Numbers and Philosophy: Alain Badiou

"In his massive L'Être et l'événement (Being and the event [1988]), Badiou makes mathematical set theory the reader's quide to some 2,500 years of problems raised by ontology. From the axioms of set theory he not only recapitulates the history of philosophy but derives all the concepts of his system.... Badiou's philosophy, however, is not a philosophy of mathematics. For him there is no such thing. Nor is it about the world or consciousness or knowledge. He calls it a philosophy of time."

Lauren Sedofsky:
In Le Nombre et les nombres (Number and Numbers, 1990), you write, "A number is neither a characteristic of a concept, nor an operational fiction, nor an empirical given, nor a constitutive or transcendental category, nor a syntax or a language game, nor even an abstraction of our idea of order. A number is a form of Being...the infinite profusion of Being in Numbers." What is mathematics, then?
Alain Badiou:
Ultimately, being qua being is nothing but the multiple as such. What there is is the multiple. Mathematics is the kind of thought, and consequently the kind of discourse, that apprehends the configurations of multiplicity independently of any characteristic other than their multiplicity.

--Lauren Sedofsky, "Being by Numbers: Lauren Sedofsky talks with Alain Badiou," Artforum XXXIII/2 (October 1994): 84-86.

PHOTO: Hanne Darboven, ABCenzyklopädie, 1988 (detail).

For introductions to the major principles of Hanne Darboven's work, please click on the days of the week (e.g. M, T, W). For additional information, click on another date of the month.

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