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Document Details :

Title: The Time of Truth
Subtitle: Reflections on Alain Badiou's Reading of Saint Paul
Author(s): DE KESEL, Marc
Journal: Bijdragen
Volume: 70    Issue: 2   Date: 2009   
Pages: 207-235
DOI: 10.2143/BIJ.70.2.2037128

Abstract :
Alain Badiou’s philosophy is an attempt to re-establish truth in (post)modern thought. The main – and indeed sole – criterion for truth is universality, he argues in all of his works, including the one on Saint Paul on which this essay focuses. In this book, Badiou argues that most of Saint Paul’s doctrinal topics can be related to the main concerns of his own thought. Thus Paul’s belief in Christ’s resurrection illustrates his own theory of the ‘event’; Paul’s characterization of the church is linked with his own theory of the subject; and, finally, Paul’s entire intervention can be seen as one of the first affirmations in history of truth’s main criterion: universality. This article demonstrates how an unarticulated assumption secretly sustains Badiou’s entire theoretical framework: his belief in universal truth is supported by a belief in being’s inherent goodness. Badiou’s ‘ontology’ thus appears not so exclusively formal as he claims. Through a confrontation between Badiou’s interpretation of Paul and a reading of chapter eleven in Paul’s Letter to the Romans, the essay shows how the universality that Paul’s text claims contains an important element that Badiou’s reading – and his entire philosophy – neglects. This element involves a distorted dialectics that has resonances with both the Derridean concept of the ‘originary supplement’ and Lacan’s notion of ‘objet petit a’. The essay closes with some critical reflections on the way Badiou connects truth with time.

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