Towards a Materialist Rationalism: Plato, Hegel, Badiou

Daniel Sacilotto


The following essay traces Badiou's proposal to bring the dialectic into a third moment, after its first two great sequences with Plato and Hegel. I will suggest that Badiou's materialist dialectic is conditioned on the reactivation of the two central Platonic dialectical dyads: that of truth and opinion, on the one hand, and that of the intelligible and the sensible, on the other. Like Plato before him, and Hegel after him, Badiou's rationalist articulation of the dialectics across these two axes results in the ontological reification of the intelligible in the side of Truth, at the price of the evacuation of the sensible in the side of opinions. Nevertheless, in reifying the intelligible so as to prosecute the sophistic adversary, Badiou makes a significant concession to idealism, rendering his commitment to materialism problematic. This will be seen more clearly by understanding the motivation behind Badiou's endorsement of the Parmenidean thesis which postulates the identity of thinking and being, only this time to be cashed out in terms of their formal distinction, or their ontological indiscernibility rather than identity.

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