WHO COMES AFTER THE SUBJECT?

EDITED BY EDUARDO CADAVA, PETER CONNOR, JEAN-LUC NANCY

ROUTLEDGE

NEW YORK AND LONDON

 

Contents
Preface vii
Introduction 1
Jean-Luc Nancy

 

1 Another Experience of the Question, or Experiencing the Question Other-Wise 9
Sylviane Agacinski

2 On a Finally Objectless Subject 24
Alain Badiou

3 Citizen Subject 33
Etienne Balibar

4 Who? 58
Maurice Blanchot

5 The Freudian Subject, from Politics to Ethics 61
Mikkel Barch-Jacobsen

6 Voice of Conscience and Call of Being 79
Jean-Franr,;ois Courtine

7 A Philosophical Concept. ... 94
Gilles Deleuze

8 "Eating Well," or the Calculation of the Subject:

An Interview with Jacques Derrida 96

Jacques Derrida

9 Apropos of the "Critique of the Subject" and

of the Critique of this Critique 120

Vincent Descombes

10 Being and the Living 135
Didier Franck

11 Who Comes after the Subject? 148
Gerard Granel

12 The Critique of the Subject 157
Michel Henry

13 Love between Us 167
Luce Irigaray

14 Descartes Entrapped 178
Sarah Ko/man

15 The Response of Ulysses 198
Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe

16 Philosophy and Awakening 206
Emmanuel Levinas

17 Seisus communis: The Subject in statu nascendi 217
Jean-Franr;ois Lyotard

18 L'Interloque 236
Jean-Luc Marion

19 After What 246
Jacques Ranciere

Name Index 253

About the Editors and Contributors 256

 

On a Finally Objectless Subject
Alain Badiou

What does our era enjoin us to do? Are we equal to the task? It seems to me too easy to claim that the imperative of the times is one of completion, and that, as modern Narratives linking subject, science and History are foreclosed, we must
either explore the formless dis covered this foreclosure bequeaths us or sustain— turning back towards the Greek origin of thinking—a pure question. I propose instead the following hypothesis: what is demanded of us is an additional step in
the modern, and not a veering towards the limit, whether it be termed "post modern" or whatever. We know, thanks in particular to mathematics, that making an additional step represents a singularly complex task as the local status of
problems is often more difficult and muddled than their global status. The predication of an "end" is an enjambment that prohibits resolution when one is unaware of how to proceed on to the next step. Rather than ask "what is there beyond?"
because of methodical distrust of the beyond, I will formulate the question as follows, on the basis of the hypothesis that modern thinking requires its continuation: what concept of the subject succeeds the one whose trajectory can be traced
out from Descartes to Husserl, and which wore thin and fell into ruin between Nietzsche and Heidegger, as well as throughout the whole of what should be called "the age of the poets" (Holderlin, Hopkins, Mallarme, Rimbaud, Trakl, Pessoa,
Mandelstam, Celan)?

Which amounts to asking: can we think an objectless subject? In the twofold sense in which, concerning such a subject, one can neither designate its correlate in presentation, nor suppose that it answers to any of thought's objectives. I would
argue that the process of the destitution of the subject has, over the course of a complex history going back at least as far as Kant, been confused with t he ineluctable process of the destitution of the object. From within the modern imperative—
to which the predication of an "end" opposes but a dissipated torm ent—we must base what succeeds on the fact that thc form of the object cannot in any way sustain the enterprise of truth. This imperative thus raises the following question: Is it
possible to de-objectify the space of the subject?

If it is possible: What is thus beyond the subject if not the very same subject dissociated or subtracted from reflexive jurisdiction, un-constituting, untied from all supports unrelated to the process of a truth—of which the subject would be but
a finite fragment?

I call subject the local or finite status of a truth. A subject is what is locally born out.

The "subject" thus ceases to be the inaugural or conditioning point of legitimate statements. It is no longer—and here we see the cancellation of the object, as objective this time—that /or which there is truth, nor even the desirous eclipse of
its surrcction. A truth always precedes it. Not that a truth exists "before" it, for a truth is forever suspended upon an indiscernible future. The subject is woven out of a truth, it is what exists of truth in limited fragments. A subject is that which a
truth passes through, or this finite point through which, in its infinite being, truth itself passes. This transit excludes every interior moment.

