Double interwining of opposites in Alain Badiou’s dialectical theory of the subject

Wenceslao García Puchades


In the following text we will tackle Badiou’s dialectical theory of the subject with the help of Merleau Ponty’s idea of “interwining”. We will try to explain the possibility of understanding that theory as the continuation of the task started by the French philosopher Merleau Ponty in the 1950s. This task involves making Hegel’s dialectics materialistic by keeping the division of opposites in a figure that unifies them.  Like Merleau-Ponty, Badiou states that this figure should not be considered as a static figure constituted by two pure forms, but as a process of “interwining” by which two opposites influence each other so that none of them can exist without the other. We will see that in Théorie du Sujet Badiou creates his theory of the subject applying this logic of the dialectical interwining to the tension between “force” and “place”, and “subjectivation” and the “subjective process”. Through the first interwining Badiou tries to escape from the idealistic theories of the subject characteristic of positivist and spiritualist philosophy; through the second interwining he tries to create a theory that enables him to interpret the movement of history, particularly the movement of working masses who struggle against their subordination to the capitalist system and the internal struggle of proletariat to avoid falling back into that submission or other obscure figures.


Alain Badiou; Merleau-Ponty; dialectics; interwining; Theory of the Subject

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