Alain Badiou and Education
- Torill StrandTorill StrandUniversity of Oslo, Department of Education
The French philosopher Alain Badiou (1937–) is one of the most significant philosophers of our time, well known for his meticulous work on rethinking, renewing, and thereby strengthening philosophy as an academic discipline. In short, his philosophy seeks to reveal and make sense of the potential of radical innovations in, or transformations of, any given situation. Although he has not written extensively on education, the pedagogical theme is vital, constitutive, and ongoing throughout his work.
Badiou is an outspoken critic of the analytic and postmodern schools of thought, as he strongly promotes the virtue of curiosity, and prospects of “an education by truths.” “Truths” are not to be confused with matters of knowledge or opinion. Truths are existential, ongoing, and open-ended ontological operations that do not belong to any epistemic category. An education by such truths operates through a subtraction from the state of the situation and proposes a different direction regarding the true life. According to Badiou, the task of philosophy is to think these truths as processes that emerge from and pursue gradually transformations of particular situations. Overall, the structure of Badiou’s philosophical system demonstrates an extraordinary ontological style as it concurrently stands in relation to, and breaks off from, the history of contemporary French philosophy, German Idealism, and Greek antiquity. His system, which is of vast complexity, is based on mathematical set theory, consisting of a series of determinate negations of the history of philosophy, and also created by the histories of what Badiou terms philosophy’s conditions: science, art, politics, and love.