Phantom of consistency: Alain Badiou and Kantian transcendental idealism

Continental Philosophy Review 41 (3):345-366 (2008)
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Abstract

Immanuel Kant is one of Alain Badiou’s principle philosophical enemies. Kant’s critical philosophy is anathema to Badiou not only because of the latter’s openly aired hatred of the motif of finitude so omnipresent in post-Kantian European intellectual traditions—Badiou blames Kant for inventing this motif—but also because of its idealism. For Badiou-the-materialist, as for any serious philosophical materialist writing in Kant’s wake, transcendental idealism must be dismantled and overcome. In his most recent works, Badiou attempts to invent a non-Kantian notion of the transcendental, a notion compatible with the basic tenets of materialism. However, from 1988’s Being and Event up through the present, Badiou’s oeuvre contains indications that he hasn’t managed fully to purge the traces of Kantian transcendental idealism that arguably continue to haunt his system—with these traces clustering around a concept Badiou christens “counting-for-one”. The result is that, in the end, Kant’s shadow still falls over Badiouian philosophy—this is despite Badiou’s admirable, sophisticated, and instructive attempts to step out from under it—thus calling into question this philosophy’s self-proclaimed status as materialist through and through.

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Adrian Johnston
University of New Mexico

References found in this work

Critique of Pure Reason.Immanuel Kant - 1998 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Edited by J. M. D. Meiklejohn. Translated by Paul Guyer & Allen W. Wood.
Critique of pure reason.Immanuel Kant - 2007 - In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Late modern philosophy: essential readings with commentary. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 449-451.
Critique of Pure Reason.Immanuel Kant - 1781 - Mineola, New York: Macmillan Company. Edited by J. M. D. Meiklejohn.
Being and event.Alain Badiou - 2005 - New York: Continuum. Edited by Oliver Feltham.

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