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French Philosophy TodayNew Figures of the Human in Badiou, Meillassoux, Malabou, Serres and Latour$
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Christopher Watkin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474414739

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414739.001.0001

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Alain Badiou: Formalised Inhumanism

Alain Badiou: Formalised Inhumanism

Chapter:
(p.19) Chapter 1 Alain Badiou: Formalised Inhumanism
Source:
French Philosophy Today
Author(s):

Christopher Watkin

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414739.003.0002

This chapter probes the limits of Badiou’s “formalised inhumanism”, arguing that it is wrong to characterise the figure of the human that emerges in Badiou’s thought as radically new. For both Badiou and his antagonists the human is irreducibly composite: it cannot be what it is without a constitutive relation to an instance of inhumanity or non-humanity outside itself. Badiou’s split anthropology of the “human animal” and the “immortal” faces a major structural and ethical problem, arising from the way in which he seeks to understand the relation between the animal and immortal: he makes fidelity to a truth, and therefore humanity in its full sense, contingent upon an individual’s possession of the capacity for affirmative thought. Such thought functions for Badiou as a ‘host capacity’, a boundary marker of the uniqueness of humanity among animal, organic and non-organic entities. Despite exploring several creative ways to overcome the problems caused by this ‘host capacity’ account of humanity, the chapter concludes that it casts a shadow over his claim that “several times in its brief existence, every human animal is granted the chance to incorporate itself into the subjective present of a truth”.

Keywords:   Alain Badiou, human, posthuman, animal

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