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Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière

ALAIN BADIOU has likened the relation between philosophy and art to that between master and hysteric in Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic terms. The hysteric seeks a master to explain to her who she is and to convert her unprocessed truth into a form of transmissible knowledge. But the hysteric—or art—is never satisfied with what she is told. Philosophy’s answers always fall short or miss the mark, and his own status as master is ultimately called into question.

To preserve his authority, philosophy has three choices. He can, taking decisive measures, as Plato proposed should be done with poetry, banish art from the community to which it has only brought confusion. Or he can ignore its unanswerable demands and domesticate it, taking it only for the practical pleasures it offers and nothing more. Or, finally, he can relent and idolize art for the profound truth that in the

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