miércoles, 6 de julio de 2011

Correspondence With Ray Brassier: On Sellars, Sensation and Conception

                 - On Sellars, Sensation and Conception - 

Here I attach a series of correspondences between me and Ray Brassier in which he clarifies his move toward a Sellarsian account. I enclose also a summary of Sellar's account below, which can serve as a crude walkthrough to his recent presentation at Zagreb.

August 14th, 2010
- On Sellars, Realism and the Individuation of Sense
Dear Daniel
You raise a very interesting query below in response to my earlier  remarks about Sellars and intuition:

You write:

"I’m just not sure how to understand at this juncture the intuition of  ‘sensible particulars’ apart from conceptual subsumption. On what  basis is that distinction sketched, since it seems like it is only  judgment and thus in conceptual subsumption that we attain  intelligibility for empirical perception. How do we establish  ‘sensible particulars’ have any individuation prior to and  irrespective of conceptual subsumption, given perceptual experience is  discursively structured all throughout? Of course, we wouldn’t want to  merely reiterate the Kantian distinction of intuition/understanding,  to readily pave the way for the Hegelian idealist appropriation. You  say Sellars avoids relinquishing the independence of sensation; but  I’m wondering how exactly he does this so as to avoid a) the anonymous  and noumenal without unity, b) the idealist congruence of concept and  object.

My hunch, on the basis of what you express, is that he thinks a  resolutely non-idealist congruence of concept and object is possible, where sensation provides the material basis for conception, while the  latter nevertheless does provide intelligible grounds for the former’s independence. And in the end this material basis solicits that what can be claimed as independent should not be simply an anonymous material lump we then chop into bits and pieces through language/concepts, but something like the gradual and progressive infiltration of the noumenal to the phenomenal, which anticipates revision of scientific conception while retains realism about the concrete phenomena it describes (and not just of the infamous material mass). It seems the kind of problem Badiou tried to tackle by proposing the purely extensional determination of ontology as pure multiplicity, so reality can remain structured and yet subject to continual revision at the hand of subjective intervention. Your position, I take it, is to extend this basic insight to allow for truth to smear not only through subjective intervention, but also through natural occasion."

This is indeed precisely the objective and I've discovered in Sellars some valuable resources to help attain it. I've written something that I hope responds your query:

The status of intuition in Sellars’ reconstruction of Kantianism is far from clear and while it clearly leaves no room for “pure forms of intuition”, it is not obvious (at least to me) that Sellars simply eliminates intuition, understood as non-conceptual presentation, altogether—even if he thinks we must relinquish Kant’s idea that intuitions constitute one of the two basic species of representation. Here I think one must take into consideration the significance of Sellars’ account of sensation, and try to grasp why he consistently refuses to assimilate it to conception. As is usual with Sellars, this account is pretty tortuous and often obscure, but some basic features can be extracted from it. Unlike perception, sensation cannot play any justificatory epistemic role; yet all empirical perception involves sensation. Thus perception involves a non-conceptual or sensory component as well as a conceptual component. The distinction between the two can be clarified by examining a perceptual episode involving a sensory modality like seeing. There is a difference between seeing something as something or seeing that something is the case, and seeing something of something. All seeing as or seeing that can be accounted for in terms of conceptual content: there is in principle no limit to what we can see things as or what we can see to be the case. But there is in principle a limit to what we can see of things. This limit is fixed by the structure of our sensory modalities; that of sight, in this instance. For example: I can see that this pink cube is made of ice, just as I can see it as a pink ice cube, or see that this ice cube is pink. But I do not see the iciness  of the pink cube because iciness is not a visual property of this pink cube. Neither is it a tactile, auditory, olfactory, or gustatory property—ice has certain sensible properties—coldness, smoothness, transparency, etc—but iciness itself is not a sensible property: it is an abstract, dispositional property, and as such it is never fully present in any single perceptual taking. Thus what I can sense of something is limited to its occurrent properties. Sensible qualities are actual or occurrent properties, rather than potential or dispositional ones.

The question then is of course: what are they properties of? Sellars proposes a fable about human cognitive evolution according to which our ancestors moved from a (pre-pre-Socratic) stage in which sensations were taken to constitute the very stuff of reality (a stage prior not only to the development of Socratic thing-attribute metaphysics but prior even to the elemental monism of pre-Socratic metaphysics), to one in which they are understood as dispositional properties of physical objects. Then genius Jones comes along and proposes a new, improved theory according to which sensations are no longer conceived as dispositional properties of physical objects but as non-physical entities with occurrent properties analogous to the perceptible properties of physical objects. But according to the Jonesean theory of mind, although sensings are like thoughts in being immaterial internal episodes, they cannot plausibly be integrated into psychology as mere properties of psychological states, for while thoughts are modeled on overt speech, sensations are modeled on occurrent physical properties. There is a categorial difference between thoughts and sensations concomitant with the categorial difference between the entities that serve as their theoretical models. Nevertheless, Jones’ postulation of inner episodes of sensation is a corollary of his postulation of inner episodes of thinking, and one specifically designed to account for otherwise baffling anomalies in perception and reasoning. The postulate of sensation explains discrepancies in the order of thought: perceptual illusion, irrational motivations, and other specifically psychological anomalies. Moreover, sensations are states of the perceiver that cause the conceptual episodes called perceptions: so unlike the latter, they operate within the natural-causal as opposed to normative-rational order.

Note that this entails a distinction between presentational and representational content, which means we cannot simply dissolve the former into the latter. What I see of the ice cube is ‘present’ to me in a way that differs from the way in which I represent this as a pink ice cube. The presentation of sensible content is not exhausted by the representation of conceptual content in perception; what I sense is ‘present’ for me in a way that differs from its conceptual representation. What is required says Sellars is:"an analysis of the sense in which we see of the pink ice cube its very pinkness. Here I believe sheer phenomenology or conceptual analysis takes us part of the way but finally lets us down. How far does it take us? Only to the point of assuring us that Something, somehow a cube of pink in physical space is present in the perception other than as merely believed in."('Sensa or Sensings: Reflections on the Ontology of Perception’ in Philosophical Studies 41, 83-111. The quote is from §26: 89)To say that my sensing of a pink ice cube is present in perception other than as believed in is to say that perception qua mental episode also harbours a non-conceptual residue. To acknowledge this is not to relapse back into the phenomenological myth of conscious experience as absolute, self-legitimating presentation. Rather, it is to acknowledge the reality of appearance while refusing to allow its metaphysical investiture as guide to reality. One can acknowledge the reality of phenomenal experience while refusing phenomenology’s postulated equivalence between the reality of experience and the experience of reality. This is for me among Sellars’ most profound insights and the reason why his work does not fall onto either side of the divide between conceptual idealists, who insist that experience is wholly conceptual and proclaim the unboundedness of the conceptual order, and phenomenological realists, who claim that experience’s non-conceptual reality provides the privileged medium wherein reality discloses itself. Like Kant, the challenge and difficulty of Sellars’ work lies in the way it tries to attain a point of equilibrium between the insights of rationalist idealism and those of empirical realism while resisting the tendency of each to overextend the solution fitting for one problem domain into that of another: the solution to the problem of sapience is not also the solution to the problem of sentience; the solution to the problem of sentience is not also the solution to the problem of sapience. Thus Sellars suggests that while the inferential structure of conception is necessarily immune to scientific revision (since it is the condition of revisability), the non-particulate character or essential homogeneity of sensation, which is its constitutive characteristic within the manifest image (according to the so-called ‘grain argument’) is something not yet adequately accounted for within the terms of the manifest image. Bearing in mind the essential link between sensing and phenomenal appearing, it becomes clear that the manifest understanding of sensation is also the manifest understanding of appearance. But Sellars’ account of sensation suggests that this understanding is inadequate to the phenomenon at hand and needs to be supplemented by conceptual resources proper to understanding the in-apparent: in other words, there is more to appearance than can be grasped in and through appearances.

Note the irony: while all that is required for the philosophy of mind is to render explicit what is implicit in the manifest image of thought, i.e. to develop the inferential substructure of the Jonesean theory of mind to the point where it attains full, explicit self-awareness, the philosophy of sensation cannot be satisfactorily completed within the terms of the manifest image because the Jonesean theory of sensations as inner episodes with properties analogous to those of physical objects is inadequate and invites revision at the hands of a scientific theory that will re-categorize sensations as intrinsic qualities of absolute processes. Interestingly, once this re-categorization has been carried out, the actuality or sheer ‘occurrentness’ of sensations follows from their being aspects of absolute processes. For Sellars, this re-categorization involves no concessions to vitalism or panpsychism: absolute processes are in Sellars’ terminology physical1, i.e. part of the causal nexus of space-time, while both sentient and non-sentient entities are physical2, i.e. patterns of absolute processes. But sentient organisms include absolute processes that occur only in exceptionally complex patterns of physical2 objects. Sensations or ‘sensa’ are intrinsic characteristics of this sub-species of absolute process; yet our sensory awareness of these intrinsic qualities of absolute processes is not awareness of them as these intrinsic characteristics. In other words, it is not knowledge. Sensation remains epistemically inert. Only the full development of sapience can tell us what sentience truly is.

So contrary to a prevalent impression, the critique of the Given does not license the peremptory dismissal of presentation per se (I’m not suggesting you are among those propagating this impression—it’s I who have been guilty of this in the past). It does however rule out any appeal to the supposed epistemic authority of presentation even as it grants its metaphysical status. Nor does Sellars reduce the phenomenological domain of appearance to a mere phantom of representation; his account of the phenomenon of appearance—which is necessary to account for perceptual illusion or error more generally—comprises his account of the logic of ‘looks talk’ as withdrawing endorsements of perceptual assertion in tandem with his theory of the metaphysical status of sensation. Ultimately, Sellars is concerned with developing a metaphysical vision in which not only are secondary qualities integrated and their relationship to primary qualities explained, but the articulation between the sensation of the former and the conception of the latter is also accounted for. Here I think the scope of his achievement can be gauged by comparing his account with Meillassoux’s (commendable) attempt to rehabilitate the significance of the distinction between primary and secondary qualities in After Finitude. Sellars not only deals directly these and other issues largely occluded by the post-Heideggerian continental tradition, he proposes astonishingly sophisticated solutions to them.


July 4th, 2011 - Reply to Brassier

Dear Ray,
This is all excellent; thank you for your attention and help. 

 I have been revising EPM and listening carefully to your recent presentation at Zagreb, and I was initially struck by what seemed to me to be in blatant contradiction to the idea of sensation as being "epistemically inert"; namely proposition that "x senses red content x entails x non-inferentially knows that s is red'. The key to deciphering sensing qua cognitive capacity, I take it, lies in distinguishing two explanatory levels: natural-causal and normative-inferential. The tricky thing is to understand how the distinction between the real and the logical is intra-dialectical and an acquired process, which is resolutely non-metaphysically all the same. This is basically the Sellarsian endorsement of A and C from the 'inconsistent triad', as I see it. Now, to abuse your courtesy, allow me to attempt to briefly and schematically restate the fundamentals:

1) Sensation is a cognitive faculty.
2) However, sensation is not immediately picturing the real by some pre-given or miraculous relation of adequation or congruence, i.e. it is non-inferential, thoroughly particular, and for this reason unrepeatable, but it is nevertheless acquired (proposition C of the inconsistent triad). [See appendix] 
3) Sense qua cognitive faculty nevertheless produces non-inferential knowledge which is explained in terms of natural-causal neurophysiological instantiations of the organism indexing environmental stimuli.
4) Given (2), these mechanisms are not transparently available to introspection, or accessible through an armchair a priorispeculation, but rather modeled after the sub-conscious process of sentient acquisition described in (3), which gives rise to thesapient capacity for conceptual discrimination proper to homo sapiens. 
5) The distinction between sapience and sentience, cognition and sensibility, is however a methodological one, genetically explained in terms of the univocal field of physical processes indexed by natural-causal sentience.
6) So, while methodologically the non-conceptual character of sentient conditioning remains intractable by the explanatory means of conceptual sapience (i.e. the conceptual-real distinction is a conceptual distinction), the genetic conditions for sapience are subordinated to conditions for sentient indexing.
7) The question this opens up is that of the process of modelling, which leads from a) the acculturation/conditioning of the organism's non-conceptual sensing, to the Jonesian theoretical positing of sensa as distinct from concepts.

Although this process must lead to the eventual complication of sense in accordance to the scientific image which digs beneath perceptual qualities accessible,  the process must begin by the explicit modelling of sense on perceptual qualities of the manifest register. Only latter is the process untethered from the categories of actual appearance and tethered to inapparent processes. And the modelling process, as far as I can discern, runs roughly as follows:

a) Standard conditions of conditioning allow the organism to discriminate between perceptible properties of physical objects in the manifest image which presuppose conceptual judgment.
b) The first step toward a theory of sensation is to model, by analogy, the structure of sense to that of manifest physical objects and their actual properties.
c) This modeling, however, also grounds the conceptual separation between the physical and sensation, i.e. it gauges the conceptual asymmetry between the two without thereby postulating a qualitative, ontological gap between them. This is accomplished insofar as sapience distinguishes conceptually between the particulate content of sensa and the dispositional content of natural processes, placing limits to their analogical resemblance: sensa are non-spatially extended particular occasional properties, while physical properties qua determinate universals are abstract processes which track absolute dispositional properties in objects. While the former is limited by the sensory faculties, the latter is in principle unlimited, open to the infinity of what we can postulate. [Incidentally, this entails a rehabilitation of the representationalist process of analogy in judgment castigated by Bergson, Foucault and Deleuze; but none the worse for that.]
d) However, this does not entail that physical processes are mere heuristic conceptual postulates, with no connection to the real. Rather, they are postulates analog to the third-person, inter-subjective sphere of things and persons in the manifest image, which are acquired and yet necessary for discrimination. 
e) This entails that concepts are both: i) necessary - insofar as predicates are not in perception unless judgment is there also, which requires conceptual deployment, ii) acquired - insofar as they do not exhaust the character of experience, but can actually serve to discern between the conceptual (normative domain) and the infra-conceptual (content of sensa), iii) leveling - since this discernment is one of degree and not kind, methodological rather than metaphysical. 

That sensation later can be construed as non-conceptual episodes which produce non-inferential knowledge means that while we need concepts to first model sensa on physical objects, the modelling does not produce a metaphysical dualism, but a thesis of ontological univocity grounded on a conceptual dualism, i.e. methodological dualism grounds ontological univocity. At this juncture one may ask how exactly the modelling of sensa 'amends' the original picture of perceptual physical properties in things, i.e. how is the original modelling on perceptual properties qua determinate universals to determinate particulars constituting an 'amendment'? And I think the answer, following what's laid above, is that:

f) It constitutes an amendment insofar as it refuses to conflate the particularity of sentient non-inferential natural-causal registering with conceptuality or normative deliberation in the logical space of reasons, i.e. sense amends the theory of perception by distinguishing a non-conceptual residue which, being cognitive and yet non-inferential, is subject to the domain of natural causality as opposed to that of normative rationality. So Sellars methodologically separates the epistemological framework of conceptual understanding which preconditions sapience with the sentient domain of the natural sciences, while acknowledging that the former ontologically presupposes the latter, and is in fact only derived from it after a process of complex evolution and local conditioning.

