Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil

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Alain Badiou, one of the most powerful voices in contemporary French philosophy, shows how our prevailing ethical principles serve ultimately to reinforce an ideology of the status quo and fail to provide a framework for an effective understanding of the concept of evil.

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With this little black book, Alain Badiou sows the seeds of intellectual revolt in the fields of contemporary ethical theory. He argues that the bedrock of present-day ethics--the normative conception of human rights--is morally bankrupt. "It amounts to a genuine nihilism, a threatening denial of thought as such," he writes. As Badiou sees it, current ethics has been enlisted in the army of capitalist-liberalism: "The theme of ethics and of human rights is compatible with the self-satisfied egoism of the affluent West, with advertising, and with service rendered to the powers that be." In support of his startling claim, he sketches a history of ethical theory and argues that today's ethics--the traffic not only of philosophers, but of politicians and professionals--is rooted in Kantian origins and a facile understanding of evil.

Badiou proposes a positive doctrine that he calls "The Ethic of Truths," ultimately arguing that "there is no ethics in general." Instead, there are only "processes by which we treat the possibilities of a situation." The book's main failing is its length. It is simply too short to do justice to the panoply of literature on ethics or to inoculate Badiou against a host of objections that are lurking nearby. Nonetheless, his reasoning is powerful and surprising, marking some of the best writing in current European philosophy, and his credentials are impeccable. He teaches at the École normale supérieure in Paris and is author of a half dozen well-regarded books on a range of philosophical topics. --Eric de Place

About the Author:

Alain Badiou teaches philosophy at the E?cole normale supérieure and the Collège international de philosophie in Paris. In addition to several novels, plays and political essays, he has published a number of major philosophical works, including Theory of the Subject, Being and Event, Manifesto for Philosophy, and Gilles Deleuze. His recent books include The Meaning of Sarkozy, Ethics, Metapolitics, Polemics, The Communist Hypothesis, Five Lessons on Wagner, and Wittgenstein’s Anti-Philosophy.

Peter Hallward teaches at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University, London. He is the author of several books including Absolutely Postcolonial, Badiou: A Subject to Truth, Out of This World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation, and Damming the Flood.

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9781781680186: Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil (Radical Thinkers)

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ISBN 10:  1781680183 ISBN 13:  9781781680186
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Book Description Verso Books, United Kingdom, 2002. Paperback. Condition: New. New edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. Ethical questions dominate current political and academic agendas. While government think-tanks ponder the dilemmas of bio-ethics, medical ethics and professional ethics, respect for human rights and reverence for the Other have become matters of broad consensus. Alain Badiou, one of the most powerful voices in contemporary French philosophy, explodes the facile assumptions behind this recent ethical turn. He shows how our prevailing ethical principles serve ultimately to reinforce an ideology of the status quo, and fail to provide a framework for an effective understanding of the concept of evil. Our consensual ethical norms amount to nothing more than a jumbled confusion of legalistic formalism, scandalised opinion, and theological mystification. By contrast, Badiou summons up an ethic of truths which is designed both to sustain and inspire a disciplined, subjective adherence to a militant cause (be it political or scientific, artistic or romantic), and to discern a finely demarcated zone of application for the concept of evil. He defends an effectively super-human integrity over the respect for merely human rights, asserts a partisan universality over the negotiation of merely particular interests, and appeals to an immortal value beyond the protection of mortal privileges. Seller Inventory # AAJ9781859844359

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Book Description Verso Books, United Kingdom, 2002. Paperback. Condition: New. New edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. Ethical questions dominate current political and academic agendas. While government think-tanks ponder the dilemmas of bio-ethics, medical ethics and professional ethics, respect for human rights and reverence for the Other have become matters of broad consensus. Alain Badiou, one of the most powerful voices in contemporary French philosophy, explodes the facile assumptions behind this recent ethical turn. He shows how our prevailing ethical principles serve ultimately to reinforce an ideology of the status quo, and fail to provide a framework for an effective understanding of the concept of evil. Our consensual ethical norms amount to nothing more than a jumbled confusion of legalistic formalism, scandalised opinion, and theological mystification. By contrast, Badiou summons up an ethic of truths which is designed both to sustain and inspire a disciplined, subjective adherence to a militant cause (be it political or scientific, artistic or romantic), and to discern a finely demarcated zone of application for the concept of evil. He defends an effectively super-human integrity over the respect for merely human rights, asserts a partisan universality over the negotiation of merely particular interests, and appeals to an immortal value beyond the protection of mortal privileges. Seller Inventory # AAJ9781859844359

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Book Description Verso Books. Paperback. Condition: new. BRAND NEW, Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil (New edition), Alain Badiou, Jason Barker, Peter Hallward, Ethical questions dominate current political and academic agendas. While government think-tanks ponder the dilemmas of bio-ethics, medical ethics and professional ethics, respect for human rights and reverence for the Other have become matters of broad consensus. Alain Badiou, one of the most powerful voices in contemporary French philosophy, explodes the facile assumptions behind this recent ethical turn. He shows how our prevailing ethical principles serve ultimately to reinforce an ideology of the status quo, and fail to provide a framework for an effective understanding of the concept of evil. Our consensual ethical norms amount to nothing more than a jumbled confusion of legalistic formalism, scandalised opinion, and theological mystification. By contrast, Badiou summons up an "ethic of truths" which is designed both to sustain and inspire a disciplined, subjective adherence to a militant cause (be it political or scientific, artistic or romantic), and to discern a finely demarcated zone of application for the concept of evil. He defends an effectively super-human integrity over the respect for merely human rights, asserts a partisan universality over the negotiation of merely particular interests, and appeals to an "immortal" value beyond the protection of mortal privileges. Seller Inventory # B9781859844359

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