‘The Adventure of French Philosophy’ by Alain Badiou

Published by Verso in 2012

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The Adventure of French Philosophy is essential reading for anyone interested in what Badiou calls the ‘French moment’ in contemporary thought.

Badiou explores the exceptionally rich and varied world of French philosophy in a number of groundbreaking essays. Included are the often-quoted review of Louis Althusser’s canonical works For Marx and Reading Capital and the scathing critique of ‘potato fascism’ in Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus. There are also talks on Michel Foucault and Jean-Luc Nancy, and reviews of the work of Jean-François Lyotard and Barbara Cassin, notable points of interest on an expansive tour of modem French thought.

Guided by a small set of fundamental questions concerning the nature of being, the event, the subject, and truth, Badiou pushes to an extreme the polemical force of his thinking. Against the formless continuum of life, he posits the need for radical discontinuity; against the false modesty of finitude, he pleads for the mathematical infinity of everyday situations; against the various returns to Kant, he argues for the persistence of the Hegelian dialectic; and against the lure of ultraleftism, his texts from the 1970s vindicate the role of Maoism as a driving force behind the communist Idea.

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