Thinking Education through Alain Badiou

Thinking Education through Alain Badiou

Thinking Education through Alain Badiou

Thinking Education through Alain Badiou


Thinking Education Through Alain Badiou represents the first collection to explore the educational implications of French philosopher Alain Badiou's challenge to contemporary philosophical orthodoxy put forth in his 1993 work, Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil.
  • Represents the first collection of work in education to grapple with what Alain Badiou might mean for the enterprise of schooling
  • Takes up Badiou's challenge to contemporary and conventional Anglo-American doxa
  • Includes original essays by experts in several different educational fields


Kent Den Heyer

Welcome to this book thinking education through the work of the French philosopher, Alain Badiou. Since 2000, the increased pace of translating Badiou’s books written in the 1980s and ‘90s into English has created growing interest. Current attention suggests that Badiou will soon join Michael Foucault, Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas as another major French philosophical influence on AngloAmerican scholarship (Gibson, 2006). Indeed, given the traffic in English translation of his work and the number of special issues attempting to come to terms with what his work might mean for a diverse range of scholarly fields—including this one, the first to examine Badiou in relation to education—we might say he has already arrived.

If Badiou has ‘caught on’ outside education, it might be explained by the ‘affirmative’ thrust of his thought that freshly affronts the doxa both of contemporary Anglo-American philosophy and more popular media-ated interpretations of the broader context within which we think. As part of his philosophical intervention into this present situation—and for Badiou all ‘live thought’ constitutes a militant’s intervention—Badiou first describes contemporary philosophy—‘hermeneutics’ and ‘post-modern’ approaches being his favorite targets—as but a form of ‘conservatism with a good conscience’ (Badiou, 2001, p. 14). He asserts that the categories dominating contemporary philosophical work—of the Other, of difference, of language’s trickster nature—lead either to a quasi-theology or observations of the obvious. in any case, and most importantly, Badiou argues that the categories of contemporary philosophy lack any ethical capacity to support people’s potential to affirmatively invent ‘the possibility of new possibilities’ (Badiou, cf. in Cho & Lewis, 2005).

These claims are part of Badiou’s broader project to re-think contemporary political subjectivity in an age he asserts is awash in a relativism on the one hand— in which every opinion is equal to every other—and run aground on an alleged ‘end of history/Washington consensus’ on the other in which each opinion is equally irrelevant to alter a situation dominated by political appeals to economic necessity. in support of people’s capacities to affirmatively invent new realities, Badiou rehabilitates a concept of ‘truths’. Let me briefly provide a brief overview of Badiou’s work given better detail in each of this book’s chapters.

For Badiou, ‘truths’ are not actualities to acquire, properties of interlocking social regimes, temporalized ideals or authenticities, derivable from moral precepts, or facts . . .

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