Nature Belongs To Itself

In the preface to the English translation (2005) of Being and Event, originally published in French in 1988, Alain Badiou writes,

I would like this publication to mark an obvious fact:  the nullity of the opposition between analytic thought and continental thought.  And I would like this book to be read, appreciated, staked out, and contested as much by the inheritors of the formal and experimental grandeur of the sciences or of the law, as it is by the aesthetes of contemporary nihilism, the refined amateurs of literary deconstruction, the wild militants of a de-alienated world, and by those who are deliciously isolated by amorous constructions.  Finally, that they say to themselves, making the difficult effort to read me: that man, in a sense that he invents, is all of us at once.

Badiou mentions Husserl in his introduction:

We are contemporaries of the second epoch of the doctrine of the Subject.  It is no longer the founding subject, centered and reflexive, whose theme runs from Descartes to Hegel and which remains legible in Marx and Freud (in fact, in Husserl and Sartre).  The contemporary subject is void, cleaved, a-substantial, and ir-reflexive.

Badiou reverses the Kantian question.  It is no longer a matter of asking, “How is pure mathematics possible?” and responding, “thanks to a transcendental subject.”  Rather, “Pure mathematics being the science of being, how is a subject possible?”

Badiou answers the infamous question, ‘Why the Greeks?”

It is the philosophico-mathematical nexus – legible even in Parmenides’ poem in its usage of apagogic reasoning – which makes Greece the original site of philosophy, and which defines, until Kant, the ‘classic’ domain of its objects.

Words are all we have at our disposal in this medium of communication, but when I refer to the lexicon for clarity, I don’t find an entry for the word “apagogic.”  At my wits end, I turn to The Great Oracle.  Searching the index of volume two of Arthur Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation, I find an entry for Apagogic Proof.

This reasoning is primarily the conclusion or inference from the ground to the consequents, proceeding modo tollente, since it proves the non-existence of a necessary consequent, and thereby abolishes the truth of the assumed ground or reason.  Precisely on this account, it is always perfectly certain, and through a single, certain example in contrarium, achieves more than the induction does through innumerable examples in favour of the proposition laid down.  It is so very much easier to refute than to prove, to overthrow than to set up.

The epagogic is the opposite of the apagogic:   The analytical method goes from the facts, the particular, to the propositions, the universal, or from consequents to grounds; the other proceeds from the reverse direction.  Therefore, it would be much more correct to name them the inductive and deductive methods, for the traditional names are unsuitable and express the matter badly.

Inductive reasoning urges one through examples to acceptance, whereas deductive reasoning urges one away from an acceptance.  Induction involves an inference from the consequents to the ground; giving many cases it establishes a rule.  It can never be perfectly certain, but at most attains a high degree of probability.  Deduction, on the other hand, is primarily the inference (conclusion) from the ground to the consequents.  Finding one case is sufficient for certainty.

There is a huge payoff for working through Badiou’s text – nothing less than a revitalization of philosophy; but, that being said, this text requires patience.  One would have to skim over the incomprehensible mathematics.  I do not suggest reading Badiou unless you are prepared.  What does it mean to do ontology post-phenomenologically?

According to Badiou, an “event” is something that disrupts the current situation.  The publication of the book, Being and Event, or the launching of a website,  for that matter, could be considered an EVENT in philosophico-mathematical terminology.   Reading these words puts YOU in a SITUATION.   Of course, a natural disaster is an event.

Badiou doesn’t pull and any punches:

If mathematics is ontology, there is no other solution for those who want to participate in the actual development of ontology:  they must study the mathematicians of their time.  If the kernel of ‘philosophy’ is ontology, the directive, ‘be a mathematician’ is correct.   Mathematicians are ontologists without knowing so.  This lack of knowledge is the key to their truth.

This lack of knowledge (zero, void) is the key to their truth (an infinity of truths).


The universe is chasing me outdoors.   The United States is a giant Indian Reservation.  We’re all Indians now.   There is an intrinsic connection between the void and infinity.  The void is the point of being of infinity.  Ghosts are coming back to haunt the White Christian Nations.  When X equals void, math blows up.  0/0 is undefined.  Things are getting fuzzy.  I have a passion for the absurd.  I’m an absurd man facing the abomination of history.  I’m fourth generation German-American, putting me in a subset with some of my mentors/elders, namely, Robert Pirsig and Kurt Vonnegut the Second.

I wonder if Bob or Kurt ever behaved like a bipolar alcoholic baboon.



The subject is no thing.  When my back hurts, it is the subject’s back that hurts, no?  When I am distressed, the subject is distressed.  When a plant cannot find sunlight or water, it is the subject that is distressed.  What is the nature of the will-to-live?  When the will-to-live is threatened, the subject suffers a disturbance that motivates it to respond to its environment.  Is civilization the product of the will-to-live?  If so, why is it killing us?

