RRP: $30 (AUD)
Pub. Date: December 2011
The Rational Kernel of the Hegelian Dialectic is the last in a trilogy of political-philosophical essays, preceded by Theory of Contradiction and On Ideology, written during the dark days at the end of the decade after May ‘68. With the late 1970’s “triumphant restoration” in Europe, China and the United States, Badiou and his collaborators return to Hegel with a Chinese twist. By translating, annotating and providing commentary to a contemporaneous text by Chinese Hegelian Zhang Shi Ying, Badiou and his collaborators attempt to diagnose the status of the dialectic in their common political and philosophical horizon. Readers of Badiou’s more recent work will find a crucial developmental step in his work in ontology and find echoes of his current project of a 'communist hypothesis'. This translation is accompanied by a recent interview that questions Badiou on the discrepancies between this text and his current thought, on the nature of dialectics, negativity, modality and his understanding of the historical, political and geographical distance that his text introduces into the present.
I. Translator’s introduction
II. The Rational Kernel of the Hegelian Dialectic
- Introduction: Hegel in France/Hegel in China
- The Rational Kernel of the Hegelian Dialectic (Zhang Shi Ying’s text and annotation)
III. Interview: From the “red years” to the communist hypothesis: Three decades of dividing into two
'The Rational Kernel of the Hegelian Dialectic, first published as part of a series of Maoist booklets, is perhaps the single most important statement for anyone intent upon coming to terms with Alain Badiou’s understanding of the dialectic. The thirteen notes written by Badiou in the margin of a text from the Chinese philosopher Zhang Shiying are comparable only to the four-page summary “On the Question of Dialectics” in Lenin’s Philosophical Notebooks, which also deal with Hegel’s Logic.
Badiou’s notes do not simply annotate Zhang Shiying’s text, they also enable the reader to reconstitute the whole field of French theory and philosophy in the mid-1970s, when it was at the point of a complete ideological reversal and backlash against the “red years” of 1966-1976, augured by the rise of the New Philosophers.
Adding a highly didactic introduction as well as a fascinating interview with the author, Tzuchien Tho here continues his labor of love as a meticulous translator and editor of another of Badiou’s early works after The Concept of Model, also available from re.press.'
Bruno Bosteels, author of Badiou and Politics
'Publishing The Rational Kernel of the Hegelian Dialectic today, in the meticulous edition provided by Tzuchien Tho, has the value of an event. This means that the great importance of this publication is not exhausted by its historic value, by documenting the early stages of what would become one of the most influential philosophies of our era. It has the value of an event by not being simply a moment in a narrative of development, but as a reiteration of a locus of thought, commitment, engagement and division. To say that this is ‘early Badiou’ is to raise the usual academic defence of periodization against the power of intervention and universality.'
Mladen Dolar, author of A Voice and Nothing More
About the Author
Alain Badiou was born in Rabat, Morocco in 1937. He studied at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in the 1950s and, from 1969 until 1999, taught at the University of Paris VIII (Vincennes-Saint Denis) before returning to ENS as the Chair of the philosophy department. Much of Badiou’s life has been shaped by his dedication to the consequences of the May 1968 revolt in Paris. Long a leading member of Union des jeunesses communistes de France (marxistes-léninistes), he remains, with Sylvain Lazarus and Natacha Michel, at the centre of L’Organisation Politique, a post-party organization concerned with direct popular intervention in a wide range of issues, including immigration, labor, and housing. Alain Badiou is the author of several successful novels and plays, as well as more than a dozen philosophical works.
Tzuchien Tho has recently defended a Ph.D. dissertation on Leibniz and infinitesimals. He has published in many areas of philosophy and has participated in earlier translations and editions of Badiou’s texts (The Concept of Model with ZL. Fraser also by re.press). He is currently associated researcher at Centre International d’Etude de la Philosophie Française Contemporaine at l’Ecole Normale Supérieure where he continues to work on historical and contemporary intersections between mathematics and philosophy.