Badiou’s “Fight for Philosophy”: Being, Event, Subject, Truth

This article focuses on the contemporary French philosopher Alain Badiou. Writing his primary works after 1980, his views have become popular in virtue of both the emerging social and political developments, and the retrenchment of the postmodern agenda of the 1990s. Badiou reappraises the truth in an atmosphere in which such concepts as metanarratives come to an end, and philosophy is reduced to discourse and truth is claimed to be no longer possible. For this main target, he challenges multi-culturalist positions and identity politics at the ethical-political level, as well as cultural studies and relativistic approaches at social-scientific and philosophical levels. He thus re-invokes philosophy to come into existence by criticizing those approaches that declare the end of philosophy, such as hermeneutics, and analytical and postmodern philosophies. For him, philosophy has not died. Philosophy is a distinct realm that operates based on its own conditions of truth. Badiou envisions four capacities of truth for human beings: politics, science, art and love. Philosophy is nothing but thinking these four truths together. Criticizing those approaches declaring the end of truth by taking “language” as a model, Badiou embarks on grounding the truth on mathematics. Starting an ontological debate in his principal book, Being and Event, he takes mathematics as ontology, ad philosophy as meta-ontology: Thinking being qua being is mathematics, and “set theory” in particular. In his ontological project Badiou seks a solution to a classical metaphysical problem, i.e., is Being, in essence, “multiple” or “one”? He tries to solve this metaphysical problem by means of his conceptions of “consistent multiplicity” and “inconsistent multiplicity”. The main thrust of his ontological project is to think Being through a “void” with an aim to develop an ontological model justifying the openness (genesis) of Being. In set theory the void is referred to as an empty set. Since consistent multiples always contain the empty set in them after the operation of counting as one, Being should be seen as eternally open. The void, signified by empty set, is the limit of ontology and what follows it is “the analysis of the event”. The event, which means a rupture from given conditions, is the beginning of the truth process, that is, the truth is a process of production emerging after the event. Badiou examines the truth process trough such notions as “undecidability,” “indistinguishability,” “fidelity” and “subject.” These also constitute the essential axis of this article: being, event, subject, truth and the truth processes. It systematically presents the thoughts developed by Badiou, within the framework of this axis. It also discusses the political ramifications of his thought and the aspects that differentiate him from the classical Marxist framework. In the concluding section, the reception of Badiou’s thought in Turkey will be discussed in light of the debates following t

Hüseyin ETİL
Beyond Monologue: Towards a Comparative Political Theory

The essay advances a proposal that is addressed primarily to theorists, but with implications for the entire profession: the proposal to replace or supplement the rehearsal of routinized canons with a turn to global, cross-cultural (or “comparative”) political theorizing. I offer geopolitical and general intellectual reasons why the turn seems appropriate today, and I discuss a variety of theoretical or philosophical inspirations undergirding the turn. After highlighting some recent examples of comparative political theorizing, I conclude by responding to critical queries as well as indicating broader implications of the move “beyond monologue.”

Inter-denominational Harmony and Peace: Modern and Postmodern Approaches

Conflicts and controversies caused by denominations and religious movements all over the world, and in Islamic world in particular, continue to maintain their position, as in the past, at the forefront of the reasons that disrupt social peace and stability, even lead to bloody disasters. In order to prevent the risk of confrontation, different theories and projects have been devoloped, legislation works have been improved, and, through the efforts of dialogue, certain results have been achieved. One of the issues to be discussed is that which theoretical approach should be applicaple in this process. One of these approaches proposes to return to the main sources of religion to achieve a kind of supra-denominational idea, through which differences could be easily minimized and sectarian peace safeley provided. In this approach, modernism‘ s defining, designing, uniforming and centralist tendencies evidently manifest themselves. In the other approach, where a multi-cultural post-modern character is apparent, all sectarian-communal formations are accepted as reality regardless of their righteousness or fallaciousness, trying to reach to a certain concensus in a pluralist and egalitarian atmosphere, avoiding any theoretical and theological determinations and efforts of orientation In this paper, by comparing above-mentioned theoretical and practical aproaches, we try to set forth what sort of approach can be consistent and serviceable to provide sectarian peace and reconciliation in the current situation of the Islamic world. The paper discusses the Ottoman millet system, particularly in reference to the post-modern approach, and examines the Lebanese sect-based administrative system, which was inspired by the Ottoman one. It also discusses the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which also has a sect-based system. In light of these analyses, the paper concludes that the most suitable approach to secterian peace entails a social contract based on multiculturalist and egalitarian notions formed around common values among different denominations.