This means: thoughts are real just like objects, and arise amidst them, but are qua thoughts justified within a different explanatory framework: sensa are modelled on the actual properties of physical objects, while concepts are modelled on overt speech. The former track natural-causal dispositional processes of physical objects on the basis of determinable perceptual episodes, while the latter track the conceptual, linguistic uses within normative contexts, and constitute the logical space of reasons. This gap obtains from the different conceptual modelling between things and thoughts: the former model determinate universal physical laws which remain repeatable, within the determinate particularity of sensa.  The latter model words with other sets of words within linguistic use.

Strangely enough, this seems to pair physical-perceptual properties with 'abstract', conceptual postulates wrested from the categories of the manifest image. The real composes both thoughts and things, while they differ in their explanatory models; a distinction that ontologically only pertains to degrees and not kind. This is where, however, the Jonesian modelling process, being still tethered to the perceptual concepts of the manifest image must be expanded; sentience can be amplified to incorporate the processes of sensa by tracking the latter's non-inferential status not in analogy to the apparent processes of perceptible physical objects, but in unapparent complex processes of the latter..

The obvious question, at this juncture, becomes then how we exactly arrive after Jones' theory of sense as non-physical particulars, to model the sub-perceptual domain of physical processes which underlie the perceptible properties of the manifest image.

This is where Jones and Sellars part way, insofar as the latter thinks we must supplement the manifest analysis of appearance to account for the non-apparent processes which are left implicit in the manifest order of sense: that is, the theory of sensation is to be modified to model not perceptible properties of the manifest register, but sub-representational mechanisms which, while made available to us through sense, are in no way reducible to the phenomenal order of the manifest image. This requires sapience to unveil the physical sub-representational mechanisms through which sentience makes itself possible the genesis of sapience. This implies a negotiation with the categories of the manifest image which is not straightforwardly reductive or eliminative, and at least non-subordinate to it anymore. So while the modeling of sensa of the manifest image is a first step, the breach between the conceptual and the causal, sapience and sentience, also allow us to use the resources of the former to allow the latter to explain itself. And all this, on condition that the normative provides the conditions for scientific revision of concepts, a framework that is itself non-revisable since it provides the conditions of reviseability. 

In any case, I think that might be closer to the spirit of Sellars' argument. Thank you for your time Ray.

All the best,


 The Inconsistent Triad
A. x senses red sense content s entails x non-inferentially knows
that s is red.
B. The ability to sense sense contents is unacquired.
C. The ability to know facts of the form x is ø is acquired.
A and B together entail not-C; B and C entail not-A; A and C
entail not-B.

Sellars will accept A and C but reject B.


I want to thank Ray Brassier for his willingness to respond to my questions and observations.

Negation, Affirmation, Death

                     NEGATION, AFFIRMATION, DEATH
                     - Deleuze, Badiou, Brassier -

 The philosophical discourses of the 19th and 20th Century modified radically the status of negation. It was in fact the work of Hegel that first elevated the negative act from its circumscription to a mere formalism proper to the logical exertion of the faculty of reason, to an ontological, structuring principle. In the case of Kant, this was provided by the schematic instantiation of contradiction in the famous antinomies of pure reason, with respect to sensible shattering caused by the sublimity of objects Kant called 'cosmological' (God, the Infinity of the Universe, the Soul...) Hegel contended instead that contradiction, and therefore negation, was not a merely regional possibility which obtained on the basis of an schematic individuation of objects. Rather, absolute negativity was to be found at the very heart of the dialectic's deductive necessity. Contradiction became thus not just formal, but essentially metaphysical or taken as the basic ontological structure.  So, Hegel was able to claim, against Kant,  that "
antinomy is found not only in the four particular ob-jects taken from cosmology, but rather in all objects of all kinds, in all representations, concepts, and ideas.” (Hegel E L, Pg. 92)

        The philosopher who challenged the primacy of negation in its logico-metaphysical hypostatization with greatest fervor during the 19th Century was perhaps Nietzsche. Nietzsche allots dialectics and its pretentions towards truth to the uniformity of a philosophical discourse that thwarts the affirmative purchase of the Will, and founds in doing so a culture guided by resentment and weakness, finally the common denominator of Platonic philosophy and Christian religion. The philosophical chimera of truth, mobilized through the amputating agency of the negative, is nothing but the obverse of the thwarted will which denies existence through moral-categorical imperatives. This dissolution of the philosophical valence of truth, and therefore also of the epistemological force of representation, becomes also proper to the deconstructive pretensions of the post-phenomenological critique of consciousness initiated by Heidegger, but also of the historicist-hermeneutic line of Gadamer, the destitution of phallogocentism by Derrida, the pragmatism of Rorty, among others. Above all these notable descendants, the most salient inheritor of the Nietzschean avowal of affirmation, along its castigation of the negative, is maybe opened by the work of Gilles Deleuze in his astonishing crossbreeding of Bergson, Simondon, Spinoza and Nietzsche.

       In fact, Difference and Repetition, Deleuze's celebrated magnum opus, is crucially an attack on the philosophical primacy of negation, which following Foucault, he identifies as one of the four axes of representation which must be overcome. More specifically, Deleuze reduces negation to the relation of contrariness in the predicative form (A is not-B), so that even in Hegelian dialectics, the oscillation of dynamic becoming is finally subordinated to the identitarian regime of the Concept (Being remains conceptually indistinguishable from Nothing and thus passes over into it, this is the basic unity of becoming which develops into existence, etc). The apparent dynamism of the Concept in fact veils what can only be for Deleuze the spurious monotonous vacuity of hypostasized intellection. For Deleuze, radicalizing the Bergsonist critique, the philosophical task is precisely to destroy the identitarian regime of the Concept in favor of a thinking of pure Difference; to think of  a pure becoming which may attest to the immanent morphogenesis of matter without the transcendental constraints of representational thought. Yet this means, at the same time, to overthrow the metaphysical primacy of contradiction, which still operates under the aegis of the Concept. Instead of the purely extensive regime of well partitioned qualitative-quantitative determinations and magnitudes, Deleuze attempts to think of an ontological order of pure multiplicity governed by the principle of what he calls intensive individuation; unequalizable differences of differences, of which the specificity of the actual is merely derived and secondary. This will involve tracking the specification of matter from the virtual to the actual, as opposed to the merely extensive individuation of discrete parts and beings in actual representation.

         The theory of intensive individuation is thereby distributed across the three syntheses of time for Deleuze: the passive synthesis of habit in the present, the synthesis of the pure past or memory, and finally the third active synthesis of psychic individuation. And it is only in the latter that the cohort of the representational subject is finally split, and the 'larval selves' of the intensive field are prized free from subjectivist representation.  Deleuze associates this third moment, the definitive moment of individuation, with the purely affirmative act of thought whereby the tidy distinctions of the Concept are shattered, and pure difference qua affirmation asserts its primacy. There is a 'mystification' occasioned by the negative, counteracted by the immanentist theory of the intensive. Crucially, this also marks the point at which the bare organic death of the individual, the death of the organism deprived of life, is disavowed in favor of the properly intensive death of the subject; its splitting and dissemination across the virtual field of multiplicities. I quote Deleuze: "it is in quality and extensity that intensity is inverted and appears upside down, and its power of affirming difference is betrayed by the figures of quantitative and qualitative limitation, qualitative and quantitative opposition... The origin of the illusion which subjects difference to the false power of the negative must therefore be sought, not in the sensible world itself, but in that which acts in depth and is incarnated in the sensible world". This depth is constituted by, as we have surmised, the field of positive differential multiplicities, i.e. the Ideal domain which seals Deleuze's vitalist, but also panpsychist urge to escape the cohort of the transcendental philosophies of access. It does so folding thought back into the immanent field of material production, as its psychic medium of individuation. The primacy of contradiction is thus given up in favor of the primacy of the differential, whose formal model is that provided by the differential calculus.

       The work of Alain Badiou attempts to wrest Deleuze's materialist ontology of pure multiplicities from its last vestiges of empiricist-phenomenological content.  Founded only by the void of being, Badiou's set-theoretical ontology thinks the inconsistent multiple which is constructed on the basis of a transparent axiomatics; that of Zermelo-Fraenkel to be specific. Under this approach, the great fault of the Deleuzean project appears not in its dismantling of representation or in its destitution of the negative straightjacket. Its weakness lies in the incapacity to account for the indifferent genericity of the order of multiple being, as well as the radical disruption brought about by affirmative acts called Events. Change, along thought, is everywhere and nowhere for Deleuze; the pure differentials in becoming only actualize the virtual continuum locally, but the global virtual imbedding space wherein change happens belongs to the singular event, the eventum tantrum, which generates novelty from base repetition. This constituted the famous "body without organs" for Deleuze and Guattari, which, Badiou contends, surrenders the thought of the multiple to the aegis of the One. For Badiou, then, against the paradigm of multiplicity modeled on Riemannian manifolds and differential calculus, the Post-Cantorian set-theoretical paradigm of extensional multiplicities is to be favored. Through the extirpation of all semblance of intensional content, ontology is prized free of its last vestige of empirical transcendence, while the plurality of radical ruptures, of events, is accounted for in a theory of subjectivation and creative production. Set-theoretical ontology subtracts the multiple from any qualitative determination, and so from any vestige of positive content that would surreptitiously Idealize the material field, as is the case for Deleuze through the agency of a 'larval self' infusing matter with thought's distinctive purchase. Rather, Ideality now comes to be in the side of the truth-event, where the subject subtracts itself from the stasis of the ontological regime and the rule of the State's representational count. It signals where affirmation breaks the negative ontological dialectic, dividing "the history of the world in Two", and inaugurating a new Time.

         So, in a way, Badiou preserves the affirmationist vocation of Deleuze's thought. But rather than dispersing the affirmative act of thought within the continuity of the field of differential multiplicities in becoming, it tethers becoming to the evental act which disrupts the ontological order. Events are plural, and times are many. The status of the negative in Badiou's discourse is therefore twofold: on the one hand, the extensional regime of ontology and the objectual differentiation proper to phenomenology remains, within the materialist dialectic,  subordinated to the power of the negative. A set will be identical to another if and only if there does not exist an element of one which is not an element of another (axiom of extensionality). And any object whose intensity is equal to another in a particular situation is, for all 'intensive' purposes, identical to that object (the function of identity). Negation once again seems to pervade the metaphysical realm, while affirmation seems delegated to the immanent exception of the Evental act, which awakening the militant urgency of the subject, destroys the stable regime of differentiation which articulates the Laws of the World. Death, for its part, remains trivialized, a mere nullification of the intensity of a multiple in a given world reduced to its minimum intensity, meriting no reification to the status of ontological principle of individuation (as in Heidegger's account of being-towards-death, but also Deleuze's account of the intensive death of the self dispersed into the field of intensities). I quote Badiou:

      "When thinking of the event as the intensified and continuous result of becoming, Deleuze is an empiricist. And that, when he reabsorbs the event into the One of the unlimited Aion, of the Infinitive in which it subsists and insists, in the always there of the Virtual, he has a tendency to dogmatism. To break with empiricism is to think the event as the advent of what subtracts itself from all experience: the ontologically un-founded and the transcendentally discontinuous. To break with dogmatism is to remove the event from the ascendancy of the One. It is to subtract it from Life, in order to deliver it to the stars." (LOW, pg. 387)

      However, subtracting thought from the stability of the multiple and reserving it for the Truth Event, Badiou's thought in a sense is more 'exceptionalist' than Deleuze, it requires an even greater form of exception which this time resembles Kant more than Hegel. For Deleuze, thought  is everywhere, and the larval subjects which split the self virally infect the material realm all throughout. Deleuze Idealizes the material directly by wresting thought from the priority of the human to disseminate it across the material. Badiou's bare extensional multiple is, on the other hand, qualitatively empty, without any criterion for transcendental constitution, but also because of this irremediably static. The problem for him therefore becomes that of change; how to account for the disruption of the indifferent field of multiplicities, up to the generic form of truth which must be possible in order to differentiate novelties from reactionary simulacra. And it is there that he must reintroduce, not unlike Kant, the supplementary ethics of the evental act and of the intervention, of a kind of noumenal exception to the Laws of becoming.

       So, either affirmation takes purchase, local change is to be found everywhere and we transpose thought into the world, effectively idealizing it; or we subtract thought from the material to the point where its structure is indistinguishable from thought, and negativity asserts its rights to set the regime for ontological determinacy. But in the latter case, the event becomes the prerogative of the subjective act which 'ascends from the 'bare animality' of the world to the Eternity of the Idea; that is, to the productive domain of truths. Without the surreptitious dialectics of the event, the order of being glares forth in its apathy, and its monotony sheds along thought all becoming.

       It is at this juncture that the work of the Scottish philosopher Ray Brassier has attempted to radicalize the materialist urgency for disenchantment, while at the same time seeking to render the exceptionality of human thought inoperative. Both Deleuze and Badiou cannot but finally reintroduce the prerogative of the Ideal; either in the panpsychist process of being as becoming (Deleuze), or in the dialectics of change (Badiou). But although Brassier will celebrate the subtractive regime of extensional multiplicities advocated by Badiou, which prized being free of its transcendental burden and expulses any semblance of qualitative sense, he will have no truck with the dialectics of the event. No exception to the meaningless domain of the material limits or interrupts miraculously the disenchantment evinced by formal indifference of scientific factuality. It is through the latter that humanity comes to appear within the cosmological scope, as utterly trivialized. Brassier seeks to unearth a form of non-dialectical negativity, an unilateral index for the Real which is not occasioned by thought and so is not of thought, even if thought is of it. This means that the putative privilege of the temporal over the spatial so characteristic of empiricism, phenomenology and vitalism, must be overcome.  And along with them both Deleuze's castigation of the actual, as well as Badiou's evental discontinuities triggered by the subjective, become ripe for evisceration. In their place, Brassier favors the diachronicity of an ontologically univocal space-time where thought's dialectical structure shows its belonging to the Real, while the latter remains completely indifferent to thought. This is the roots of Brassier's 'speculative realist' option which, opposes the dominance of post-Kantian correlationism: the thesis that the world and thought, materiality and ideality, stand in a relation of mutual determination, and so that it is unthinkable to set them apart. Against the correlationist taint which always reifies the subjective, the sapient and the organic, Brassier unilateralizes the determination of thought by the material. In doing so, he argues that: "...speculative realism must uphold the autonomy of a space-time that is independent of the correlation of thinking and being, a space time whose incommensurability with the spans of human or even biological duration is no longer a function of chronological discrepancy but of a diachronicity rooted in the voiding of being-nothing." This entails, for Brassier, following the thought of Wilfrid Sellars', that although the real comprises univocally thoughts and things alike, being is never reducible to thought. Rather, while matter provides the conditional ontological support for the ontogenesis of thought, the latter is construed methodologically as belonging to the normative domain of the logical space of reasons. Matter, in its turn, is impervious to the inferential domain of rational normativity; even if it is only within the conceptual that the methodological separation of concept and object is enacted.

