The 'birth of truth': Alain Badiou and Plato's banishment of the poets

Philosophy and Social Criticism 36 (5):607-621 (2010)

Jackie Maggio
Suffolk Community College
Plato famously banishes the poets from his ideal city in book X of his Republic. Yet in this banishment Plato establishes the boundaries of reason, art and poetry — boundaries that have haunted western thinkers since antiquity. In this article I will explore those Platonic boundaries, specifically the intellectual limits of poetic writing as reflected upon by self-identified Platonist Alain Badiou. That being said, I am not attempting, strictly speaking, to look at Badiou’s interpretation of Plato’s banishment of poetry. Instead, I am using the banishment as a springboard for discussion of Badiou’s notion of poetry as the ‘birth of truth’ in his Handbook of Inaesthetics. I will examine the way this text interacts with Plato’s conceptual banishment. I assert that this interaction should illuminate the status of writing — especially artistic writing — in the state
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DOI 10.1177/0191453710363583
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