This is what allows me to deny that it is necessary—"truth" henceforth being disjoined or dissociated from "knowledge"—to suppress the category "subject." While it is impossible in our era to identify "truth" with a status of cognitive
statements, it cannot be inferred that we can thereby go beyond what modern thought (post-Galilean or post-Cartesian) has designated as its own locus using the term "subject." Granted: the meaning of the word "truth" may h an g on the question
of being; still it seems more apposite to make this meaning depend on the supplementation or exceeding-of-being that I term "event." Does it follow that the "subject' ' is obsolete? That would be to confuse the classical/unction of the subject (as
transparent punctuality on the basis of which the true or its limit is established) and being, which props up this function (i.e., the finite that, since Galileo, must endure truth's infinite nature).

Let us dissociate this being from its hereditary function.

Axiomatic Provision

An irrevocable step forward has been made through the critique of earlier concepts of the subject, a critique thoroughly based on the notion that truth is not a qualification of knowledge nor an intuition of the intelligible. 1 One must come to
conceive of truth as making a hole in knowledge. Lacan is paradigmatic on this point. The subject is thus convoked as a border-effect or a delimiting fragment of such. a hole piercing.

To conceptualize the subject outside of any object position makes no sense except from the point of view of a doctrine of truth that has been so completely recast as to go well beyond the critique of correspondence theories of truth, and to out-
radicalize hermeneutics of unveiling. Such a doctrine cannot be laid out here in its ontological complexity. I will simply summarize it in four theses, fully aware though

I am that in philosophy summary is impracticable; one would better conceive of it as an axiomatic shortcut. The four theses that follow must thus be solidly founded as everything else depends upon them.

(a) A truth is always post-eventual. 2 Its process begins when a supernumerary name has been put into circulation extracted from the very void that sutures every situation to being—by which it has been decided that an event
has supplemented the situation.

(b) The process of a truth is fidelity (to the event), i.e., the evaluation, by means of a specific operator (that of fidelity), of the degree of connection between the terms of the situation and ihe supernumerary name of the event.

(c) The terms of the situation that are declared positively connected to the supernumerary name form an infinite part of the situation, which is suspended on a future, as this infinity only comes into being through a succession of finite evaluations, and is thus never presented.

(d) If this infinite part will have avoided (we have here the future anterior as truth's own temporal regime or register) coinciding with what knowledge determines as known, consistent, or discerned sets in the situation—if, thus, the part in question is indiscernible for knowledge, i. e., absolutely indistinguishable or generic then we will say the post eventual procedure produces a truth. A truth is therefore, in substance, a procedure of post-eventual fidelity that will have been generic. In this sense, a truth (indiscernible within knowledge), is the metonymy of the situation's very being i.e., of the pure or unnamed multiple into which this being is resolved.

Let us call "subject" every finite state of a generic procedure.

Negative Delimitation of the Concept of the Subject

From the preceding definition, we can infer a whole series of negative conse quences that make it clear that we are proceeding (th rough discontinuous continuity) forward from the classical concept of the subject.

(a) A subject is not a substance. If the word substance has a meaning, it designates a multiple that is counted as one in a situation. The intrinsic indiscernibility into which a generic procedure resolves excludes a subject's being substantial.

(b) Nor is a subject an empty point. The void, which is a proper name of being, is inhuman and a subjective. It is an ontological concept. In addition, it is clear that a truth is realized as multiplicity and not as punctuality.

(c) A subject is in no .sense the organizing of a meaning of experience. It is not a transcendental function. If the word "experience" means anything, it designates presentation as such. Now a generic procedure, hinged as it is on the event that a supernumerary name qualifies, in no way coincides with presentation. We should also differentiate meaning and truth. A generic procedure realizes the pos t-even tual truth of a s i tuation, but this indiscernible multiple in which a truth consists y ields up no meaning.

(d) A subject is not an invariant of presentation. The subject is rare in thai the generic procedure runs diagonally to the situation. One could add that each subject is rigorously singular, being the generic procedure of a situation that is itself singular. The statement "There is subject" {il y a du sujet} is uncertain or haphazard: it is not transitive with respect to being.

(e) A subject is neither a result nor an origin. It is the local status of the procedure, a configuration that exceeds the situation.

Let us now examine the twists and turns of the subject.