        As Badiou determined, the thought of being is dialectical and untethered from any kind of subjective conditions of access; but here we get not the dialectical Nothingness which, like in Hegel's objective Idealism, renders the dialectic of thought indistinct from the Real. The latter's non-dialectical being persists in its indifference to thought's normative purchase. And this way Brassier finds in the inscription of the human within the diachronicity of space-time already an index of its inevitable demise: not in the merely organic death of the individual, or the intensive splitting-of-self which destroys the representational subject. Rather, he finds it in the imminent knowledge of the truth of solar extinction inscribed in the natural-causal material domain which remains intractable to the temporal logic of organic sapience. The index of a death which will eradicate not just the local stupor of life, but the entirety of material existence itself down to its atomic substructure (one trillion, trillion, trillion years from now): assymptotia  leaves us with a cemetery of stellar corpses survived only by 'dark energy'. This darkened index for the Real death, which in Brassier's nihilist position, takes the Enlightenment to its ultimate consequences, is notably radically anti-phenomenological, since it can never be of the order of the chronological temporalization of first-person experience. But it is also radically anti-vitalist and anti-panpsychist, deflating thought's negative and affirmative power down to banal transience of those 'clever beasts', which Nietzsche had already announced, would soon perish without having "made a real difference". Solar extinction is precisely a knowledge which flattens thought into the material, and destroys the reification of meaning in its negative or affirmative capacity. It is the knowledge of a death that can never be experienced and which, being-irreducible to the possibility of apprehension within the continuum of temporal duration concomitant with thought, has in a sense happened already: "It is precisely the extinction of meaning that clears the way for the intelligibility of extinction. Senselessness and purposelessness are not merely privative,  they represent a gain in intelligibility... "

      Bearing the trace of the in-itself which has already destroyed it, the will to know becomes equal to the Real without thereby reinstating the duality of thought and matter and of their co-relation. Global extinction proceeds from an order of necessity utterly foreign to the free affirmation in the event; its Real conditions the thought that thinks it, not the other way around. Surrendering the torment of the death whose trace it bears, thought reveals also that its interests finally do not coincide with those of the living; and the vector of disenchantment opened by the Enlightenment should sedate the passion for subjective exceptionalism which peel off materialism by the lure of the discursive, the organic, the conceptual. Interestingly, this entails, for Brassier, a rehabilitation of the cog of representation against its post-Bergsonist and post-Heideggerean castigation, if only to espouse a revisionary naturalism where a methodological dualism grounds ontological univocity.

         I conclude with the following quote, from Brassier again, which announces what is perhaps the crucial philosophical predicament in these three thinkers: that is, to overcome a thought which, still encumbered in the Romantic desire to find itself at ease in the Universe, escapes the Real's vacuous, non-dialectical negativity, which, intractable to the vocabulary of the manifest image celebrating its clever beastliness, cares little for our moribund existence:

     "The problem consists in articulating the relation between the dialectical structure of conceptual discourse and the non-dialectical status of the real in such a way as to explain how real negativity fuels dialectics even as it prevents dialectics from incorporating its own negativity. Real negativity splits the logos from within, while from without it splits signification from reality. The goal is to understand how non-conceptual negativity determines dialectical negation while preventing negation in the concept from fusing with real negativity."

Objet a and Objet u: Towards a Materialism of Desire and Love

- Towards a Materialism of Desire and Love -

One of the most provocative theses in Alain Badiou's philosophy is that love comes to  supplement the non-rapport of the sexes. Love escapes the primordial narcissism of desire by initiating a productive exploration of the world in the form of manifold decisions and enunciations made from the immanent perspective of the Two[1]. Against the purely 'segregative' vision of the sexes, in which the individual is merely tethered to the circuitous loop around the impossible object-cause of desire (which Lacan famously called objet petit a), Badiou proposes thus to rescue the imaginary of Love within the universal scope of the material production of a new Truth. In order to advance the possibility of love's immanent exception, however, Badiou must challenge the purely disjunctive positioning of objet a, introducing a "minimal object" which is common to the two sexed positions, and which he calls object-µ[2]. Love interrupts the narcissism of desire in the immanence of the Two; objet µ as the bare inscription, within the non-connection of the sexes, of a common element which indirectly links the two positions, and whose only ground is finally the void of being. If love is a truth-procedure, capable of being an index of the material transformation of the world, then this is possible only insofar as the sexed subject achieves universality through this worldly endeavor, emancipating itself from the alienation of desire around its impossible object-cause.
        Parallel to this attempt, we find Slavoj Žižek's (1993) startling crossbreeding of Lacan and Hegel, advancing a transcendental theory of the subject, in which objet petit a and the disjunction of desire finally coincides with the (Hegelian) vision of the universal as being always in excess to itself. Under Žižek's reading, the antinomies expressed in the disjunction of the sexes illuminate the universality of the "barred subject" as a kind of 'libidinal reservoir' of energy which, Žižek provocatively suggests, is needed even for the material void of being to 'come-into-being'. Explicitly re-philosophizing the Lacanian theory of the subject, Žižek thus proposes to elevate object petit a to a kind of universal exception which grounds the ontogenesis of the Real, material ontological order.
        This paper attempts to elucidate these two philosopher's attempts to escape from the vacuity of the narcissism of desire in a reallocation of materiality: either in the form of a philosophical supplementation of desire by Truth (Badiou), or a reintegration of desire into philosophy (Žižek). In the first section we tentatively follow Žižek's intricate reading of the Lacanian formulae of sexuation, which builds on the work of Joan Copjec, around the question of the Kantian antinomies of pure reason. We show how Žižek attempts to reconcile the barred  desiring subject circulating around the wound of primordial loss, with the Hegelian vision of universality as self-relating negativity; so that objet petit a may come to stand in for the material "crack in the universal" which potentiates even the void of ontology. In the second section we briefly survey the supplemental vision of Love advanced by Badiou, where the common objet µ indexes the material production of a subject in post-evental fidelity. We illuminate our discussion by assessing certain objections to each of the two proposals in relation to the question of change and becoming, focusing on how each vision attempts to explain how novelty comes to emerge in the apparent stability of the world and the ontological order.  

  I - Philosophical Reintegration:  Objet a As Index of Materiality.
     The second chapter of Žižek’s (1993) Tarrying With the Negative, indebted to the work of Joan Copjec, develops the thesis that Lacan’s positioning of the sexes stands in structural isomorphy to the famous Kantian antinomies of pure reason[3]. What is of interest for us here is to understand how this isomorphic relation is meant to elucidate the relation of the subject to the universal; which in Žižek's Hegelian view, elucidates how contradiction is not merely "regional", but ontologically fundamental. If the Kantian localization of the antinomies of reason were originally paired to the famous 'cosmological' objects by way of the schematic application of the categories of the understanding, it remains to be seen how the isomorphy to the Lacanian sexed positions de-regionalizes the antinomies and distributes contradiction uniformly across all possible ontico-ontological strata.
        This is no small matter, as Hegel will tell us, since it places immediately before us also that inadequate treatment of contradiction which led Kant to simply develop schemas on the basis of the categories of the understanding, in order to construct possible logical instantiation of the contradictory objects of experience. This inability to dialectically deduce the possible content of the object from the Concept itself inhibits the critical project from realizing that contradiction is the base ontological principle of the entire process of becoming. Antinomies thus reduce contradictions to mere possible schemas of objects, within the specific domain of what Kant called 'cosmological objects'. These, however, remain relatively independent, and merely form distinct classes designating possible instantiations of contradictory objects.  Against this, contradiction must be for Hegel developed so that we can see that its “…true and positive significance is that everything actual contains opposed determinations within it, and in consequence the cognition and, more exactly, the comprehension of an object, amounts precisely to our becoming conscious of it as a concrete unity of opposed determinations.” (E Logic, Pg. 93).
      Without getting sidetracked, we might simply recall that the first moment of the logical development of the Concept in the Hegelian dialectic is precisely that of the overturning of Being into Nothingness, where this (indistinguishable) opposition is sublated as the unity of Becoming as such[4]. That Being 'passes-over' into its Other installs from the beginning the 'crack in the universal', the inadequacy of the Universal to itself, which will be of outmost importance for Žižek's argument. We may summarize Hegel’s contention as saying that contradiction cannot merely be a set of possible, purely logical schemas on the basis of a presupposed categorical framework. The object is not merely contradictory insofar as it finds itself in possible "antinomic" individuation with respect to certain categories, offered to mere logical thought, but never to the realm of being-in-itself. Rather, the primacy of contradiction entails that the latter is not just logical but also constitutively metaphysical or ontological; that the gap between the universal and the particular indexes that which is metaphysically real. Contradiction comes to install itself from the start and all-pervasively, so that it will not be a possibility of logical reason alone, but a real necessity, shown by the dialectic, as well. The Kantian impasse is finally that of subordinating contradiction to the categories and thus to the understanding. But let us simply recall in passing the following crucial enunciation by Hegel himself:

       ”It may also be remarked that, as a result of his failure to study the antinomy in more depth, Kant brings forward only four antinomies. He arrives at them by presupposing the table of categories just as he did in the case of the so-called paralogisms. While doing this he followed the procedure, which became so popular afterwards-, of simply subsuming the determinations of an ob-ject under a ready-made schema, instead of deducing them from the Concept…[but] antinomy is found not only in the four particular ob-jects taken from cosmology, but rather in all objects of all kinds, in all representations, concepts, and ideas.” (Hegel EL, Pg. 92)
       We must be clear to differentiate the scope of the manifold concepts “within which” antinomies are found in pure reason, from the general claim according to which contradiction functions as a general principle of the Concept, i.e. the logico-metaphysical motor of the dialectic which leads from the immediacy of Being to the full historical movement of the SpiritBut in any case, we bear witness to an interesting limitation that Hegel sees in the Kantian use of contradiction. The crucial question, for Žižek, is how to reconcile the Hegelian inscription of contradiction as ontological principle which affects “all objects”, with Lacan’s  indexing of the sexed positions of the subject as antinomic, like Kant. Žižek’s solution / general strategy is roughly as follows: the four Kantian antinomies are grouped into two basic kinds, and the latter instantiate the two basic sexed positions for all subjects. If the subject is the very possibility of being positioned with respect to the basic disjunction of the sexed antinomies, then it will follow that all mediated objective content for experience will be distributed along the two axes that express the non-relation of the two sexes. The two groups of 'cosmological' objects of the Kantian antinomies are then to be re-inscribed across the two positions of the sexed subject, insofar as the latter's desire exhibits a distinct relation to the universal, which it fails to ever become equal to. Finally, this failure of the subject to ever find itself in adequation to the universal, exhibits the fundamental ontological gap and the inconsistency of its being, revealing the subject's monotonous circuit attempting to heal the wound of self-alienation. Behind every metonymic stand in for the promise of a restored universal, the Lacanian loop of desire thus unveils for Žižek the formally empty lure of the non-self-identical remainder of the Real: object a, cast onto infinite displacement by the desiring subject.  Enveloping the void of desire with transient semblance of positive content, the phantasy of the subject's 'localization' of the phallic lost-object only masks its repetitive vocation; the mark of the truly universal, the non-self identical, or finally the negativity of being as such. This complicity between being and the failure of the completed universal to totalize itself is finally what allows Žižek to identify the subject's desire towards the impossible object-cause as the universality of its own proper void, with an index of the materiality of annexed to subjectivity itself: "...the existence of material reality itself bears witness to the fact that the Concept is not fully actualized. Things 'materially exist' not when they meet certain notional requirements, but when they fail to meet them - material reality is as a such a sign of imperfection." (SOI: Pg. xx) It is here that Hegel and Lacan meet again; the crack in the universal is finally rendered in the failure of desire to ever match its "phallic" semblance of completion.
        In what follows, we shall attempt to clarify the connection between the two sexual positions and the basic monotony of desire in general, in relation to the thesis that the incomplete universal reveals objet a as the remainder of the Real. One might worry at this juncture, however, that under strict Hegelian terms the sexuation of the subjective positions would already constitute an schematic objectification of the subject, as opposed to the fully fledged Concept which knows nothing of sexuation. Since Hegel thinks of the categorical form which generates these antinomies as limited in its restriction to the four cosmological possible objects, there is a sense in which we can say that sexuation and desire seems to be “cosmologized”.
       Or is it the other way around? If indeed the cosmological antinomies can be explained in their more basic dyadic division into dynamic and mathematical antinomies, proper to all subjects, then we may understand how they do not only constitute a “ready-made” schematic framework for schematized objects. Rather, the antinomies would actually stand as inherent formal iterations of the subjective self-relating negativity or loop around the void of its own desire, and the Universal as the irremediable errancy or failure which guarantees the impossibility of its full actualization. The Universal is then in a way always undermined upon exemplification, leaving a remainder void of any semblance of positive content. We obtain thus the basic crossbreeding: the Kantian cosmological antinomies, the Hegelian primacy of contradiction as the objectively pervasive logico-metaphysical motor, and the Lacanian sexuation of the subjective positions across a masculine and feminine axis. 
         But let us return briefly to the Kantian antinomies. As said above, Žižek separates the four possible resulting antinomies which devolve from the conditions for ‘cosmological objects’ into two classes: dynamic antinomies and mathematical antinomies.  These correspond to two possible contradictory relations which emerge in consideration of how the phenomenal relates to the noumenal. The first case, that of dynamic antinomies, involves finding an exception within the phenomenal order to the rule established by the universal (categorical) framework of causes and effects, which in Kant defines the field of nature as such. So there is a possible contradiction which obtains in the logical interconnection of the elements in the phenomenal order as thinkable exceptions to the rule, which transgress the limits of the Natural order. They thus involve admitting of an “antinomic” presentation of a phenomenon in contradiction to the boundaries set forth by the categories. And this, in the Kantian account, is what precisely opens the space for the radical possibility of freedom qua noumenal act, in exception to the phenomenal order of causal nexuses and connections. The dynamic antinomy thus designates the negation or contradiction to the phenomenal order in the form of an exception which is situated “beyond” the phenomenal; a positivized occasion of something whose being appears as absolutely contingent, and truly “free”: "dynamical antinomies... are antinomies of universality: logical connection of the phenomena in the universal causal nexus necessarily involved an exception, the noumenal act of freedom which "sticks out", suspending the causal nexus and starting a new causal series out of itself" (Ibid: Pg. 55) The emblematic entities which fall under this category are allotted thus to an "ontological realm" in exception to the universal submission to the causal order of phenomenal necessity: God and the Soul being the prime examples of this sort.
         Mathematical antinomies are, on the other hand, a negation of the possibility of ever conceiving of the totality of phenomena as such. The phenomenal realm is limited by the partial determination of disjunctive categorical schematic instantiations, and can thus only be encountered finitely under certain determinations. This amounts to saying that no object is ever given as the Infinity or Totality of all possibilities, since the phenomenal order is always partially given under certain determinations which excludes others. There is an impossibility of grasping a comprehensive phenomenal occurrence which would give itself as a single object or presentation under all possible determinations. Certain schema themselves contradict each other structurally, and thus constitute a limit to phenomena, rather than a beyond indexed to a noumenal outside the phenomenal. The emblematic example here is the thought of “the universe as a Whole”, the Infinity of the phenomenal as such. It is this ‘Whole’, this Totality, which is precisely inscribed under the mathematical antinomies; it establishes a threshold wherein exceptions  would localize themselves as excluded. This is of particular interest, since Žižek will argue that there is a certain ontological priority of the mathematical antinomy, in determining the limit then to be 'filled-in' by the semblance of the dynamic beyond. But for now let us simply grant this basic construal of the Kantian position and assess the Lacanian account on sexuation, as read by Žižek. The following diagram presents the two sexed positions for all subjects (Lacan: SXX, Pg. 78):
        Although no reference to Kant is made on this point by Lacan himself, he does nevertheless associate the ‘antinomic’ positions of the sexes to the Aristotelian conception of enstasis, an ‘obstacle’ of some kind, as something which doesn't quite fit into the universal submission to the law, but for this very reason founds or establishes it (Lacan, SXX, Pg. 69-70). Keeping in mind thus the dynamic 'obstacle' of the noumenal as a Beyond, and that of the mathematical obstacle as a phenomenal Limit, let us proceed to read both sides in the Lacanian formulas. The two formulas on the left column designate the so-called masculine position, while the two on the right column designate the female position. These are not to be associated with biological determinations, but may be occupied by members of the same sex; they are purely formal determinations and should be read thus. In order to read these formulas, we should first attempt to explain them elementarily:

