Alain Badiou – the different regimes of discourse – II

Josef Albers, Diptic, 1934


Considerations about the book "São Paulo: the foundation of universalism”.

The triggering of Alain Badiou's study on Paulo surprisingly leads to the concentration camp. Using Primo Levi, the field will be seen as the production of differences at all times, where the self is a closed substance generating closed names. Already in the Pauline predication, the truth is the result of a work and the new subject is identified with the figure of the militant.


Alain Badiou addresses the differences between Paulo and Nietzsche, both linked to the event. But, according to Badiou, there is an antecedence of Paulo in relation to Nietzsche, which leads the German philosopher not to forgive him, falsifying him.

They would not be rivals in the sense of thinking differently, but adversaries. Against Nietzsche's claim in section 43 of The Antichrist, according to which, Paulo would have displaced the center of gravity of life to nothingness, Badiou resumes a fragment of Paulo: “It is here and now that life takes revenge on death, here and now that we can live affirmatively”.

By proceeding with this deliberate falsification of Paul, even forgetting that his epistles are prior to the evangelical narratives, Nietzsche would end up proceeding exactly like every theorist of truth, who does not believe that truth is related to history, testimony or memory.

Nietzsche's mistake, however, would be to interpret that the displacement of the center of gravity of existence, in Paulo, had been in conformity with death and hatred. For Badiou, this displacement was based on the principle of over-existence, characteristic of the event, from which affirmative life was restored and refounded (Nietzsche would also have transferred the center of gravity of the lives of men trapped in a nihilistic decadence).


In this light, and underlining Paul's anteriority and invention, great politics is history broken in two, Zarathustra is the subjective declaration that supports itself, and the superman, the new man as the end of slavery and affirmation. of life.


It is worth mentioning, as a fundamental characteristic of the third discourse, the Christian one, its divided form, which carries the universal: “for you are not under the law, but under grace”. Paul's famous passage indicates a structure in the sentence that contains a suspension and an affirmation: "not... but". From a new era, the subject, due to the event that opens the way of the spirit, starts to have a new constitution: the divided form of the flesh and the spirit, subjective ways that have as objects, respectively, death and death. life. This divided structure is fundamental because neither is conventional legality and a particular state of the world on the one hand (Greek and Jewish case), nor is it pure spirit on the other hand (miraculous discourse).

With reference to this last discourse, grace establishes a bond with truth, constituting a kind of ultimate habitation. What will constitute uniqueness to the Christian discourse would then be its escape from the state and the affirmation of becoming. Hence the no and the yes. There is a concern, when saying “no” to legality, not to fall into its opposite side, which would be, in the end, a way of reducing oneself to what was previously denied. Running away from the state is not falling into the dangerous game of opposition. Hence the no and the yes of a double structure.


It is necessary to establish the difference between Heidegger, Paulo and Hegel: in the first, the state of affairs or situation would be underlined (in this sense, we refer to the process of incarnation and finitude, the being-to-death); the opposite of this is the event, by nature, irreducible to death and therefore linked not to the incarnation, but to the resurrection (here the place, the situation is extracted); and, finally, the dialectical thought that denies death, conserving it.

In this last aspect, the resurrection would be linked to the Almighty: a moment of self-development of the Absolute. Time becomes fundamental, decisive, because the previous stages would be required for spirituality to be externalized in finitude, according to Hegel's dialectical thought.

What Alain Badiou underlines in Paul, going against the grain of this dialectical thought, is a kind of secularized conception of grace, linked to the process of the universality of truth: "every existence can one day be transposed by what happens to it and, from then on, dedicate to what is worth to everyone”. In this sense, the event or grace by which we are affected does not come from the previous negation. It is as if it came to us, not from a development, but through a fortuitous encounter, in the gaps of the law.

With that, the event detaches itself from the situation. And, consequently, suffering is not invested with a redemptive function. Tribulations have no saving significance. The event in Paulo is not a consequence, but only the consolation, the wager for those who suffer. Unlike dialectical thinking, Paulo does not make masochistic propaganda.


But if Paulo flees from the dialectical perspective when devising death as a configuration of the real through the subjective way of the flesh, and, therefore, not having any sacred function, on the other hand, death and life would be thoughts, dimensions entangled in the subject, and, consequently, they would be questions of choice to be made by that subject himself. With that, for Paulo, the Platonic separation of body and soul, the first being mortal and biological, and the second, expression of life and surviving the body, lose resonance. Body and soul are indistinguishable. This substantial separation, for Paul, loses its meaning. What exists is the subject: the resurrection of the body is the resurrection of the subject. And if there are two subjective ways, death and life, flesh and spirit, they are ways of being in the world.


