Monday, September 19, 2011

Reminder for Zalamea Seminar at JVE

TIME: SEPT. 29TH, 14h – 17h

The point of this seminar is not only to acquaint us with the vibrant landscape of contemporary mathematics – and the field of sheaf logic and category theory, in particular – but to show us how this landscape’s powerful new concepts can be deployed in the fields of philosophy and cultural production. Its aim is nothing less than to ignite a new way of thinking about universality and synthesis in the absence of any absolute foundation or stable, pre-given totality – a problem that mathematics has spent the better part of the last fifty years thinking its way through, and which it has traversed by means remarkable series of conceptual inventions – a problem which has also animated philosophical modernity and its contemporary horizon. This marks something of a variation on the theme of antagonism and technique that Versus has taken as its focus for the coming year: rather than seek to fragment philosophical concepts through the prism of non-philosophical disciplines – understood as something like “conditions for philosophy” – we will mobilize mathematical concepts and techniques to synthesize and render continuous what philosophy has fragmented. The crisp dichtomies of realism versus idealism, form versus content, the static versus the dynamic, and so on, are skillfully woven into a complex oscillating fabric that, far from obscuring the polarities in a night in which all cows are black, unleashes a living swarm of powerful conceptual nuances and distinctions from what was, in retrospect, a lazy taxonomy. This labour of synthesis, itself, demonstrates how far real mathematics – the living mathematical practice of the present age – outstrips anything dreamt of in our philosophy.

Our guide in this endeavour will be Fernando Zalamea, a Columbian mathematician, philosopher and novelist whose work seeks to explore the life of contemporary mathematics while redeploying its concepts and forces beyond their native domain. In an incessant, pendular motion, he weaves the warp of post-Grothendieckian mathematics through a heterogeneous weft of materials drawn from architecture and fiction, sculpture and myth, poetry and music.

We see Zalamea’s work as expressing an all-too-rare effort to subject philosophy to the condition of mathematics, and his degree of immersion and care for the latter is perhaps unmatched by any since Albert Lautman. If Lautman was Deleuze’s Virgil through the rings of modern mathematics, we may count on Zalamea’s work to guide us through the contemporary mathematics that we believe any philosophy awake to its own times must traverse. Just as analytic philosophy emerged from the shockwaves of the explosion of classical logic and set theory onto the scene in the early 20th century, the conceptual force of mathematics after Grothendieck holds the potential to spawn a new, ‘synthetic’ vision of mathematically-conditioned philosophy for the present age, one which Zalamea foreshadows under the rubrics of transitory ontology, epistemological sheaves, and universal pragmaticism. Though the seminar will not be fail to be of interest to mathematicians and logicians, who we think will find even their own terrain illuminated by Zalamea’s insights and mediations, we hasten to point out that the seminar will presuppose no prior knowledge of advanced mathematics.

We ask that the seminar participants read the excerpt from Versus Laboratorian Luke Fraser’s translation of Zalamea’s Filosofía Sintética de las Matemáticas Contemporánes (Synthetic Philosophy of Contemporary Mathematics), which is forthcoming from Urbanomic Press and which we have provided for the seminar participants in draft form. Like all Versus Laboratory seminars, this will be a fully participatory event, with plenty of time for a detailed discussion of the concepts and problems at stake.

Readings for the seminar can be found HERE

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