(.epub, .mobi & .pdf)
English-speaking readers might be surprised to learn that Alain Badiou writes fiction and plays along with his philosophical works and that they are just as important to understanding his larger intellectual project. In Ahmed the Philosopher, Badiou’s most entertaining and accessible play, translated into English here for the first time, readers are introduced to Badiou’s philosophy through a theatrical tour de force that has met with much success in France.
Ahmed the Philosopher presents its comic hero, the “treacherous servant” Ahmed, as a seductively trenchant philosopher even as it casts philosophy itself as a comic performance. The comedy unfolds as a series of lessons, with each “short play” or sketch illuminating a different Badiousian concept. Yet Ahmed does more than illustrate philosophical abstractions; he embodies and vivifies the theatrical and performative aspects of philosophy, mobilizing a comic energy that exposes the emptiness and pomp of the world. Through his example, the audience is moved to a living engagement with philosophy, discovering in it the power to break through the limits of everyday life.
Alain Badiou is a French Marxist philosopher, novelist and playwright. Born in Rabat, Morocco, Badiou completed high school in Toulouse before moving to Paris for undergraduate studies at the prestigious École Normale Supérieure (ENS), where he worked closely with Louis Althusser, but was never one of the select group of disciples who came to be known as Althusserians. After completing his obligatory military service, Badiou taught in Reims, first at a lycée, then at the university. In 1968 he was invited by Michel Foucault to join the department of philosophy at Vincennes (University of Paris VIII), where his colleagues included Hélène Cixous, Gilles Deleuze, and Jean-François Lyotard. After spending 30 years at Vincennes, Badiou left in 1998 to return to his alma mater ENS. The primary philosophical system developed by Alain Badiou is constructed in Being and Event, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event II, and the forthcoming Immanence of Truths: Being and Event III. Badiou’s model of praxis is usually described as subtractive because it operates on the premise that political action can only work if it subtracts itself from the power and processes of the state. Throughout his career, Badiou has been actively involved in politics. During the events of May ’68 he was a member of highly vocal Maoist groups. In more recent times he has been involved with L’Organisation Politique, a politicized group he helped found. Because of its powerfully political texture, Badiou’s philosophy is increasingly widely read today, a measure both of the volatility of the times and the lucidity of his thought.