The New Social Media and Communication in the 21st Century: Is Dialogue Possible?

The advent of the internet has been hailed as the beginning of an era of virtually unlimited communication where the human potential can be more fully explored. However, in view of the literally “worldwide” political ramifications, a reality check seems appropriate, especially as regards the impact of the new interactive tools on the perception of social reality. The instrumental nature of Web 2.0, and with it the ambiguity of its use, often appears to be overlooked. In actual fact, typical characteristics of crowd behaviour such as suggestibility, impulsiveness, or irritability, tend to be magnified in the framework of the “digital crowd.” Those phenomena, diagnosed by Gustave Le Bon more than a century ago, may also be an unintended consequence of automated communication and news distribution. The features of the new technology tend to encourage advocacy or propaganda, rallying around a common cause on the basis of an emotional mindset of “us versus the others,” and to a much lesser extent a balanced or neutral attitude. If we want to assess the new media’s potential for dialogue, which is the essence of communication, we will first have to evaluate their consequences, unintended or not, in terms of mass psychology. Internet literacy has to be complemented by an awareness of the net’s social impact and a new ethics of communication.

The Mechanistic Background of Modern Political Imaginary

The social and political thought that 17th-century philosophers –led by Thomas Hobbes– developed on a secular basis, through a mechanistic approach, with mechanical terms and analytical-geometrical methodology, has set the paradigmatic limits and ultimate framework of the modern political thought, which has been in effect until today. Yet the notion of mechanism, which acts as the root-metaphor of the modern political imaginary, does not anymore make much sense vis-à-vis the dominant contemporary worldview. The deep crisis in contemporary political philosophy and widely felt need for a radical change in the Fundamentals of modern political conception can be attributed, at least partly, to this incongruence between the mechanical root-metaphor and the current perception of reality. Aiming to crystallize the metaphorical link between the Newtonian cosmological perceptions and modern political approach, this article closely examines the mechanical roots of modern political imaginary with a focus on Hobbes’ formative political model. Metaphors and models are to be considered among the ontological elements constructing reality as well as beings aesthetic patterns embellishing expression and facilitating understanding. The construction of a worldview through metaphors is described in related literature with a special form of symbolic thinking called a “root metaphor.” Root metaphors constitute the common and fundamental – and mostly unconscious – assumptions of a certain epoch. The seventeenth century, when the general thought switched from the Aristotelian worldview to the modern one, is one of the most critical periods of European history. Until then the reality had been considered as a hierarchical and moral whole functioning as the source of meaning and value, while for the European mind it turned into a physical extension expressed only in mathematical terms in the seventeenth century. Therefore, this transformation meant an extraordinary transition from an organic to a mechanistic root metaphor for the ‘Western mind’. This mechanistic root metaphor has influenced modern social and political imaginaries in a remarkable way. For, a numerical world devoid of soul and vitality and composed of an infinite number of physical particulars could no longer serve as the source of meaning and value. Accordingly, politics came to be regarded as an autonomous realm divorced from any transcendental set of values in the modern perception of reality. In this context, political meanings and values began to be defined merely in an anthropocentric way. The founding father of the modern political imaginary is Thomas Hobbes, who was the first to construct a model for politics and the state on the basis of the mechanistic root metaphor. This model has continued to be the main paradigm of political conception in the West until today.

