more beautiful themselves, and they’d be less like animals. That’s another way of interpreting the idea that “God is dead”. The higher self of humanity is dead.
Neither theology or philosophy?
It is that from which, for the poet, there is the enchantment of the world… The central poetic expression concerning It is as follows: this God has withdrawn and left the world as prey to idleness. The question of the poem is thus that of the retreat of the gods. It coincides neither with the philosophical question of God nor with the religious one.
Poetry is still something that reminds me of the word “life” though. There’s something about it that isn’t as profound as theology. Poetry, technically speaking, is mundane. If a poem is sacred then that is theology. Someone might disagree and point out William Blake. That’s another question for later- What is Poetry? Many people in our time find poetry to be a quasi-theological food. The skepticism of the age permits them to appreciate it because it presents itself as art. That is to say, it doesn’t present itself as reality like theology does. Thus, they use poetry to remember the beauty of life. Can art do that to the same degree as theology? That doesn’t really matter in our time, because people don’t believe in theology. Theoretically, theology is more effective than poetry. The catch is that one must have faith, and that’s impossible for many moderns. So we’re left with the “cheapness” of poetry. “How dare you call it that!” Look who’s pious here. Apparently not pious enough if you can’t believe in theology. Do you believe in the beauty of life? Or is life something dull and lifeless to you? If the latter then why haven’t you tried to appreciate poetry or theology? That’s the elixir to that. “It doesn’t work, I’m a skeptic, I hate life.” With the right education you wouldn’t, so blame the overlords.
This should be interesting
Badiou’s identification of mathematics and ontology constitutes an anti- theology in both form and content. In contrast to the lawlessness of poetic speech and its focus on meaning and sense, mathematics provides a rigorously deductive form of thought that subtracts itself from empirical, linguistic and subjective concerns.
Might as well capitalize Mathematics. If people can’t have faith anymore then we need something Absolute to ground certainty, so this is a good idea. Are we content with his answer to the math problem of life that Being is indifferent? I’m not at least. What’s the point of grounding if what one grounds is atheism? “Math proves that life isn’t beautiful. Surprise!” What great news that would be, right? Even with all these wretched automata I still see life as beautiful! “No it’s not, just stop, life is gloomy, just shut up.”
Anyway, I’m reading Badiou as a praxis-ist here, as someone who is trying to ground Maoism, i.e. someone who is formulating a new “scientific materialism”. Like I’ve said, people closer to a reactionary temperament can learn from the form. Using mathematics to ground philosophy.
The jump from math to theory- that will be an olympic feat to witness. This first secondary text that I clicked as a preliminary guide happens to make the case that Badiou retains theological language throughout this project. The pedants will find this interesting- that he seems like a cross between Anglo and German philosophy, “a more rigorous Heidegger”.
Deleuze is mainstream and Deleuzians tend to (seemingly unreflectively) despise Badiou, so that’s a reason you might not hear much about him. He was only somewhat recently translated into English.
It’s fun fiddling with the Absolute Horizon. It is my conviction that God’s true wrath is hidden from the children. From the children of Israel as well as those of the goyim nations. Mostly to serve those of Israel. I think that’s why people have a deathwish about me. When I simply just like philosophy. Does God love weasels? Pigs? What’s the animal that symbolizes cowardice? A rabbit perhaps? Does God love monkeys? He loves all the animals of his creation. And yet…
Would it be such a bad thing if mathematics grounded God’s wrath? Who needs math though? It seems self-evident to me. Who wants to live in a world of weasels, pigs, rabbits, and monkeys? It’s good to yell at them so they stop being that way. Yell at rabbits, they run away, yell at a weasel, they up the ante on being a weasel, etc. etc. I’d rather at least try to hold them accountable and instead of being a scared rabbit. Maybe Badiou can teach us how to use mathematics to do that? It’s only an illusion to think that God loves these creatures.
That olympic jump I mentioned, here is a taste for the nerds
I don’t know how he’s going to do it, it seems impossible. That would leave us with poetry. Theology is confined to its own world, math is confined to its own world. There is only poetry, poetic philosophy.
Trying to solve the death of God here. “It’s easy.”
A cynical way to read Badiou is to say that he is a poet whose lines consist of numbers.
Going from number to justify theory seems impossible. I’ll try to hear him out though.
Empirically, the mathematician always suspects the philosopher of not knowing enough about mathematics to have earned the right to speak.
I told you before that mathematicians “secretly” believe this. This is the sort of dialectic we’re in.
1+1=2, evil deserves wrath, sorry if you disagree, you’re just wrong.
“Weasels aren’t evil.” They’re not good, I know that, with a mathematical certainty. I want to make a pelt out of a weasel.
“There’s no such thing, everyone is innocent.” You’re just letting all the bad in the world get away with it when you say something like that.
“At least they’re not a badger like you.”
So that’s what this is about. This is our dialectic.
1+1=2, God doesn’t love badgers, is that your stance?
Letting all the evil in the world get away with it, that’s what God loves! It’s so obvious!
“What is Theology?” – this is my general answer at the moment.