On Universalism. In Debate with Alain Badiou

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I am firmly convinced that a philosophical discourse on the categories of the universal, universality, universalism – their meaning and their use – has to be a critical one. It cannot simply be a historical one, listing discourses on the universal, some of which claim to be themselves universalistic, and situating them; nor can it be simply a discourse endorsing any of them, or trying to add to an already very long list. In this matter, we (some of us…) have become cautious, even sceptical, because we have learnt that the gap between theory and practice, between principles and consequences, between cognitive and performative phrases, is intrinsic to the language of universalism, or as I prefer to say in more general terms, to any language that endeavours to “speak the universal”, as indeed do our own discourses this evening
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