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Alain Badiou (1937–)

Born in Rabat, Morocco in 1937, Alain Badiou was a student at Louis Le Grand and then the L’Ecole Normale Supérieure (1957–1961). He taught at the lycée in Reims from 1963 and published a couple of novels, before moving to the University of Paris VIII (Vincennes/Saint Denis) in 1969. He taught at Paris VIII for thirty years; in 1999 he returned to L’Ecole Normale as the head of its philosophy department. He continues to teach a regular seminar at the Collège International de Philosophie, on topics ranging from the great ‘antiphilosophers’ (Saint-Paul, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Lacan…) to the major conceptual innovations of the twentieth century. Badiou has been active in French politics since the mid 1950s, and after the May 1968 revolt in Paris became a leading figure in the l’UCF-ML (Union des Communistes de France - Marxistes-Léninistes); he remains with Sylvain Lazarus and Natacha Michel at the centre of L’Organisation Politique, a ‘post-Party’ organisation concerned with direct popular intervention in a wide range of issues, including immigration, labour, housing. He is the author of several significant novels and plays as well as around twenty philosophical works, of which the most of important are Théorie du sujet (1982), L’Etre et l’événement (1988), and Logiques des mondes (2006).

Badiou was several years older than Miller, Milner and the other founders of the Cercle d’Épistémologie, and he was already teaching in Reims when the Cahiers were launched in 1966. He became a member of the editorial board in 1967, at Regnault’s suggestion. Badiou already had a solid grounding in mathematics and logic (along with Lacanian theory), and he helped to shape the structure of the volumes 9 and 10 of the Cahiers in particular. His own two contributions to the Cahiers anticipate many of the distinctive concerns of his later philosophy: a privileging of literal and axiomatic formalisation over any sort of intuitive or constructivist approach to mathematics and any empiricist conception of science; a valorisation of abrupt breaks or interventions over any appeal to continuity; a concern with the primacy of the ‘void’, the ‘constitutive silence’ or ‘blank empty space’ as the space in which a ‘decisive reworking’ of scientific discourse might begin; a concern with the ‘real’ of a situation understood, after Lacan, in terms of its determinate ‘impossibility’, an impossibility which formalist clarification or intervention can, on occasion, help to convert into possibility.

In the Cahiers pour l’Analyse

Alain Badiou, ‘La Subversion infinitésimale’, CpA 9.8 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN] [TRANS]
Alain Badiou, ‘Marque et manque: à propos du zéro’, CpA 10.8 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN] [TRANS]

