On Alain Badiou’s ‘Critique of Religion’

Mads Peter Karlsen

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    This paper examines Alain Badiou’s critical engagement with religion. It is argued that there are two central points at which religion enters the scene of Badiou’s philosophy. First, in his critique, the ‘motif of finitude’ Badiou repeatedly refers to religion, claiming that ‘the obsession with finitude is a remnant of the tyranny of the sacred’. Second, Badiou stages his attempt to regenerate philosophy against the proclamation of its end as a confrontation with the religion, through philosophy’s detachment from the poetization of philosophy and its reattachment to mathematics. By examining these two points, the paper aims to encircle Badiou’s notion of religion and thus clarify the role it plays in his philosophical system. This paper suggests that his notion of religion is a by-product of his polemics and therefore needs to be ‘extracted’ from his writings. Hence, the ‘critique of religion’ present in Badiou’s work is not straightforward and explicit critique. Another central aspect of Badiou’s critique of religion is related to his effort to separate the concept of truth from the category of meaning, which he understands as the emblem of religion. The paper sheds light on this matter and its setting in Jacques Lacan’s considerations on religion.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInternational Journal of Philosophy and Theology
    Issue number1-2
    Pages (from-to)36-59
    Number of pages24
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Published online: 28. August 2017.


    • Badiou
    • Religion
    • Meaning
    • Truth
    • Death of God
    • Finitude
    • Infinity
    • Romanticism

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