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Alain Badiou

WITTGENSTEIN’S ANTI-PHILOSOPHY – BY ALAIN BADIOU

PUBLISHED 28TH AUGUST 2011

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

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

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Alain Badiou, one of France’s most influential radical thinkers, turns his attention to Ludwig Wittgenstein, legendary maverick thinker and one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century. One of the key figures of analytic philosophy and standard-bearer of the “linguistic turn”, Wittgenstein was hailed by (including himself) as the ‘last philosopher’.

Wittgenstein’s great work was TRACTATUS LOGICO-PHILOSOPHICUS. Written in his twenties, it had a huge impact on modern thought, and in particular the use of language and logic in analytic philosophy. Badiou dissects the TRACTATUS, and finds Wittgenstein to be an exemplar of antiphilosophy.

Antiphilosophy is defined by Badiou as a way of doing philosophy which questions or attacks the very basis of philosophy itself. Other key antiphilosophers would include Nietszche, Kierkegaard and Lacan.

Badiou addresses the crucial seventh proposition in TRACTATUS LOGICO-PHILOSOPHICUS where Wittgenstein argues that “what we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence”. Badiou argues that this mystical act reduces logic to rhetoric, truth to an effect of language games, and philosophy to a set of esoteric aphorisms.

In the course of his interrogation of Wittgenstein’s antiphilosophy, Badiou sets out and refines his own definitions of the universal truths that condition philosophy. Antiphilosophy shows the philosopher what he is: a political militant, hated by the powers that be and their servants; an aesthete; a lover, whose life is capable of capsizing for a woman or a man; and a savant. It is in this effervescent rebellion that philosophers produce their ideas.

Bruno Bosteels’ introduction shows that this encounter with Wittgenstein is central to Badiou’s overall project – and that a dialogue with the exemplar of antiphilosophy is crucial to the continuing development of modern thought.

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ALAIN BADIOU is the author of many books, including BEING AND EVENT and INFINITE THOUGHT. He teaches philosophy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. His ETHICS: AN ESSAY ON THE UNDERSTANDING OF EVIL, METAPOLITICS,  POLEMICS, FIVE LESSONS ON WAGNER and THE COMMUNIST HYPOTHESIS are also available from Verso.

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ISBN: 978 1 84467 694 1 / $24.95 / £14.99 / $31.00 CAN / Hardback / 192 pages

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For more information about WITTGENSTEIN’S ANTI-PHILOSOPHY or to buy the book visit: http://www.versobooks.com/books/961-wittgensteins-anti-philosophy

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Academics can request an inspection copy. For further information please go to: http://www.versobooks.com/pg/desk-copies

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