Quote of the Day: Badiou on Plato and Love

Plato is quite precise in what he says about love: a seed of universality resides in the impulse towards love. The experience of love is an impulse towards something that he calls the Idea. Thus, even when I am merely admiring a beautiful body, whether I like it or not, I am in movement towards the idea of Beauty. I think – in quite different terms, naturally – along the same lines, namely that love encompasses the experience of the possible transition from the pure randomness of chance to a state that has universal value. Starting out from something that is simply an encounter, a trifle, you learn that you can experience the world on the basis of difference and not only in terms of identity. And you can even be tested and suffer in the process. In today’s world, it is generally thought that individuals only pursue their own self-interest. Love is an antidote to that. Provided it isn’t conceived only as an exchange of mutual favours, or isn’t calculated way in advance as a profitable investment, love really is a unique trust placed in chance. It takes us into key areas of the experience of what is difference and, essentially, leads to

– Alain Badiou,  In Praise of Love

5 thoughts on “Quote of the Day: Badiou on Plato and Love

  1. yep that’s where these folks (including Derrida when he fell into waxing quasi-transcendental about Hospitality and such) lose me, I just don’t find this supposed move to Ideas (moods are another matter) to be true to the experiences at hand.

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    • It’s like they really believe that they can produce a materialist discourse and still hang onto the one thing that is the sign of pure Idealism: the Idea. Even if they try to materialize the Idea by other means…. Badiou wants to save his mathematical formalism as if it would lead us out of the labyrinth, while the truth is that there is no exit; and, why should there be? There is no eternal realm to exit too. This is that…. but it always was material… they just misunderstood what materialism is… it is much stranger than they dreamed.

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      • yes, this is also part of my concern about attempts to frame social interactions/assemblages along literal-minded cybernetic lines, there just isn’t that kind of Order-ing in the world, we aren’t programmed with/by Idea(l)s into some kind of hive-mind. And also with other aspects of much of SR/OOO, the strange strangers really are strange/alien, exceeding our grasp, hell even our own material human-being is more uncanny, more kluged, than most imagine.

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      • I’ll agree with you there…. much of the YA dystopian novels explore just this sort of madness: the fidelity to an Idea driving a society to blindly follow either a pure fidelity to some Law (set of codes, rules, etc.), or to Desire (an anarchic anti-Society, nomadism without bounds, etc.). I’m still too much of a rebel, antagonistic toward any return to Plato… fidelity to dreamworlds of eternity, Platonic, Christian or Otherwise, have always led to butchery and madness… there has to be a form of sanity that is a fidelity to Life.

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  2. Precisely the type of metaphysical theorising about love I (for one) can do without. Why not treat love as what it is, i.e. a bodily function? Why not, as Badiou himself put it so eloquently, utilise love as a technique for jouissance? Calling names is easy enough, but propounding a serious counterargument is quite another…

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