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Being and Event

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  492 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Being and Event is the centrepiece of Alain Badiou's oeuvre; it is the work that grounds his reputation as one of France's most original philosophers. Long-awaited in translation, Being and Event makes available to an English-speaking readership Badiou's groundbreaking work on set theory - the cornerstone of his whole philosophy. This book makes the scope and aim of Badiou ...more
Paperback, 1st edition, 526 pages
Published July 15th 2007 by Continuum (first published 1988)
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May 05, 2009 Michael rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: numerologists
This is an extraordinarily embarrassing book, which uses the language and trappings of mathematics to cover a core of nonsense with a veneer of formal rigor. I read this because (I now realize) my filters against the Social Text crowd of neolatin portmanteau abusers (the kind of people who are making up new words to describe their application of quantum mechanics to ethics, when their understanding of quantum mechanics extends exactly as far as a reading of A Brief History of Time can get you) w ...more
Let us imagine the plight of a naive reader who comes to us (because we, for the sake of argument, are people who appear to "know something of philosophy") and says, "I am interested in reading some philosophy because I know philosophers are people who try to grapple with the things of the world in thought, and it seems useful to be acquainted with that sort of thing, but I just find it so difficult! Philosophers are always referring in cryptic ways to other philosophers and using specialized la ...more
Unquestionably the greatest philosophical work of the 20th century. Being and Event can best be described as an existentialism of the multiple. As a matter of fact, the book essentially states that there is no such thing as the individual, the singular. Badiou has attempted a herculean effort of formalizing a definition of ontology and all aspects of the moment using the mathematic language of set theory. In so doing, some truly amazing implications and insights are gleaned from the very nature ...more
Guys. This book is the book. No other book is the book. There is no other book that is the book like this book is the book.

Specifically, it offers real accuracy in terms of how language can take responsibility for its negative characteristic in a recuperation of being the event.


OK, I think I've decided to stop reading this now. Not counting notes and glossary, I've read almost exactly 300 pages (including the appendixes as they come up - they are really essential chapters). Anyway, I just
Simon Lasair
A monumental book that restores the dignity and elegance of mathematics to continental philosophy. Although this is a challenging read, the rewards of this book outweigh the difficulties encountered when attempting to achieve the former. As far as philosophy is concerned, this book presents a fresh approach to ontology, one which goes far beyond the heideggerian edifice. Based largely on the achievements of set theory, this book argues for an open ontology, one wherein truth can rupture seemingl ...more
Alex Lee
Alain Badiou does something particularly difficult. He provides a nexus of interplay between formal mathematics (in set theory) and ontology as presented in the philosophical tradition. It's often an understood but unacknowledged fact that explanations don't really "explain" in so far as they translate between discourses. For this book, that is most definitely true. The intrusion of formalism into philosophy and the intrusion of nominalism into what was before a formalism that cannot name anythi ...more
Jonathan Widell
Difficult book that is made more difficult by the fact that Badiou does not explain in the beginning what the problem is that he addresses. He makes references to Descartes, Lacan and his earlier work Theory of the Subject but one has to wait until the last meditation for him to put his cards on the table. The book is about Lacan's complicated twists on Descartes' cogito: where I think I am not etc, which point to the crux of Lacan's thought: the subject. He uses Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory to d ...more
Andrew Glynn
Badiou makes some good points but his Maoist background leads him back into a subjectivist situation he himself has discredited.
While Badiou certainly is knowledgable about set theory his mixing of it with ontology proves to be rather messy. Throughout the book I did not feel like I was really getting something tangible engaging. It is difficult to follow logic formulas—be prepared—but Badiou could have separated them better; it felt like he straddling a fence. Having read this book, I know why Wittgenstein separated out language from his work in logic—it doesn't work. Badiou's book achieves the difficult job of killing ...more
I didn't find this book to be all that genius or anything. Maybe Badiou is the first to really apply set theory to ontology, but I think the concepts have been expressed in other ways. It's nice and refreshing to hear someone use the word "truth" again without scorn or parody or b.s. about "metanarratives."

This book deals with a lot of set theory, which is not terribly complicated math, but it's different so I don't recommend picking up this book without a basic primer.

I was introduced to Badiou
Excellent :D Truly original, though the thesis is a little dubious and seems like a reversion to foundationalism, which can't be a good sign. A jolly fun read, though! His style is very Deleuzian: the eclectic references to chemistry, maths, complexity etc make for a fascinating (but painstakingly long) literary journey.
Kristian Haukaas
i didn't get it
i don't understand what all the maths is for
i read endless lists of reasons for or against, but i have yet to read a conclusion
it is as if on an airplane that takes off forever...
it is impossible to rate it
This is only a very partial reading, since after about p. 80 I had to give up on trying to follow his peregrinations through set theory and its rebarbative notation--thus reading only those "meditations" relatively free of this. But his thoughts on the situation, the event, the veridical, and truth are ones I will be considering for some time, especially with respect to the appearance of the artwork.
Matthew Allen
Nov 09, 2007 Matthew Allen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: philosophers
The introduction of this book is a very helpful account of the state of continental philosophy as it stands today, a couple of decades after the writing of the rest of the book. Badiou consistently pulls very interesting aphorisms out of his very in-depth (read: often overly technical and tedious) reading of the relationship between mathematics and ontology.
Micah Johnson
I read it when the English translation came out and as I was reading about it everywhere I turned. It was worth the slog which is more than I can say for Deleuze or Lacan, though both of those guys come up more than once in this book. It was the first time that philosophy appealed to me mathematically.
All else is on hold while I make my way thru this, in anticipation of its followup being released in a month or two. "On hold" of course is relative ...

Maybe somebody can explain the function of Badiou's "subject" to me.
Badiou seems to be THE political thinker at the moment. However, I find that I am not convinced by the jumps that Badiou makes regarding the state and the subject. Though I find this be a useful tool, I remain skeptical.
I remain unimpressed, so far, and pretty convinced that, like Eric Beck, I will love Badiou like I love tonguing a burn on the roof of my mouth. I get no joy out of it, but I can't stop doing it.
This book is an uncanny mix of ontology and mathematics which sets the stage for a whole new understanding of everything.
Brian  Kubarycz
A return to ontology via mathematics, Wittgenstein's analysis of the sentence as "habitation" being the inspiration behind it.
J. Kyle
Aug 04, 2007 J. Kyle marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I do not have the background in mathematics to adequately understand this text.
Tommy Newman

Not for the casual reader of philosophy.
Edward Butler
Not so much here as commonly thought.
Rena Mkv
Rena Mkv marked it as to-read
Dec 16, 2014
Raul marked it as to-read
Dec 16, 2014
E.G. Cunningham
E.G. Cunningham marked it as to-read
Dec 15, 2014
P marked it as to-read
Dec 15, 2014
Christopher Maxwell
Christopher Maxwell marked it as to-read
Dec 14, 2014
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Alain Badiou, Ph.D., born in Rabat, Morocco in 1937, holds the Rene Descartes Chair at the European Graduate School EGS. Alain Badiou was a student at the École Normale Supérieure in the 1950s. He taught at the University of Paris VIII (Vincennes-Saint Denis) from 1969 until 1999, when he returned to ENS as the Chair of the philosophy department. He continues to teach a popular seminar at the Coll ...more
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