The Political Legitimacy of the Modern Age

This essay offers an essentially Foucauldean reading of the relation between religion, politics and revolution. Whereas Schmitt condemns the modern age as a politically derelict expression of the ruination of the theologico-political project of Christian Europe, the descent of sovereign politics into mere economy, the exemplification of which is liberalism, Blumenberg defends it as a reoccupation, via the affirmation of a Baconian form of human self-assertion, of the ruined space of Christian nominalism. This essay refuses the enframings offered classically by both Schmitt and Blumenberg. It maintains, instead, that the political problematic of the modern age is distinguished neither by dereliction (Schmitt) nor reoccupation (Blumenberg), but by its radically heterogeneous difference from the theologicopolitical problematic of revealed religion; specifically that of the Christianity of the North Atlantic rim. The source of that radically heterogeneous difference lies in the difference between the spatio-temporal horizons of possibility and operability in which the problematisation of politics, rule and government takes place within each of these traditions. On the one hand, the time of creation and salvation, and on the other, the time of facticity and finitude.

Michael DILLON
Foundations of the World Order: An Introduction to the Literature on the Circle of Justice

Composed of the terms “circle” and “justice,” the traces of the concept of the circle of justice are found in the pre-Sassanid Iranian, Mesopotamian and Indian sources. As formulated within the framework of justice, the concept is first found in Sirr al-Asrar, written during the Sassanid period and influenced by the Hellenic thought. Later, the concept is found in a transformed and enriched form in Islamic sources. In terms of its theoretical background and principles, the Circle of Justice is derived from the classical moral philoso phy and view of nature as well as cosmology and metaphysics. In political terms, on the other hand, it is a brief and useful expression of a power politics whose legitimacy comes from religion and law; social, economic and military power are dependent on land. The ultimate purpose of such politics is eternal sustainability, and its main instrument and basis is justice. Therefore, the Circle of Justice is one of the fundamental elements of the medieval political and moral philosophy. In this literature essay, we discuss the development of the short form of the the Circle of Justice in the Islamic political thought from an historical-descriptive, rather than theoretical-analytical, perpective from its inception to the end of the 16th century. We try to present in a detailed and comprehensive manner the different versions of this short form, its sources, main elements, definitions, the contexts in which it is used, the works that discuss it and their versions as well as the regions and states in which they were written. The specific aim of this article is to seek an answer to the following questions: How many versions does the short form of the circle of justice have? To whom are the sources of these versions attributed? How was the short form transferred to the Islamic political culture? What kind of books cite this short form in Islamic political literature? And when, where and for whom were they penned? How is the short form of the circle of justice defined in these books? What are the elements of this short form, and in what context these elements are discussed? The exploration of these questions reveals the fact that the short form of the circle of justice with all three versions of it was transferred from external sources into the Islamic culture. However, it is also clear that the concept was also adapted and transformed by Islamic sources thereby becoming more sophisticated and circulated among intellectuals

“Only a Thorn Springs from the Milkvetch”: Al-Suyuti’s View of the Ulema and Politics

Jalâl al-dîn al-Suyuti (d. 911/1505), who lived in Cairo during the reign of Mamluks, is said to have written about five hun-dred works on intellectual and religious topics, which spread all around the Islamic world due to their popularity. Al-Suyuti paid attention to scholarly responsibilities in social life and participated in many social-political debates during his lifetime. He tried to demonstrate the ideal political attitude of a scholar according to Sunnah by means of the treatises he wrote concerning the relationship between the rulers and the ulemâ. The literatüre on al-Suyuti’s works shows that he wrote twenty treatises on politics, one of which was his Ma rawah al-asâtin fî adam al-majii ilâ al-salâtin, which was a compilation of narratives that regulate the relation between rulers and scholars. The author also prepared and presented to the sultan a summary of this treatise under the title of al-Risala al-Sultaniyya. It was read before the sultan, who then felt a great sorrow due to both the narratives and the Suyuti’s attitude. Moreover, the treatise argued that for scholars forming a close relationship with the sultan is against the Sunnah, and explained it with the examples taken from Suyuti’s own life, Based on these accounts, this article establishes Suyuti’s political biography. It also discusses the content and the sources of this work, and provides information on the whereabouts of the copies of this short treatise. Finally, it contains a full translation of the work.