Volume 63, Issue 1, Winter 2019
Lack and Excess / Zero and One
On Concrete Universality in Dialectical Materialism
How can a set throw itself into itself and remain a set and an element of itself at the same time? This is obviously impossible, as Bertrand Russell has prominently shown. One simply cannot pick a trash can up and throw it into itself. Now, Hegel and Badiou, but also the anti-Hegelian W. Benjamin, take different positions on the subject when they refer time and again to versions of “concrete universality” as an oxymoronic structure that touches ontologically upon their theoretical as well as their practical philosophies. The article tries to show how the philosophers affirm the mentioned paradox as central for the understanding of Dialectical Materialism in its classical (nineteenth-century) as well as in its modern (twentieth-century) and contemporary (twenty-first-century) understanding.