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Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism (Cultural Memory in the Present) Paperback – May 6, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Badiou introduces the reader to the notion that philosophy stands somewhere beyond the commonplace . . . [and] illustrates the way in which during [St. Paul's] time Paul decided that for God particularities such as nationality or sex are unimportant and therefore everybody is (compared to God) just a human being."—Peter Takac, Human Affairs: Postdisciplinary Humanities & Social Sciences

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cultural Memory in the Present
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1 edition (May 6, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804744718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804744713
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This fantastic little book is one of Badiou's best. The US was first introduced to Badiou with his book "Ethics"--and I believe it would benefit any reader to go to that book first before reading "Saint Paul." But for those who are aware of Badiou's overall project, this book will provide fascinating reading. Here, Badiou goes into why he thinks Universality is an important and indispencible concept for politics. He goes into how Global Capitalism has thrived off fractures and splinters in identity, and how constructing a universal community is necessary for any struggle against capitalism. He also goes into a detailed analysis of the subject through the figure of Saint Paul. If you are looking for an actual commentary on Saint Paul, then, this is not the book for you. If you already dislike, or do not understand what Badiou's is trying to accomplish, then, this book will do little for you. But, if you are truly intrigued by this philosopher, and if you are quite aware of his prose and dependence upon set theory and mathematical concepts, then, Saint Paul will be of great interest to you.
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This book provides a very novel insight not only on Paul but on Christian theology as well. One of the most interesting reflections is the differentiation between the philosophical discourse of wisdom (Greece), the prophetic discourse of signs (Israel) and the testimony of the event (Christianity). There is no pagan conformism to the laws of the universe nor a cryptic awaiting for a promise, but an event that concerns us all in terms of placing ourselves in a place beyond the automatism of the Law, in a world of Life. The main figure is not of the prophet or the philosopher but of the apostol, the one who testifies of a universal truth where there is no difference between I and the Other. Badiou's interpretation of Saint Paul does not compromise itself with received scholastic theology where there is a continuity of God with Being (analogia entis) nor with a postmodern theology where the promise is something to be kept differing forever in order to "do justice" to the Other.

Badiou provides a universalist theory that includes the difference but where there is no difference and boundaries for the sake of the ethical. No Jew nor Greek, no men nor women, to be all to all men.
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Format: Paperback
Badiou's extended essay on Paul may be a bit amateurish and crude from a theological and/or historical perspective [his intents and aims, he admits, are solely subjective], but despite this, it achieves a noteworthy amount of novel philosophical insight using the texts of Paul as a launchpad.
There are two sides to this book. On one hand, Badiou appears as a sort of atheist apologist for Paul, whom he seeks to clear of common insults against his person popular since Nietzsche and others (such as being a mysoginist, a despiser of earthly life, etc.) Badiou wants us to view Paul not in the popularized polemic distortion that pervades atheists in academia but rather as the prototypical 'poet-thinker of the event'.
On the other hand, in so far as one can say this of Paul, Badiou wants to extract from his portrayal a revolutionary philosophy of 'the event' and its founding of universiality. Here, the argument becomes complexly interwined with the words of Paul and Christian discourse; however, it brings with it a certain uncanny lucidity as the revolutionary universiality of the Resurrection in Paul's discourse sets the scene to disolve and overcome the particularities of the Judaic and Greek status quo.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came to this book, my first acquaintance with Badiou, through a reference to his Saint Paul analysis in an essay by Boris Gunjevic in the book "God in Pain.". That, and the promotional statement under the title on the Amazon page, led me to believe that I would find in Badiou's study some challenging new perspectives on the life and teachings of Saint Paul. I was sorely disappointed.

The jarring discontinuities and prior bias in the first chapter of Babiou's book set me to look at other aspects of Babiou's work. What I found was that: "truth" need not be factual but may be based solely on belief; he makes no distinction between good and evil except situationally -- example, torture is good or evil depending on whether you agree with the purpose for which it is being used; and capitalism is bad per se while pure communism, as envisioned by Mao Ze Dong, is the political/social ideal.

Badiou arrives at such conclusions based on his study of (among otrhers) Rousseau, Hegel, and Marx. With that, he declares himself at the beginning as an atheist looking at Paul simply as an implement of revolution overturning Jewish and Greek thought processes within the Roman hegemony. Along the way, every aspect of "capital" or "capitalism" is negative, and Maoist political theory and practice are the ideals toward which society should strive.

I kept thinking how much more sense Badiou could make of the world if he redd more of John Locke and less of Rousseau. But that would run against his grain because Locke saw man's actions in relation to the natural law of freedom established by God. Babiou's Maoist atheism, as an extension of Rousseau's godless collectivism, naturally could not accept God as having any place in the world of ideas.
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