Badiou and Politics offers a much-anticipated interpretation of the work of the influential French philosopher Alain Badiou. Countering ideas of the philosopher as a dogmatic, absolutist, or even mystical thinker enthralled by the force of the event as a radical break, Bruno Bosteels reveals Badiou’s deep and ongoing investment in the dialectic. Bosteels draws on all of Badiou’s writings, from the philosopher’s student days in the 1960s to the present, as well as on Badiou’s exchanges with other thinkers, from his avowed “masters” Louis Althusser and Jacques Lacan, to interlocutors including Gilles Deleuze, Slavoj Zizek, Daniel Bensaïd, Jacques Derrida, Ernesto Laclau, and Judith Butler. Bosteels tracks the philosopher’s political activities from the events of May 1968 through his embrace of Maoism and the work he has done since the 1980s, helping to mobilize France’s illegal immigrants or sans-papiers. Ultimately, Bosteels argues for understanding Badiou’s thought as a revival of dialectical materialism, and he illuminates the philosopher’s understanding of the task of theory: to define a conceptual space for thinking emancipatory politics in the present.
“If it is, by definition, unfair to expect critical theory to respond at the level of direct relevancy to the current conjuncture – if, indeed, such an imperative would dilute the very critical potency that makes the best critical writing transcend the immediate context of its composition – the circumstances of philosophical production and reception should, nonetheless, figure more in our reading, should trouble us more even as we learn from the ‘stars’ of the current philosophical firmament. Those circumstances – institutional, economic, academic – form the ambient frame through which Bosteels’ luminously written reflections on Badiou’s political philosophy should be read.” - Tom Eyers, Marx and Philosophy Review of Books
“Politics is a tough topic to tackle on any level. Badiou is a tough thinker to engage with. Bosteels unites, complements, and distinguishes both in his 436-page book working through the theories of a thinker who himself is grappling directly with politics: politics as an event, politics as being, and politics as one of four truth procedures defining the subject.” - Kevin D. Kuswa, Culture Machine
“Bruno Bosteels’s fine book restores the political and philosophical context of Alain Badiou’s lifework, and shows in particular how he has aimed at completing all the great unfinished problems of contemporary theory, particularly those of Althusser and Lacan. Not only does it serve as a useful introduction to a complex and many-faceted thinker, it also makes it possible for us to grasp some of the debates of the 1960s in a far more comprehensive way than before.”—Fredric R. Jameson, Duke University
“The most eagerly awaited book on Alain Badiou’s political thought yet written, Bruno Bosteels’s study is in a class of its own in every respect, remarkable as much for its enthusiasm and commitment as for its insight and precision, its depth of analysis and extraordinary breadth of reference. Badiou and Politics not only tracks the full course of Badiou’s own distinctive post-Maoist trajectory in meticulous detail, it also provides an incisive and illuminating discussion of virtually the whole field of emancipatory theoretical engagement after Sartre.”—Peter Hallward, author of Badiou: A Subject to Truth
About the Authors:
Bruno Bosteels is Professor of Romance Studies at Cornell University. He is the author of several books, including Alain Badiou, une trajectoire polémique and The Actuality of Communism, and the translator of Theory of the Subject and Wittgenstein’s Antiphilosophy, both by Alain Badiou.