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


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 discourse.

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: March 16, 2009

Online application:

Attachments to be sent to: [email protected]