Select bibliography

  • ‘L’Autonomie du processus esthétique’. Cahiers Marxistes-Léninistes 12/13 (1966): 77-89.
  • ‘Le (Re)commencement du matérialisme dialectique’ [review of Louis Althusser, Pour Marx and Althusser et al., Lire le Capital]. Critique 240 (May 1967): 438-467.
  • Le Concept de modèle. Introduction à une épistémologie matérialiste des mathématiques. Paris: Maspero, 1969. The Concept of Model: An Introduction to the Materialist Epistemology of Mathematics, trans. and ed. Zachary Luke Fraser and Tzuchien Tho. Melbourne:, 2007. Online at
  • Théorie de la contradiction. Paris: Maspero, 1975.
  • De l’Idéologie. Paris: Maspero, 1976.
  • [ed. ] Le Noyau rationnel de la dialectique hégélienne. Paris: Maspero, 1978.
  • Théorie du sujet. Paris: Seuil, 1982. Theory of the Subject, trans. Bruno Bosteels. London: Continuum, 2009.
  • Peut-on penser la politique? Paris: Seuil, 1985. Can Politics be Thought? trans. Bruno Bosteels. Durham: Duke University Press, forthcoming.
  • ‘Six propriétés de la vérité’. Ornicar? 32 (January 1985): 39-67; continued in Ornicar? 33 (April 1985): 120-149.
  • L’Etre et l’événement. Paris: Seuil, 1988. Being and Event, trans. Oliver Feltham. London: Continuum, 2005.
  • Manifeste pour la philosophie. Paris: Seuil, 1989. Manifesto for Philosophy, trans. Norman Madarasz. Albany: SUNY University Press, 1999.
  • Le Nombre et les nombres. Paris: Seuil, 1990. Number and Numbers, trans. Robin Mackay. London: Polity, 2008.
  • Rhapsodie pour le théâtre. Paris: Le Spectateur français, 1990. ‘Rhapsody for the Theatre: A Short Philosophical Treatise’, trans. Bruno Bosteels. Theatre Survey 49:2 (November 2008): 187-238.
  • D’un Désastre obscur (Droit, Etat, Politique). Paris: L’Aube, 1991. Of an Obscure Disaster: On the End of the Truth of State, trans. Barbara P. Fulks. lacanian ink 22 (Autumn 2003).
  • ‘D’un Sujet enfin sans objet’. Cahiers Confrontations 20 (1989): 13-22. ‘On a Finally Objectless Subject’, trans. Bruce Fink. Who Comes After the Subject?, ed. Eduardo Cadava, Peter Connor, Jean-Luc Nancy. London: Routledge, 1991. 24-32.
  • Conditions. Paris: Seuil, 1992. Conditions, trans. Steven Corcoran. London: Continuum, 2008.
  • L’Ethique: Essai sur la conscience du mal. Paris: Hatier, 1993. Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, trans. Peter Hallward. London: Verso, 2001.
  • Beckett: L’incrévable désir. Paris: Hachette, 1995. On Beckett. Ed. and trans. Alberto Toscano and Nina Power with Bruno Bosteels, with a foreword by Andrew Gibson. London: Clinamen Press, 2003.
  • Gilles Deleuze: ‘La clameur de l’Etre’. Paris: Hachette, 1997. Gilles Deleuze: The Clamor of Being, trans. Louise Burchill. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000.
  • Saint Paul et la fondation de l’universalisme. Paris: PUF, 1997. Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism, trans. Ray Brassier. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003.
  • Court Traité d’ontologie transitoire. Paris: Seuil, 1998. Briefings on Existence, trans. Norman Madarasz. Albany: SUNY, 2006.
  • Abrégé de métapolitique. Paris: Seuil, 1998. Metapolitics, trans. Jason Barker. London: Verso, 2005.
  • Petit Manuel d’inesthétique. Paris: Seuil, 1998. Handbook of Inaesthetics, trans. by Alberto Toscano. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003.
  • ‘Politics and Philosophy’. Interview with Peter Hallward. Angelaki, 3:3 (1998): 113-133.
  • ‘Psychoanalysis and Philosophy’, trans. Oliver Feltham. Analysis 9 (Melbourne, 2000): 1-8.
  • ‘Can Change Be Thought? A Dialogue With Alain Badiou’ [2001]. Interview with Bruno Bosteels. Alain Badiou: Philosophy Under Conditions, ed. Gabriel Riera. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005.
  • Infinite Thought: Truth and the Return to Philosophy. Ed. Justin Clemens and Oliver Feltham. London: Continuum, 2003.
  • ‘Beyond Formalisation’. Interview with Bruno Bosteels and Peter Hallward. Angelaki 8:2 (December 2003): 111-136.
  • Theoretical Writings. Ed. and trans. Ray Brassier and Alberto Toscano. London: Continuum, 2004.
  • Le Siècle/The Century. Paris: Seuil, 2005.
  • Circonstances, vols 1-3. Paris: Editions Lignes & Manifestes/Editions Léo Scheer, 2003-2005. Polemics, trans. Steven Corcoran. London: Verso, 2006.
  • Logiques des mondes. Paris: Seuil, 2006. Logics of Worlds, trans. Alberto Toscano. London: Continuum, 2009.
  • De Quoi Sarkozy est-il le nom? Circonstances, 4. Paris: Nouvelles Editions Lignes, 2007. The Meaning of Sarkozy, trans. David Fernbach. London: Verso, 2009.
  • ‘The Concept of Model, Forty Years Later: An Interview with Alain Badiou’. Interview with Tzuchien Tho. In Badiou, The Concept of Model: An Introduction to the Materialist Epistemology of Mathematics, ed. Zachary Luke Fraser and Tzuchien Tho. Melbourne:, 2007. Online at
  • Petit Panthéon portatif. Paris: La Fabrique, 2008. Pocket Pantheon: Figures of Postwar Philosophy, trans. David Macey. London: Verso, 2009.
  • Second Manifeste pour la philosophie. Paris: Fayard, 2009.
  • L’Hypothèse communiste. Circonstances, 5. Paris: Nouvelles Editions Lignes, 2009.