Philosophy as an Education by Truths
AbstractThe central aim of this paper is to examine the possibility of philosophy in today’s world. Adorno and Foucault propose two incompatible answers to this question. According to Adorno, having missed the moment of its realization, philosophy can only contemplate the world from the standpoint of redemption. For Foucault, by contrast, the task proper to philosophy, as it turns to its time, consists in wrenching “something eternal” from the present instant. The key argument put forward by this essay is that, while Badiou and Agamben have taken up the challenge of sustaining the disjunctive tension between these two antinomian paths, they propose divergent strategies in their attempt at solving the problem of the contemporaneity of philosophy. Despite some indisputable points of convergence, Agamben’s and Badiou’s solutions – both articulated through a recasting of the relationship between the past and the present, both insisting on the creation of a breach in time separating time and that which in time is more than time itself, the instants of ‘immanent eternity’, and, consequently, on the subjective rather than the historical aspect of a break with the current impasse – are probably the two most diametrically opposed approaches to time. Attributing all transformative force to sovereign power alone, Agamben can recognise resistance only in terms of potentiality, which is to say, as passivity or inoperativeness. With Badiou’s “education by truths” we have rather a different solution, one which essentially mobilises philosophy in finding an exit from the current state of affairs, a way out that evades the powerlessness of Agamben’s solution. Hence, for Badiou, if philosophy turns towards the past, this is not in order to restore the contingency of the past, but rather to produce a new kind of present – a paradoxical endeavour as it is a matter of producing, within the worldly present, a new present – while relating to something that has already disappeared, namely the event.
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