There are those who say, “There is nothing new under the sun.”  (Ecclesesiates)

The global consequences for philosophy of Ecclesiastes position must be named; the unholy trinity of destinies for philosophy:

1. scholastic specialization
2. philosophy as consolation or therapy
3. philosophy as fashion

My investigations are leading me through terrain definitely a little too obscure – even for the tribe of the ghost shirts.   I want these “sessions” to merely be some kind of “Thought Experiment Ceremonies.”  Focusing the laser beam of attention is a numinous (sacred, religious, mystical) operation for the subject (consciousness) is a mystery.  Who of us really knows who or what we are except through the optical lenses of our particular experiences and situations?  Is it possible for us to liberate our psyches from the past and the future so as to Be as animal, plant, rock, and river?  Can we recapture the psychological quality of the air breathing our bodies?

The void is a subset of any set: it is universally included.  The void possesses a subset, which is the void itself.  Examining these properties of the void is an ontological exercise.  The first property testifies to the omnipresence of the void.  The void, to which nothing belongs, is by this very fact included in everything!

The State considers the individual as a subset – not as Mike Hentrich (the proper name of an infinite multiple) but as {Mike Hentrich}, an indifferent figure of unicity, constituted by the forming-into-one of the name.  Coercion consists in not being held to be someone who belongs to society, but as someone who is included within society.

There’s a method to Badiou’s mathematical madness:

It is not for nothing that governments, when an emblem of their void wanders about – generally, an inconsistent or rioting crowd – prohibit “gatherings of more than three people,” which is to say they explicitly declare their non-tolerance of the one of such ‘parts,’ thus proclaiming that the function of the State is to number inclusions such that consistent belongings be preserved.

The void is reduced to the non-representation of the proletariate, thus, unpresentability is reduced to a modality of nonrepresentation; the separate count of parts is reduced to the non-universality of bourgeois interests, to the presentative split between normality and singularity.  Politics can be defined as an assault against the state.  The State is precisely non-political.

To think is to learn to see in a new way.  The singleton of the void is written here as {VOID}.  The name of the void is written here as VOID, meaning the empty set, {}, NULL.

{VOID} is the formation-into-one of the name of the void.  Its sole element is VOID.

What would the parts of the power set of p(VOID) be?   There is {VOID} itself, there is also VOID because the void is universally included in every multiple.  VOID is part of every set.  The multiple p(VOID) has two elements, VOID and {VOID}.  Here, woven from nothing apart from the void, we have the ontological schema of the Two, which can be written { VOID, {VOID} }.   The element VOID is part of the Two.  The element {VOID} is also part since VOID is an element of the Two (it belongs to it).   The two elements of the two are also two parts of the two.  The mathematical concept of transivity is therefore possible.   Transitivity tells us, “everything which belongs is included.”  The inverse is impossible.  It is not possible for everything which is included to belong.

Not only is the Two a transitive set, but its elements, VOID and {VOID} are also transitive.  Nothing inside VOID is not a part since the void is no thing, the empty set, null.    This is the backbone of ontology – the very concept of Nature:

Nature belongs to itself!

Nature has no sayable being.  The Greek term phusis resonates beneath the word “nature.”  Nature is not a region of being.  It is the appearing, the bursting forth of being itself, and the coming-to of its presence.  If being is phusis (nature), it is because being is “the appearing which resides in itself.”
“Nature” means presence, offering of what is veiled.  The Platonic turn consisted of proposing an interpretation of phusis as idea.  In turn, the Idea, in Plato’s sense, can only be understood on the basis of the Greek conception of nature, or phusis.  The Idea is the evident aspect of what is offered.  The Idea is the “surface,” the “façade,” the offering to the regard of what opens up as Nature.   The particular invention of the Greeks is that being is expressible once a decision of thought subtracts it from any instance of Presence.
Badiou writes:
A subject is a militant of truth.  The militant of a truth is not only the political militant.  He or she is also the artist-creator, the scientist who opens up a new theoretical field, or the lover whose world is enchanted.
Badiou says the contemporary Subject is void.  What does this mean?
Schopenhauer, Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty all suspected that the conventional distinction of space and time was untenable from the standpoint of direct, preconceptual experience.  What I find similar in Schopenhauer and Badiou is their confidence that they have got a grip on things.  This was not the case with Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty; they were still striving, toward the end of their lives, to articulate a more immediate modality of awareness, a more primordial dimension where time and space were experienced as one.  In other words, the “phenomenologists” were involved in an infinite unfinished task, whereas Schopenhauer rested toward the end of his life seeing how much in common his philosophy had with Buddhism and even Tibetan wisdom that predates Buddhism.
Could it be that the mode of experience that the phenomenologists were striving for is commonplace for indigenous, oral peoples whose senses have not been assaulted by the clock?  While existential phenomenology healed the rift between the subjective and objective worldviews, it has done so at the expense of dividing the mental and physical world even more.
Husserl and the phenomenologists sought to reinvigorate philosophy by returning it to the life of the living breathing sensual subject.  Phenomenologists rejected rationalist and idealist accounts of reality.  They claimed that both the traditional concepts of subject and of object were philosophical constructions that, in fact, distorted the true nature of the human experience of the world.

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