LES NOUVEAUX RÉALISTES (THE NEW REALISTS) by Alexander Galloway is a book that aims at giving a unified perspective on a group of 5 French thinkers (Catherine Malabou, Bernard Stiegler, Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, Quentin Meillassoux, et François Laruelle) who do not form a movement, but who have enough of a “family resemblance” with each other to allow them to be discussed together in a single book. The book thus contains 5 chapters, each of which deals with one of the 5 philosophers, plus a Preface, an Entracte, and a Postface, that give a more synthetic treatment.
The authors discussed form more of a constellation than a movement or a school, and they are related by their shared desire to inherit from the great preceding generation of French philosophers (Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard) and to engage critically with their common themes and their individual theses. The title is slightly deceptive as these thinkers are neither “new” (certain of them, for example Bernard Stiegler and François Laruelle have a published work spread out over more than two decades) nor necessarily “realists” (some of them, such as once again Stiegler and Laruelle are very critical of the classical philosophical vocabulary and have elaborated bodies of thought that cannot easily be classified in such traditional terms). Further, the book also contains an extended discussion of the philosophy of Alain Badiou, whose shadow looms over the whole book, as he comes in a certain sense “between” the two intellectual generations that Galloway thematises. Engaged in a critical dialogue with his vanished elders, Badiou has elaborated a philosophical system which serves often either as a positive model to be imitated or simply as a source of inspiration or rather as a negative model of what is to be avoided or to be criticised. He functions as a foil for the 5 thinkers discussed in Galloway’s book.