drs. Jan-Jasper Persijn

The Emancipatory Potential of the ‘Evental’ Subject in Contemporary Political Philosophy. A Theoretical Study of Political Transformation on the basis of Alain Badiou’s Philosophy.

This research project is situated in a certain post-Marxist tradition and focuses on the problem of political emancipation. In order to address this problem, the emancipatory potential of the notions of ‘subject’ and ‘event’ (‘force’) in the work of Alain Badiou is examined. In a first, merely theoretical part, the conceptual framework of Badiou’s work is traced back to its particular structural and historical genealogy: ao. Sartre’s subject ‘doomed to freedom’, Althusser’s subject of ideological interpellation in his structuralist revision of Marx, Lacan’s split subject, the Cahiers pour l’Analyse’s structuralist discussions of the 1960s, the historical interruption of the May events in 1968, Mao’s concept of ‘force’ etc. From within the consideration of Badiou’s investigation as a structural unity, this project attempts moreover to think from there a conceptual continuity with the later work, in which the subject, however, exceeds the political domain. Hence, this project hypothesizes the claim that the conceptual apparatus of his philosophical system, in particular the figure of the ‘evental’ subject, still bears witness to a profoundly political concern. In a second part, due to this intrinsic political dimension identified, it is explored to what extent Badiou’s subject articulation (and the event) is able to designate an emancipatory move in today’s political world of crisis. In this way, it is investigated if/how Badiou’s conceptual project can/has the ambition to exceed a status of ‘theoretical militantism’, still rooted in Althusser’s ideal of Théorie. Put together, both parts aim to map out the emancipatory potential of Badiou’s ‘evental’ subject both at a theoretical and a militant political level – although always aware of the possibility that both levels may converge, intertwine or always already appear as one and the same.

Keywords:

Continental philosophy; subjectivity; ontology, political philosophy, event, psychoanalysis

RESEARCH UNITS:

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Publications

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  • 2017

    • To what question is the Badiouan notion of the subject an answer? On the dialectical elaboration of the concept in his early work

      Persijn, J.-J. (2017). To what question is the Badiouan notion of the subject an answer? On the dialectical elaboration of the concept in his early work. PHILOSOPHY & SOCIAL CRITICISM, 43(1), 96–120.
      Alain Badiou’s elaboration of a subject faithful to an event is commonly known today in the academic world and beyond. However, his first systematic account of the subject (Théorie du Sujet) was already published in 1982 and did not mention the ‘event’ at all. Therefore, this article aims at tracing back both the structural and the historical conditions that directed Badiou’s elaboration of the subject in the early work up until the publication of L’Être et l’Événément in 1988. On the one hand, it investigates to what extent the (early) Badiouan subject can be considered an exceptional product of the formalist project of the Cahiers pour l’Analyse as instigated by psychoanalytical discourse (Lacan) and a certain Marxist discourse (Althusser) insofar as both were centered upon a theory of the subject. On the other hand, this article examines the radical political implications of this subject insofar as Badiou has directed his philosophical aims towards the political field as a direct consequence of the events of May ’68.
    • Badiou beyond formalization? On the ethics of the subject

      Persijn, J.-J. (2017). Badiou beyond formalization? On the ethics of the subject. FILOZOFIA.
      This paper assesses the tension between Badiou’s claim that his theory of the subject must be considered most importantly a ‘formal’ theory, and a certain genealogical history of his subject notion. In the latter case, it seems that a certain political experience plays a crucial role in the development of this particular conception. Whereas it is repeatedly affirmed all along his work that the subject poses in the first place a formal problem, the motivation behind this formalization escapes the formal language that fixes the subject. Hence, this paper proposes four theses or formulations appearing in his three main works (Theory of the Subject, Being and Event, Logics of Worlds) that seem to express something that exceeds the purely formalizing theorization of the subject: a theory of affects, the maxim ‘to decide the undecidable’, the notion of ‘confidence’ and the particular answer to the question ‘what is it to live?’. It is the conviction of this paper that in all four cases a certain ethical direction is implied behind or beyond this acclaimed formal character. Hence, they all contribute to what I will call an ‘ethics of the subject’.
    • On militantism in thought : a formal consideration of Badiou’s political subject.

