The Politics of Logic
Badiou, Wittgenstein, and the Consequences of Formalism
Routledge – 2011 – 394 pages
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, Godel, 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.
"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, USA
"Livingston's remarkable book admirably demonstrates why considerations of formalism and logic are absolutely central to our understanding of politics…Livingston beautifully brings a series of themes animating Continental and Analytic thought into relief and, in doing so, opens new possibilities for debate and discussion. It is likely that this book will be a key reference in discussions surrounding Continental theory for years to come." – Levi R. Bryant, Collin College, USA in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"The Politics of Logic is a major contribution to contemporary philosophy, very demanding and thought provoking, setting the highest standards for research in modern philosophy, and philosophy of language in particular." – Piotr Stalmaszczyk, University of Lodz, Poland in Marx and Philosophy Review of Books
Contents Acknowledgments Methodological Preface I: Introductory 1: Introduction: An Inquiry into Forms of Life II. Paradoxico-Criticism 2: Origins of Paradoxico-Criticism: Structuralism and Analytic Philosophy 3: Deleuze, Plato, and the Paradoxes of Sense 4: Derrida and Formalism: Formalizing the Undecidable 5: Wittgenstein and Parmenides 6: Wittgenstein and Turing III: Badiou and the Stakes of Formalism 7: Formalism and Force: The Many Worlds of Badiou 8: Badiou vs. Paradoxico-Criticism 9: Paradoxico: Critique of Badiou 10: The Politics of Logic: Critical and Practical Consequences Notes Bibliography Index
Paul M. Livingston is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of New Mexico. He writes on philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and political philosophy, both analytic and continental. His previous books are: Philosophical History and the Problem of Consciousness (Cambridge, 2004) and Philosophy and the Vision of Language (Routledge, 2008).