Truth is the truth of relativity
In my post ‘A new kind of atheist’ I proposed that overdetermined and inconsistent meanings of existence constitute the whole truth of reality and is in no way a failure to cognitively map our situation. I suggested that this understanding of the Real very well might make ‘suprarational faith vs rational nihilism’ a misconceived dualism. What I lack in rhetorical eloquence I leave to Žižek to make up the difference. Pay particular attention to the final sentence!
…everything is not just the interplay of appearances, there is a Real–this Real, however, is not the inaccessible Thing, but the gap which prevents our access to it, the “rock” of the antagonism which distorts our view of the perceived object through a partial perspective. And, again, the “truth” is not the “real” state of things, that is, the “direct” view of the object without perspectival distortion, but the very Real of the antagonism which causes perspectival distortion. The site of truth is not the way “things really are in themselves,” beyond their perspectival distortions, but the very gap, passage, which separates one perspective from another, the gap (in this case: social antagonism) which makes the two perspectives radically incommensurable. The “Real as impossible” is the cause of the impossibility of ever attaining the “neutral” non-perspectival view of the object. There is a truth, everything is not relative–but this truth is the truth of the perspectival distortion as such, not the truth distorted by the partial view from a one-sided perspective (The Parallax View, 281)
From my understanding, Alain Badiou seems to offer the same wisdom. In every axiomatic set there exists a void or gap that is uncounted in the situation. But what makes Badiou radical is that he locates truth precisely in the void rather than in spite of it. What’s more, one is a subject of truth if s/he locates him- herself in the void. All this comes to mean that our understanding and explaination of reality is in no way incomplete in the same way theology thinks of it. The truth is not “to come” in an eschatological unfolding or (thinking Derridian here) infinitely deferred. The partial, distorted and perspectival view of the Real is truth. Nietzsche, to prove this point for Žižek, failed to articulate the “right” position because he failed to recognize truth in the struggle for a “non-perspectival view”. Žižek’s concluding point is this: subjects must “come to peace with incommensurability itself“.
Despite this being a relatively short post, this sums up the fruit of a year of researching alternatives to the continental/analytic philosophy divide–primarily through the works of Deleuze, Badiou and Žižek. One of the prime reasons I have followed theology to the extent I have is partly due to the incompleteness or closedness of philosophy. But if this alternative proves reasonable I believe I’ll be heading in different directions from before. Žižek has already been a great model for myself; a critical psychoanalytic atheist philosopher who is also interested in how theology could possibly animate critical thought.
For those interested, here are some books on my summer reading list on a continuation of this journey:
Brassier, Ray. 2007. Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction
Meillassoux, Quentin. 2008. After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency
Harman, Graham. 2009. Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics