The works of Gilles Deleuze—on cinema, literature, painting, and philosophy—have made him one of the most widely read thinkers of his generation. This compact critical volume is not only a powerful reappraisal of Deleuze’s thought, but also the first major work by Alain Badiou published in English. Badiou compellingly redefines “Deleuzian,” throwing down the gauntlet in the battle over the very meaning of Deleuze’s legacy.
For those who view Deleuze as the apostle of desire, flux, and multiplicity, Badiou’s book is a deliberate provocation. Through a deep philosophical engagement with his writings, Badiou contends that Deleuze is not the Dionysian thinker of becoming he took himself to be; on the contrary, he is an ascetic philosopher of Being and Oneness. Deleuze’s self-declared anti-Platonism fails-and that, in Badiou’s view, may ultimately be to his credit. “Perhaps it is not Platonism that has to be overturned,” Badiou writes, “but the anti-Platonism taken as evident throughout this entire century.”
This volume draws on a five-year correspondence undertaken by Badiou and Deleuze near the end of Deleuze’s life, when the two put aside long-standing political and philosophical differences to exchange ideas about similar problems in their work. Badiou’s incomparably attentive readings of key Deleuzian concepts radically revise reigning interpretations, offering new insights to even the veteran Deleuze reader and serving as an entrée to the controversial notion of a “restoration” of Plato advocated by Badiou-in his own right one of the most original figures in postwar French philosophy.
The result is a critical tour de force that repositions Deleuze, one of the most important thinkers of our time, and introduces Badiou to English-speaking readers.
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.