Idealism Without Idealism: badiou's materialist renaissance

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    This article examines a contemporary proposal of how to conceive of materialism, more specifically of a materialist dialectics (another name for an immanent materialism). This proposal was formulated by Alain Badiou and it is of huge interest for the contemporary discussion as it inscribes the very historical coordinates in which it was articulated into its own proposal. The article develops this by arguing that Badiou's materialist dialectic historically situates itself after idealist options seem to have become impossible. However, the very dialectical kernel of this materialism leads Badiou to claim that after the perpetuated struggle between materialism and idealism is declared to have been overcome, the very split separating the two returns in an inverted form inside materialism, splitting it again into two. Thereby the immanent split in materialism leads to two options: either one defends a materialism devoid of any idealist reference or a materialism which seeks to rescue something of idealism. The article concludes by suggesting that only from a detailed reconstruction of the functioning of philosophy in Badiou's system does it become possible to conceive of the threats that any materialism today faces and to delineate the proposed option of how to avoid them consistently. The article demonstrates how, today, materialism can only be properly materialist (without any metaphysical, mythical foundation) by resurrecting something of idealism, which is why it deserves the name of what I call an “idealism without idealism.”
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)83-98
    Number of pages16
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2014


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