0.1. A paradox: we live in the era of number’s despotism; thought yields to the law of denumerable multiplicities; and yet (unless perhaps this very default, this failing, is only the obscure obverse of a conceptless submission) we have at our disposal no recent, active idea of what number is. …
0.2. That number must rule, that the imperative must be: ‘count!’ -who doubts this today? …
0.3. Firstly, number governs our conception of the political, with the currency -consensual, though it enfeebles every politics of the thinkable- of suffrage, of opinion polls, of the majority. Every ‘political’ convocation, whether general or local, in polling-booth or parliament, municipal or international, is settled with a count. And every opinion is gauged by the incessant enumeration of the faithful (even if such an enumeration makes of every fidelity an infidelity). What counts – in the sense of what is valued – is that which is counted. Conversely, everything that can be numbered must be valued. ‘Political Science’ refines numbers into sub-numbers, compares sequences of numbers, its only object being *shifts in voting patterns* -that is, changes, usually minute, in the tabulation of numbers. Political ‘thought’ is a numerical exegesis.
0.4. Number governs the quasi-totality of the ‘human sciences’ (although this euphemism can barely disguise the fact that what is called ‘science’ here is a technical apparatus whose pragmatic basis is governmental). Statistics invades the entire domain of these disciplines. The bureaucratisation of knowledges is above all an infinite excrescence of numbering.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, sociology unveiled its proper dignity -its audacity, even- in the will to submit the figure of communitarian bonds to number. It sought to extend to the social body and to representation the Galilean processes of literalisation and mathematisation. But ultimately it succumbed to an anarchic development of this enterprise. It is now replete with pitiful enumerations that serve only to validate the obvious or to establish parliamentary opportunities.
History has drawn massively upon statistical technique and is -even, in fact above all, under the auspices of academic Marxism- becoming a diachronic sociology. It has lost that which alone had characterised it, since the Greek and Latin historians, as a discipline of thought: its conscious subordination to the real of politics. Even when it passes through the different phases of reaction to number -economism, sociologism – it does so only to fall into their simple inverse: biography, historicising psychologism.
And medicine itself, apart from its pure and simple reduction to its scientific Other (molecular biology), is a disorderly accumulation of empirical facts, a huge web of blindly tested numerical correlations.
These are ‘sciences’ of men *made into numbers*, to the saturation point of all possible correspondences between these numbers and *other numbers*, whatever they might be. …
0.7. Number informs our souls. What is it to exist, if not to give a *favourable account* of oneself? In America, one starts by saying how much one earns, an identification that is at least honest. Our old country is more cunning. But still, you don’t have to look far to discover numerical topics that everyone can identify with. No one can present themselves as an individual without stating in what way they count, for whom or for what they are really counted. Our soul has the cold transparency of the figures in which it is resolved.
0.8. Marx: ‘the icy water of egotistical calculation’.3 And how! To the point where the Ego of egoism is but a numerical web, so that the ‘egotistical calculation’ becomes the cipher of a cipher.
0.9. But we don’t know what a number is, so we don’t know what we are.
Alain Badiou 2008 Number and Numbers, “0 Number Must Be Thought”
can it be that
* numbers are divisions of selves
* zero does not exist
* zero is one of the infinities
and two such inexistences being
* zero: loss of authority => one: embodied by desire (alienation)
* zero: loss of body => one: authorized by drive (separation)
two types of counting-to-one that strive to become possible and strive to make each other possible through divisions of selves a̶d̶ ̶i̶n̶f̶i̶n̶i̶t̶u̶m̶ bad infinitum…