The Politics of Logic: Badiou, Wittgenstein, and the Consequences of Formalism

With regards to his newly released book, The Politics of Logic: Badiou, Wittgenstein, and the Consequences of Formalism, Paul Livingston was kind enough to notify us that the manuscript is available for free on his own personal website: [EDIT: A good reminder to always check links before you post them! The manuscript appears to be down at the moment. If it comes back up though, I’ll update this post to reflect that.] [UPDATE: The full manuscript had to be taken down for legal reasons (forcing people to pay Routledge’s absurd prices), but some chapters are still available here (scroll down):]

Considering the interest in these parts around formalism, politics, logic and thinkers like Badiou, this looks to be a terrific book. Well worth taking the time to check out.


“Very few philosophers can boast, not only of Paul Livingston’s breadth, but of the charity with which he takes stock of our present philosophical ‘situation.’ In showing how this situation ‘counts as one,’ he does not merely sum it up; rather, he produces within it what should be seen as a major philosophical ‘event’.”

–Andrew Cutrofello, Loyola University, Chicago


In this book, Livingston develops the political implications of formal results obtained over the course of the twentieth century in set theory, metalogic, and computational theory. He argues that the results achieved by thinkers such as Cantor, Russell, Gödel, Turing, and Cohen, even when they suggest inherent paradoxes and limitations to the structuring capacities of language or symbolic thought, have far-reaching implications for understanding the nature of political communities and their development and transformation. Alain Badiou’s analysis of logical-mathematical structures forms the backbone of his comprehensive and provocative theory of ontology, politics, and the possibilities of radical change. Through interpretive readings of Badiou’s work as well as the texts of Giorgio Agamben, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, Livingston develops a formally based taxonomy of critical positions on the nature and structure of political communities. These readings, along with readings of Parmenides and Plato, show how the formal results can transfigure two interrelated and ancient problems of the One and the Many: the problem of the relationship of a Form or Idea to the many of its participants, and the problem of the relationship of a social whole to its many constituents.


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