PHIL 451: Metaphysics
This course may be an account of a metaphysical system or a survey of such systems. It may be an examination of issues such as causality or substance, or an examination of the question of the legitimacy and nature of metaphysical thinking.
PHIL 451: Metaphysics: Badiou/Lewis
In this seminar we will compare two recent attempts to build philosophical systems on set theoretic foundations: David Lewis’s modal realism and Alain Badiou’s “theory of the event.” The most perspicuous basis for comparison between Lewis and Badiou would be their respective versions of cosmological pluralism (possible worlds and topoi), but this is a topic that Badiou (drawing on category theory rather than set theory) only develops in Logics of Worlds, the complicated sequel to his sufficiently difficult Being and Event. Luckily, there are enough points of contact to justify our reading Being and Event alongside Lewis’s magisterial On the Plurality of Worlds. A fundamental assumption of this seminar is that juxtaposing philosophical texts can lead to new insights, especially when the texts in question belong to relatively different philosophical traditions. Another, more tentative, guiding thought is that Badiou and Lewis are not just mathematically inspired metaphysicians; they are, in a sense to be specified, metaphysical poets.