Graduate Theological Society

December 13, 2005

Response to Barker on Badiou

Filed under: Barker on Badiou, Proceedings — graduatetheology @ 3:32 am

Please comment upon and discuss James W. Barker’s paper here


  1. Josh and Jimmy,

    I have been checking back every once and a while for the past couple of weeks waiting for Josh’s Response and am quite glad that I did. This is exactly right I think. It is great to see all of the many conversations we have all had on Badiou finally formed into a single coherent–and as I see it, unsurpassable–argument (in Josh’s appropriation and clarifications of Jimmy’s arguments).

    It is striking in your comment about the “evental site” requiring a formal structure that grounds the declaration of the truth of and thus fidelity to the event itself; especially in light of Peter Hallward’s introduction to Ethics where he discusses the ambiguity of the original French [evenementiel] and his translation “evental.” The evental “site” for Badiou is an event’s proximity to the Void out of which Truth springs in any specific situation. In this light the character of the Truth of an Event as ex nihilo is extremely specific. It is composed out of the elements of any given situation. However, as Hallward’s entire project in relation to Badiou goes, his appropriation of set theory into this notion of specificity betrays all specificity to the most generalizing abstraction–and here, Hallward says that it is because Badiou has no conception of relation; and I think he is absolutely right. I think this is very close to–or at least gets at without compromising–what you are saying Josh with regards to the evental site. Right on. Great paper and great response. Looking forward to more Badiou musings and response. I only wish I could be there! Perhaps we could have a faux meeting when I come to Nashville in a couple of weeks. peace.

    Comment by Dave Belcher — January 17, 2006 @ 3:17 pm

  2. Sorry. I’ll respond a bit more substantially here; I responded quickly earlier because I had a crazy 9-month old Samuel crawling all over the place.

    Contrary to Badiou’s statement that the “Christian subject is unconditioned,” Jimmy, you reply that, “the external conditions of Paul as Pharisaic Jew and as pursuer of the Jesus Movement substantially conditioned Paul prior to the event.” I think you are right to say this, and yet I think this statement must be grounded in Josh’s correction (viz., that the “‘evental site’ presupposes an overarching structure of some instantiation qua event”—i.e. … if I understand Josh correctly … that there is a ‘condition’ out of which springs the instance of the event), otherwise Badiou can simply say that the historical conditions or “cultural specificity” of Paul do not matter to him since “the truth is of itself indifferent to the state of the situation” (St. Paul, 15). And I think the most appropriate way to ground Josh’s critique is—as he mentions—via Badiou’s particular reading of Paul on the Law…as Badiou entitles one of his chapters, “Paul Against the Law.” That chapter is particularly disturbing when considered in light of Josh’s critical statements on subjectivity at the end of his response, and, I think, the very heart of Badiou’s conception of “immortality” of the subject that is worked out more fully in Ethics. There, Badiou literally defines “humanity” as a potency to “imagine the Good”; “to think what might be in terms that break radically with what is” (14). Taken to its logical conclusion (as Josh does in his last paragraph) this is the very essence of a Christian theological definition of sin.

    Comment by Dave Belcher — January 17, 2006 @ 5:14 pm

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