Dialectics and the measure of the world

Stuart Elden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This 'afterword' to the papers on dialectics situates the debate in the ground between Marxism and poststructuralism. Rather than a wholesale rejection of the dialectic, these authors attempt to think how poststructuralism might force an encounter with it, retaining yet transforming it. Drawing on Deleuze's characterization of abstract thought as dealing with concepts that "like baggy clothes, are much too big", and Bergson's complaint that dialectics are "too large... not tailored to the measurements of the reality in which we live", the paper moves to thinking about the relation of dialectics, measure, and world. It does so through an interrogation of a nondialectical materialism, that of Alain Badiou and his ex-student Quentin Meillassoux, particularly Meillassoux's critique of correlationism. One of the key issues raised is the return of mathematics, and its embrace within some aspects of human geography. Raising the question of how this may reverse some of the gains of poststructuralism and Marxism in combating the reduction of the quantitative revolution, the paper concludes by asking if geography is really willing to accept mathematical ordering, not merely in terms of a way of understanding the world, but as a suggestion that this is how the world actually is.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2641-2651
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironment and Planning A: Economy and Space
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes

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