‘The Rational Kernel of the Hegelian Dialectic’ by Alain Badiou


The Rational Kernel of the Hegelian Dialectic is the last in a trilogy of political-philosophical essays, preceded by Theory of Contradiction and On Ideology, written during the dark days at the end of the decade after May ‘68. With the late 1970’s “triumphant restoration” in Europe, China and the United States, Badiou and his collaborators return to Hegel with a Chinese twist. By translating, annotating and providing commentary to a contemporaneous text by Chinese Hegelian Zhang Shi Ying, Badiou and his collaborators attempt to diagnose the status of the dialectic in their common political and philosophical horizon. Readers of Badiou’s more recent work will find a crucial developmental step in his work in ontology and find echoes of his current project of a ‘communist hypothesis’. This translation is accompanied by a recent interview that questions Badiou on the discrepancies between this text and his current thought, on the nature of dialectics, negativity, modality and his understanding of the historical, political and geographical distance that his text introduces into the present.