Badiou’s ontology of the absolute and absolut vodka

Alain Badiou is one of the two men, who are frequently introduced as the most important and most radical thinkers of our time (Zizek is the other guy). I find most refreshing in his thought that he is able to turn to some new speculative and immanent metaphysics, that make it possible to have a philosophical discussion that doesn’t reside within the imposed cage of language that poststructuralist thought has put us in. Even more radical sounds Badiou’s insistency of the communist hypothesis. After all, Badiou and Zizek attracted hundreds of young people to the Berliner Volksbühne where the conference “The Idea of Communism” took place last year in June.

Badiou was recently invited to speak at the Salon Morale Provisionaire, taking place next door to the Volksbühne. The so-called Roter Salon, illuminated in red light, was well attended by a young crowd, younger than usually. This may be  due to the fact, that he was dedicated a seminar this summer semester in Berlin. It seems that in 20 years in which his texts are known to a wider audience, the German academia picks up the relevance of his ideas. The two guys making this happen, Frank Ruda and Jan Völker, co-moderated through the evening. Because of the complexity of the topic, each of them asked Badiou questions in between.

That evening, he lectured on a contemporary conception of the absolute. As is well known, Badiou proposes a philosophical meditation of mathematical set theory, presentation of being qua being, to find that absolute reference. He gave a very clear and precise introduction to the grounding principles of all his thinking. For anyone, not familiar with mathematical set theory, which most certainly was almost anybody in this room, this lecture was both difficult and stimulating. In what follows I like to give a brief summary of his talk.

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How is your ego doing today?

I have not read any of Jonathan Franzen’s best-selling novels. However I really like his speech, of which parts were published in the opinion section of the NY Times.


To speak more generally, the ultimate goal of technology, the telos of techne, is to replace a natural world that’s indifferent to our wishes — a world of hurricanes and hardships and breakable hearts, a world of resistance — with a world so responsive to our wishes as to be, effectively, a mere extension of the self.

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