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Wrestling with the AngelExperiments in Symbolic Life$
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Tracy McNulty

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231161190

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231161190.001.0001

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The Event of the Letter

The Event of the Letter

Two Approaches to the Law and its Real

(p.176) 5 The Event of the Letter
Wrestling with the Angel

Tracy McNulty

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines Paul's polemic and its centrality to Alain Badiou's theory of the event, arguing that it overlooks the way in which the Mosaic law can itself be understood as an “event” by elaborating the evental understanding of the law implicit in Pierre Legendre's writings on Jewish law and Romano-Canonical juridicism and Sigmund Freud's Moses and Monotheism. Badiou has made numerous and important contributions to the problem of the symbolic, including but not limited to the elaboration of what might be called a symbolic dimension to his theory of the event. However, his work appears to leave no room for a symbolic understanding of law. In Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism (1997), Badiou addresses the relationship between his theory of the event and questions of law. This chapter considers how Badiou's reading underscores the novelty of Paul's discourse with respect to the positions of “Jew” and “Greek.” It also discusses Legendre's analysis of the stakes of the word “Jew” in relation to the transmission at stake in the fictional structure of legalism.

Keywords:   law, Paul, Alain Badiou, theory of the event, Mosaic law, Pierre Legendre, symbolic, universalism, Jew, legalism

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