on 12 March 2002
This is an extraordinary work, the best offering so far in Slavoj Zizek's consistently high-quality Wo Es War series for Verso. Alain Badiou's formulation of an "ethic of truths" is utterly original and astonishingly ambitious. It's also remarkably accessible for a work of philosophy, especially considering the technical complexities of Badiou's vision.
The first half of the book is an extended polemic against pretty much every contemporary vision of ethics. Liberalism, humanism, multiculturalism and Levinasian theories of alterity are all denounced as incapable of resisting the nihilist ideology of global capitalism.
However, Badiou is not content to restrict himself to critique. The second half of the book presents his reformulation of ethics based around "truth events" that intervene into concrete situations. This "ethic of truths" is unashamedly militant and ambitious, covering politics, art, love and science in its sweep.
Peter Hallward's translation is near-flawless, deftly capturing Badiou's lucidity and rigour. The book also contains a fascinating interview with the author, as well as a solid introductory essay contrasting Badiou to his contemporaries.
All in all, this is an excellent introduction to the work of a revolutionary philosopher whose work remains for the most part untranslated into English. It's also an inspirational guide for anyone involved in radical politics. Let's hope there's more to come.