Subtractive-Catastrophic Xenophilia


  • David Roden The Open University



Badiou, subtractive ontology, set theory, posthumanism, speculative posthumanism, inhumanism, vitalism, deconstruction, loving the alien, xenophilia


Subtraction is a critical method whereby a cognitively inaccessible reality is thought in terms of its inaccessibility or “subtraction” from discourse. In this essay I begin by considering the role of subtraction in Alain Badiou’s work, where the method receives its most explicit contemporary articulation. I then generalize subtraction beyond Badiou’s ontology to explore a productive aporia in posthumanist theory. The implicit subtraction of posthumanist epistemology and ontology, I claim, confronts theorists of the posthuman with an inescapable tension between their philosophical language and its deployment within the historical situation I call the “posthumanist predicament.” This reveals an equivalence between ontological subtraction and an empty compulsion to become what one cannot yet think, or “xenophilia.” That is, between a philosophy of limits that forecloses the thought of the posthuman (qua defined structure or subject) through subtraction and an implicit desire to construct or “become” this subtracted, unpresented posthuman.

Author(s): David Roden                    

Title (English): Subtractive-Catastrophic Xenophilia

Journal Reference: Identities: Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture, Vol. 16, No. 1-2 (Summer - Winter 2019)

Publisher: Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities - Skopje

Page Range: 40-46

Page Count: 7

Citation (English): David Roden, “Subtractive-Catastrophic Xenophilia,” Identities: Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture, Vol. 16, No. 1-2 (Summer - Winter 2019): 40-46.

Author Biography

David Roden, The Open University

David Roden’s published work has addressed the relationship between deconstruction and analytic philosophy, philosophical naturalism, the metaphysics of sound and posthumanism. His book Posthuman Life: Philosophy at the Edge of the Human (New York, 2014) explores the ethical and epistemological ramifications of Speculative Posthumanism: the thesis that there could be agents originating in human social-technical systems that become posthuman as a result of some technological alteration of their powers. His current work considers posthumanist theories of agency and their implications for aesthetics and philosophical method. He teaches at the Open University, UK.




How to Cite

Roden, D. (2019). Subtractive-Catastrophic Xenophilia. Identities: Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture, 16(1-2), 40-46.