Subjectivization: Intervention and the Faithful Connection Operator

The subject is at the core of a problem of twofold origin concerning fidelity procedures. We have the name of the event, which I say results from an intervention, as well as a faithful connection operator that regulates the procedure and institutes
truth. To what extent does this operator depend upon the name? And doesn't the emergence of this operator constitute a second event? Let us tak e an example. In Christianity, the Church is that through which connections to and disconnections
from the Christ event, originally called the "death of God," are evaluated. As Pascal says, the Church is thus verily "truth's h i story," as it is the faithful connection operator sustaining "religious" generic procedures. But what is the link between
the Church and Christ? or between the Church and the death of God? This point is continually under debate and (like the debate concerning the link between the Party and the Revolution) has given rise to all kinds of schisms and heresy. One
suspects the faithful connection operator itself of being originally unfaithful to the event in which it takes pride.

I will call subjectivization the emergence of an operator that is consecutive to the interventional naming that decides the event.

Subjectivization takes the form of the Two. It is oriented towards the intervention in the vicinity of the eventual site. But is also oriented towards the situation by its coincidence with the rule of evaluation and proximity that grounds the generic
procedure. Subjectivization is the interventional naming from the point of view of the situation, i.e., the rule governing the intrasituational effects of putting a supernumerary name into circulation.

Subjectivization, i.e., the singular configuration of a rule, subsumes the Two of which it consists in the absence of meaning of a proper name. St. Paul for the Church, Lenin for the Party, Cantor for ontology, Schoenberg for music, but also
Simon or Claire, should they declare their love, are all designations—made by the "one" of a proper name—of the subjectivizing scission between the name of an event (the death of God, the revolution, infinite multiples, the destruction of the
tonal system, or an encounter) and the setting into motion of a generic procedure (the Catholic Church, Bolshevism, set theory, serialism, or singular love). The proper name here designates that the subject, qua situated and local configuration,
is neither the intervention nor the fidelity operator, but rather the advent of their Two, i. e., the incorporation of the event into the situation in the form of a generic procedure. The absolute singularity of this Two, dissociated as it is from its
meaning, is shown by the un-signifying nature of the proper name. But this un signifying nature also clearly recalls that what the interventional naming convoked was the void which is itself the proper name of being. Subjectivization is the proper
name in situ of this general proper name. It is an instance of the void.

The commencement of a generic procedure grounds, as its horizon, the collecting of a tnith. Subjectivization thus is that which makes a tnith possible. It turns the event towards the situation's truth for which this event is an event. Thus the proper
name bears the trace of both the event and the situation, being that by which one comes to be for the other, qua generic trajectory of a truth. "Lenin" is at once the October Revolution (the eventual component) and Leninism—true-multiplicity of
revolutionary politics for half a century. Similarly, "Cantor" is at once the madness that requires the conceptualization of pure multiples and articulates and relates the infinite prodigality of being-as-being to its void, and the process of total reconstruc-
tion of mathematical discursivity (up until Bourbaki and even beyond). The fact is that the proper name contains both the interventional naming and the faithful connection rule.

Subjectivization—as the aporetic nexus of a name-too-many and an un-known operation—is what traces in situ the becoming multiple of the tme, starting from the nonexistent point at which the event has convoked the void and interpolated
itself between the void and itself.

Randomness, from ^^ch Every ^^th is Woven, is the Subject's Material

If we consider the local status of a generic procedure, we notice that it depends on simple encounters. The faithful connection operator prescribes if one or another term of the situation is linked or not to the supernumerary name of the event. It in
no way prescribes, however, that we examine one term before, or rather than, another. Thus the procedure is regulated in terms of its effects, but entirely random in its trajectory. The only empirical evidence in this respect is that the trajectory
begins just at the outskirts of the eventual site. Everything else is lawless. There is thus an essential randomness in the procedure's itinerary. This randomness is not visible in its result, which is a truth, for a truth is an ideal collecting of "all"
the evaluations: it is a complete part. of the situation. But the subject does not coincide with this result. Locally there are only illegal encounters, for nothing ordains—neither in the name of the event nor in the connection operator—that one
term be evaluated at a certain moment and in a certain place. If one considers the subject's material to be the terms submitted to the fidelity operator, this material— as multiple—has no assignable relationship with the rule dividing the positive
results (where connection is established) from the negative ones (where disconnection is established). Conceived of in its operation, the subject is qualifiable though singular: it breaks down into a name (of the event) and an operator (of
fidelity). Conceived of in its multiple being, i.e., in the terms that figure in the actual evaluations, the subject is unqualifiable in that these terms are arbitrary with respect to its twofold qualification.

