Formalism for Ontology and Politics

This course will provide an overview of formal methods and results to yield an understanding of the argument of Badiou’s Being and Event as well as further implications of formalism and formalization for contemporary ontological and political questions.  The course is divided into three parts: Part 1, taught by Paul Livingston, will provide an introduction to set theory along with its implications for Badiou’s conception of mathematical ontology, the structure of representation and the state, and the schematism of the transformative event.  Part 2, taught by Rocco Gangle, will treat the second half of Badiou’s argument in Being and Event, including the structure of the subject, Badiou’s critique of constructivism, and Cohen’s theory of forcing in application to the problem of political transformation.  Part 3, taught by Graham Priest and John Bova, will provide a broader introduction to dialetheism, the theory of diagonalization, fixed points, and incompleteness (following on Gödel’s incompleteness theorems) and their implications for contemporary thought.  In each part, the emphasis will be on obtaining a clear working understanding of the relevant formal theories and structures while continuously considering their implications for contemporary problems of engaged thought and action.


October 18 – Paul Livingston

Introduction to set theory and formal methodology

Badiou’s Being and Event, parts 1-3


October 25 – Paul Livingston

Badiou’s Being and Event, parts 4-5


November 1 – Rocco Gangle

Introduction to model theory and Cohen’s forcing

Badiou’s Being and Event, parts 6-8


November 8 – Rocco Gangle

Alternate presentations of forcing

Introduction to category theory


November 15 – Graham Priest

Alternative (non-ZF) set theories


Inclosure schema


November 22 – John Bova




Assignments TBA

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