‘Briefings on Existence: A Short Treatise on Transitory Ontology’ by Alain Badiou

Published by State University of New York Press in 2006. Download link updated on 1. July 2021.

(.pdf & .epub)

This book continues Alain Badiou’s project to posit an integral link between mathematics and ontology. Originally published as part of a trilogy in 1998, Briefings on Existence engages the ideas of Deleuze, Spinoza, Plato, Aristotle, and Kant and outlines how the philosophical inquiry into Being and Existence converges with the possible world topology of category theory.

Set against the background of a multiplication of gods that can be declared dead (the gods of religions, metaphysics, and poetry), Badiou argues that the extension of these events has fallen short of accomplishing its collective promise, but can be achieved through the mathematical understanding of ontology. After several remarkable decades of theoretical invention, French philosophy stands at a crossroads, and Badiou’s egalitarian materialism is one of its strongest calls forward.

Twice in its history, philosophy has arisen from the sophists’ threat: first with Plato and then again with Kant, who saved it from Humean skepticism. Today, when we again live in an era of globalized sophism (deconstructionist relativism, finite “weak thought”), Alain Badiou’s project is no less than to repeat the Platonic-Kantian move, and to reestablish philosophy as the theory of universal Truth. The task is immense—and the miracle is that Badiou effectively delivers what he promises. For this reason alone, Badiou’s thought is the single most important event in contemporary philosophy.

—Slavoj Žižzek

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