Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek have become two of the dominant voices in contemporary philosophy and critical theory. In this book, Geoff Pfeifer offers an in-depth look at their respective views. Using Louis Althusser’s materialism as a starting point—which, as Pfeifer shows, was built partially as a response to the Marxism of the Parti Communiste Français and partially in dialogue with other philosophical movements and intellectual currents of its times—the book looks at the differing ways in which both Badiou’s and Žižek’s work attempt to respond to issues that arise within the Althusserian edifice. Pfeifer argues here that, ultimately, Žižek’s materialism succeeds in responding to these issues in ways that Badiou’s does not. In building this argument, Pfeifer engages not only with the work of Althusser, Badiou, and Žižek and their intellectual backgrounds, but also with much of the contemporary scholarship surrounding these thinkers. As such, Pfeifer’s book is an important addition to the ongoing debates within contemporary critical theory.
Introduction 1. Louis Althusser and the Parti Communiste Français 2. En Media Res: Althusser’s Materialism, the Challenge to the PCF’s Marxism, and the Rise of Anti-Humanism 3. Badiou’s Materialist Project: Stasis and Change 4. Badiou as Structuralist, or the Idealism of Formalism 5. Žižek and the Materialism of the Immaterial, or Why Hegel Is Not an Idealist 6. Žižek contra Badiou. Conclusion: New Materialism?