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god is math

with 4 comments

right now i’m reading Alain Badiou‘s Theoretical Writings. it’s a collection of his work that claims to be a good introduction to his philosophy. so far, i agree. i had read his Metapolitics a while ago and remember liking it but supposedly, straight politics, which that book was,  is not Badiou’s thing. apparently, it’s math. badiou loves math and seems to have this unnatural fascination with infinity. i dont quite get it yet but i think i’m starting to understand how he feels. throughout all his essays the possibility of ‘the neverending’ plays a major role, bouncing off other peoples’ theories, and explained through vocabulary lessons and analogies.  

for example, Leibniz‘s Pond:

“Each portion of of matter may be conceived as a garden full of plants, and as a pond full of fish. But every branch of each plant, every member of each animal, and every  drop of their liquid parts is itself likewise a similar garden or pond.” pg. 66 Theoretical Writings.

that’s a pretty vivid image of infinity. now take Spinoza. the only thing i knew about Spinoza before reading chapter 7: Spinoza’s Closed Ontology was that he was a Spanish (actually, Portuguese) Jew who lived somewhere around the 1600s and was ostracized  by his community for being blasphemous. i then learned that the story i’d heard wasn’t entirely true but can’t remember what the real story is. in any case, i do know that he had some notion of God that people didn’t like.  now that i’m halfway through the chapter, i know that Spinoza believed in an infinite God who was at the same time One. multiples unified. God, as one omnipotent power, is everything that we are, everything we aren’t, and everything we know, and everything can’t.

to be fair, Spinoza’s theory rest on the notion that our intellect is how we understand this concept of God – and that our intellect is something reliable. this can not be proven and therefore you get a choice to agree or not. or, as badiou asks:

“how is it possible to think the being of intellect [intellect’s essence]… depends upon the operations of the intellect?”

although i see how it would be hard to prove God with concretely/scientifically, i don’t think Spinoza’s idea of God is a dangerous one, and therefore, i’m willing to accept it.

badiou’s love for infinity and obvious approval of Spinoza’s Infinite God made this chapter a lot of fun.


Written by Gabrielle

November 15, 2009 at 5:09 pm

Posted in books

Tagged with , , , ,

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