Badiou on the Master-Signifier

Žižek (left) converses with Badiou.

Žižek (left) converses with Badiou.

Slavoj Žižek, in his book Violence, writes about Badiou’s views of the Master-Signifier and postmodernism:

Alain Badiou develops the notion of “atonal” worlds-monde atone-which lack the intervention of a Master-Signifier to impose meaningful order onto the confused multiplicity of reality…

A basic feature of our postmodern world is that it tries to dispense with this agency of the ordering Master-Signifier: the complexity of the world needs to be asserted unconditionally.  Every Master-Signifier meant to impose some order on it must be deconstructed, dispersed: “the modern apology for the ‘complexity’ of the world…is really nothing but a generalized desire for atony.”  Badiou’s excellent example of such an “atonal” world is the politically correct vision of sexuality as promoted by gender studies with its obsessive rejection of binary logic: the world is a nuanced world of multiple sexual practices which tolerates no decision, no instance of the Two, no evaluation, in the strong Nietzschean sense of the term. (Žižek, 34-35)

Source

Žižek, Slavoj.  Violence.  New York: Picador, 2008.

2 Responses to “Badiou on the Master-Signifier”


  1. 1 caterpillar, hungry September 12, 2009 at 7:31 am

    when you shatter the glassworld of binary oppositions is all that one has leftover that of simply shattered glass?

    is Badiou recollecting the possibility of a 4th dimension….


  1. 1 Badiou on the Master-Signifier « The Mustard Seed Trackback on September 8, 2009 at 7:09 pm

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