Philosophy Today

Volume 68, Issue 2, Spring 2024

Andrey GordienkoOrcid-ID
Pages 289-306

Foucault, Badiou, and the Courage of Philosophy

While regarding twentieth century French philosophy as a protracted conceptual war, Badiou has largely avoided an encounter with Foucault on the philosophical battlefield. According to Badiou, Foucault constructs a history of systems of thought starting from something other than philosophy (linguistic anthropology, postmodern sophism, democratic materialism) and, in so doing, exits the philosophical battleground. The present essay explores the prospect of rapprochement between these two thinkers, drawing attention to their shared concern with the theme of true life. For Foucault and Badiou, the life in truth and for truth compels the subject to invent a new way of being at the site of exception to what there is. Although Badiou remains ambivalent about the Foucauldian notion of the philosophical subject, he ultimately endorses Foucault’s conception of the philosophical life, which calls for courage insofar as it summons the human animal to think differently and become other than what one is.