Negation, Structure, Transformation: Alain Badiou and the New Metaphysics

Becky Vartabedian 1
  • 1 Regis University,, Denver, United States of America


In this article, I discuss Alain Badiou’s 2008 address titled “The Three Negations.” Though the text was originally presented in a symposium concerning the relationship of law to Badiou’s theory of the event, I discuss the way this brief address offers an introduction to the broad sweep of Badiou’s metaphysics, outlining his accounts of being, appearing, and transformation. To do so, Badiou calls on the resources of three paradigms of negation: from classical Aristotelian logic, from Brouwer’s intuitionist logic, and in paraconsistent logics developed by DaCosta. I explain Badiou’s use of negation in the three primary areas of his metaphysics, as well as to diagnose the degrees of transformation that may have occurred in a situation. My analysis of Badiou’s use of negation in this text is aided by examples from his broader ontological oeuvre. I also explain the underlying requirement in Badiou’s work that formal considerations - mathematical or logical - get their sense by being tethered to readily-identifiable political, aesthetic, scientific, or interpersonal concerns. I conclude by addressing the foundation Badiou’s work establishes for pursuing a new metaphysics, and by discussing certain of the liabilities that remain in the wake of his account.

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