I’ve been reading through much of Badiou’s work for about a year and just finished Being and Event; though there is something I still don’t quite understand.

Badiou claims that the four spheres (of ontological situations) in which Truth events occur are Science, Art, Love and Politics. What I don’t understand is: why does he not include other spheres of thought/being? In particular, where does Philosophy fit in here? Is it not capable of producing Truths? What about Religion? (Though Badiou stays a staunch atheist, and I agree with him, so he may be denying the Truth producing capability of Religion there.)

I believe he had a strange set theoretic reasoning for this choice in his book Theoretical Writings, but I was’t quite able to understand it. Any help/discussion would be appreciated!

  • 1
    Arguably, religion might be seen to fall under the condition of “love”... – Joseph Weissman Sep 30 '18 at 14:10
  • @JosephWeissman Arguably, religion might be seen to fall under the condition of “politics”... – Bob Jan 12 '19 at 21:23

Welcome, Jacob. The following extract from Christopher Norris might throw some light on where the foursome derive from and how they do not exclude philosophy.

... one can best summarize by saying that any such [full] treatment would involve consideration of the central role played in his thinking by four such subject-areas. These are mathematics (in particular that modern branch of it concerned with set-theoretical conceptions of the multiple and the infinite), the subject (especially as theorized in the wake of Lacanian psychoanalysis), art (where his commitments lie squarely with the more advanced or formally adventurous modes of literary, visual, and musical production), and politics (in which regard he has kept faith with the legacy of May 1968 and continues to denounce every sign of what he sees as the 'Thermidorian' betrayal of that legacy by the nouveaux philosophes and other media-sawy representatives of mainstream French intellectual culture). Such are the fourfold enabling 'conditions' of philosophy which Badiou defines more broadly as science, love, art, and politics with science relating to mathematics in a fairly obvious way and love by no means reducible to but finding at least one partial means of theoretical articulation in the discourse of psychoanalysis. On the other hand - crucially - philosophy must at all costs avoid becoming 'sutured' to any one of those conditions whose exclusive or single-minded pursuit is then apt to leave the philosopher exposed to the worst kinds of temptation, as witness Heidegger's Nazism or (albeit in a very different, less plainly disas- trous mode) the technocratic and un-self-critical scientism espoused by much analytic philosophy. (Christopher Norris, 'Alain Badiou: Truth, Ethics and the Formal Imperative', Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia, T. 65, O Dom, a Verdade, e a Morte: Abordagens e Perspectivas / The Gift, Truth, and Death: Approaches and Perspectives (2009), pp. 1103- 1136 : 1105-6.)

Hope this helps.

  • Thank you! I am also wondering from an ontological standpoint, why are these four in particular the only conditions of philosophy? While I may not be able to come up with examples of more is there not a particular reason there cannot be? I seem to recall Badiou arguing that each condition differs in the way that the subject (the militant) relates to the event. Maybe it is simply that from a Socio-Historical point of view that we have yet to discover more conditions or is it that the ontological structure that restricts what relations can exist? – Jacob Shulkin Oct 4 '18 at 18:33

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