• Badiou's Inaesthetics and the Modern Dilemma

      O'Hara, Daniel T., 1948-; Brivic, Sheldon, 1943-; Singer, Alan, 1948-; Rabaté, Jean-Michel, 1949- (Temple University. Libraries, 2010)
      The predominance of post-modern thought in the latter half of the 20th century has brought philosophy to a crisis of confidence in its ability to investigate and understand our current reality. The complacent relativism that has emerged from post-modern discourse leaves us unprepared to face either the dominance of a dis-associative free-market or the emergence of regressive fundamental totalitarianism. Alain Badiou tasks philosophy with recovering the process of logical investigation into the primary forces which shape our lives, and he does so by equipping philosophy with both a means and an end: philosophy is a mathematical ontology in the endless pursuit of truth. In an attempt to address the issues of infinitely relative position and totalitarian authority, I understand Badiou to draw most significantly from Wittgenstein's (not Sartre's) notion of the situation and Heidegger's notion of Being, placing both of these insights within the mathematical framework of set theory as informed by Paul Cohen, doing so in the distinctly Platonic spirit of an appeal to truth as the antidote to the sophistry of post-modern thought. Such concerns with the intersection of authority and position are distinctly modern ones, and for Badiou we remain caught on the horns of the modern dilemma of the undisputed Master and the infinite Place. The process of overcoming such a false dichotomy, Badiou suggests, involves a return to the scene of its founding in the century's imagination, the moment of its poetic enunciation. Through an investigation of the critical and creative work of Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot between the wars, I present their striking awareness of this problem and their attempts to overcome it, focusing on their respective moments of success and failure as understood through a critique based on Badiou's ethics and aesthetics.