Briefings on Existence

A Short Treatise on Transitory Ontology

By Alain Badiou
Edited and translated by Norman Madarasz
Introduction by Norman Madarasz

Subjects: French Studies
Series: SUNY series, Intersections: Philosophy and Critical Theory
Paperback : 9780791468043, 202 pages, March 2006
Hardcover : 9780791468036, 202 pages, March 2006

Table of contents

Preface to the English-language Edtion
Translator’s Introduction: Alain Badiou: Back to the Mathematical Line
Prologue: God is Dead
1. The Question of Being Today
2. Mathematics is a Thought
3. The Event as Trans-Being
4. Deleuze’s Vitalist Ontology
5. Spinoza’s Closed Ontology
6. Platonism and Mathematical Ontology
7. The Aristotelian Orientation and Logic
8. Logic, Philosophy, “Linguistic Turn”
9. First Remarks on the Concept of Topos
10. First Provisional Theses on Logic
11. The Being of Number
12. Kant’s Subtractive Ontology
13. Group, Category, Subject
14. Being and Appearing Annex

Explores the link between mathematics and ontology.


This book continues Alain Badiou's project to posit an integral link between mathematics and ontology. Originally published as part of a trilogy in 1998, Briefings on Existence engages the ideas of Deleuze, Spinoza, Plato, Aristotle, and Kant and outlines how the philosophical inquiry into Being and existence converges with the possible world topology of category theory. Set against the background of a multiplication of gods that can be declared dead (the gods of religions, metaphysics, and poetry), Badiou argues that the extension of these events has fallen short of accomplishing its collective promise, but can be achieved through the mathematical understanding of ontology. After several remarkable decades of theoretical invention, French philosophy stands at a crossroads, and Badiou's egalitarian materialism is one of its strongest calls forward.

Alain Badiou is Director of the Department of Philosophy at École Normale Supérieure, Paris. Several of his works have been translated into English, including Manifesto for Philosophy, also published by SUNY Press and also translated by Norman Madarasz, who is Visiting Associate Professor of Philosophy at Universidade Gama Filho, Brazil.


"…this book reveals a great deal about the development of the ideas that have begun and will continue to occupy the debates within Badiou scholarship and Continental philosophy more generally. " — Symposium

"It is important and timely that this book has been published in its entirety. " — Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy

"Twice in its history, philosophy has arisen from the sophists' threat: first with Plato and then again with Kant, who saved it from Humean skepticism. Today, when we again live in an era of globalized sophism (deconstructionist relativism, finite "weak thought"), Alain Badiou's project is no less than to repeat the Platonic-Kantian move, and to reestablish philosophy as the theory of universal Truth. The task is immense—and the miracle is that Badiou effectively delivers what he promises. For this reason alone, Badiou's thought is the single most important event in contemporary philosophy. " — Slavoj Zðizûek

"There is little doubt that Alain Badiou is one of contemporary philosophy's most challenging and controversial figures. He approaches philosophy with the recalcitrant rigor of a mathematician and the economy of means of a modern poet, but also with the passion of a militant of truth. Knotting together philosophical and mathematical discourses, his writing renews their traditional alliance and asks fundamental questions of each, while also dramatizing the incommensurability that sets the two discourses apart. " — Gabriel Riera, editor of Alain Badiou: Philosophy and Its Conditions