Summer course at the Central European University in Budapest, July 20-24, 2009

For several centuries now mathematics has been a primary tool of modern

science and technology, twin pillars of the modern world. It is therefore

startling to note the marginal place of higher mathematics within current

mainstream thought and culture, and the widespread alienation from the

field by both intellectuals and the broader public. Unlike philosophy,

history, literary studies, and even the physical sciences, higher

mathematics has became practically irrelevant to mainstream cultural


The course confronts this fundamental anomaly by noting that the

marginalization of mathematics is of relatively recent origins, and is

rooted in a particular historical narrative. This story has shaped both

the practice of mathematics and its relationship to other fields of

knowledge, placing it in direct opposition to the human world. In the

course we will seek to question this seemingly self-evident opposition by

exposing the deep and complex interconnections between the mathematical

and narrative modes of thought. This will not only open up novel

perspectives on the history and philosophy of mathematics, but, it is

hoped, will help bridge the chasm that now separates mathematics from

mainstream thought.

Course faculty:

Amir Alexander, History, UCLA; Apostolos Doxiadis, Writer, Athens; Karl

Hall, History, Central European University; Ted Porter, History, UCLA;

Arkady Plotnitsky, English, Purdue University; Joan L Richards, History,

Brown University; Janos Tanacs, Philosophy, Budapest University of

Technology and Economics.

Guest speakers:

Markus Asper, Classics, NYU; George Szpiro, Journalist, Zürich.

Target group is graduate students, faculty and researchers. No formal

pre-requisites, but an understanding of the central issues of the cultural

production of knowledge is highly desirable.

The language of instruction: English

Tuition fee: EUR 250. Financial aid is available.

Application deadline: February 16, 2009

Online application (from mid-November):

Attachments to be sent to: [email protected]