Of course, a finite series of evaluations of terms encountered by the fidelity procedure is a possible object of knowledge. But the active element of the evaluation—its evaluating—is not, as it is only accidental that the terms evaluated therein
by the faithful connection operator turn out to be presented in the finite multiple of the evaluations. Knowledge can retroactively enumerate the components of this multiple, as they are finite in number. As knowledge cannot, at that very moment,
anticipate any meaning whatsoever of their singular regrouping, it cannot coincide with the subject whose whole being is in the encounter with terms within a random trajectory. Knowledge never encounters anything.3 It presupposes presentation,
representing it in language by discernment and judgment. That which, on the contrary, constitutes the subject is the encounter with its material, though nothing in its form (the name of the event and the fidelity operator) orders this material. If
the subject has no other being in-situ than the multiple terms it encounters and evaluates, its essence—having to include the randomness ofthese encounters—is rather the trajectory that links them. Now this incalculable trajectory comes under
no determination within knowledge.

There is, between the knowledge of finite regroupings, their principled discernibility, and the subject of the fidelity procedure, this indifferent-difference that distinguishes the result (finite multiples of the situation) from the partial trajectory
of which this result is a local configuration. The subject is "between" the terms the procedure regroups, while knowledge is the retrospective totalization of these terms.

The subject is neatly separated from knowledge by randomness. It is randomness vanquished term by term, but this victory, subtracted from language, is accomplished only as truth.

Subject and Truth: Indiscernibility and Nomination

I axiomatically stated that "a-truth"—infinitely gathering the terms positively evaluated by the fidelity procedure—is indiscernible in the language of the situa tion. It is a generic part of the situation.

As the subject is a local configuration of the procedure, it is clear that truth is equally indiscernible "for it." For truth is global. "For it" means exactly that a subject that effectuates a truth is nonetheless incommensurate to it, the subject
being finite, truth being infinite. Moreover, the subject, being within the situation, can only know (i.e., encounter) terms or multiples presented (counted as one) in this situation. And finally, the subject can only construct his idiom [langue] out of
combinations between the supernumerary name of the event and the language [langage] of the situation. It is in no way assured that this idiom will suffice to discern a truth, a truth being in any case indiscernible by the resources of the
language of the situation alone. One must absolutely abandon every definition of the subject that would assume that it knows the truth or is adjusted to it. Being the local moment of the truth, the subject fails to sustain its global adjunction. Every
truth transcends the subject precisely because its whole being consists in supporting the effectuation of that truth. The subject is neither consciousness nor unconsciousness of the true.

The singular relationship of a subject to the truth whose procedure it supports is the following: the subject believes that there is a truth, and this belief takes the form of knowledge. I term this educated belief confidence.

What does confidence mean? The fidelity operator locally discerns connections and disconnections of multiples of the situation with or from the name of the event. This discerning is an approximative truth, for the terms positively connected are
yet to come—in a truth. This "yet to come" is the distinctive characteristic of the subject who judges. Belief here is the yet-to-come that goes -by the name of truth.

Its legitimacy derives from the fact that the name of the event, having supplemented the situation with a paradoxical multiple, circulates in the evaluations as that on the basis of which the void—as latent and wandering being of the situation—
has been convoked. A finite series of evaluations thus possesses, in a manner at once effective and fragmentary, the being-in-situ of the situation itself. This fragment materially pronounces the yet-to-come for, though it is locatable by knowledge, it
is the fragment of an indiscernible trajectory. Belief consists merely in the fact that the encounters' randomness is not vainly gathered up by the faithful connection operator. Held out as a promise by the event alone, belief represents what is generic
of the true as possessed in the local finitude of the stages of its trajectory. In this sense the subject is self-confidence, in that he does not coincide with the retroactive discernibility of these fragmentary results. A truth is posited as the infinite determi-
nation of an indiscernible of the situation, the latter being the intrasituational global result of the event.

That this belief may take the form of knowledge results from the fact that every subject generates namings. Empirically, this point is born out. What one can most explicitly connect with the proper names that designate a subjectivization is an
arsenal of words that make up the deployed matrix of fidelity marks. Consider "faith," "charity," "sacrifice," and "salvation" (St. Paul), or "party," "revolution," and "politics" (Lenin), or "sets," "ordinal numbers," and "cardinal numbers"
(Cantor), and everything that then articulates, ramifies, and stratifies these words. What is their particular function? Do they simply designate terms presented in the situation? In that case they would be redundant as concerns the established language
of the situation. One can in fact distinguish ideological sects from truth's generic procedures on the basis of the fact that whereas the words used by such sects only replace—through meaningless shifts—those declared appropriate by the situation,
the names used by a subject in supporting a generic truth's local configuration generally have no referent in the situation. They do not thus double over the established language. But what purpose do they then serve? They are words that
clearly designate terms, but terms that "will have been" presented in a new situation, one that results from the adjunction of an (indiscernible) truth of the situation to that same situation.

