Alain Badiou, Gottlob Frege and the Scientific Truth
A Blog Post by Pablo Markin.
In his paper, Joseph Spencer has concentrated on Alain Badiou’s essay ‟Mark and Lack,” originally published in French as “Marque et Manque: à propos du Zéro” in 1969 and translated into English in 2012, while exploring his intellectual context, such as Badiou’s “understandings of the notions of ‟the scientific” and ‟the ideological” in light of the projects of Gaston Bachelard and Georges Canguilhem” (94). Spencer’s objective was, thus, “to undertake a preliminary assessment of Badiou’s potential philosophical contribution to analytic-continental dialogue from this very early stage in his career” (94).
In the context of this investigation, Spencer notes that “[w]hat Badiou means by the “scientific” here seems at first to be obscure, and it is time to become clearer about what he understands by “science” (and at least preliminarily clearer about what he understands by “ideology”). Helpfully, Badiou clarifies his meaning elsewhere in his work from the late 1960s. He insists, for instance, in The Concept of Model that “to speak of ‘Science’ is an ideological symptom” because science is multiple” (100). According to this author, Badiou’s critique of Gottlob Frege, a German philosopher, mathematician and logician, indicates that “[d]espite the latter’s efforts to keep extra-logical factors from playing a role in his strictly logical derivations of arithmetic, the extra-logical creeps in, and it does so because Frege takes his logic to be in some sense the map of “the True”” (104).
Spencer concludes that “Badiou’s critique of pre-1960s analytic philosophy therefore seems relevant to major figures working at the foundations of the rebirth of analytic metaphysics” (111). This takes place on the background of his more general argument that, in relation to Badiou’s thought, it is necessary to draw “a philosophical line of demarcation between the scientific and the ideological [which] is not just to make a historical point. It must be said again that Badiou is not a historian of mathematics.[…] He writes and speaks as a philosopher, and the Althusserian vision that inspired his 1960s work understood philosophy to be a polemical battle to be measured by (political) “correctness” rather than (ideological) “truth”” (108).
By Pablo Markin
Featured Image Credits: Talking Badiou, January 19, 2011 | © Courtesy of Jean-François Gornet/Flickr.