Badiou, Alain 1937-

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Badiou, Alain 1937-


Born 1937, in Rabat, Morocco. Education: Attended École Normale Supérieure; Ph.D.


Office—European Graduate School, 58 E. 7th St., C 5, New York, NY 10009.


Phil osopher, educator, and writer. University of Paris VIII (Vincennes-Saint Denis), Paris, France, faculty member, 1969-99; École Normale Supérieure; chair of the philosophy department; European Graduate School, New York, NY, Rene Descartes Chair.


U nion des jeunesses communistes de France.


Le concept de modèle, introduction à une épistémologie matérialiste des mathématiques, F. Maspero (Paris, France), 1969.

(With H. Jancovici, D. Menetrey, and E. Terray) Contribution au problème de la construction d'un parti marxiste-léniniste de type nouveau, F. Maspero (Paris, France), 1969.

Théorie de la contradiction, F. Maspero (Paris, France), 1975.

(With François Balmès) De l'idéologie, F. Maspero (Paris, France), 1976.

L'echarpe rouge: Romanopéra, F. Maspero (Paris, France), 1979.

Théorie du sujet, Seuil (Paris, France), 1982.

Peut-on penser la politique?, Seuil (Paris, France), 1985.

L'être et l'événement, Seuil (Paris, France), 1988, translation by Oliver Feltham published as Being and Event, Continuum (New York, NY), 2005.

Manifeste pour la philosophie, Seuil (Paris, France), 1989.

Rhapsodie pour le théâtre: Court traité philosophique, Imprimerie nationale (Paris, France), 1990.

Le nombre et les nombres, Seuil (Paris, France), 1990.

Conditions, Editions du Seuil (Paris, France), 1992.

L'éthique: Essai sur la conscience du mal, Hatier (Paris, France), 1993, translation by Peter Hallward published as Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, Verso (New York, NY), 2001.

Ahmed le subtil: Scapin 84: Farce en trois actes, Actes Sud (Arles, France), 1994.

(Author of preface) Henry Bauchau, Heureux les déliants: Poèmes, 1950-1995 / Henry Bauchau, Labor (Brussels, Belgium), 1995.

Beckett: L'increvable désir, Hachette (Paris, France), 1995.

Les Citrouilles, Actes Sud (Arles, France), 1996.

Calme bloc ici-bas: Roman, P.O.L. (Paris, France), 1997.

Politik der Wahrheit, Turia & Kant, 1997.

Saint Paul: La fondation de l'universalisme, Presses universitaires de France (Paris, France), 1997, translation by Ray Brassier published as Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 2003.

Deleuze: La clameur de l'être, Hachette (Paris, France), 1997, translation by Louise Burchill published as Deleuze: The Clamor of Being, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2000.

Abrégé de métapolitique, Seuil (Paris, France), 1998.

Manifesto for Philosophy: Followed by Two Essays: "The (Re)turn of Philosophy Itself" and "Definition of Philosophy," translated, edited, and with an introduction by Norman Madarasz, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 1999.

Circonstances, L. Scheer (Paris, France), 2003, translation by Steve Corcoran published as Polemics, part two, chapter 8 by Cécile Winter, introduction by Corcoran, Verso (New York, NY), 2006.

Infinite Thought: Truth and the Return to Philosophy (essays), translated and edited by Oliver Feltham and Justin Clemens, Continuum (New York, NY), 2003.

Theoretical Writings, edited and translated by Ray Brassier and Alberto Toscano, Continuum (New York, NY), 2004.

Handbook of Inaesthetics, translated by Alberto Toscano, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 2005.

Le siècle, Seuil (Paris, France), 2005, translation by Albero Toscano published as The Century, Polity (Cambridge, MA), 2007.

Metapolitics, translated with an introduction by Jason Barker, Verso (New York, NY), 2005.

Briefings on Existence: A Short Treatise on Transitory Ontology, translated, edited and with an introduction by Norman Madarasz, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 2006.

Logiques des mondes: L'être et l'événement, 2, Seuil (Paris, France), 2006.


