Sir John Cass Department of Art, Media and Design
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Response to Peter Schulz

The following is a conversation between Peter Schulz and members of the Communications and Subjectivity Research Group (Jon Baldwin = JB; Paul Cobley = PC; Nick Haeffner = NH; Jenny Harding = JH), which took place on May 9th 2003. It focuses on his paper ‘Subjectivity before and after Badiou’ and on Badiou’s Ethics. Unless indicated otherwise, all references are to Badiou’s Ethics.

PC: Let me recap with my contention that the crux of your paper is strictly this: that in attempting to go for a fully materialist version of subjectivity, a fully materialist perspective on subjectivity, Badiou attempts in some realms to abolish idealist or theological tendencies. Yet in so doing it’s possible - you suggest - that he’s actually abolishing what is integral to subjectivity in any case, the notion of ‘Event’ perhaps being a notion which can’t stand alone. So, I’d like to firstly put that to you, and ask whether that is correct. But another part of discussion circling around this issue is that even though there is this attempt to abolish idealist components of subjectivity, Badiou nevertheless introduces through the back door a kind of quasi-mystical aspect to the discussion of the subject.

SCHULZ: I’ll begin by referring to the traditional theory of subject and subjectivity. As far as it concerns the traditional metaphysical concept of subject and subjectivity, this refers to the idea I might describe in the following way. The human being is a rational being, and this is his/her definition. It is true that this kind of definition as provided by metaphysics in the past actually includes some major problems because it reduces the subject to a cosmological order. The definition of the human being as somebody who actually has, or is capable for, reasoning is a way of describing human beings in a cosmological sense. The idea that each human being might be reduced to that order doesn’t really consider individuality or the subjectivity of the specific person, of each one.

So what I’m missing is especially three points. [Read more].