Art and Mathematics

  • Alain Badiou
Keywords: art, mathematics, philosophy, Plato, Aristotle, Ideas, form


It has been well known since ancient times that mathematical activity and artistic creativity are connected, but for philosophers their relationship is linked with the juxtaposition of Plato and Aristotle. If we compare their standpoints to mathematics and art, we come to two contemporary tendencies in philosophy which differ regarding the question of what the proper didactic functions for the Subject supposed to be oriented by an Idea are. For the Platonic tendency, this is a function of mathematics, for the Nietzschean tendency, this is a function of art. There is a third tendency, the Aristotelian, for which mathematics is a branch of aesthetics, and a fourth, the Wittgensteinian tendency, today the dominant one, which sees in mathematical aesthetics a coldness, an impersonal ity in accordance with the contemporary humanism of the victim. All these tendencies should be reconsidered from the viewpoint of choice and form, which is the fundamental question of contemporary art as well as mathematics. A comparison of the four tendencies one has to choose from (the author has already chosen a Platonic one) shows that they form a discordant quartet, but occasionally, here and there, they nevertheless reach an accord concerning the question “What is form?”, when an event occurs.


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How to Cite
Badiou A. Art and Mathematics. FV [Internet]. 2016Feb.6 [cited 2020Jun.3];32(3). Available from: