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New Left Review 9, May-June 2001


Terry Eagleton on Alain Badiou, Ethics. A French conundrum: can radical universality be philosophically crossed with romantic epiphany?

TERRY EAGLETON

SUBJECTS AND TRUTHS

There is a paradox in the idea of transformation. If a transformation is deep-seated enough, it might also transform the very criteria by which we could identify it, thus making it unintelligible to us. But if it is intelligible, it might be because the transformation was not radical enough. If we can talk about the change then it is not full-blooded enough; but if it is full-blooded enough, it threatens to fall outside our comprehension. Change must presuppose continuity—a subject to whom the alteration occurs—if we are not to be left merely with two incommensurable states; but how can such continuity be compatible with revolutionary upheaval?

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