Adapted from his 1985 seminar on Parmenides, here Badiou challenges the conceptual legend of Parmenides as the founder of philosophy. Badiou considers the reasons for just such a designation of origin, affirmed by Plato to Hegel to Heidegger. Under examination is the significance of Parmenides’ use of poetic expression, the conceptual and historical conditions Parmenides obeys by pronouncing on being and non-being, and conjectures as to the uniqueness of such a delimitation of difference between being, non-being and seeming. Badiou asks, if philosophy is established as a decision between these differences, is Parmenides the proper founder of this place of decision? Badiou questions whether founding the “crossroads of decision” is a patently philosophical act, by elaborating an ‘Eastern dimension’ of similar nature and in close examination of ancient Egyptian and Indian texts. Since spiritual discourses--cosmologies, mythologies—often lend sacral advice on the very matters of being and non-being, Badiou poses, what is it that founds philosophy as a distinct discourse?
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