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Metapolitics Paperback – Jan 16 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; Reprint edition (Jan. 16 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844677818
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844677818
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #698,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


“A figure like Plato or Hegel walks here among us!”—Slavoj Žižek

“An heir to Jean-Paul Sartre and Louis Althusser.”—New Statesman

“One of the most important philosophers writing today.”—Joan Copjec

About the Author

Alain Badiou teaches philosophy at the École normale supérieure and the Collège international de philosophie in Paris. In addition to several novels, plays and political essays, he has published a number of major philosophical works, including Theory of the Subject, Being and Event, Manifesto for Philosophy, and Gilles Deleuze. His recent books include The Meaning of Sarkozy, Ethics, Metapolitics, Polemics, The Communist Hypothesis, Five Lessons on Wagner, and Wittgenstein’s Anti-Philosophy.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Obtuse and exasperating to read Jan. 25 2007
By Paul Imseih - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Having read many philosophical and political theorists across a spectrum from Heidegger, Plato, Schmitt, Zizek, Derrida, Marx etc, I never expected to find a philosophical text I could genuinely label "exasperating". There is something about Badiou's writing in Metapolitics (or possibly the translation) where one finds oneself starting to grasp an issue at the beginning of a paragraph, only to end it flailing in mid air, as if Badiou's thought had gone scurrying into a dark cave, never to reappear.

Even "difficult" thinkers such as Heidegger start in shallow water with simple concepts and take you on a journey, building arguments and challenging the writer's, and your own, assumptions. By the end of the journey, the writing points out areas for intellectual and emotional discovery. Difficult topics are approached cautiously and with precision.

Badiou relies on too many unexplained and weak assumptions along with huge leaps of faith. One can expect that a reader needs to bring with them some "basic principles" that don't bear repeating. However even here (or perhaps especially so) the great philosophers and thinkers put you to task, challenging key ideas or thought processes. In Metapolitics, there is something lazy and haphazard about how the thoughts are strung together with assumptions or concepts dangerously passed over, leading one to a feeling that the conclusions reached are suspect. Or worse, that the effort expended doesn't really bear any fruit.

In the case of Badiou's analysis and application of Sylvain Lazarus' work 'Anthropologie du nom (Des travaux)', my first question was "why Lazarus?" Yes, they are friends and political allies in L'Organization Politique but beyond that I found it very hard to agree with Badiou opening claim that " is no exaggeration to say that, today, philosophers cannot attempt any seizure of politics of thought without studying this [meaning Lazarus'] book..." Politically, this gesture is done in good faith but nothing that followed supported such a bold assertion. And ultimately, I felt that, contra Badiou, it was in fact an "exaggeration". So if there is exaggeration or a wilful blindness to the flaws carried by a friend (in this case Lazarus), what about other friends, human or ideological, approached by Badiou? And why stop there? One could, with complete peace of mind and even good conscience, exaggerate the "enemy". This dual suspicion haunts this work and weakens its impact.

Disappointingly, rather than finding key concepts such as "politics" and "democracy" being fundamentally challenged in this book, I found Badiou's thought being challenged. Let us say "autochallenged". As if inherent weaknesses in the text left it unable to sustain itself.

I would even have been happy to treat this as a polemical text (and there are some entertaining and powerful examples by Badiou and friends online) but I couldn't get engaged, let alone angry.

Rather than a meaty and challenging text, I found myself reading an intellectual soufflé that had overreached and then sunk under its own (lack of) weight.
25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Do you Badiou? Nov. 14 2005
By K. Kohn - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Badiou is one of the most exciting writers in the field of "philosophy" today. I put that word in quotes because it seems to be part of Badiou's project to relieve words such as "truth," "ethics," "beauty", and now, "politics" of their own brackets-which suspend them and ultimately, imprison them in the arena of sophism. Badiou asserts that there is a way to capitalize Truth, Ethics, Art, Love, etc. and that such a move might be neccessary in a world that capitalizes (on) everything else. "Ethics" was one of the most illuminating books I have read in recent years and "Metapolitics" falls short by a hair only because I did not read it first. Refreshingly bereft of irony and relativism, Badiou is precisely the writer the Left needs in order to rediscover its cause on a foundation that, this time, is not afraid to assert the universal.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
There is something here... I think. Nov. 10 2007
By A. S. Proctor - Published on
Format: Paperback
There seems to be something in Badiou's work, though it is often hard to locate. To me, however, it's not enough to revel in the fact that he "challenges the status quo" or "really gets you thinking." I mean come on--have you heard of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Levinas, Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze, Zizek, etc.? These days, it's not simply a matter of "thinking outside the box." Perhaps this would have been a remarkable achievement many, many decades ago, but certainly not now.

