Set Theory Ontology and the Philosophy of the Event 2 – 3 October 2015

Second BPPA Masterclass of 2015 In association with the University of Liverpool School of the Arts, the Journal of Badiou Studies and Mind



Alain Badiou, ENS, Paris

Oliver Feltham, the American University of Paris

Andrew Gibson, Royal Holloway University of London

Anindya Bhattacharyya, Independent Researcher

John McSweeney, Independent Researcher


Masterclass Description:

Set theory ontology and the philosophy of the event marks a recent and innovative means through which ‘Continental’ and ‘Analytic’ philosophical currents can construct a dialogue between their disparate perspectives. Such debates and developments have been influential in Continental Philosophy for over two decades, yet have seen little impact upon the Anglophone philosophical community. In recent years, there has been an intensification in the curiosity of Anglophone philosophers working within the Continental tradition. In 2012 the Journal of Badiou Studies was established as an English-language forum to facilitate these debates and create a presence within the Anglophone philosophical world. However, despite the philosophy’s suitability for cross-traditional discussion and the journal’s attempts to harbour this, the impact has remained largely within the remit of pre-existing Anglophone continental philosophers, whilst the Analytic community’s engagement with Badiou has been minor.

The second BPPA Masterclass of 2015 brought together researchers with an interest in all areas of Badiou’s philosophy in order to appraise its relevance to contemporary philosophy. As set theory and its immediate ontological ramifications forms the core of Badiou’s philosophical approach, the masterclass primarily focused on this in order to be approachable to those without sufficient previous engagement with Badiou.

The aims of the masterclass were threefold:

Principally, the two day event aimed to encourage interest in Badiouian ontology within the next generation of British Analytic philosophers with a view to establishing a constructive dialogue between the two philosophical communities. This conference was organized in a masterclass structure in order to be accessible to all postgraduate-level philosophy students.

The conference began with talks from Oliver Feltham (the English language translator of Badiou’s Being and Event) and Anindya Bhattacharyya who worked closely with the participants in the form of open-lectures. These open-lectures provided contextual information and explanations of principles which underlie Badiou’s ontology, such as set theory, category theory and Heyting theory. These lecture sessions reinforced and developed the knowledge – gained from the participants’ preparatory reading – to the level of proficiency required to understand the later speakers and participants’ papers as well as take part in the debate.

The secondary aim of the conference was to facilitate and assist those participants with pre-existing knowledge of set theory ontology in deepening their engagement with Badiou through exploring the nuances and implications of his philosophical approach. The second day of the masterclass focused on critical engagements with Badiou as well as discussion linking his philosophy with other French thinkers. Andrew Gibson and John McSweeney presented open-lectures on the instability of Badiou’s ontology and its relation to political subjectivity, respectively.

The third conference aim was to establish a setting for those participants with an existing engagement with Badiou to discuss their own readings and criticisms of Badiou’s ontology amongst other engaged postgraduate students as well as the ‘masters’ of the field. Sessions of participant papers were thus interspersed between the main speaker sessions so that a select number of participants –were able to present short papers on various elements of Badiou’s ontology.




Masterclass Organisers:

Oliver George Downing, University of Liverpool

Richard Shield, University of Liverpool

Ruthie Miller, University of Liverpool

Michael J. Kelly, SUNY Binghamton

Arthur Rose, Durham University



CC license logo - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.png