Each colloquium examines a different subject or problem from a comparative framework. A list of topics is available from the CHID office.
This seminar style course will explore the work of Alain Badiou, one of the most innovative philosophers working today. Central to Badiou’s work is the question of how something new comes into the world, the question of how real political change is realized. This question has led Badiou to develop a critique of post-structuralism based on its failure to provide an account of the ethical that includes the possibility of meaningful political engagement. Badiou’s own understanding of ethics rests on his account of a “truth event” as an event that relates the individual to a community (i.e. a situation) as an agent of political transformation. Thus, while post-structuralism grapples endlessly with the question of if, and to what extent, agency can be attributed to the subject, Badiou neatly escapes this philosophical, ethical and political quagmire by attributing subjectivity to the agent; by arguing that it is not agency that is founded on identity, but identity that is founded on agency. As such, Badiou’s work constitutes, what Terry Eagleton has called, “a timely assault on the post-structuralist fetishism of ‘subject-positions.’”
Course Goal: The goal of this course is to introduce students to the philosophy of Alain Badiou, provide an opportunity for students to develop their own ideas on what constitutes agency and prepare students for Badiou’s visit to the University of Washington in February 2006.
Reading: In addition to looking at Badiou’s writing we will read selections from a number of thinkers who have influenced Badiou.
Work: Students will write one long paper and facilitate one discussion session.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading