"Soyons Tout!" On Undecidable Theorems and the Formalization of Subjective Overdetermination


Speaker: Brendan Rome, University of New Mexico

When: Oct 22, 2019 - 12:30pm - 02:00pm

Where: Department of Philosophy Library, HUM 519



Marx's famous proclamation at the beginning of his 18th Brumaire, "Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances encountered, given from the past," brings up a philosophical problem that befuddles Historical Materialists to this day. How are we to account for humans playing an active, voluntarist role in historical change or political transformations when we accept our socio-politically mediated subjectivity? My thesis turns to a rich vein of Marxist and psychoanalytic thought in postwar France that uses tools from mathematical and structural-linguistic formalizations, particularly that of the young Badiou and his teachers and interlocutors, including Althusser, Lacan, and Jacques-Alain Miller to solve this problem. In this thesis I argue that the subject is primarily formed by subjection (i.e. the subject's identity-formation through submission to power and the relations of production), but the site of it's active agency against subjection can be formalized through Gödel's undecidability proof as the formalization of a subject's overdetermined, antagonistic relations with the conditions of subjection.