Belief is sustained by the fact that with the resources of the situation—its multiples and its language—a subject generates names whose referents are in the future anterior. Such names will have been assigned referents or meanings when
the situation will have come to be in which the indiscernible, which is only represented (or included), is finally presented, as a truth of the former situation.

On the situation's surface, a generic procedure draws attention to itself above all by the nominal aura that surrounds its finite configurations: the subject. He who is not involved in extending the procedure's finite trajectory—who was not assessed
positively regarding his connection to the event—generally considers the names to be empty. He obviously recognizes them, as these names are fabricated on the basis of terms of the situation. The names with which a subjectsurrounds himself are
not indiscernible. But the outside observer, noticing that the names are mostly lacking in referents in the situation as it is, considers that they make up an arbitrary and contentless language. Which explains why revolutionary politics are always
thought to involve utopian (i.e., unrealistic) elements, scientific revolutions are greeted with skepticism or viewed as nonexperimentally confirmed abstractions, and lovers' babble is cast aside as infantile madness by prudent people. Now
these observers are, in a certain sense, right. The names generated—or rather composed—by a subject are suspended, as concerns their meaning, upon the yet- to-come of a truth. Their local use is to sustain the belief that the terms positively
polled designate or describe the approximation of a new situation in which the truth of the actual situation will have been presented. Every subject is thus locatable by the emergence of a language inside the situation, whose multiple referents are,
however, conditioned by an as yet uncompleted generic part.

Now a subject is separated from this generic part (of this truth) by an infinite series of random encounters. It is entirely impossible to anticipate or to represent a truth, as it comes to be only in the course of evaluations or connections that are
incalculable, their succession being solely ruled by encounters with the terms of the situation. It follows that, from the subject's point of view, the referentiality of the names remains forever suspended upon the uncompletable condition of a truth.
It is only possible to say that if such and such a term, when it will have been encountered, turns out to be positively connected to the name of the event, then such and such a name will be likely to have a certain referent, for the generic part
that remains indiscernible in the situation will have such and such a configuration or partial property. A subject is that which uses names to make hypotheses about truth. But as it is itself a finite configuration of the generic procedure from which
a truth results, one can equally maintain that a subject uses names to make hypotheses about itself, "itself' meaning the infinite of which it is the finite. An idiom[1a langue] here is the fixed order in which a finitude attempts to postulate—
within the condition of the finite effectuated by the finite—a referentiality yet-to-come. Finitude is the very being of truth in the combination of current finite evaluations and the future anterior of a generic infinity.

One can easily show that this is the status of names such as "communism," "transfinite," "serialism," or names/nouns used in a declaration of love. Let us note that these names can support the future anterior of a truth (be it religious, political,
mathematical, musical, or existential) in that they combine local evaluations (predications, statements, works, addresses) and (re)appropriated or recast names, already available in the situation. They slightly shift the established meanings so as
to leave the referent empty, the referent that will have been filled if the truth comes to be as a new situation (the reign of God, the emancipated society, absolute mathematics, a new musical order with a range comparable to that of the tonal
order, a thoroughly amorous life, etc.).

A subject is that which fends off the generic indiscernibility of a truth—a truth it effectuates in discernible finitude by an act of naming that leaves its referent in the future anterior of a condition. A subject is thus, by the good graces of names/
nouns, at once the real of the procedure (the assessor of the assessments) and the hypothesis of that which its unachieved result would introduce once again into presentation. A subject emptily names the universe yet-to-come that is obtained
from the fact that an indiscernible truth supplements the situation. It is concurrently the finite real, the local stage of this supplementation. Naming is only empty insofar as it is pregnant with what its own possibility sketches out. A subject is the antonym4
of an empty idiom [langue].

Notes

1. For the "axiomatic" theses on truth, I refer the reader to my book L'etre et Vevinement (Paris: Seuil,
1988) of which this article is in many respects a fragment.

2. "Eventual" will always be used here in the sense of "having to do with an event."

3. One would have to follow this up, using the notion of a "return to knowledge," by the study of the
dialectic truth/veridicality whose subject is the forcing point.

4. A term in discourse that designates itself.

Rambler's Top100
Hosted by uCoz