Much Badiou about Nothing:Productive Misreadings of Mathematical Ideas and Isiah Medina’s 88:88

Much Badiou about Nothing:Productive Misreadings of Mathematical Ideas and Isiah Medina’s 88:88.” M×Φ: Annals of Mathematics and Philosophy vol. 1, no. 2 (2023): 1-24.


Kepler’s model for the solar system was con- structed following the formal beauty of the Platonic Solids. Although not scientifically accurate, this model prompted many scientific advancements given that Kepler attempted to justify it using empirical evidence and, until that point in history, scientific research was mainly descriptive. In this article, I will argue that productive misreadings of mathematical ideas have the potential to lead to original concepts, and are not nec- essarily detrimental to the social sciences as physicist Alan Sokal (1998) and others contend. In particular, I will argue that French philosopher Alain Badiou’s claim that “mathematics is ontology” is based on a mistake analogous to Kepler’s — namely, that Badiou based the underlying structure for his ontological claims on set theory due to its perceived beauty. In spite of this, it will be shown that Badiou’s conceptualization allows for novel ontological insight.

By conceptualizing film editing through mathematical conceptions of the infinite, experimental filmmaker Isiah Medina uses mathematics as one of the inspirations for his art. Medina treats philosophy, mathematics, and cinema as a form of free association, a methodology of philosophic freestyle, or academic hip hop resulting in numerous philosophical and cinematic insights. The influence of Badiou’s ontological framework on Medina cannot be overstated where even the title of his debut feature 88:88 (2015) functions as metaphor for Badiou’s conception of the void. In addition to providing a detail analysis of Badiou’s ontological framework, I will also examine Medina’s appropriation of Badiou’s philosophy and will discuss some of the other ways he applies math- ematical concepts in his film 88:88.