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The Body of Structural Dialectic: Badiou, Lacan, and the‘Human Animal’

Chiesa, Lorenzo (2014) The Body of Structural Dialectic: Badiou, Lacan, and the‘Human Animal’. Badiou Studies, 3 (1). pp. 1-23. ISSN 2049-9027. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:42703)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided.


In Logics of Worlds (2006/2009), Alain Badiou discusses “four forms of change”: modification, fact, weak singularity, and strong singularity or event. Modification as “the simple becoming a world” is conceived as a change “without real change” (Badiou 2009a: 357; 372; 374). This possibly explains why, in the more recent Second manifeste pour la philosophie (2009), Badiou opts for a tripartite division of change and only speaks of “three types of mutation” – fact, weak singularity, and event – omitting any reference to modification (Badiou 2009b: 93).

In this paper I would like to dwell on some of the implications of the notion of modification as a change that changes nothing, but nevertheless underlies all other kinds of change, by focusing on the treatment it receives, from a different perspective, in the conclusion of Logics of Worlds dedicated to the question “What is it to Live?” Here Badiou states that the animal that man is “shift[s] almost constantly from one world to another” (Badiou 2009a: 513; my emphasis). I closely associate this effortless “shift” with “modification”, since no subjective dimension of creation seems to be involved at this level. We are dealing with nothing more than a natural “kind of objectal ubiquity” that is proper to the species homo sapiens (Badiou 2009a: 513). In spite of some terminological ambiguity, this should clearly be differentiated from any real change of world as incorporation into the new body of a truth.

Moving from these premises, my first claim will be that an open thematisation of such a purely biological “shift” allows us to identify a series of tensions in Badiou’s notion of the ‘human animal’. I will then argue that Lacan’s own pronouncements on the human animal provide us with a valuable tool to think more thoroughly this basic form of change – which is not a change – in accordance with the theory of the body of truth advanced in Logics of Worlds; this will also entail a problematisation of Badiou’s own reading of the way Lacan articulates the connection between bodies, languages, and truths. Finally, I will show that a full appreciation of the “almost constant” shift of worlds that distinguishes homo sapiens from other animals can only reinforce the battle against the reduction of man to animality promoted by the reigning ideology Badiou defines as ‘democratic materialism’. To this end, I will sketch the contours of a fourth figure of the subject to be added to the three figures of the faithful, the reactive, and the obscure subject analysed in Logics of Worlds: returning to an intense page from Théorie du sujet (1982) that Badiou consecrates to Mallarmé’s and Lacan’s ‘structural dialectic’, I will tentatively name this fourth type of subjectivisation of body allied with the faithful subject, the ‘partisan’.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
P Language and Literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Neshen Isaeva
Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2014 09:39 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2022 10:57 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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Chiesa, Lorenzo.

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