The Masculine Position
("x): "man-as a whole..." (The universal)
(фx): "...is castrated" (function of incompleteness-castration, "the phallic function")
("x) фx "man as a whole is castrated" (the "incomplete universal")
        We can alternatively  read the formula:
("x) фx: "All men are submitted to the phallic function."

       The Universal totalizing of "Man as a whole" is here inscribed through the determination of the phallic function; which designates that whatever falls under it is affected by the primordial alienation or loss resulting from inclusion into the symbolic order of language. Thus "sexuality is the effect on the living being of the impasses which emerge when it gets entangled in the symbolic order, i.e. the effect on the living body of the deadlock or inconsistency that pertains to the symbolic order qua order of universality." (Žižek, Ibid. Pg. 56) In other words, the phallic function designates the alienation occasioned by the subject's inclusion into the societal 'big Other', which is also the source of the (superego) injunctions to conform to some decentered standard for Ideal adequacy.[5] We thus obtain the peculiar inscription of a Universal which is in its very determination 'severed', castrated, torn apart from that which would endow its being with full consistency. 'Man as a whole' is inscribed, but affected by the function of castration, which is why we call it here 'the incomplete universal'; it is in a sense a universal never adequate to itself, every exemplification falls short of it, failing to endow the subject with a fixed identity. However, as Lacan stresses, this incomplete Totality can be inscribed only on condition that there is also a position of exception. To inscribe the role of the exceptional supplement, we must observe the second formula from the masculine side:
(Зx): "The father..." (The complete universal)
(фx): “...is not castrated” (function of completeness, negation of the phallic function)
(Зx) (фx): “The father is not castrated / The father possesses the phallus” (the complete universal)
We can alternatively read this as:
"There exists someone who is not submitted to the phallic function."
          As we saw above, the phallic function designates a universal inadequate to itself, i.e. which being incomplete, is never fully equal to its instantiation / is non-self identical. We can propose that the universal is already then in exception to itself. So that, if the incomplete universal can only be inscribed on condition of there being an exception to it, then this must be in a sense an exception of the exception[6]. But of course this 'double negation', this exception 'to the second power', can only come to negate the very exceptional position of the Universal to itself. It must be then the semblance of a truly complete position, outside the pervasive incompleteness of the universal exception. The exception to the incomplete universal is then indeed the father-figure, who possesses that which makes All men incomplete and lacking, i.e. he is not castrated, he has the phallus, he is equal to itself.
         The Oedipal logic of the insertion of the subject into the dialectic of desire around a lost object cause is transparently evinced here: the subject can only assume a full, ontologically consistent identity by being submitted to the injunction of trying to recuperate itself from a primordial loss occasioned upon the insertion into the symbolic. This “lost object” is positivized in the symbolic order as the missing phallus which indexes the 'little piece of the Real', or the imagined source of the ‘crack’ inherent to the universal. Piercing the Real by the Law of the father, the phallus thus designates the metonymic localization of the lost-object which organizes the empty circuit of desire around a fundamental impossibility, in hopes to achieve ontological consistency. As Lorenzo Chiesa explains: "The signifier primordially holes the Real; such a hole transforms the 'neutrality' of the Real into a lack which is then inextricable from the Symbolic as such; it cannot be "filled in", despite the fact that the phallus manages to "organize" / mark it." (SAO: Pg. 122) Here we find the divide between phallus and objet petit a: the former corresponds to the metonymic semblance of positive content which 'quilts' the emptiness of the formal emptiness of desire which repeats itself.
       Just like in the Kantian dynamical antinomy, the phallic father-function thus lends consistency to a “Beyond” in exception to the Universal rule or principle of castration, in proper excess to that which the universal alienates by inclusion to its Law. Objet-a, as the remainder or index of the Real thus designates the irreducible ontological incompleteness of the subject inscribed in any totality, and how the latter only operates by radically not-coinciding with its exemplifying content. The phallic exception to the complete universal is thus in an important sense merely an attempt to organize the void of the Real, or objet a as the impossible object of desire. The non-coincidence of the subject to itself is thus negated in the position of the exception, so that if every one man is “non-coincident” with all men (men as a Whole), the father-function organizes the position of a fully self-identical being which, not missing the phallus, can assume free and unrestrained enjoyment. The masculine phantasy thus involves the nomination of such a decentered Other who really "is where it thinks", that suffers no alienation from its place of enunciation. This is what, in conjunction to the primary alienation of the phallic-function, fuels the desire of the subject around the recuperation of the lost phallus. The father function then will index the fundamental impasse of desire; the circuit of desire into which the subject is submitted, and which imagines through metonymic semblances the phallic object of lack as restoring the ontological homeostasis of form and content, of the universal with its particular instantiations. It designates the transcendental space of a (noumenal) subject no longer aghast before the sublimity of its beyond, but fully occupying his place, fully capable of enjoyment. That every such phallic semblance ultimately fails to restore the crack in the universal, that this object be strictly speaking impossible, filled by metonymic impostures and perpetually displaced, unveils desire's underlying formal vacuity behind any apparent symbolic-imaginary punctuation of meaning into the subjective enunciation.
          In this regard, Badiou’s (2009) formula from Theory of the Subject apropos Hegel's logic of places articulates perfectly this tensional status of the universal as “tormented” by its incompleteness, by its exceptional being, in the vanishing of force from its positional straightjacket. It reads, in a sentence, "everything that belongs to the whole is an obstacle to this whole insofar as it is included in it" (TOS: Pg. 4). This is already the core of negativity and contradiction in the Hegelian dialectical process: the universal is never equal to itself, it is always being subverted by and into its opposite. The excess of what excludes the universal in the particular, the "failure" or inadequacy in actual reality itself, reveals the vector of desire's infinite objective demand; that is to say, the circulation around objet a as that which always exceeds its symbolic placement, always an obstacle to "the Whole" by virtue of being included in it"[7]. The partial object cause, objet a, is as such in its phallic investments within masculine desire an "organ" wrested from the body, an inscription in the symbolic of a primordial lack which forever inhabits it, the ground of an fundamental self-alienation: "The objet a is something from which  the subject, in order to constitute itself, has separated itself off as organ. This serves as a symbol of the lack, that is to say, of the phallus, not as such, but in so far as it is lacking. It must, therefore, be an object that is, firstly, separable and, secondly, that has some relation to the lack". - (Lacan, FFC, Pg. 112).
         The non-castrated father is thus at once the index of noumenal freedom and the injunction of the paternal Law to become equal to itself; just like for Kant the space of noumenal freedom bombards the subject with the impossible demands it can never fulfill. In other words, the primordial father evinces how "I am a free and autonomous subject, delivered from the constraints of my pathological nature, precisely and only insofar as my feeling of self-esteem is crushed down by the humiliating pressure of the moral law." (TWN: Pg. 47).  Of course, the twist here is that far from enacting an ascetic separation of the subject from the core of enjoyment, it is only in this morbid superego enjoyment of failure against the Law that the Universal moral address coincides with a kind of Sadistic self-flagellation. Desire wants itself, onto infinity, it is designed to succeed in always failing to 'satisfy' itself. This superego enjoyment underlies every symptomatic designation of the “phallus” within the masculine logic, just like for Kant the universal demand of the moral Law weighs on the shoulder of the noumenal subject with the pressure to follow its command. Thus the phallus is not just a bare "imaginary semblance", but it embodies desire already experienced as the Other's desire, i.e. from the symbolic address of the Law which seals the enunciated content with the semblance of meaning. As Lorenzo Chiesa (2007) puts it:  “This feature [of identifying the subject with the symbolic Big Other] is the one which, according to the Lacanian definition of the signifier, “represents the subject for another signifier’; it assumes concrete, recognizable shape in a name or in a mandate that the subject takes upon himself and/or that is bestowed upon on him.” (SO, pg. 116) Here we can see once again the "return to Hegel": there is always more in the particular than in the universal itself; which means that the universal is never just a bare and isolated "in-itself". Never fully coincident with itself, it has to come-out-of-itself in mediation by its Other in order to constitute itself (as in-and-for-itself): “A figure of consciousness is not measured by an external standard of truth but in an absolutely immanent way, through the gap between itself and its own exemplification/staging.” (PV: Pg. 167) We may formalize this supplementary content inherent in the universal by the masculine position thus in the following “schematic” formula along set-theoretical strictures[8].

Function of incompleteness: 
( (
фx) / ("x) (Зz) (y ε x ® z ε y & (z ε x) )
This can be read:
     "For all x, if x is under the phallic function, then if y belongs to x, then there exists a z such that z belongs to y but z does not belong to x."
         We will return to set-theory in our assessment of Badiou below; but for now let us simply grant Lacan this undoubtedly Hegelian moment: everything that belongs to a universal brings 'more' to it than itself; objet a is then the formal index of the impossibility of the subject caught in the 'defiles through the signifier', caught amidst the comedic phallic spectacle of the prohibiting paternal Law. Or in its Lacanian version: the universal is always missing that which would make it fully coincide with itself. The phallus is the metonymic inscription of the imagined possibility of such a coincidence, masking the vacuous intentionality of desire against the infinite displacement of the non-self-identical object, which can never be identified with any positive content: object petit a.
       Isn't then the impossibility of objet petit a nothing but the non-existence of the cosmological universal 'Whole' of material reality which, under the lure of the phallus, imagines its restoration? Desire's monotonous stupidity succeeds only in circling around the wound caused by the spear of primary alienation. The subject is crucially not an individual since, forever stapled to the lure of objet a, it chases after the confirmation of its own void. Without the phallic fiction of fullness in such a noumenal “Beyond”, the logic of desire disintegrates. But it is also the non-coincidence of the phallus with objet a, of the gap between metonymic stand-ins prescribed by the symbolic big Other, and the "little piece of the Real" that always remains after the Universal's voracious attempt to reintegrate itself, that finally indexes the unbridgeable gap between Ideality and Materiality.
         Again, the phallic second order exception expresses the inconsistency of the universal so that "...by being the remainder of the Real, object a will also be its remainder, that which reminds us of the loss of an always-already-lost Unity... the remainder actually reminds us of something that never existed." (SAO: Pg. 122) Woman then is precisely one of the "Names-of-the-Father", one such inexistent and decentered place of inscription which, being imagined as fully consistent,  can only be the object of phantasy for the masculine desire. She becomes the object of desire, a first mover in the Aristotelian sense: "If I base myself now on the inscriptions on the blackboard, it is assuredly revealed that it is in the opaque place of jouissance of the Other, of this Other insofar as Woman, if she existed, could be it, that the Supreme Being is situated - this Supreme Being that is  manifestly mythical in Aristotle's work, this unmoving sphere from which all movements" (SXX: Pg. 67)      
        We have now seen how Lacan articulates the dynamic, masculine position, and how Žižek attempts to locate an index for the Real as remainder in the stain of loss, the indivisible remainder for the Gaze of phantasy, the infinite object called objet petit a. What about the female position, the side of the “mathematical antinomy” which, as we hinted to above, acquires a certain ontological precedence, and which first sets the Limit for the Beyond itself? Let us follow the same procedure as before, analyzing the two formulas in their contradictory placement.
      The basic move for the inscription of the feminine position consists in denying the universal as such; that is, in denying the Wholeness that man imagines is possible. The Woman, Lacan writes, “…inscribes itself there, it will not allow for any universality -it will be a not-whole” (SXX; Pg. 78)

