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History and EventFrom Marxism to Contemporary French Theory$
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Nathan Coombs

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748698998

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748698998.001.0001

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Badiou’s Decision: To Give Up Leadership, Somewhat

Badiou’s Decision: To Give Up Leadership, Somewhat

Chapter:
(p.114) Chapter 5 Badiou’s Decision: To Give Up Leadership, Somewhat
Source:
History and Event
Author(s):

Nathan Coombs

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748698998.003.0006

This chapter concerns a striking paradox: on the one hand, Alain Badiou has emerged as one of the most influential public intellectuals of recent decades; on the other, he is known for insisting that philosophy is subservient to truths produced by politics, science, art and love. The chapter argues that the paradox can be unravelled by attending to how the philosophical categories and choice of mathematical models in Being and Event aim to, and fall short of, imposing limits on theoretical authority. These difficulties highlight the problematic nature of Badiou’s attempt to revive Althusser’s rationalist programme of the 1960s while avoiding that project’s theoreticist excesses. The final section reflects on how these unresolved tensions can help make sense of the charges of Stalinism levelled against Badiou after the Arab Spring.

Keywords:   Philosophy, Badiou, Marxism, Althusser, Mathematics, Ontology, Set theory, Events, Stalinism, Arab Spring

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