The Rational Kernel of the Hegelian Dialectic
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The Rational Kernel of the Hegelian Dialectic is the last in a trilogy of political-philosophical essays, preceded by Theory of Contradiction and On Ideology, written during the dark days at the end of the decade after May '68. With the late 1970's "triumphant restoration" in Europe, China and the United States, Badiou and his collaborators return to Hegel with a Chinese twist. By translating, annotating and providing commentary to a contemporaneous text by Chinese Hegelian Zhang Shi Ying, Badiou and his collaborators attempt to diagnose the status of the dialectic in their common political and philosophical horizon. Readers of Badiou's more recent work will find a crucial developmental step in his work in ontology and find echoes of his current project of a 'communist hypothesis'. This translation is accompanied by a recent interview that questions Badiou on the discrepancies between this text and his current thought, on the nature of dialectics, negativity, modality and his understanding of the historical, political and geographical distance that his text introduces into the present.
of different sorts where, according to the same expression of Hegel, make up ‘the union of different determinations’.5 Hegel himself used an example for explaining the meaning of ‘concrete’: a bouquet of flowers is comprised of its different qualities, such as its smell, its shape, its colour, however, the bouquet of flowers is not the fortuitous gathering of these qualities; it is a unity [ensemble]. In a bouquet of flowers, these qualities are related to one another in an internal and necessary
philosophy of Parmenides, for whom the fundamental principle is the Absoluteness of Being. Hegel considered the place where logic begins as the commencement of the history of philosophy. That is why a true history of philosophy always begins, for Hegel, with the philosophy of Parmenides. In logic, there is the category of ‘becoming’, and there is, in the history of philosophy, a corresponding philosophy, the philosophy of Heraclitus: it considers ‘becoming’ as the fundamental character of things.
concerns all the way back to Concept of Model. While philosophy since Kant’s three critiques already prescribes a synonymous relation between philosophy and system, the enormous influence that Hegel and the Left-wing appropriation of Hegel exercised on Badiou, through Marx, Lenin and Mao, seems to oblige nothing short of systematicity for any philosophy worthy of the name. As Badiou himself later remarks in Manifesto for Philosophy, ‘[I]t is of the essence of philosophy to be systematic, and no
dialectic, deviations do not and cannot exist. Why? Deviations, setbacks … are in fact not thinkable except in dialectic correlation with determination and the limit of a movement. From this point of view, there are really two types of deviations (we currently designate them as: opportunism of the right and opportunism of the left). They do not emergence at the same time in the course of movement (one at the beginning and the other at the end). To think of them as deviations presupposes seeing
each case: for a Marxist, it is the revolt against the reactionaries that is the internal anchoring of theory, and for Hegel, it is conversely the internal practice of surrender that will be adequate to knowing. This is reformulated in saying, ‘…all that is needed is to ensure that the beginning remains immanent to its scientific development is to consider, or rather, ridding oneself of all other reflections and opinions whatever, simply to take up, what is there before us’.41 40. [The