The female position.
( "x): “Non-all...” (the non-all - the inconsistency of being)
фx: "... are submitted to the phallic function."
( "x) фx “Not-all are submitted to the universal” (the impossibility of Real totalization)
This can also be read alternatively:
"There is no Totality which is submitted to the phallic function"
      The trick to this formula consists in acknowledging that the fact that not-All are x does not imply some are not-x. If the universal can only be accepted on condition of its exception (the Father), by the same token, the non-all entails in turn that there is no exception (to the phallic function). Thus the second formula reads:
(Зz): “No one” (the non-being of the exception, the Limit)
⌐фx “is not castrated”
(Зz) ⌐фx “No one is not castrated"[9]
This can be read as:
"The “primal-father” does not exist"
           The conjunction of both propositions give the following formulation: "there is no Totality that is castrated, and so no exception to the function of incompleteness - Being is inconsistent."  That "the Woman does not exist" is therefore nothing but the marking of ontological inconsistency, or the non-being of Totality. Woman stands for the 'Nothingness' which exceeds the Universal 'big Other':
        "Woman's exclusion does not mean that some positive entity is prevented from being integrated into the symbolic order: it would be wrong to conclude, from "not-all woman is submitted to the phallic signifier, that there is something in her which is not submitted to it; there is no exception, and "woman" is this very non-existent "nothing" which nonetheless makes the existing elements "not-all." (TWN: Pg. 58)
         This finally means that the female position is placed outside the “phallic jouissance” under which man hopes to recuperate the lost object; there is no symbolic inscription of this radical phallic 'all' (thus Lacan’s formula denies the symbolic inscription of the phallic big Other: S (O)).  Here the logic of the Kantian antinomies allows one to see a certain priority of the feminine position: it is not the inscription of the Beyond to the phenomenal, but the Limit to the phenomenal, the very delimitation of the inconsistency of the field, which is not totalizeable. In other words, insofar as Woman is not-all she designates a Limit which then man ‘fills out’ in the image of the phallic paternal superego Law which demands the restoration of the Universal.
        There is never, strictly speaking, a relationship between the two sexes, since there is never a “shared” object of desire: phallus stands on the one hand as the dynamic promise for the universal to rejoin itself, while in the case of Woman, who doesn’t exist as such, jouissance can only come from being inconsistently filled in by the phantasy of the knowledge of man, of this Other whose discourse castrates him within the intentional vector of phallic jouissance. Lacan’s formula that "...it is impossible to make love without castration" condenses thus this feature of the sexual non-rapport. Woman thus at once accepts no exception to the phallic function, but because of this, she is forced to deny the possibility of the dreamt Beyond, of the fatherly space wherein the consistent big Other enjoys globally; she is the Nothingness indiscernible from Being which is positivized into an object of phantasy by man, the prohibited but existing space of the Beyond occupied by the Father. This inscription of inconsistency which denies the exception of the exception, thus attests to the non-existent of the fully consistent Other, the "Other of the Other" which would endow the subject with ontological consistency and bring the frustrating vector of desire to a halt in unmediated enjoyment:
        " ...this not-all does not mean that woman is not entirely submitted to the Phallus; it rather signals that she sees through the fascinating presence of the Phallus, that she is able to discern in it the filler of the inconsistency of the Other. Yet another way to put it would be to say that the passage from S(A) to the Φ is the passage from impossibility to prohibition: S(A) stands for the impossibility of the signifier of the Other, for the fact that there is no "Other of Other", that the field of the Other is inherently inconsistent, and the Φ reifies this impossibility into the exception, into a sacred, prohibited/unattainable agent who avoids castration and is thus able really to enjoy (the primordial
Father, the Lady in courtly love)...  in its original [Limiting] dimension, Beyond is not some positive content but an empty place, a kind of screen onto which one can project any positive content whatsoever-and this empty p ace is the subject. Once we become aware of it, we pass from Substance to Subject, i.e., from consciousness to self-consciousness.  In this precise sense, woman is the subject par excellence. " ( Žižek, HWL[10])

      The feminine delimitation of the inconsistency of the material thus subtracts objet a from every alleged "consistency" enjoyed by the phallus-wielding Father; she privileges the agency of thought over the stasis of substantial being, and because of it, becomes the "subject par excellence". Withdrawn from the Universal mandate for completeness, she in-consists as a pure Nothingness without semblance of depth; qua subject she is embodies the void of the lack of being ($ against the semblance of the Ego-Ideal). This is the priority of the inconsistency of the big Other which, irremediably fractured, has nowhere but outside itself to go to find itself. It remains confined to the iterations of the symbolic defiles where no Totality imparts meaning or endows the subject with the fullness of substantial being. It destroys the transcendence of the father to circumscribe the material field of immanence wherein being in-consists. Žižek can thus equate the Hegelian truth in the Concept, spiraling out-of-itself, with the immanent inconsistency of the feminine non-all: "With regard to truth, this means that, for Hegel, the truth of a proposition is inherently notional, described by the immanent notional content... in Lacanian terms, there is a non-All of truth... Hegelian truth is precisely without any external limitation/exception that would serve as its measure or standard, which is why its criterion is absolutely immanent: one compares a statement with itself with its own process of enunciation" (Žižek, SOI: Pg. xx) Radically decentered from itself, the non-all of being constitutes that non-Totality which always resists appropriation into an alleged symbolic fixity of places; objet petit a is nothing but the mathematical inscription of this material indivisible remainder without place, the non-being of the pure immanent inconsistency of the big Other, which is why just like woman and the subject, the big Other is finally barred: S(O).
         In a sense then the phallic function which castrates Man as a Whole, inscribed through the functional symbol of the phallus, designates the inconsistency of the big Other itself. The difference is that, unlike the ascription of this place in the semblance of the Universal exceptional outplace, the feminine non-all deposes the possibility of assigning a place to the lack itself; of localizing the phallus in its symbolic place to heal the wound of primary narcissism which severed the Whole of Man. The impossible object of desire is thus impossible not because it lies in the phallic ephemeral Beyond, but in the non-place of that which lingers on every time as the hard kernel of the Real, and which marks no possible exception to our dwelling within the confines of the symbolic order.
         This means that finally the indetermination of objet a as the Real remainder always functions as the necessary condition for the circuit of desire to mobilize the entire wealth of the ontological imaginary; even the void of being is thus tethered to the subtraction of a from every phallic semblance, that is, from every symbolic inscription or proper name. It thus comes to function as an irreducible 'reservoir' of the inconsistency of being, the materiality so inconsistent it falls only to the spiral of the libidinal subject facing its traumatic kernel, as the condition of possibility for all ontological becoming as such. The psychoanalytic thinking of the desiring subject becomes thus of a piece with the thinking of a proper philosophical materialism, tracking the gap of the universal to itself ad infinitum. The subject can do nothing but circulate around this Real stain, at the same time attempting to flee its reduction to it by subverting it. The veil of phantasy orients the subject to withhold its transcendence from ever fully coinciding with the Real by the phallic displacements of objet a; which amounts to saying that although the subject is generated by the Real, this is a Real that emerges paradoxically as the remainder in the production of the subject. The subject resists the finitude set by the Limit of the inconsistency of being, quilting the Real remainder in the beyond, as it attempts to alleviate the wound of loss in the reification of a completed universal. This is why the circulation of phallic jouissance serves as a perpetual reminder of the Real's persistence, set against the subjective 'passion' for the Real. In this sense the subject can never become equal to this Real materiality which always eludes it, which is precisely what endows the subject its 'transcendental' being; that is, its object-oriented intentionality. As Adrian Johnston puts it:
        "The subject's anxiety in the face of anything that threatens to strip it of its seemingly transcendent, immaterial status through a reduction to its brute corporeal condition isn't a mysterious, inexplicable phenomenon. Only a form of subjectivity that constitutes itself as inherently incompatible with its own finitude experiences the prospect of being plunged back into its fleshly materiality, the inevitably occluded ground of its mortal being, as a horrible danger to be avoided no matter what...
        The transcendental materialist theory of the subject is materialist insofar as it maintains that this thus generated ideal subjectivity thereafter achieves independence from the ground of its material sources and thereby starts to function as a set of possibility conditions for forms of reality irreducible to explanatory discourses allied to traditional versions of materialism." (Johnston, ZO: Pg. 275)