Trained as a mathematician, Alain Badiou is best known as a preeminent French moral philosopher. "Influenced by Plato, Hegel, Lacan and Deleuze, he is an outspoken critic of both the analytic as well as postmodern schools of thoughts," noted the author of a biography of Badiou on the European Graduate School Web site. "His philosophy seeks to expose and make sense of the potential of radical innovation (revolution, invention, transfiguration) in every situation." The writer went on to note: "Badiou's most general goal can be described … as the effort to expose and make sense of the potential for profound, transformative innovation in any situation."

International Contemporary Art contributor Jacob Wren described Badiou's philosophy this way: "The writings … carve out their own distinct path in almost militant opposition to what he sees as philosophy's current failure to renew itself or provide effective opposition to the ‘repulsive mixture of power and opinion’ that typifies capitalism's vision of democracy. His works implore us to ‘keep going,’ keep pushing against the mere sophistry of an academic overemphasis on the limits of language." Wren added: "He urges movement towards a manner of thinking that would allow philosophy to regain its primary historical function as a search for ‘truth.’"

Being and Event, translated by Oliver Feltham, was published in the United States in 2005 and almost twenty years earlier in France. The book is considered among the author's seminal works. According to Library Journal contributor Francisca Goldsmith: "American readers … will encounter concepts they have rarely come across elsewhere." Writing of moral philosophy, the author examines past philosophical thinkers, from Plato to Lacan, and presents four core affirmations in his approach. Lauren Sedofsky, writing in Artforum International, noted that the author "makes mathematical set theory the reader's guide to some 2,500 years of problems raised by ontology. From the axioms of set theory he not only recapitulates the history of philosophy but derives all the concepts of his system." International Contemporary Art contributor Wren commented: "Badiou approaches truth from a provocative and unexpected angle. According to his central work L'être et l'événement, [the original French publication of Being and Event], the only way to become a subject is by encountering an event and then persisting in your fidelity to the truth of that event."

In Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, the author has several goals in mind. As pointed out by Michael Rothberg in Criticism: "As Badiou himself makes clear in the ‘Preface to the English Edition,’ his Ethics is mobilized by two, not always consistent desires: this slim volume is at once a critique of the taken for granted ethical culture of the contemporary political and intellectual order and the articulation of a radically different perspective on ‘Good and Evil.’ On the one hand, Badiou has used the opportunity of an invitation to write a primer on ethics in order to express his ‘genuine fury’ at the ‘moral terrorism’ of the discourse of human rights and the new US- directed, ‘humanitarian’ interventionism that it buttresses." Rothberg added: "On the other hand, he seeks to develop the practical and ethical consequences of his philosophical system." In a review in Ethics & International Affairs, Julian Bourg wrote: "The first forty-five pages … where Badiou blasts the empty hypocrisy of human rights talk, the impoverished immobility of multicultural relativism, and the vagaries of ‘otherness,’ ought to be read aloud in the public square. Particularly where ethics serves as a pale substitute for genuine politics, it deserves our most rigorous criticisms."

Infinite Thought: Truth and the Return to Philosophy is a collection of philosophical essays. "One of Badiou's main objectives … in the essays … is to demonstrate how philosophy can resume the conversation with the world that constitutes its reason for being," wrote Charlie Bertsch in Tikkun. "The essays range widely, going far beyond the sphere of his professional expertise. He writes extensively about philosophy, to be sure, but also about politics and art."

Metapolitics focuses on the author's thoughts about modern political philosophy and his belief that modern liberal philosophers are complacent. In Manifesto for Philosophy: Followed by Two Essays: "The (Re)turn of Philosophy Itself" and "Definition of Philosophy," the author questions the value of philosophy in the modern world. Noting that the book "is well worth reading," Eyal Rozmarin, writing in the Journal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture & Society, went on to write: "It may be signaling one of the most important transitions in modern philosophy, one that has great potential implications and can be a rich source of inspiration for psychoanalysis."