Immanentizing the conditions of the event does not mean making it necessary. Because the event is incalculable grace. Hence, the equality with God that Christ's death provides enters into the composition of the event, but is not the event. This one, to be so, extracts the deadly location.

Death, seen from this perspective, of equality and filiation, then breaks with the father's radical transcendence, creating the relevant place for the event. This is what Paul will call reconciliation. But the resurrection of Christ is Man's invention of a new life. There is then a difference and one does not contain the other; we can say, at most, that one is inferred from the other. The death of Christ means that the resurrection of Christ, that is, the event itself, is destined for the subjective situation of man. But to destine does not mean to be. Christ's resurrection does not contain his death.


The law and the event express the exception and the excess. In the first case, God, which Alain Badiou calls the fallacious “One”, is only designated to those who recognize and practice the injunctions that the law enunciates. With this, the divine one is objectified, designating a particularity and, consequently, its unity is decomposed and absent. The law is always predicative, particular and partial; salvation, in this case, is at the mercy of the works cited by it and is only achieved if there is merit. With this, a legal or contractual approach to the subject is established: what underlies a man are his rights or what is due to him. Human rights have their inscription here.

Salvation, however, can come from grace, from the gratuity of the event. In this case, it is not prescribed: it is incalculable. Here, the divine one ceases to designate a particularity, being intended for everyone, without exception, because it has no law that restricts it. Universality, therefore, has to do with uniqueness that has not been decomposed or objectified. It can only be destined for everyone, it can only be universal, which is one (instead of this uniqueness leading us to speculation about substance in Greek philosophy, or about the supreme being in Jewish discourse, in Paul it leads us to destination).

This gratuity of the event is subjectivated as faith. What matters here are not the works prescribed by the law and performed by man, substantiating his rights, but the declaration of the event through faith, gratuitously as the event was. Salvation here does not come as a human right, but as a gift.

The difference, then, between the good work and the event, both too human, is that the former is named, controlled, and enumerated by the law; the event, on the other hand, has no predicate, it is singular and without number (nothing controls it and, for that very reason, it exceeds itself – it lives under the regime of excess).


Therefore, a throw of the dice will never abolish chance. Thought issues the throw of the dice, it is the throw of the dice itself. And yet, he is unable to think through to the end the chance that results from it. This is because chance is excessive on the very thought that conditions it. However, chance has been removed from thought. Perhaps, then, we can think of chance as the extracted event, coming to make this thought itself active.


It is necessary to consider two doctrines of the multiple: a multiplicity marked by the predicate of its limit, which is represented by the commandment of the law (in this case, the law commands a predicative mundane multiplicity, giving each part of the whole its due); and another kind of multiplicity that exceeds its own limit, thus preventing it from being represented as a totality (not only exceeding itself but also the fixed distributions of the law).

Sin is only possible within the regime of worldly multiplicity: the law prohibits the object, desire transgresses, making it an object of desire. This autonomy of desire in relation to the subject, which is a consequence of the law, creating a kind of automatism of repetition, typical of the unconscious, came to produce impotence: the inability of living thought to prescribe action. The law, therefore, governing this type of multiplicity, which we call mundane, would come to produce the decentering of the subject, previously full: knowledge and will on the one hand, and doing and acting on the other; the will and the self on the side of death; sin and desire on the side of life. The Lacanian interpretation of the cogito echoes this same situation of an existence under law: where I think, I am not there; and where I am, I don't think.

The Christian discourse, through the resurrection of Christ, would reorganize this division, under the sign of the event: in this case, the subject is reactivated in the service of truth (thought is sustained in the power of doing), preventing him from resting; and death would be on the side of unconscious desire. In this reorganization under the regime of another kind of multiplicity, the excessive, the trans-literal path, which does not confer a prescription on salvation and which is properly the path of thought, becomes active.

Hence why it is chance, as an event, that makes thought active.


Alain Badiou will underline the parallel between event and truth, as well as the difference between faith and love. Under the sign of the law, the subject had exiled himself in the closed form of the Ego, which provided a separation between thinking and doing (one did what one did not think due to the autonomy of desire).

It would remain for us to think of another kind of law, no longer linked to legal commandments (neither to the flesh nor to the situation) but to the spirit. A law, therefore, universal. Therefore, this law, which is not literal, because it does not prescribe the situation through rites or people, that is, without the negative form of the commandments, has a unique maxim: “love your neighbor as yourself”. Pure affirmation, this law of rupture with conventional law, is preceded by the force of love, which comes to attest to it.