II - Philosophical Supplementation: Objet-µ as Index of Materiality
       Rather than attempting to appropriate the narcissistic disconnection between the sexes in order to unearth an philosophical index for materiality from the void of the subject's desire, Alain Badiou (2009) proposes that there is a minimal common element which is common to both sexed positions, and which founds the possible non-narcissistic evental supplement of Love. This latter supplement is the minimal incorporation of the bare individual into a 'Truth-body' which, in the case of Love, initiates a common exploration of the local situation from the perspective of an 'immanent Two'[11]. In this regard, against the vacuity of the subject's circuitous desire around objet petit a, Badiou proposes instead that materiality is to be found in the productive fidelity which composes a truth-body, and in which the subjectivated individual rises onto the infinite productivity of the Idea. The gener[12]ic Truth that Love proposes "...enters into the defiles of desire, but love does not have the object of desire as cause." (WL, Pg. 46) Against the pre-Cantorian inconsistency of the 'actual infinity' advocated by the Lacanian non-all, Badiou's set-theoretical ontology avows the fictive anticipation of the completion of the Infinite Truth that the Event initiates; as a real process in the world. Thus, against Žižek's ascription of the "inconsistent" Universal potentiated by the generative reservoir of objet petit a, Badiou will claim that it is only in the post-Evental production tethered to objet-µ that the index of materiality is subjectively accessible, beyond the alienating impasse of desire. There is an "immanent exception" which is not merely the imaginary semblance of the primal father organizing the traumatic kernel of the subject's castration, but a common element upon which the Two anchors the process of fidelity to the Truth-event.
          In order to be as clear as possible, let us first raise the question about what exactly the purported 'immanence of the Two' amounts to in Badiou's account. That is, does the Two immanently adequate to the inconsistency of the pure multiple of being, and does not merely amount to an "ontotheological" reification of the One? Against all stakes of counting the Two from an external purview, Love is for Badiou like the minimal dillation of irreducible multiplicity to the effects of the count of a local situation. This is why Love is a matter of post-Evental truth as a kind of exception to the laws of the world; of sex as well as the family. The stakes are thus to advance thought within a properly generic conception of the Truth, and in accordance to the strictures set forth by the theory of the pure multiple (set-theoretical ontology) in order to ground Love's immanent exception to desire's narcissistic non-rapport. Badiou's systematic explanation begins thus by differentiating the purported immanence of the Two from a) the "fusional" notion of Love (the Two which make a One and sacrifice the pure multiple of being), b) the ablative conception of love in which the One disintegrates in the grace of the Other, and c) the reduction of love to the narcissism of desire (WL: Pg. 39). Love, finally, is not a relation, but is "...a production of truth. The truth of what? That the Two and not only the One, are at work in the situation." (Ibid.)  What then, would the proper 'axiomatics' of this peculiar truth-production be like?[13]
       Let us present the Badiouean 'axiomatics of love' systematically, linking them in their crucial elements to the Lacanian thesis on desire and sexuation, and to the Hegelian thesis of the universal's self-undermining. This tracing is of peculiar interest since, as we shall see, the initial thesis for Badiou concerns also a fundamental agreement with Lacan with respect to basic division of the sexed singular subject into two basic positions[14]. It also disavows from the start the possibility of a third position from which the Two could be externally counted and supervised. Such a figure constitutes, Badiou argues, the figure of the "angel" who transcendentally fixes the space of the Two, thus annexing it to the Three: "What is it then which makes it possible for me, here, to pronounce on the disjunction without recourse to or without fabricating an angel? Since the situation alone is insufficient, it requires supplementation. Not by a third structural position, but by a singular event. This event initiated the amorous procedure: we will call it an encounter." (WL: Pg. 41)
        If a truth is to be generic and transpositional, subtracting itself from any predicative enunciation of the state of the situation, then this must also imply thus that there is no such external third position which would potentially include the terms of both so as to distinguish each position in its singularity as two separate science, but the two is precisely in subtraction of any such determinations. This means that "...we hold simultaneously that the disjunction is radical, that there is no third position, and also that the occurrence of truth is generic, subtracted from every positional disjunction." (Ibid; Pg. 42). The positivization of the two roles which form disparate knowledges compromises the immanent genericity of the Two which, as every truth, must be subtracted from the count of the state, i.e. it must resist positional distribution by the predicative resources of the state of the situation[15]. Thus "the staging of the sexual roles, the enrollment of terms x into two apparent classes which we will call mx and wx, is not the expression of the disjunction, but its cover up, the obscure mediation administered by all sorts of distributive rites and access protocols." (Ibid; Pg. 43) Love is never equal to the couple, since the latter always counts the immanent uncounted Two from "the outside"; the State then knows nothing of Love (which is also the elementary disjunction between Love as a truth-event, and the family as the 'State of Love') (Ibid). What this means is that the Two remains subtracted from all calculation; in the ontology of love there is one position and another position, but no operation counts the Two immanently for what it is (Ibid).
        How are we to understand this enigmatic articulation of the place of love in relation to the purported incompleteness of the Universal order of being; the claim according to which there is 'always more' to be counted of being? A cursory glance a the formal apparatus of Badiou's materialist dialectic reveals that the ontology of the pure multiple localizes the spurious infinity of the situation in the expansive power of the state of the situation, i.e. the metastructure which guarantees an excess of parts over elements in every situation. Let us simply recall here that given the restriction set by the axiom of foundation, it is impossible for a set to belong to itself; a set is never an element presented to itself: ("x) ¬(α e α). This is what grounds the necessary difference between a set and its singleton: while the former presents whatever elements belong to it, the latter is the Statist meta-count which 'counts as one' the former's immediate presentation and thus re-presents it as such. To be as simple as possible let us take what would be intuitively the figure of the Two, a set with two elements:
α: {β, g}
3   1   2
        Since the set that presents or "counts" the Two is itself not-counted within the same (set α as such), it is obvious this count operates from the transcendent perspective of the Three, which remains implicit in such a count and gives the set its consistency. That is to say, since α forms the 'total part' which is included in the count without belonging to it, the errancy of the State fixes itself always in excess from the terms presented/counted within. We can see straightforwardly from the axiom of separation and from the axiom of foundation that the set which "counts-as-one" this transcendent one is a 'Third' which is not itself one of the terms of the initial count[16]:  the singleton of α, that is, the set {α}, having only a single element, falls short from the "immanent" count of the Two as such. But let us follow Badiou's explicit allocation of the figure of the Two within the order of the natural numbers, which belongs to ontological order of Nature, and which he identifies in Being and Event across the denumerable infinity of the "series of ordinals" (BE: Meditation 10-14). To briefly recall, an ordinal will be a transitive set composed of other transitive sets, i.e. a set will be transitive iff every element that belongs to it is also a part: (β e α) ® (β e p(α)). The order of the natural numbers will then be obtained by applying the operation of succession for every ordinal in the sequence, which for any given set will result in the minimal expansion of this set by uniting it with its singleton[17]. Thus, we will get for S(α) to proceed by α È {α}, which 'adds α' to the elements of α.  An ordinal β will thus be a successor ordinal of an ordinal α if  β = α È {α}[18]. Finally, using the axiom of replacement we can generate on the basis of the repeated expansion of ordinals, the infinity of the Natural numbers, which is also the first denumerable infinity: wo.
           Having laid these preliminaries, let us locate the Two within the set-theoretical succession of ordinal series, beginning from the primitive existential inscription of the name-of-the-void:
  0 = Æ,   1 = S(Æ) = {Æ},   2 = S({Æ}) = { {Æ}, Æ }...   w0
                                                1    ,        2        1      ,         3           2    1 ...    w0
    The moment one 'begins counting', the errancy of the State's 'metastructure' comes to install itself, so that ontology reveals how the moment that the void is counted-as-one, it immediately splits into Two. And just like in the base dialectic of the Hegelian passage of Being into Nothingness already implied the third figure in the unity of Becoming, the Two, as counted, is already affected by the Statist agency of the Three, lurking to usurp its immanent inconsistency. The passage from the void to its singleton (Æ ® {Æ}), or from 0 to 1, is thus in a sense camouflaging the true stakes of the count: either one doesn't count and the inconsistency of the void fixes itself as being's inertia; or one begins counting and immediately the One divides into Two, the Two into Three... ad infinitum. There were the Hegelian infinity saw its truth in the self-sublation of its finite moments, Badiou observes only the spiraling of the metastructure's anti-void functions. The state's meta-count thus prevents the multiple inconsistency of being, ontologically indistinguishable from the void, to appear in its immanence[19]. This is why the ontological situation, as the one situation founded by the void itself, proliferates the successive stratifications of the marking of a pure proper name (the 'name of the void) by the state without ever attaining closure, becoming thus a discursive figure of the pure multiple itself. The state expands the count indefinitely since, in the trajectory of the pure multiple, there is never anything like a 'positive determination' of the Being of multiplicity; the empty recursive operation of the axioms always exceeds the immediate presentation of the terms immanently positioned. There is thus a fundamental ontological indiscernibility between discursive non-being of the One, or the perpetual necessity of the metastructure's infinite expansion on the one side, and the very inconsistency of Being which is tethered to nothingness alone on the other.
          In counting the void from the sole operation of belonging and through the axiomatic enclosure of ZF well-founded set-theory, ontology thus enacts the Parmenidean indiscernibility between Thinking and Being that prevents the latter to be located transcendentally with respect to the former; as a kind of non-latency awaiting to be appropriated by subjective operations. This 'passing over' or indiscernibility between the nothingness of being and the non-being of the count, thus reinscribes structurally and formally necessary the Hegelian indiscernibility of immediate Being into its opposite, and so the gap between the immediacy of Being and the implicit mediation which discursively sets the Concept in motion.
          The axiom of foundation in fact guarantees that this irremediable gap between a set and itself is ontologically founded on the immanent void of being, as that which is never presented. The axiom prescribes: for every given set which is not void there belongs at least one set such that the two have no common element. Therefore, a self-belonging element, presenting exactly the same elements, would 'close the gap' between α and {α}, leaving no room for the void to locate itself at the intersection and thus to be the distinct seal of the multiple. This can easily seen if we realize that if α e α then α Ç {α} ¹ Æ (BE: Pg. 186). From the perspective of love, shattering the pervasiveness of the representational state (ontology having itself no state), the axiom of foundation thus expresses something like the demystification of the angel, of the Third position which, subtracted from the disjunctive rule of the pure multiple, sought to restitute in its asexual omniscience the rule of the One. The relation of total disjunction brought forth by the axiom of foundation thus inaugurates something like a 'primal alterity' in the order of being, a self-alienation at core since: "... a non-void set is founded inasmuch as a multiple always belongs to it which is Other than it." (BE: Pg. 186)
          The site of the double enunciation of the name of the void that marks the love-declaration (the two disjoined terms pronouncing "I love you") takes place precisely where the void intersects between the Two, marking the abyss separating them. As we shall see, this seems to suggest that there is indeed a common element between the Two: the counting-of-the-void which has only the void as its element. Or to anticipate Badiou: there is a set that belongs to both Man and Woman, but if anything belongs to this set, it is void. To return to our earlier set-theoretical formulation of Žižek's reading of the phallic function, we can easily see that the axiom of foundation, in its forbidding of self-belonging, then already implies the constitutive excess of that which is included in a set to itself: since for every non-void set there will be an element whose intersection with the initial set is void, then it plainly follows that every non-void set must contain at least one element whose elements are not elements of the initial set. Formally, we express:
("x) [(x ¹ Æ) ® (Зy) [(y ε x) & (yÇ x = Æ)]] .®. ("x) (Зz) (y ε x) ® [(z ε y) & (z ε x)]
     Where the Hegelian dialectical process, avowed by Žižek, sees the potency of change in the unquantifiable, material excess of the Infinite actual which subverts the Universal, Badiou sees the immeasurable errancy of the State, where only the evental supplement can subtract itself. The axiom of foundation thus, guaranteeing the gap of pure presentation with the State, is the ground of the prohibition of the Event which is precisely an 'immanent exception' to the count of being; even to the ontological count which expresses the generic being of truth. Knowledge knows nothing of the event. As Badiou puts it: "The axiom of foundation de-limits being by the prohibition of the event. It thus brings forth that-which-is-not-being-qua-being, and it exhibits its signifying emblem: the multiple as such as it presents itself, in the brilliance in which being is abolished, of the mark-of-one." (BE: Pg. 190) Thus the immanent Two of love can only come to install itself apart from any count; slipping away from the metastructure of the state and the panoptical gaze which thwarts the immanence of the void of the disjunction of the sexed positions already described by Lacan.  The nominal supplement which initiates Love then fixes the immanence of the disjunction on the basis of a singular element, whose only property is that if anything belongs to it, this be void. That is, an minimal element whose only requirement is that it be "on the edge of the void".
            The count-of-the-count, which is the power of the state, thus always counts that which the first count itself 'misses', always aggregating 'one more', since the gap between a multiple and its count-as-one, a set and its singleton, presentation and representation, remains forever unbridgeable. Given the inscription of the name of the void as the ground of non-presentation, the state achieves its first proper presentation in the singleton it soon leaves behind; the first set which presents something, however pale, indistinguishable from nothing. One counts then, in the peculiar situation that is ontology, not the void, but its bare marking, this 'brilliance in which being is abolished'. It is in this sense that the immanent Two of the disjunction does not coincide even with the ontologically regulated inscription or set-theoretical knowledge of the Two, it instead is delivered over into the vast expanse of the world, of being, in the unique singularity of its composition and its militant production. The immanence of the Two, puts two enunciations well on the edge of the void, united by nothing but the workings of the fidelity which unfolds from the chance encounter: "This stage of the Two is not a being of the Two, which would suppose three. This stage of the Two is  work, a process. It only exists as a track through the situation, under the supposition that there are Two. The Two is the hypothetical operator, the operator of an aleatory enquiry, of such a work or such a track." (WL: Pg. 45) The immanence of the Two is therefore outside the Natural cohort of being, and is properly Historical; it requires the supplementation of an event. In ontological terms, the "numerical schema" which composes the amorous procedure is then that between the two Ones (isolated sexed positions), the Two (the Evental supplement declaring the void of the disjunction, immanent to the encounter), and Infinity (the post-evental generic procedure organizing the Two after the Event). This productive transformation carried forth by the fidelity of the Two can thereby structure, in its productive dimension, the material becoming of a new situation, subtracted from the voyeuristic transcendence of the state (WIL: Pg. 45). Since the organization around this obscure nomination which counts the void organizes the Two immanently, fracturing the isolated One of individual desire, the love-encounter sets itself against the agency of narcissistic fantasy, even if Badiou acknowledges that desire's circulation around its proper being, objet a, is inseparable:
       "Thus love, which marks on bodies, as matter, the supposition of the Two that it activates, can neither elude the object cause of desire nor can it arrange itself there any longer. This is because love treats bodies from the bias of a disjunctive nomination, whereas desire is related to bodies as the principle of the being of the divided subject...
      In the night of bodies love attempts to expand to the extent of the disjunction, the always partial character of the object of desire. It attempts to cross the barrier of stubborn narcissism by establishing... that this body subject is in the descent of an event, and that before the unveiling of the brilliance of the object of desire it was (this body, the supernumerary emblem of a truth to come) encountered." (WL: Pg. 47)
    Given the basic supplementation that the encounter implies, the declaration of love organizes the post-evental fidelity sutured to the void of the disjunction, that is, to the lack of a positive term presented that would be non-void, and which would connect the two sexed positions. That the encounter draws from the void alone is crucial, since the 'common object µ will have to be composed of only void, preserving the disjunction. That is, without risking the sexual non-rapport announced by Lacan, the Two which follows the respective declarations "I1 love you2" only operates by fixing for the fidelity the void which separates the disjunct positions. This is why it is only "...a name, drawn from the void of the disjunction, and a differential marking of bodies, that thus compose together the amorous operator." (Ibid; Pg. 46) The sexed disjunction is not separated in its being by any statist/angelic operator, i.e. it supplements the ontological order avoiding the respective (extensional) determination proper to each position by predicative attributions. In this regard the anti-biological formal exigency of the Lacanian sexual non-rapport is preserved under set-theoretical strictures.
           The disjunction of the Two is finally "only a law, not a substantial delimitation." (Ibid. Pg. 46) The intersection, reduced to the formal emptiness of a nomination of the void, the minimal object µ presents the sharing of a nothingness indiscernible from inconsistent being, from the pure multiple of uncounted void.  Put somewhat less bombastically, there is never a presentation of the Two (for which the Three is needed), nor is there a set of positive terms awaiting to be allotted or aggregated to it. There is only the mere marking of its immanent non-being. Thus against the objectual fixity of objet petit a which persists in the intentional vector of the individual phantasy and interrupts the ontotheological vocation, the Love process, proceeding from the void of the disjunction, interrupts the narcissism of desire.  It is "...only in Love that bodies have the job of marking the Two... it is thus very true that there is no sexual relation, because love founds the Two, not the relation of Ones in the Two... there will have been a single truth of Love in the situation, but the procedure of this unicity stirs in the disjunction by which it makes truth." (Ibid. pg. 47). Without the nominal supplement, the material productivity under which the Two organizes its becoming disintegrates into the anonymous vacuity of the disjunction, of which desire knows nothing. Only in Love is the sexual disjunction capable of sustaining fidelity to the nomination of its proper void. Love is then, escaping the masturbatory alienation of the sexes, like an expansion of the void which disjoins the Two into the expanse of generic Universality.   
          Having established the basic ontological features of the amorous truth-procedure in its material subtraction, Badiou's formal axiomatics of Love may be now presented. The central feature which grounds the entire set of operations will be of course the possible inscription of the sexual disjunction between the two positions, such that the counting-for-two can preserve the immanence of the void which separates them. This is the problem, since as we have seen the disjunction is never something presented to either term positively; so that the minimal difference between the two positions marks how "the sexual disjunction is simultaneously its material and its obstacle." (ST: Pg; 45). The disjunction imposes, first, the impossibility of a symmetrical relationship between the two positions. Formally, we express:  ¬ [(a º b) ® (b º a)]. This means that, given the disjunction of two terms, 'if the term a enters a place given in rapport with the term b, supposedly different, it will not in any way cede its place to this term. (Ibid. Pg 46). We hereby enter the question of the worldly inscription of the Love process into a determinate situation. We first obtain the basic three axioms of the 'transcendental of the world', which we list schematically as follows[20]:

Basic Axioms of the Transcendental
 1) a £ a                                 (Reflexivity)
   2) a £ b and b £ c ® a £ c    (Transitivity)
      3) a £ b and b £ a ® (a = a) (Antisymettry)

    From this, we then inscribe the non-relation between the two positions Man and Woman, expanding on Badiou's formalism for clarity, as follows:

Formula of the Non-Relation
^ W .=. ¬(M £ W) and ¬(W £ M)

            Does this disjunctive claim mean after all that love is, like the pessimistic "French Moralists" claim, merely a fiction or a semblance without reality? An imaginary veil which, like the lure of the big Other, masks the void of the inexistence of the sexual rapport and which, as we saw, Lacan brutally inscribed by crossing out the inscription of the Other, signaling its inconsistency: S(O)? Could it be that in the end sex comes to install itself as the unique "truth of love"? Badiou labels this hypothesis the "segregative" thesis, and advances along these lines the possibility of an integral disjunction, marking the emptiness of the gulf that in-consists between the two positions (Ibid: Pg. 47). That is, as we saw in ontological terms, the negation of the possibility of a positive common term to both sexed positions. Or, in other words, the inscription of the void as that which in-consists, between the Two, and which articulates the disjunction. It is clear this follows from the enunciation of the non-rapport:
Formula of the Vacuity of the Intersection
[(t £ M) and (t £ W)] ® t = 0
         Yet Badiou argues, setting itself against the purely segregative thesis, for the existence of at least one non-void term which is common to both positions, a term which will be strictly minimal, ubiquitous and unique. This term is precisely possible, as we have seen, in terms not of a presentation of the void of being, but of its bare marking, of a term 'edging it', as it were. As we have anticipated, Badiou designates this object with the letter µ. This object-µ, however, is the one and only term that accepts inclusion into both sexed positions. This means, against the "Humanist thesis", that there does not exist a wealth of predicative contents which are common to the Two, and which would establish a rapport between them. Yet because this term is singular and indecomposable, such that no other positive term can be linked to it, then it a completely indeterminate element: "...it is certain that this element is absolutely indeterminate, indescribable, uncomposable. It is in fact, atomic, in the sense in which nothing singularizable enters into its composition." (Pg. 48). That this term be non-void and at the same time decomposable ultimately means that if anything belongs to it, of course, this cannot be anything but a 'name of the void'; presenting nothing but the marking of primary inconsistency into the effects of the count.
        We can therefore surmise that this element, which only presents the void as such, is the presentation of a singleton of the void, of a multiple which finally stands 'on the edge of the void' for the situation of the void of being[21]. This can be expressed ontologically by the formula:
($µ) ("α) (α e µ ® α = Æ). It transparently follows, via the axiom of foundation, that the intersection of µ with its singular element α is void: µ Ç α = Æ.  Given that α is itself void, we can establish without problems for µ that ("β) (β e α) ® ¬(β e µ). This means that α 'founds' µ or that it is 'on the edge of the void' with respect to µ. This can be stated as follows: only the void founds the term common to the Two. The formula which expresses this in logical strictures and which Badiou offers is the following one:

  Axiom of the common-element: object µ
£ M and µ £ W) ® [(t £ µ) ® t = 0

    Badiou proceeds to distance himself from the 'Fusional Thesis' which holds that the two positions, being disjointed, nevertheless reconstitute in their union the whole of humanity. This preserves the earlier thesis that there is no 'third space', but threatens the immanence of the Two by reincorporating it into the aegis of the One. This thesis holds, formally, that: ("t) t £ M or t £ W, and that M È W = 1. In continuity with the Lacanian-Žižekean avowal of the fundamental inconsistency of being and its non-totalizability (the 'non-all' of the feminine position), Badiou holds rather that there always exists a term which escapes the two positions, and which thus avoids the reconstitution of Humanity "as a Whole" from their union. Formally, this is expressed:
($t) [¬(t £ W) and ¬ (t £ M)], and from this that M È W ¹ 1. In conjunction to the non-totalizability of Nature or of Infinity in the ontological order, the axiom of the common-term therefore is also a logical prescription against the phallic desire for a completed Universal, a totalized figure of being provided by the consistency endowing count. We can easily see that in this respect Badiou is also continuous with the presumed "ontological priority" of the feminine, insofar as the latter came to stand in the sexed positions, for the very Limit to the phenomenal order.
         Yet as we have seen, Badiou also challenges the segregative thesis, so that the 'common term' µ, being common to the Two positions, in a sense restores the feminine opening to the public space, and her participation in the material becoming of Universality inside the Truth process initiated by Love. Let us see how this is so since, in this sense, we can perhaps see a crucial divergence between the Žižekean-Lacanian indexing of materialism to the individual subject of narcissistic desire, from Badiou's indexing of materiality to the production of Truths. While the feminine was excluded, in her ontological priority, from the 'public space' under which the phallic defiles of masculine desire addressed the Universal, Badiou assigns the common element µ to the two positions all the same, marking its indifference to how the individual desire, in its sexed split, comports itself towards the traumatic kernel of the Real.  In fact, Badiou diagnoses as part of the same phenomenon both the expulsion of Woman from the public space, and the ontic elevation of the 'feminine mystery'. There is, in the hypostasized duality of the masculine desire, both an scission of µ from the feminine, and a stipulation of the integral unity of Woman as such. This can be formally expressed as follows:

Formula for the Scission-Expansion of Woman
W ® (W - µ) ® (W = 1?)
  excision           dilation

       Badiou thus marks for us the position that raises Woman to the position of a 'Name-of-the-Father', and finally to being nothing but the object of the masculine phantasy:
     "On the one hand, the common atom µ is excised from its feminine inclusion, which states: a woman has nothing indeterminate that destines her to the public space. Or again: woman is essentially a private creature. On the other hand, since nothing atomic joins a woman to a man, there is no masculine knowledge of the space occupies by a woman. Thus the supposition of a potentially infinite expansion of the feminine, which would equal the whole, having nul commonality...
        A woman is then at the same time a destitute being (in regard to what has public value and an emphatically overvalued being (in regard to the infinity of the situation)." (Ibid; Pg. 50).  

