Anti-platonism

This series takes its orientation from a long remark Alain Badiou makes in his book Deleuze: The Clamour of Being, concerning the shared anti-platonism at the heart of the diversity of contemporary philosophy. The essay ‘Philosophy and Desire’, published in Infinite Thought, the collection put together by Justin Clemens and Oliver Feltham, treats with the same issue.

The argument Badiou makes is twofold: the diversity of philosophical currents, often themselves opposed - linguistic, hermeneutic, vitalist, existentialist - share a rejection of Plato; the platonism they variously reject is essentially their own construction. Thus the platonism that anti-platonism takes as it’s anti-platonic orientation is, at least in this telling, false.

To put this another way, anti-platonism is a rejection of the false representation of Plato.

So, if platonism is false and anti-platonism is the rejection of a platonism which is not Plato and anti-platonism is not in its turn a return to the question of Plato but a sort of doubling down on platonism, where are we? While this analytic manoeuvre is typical Badiou what it does open up is the chance of a new inquiry which might neatly be called, ‘what is Plato’? Moreover, it’s pretty pleasing to see that this neat three part schema is analogous to Plato’s analysis in the Republic of the three stages of separation from the Idea.

This series will be devoted to an array of thinkers and thinker types - some ancients, mostly modern - that in one way or another announce as integral to their work a distance from ‘Plato’. In tracking Plato this way, we might, via a sort of negative dialectics or even a procedure of subtraction, realise an answer to the question.

*A note on subscribing.

As someone who writes and speaks about Plato, I can’t ask for paid subscriptions. I’m glad to be able to not teach for no pay or, to cite Plato’s dramatic reversal of the line from Homer, to not knock on the doors of the rich (a line itself memorably dialecticised by Don Walker as ‘ I don’t mind taking charity/ from those that I despise’). Obviously, Walker doesn’t apply here but it’s not not worth including. However, it was the case that Socrates was happy to accept what ever was offered by any who were friends of the concept.