Philosophy’s Sutures

“Philosophy is placed in suspension every time it presents itself as sutured to one of its conditions” (Badiou, Manifesto 61). I think it is clear to all that the suture of philosophy to science, as done in the Anglo-Saxon analytic tradition, is ossified and bankrupt. But many, particularly in the university, will gleefully claim that the suture to politics is quite right and not even a suture at all. Laclau said it in so many words at the end of Emancipation(s): we live in the historical time of the end of philosophy and the beginning of politics. Even Derrida claims somewhere in The Beast and the Sovereign that political philosophy is first philosophy. But I think we have collectively started to experience the radical limitations of that position. If Badiou is right, it is intriguing that Lévinas and Lacan would be the two thinkers who have sutured thought to love, thus dephilosophizing philosophy and turning it into something else, antiphilosophy, because the term “thought” might be too generic. There remains the suturing of thought to literature. For Badiou this is still alive but illegitimate. Its historical legitimacy (of sorts, in any case) expired around 1960 and its final representative was Paul Celan. But French fetishization of the literary–Blanchot, Derrida, Deleuze–extended the dominance of the Heideggerian “age of the poets,” which is the time ranging from Rimbaud to Celan (with Hölderlin as precursor). For Badiou it is time to bring this to an end through the liberation of philosophy into its four conditions, not just one: philosophy is to be desutured so that it can again become the guardian of the four truth procedures (science, politics, art and love.) I have no idea–I cannot imagine–that this could happen, much as I admire Badiou’s work, which for me remains confined to one author’s immense “literary” or writerly production and will be unable integrally to affect the philosophical field and set off a new beginning (which for Badiou is no new beginning, only the continuation of the Cartesian task, but good luck with it.) But of course I would say that, wouldn’t I, since my own abandonment of philosophy as a field of thought in favor of literature was decisive in every way for my own life. Now I think I made a mistake, because I see the literary field as depleted and ossified as the field of analytical philosophy. But–beyond the fact that it is too late for me anyway–I think there is no rationalization in thinking that philosophy as a unified thinking of science, politics, love and art ain’t about to come back. And it would be boring if it does.

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