In Logics of Worlds Badiou identifies four affects which signal the incorporation of a human animal into a subjective truth-process. These affects are terror, anxiety, courage, and justice.
The first, terror, “testifies to the desire for a great point” . This point serves as the decisive discontinuity which brings about the new in an instantaneous fashion, and completes the subject in the process. The initial point is the break in a previous situation, or world, which inaugurates the opening of the path into the new one.
The second, anxiety, “testifies to the fear of points” [ibid], in which the human animal fears the choice between two hypotheses which comes with no guarantee. Thus, anxiety, in the Kierkegaardian-Sartrean sense, comes about when the individual (or, human animal) is confronted with the realization of free and contingent choice.
The third, courage, “affirms the acceptance of the plurality of points” [ibid]. Thus, one has the courage to navigate the consequences of an event in the form of points. To once again use Kierkegaard/Sartre as the example, courage is the affect which grips the individual who has overcome the anxiety of contingency and freely willed a decision.
The final affect is justice, which “affirms the equivalence of what is continuous and negotiated, one the one hand, and of what is discontinuous and violent, on the other.” [ibid] To justice, all categories of action are thus subordinated to the absolute contingency of worlds. Justice is thus the affective sign of the egalitarian maxim.
On page 87 of LW he goes on to note that “all affects are necessary in order for the incorporation of a human animal to unfold in a subjective process, so that the grace of being immortal may be accorded to this animal.” Thus, the human animal must go through each affect to enter into the process of ‘becoming-subject’.
While I am excited and intrigued to see Badiou relying so much on language of affect (which was a major lack of Being and Event, see Gillespie, The Mathematics of Novelty, for the best critique of BEin regards to affectivity) in Logics, I am also left wondering what is actually feeling these affects? And along these same lines, how does a/the subject ‘feel’ an affect? Because the subject is non-individual and non-human (as theorized by Badiou), what is it that feels itself feelingthese affects? Is it only a collective subject-body whom is able to feel enthusiasm in regards to an emanciptory political movement? Or can the individual be equally affected by novelty in this respect?
It seems as if theorizing the pre-subjective individual as the ‘human animal’ is problematic in these regards, and it would be more constructive to theorize the existence of the non/pre-subjective ‘human animal’ as the ‘individual self’. By providing a more detailed theorization of this individual self, we can have a self whom is self relational and capable of ‘feeling itself feeling’ theseaffects which subsequently lead it into the subjective process. As anthropocentric as Badiou’s philosphy of the subject is (no matter how much he argues otherwise), it seems as if it’d be more constructive for his whole project if he would just concede to the existence of this originary individual self, which theorized properly is situated in such as a way as to be cable of feeling affects and subsequently enter the process of becoming-subject.
I’m still working my way through (the english edition of) Logics of Worlds, so more thoughts on this to come for sure. Would be interested in hearing what others are making of this language of affect in LW…