There would then be an antecedent to this new law: the force of love, which is a subjective force, making thought a potency. Faith prescribes the possibility, but love realizes it. The difference between the two is perhaps the same as that between situation and salvation. Man is justified by faith (faith is the space of a deliverance; but it is, by itself, incapable of effecting deliverance). Faith is the declaration of a possible power of thought, moreover, it is of the essence of faith to declare itself publicly: declared conviction. In this sense, the subject who finds the living unity of thought and action is completely different from the mystical subject, because, for the latter, his intimate conviction does not need to be declared.

What the maxim of the new law will express is precisely this subordination to faith. However, this subjectivation by faith has to be unfolded for all. These two moments are part of this new subjective organization: (1) faith and love (self-love as a consequence of the resurrection; (2) the unfolding of this love, through conviction, for everyone – the latter being the militant dimension of all truth).

The fidelity of truth to the event comes, therefore, from its universality, which is what makes it exist in the world, and whose subjective form is love. Militant dimension and subjective process of truth.

Perhaps we could conclude here by saying that the destination for all is what makes the truth militant: the materiality of universalism is the militant dimension of all truth. While your subjective process is love.


It is worth emphasizing one more element, in addition to faith and love, which together with both will constitute the new subjective organization: hope.

Hope, as a militant energy, will not take on, in this new organization, a hope of reward. If it were, it would be realigned to the object. Because the hope of distributive justice, expressed in the final judgment, typical of the classic objectifying doctrine, would always see rewards and fulminations. To this objective victory, Paulo opposes, waving the figure of disinterest: hope expects nothing; it's just patience, endurance and faithfulness. That is, hope in the subject would remain linked to the pure subjective, to subjective victory.

Within this new perspective, the enemy is not an object to be fulminated, just as the church or the union would not be the winning objects. The enemy is a path of thought, a subjective figure of death, co-present in the universal destiny of love, not instructing any judicial division between the saved and the damned.


The most important function of hope in this new subjective configuration would be to articulate the singular and the universal. And in this way, establish a subjective unit (hope is the subjectivity of this unit). Singularity, what makes me identify as a subject, my self-esteem, my thinking, everything that we will call faith, is something that acts. It is not a faith that hopes and believes in the future, in justice. But this openness to the truth would be insufficient if it were not intended for everyone, and this can only be achieved through the power of love. Thought and strength will be articulated through hope, as they will be exercised in the here and now. The test is not the sense of affliction that will be rewarded in the future, but the tenacity of love. Hope is, therefore, this daily exercise of the here and now, the practical universality of love in the proof of reality. Therefore, for Paul, hope does not deceive.

It is interesting to observe that, for Jacques Lacan, anguish does not deceive because it is the result of an excess of reality. In Paul, however, what does not deceive, hope, is not the result of reality, but what indicates it. Hope is this here and now, articulating thought and strength, the singular and the universal, granting unity to the new subjective configuration.


Without the instance of the universal, the singular becomes just a particular, that is, a question of number. Constituted by the law, this particular will be inserted in the subjective way of death.


Faced with the event, as well as with the post-event moment, that is, the procedure of truth, we find ourselves bifurcated between the different and the same. And in this sense, it is through this double conviction that the Christian discourse, via Pauline preaching, will be established. It differs, at the same time, from moralizing sectarianism, based on customs and opinions, as well as it differs from the philosophical perspective. The procedure of truth will inherit this universalism established by Paul: opinion is external and compatible with the path of truth (for philosophy, opinion is external and incompatible, while, for the moralist, it is internal to the project of truth).

When Paul rebels against the two great historical references of the time, the philosophical discourse and the Jewish discourse, he actually sets out to establish the foundations of universalism. This does not mean abolishing the Jewish particularity, nor disregarding the Old Testament, which is very present in his texts. At Epistle to the Romans, chapter 2, verse 10, is transcribed “Glory, honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first, then to the Greek”. That is, the dominant place of Jewish difference is maintained, but there is no submission of post-event universality to this particularity. It is important to underline this aspect in order to differentiate the Pauline preaching, the basis of the Christian and universalist discourse, from the two types of discourses that prevailed at the time.

The disregard of the situation on the part of philosophy and the disregard of the “for all” on the part of Jewish discourse are abandoned by Paul. His post-event work, however, does not abolish the cited references, it just makes a displacement, while in John's gospel, much later than Paul's epistles, the differentiating regime of exceptions and exclusions is reinstated. In Paul, neither the secondary cause (distribution of responsibilities) nor the essential cause (Trinitarian theology) are contemplated.


