Badiou's 'Being and Event': A Reader's Guide (Continuum by Christopher Norris

By Christopher Norris

Alain Badiou's Being and Event is the main unique and important paintings of French philosophy to have seemed in fresh many years. it's the magnum opus of a philosopher who's extensively thought of to have re-shaped the nature and set new phrases for the longer term improvement of philosophy in France and in different places. This booklet has been written greatly so as to clarifying Badiou's complicated and important paintings for non-specialist readers. It bargains counsel on philosophical and highbrow context, key subject matters, studying the textual content, reception and impression; and extra interpreting.

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On the other hand, that ‘decision of thought’ must have reference to a drastically altered conception of the subject that is far removed from any existentialist or phenomenological conception of the human individual as a locus of purely autonomous or self-willed choice between various, more or less live or mathematically viable options. ‘It is no longer’, he writes, ‘the founding subject, centered and reflexive, whose theme runs from Descartes to Hegel and which remains legible in Marx and Freud (in fact, in Husserl and Sartre)’.

Thus, ‘along with Heidegger, it will be maintained that philosophy as such can only be re-assigned on the basis of the ontological question’ (p. 2). That is to say, Badiou differs sharply with the mainstream analytic view that Heidegger’s way of framing this question – his distinction between Being and beings, or the ontological and the ontic – is just another species of ‘bewitchment by language’, a merely verbal confusion brought about by failing to apply certain nowadays basic logico-semantic distinctions.

That is, they would most likely find something absurd in the very idea that a single project of thought – even (or especially) one grounded in a settheoretically derived formal ontology – might have something significant to say about topics so diverse or downright ill-assorted as politics, science, art and love. However, that is precisely what this Preface sets out in summary style and what the book then proceeds to demonstrate by way of a highly structured, tightly reasoned and intricately cross-referenced process of argument sometimes reminiscent of the manner of reasoning more geometrico – ‘in the geometrical manner’ – that so appealed to rationalist philosophers of the seventeenth century.

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