Badiou was kind enough to have 30min one-on-one sessions with students who requested them. I decided to conduct a short interview of sorts following from his celebratory comments regarding Speculative Realism and some of the themes presented in the course thus far which has centered on the theme of negation.
Q: In class the other day you positively mentioned what you called the new Speculative Philosophy. How do you see your work in relation to the work of the Speculative Realists (Quentin Meillassoux, Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant and Graham Harman). Meillassoux sees himself as a materialist and not a realist, is this distinction pivotal for the future of metaphysics and affirmation as you see it?
A: The work of Speculative Realists, from the beginning is very interesting for me, and they refer to me sometimes too. The rupture with the idealist tradition in the field of philosophic study is of great necessity today. We return to the question of realism and materialism later. Its a very complex question. The Speculative Realist position is the position where the point of departure of philosophy is not the relationship between the subject and object or the subject and the world and so on or what Quentin Meillassoux names correlationism. I have known Quentin Meillassoux for a long time I was in his doctoral dissertation and so on and from the very beginning Ive thought this description of correlationism and the critique of correlationism is a very important point. Its not the classical distinction between realism and materialism like in the Marxist tradition like with Althusser and so on. It was something else. It is very interesting to see that the point of departure of Meillassoux is finally the relationship between Hume and Kant. The idea of Quentin Meillassoux is practically that all philosophical tradition is in the space of Kant, the sense that correlationism is the only clear answer to the question of Hume. The idea of Quentin Meillassoux is that there is another possibility. We are not committed to the choice between Kant and Hume.
My project is different in that it investigates different forms of knowing and action outside empirical and transcendental norms. My vision, however, is also that we must escape two correlationisms and it is a question of the destiny of philosophy itself. In the last century we had two ends of philosophy the analytic (focusing on logic, sense and science) as a kind of new positivism. The other end was phenomenological with Heidegger. There is a strange alliance between the two in France particularly in terms of religious phenomenology (Marion, Ricour, Henry) and cognitivist analytics. They join together against French Philosophy since, as they say, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Against this the fundamental affirmation of SR is an ambitious point of view, a new possibility for philosophy. A new vision. Philosophy can continue. In this sense I am happy that it is not merely a continuation of classical metaphysics nor an end of it. In this sense I am in agreement with the word realism. We are beyond the end of metaphysics and classical metaphysics with the term realism. The question of realism as opposed to materialism is not a crucial question today. What is important is that it is not correlationist or idealist. It is a new space for philosophy, one with many internal differences but this is a positive symptom.
Q: In class you also spoke of Time and the importance of a present that is not solely determined by the future. Does the speculative dimension of Speculative Realism not act on a certain futurity, does speculative thinking some how negate or at least avoid the present, the possibility of a present of a real present, a true life?
A: This is an important question. My answer will be an improvisation and not a meditation. There is a detachment from the present in SR, a kind of stoicism of the present. There is no clear presentation or vision of the present. This is very different from me. There is no theory of the event in SR. They need a vision of the becoming of the world which is lacking but it can be realist in a sense but as of yet they do not say what we need to do. For Meillassoux the future decides, the future and perhaps the dead will make the final judgment. This is a political weakness. The question is how is the Real of the present deployed for the future?
Q: Do you see any use in Laruelle’s project of non-philosophy? Does his concept of the Real (as undecidable) not have some worth?
A: I have difficulty in understanding Laruelle [laughs] especially regarding the question of the Real. The strength of philosophy is its decisions in regards to the Real. In a sense Laruelle is too much like Heidegger, in critiquing a kind great forgetting, of what is lost in the grasp of decision, what Heidegger called thinking. Beyond this, and not to judge a thinker only by his earliest work, his most recent work has a religious dimension. When you say something is purely in the historical existence of philosophy the proposition is a failure. It becomes religious. There is a logical constraint when you say we most go beyond philosophy. This is why, in the end, Heidegger said only a god can save us.
Ultimately, I do not see an opposition between being qua being (as multiplicity) and the Real, not at all. The Real can be decided except for the event which is always in relation to a particular world.