Investigation on logic of the real: Lautman, Deleuze, Badiou and transcendental materialism

  • Tsz Yuen Lai

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This dissertation aims to reconfigure 'materialism' against the contemporary context of philosophy. By carrying out a meta-philosophical investigation on the logical schemas, philosophical operations and deployments of the major philosophical projects of Albert Lautman (1908-1944), Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995), and Alain Badiou (1937- ), i.e., Lautman's philosophy of mathematics (especially the dialectic governing his theory of 'mathematical genesis'), Deleuze's philosophy of difference (especially the logic of event and metamorphosis underlying the 'Deleuzian genesis' extracted from Chapter IV and V of Difference and Repetition), and Badiou's mathematical ontology (especially the fundamental logical schema of his mature ontology presented in Being and Event), this dissertation attempts to show how the works of these three philosophers are contributive to the aforementioned task of the reconfiguration of materialist philosophy. In terms of the problematics of 'formalization of the real', the 'transcendental methodology', and the 'immanent principle' of reality shared by all these three philosophical projects, I propose that their works can be defined as a particular type of materialist philosophy that I call 'transcendental materialism'; and this 'transcendental materialism', in turn, ought to be comprehended according to a modern reading of Platonism, i.e., the non-orthodox re-articulation of Platonic philosophy comprised of Lautman's unorthodox-realist Platonism, Deleuze's materialism as overturned Platonism, and Badiou's materialism with the Platonic Idea. I conclude that Lautman, Deleuze, and Badiou are three philosophers of 'transcendental materialism' knotted by this modern Platonism. On the strength of the 'transcendental materialism' constituted in view of the investigation presented by this dissertation, I intend to show that Lautman's philosophy of mathematics offers the proper perspective or the 'condition' for a genuine comprehension of Deleuze's major philosophical project in the late 1960s; on the basis of this genuine comprehension, Deleuze's philosophical project, which concentrates in the study of the transcendental logic of the real instead of providing empirical knowledge of sensible objects and material entities, ought to be categorized as 'transcendental materialism', a category that is also competent to define Badiou's philosophical project, i.e., 'a materialism without object/matter'; and therefore, the philosophical demarcation within contemporary materialist philosophy ought not to be simply portrayed as 'Badiou vs. Deleuze', 'dialectical materialism vs. vitalist materialism'. The genuine philosophical demarcation within materialism today is 'Idea against Matter'. 'Transcendental materialism' is 'a materialism with the Idea' or 'a materialism of the Idea' which is against the 'naìˆve materialism' or the 'metaphysics of the Matter'. In case transcendental materialism might have been conceived as a new 'metaphysics', it is the metaphysics of the imperceptible, the inexistent, and the inconsistent. The 'material reality', after 'transcendental materialism', is 'non-All'. Concerning the far more complicated confrontations between different trends of contemporary materialist/realist philosophy, my proposal of constituting the 'transcendental materialism' can be considered as an attempt to reconfigure the current debates on materialist philosophy: to reorganize the dialogues, for instance, between Badiou and his opponents -- 'object-oriented-ontology', 'speculative realism', and 'non-philosophy'; to integrate Quentin Meillassoux's project into transcendental materialism in terms of their shared 'transcendental methodology'; and, most importantly, to 'radicalize' materialist/realist philosophy towards a theory of practice.

Date of Award3 Jan 2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorEva K W MAN (Supervisor)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Badiou, Alain
  • Deleuze, Gilles, 1925-1995
  • Lautman, Albert, 1908-1944
  • Materialism
  • Philosophy
  • Transcendentalism.

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