      Persijn, J.-J. (2017). On militantism in thought : a formal consideration of Badiou’s political subject. Cultural Critique.
      Is it possible to speak of a militant philosophy or a form of philosophical militantism? This paper investigates to what extent Alain Badiou’s philosophical system can be considered an attempt in this direction. As a whole, the argument examines how Badiou’s work, from Theory of the Subject to Being and Event, can be read as conditioned by his own Maoist engagement, although he states that philosophy is structurally unable to produce any truth itself. A first part focuses on how this engagement became inscribed in the formal figure of the subject in the early work – most importantly in Theory of the Subject. A second part attempts to make sense of a certain structural continuity between Theory of the Subject and Being and Event in order to show that a ‘Maoist’ core remains somehow preserved. To this latter purpose, the paper detects an implied, ‘primitive’ ontological stance inspired by Lacan in Theory of the Subject, which can be related to the decisive and ‘systematic’ ontological strategy of Being and Event. In this way, the argument elucidates how Badiou’s work insistently pushes upon the structural boundaries set out for philosophy and its conditions.
    • In het spoor van de intellectueel : Badious onverzettelijkheid: een militantisme van de illegaliteit

      Persijn, J.-J. (2017). In het spoor van de intellectueel : Badious onverzettelijkheid: een militantisme van de illegaliteit . DE UIL VAN MINERVA, 30(3).
  • 2016

    • Can philosophy be activist? A formal consideration of Badiou's political subject

      Persijn, J.-J. (2016). Can philosophy be activist? A formal consideration of Badiou’s political subject. Subjectivity and the Political Conference, Abstracts. Presented at the Subjectivity and the Political.
    • Žižek, Slavoj, Event. Philosophy in Transit. London/New York, Penguin Books, 2014 & Žižek, Slavoj, Event. Filosofie van de Gebeurtenis. Amsterdam, Boom, 2015 (vert. H. Stegeman)

      Persijn, J.-J. (2016). Žižek, Slavoj, Event. Philosophy in Transit. London/New York, Penguin Books, 2014 & Žižek, Slavoj, Event. Filosofie van de Gebeurtenis. Amsterdam, Boom, 2015 (vert. H. Stegeman). Leuven: Tijdschrift voor Filosofie.
    • Het verlangen Abattoir Fermé

      Persijn, J.-J. (2016). Het verlangen Abattoir Fermé. ETCETERA, (145), 23–27.
  • 2015

    • Badiou's being and event: an ontological translation of the early work?

      Persijn, J.-J. (2015). Badiou’s being and event: an ontological translation of the early work? Abstracts Set Theory Ontology and the Philosophy of the Event (pp. 8–8). Presented at the Set Theory Ontology and the Philosophy of the Event.
    • The evental as emancipation: convergence and divergence in Badiou and Žižek

      Persijn, J.-J. (2015). The evental as emancipation: convergence and divergence in Badiou and Žižek. GCAS World Conference “Democracy Rising”, Abstracts. Presented at the GCAS World Conference “Democracy Rising.”
  • 2014

    • Joost De Bloois, Badiou (Profielen): Amsterdam, Boom & LannooCampus, Leuven, 2013

      Persijn, J.-J. (2014). Joost De Bloois, Badiou (Profielen): Amsterdam, Boom & LannooCampus, Leuven, 2013. Uil van Minerva.

Type :

  • Journal article
  • Other
  • All

Keywords :

  • Badiou,
  • Political philosophy,
  • Subjectivity,
  • French maoism,
  • Ontology,
  • Event,
  • Formalism,
  • Ethics,
  • Subjectivity,
  • Psychoanalysis