Militants of truth, communities of equality: Badiou and the ignorant schoolmaster

Educational Philosophy and Theory 42 (2):251-263 (2010)
Abstract
Badiou's philosophy of the 'event' has itself become an event of sorts for contemporary social and political theory. It has broken radically with a set of propositions concerning the operation of power, the status of knowledge, and the possibility of action that were for some time considered nearly unquestionable, in many ways defining what Badiou might call 'the state of the situation'. After briefly outlining the manner in which Badiou's reinvigoration of the concept of 'truth' constitutes a serious challenge for the politics of difference and the ethics of alterity, this paper explores the significance for educational philosophy of what, borrowing from Jacques Rancière, Badiou calls the 'axiom of equality', or the notion that, in democratic politics, 'equality must be postulated not willed '. I suggest that this axiom is best understood when read in relation to Rancière's The Ignorant Schoolmaster , and thus explore an intrinsic link between Badiou's more obscure philosophical claims and political assertions on the one hand, and the question of education on the other. I further propose that the limitations of Badiou's criticism of Rancière's work, which suggests that he stops short of locating an effective political subject who might oppose the parliamentary state, are revealed most explicitly when we reassess Rancière's approach to education in The Ignorant Schoolmaster , and in his more recent work on political aesthetics. Ultimately, however, I conclude that a truly democratic approach to education will have to learn from both Badiou and Rancière, and take seriously the 'axiom of equality'.
Keywords equality  Rancière  Badiou  education  event  aesthetics
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