The question for me goes like this: Badiou is an original enough thinker--sure. However, it is often difficult to place him in regards to traditions and currents because--as "original" philosophers often do--he rarely grapples with contemporary thinkers, and if he does, it is anything but clear as to how he positions himself in various flows of politics, etc.

There is certainly SOMEthing there in his work... it perhaps remains to be seen, though I would side with Simon Critchley's critique that Badiou tends to overly-romanticize the figure of the revolutionary figure. There is a sense of heroism that comes on a bit too strong for my taste.

Overall, I recommend Badiou's work. Just be prepared to grapple with it. Though it is not as if these texts were wordy or jargon-filled (such as a Heidegger or Lacan). The struggle here is more of a matter of what to make of this work and what its consequences are on philosophy, politics, and thought. If nothing else inspires you, the first 40 pages where he engages in a much-needed critique of "political philosophy" are certainly worth the price of admission, so to speak.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Flashes of Brilliance, but sometimes more dense heat than light.. July 10 2012
By C. D. Varn - Published on
Format: Paperback
Badiou's work is often both refreshing in its Platonic instance of the reality of abstractions and the importance of ontology of events and truth-procedures, and infuriating in that he often makes bold claims without explicit argumentation using a methodology of suture to lay philosophy out as meta-truth procedure. This book is short, but dense and often obtuse: for one, it is a collection of essays that can be divided into four categories: 1) polemical essays, 2) essays of commentary and support, 3) examinations of major categories, and 4) philosophical prescriptions. The last category, that is to say, the only argument that Badiou makes that is fundamental to his system lies in the last essay, "Politics as Truth Procedure."

This is largely a book whose roots lay in a suturing of politics to philosophy, but as the critic of Badiou has said, François Laruelle the demarcations of this suture is actually not as apparent as Badiou wishes. That aside, the sustained polemic against political philosophy, which Badiou seems to largely see as ethical and managerial at root, begins with 'Against Political Philosophy' in the first essay. Admittedly, when one can parse the idiosyncratic way that Badiou defines the state and events, his take-down of various forms of liberal political philosophy, such as the Levinasian reification of the other, Rawlsian "reflective equilibrium", Habermas's 'communicative ethics', Rorty's evocation of a 'conversation of mankind' moves it away from the purely ethical and the largely linguistic turns. These rhetorical defenses of pluralism are actually a defense of a homogenization of a liberal meta-state, but unlike critiques from the right, the ontology of "Being and Event" lingers in such a way that moves one to a nearly Maoist conception of the fidelity to the idea, and an Althusserian notions of structures, but which emerge from fidelity to events.

Now this makes sense in the larger movement of Badiou's work, but this is without Badiou's normal systemic lay-out of the position. However, the particular valorizing of Sylvain Lazarus and his ambivilent statement about Jacques Ranciere can seem hyperbolic even to those very familiar with contemporary French thought. Furthermore, as I have hinted at, it seems that even in Badiou's larger work, the argument for the suturing of evental politics to philosophy is actually quite thin in the larger work, and if that fails, so do most of these polemics.

Badiou, obviously, is refreshing, rigorous, and often insightful, although one sometimes suspects a formalization of Maoist impulses lie deeply within the text. People unfamiliar with Badiou's thought SHOULD NOT start with this text as it simple structure is actually predicated with much deeper knowledge of Badiou's methods and the philosophers in which he is in dialogue.
Consistently interesting but not always substantiated Feb. 10 2010
By Richard C. Sha - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Badiou is a consistently interesting thinker. I find very intriguing his idea that politics needs to work at the level of thinkability and not at the level of material practice. To align politics with thought, he turns to a language of naming, a language that refers not to what things are, but what things could possibly be. Names must be localized within multiplicities. In abstract terms, this makes sense. But what would this look like on the ground? But perhaps my need to ask this question betrays my leanings towards politics rather than a metapolitics. Chapters can be hard to follow, and can presume conceptual clarity rather than provide it.