Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I Bid You Badiou - Chapter 7; Paul Against the Law . . . Again

Badiou's Saint Paul Chapter 1
Badiou's Saint Paul Chapter 2
Badiou's Saint Paul - Chapters 3-4
Badiou's Saint Paul - Chapter 5
Badiou's Saint Paul - Chapter 6

In chapter 7 of Saint Paul Badiou attempts to slain the giant by approaching the theological quicksand of Paul's understanding of faith vs. works / grace vs. law. There is such enormity of thought and history connected to this discussion that I was not sure much room could be spared for additions.

And after reading over the chapter again I am not sure that much was added. The question initially was why law should be placed on the side of death. The answer is simply is that law 'objectifies' salvation disallowing the unity of thought and action. Not only is law always relegated to the particular and so cannot be part of the universal it also determines the subject in a cycle of the 'automatic repetition' of sin. Here Badiou deals extensively with Romans 7.

The law is what gives life to desire. But in so doing, it constrains the subject so that he wants to follow only the path of death.
What is sin exactly? It is not desire as such, for if it were one would not understand its link to the law and death. Sin is the life of desire as autonomy, as automatism. The law is required in order to unleash the automatic life of desire, the automatism of repetition. For only the law fixes the object of desire, binding desire to it regardless of the subject's 'will.' It is this objectal automatism of desire, inconceivable without the law, that assigns the subject to the carnal path of death.
Clearly, what is at issue here is nothing less that the problem of the unconscious (Paul calls it the involuntary, what I do not want). The life of desire fixed and unleashed by the law is that which, de-centered from the subject, accomplishes itself as unconscious automatism, with respect to which the involuntary subject is capable only of inventing death.
The law is what, designating its object, delivers desire to its repetitive autonomy.

This emergence of sin is, in keeping with his thinking, a subjective disposition. But as a sinful subjectification it is de-centers the subject dividing thought from action (what I want to do I do not do). In light of this Badiou states that salvation is possibility of thought being unseparated from power and action. Thought, in itself, cannot overcome this division. What is required is a grace that exceeds the order of thought. Grace flows from the event of the resurrection which declares that life need not be bound by death.


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