The strength of the universal over difference as difference is worth checking out in the work carried out by Paulo because there is no way to disregard equality from the perspective of universalism. It's Paul's counterbalancing technique: he will never get into a dead-end controversy, disagreeing with a cultural rite; but, on the other hand, he neutralizes the inequality of the rite, through what Badiou calls “second symmetrization”: he complements a cultural difference with another difference, neutralizing inequality. According to the first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 7, verse 4, "the woman does not have authority over her body, but the husband"; but the text continues “and, at the same time, the husband does not have authority over his body, but his wife”.

Instead of unilateral obligations, Paulo introduces symmetrical obligations, establishing a universalizing egalitarianism, a way of recognizing the universal through the different. In other words, it is one of the ways in which the universal presents itself. In music, the same melody could not be recognized if it weren't for the different timbres. This is how the truth cuts through all differences, neutralizing inequality. But in the universality of the declaration of the event lies the form of the universal over difference as same.

The strength of the universal would then appear from these two perspectives: as different and as the same; as a world and as an event.


The cut that Paul establishes does not concern the explicit content of Christian doctrine, but the mythological assertion of the resurrection, that narrative statement that has more to do with a fable than with a real event. This gives his speeches their own characteristics that differentiate them both from Philosophy and from the practices with which art, science, politics and love are identified. For these, what is evident is the production of a universal that will be linked to effective or real procedures of truth. As for Philosophy, the issue is to forge the category of truth, that is, the general categories of universalism.

The cut that Paulo establishes will be of a theoretical nature – he is not interested in the general categories of the universal, nor in the production of this universal linked to the real, but in the laws of universality in general: universal thought, linked as it is to the singular and fictitious event, it is effected as a force (there is no difference between saying and doing, or, between thought and force) and is intended for everyone. In this sense, universalism, and its fictitious origin proves it, is an absolute subjective production. It starts with otherness to produce the Same and the Equal.

Its origin is the event as a supernumerary grace for every (singular) particularity, and the result of the procedure of truth is sustained by itself, independently of the Court or the Critique (in this case, it is neither judgmental nor predicative) – which comes to establish the militant subject of truth, as a counterpoint to the transcendental or substantial subject. Truth is the result of work.


Therefore, thought never waits for the event. Since thought is effected as a force, it is always actual, operative. As such, it escapes conformation. Here it is worth making a distinction: universalism, which Paul lays the foundations for, has nothing to do with dialectics; it is not a matter of denying particularism; the universal is the forwarding of a distance concerning an ever-subsistent particularity. Living with the century but without letting it conform. And renewal is always on the mind.


Alain Badiou, by rebelling against the argument that universalism as a production of the Same, would have produced the concentration camp, in which each one, being no more than a body on the verge of death, is absolutely equal to any other, demonstrates the imposture of such an argument with recourse to Primo Levi. According to him, the field produces differences at all times and the incessant differentiation of the lowest is torture. For this incessant production of differences to which the field gives vent would obey the law of the different, the law of exclusion that delimits the superior race as absolute difference. In this case, the “like yourself” does not allow itself to be projected anywhere, it is a closed substance generating closed names, assigning predicates and hierarchical values ​​to particular subsets.

In the Christian discourse, whose bases are established by Paulo, the production of the Same is internal to the law of the Same, according to which, the militant of the truth identifies himself, like any other, from the universal: “love the other as yourself same” – substance that opens up, to the detriment of its own particularity. Names decline and declare themselves in all languages, across all differences – a name that predates the Tower of Babel, but circulates through it; names like "hope".

*Rogério Skylab is an essayist, singer and composer.

To read the first part of the article click on


Alain Badiou. São Paulo: the foundation of universalism. Translation: Wanda Nogueira Caldeira Brant. São Paulo, Boitempo, 2009, 142 pages.


See this link for all articles


  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • Letter to the presidentSquid 59mk,g 18/06/2024 By FRANCISCO ALVES, JOÃO DOS REIS SILVA JÚNIOR & VALDEMAR SGUISSARDI: “We completely agree with Your Excellency. when he states and reaffirms that 'Education is an investment, not an expense'”
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives
  • PEC-65: independence or patrimonialism in the Central Bank?Campos Neto Trojan Horse 17/06/2024 By PEDRO PAULO ZAHLUTH BASTOS: What Roberto Campos Neto proposes is the constitutional amendment of free lunch for the future elite of the Central Bank
  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • Hélio Pellegrino, 100 years oldHelio Pellegrino 14/06/2024 By FERNANDA CANAVÊZ & FERNANDA PACHECO-FERREIRA: In the vast elaboration of the psychoanalyst and writer, there is still an aspect little explored: the class struggle in psychoanalysis
  • The melancholic end of Estadãoabandoned cars 17/06/2024 By JULIAN RODRIGUES: Bad news: the almost sesquicentennial daily newspaper in São Paulo (and the best Brazilian newspaper) is rapidly declining