With this little black book, Alain Badiou sows the seeds of intellectual revolt in the fields of contemporary ethical theory. He argues that the bedrock of present-day ethics--the normative conception of human rights--is morally bankrupt. "It amounts to a genuine nihilism, a threatening denial of thought as such," he writes. As Badiou sees it, current ethics has been enlisted in the army of capitalist-liberalism: "The theme of ethics and of human rights is compatible with the self-satisfied egoism of the affluent West, with advertising, and with service rendered to the powers that be." In support of his startling claim, he sketches a history of ethical theory and argues that today's ethics--the traffic not only of philosophers, but of politicians and professionals--is rooted in Kantian origins and a facile understanding of evil.
Badiou proposes a positive doctrine that he calls "The Ethic of Truths," ultimately arguing that "there is no ethics in general." Instead, there are only "processes by which we treat the possibilities of a situation." The book's main failing is its length. It is simply too short to do justice to the panoply of literature on ethics or to inoculate Badiou against a host of objections that are lurking nearby. Nonetheless, his reasoning is powerful and surprising, marking some of the best writing in current European philosophy, and his credentials are impeccable. He teaches at the École normale supérieure in Paris and is author of a half dozen well-regarded books on a range of philosophical topics. --Eric de Place
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“This is a fiery little book.”—Choice
“His reasoning is powerful and surprising, making some of the best writing in current European philosophy, and his credentials are impeccable.”—Amazon.com
“Badiou is at his strongest in pointing to the inconsistencies of a facile multiculturalism, the pluralism of the food court and the shopping mall, which wilts in the face of any genuine expression of cultural hostility to liberal values.”—Radical Philosophy
“His lively, stimulating and sometimes completely batty book is an attempt to make us think differently about what matters to us ... it is hard not to feel some sympathy for Badiou’s intuition that ‘morality’, ‘evil’ and indeed much of our standard moral vocabulary often serve as almost deliberate disguises for mediocre policy-making, social complacency and a general lack of adventurousness about life.”—Times Literary Supplement