The Rational Kernel of the Hegelian Dialectic

The Rational Kernel of the Hegelian Dialectic

Alain Badiou

Language: English

Pages: 138

ISBN: 0980819768

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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.

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independence of phenomena 22 II. The fundamental principle of dialectics (Contradiction) 27 III. The principle according to which there is a conversion of quantitative change into radical qualitative change 30 IV. The principle according to which knowledge is a process that goes from the abstract to the concrete, from the simple to the complex 32 V. The principle relative to the identity of thought and of being and the coincidence between the logical and the historical 38 VI. The

complex can be expressed in the following fashion: reality is concrete; it is the unity of plural determinations. However, truth does not reach this concrete except by having traversed a long process of development. The first stage of self-development and self-knowledge of truth is the most abstract, that which lacks the most content, its determinations are the most simple. Then, after the incessant pursuit of the self-development and self-knowledge of truth, these determinations or

tenable. In reality the very existence of the proletariat impedes the thought of the capitalist ‘system’ as a pertinent totality furnished with an inside and outside. This is the root of the failure of all structuralist Marxisms, as with all the currents of ‘leftism’, that pretends to organize thought and action from an absolute comprehension of oppressive society as a system and hence advances the directive of dissidence, or ‘exteriority’. The lack of an exterior does not signify an

this problem of materialism was even more central. The principal aim of his text was the critique of Yang Hsien-Chen, who had critiqued the theoretical/practical model of Mao after the Great Leap Forward. The question concerned the identity between thought and being. In this context, you proposed a ‘working’ form of materialism, that of practice and method, that is to say, a dialectical form, a materialism that functions ‘from particular to particular’. In what sense is this form of materialism

at ‘serving the people’ through divisionary and critical readings strikes the readers familiar with Badiou’s work as taking on an uncharacteristic external relationship to philosophy. Here, more than the lack of truth, Badiou forces us to encounter a strange voice.13 Not only does Badiou equate truth with reality (albeit a dialectical notion of concrete reality) but philosophy is itself taken up, with Althusserian echoes to be sure, as a foreign and external object, subject to a criticism that

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