A contributor to Tikkun noted that Badiou has not achieved popular recognition in the United States and elsewhere because his publications in English have focused on high or intricate theory. However, the reviewer noted that in Polemics, the author "breaks his own mold." Instead of focusing on more theoretical aspects of philosophy, the author presents a series of political essays to directly address issues such as the Iraq War, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and China's Cultural Revolution. The Tikkun contributor called the book "stunning." Leon H. Brody, writing in the Library Journal, noted that "much of this work is readable, interesting, and pertinent."



Hallward, Peter, editor, Think Again: Alain Badiou and the Future of Philosophy, Continuum (New York, NY), 2005.


Adbusters, January, 2006, Ben Davis, "Philosopher of the Year."

Artforum International, October, 1994, Lauren Sedofsky, "Being by Numbers," p. 84.

C: International Contemporary Art, summer, 2005, Jacob Wren, "No Truth without a Fight."

Cabinet, winter, 2001-02, Christoph Cox and Molly Whalen, "On Evil: An Interview with Alain Badiou."

Choice, January, 2002, J.H. Barker, review of Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, p. 893; January, 2004, J.K.A. Smith, review of Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism, p. 924; May, 2005, A.D. Schrift, review of Handbook of Inaesthetics, p. 1601; May, 2006, A.D. Schrift, review of Metapolitics, p. 1613.

Chronicle of Higher Education, March 24, 2006, Richard Byrne, "Being M. Badiou: The French Philosopher Brings His Ideas to America, Creating a Buzz."

Criticism, fall, 2001, Michael Rothberg, review of Ethics; fall, 2004, Eleanor Kaufman, "Betraying Well."

Ethics, July, 1983, Grahame Lock, "The Theory of Public Choice: Vol. 2," p. 831; July, 1990, Grahame Lock, review of L'être et l'événement, p. 915.

Ethics & International Affairs, April, 2003, Julian Bourg, review of Ethics, p. 186.

French Review, February, 1999, Philippe Barbe, review of Deleuze: La clameur de l'être, p. 580.

Journal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture & Society, December, 2004, Eyal Rozmarin, review of Manifesto for Philosophy, p. 357.

Journal of Religion, April, 2005, Hans Dieter Betz, review of Saint Paul, p. 304.

Library Journal, April 1, 2006, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Being and Event, p. 98; February 1, 2007, Leon H. Brody, review of Polemics, p. 75.

Modern Theology, October, 2004, Douglas Harink, review of Saint Paul.

New Left Review, May 1, 2001, Terry Eagleton, review of Ethics, p. 155.

New Statesman, May 21, 2001, Edward Skidelsky, "Bogus Philosophy," p. 51.

Political Theory, February, 2005, Elle Myers, "Evil's Effects," p. 100.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 1999, review of Manifesto for Philosophy, p. 5; November, 2003, review of Saint Paul, p. 22; August, 2004, review of Infinite Thought: Truth and the Return to Philosophy, p. 5; November, 2004, "Theoretical Writings," p. 2; February 1, 2006, review of Metapolitics; May 1, 2006, review of Being and Event.

Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, winter, 2004, Nathan Moore, "Concepts and Localities: Badiou, Deleuze and Law," p. 143.

Symploke, winter-spring, 2006, Andrew J. Taggart, "Badiou Abridged," p. 297.

Theology Today, October, 2006, Christopher Morse, review of Saint Paul, p. 397.

Theory, Culture & Society, February, 2003, Benjamin Noys, "The Provocations of Alain Badiou," p. 123.

Tikkun, September-October, 2005, Charlie Bertsch, "Infinite Commitment," p. 72; January-February, 2007, review of Polemics, p. 81.

Times Literary Supplement, January 2, 1998, Ian Pindar, review of Deleuze, p. 7; July 6, 2001, Adam Morton, review of Ethics, p. 3; January 2, 2004, Jack Darach, review of Infinite Thought, p. 28; January 6, 2006, Alex Danchev, review of Metapolitics, p. 28; February 23, 2007, Nick Hewlett, "Miracle Worker," p. 27.


European Graduate School, (August 14, 2007), faculty profile of author.