       Badiou then clarifies that this common term can be dealt with in two manners: the Two revolves around the incomprehension around it. First, as the non-analyzable term that it is, µ wavers as the incomprehensible void of the link, as that which doesn't shed the light of any presentation for the Two to anchor their mutual exploration of the world and which for that reason becomes the source of a mutual misunderstanding of the world (Ibid; Pg. 51). Alternatively, the term is subtracted from the two positions, paired side by side, unveiling thus that which supports the Two in being subtracted from each position. For this reason, the two possibilities result in that either "µ is the One from which the Two slips away, or is undetermined" or "µ is the separated common One from which the Two is positioned in the universe." (Ibid). The abyss of incomprehension or the source of an infinite expansion towards the infinite, objet u designates that ambivalent point at which the generic process that is Love wavers between the solitary reminder of the void of being which separates the Two sexes, and the immanent participation in the Universal by the transformation of the world thus inhabited. It is in this sense that there is something of a tension between the sexes and Love, precisely in the juncture which reveals that µ, unlike objet a, ordains the Two to the possible emancipation from the narcissism of desire. The truth that Love constitutes is therefore in a sense always placed before the vacuity of the sexed disjunction that sustains it, and µ is nothing but that marking, that place "edging the void" on which the alienated lure of one's desire offers no "common ground". Love then transforms the externality world rather than establishing a connection between the Two on the basis of the common object; the latter is only the support for this possible transformation, and becomes the index of the material becoming which makes up the process of fidelity to the encounter-event. That is, of the immanent exception which subtracts itself from the order of places and from the solipsistic vacuity of the sexual. Therefore, even if cannot do strictly away with the first disjunctive dimension which places Love all too near the trauma of desire, the second function in Love attests to the Infinite potential of expansion that every Truth, in its genericity, ordains to the subjectived body. Love therefore oscillates  between two extreme poles, each of which seeks to efface one of the two constitutive functions ordained to Love by object µ:
" On one side that which, reduced to the scheme of misunderstanding of the object, can be named sexual adventure... And on the other extremity, that which, only assuming the Two, without sharing of the object, can be named sublime love, or Platonic love, which has, if I may say so, no marching orders but proposes imaginarily that the segregation itself, or the sexual mystery, be singularized as the encounter." (Ibid; Pg. 52). Neither the trivial evanescence of the adventure, nor the sublime love of the Platonist, the essence of Love is to find itself suspended between the two poles, oscillating between both ends, in utter undecideability and indeterminacy. Love is the work to preserve the procedural imperative to continue, in spite of the setbacks always present, either from the state, from the trivialization of the sexual, or from the sublimation of the imaginary.
     This means that Love, dealing with the external, material transformation of the world, must in a sense operate on the focalization of that which remains for each position after the µ is assumed subtracted from each of the two, i.e. the wealth of positive terms which make up the totality of the world for the subject once the empty presentation of the void which makes up the two is taken as the uncounted reservoir of infinite being. Put more simply, to see the world as that which surrounds the difference of the Two. Formally, this is expressed as follows, where t comes to stand for a term precisely after the excision of µ has been carried out from each respective position:
Axiom of the Assignment of the Two to the World
(W - µ)
£ t and (M - µ) £ t and ¬ (µ £ t)
       This is not to say, let it be noticed, that the term t is common to both Man and Woman as such, since this would obviously run counter to the thesis according to which µ and only µ belongs to the Two positions. It means that each position, subtracted from that which engulfs them in atomic non-analyzability, become ordained to the multiplicity of terms which precisely do not constitute their common ground, the minimal marking of difference. This time, not the vacuity of the void captured in the edge of a singular term, but the wealth of positive terms under which Love can achieve its infinite expansion, turning itself outwards. This is what Badiou calls, using a theatrical metaphor, the "Scene of the Two", and writes: "The limping rhythm of love can be described as the diastole of its expansion around the conjoined excision of u, and the systole of what, irresistibly, leads to the central atomicity of what was subtracted... love prescribes the aura which its atomicity lacks" (Ibid; Pg 53).  Love thus comes to 'saturate' the sexual non-rapport by way of a construction which excises from each position that which would limit them to a rumination around the void of a name, or confine them to the stain of objet petit a and its alienating lure. Love is suspended between the two indeterminations: that of the displaced position of the non-rapport of the sexes, and that of the exteriority of the material which constitutes the theatric scene on which the amorous encounter plays out. Finally, Badiou writes "Between  µ and what, from a term t subsuming W - µ and M - µ, returns on µ, the difference of the two determinations is opened." (Ibid) Either on the lack of the non-rapport positively marked in its void rather than ordained by the desire, or on the constitutive excess which supplements the void, as the excision of the common object µ that opens the Scene of the world for the exploratory ruminations of the Two. 
            Against the Žižekean assignment of the libidinal stain of objet petit a as the remainder of the Real, concentrated in the ontogenesis of the subject indexing the stain's irreducible inconsistency and which precedes even the void, the form of Love inaugurates thus a productive vision of materiality. That is, a vision under which only the post-Evental expansion of the truth the subject embodies in fidelity by interrupting the 'bad infinity' of inconsistency of being can attest to the transformability of the Real. This is finally the separation between the Lacanian vision Žižek espouses, and Badiou's materialist dialectic: the first subtracts the Real from the symbolic as the constitutive lack of the object's inconsistent being. This is precisely the 'dephilosophizing' of the Lacanian vision, according to Badiou, which falters in the dream for the Absolute. In doing so, Lacan "...takes a step too far in the direction of finitude... our defense is to situate the singularity of the human animal one notch further... It is only in the transhuman body that a subject takes hold of the divisible body of the human animal. The breach is then on the side of creation, not of the symptom..." (LOW: Pg. 481)  That is to say, there is a certain stasis in the conception of the Real as the stain of the remainder, which tethers it to the reservoir of being, or as point of impossibility. Badiou's wager against the primacy of objet a, and more importantly the necessity to supplement individual desire with subjectivized love, is centered around the possibility of not simply displacing the Real (qua symptom), but of radically transforming it. And insofar as the Lacanian Real remains the hard kernel against all symbolic inscription, Badiou argues, that it becomes effectively impossible to discern its effects from those of the skeptic hyperbolic doubt, which results in mere inertia, and the likely cynical submission to the imperative of desire. The disagreement with the Lacanian is laid thus:  "My debate with Slavoj Žižek concerns the real. Following Lacan he has proposed a concept of it, which is so ephemeral, so brutally punctual, that is impossible to uphold its consequences. The effects of this kind of frenzies upsurge, in which the real rules over the comedy of our symptoms, are ultimately indiscernible from those of skepticism." (LOW: Pg. 563)
         The Žižekean re-philosophizing of objet petit a is therefore the required rehabilitation of the Hegelian incomplete universal, animated by the lure of the lost object of desire which fascinated the barred subject in its solitary interstices. For the latter, in turn, the 'breach of the Event' can be nothing but the proto-Kantian suspension of the phenomenal which, as we seen, could perhaps at best constitute a vision of the dynamic sublimity of noumenal freedom, accommodated to the plurality of Worlds and situations. This is in fact the Žižekean wager against Badiou: "[One] can even define Badiou’s systematic philosophy (developed in his last masterpiece Logics Of Worlds) as Kantianism reinvented for the epoch of radical contingency: instead of one transcendentally-constituted reality, we get the multiplicity of  worlds, each delineated by its transcendental matrix, a multiplicity which cannot be  mediated/unified into a single larger transcendental frame; instead of the moral Law,  we get fidelity to the Truth-Event which is always specific with regard to a particular situation of a World." (ST: Pg. 203) The choice laid to us is the following one: either the noumenal intrusion of an exceptional decision where the individual rises into the subject, or the internal periodicity of the Universal thwarting itself by reverting into its opposite, spiraling down onto the infinite derision in the futile projection towards the wound that demands, always, more of its being.
         The Real as the impossibility of a stain, displacing itself in its untamable hyperactivity, or the nearness of a Real open to the transformation which the Event ordains, in exception to the Laws of being and the logical ordering of local appearance, but rising above desire's dejecting failure around the object of lack. Woman as the place of inscription for the 'non-all' of being, wavering in her inconsistent hysteria and excised from the symbolic, or Man and Woman ordained to the chance event that summons then in the encounter to participate in the immanence of Truth.  The self-splitting of the Universal from itself, charging towards its failure, traumatized by the stain of the Real where the actual rises up in subversion; objet petit a as index of matter. Or the errancy of State, casting the veil of its compulsive count, obsessed with its own representational transcendence, in its ablative straightjacket before the immanence of presentation. The insufficiency of the infinite situation itself, which can only be interrupted by being summoned to the chance event under which the Two organizes a fidelity to transform the Real. The mark of the impossible, or the Event which, in its miraculous imperative, realizes only that which is impossible. Objet µ as mark of the eternal void of being, which lurks under every transient form of presentation, but also which assigns to the subject the fate of being the harbinger of the new truth of which it is capable, if only rarely, to become something other than a mere individual of the situation's circuitous infinity.

  • Badiou, Alain. Being and Event, translated by Oliver Feltham, Continuum Press, 2006.
  • Badiou, Alain. Logics of Worlds translated by Alberto Toscano, Continuum Press, 2006.
  • Badiou, Alain. What is Love?, translated by Sam Gillespie, Semiotexte, 1999.
  • Badiou Alain, The Scene of the Two, translated by Barbara P. Fulks, Lacanian Ink, issue 21, 2009.
  • Badiou, Alain. Conditions, translated by Steven Corcoran, Continuum, 2009.
  • Lacan, Jacques, Seminar XX: Encore, translated by Bruce Fink, Norton Press, 1999.
  • Lacan, Jacques, Seminar: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, translated by Bruce Fink, Norton Press, 1998.
  • Lacan, Jacques, Ecrits, translated by Bruce Fink, Norton Press, 2007.
  • Chiesa, Lorenzo, Subjectivity and Otherness: a Philosophical Reading of Lacan, MIT Press, 2007.
  • Žižek, Slavoj, The Parallax View, Verso Books, 2006.
  • Žižek, Slavoj, Tarrying With the Negative, Verso Books, 1993.
  • Žižek, Slavoj, The Sublime Object of Ideology, Verso Books, 1997.
  • Žižek, Slavoj, Woman is One of the Names-of-the-Father, Lacanian Ink 10, 1995.
  • Johnston, Adrian, Žižek's Ontology: A Transcendental Theory of Subjectivity, Northwestern University Press, 2008.
  • Hegel, G.W.F. The Encyclopaedia Logic, translated by Theodore Garaets, H.S Harris, W.A Suchting, Hackett Pub, 1991. 

