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The Adventure of French Philosophy

Over forty years of French philosophy through the eyes of its greatest living exponent.

The Adventure of French Philosophy is essential reading for anyone interested in what Badiou calls the “French moment” in contemporary thought.

Badiou explores the exceptionally rich and varied world of French philosophy in a number of groundbreaking essays, published here for the first time in English or in a revised translation. Included are the often-quoted review of Louis Althusser’s canonical works For Marx and Reading Capital and the scathing critique of “potato fascism” in Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus. There are also talks on Michel Foucault and Jean-Luc Nancy, and reviews of the work of Jean-François Lyotard and Barbara Cassin, notable points of interest on an expansive tour of modern French thought.

Guided by a small set of fundamental questions concerning the nature of being, the event, the subject, and truth, Badiou pushes to an extreme the polemical force of his thinking. Against the formless continuum of life, he posits the need for radical discontinuity; against the false modesty of finitude, he pleads for the mathematical infinity of everyday situations; against the various returns to Kant, he argues for the persistence of the Hegelian dialectic; and against the lure of ultraleftism, his texts from the 1970s vindicate the role of Maoism as a driving force behind the communist Idea.

Reviews

  • “French philosophy still has a kick in it, and it can still turn heads. You have been warned.”
  • “One of the most important philosophers writing today.”
  • “A figure like Plato or Hegel walks here among us!”
  • “An heir to Jean-Paul Sartre and Louis Althusser.”
  • “Focused and illuminating, technical and deft.”
  • “A series of snapshots of how Badiou participates in and understands what…we might call the post-1960s moment in French philosophy.”

Blog

  • A letter from Alain Badiou


    The below is a letter from Alain Badiou regarding a critical review in
    Actu Philosophia of Emmanuel Faye’s book on Heidegger by Jean-Clet Martin. Read the review (in french) here

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  • The ancient Alain Badiou responds to the dashing Laurent Joffrin


    Alain Badiou, whose most recent book The Age of the Poets has just been published, has written the below response to Laurent Joffrin, Editorial Director of Libération, who has written an article in Libération criticising Badiou for his use of the Chinese Cultural Revolution in a recent debate:

    In the context of a debate with Marcel Gauchet on the theme ‘communism and democracy’ I invoked certain characteristics of the Chinese Cultural Revolution in service of a complex argument. This proved sufficient for Laurent Joffrin to abandon instantly the toil that doubtless occupies all of his time – the soft laying-off of almost a hundred employees from the Libération newspaper – to give his verdict: Badiou is just a frozen dinosaur.

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  • An interview with Alain Badiou: theatre and philosophy, an antagonistic and complementary old couple



    During your talk in Avignon’s ‘Theatre of Ideas’ series you evoked the tensions at work within the 2,500 year-old couple of philosophy and theatre.  In your view are these fruitful tensions, or, on the contrary, destructive ones? Nietzsche’s ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ offers evidence enough of this difficult relationship, while Socrates (helped by Euripides) wanted to sound the death knell of tragedy and herald the triumph of reason…

    Alain Badiou: There have been two fundamental currents in philosophy ever since its origins, and not just one. What Nietzsche called philosophy is a Platonism that he had largely fabricated. So you could make a lot of objections to Nietzsche even based on Plato himself. Nietzsche counterposes a certain construct of philosophy to the original fundamental power of Tragedy, the Appollonian and Dionysian, but this is still only one definition of philosophy among many others, which he uses as a sort of war machine. It ought not be forgotten that Nietzsche went so far as to say that ‘the philosopher is the criminal of criminals’ – he did not qualify his assertions.

    I think that in reality the relationship between philosophy and theatre is an ambiguous one, from its very origins.

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Other books by Alain Badiou Edited by Bruno Bosteels