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

By Christopher Norris

Alain Badiou's Being and Event is the main unique and demanding paintings of French philosophy to have seemed in contemporary many years. it's the magnum opus of a philosopher who's generally thought of to have re-shaped the nature and set new phrases for the long run improvement of philosophy in France and in different places. This booklet has been written a great deal on the way to clarifying Badiou's advanced and critical paintings for non-specialist readers. It bargains counsel on philosophical and highbrow context, key issues, studying the textual content, reception and impact; and additional studying.

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Example text

Xii). This passage will give some idea of the extent to which Badiou’s thinking goes against the current grain, at least as defined by majority opinion on the so-called ‘cultural left’. That is to say, it is unlikely to go down well with those for whom any talk of truth – let alone any talk of universally applicable standards by which certain cultures or sub-cultures might be found decidedly wanting – must be the product of a deeply conservative, authoritarian or neo-imperialist mindset. For Badiou, conversely, it is they – the cultural-linguistic relativists and adepts of this fashionable turn against truth – who have opened the way to a situation where values such as freedom, democracy and justice can be so far corrupted by false or mendacious usage as to signify just the opposite of what they could (and should) properly mean.

In which case ‘philosophy must designate, in so far as it is a matter of being qua being, the genealogy of the discourse on being – and the reflection on its possible essence – in [the mathematicians] Cantor, Gödel, and Cohen rather than in [the poets] Hölderlin, Trakl, and Celan’ (p. 10). Thus Heidegger is right, so far as Badiou is concerned, in naming ancient Greece as the inaugural site of that discourse on being and therefore as the source – and a constant point of reference – for every subsequent, no matter how radical departure onto new tracks of thought.

Thus ‘[i]t is pointless to search amongst differences for anything that might play a normative role, [since] if truths exist, they are certainly indifferent to differences’ (p. xii). Nor will this appear just a piece of ingenious paradox-mongering if one grasps the logic of Badiou’s consequent claim that ‘[c]ultural relativism cannot go beyond the trivial statement that different situations exist’, and for this very reason ‘does not tell us anything about what, among the differences, legitimately matters to subjects’ (p.

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