Alain Badiou takes on the standard bearer of the "linguistic turn" in modern philosophy, and anatomizes the "antiphilosophy" of Ludwig Wittgenstein, in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Addressing the crucial moment where Wittgenstein argues that much has to be passed over in silence—showing what cannot be said, after accepting the limits of language and meaning—Badiou argues that this mystical act reduces logic to rhetoric, truth to an effect of language games, and philosophy to a series of esoteric aphorisms. in the course of his interrogation of Wittgenstein's anti-philosophy, Badiou sets out and refines his own definitions of the universal truths that condition philosophy. Bruno Bosteels' introduction shows that this encounter with Wittgenstein is central to Badiou's overall project—and that a continuing dialogue with the exemplar of anti-philosophy is crucial for contemporary philosophy.
“A figure like Plato or Hegel walks here among us.”
“The story of Wittgenstein’s career is that of coming to believe that philosophy’s salvation lies in its aspiring to the condition of poetry. For Badiou, as a Platonist, that is a counsel of despair.”
“Wittgenstein’s Anti-Philosophy is another attempt to shore up the division between Anglo-American and European philosophy. But in doing so the ancillary effect is a text that also brings the two traditions into an unlikely conversation.”
“Though Badiou’s studies fall outside the mainstream of research into Wittgenstein’s philosophy, they are thought-provoking and contain bold statements and innovative interpretations.”
“Antiphilosophy and the valorization of the mystical is anathema to Badiou, it smacks of religious faith, but he is not immune to the power of Wittgenstein’s thought and he worries at it like a dog with a bone. The two philosophers share a tight cogency in their writing that does not suffer foolish words gladly and Wittgenstein’s Antiphilosophy is, in its own way, as carefully packed as the Tractatus. It is a book to read slowly, to re-read and ponder what drove Wittgenstein to argue and formulate so compellingly the notion that the only truth worth its name is that which results in an affirmative when a proposition is compared with empirical reality.”