Index of Abbreviations
LOW = Logics of Worlds
PV: The Parallax View
BE: Being and Event
WIL: What is Love?
SOT: Scene of the Two
SXX: Seminar XX - Encore
SAO: Subjectivity and Otherness
TWN: Tarrying With the Negative
SOI: Sublime Object of Ideology.
Appendix I - Annotations on Meditation 26 in Alain Badiou’s Being and Event
      The other likely candidate for the count of Two might have been the notion of the ordered pair, which occurs in Badiou's edifice around the exposition of the concept of function. Although I will not attempt to address this question here, which I believe should be answered to in the negative and transparently, some technical concepts are worth elucidating in closer detail. This holds even if, as Badiou admits that the formal exposition of the ontological operations can exceed philosophical (and therefore meta-ontological) interest. In particular, it is easy to overlook Badiou’s explicit clarification of the explication of the concept of a ‘function’, since it is delegated to a short (but doubtlessly crucial) Annex at the end of the book. There, a function is described straightforwardly as a particular kind of multiple, in unproblematic continuity with the strictures of set-theory and the pure multiple.  In what follows we’ll try to elucidate the surrounding notions, since the prose in the book lends itself to easy confusion.
A function f of a given set α to a set β, which can be written f(α) = β, establishes a one-to-one correspondence between the two sets, where it is understood that:
-          For every element of α there corresponds via f an element of β.
-          For every two different elements of α there corresponds two different elements of β
-          For every element of β there corresponds via f, an element of β.
At this point, the set-theoretical grounding becomes quite necessary to follow Badiou’s argumentation, since the concept of ‘function’ outlined above is defined, after all, as simply a particular kind of multiple. What kind of a multiple is at stake here? Here we must move to Appendix 2 of the book, which provides the sought for clarification.
     Badiou begins by describing multiples which constitute relations between other multiples. These are structured as series of ordered pairs, and are written as follows:
       Let’s assume the existence of a relation R between two given multiples α and β: R(α, β). Badiou describes relation as getting behind two ideas: that of the pairing of the two elements, and that of their sequence or order.  This second condition guarantees that even if R (α, β) obtains in a given situation, it is possible that R(β, α) does not.  The first condition entails that all relations can be expressed as consisting of two element multiples, written in the form <α, β>, so that to say that there exists a relation R between two existing elements α and β finally amounts to no more than saying: <α, β> ε R.  Given that for any two existing elements α and β there exists necessarily the set which has α and β as its sole elements {α, β}[22], although we will see right away that this set is not identical to <α, β> . The only problematic aspect pending is finally that of order, and thus of the stipulated asymmetry between R (α, β) and R(β, α):
Interestingly enough, the ‘ordered pair’ solicited by Badiou is not simply the pairing of α and β, but actually the pairing of the singleton of α, and the pairing of α and β. So we get:
<α, β> { {α}, {α, β} }
This set must exist, given that the existence of α and β guarantees the existence of their respective singletons, as well as their pair. Therefore the union of either of the first terms with their conjunction must also exist. In other words, for any given two multiples α and β there exist two different possible ordered pairings, which are not identical:
<α, β> ≠ < β, α>  .. { {α}, {α, β} } ≠ { {β}, {β, α} }
   Notice, however, that both ordered pairings are completely indifferent with respect to order in the terms of the set {β, α} / {α, β}; which are transparently identical sets. The asymmetry between the two orderings laid above occurs in the difference occasioned by the choice between {α} or {β}. This must mean that an ordered pair always consists, for any two elements supposed existent, of the two-element set consisting of the singleton of one of the two elements and the two-element set consisting of the two already given elements. Additionally, it is implied that:
<α, β> = <г, g> .¨. (α = г) & (β = g)
  Finally, to say a relation R obtains between two given sets α and β entails:
<α, β> εor <β, α> ε R
        Having established that a relation is a multiple composed of ordered pairs, Badiou proceeds to explain how a function may be described a particular kind of relation. The trick here consists in grasping adequately the abovementioned idea of ‘correspondence’. Let us assume a function f that makes a multiple β correspond to α: f(α) = β. Having established functions are relations, and relations are sets of ordered pairs, it plainly follows that functions are sets of ordered pairs.  If we then allow Rf to stand for the function of α to β:
<α, β> ε Rf
       But the peculiarity of the function resides here on the uniqueness of β, so that no other element can correspond to α by the function. This means that for any two multiples β and y that correspond to α via a function R, it must be the case that β and y are identical. Formally we write:
[f(α) = β .&.  f(α) = g] ¨ β = g
   Or, alternatively:
(<α, β> ε Rf   .&. <α, g > ε Rf) ¨ β = g
If we want to unpack this formula, we write:
({{α}, {α, β}} ε Rf .&. {{α}, {α, g}} ε Rf) ¨ β = g
      With this Badiou completes his reduction of the concept of relation to pure set-theoretical constructed multiplicities. The next step is to ground the comparison between sets in the series of ordinals (natural multiples[23]). With respect to a multiple’s ‘size’ or ‘magnitude’, there always exists an ordinal which is equal to it (which is not to say only natural multiples exist; we know this isn’t true given the existence of Historical multiples). Badiou claims that thus ‘nature includes all thinkable orders of size” [BE: Pg. 270]. Here things turn a confusing, since Badiou doesn’t really provide an example until later. We can, however, give a very simple case to illustrate how exactly this happens.  First, recall that the series of ordinals are woven from the void alone, as the structured sequence or passage from the void into its singleton, and thus consecutively in serial manner. If we repeat the basic example laid above where Rf stands for the function of α to β. We got:
R(α, β)] [f(α) = β] [< α, β> ε Rf]
Or, more explicitly:
R(α, β)] [f(α) = β] { {α}, {α, β} } ε Rf
   However, we can easily see that the multiple thus produced has the same power as the ordinal which composes the Two, and which is guaranteed given the sequence of ordinals:
Π: {{Ø}, {Ø, {Ø}}
     Notice, however, that although this ordinal certainly has the same power as the given set, there’s an infinity of ordinals with the same power as the laid set: we can easily imagine the ordinal: {{{Ø}}, {{Ø}, {{Ø}}} and successive variants, all with the same power. The requirement is merely that there will be at least one ordinal with the same power.

Appendix II - The origin of the singularity, the state's double anti-void functions, and the distinction between ontological and non-ontological situations
   Assume the following sets obtain:
S = {α,β,g}
α = {β,g}
β= {g,d}
g = {d, p}
As we can see, α is included in S, α Ì  S; while α belongs to P(S), α e P(S).
P(S) = {α, {α,β,g}, {α,β}, {β,g}, {α,g}, Æ}
     β and g are singularities with respect to S (sets presented but not represented; they belong but are not included). These are what Badiou calls potential evental sites, since g is 'on the edge of the void' or foundational with respect to S. In other words, g founds α.  They are not parts of S, since they present merely themselves, and not their elements, i.e. they present themselves alone and what constitutes them is not separately presented in the situation. These multiples are 'carried over' by P(S) and its indexing of parts, to which β and g belong, without counting as a part β and g irrespectively. These remain thereby existent for the situation, but unread by the state. This is the locus for the singularity needed for the evental site of the transcendental, eventful break constituted by the subject's effectuation of the generic. These occur transparently in non-ontological situations, where the recursive operations of the situation are not those founded by the void, and therefore subject to the state's singular excess (as opposed to the non-existence of the ontological sense which counts belonging alone, i.e. the metastructure is not a representation of ontology, but an inherent function which counts elements alone, ensuing the axiomatic consistency of the theory as a theory of inconsistent multiplicity as such.  This is obviously related to the anti-void functions of the state, and in ontology in particular the metastructural power of the state to always expand to infinite to seize the count of that which the original presentation misses. The thesis Badiou advances in Meditation 8 is the following one: the 'danger' of the void is countered both locally and totally:
1) Totally: the total part {a, β, g} is counted as an element in P(S), thereby countering the fixation of the void in the non-counted 'totality' of the situation, and thus counting the situation itself as one from the lingering inconsistency; onto infinite. For any set there is the set of its parts, and this set will always be greater than the original set.  
2) Locally: the metastructural count of subsets by the State counters the danger of the void fixing itself in uncounted parts (guaranteed by the theorem of the point of excess) uncounted by the initial structure. This is marked in the minimal expansion of a given set, also called its successor, by adding uniting it with its singleton. Given the set of parts, and given that the intersection of a set with its union is a possible property, it is certain such a set exists (in ontology, for the series of ordinals, given the existential axiom of the void-set). In non ontological-situations, the state cannot ward off, however, the singularities of the situation, insofar as these contain unrepresented elements in its representation of the situation. This is the potential reservoir for truth-events.

[1] In this occasion we shall not occupy ourselves with the question about whether Badiou's appropriation of Lacan's theses on sexuation is legitimate or not.
[2] The technical explanation of these terms will be developed below.
[3] Whether Žižek/Copjec do justice to Kant is beyond the scope of this paper.
[4] This is precisely where the Logic begins; Being passes over into its opposite, Nothingness, and this indetermination finally subverts the self-identity of the universal to itself. Contradiction becomes thus the native ontological motor which affects the entire development of the dialectical process thereafter; no figure of being is thereby freed from it. See Hegel, Science of Logic.
[5]  This seems to be the meaning behind the enigmatic statement by Lacan that 'desire is the desire of the Other'.
       The particularity of the 'phallic function' is of course inscribed here in reference to the Lacanian reading of the Oedipal complex, where the subject comes to experience the wound of loss under the paternal Law; so that the subject identifies no longer just with the imaginary ideal ego of the mirror stage; but with the superego injunction of the Ego-Ideal which ordains it to the Other in its imaginary-symbolic demand.
      We cannot gauge the full intricacies of Lacan's account here, but it should go without saying that it remains fundamental for the understanding of the Lacanian inscription of the phallic function within the development of the subject. For Lacan's account see Jacques Lacan, Seminar V; for an introductory reading see Lorenzo Chiesa's,  Subjectivity and Otherness: a Philosophical Reading of Lacan, MIT Press, 2007).
[6] Indeed, this formulation is Zizek's own; as expressed in his latest presentation "Cogito and Sexual Difference" at UCLA (April, 2011).
[7]  The Rancierean "part-of-no-part", the errant exception which stands always as the multiple dispersion of the presented demos against the police; the outplace of force which always threatens the State -as in the proletariat masses against the bourgeois system of classes-, the 'evental site' wherein the self-belonging singularity may come to affirm itself with maximum intensity in the Event... etc. 
      All of these figures are homogenously at the point where desire positions itself against the phallic 'organic exception' and subverts this Other (out)place in its act. It constitutes itself by moving outside of itself. Absolute negativity is nothing but this spiral of Being turning itself over into its opposite, marking it with the material Nothingness which may thus 'become all'. That this may only happen in the political imaginary under specific material conditions is of no relevance here; the identification of objet a with the Hegelian voraciousness of the Universal into its Other attests to all conditions of disclosure and becomes a general index of materiality itself.
      The qualification of such a rapacious desire with anything other than the generality of "lack" could only be a regional distinction, a mere metonymic instance of self-relating negativity.  Thus the four conditions Badiou describes for the philosophical thinking of Truth remain, on this account, subordinated to the generality from the narcissistic alienation of desire described in psychoanalytic thinking. 
[8] The surreptitious inscription to set-theory may appear for the moment gratuitous, but the following section will elucidate the virtue of such a formulation.
[9] As should be obvious by now, since the relation of contrariness is excluded, the double negation in (Зz) ⌐фx does not entail ("z) ⌐фx. The justification Lacan gives, whose assessment is beyond the scope of this paper, concerns the alleged separation of the universal quantifier with the range of the finite: the All/Whole is not equivalent to "every one". If the latter equivalence is established, then the inference clearly follows, just like it would follow that ("z)фx ® (Зz)⌐ф. Dealing with the infinite instead, the non-all and the universal no longer pertain to what the existential quantifier ranges over, in the form of an indeterminate existence which here would coincide with the feminine inconsistency of course.    
   Lacan thus claims:  
                "Now, as soon as you are dealing with an infinite set, you cannot posit that the pas-tout implies the existence of something that is produced on the basis of a negation or contradiction. You can, at a pinch, posit it as an indeterminate existence. But, as we know from the extension of mathematical logic which is qualified as intuitionist, to posit a ‘there exists,’ one must also be able to construct it, that is, know how to find where that existence is." (Lacan, SXX: Pg. 102-103).
        Badiou's contention against Lacan's 'intuitionism' and the intuitionist reluctance against the 'actual [determinate] infinity' of the post-Cantorian world needn't occupy us here. For the details see Badiou's Sujet et Infini, in: Conditions, Seuil, Paris 1992, pp. 287–305.

[11] In what follows we shall be concerned with primarily three texts from Badiou where he deals with the question of love and sexuation most explicitly: What is love?; The Scene of the Two; Homage a l'amour.
[12] The concept of the genericity or that of generic subsets concerns the very being of truth in the ontological situation, and concerns principally the conditions for the definition of a subset of the situation which remains indiscernible by the totality of predicates which compose the State of the situation (which Badiou calls the encyclopaedia of knowledges). This element thus composes something of a universal representative of the multiple qua multiple since it is subtracted from any operation of nomination by the State.
        In non-ontological situations, this means that generic multiplicity comes to appear in the situation indifferently to any 'essential' determinations of subjects qua individuals (for example, of generic humanity in terms of 'race or class in politics). In the ontological situation, this means that the generic subset of the situation or the 'being of truth' is not a knowledge of the situation, and thus a part 'without name'. For the details of Badiou's account of genericity and of the event as a rupture with the situations' representational purchase see Being and Event, Meditations 31-35; Logics of Worlds, Book V.
[13] In what follows we shall remain continue our exposition closer to Badiou's presentation in The Scene of the Two; since it presents notable modifications and revisions from the earlier attempt in What is Love? These differences needn't concern us now, but two crucial divergences should be mentioned in passing. First, Badiou no longer seems committed to the Idea of something like a "Humanity function" H(x) which cuts across all generic procedures, and which then the two-sexed positions relate to in their own proper way in the Love event.
      In The Scene of the Two Badiou describes the ascription of a common Humanity to what he calls the "humanistic thesis"; the view according to which there would be a variety of predicates and terms proper to both sexed positions. However, Badiou will hold only the common element µ is in common position to both.
      This brings us to the second crucial divergence from the earlier text, and it is that Badiou seems to challenge the strictly segregative or disjunctive position of love in favor of the view of there being a minimal objet-u common to both. The inscription of this element is, as far as I can tell, utterly missing from the earlier formulation in What is Love? which explicitly avowed the thesis that "the two positions are absolutely disjunct" (WL: Pg. 40)
[14] For the moment, we shall obviate the crucial distinction in Lacan between the individual and the subject, and the Badiouean restriction of the latter to the four generic domains, and proceed to identify the 'singular subject' of desire as the agent of the sexual, while the Two will designate the subject of Love properly. This is, taking into consideration, that desire does not, strictly speaking produce Truths in Badiou's account, and is therefore not a generic procedure where subjectivation occurs. Does this mean that the Lacanian subject would be nothing but an individual in Badiou's ontology? This question lies outside the scope of this paper, but I will say that it is my contention that the Lacanian barred subject's circulation around objet a is transparently non isomorphic to the construction of the generic subset of the situation.
[15]  The concept of the state or ‘state of the situation’ corresponds to the meta-structure of every situation, which represents what is included in it i.e. the structuring principle which counts the totality of parts of a situation. It should be here understood as intrinsic to all structured situations, and not just political ones. Thus the regulating axioms of a scientific theory, the aesthetic principles of an artistic school, the laws of the State which regulates social life through political principles, or the multiple vows and agreements made by a couple in love, are all examples of the state’s ‘count of the count’. See BE, Meditations 8-9.
[16] The axiom of separation determines basically that for any α, the set of elements given for any property l(α) also exists. The axiom of subsets/powerset states that for any set α there exists a set whose elements are parts/subsets of α; the set designated thus by p(α). Since in every case α Ì α, the 'total part', it plainly follows that α e p(α).
     Furthermore, the theorem of the point of excess establishes that for every set there will be more parts than elements; so that in every count one may always apply the power-set axiom to count the parts and obtain a larger set. This 'implicit' excess of the State over the explicit count of presentation is what impedes the Two to be immanently counted without, like in the Hegelian dialectic, itself 'passing over into another', mediated by its Other. Finally, the axiom of foundation establishes the impossibility of a self-belonging element by establishing that the intersection of a set with at least one of its elements must be void, making thus α Ç {α} ¹ Æ) follow from ("α) ($β) ( (β e α) & (g e β) & ¬(g e α) ). See Badiou, Being and Event, Meditations 3-6, 12.
[17] Of course, the additional requirement is the application of the axiom of replacement to substitute for the iterations of the voids, the proper markings of the natural numbers.
[18] For Badiou's exposition on ordinals, the operation of succession, and the order of Nature more generally, Meditations 11-14 of Being and Event is prerequisite.
[19] See Appendix II.
[20] For the exposition on the Transcendental, see LOW, Book II.
[21] This holds of course under the ontological strictures under which every well-founded set is founded by the void alone. Non-ontological situations support the possibility of foundation by non-void terms, however, but this needn't occupy us now.
[22] See Being and Event, Meditation 12.
[23] Meditations 11-12.