This book is a series of essays on philosophy and its relationship to a host of other subjects starting with philosophy itself. What is philosophy? One of the reasons I am reading Badiou is because the paralysis he speaks of is obvious to anyone teaching philosophy for any length of time. I am completing my 18th year teaching in less than a month, not counting graduate school, and clearly most of my time is spent doing history instead of active philosophy with my students. It seems necessary in the same way that one cannot do science without understanding the point science has reached - and to do that one must study a bit of the history of science. But doing history is in some ways not doing philosophy while in other ways demonstrative of what philosophy has become in our contemporary Hegelian paradigm. Reading Badiou requires both a good history of philosophy to enable vocabulary enough to follow the train of thought - the Event - else you write as one reviewer for AB's "Saint Paul" that "it is the worst book on Saint Paul I have ever read - if you can even understand it." Clearly that critic does not have the vocabulary as is obvious when you see all the other reviews praise it as his best. But doing history is not active philosophy in the most exciting sense, that is the sense where you feel like you are on the edge of discovery. Waiting for the event to happen, so to speak. This first essay starts with that challenge. Can philosophy break with its own history? But notice reading AB requires a significant dose of history of philosophy just to attempt such a forgetting in the first place. One cannot forget what one does not already know. The void is the null set. I have to spend a great deal of effort explaining to students what that means and without Hegel it is nonsensical - and without Kant Hegel is not sensible, and where is Kant without Hume - who in turn makes no sense out of his place in time and logical space. Not to forget William James who in Pragmatism says that "Truth .. happens to an idea," James said in the lectures he published in 1907 as Pragmatism. "It becomes true, is made true by events. Its verity is in fact an event, a process: the process namely of its verifying itself."
Here is something: "I propose to call `religion' everything that presupposes that there is a continuity between truths and the circulation of meaning." P. 24 this launches the definition of philosophy. Following which we contrast poetry - using Mallarme and Rimbaud, and perhaps the most interesting chapter, math. Here we get the thought that modern philosophy (history!) is a mathematization of Truth and this holds from Descartes to Kant. It is with Hegel (nice presentation on this in a summary of his Logic) that the poetic returns and is stressed by Heidegger. In this AB's major theme (of all of his work) is a stress on a return to mathematization and events are mathematical sets. Subtraction draws under. P. 121 is a diagram displaying the trajectory of a truth. All of them. Philosophy also thinks the political but this confuses definitions with reality and leads to disaster: Stalin. Will this lead to a similar disaster concerning the next topic: Love? I am not sure. But it is certainly a disjunction. Interesting summary of Hegel on women - that men try to form a whole and women keep putting holes in it. I am dragged kicking and screaming into Philosophy and Psychoanalysis. But fortunately it is short and mostly mentions Lacan so I escape and move on to Infinity and the Subject. More Lacan! Who saddles Plato with the attribute of starting philosophy and this is antiphilosophy. And then things become generic.