It is common knowledge that Nietzsche is very critical of traditional philosophy and strongly opposes a number of (if not all) philosophers, but Alain Badiou goes beyond this claim to interpret and classify Nietzsche as an “antiphilosopher.” As such, Badiou’s interpretation belongs to the vast literature focusing on Nietzsche’s critique of metaphysics and truth. However, Badiou goes a bit further and develops a notion of “antiphilosophy” that not only is critical but also has a positive impact: Nietzsche is not only a critic of metaphysics, but he is also an antiphilosopher like Pascal or Rousseau. Nietzsche. L’antiphilosophie I is the transcript from a seminar Badiou gave in 1992–93 and, as the title suggests, is the first of a series of seminars on antiphilosophers (which includes Wittgenstein, Lacan, and Saint Paul).
Badiou’s interpretation of Nietzsche is a first step in establishing his concept of “antiphilosophy,” which he introduces by posing three interrelated questions: “My strategy in this seminar will be to intertwine three interrogations: topical, on the status of the Nietzschean text; historical, asking whether the century was Nietzschean and in what sense; and generic, on the germane question of art” (16, unless noted otherwise, my translations throughout). Even though these “interrogations” are indeed intertwined, the first half of the book focuses more on the first question, and the second half focuses on the third. Badiou’s first task is to define Nietzsche’s philosophy—and that means to define what the Nietzschean text is—in order to establish and stabilize his notion of “antiphilosophy.”