chapter 9
Mathematics and Science

Scientific truth, as opposed to the body of currently accepted scientific knowledge, is not a matter of what can be verified through experimentation within assumed theoretical parameters. It concerns the invention of those parameters. Like any truth, scientific truth begins with an event or discovery, and is proclaimed, in the face of received wisdom, by the subject of that discovery—Galileo and Einstein are the most obvious of Badiou's main examples. The site of such discoveries is in each case a real point of impasse that interrupts la puissance de la lettre, that is, the power of mathematical formalization, to articulate clear and distinct relationships, be they physical, geometrical, or numerical. 1 True scientific practice is what adopts this problematic point as its own experimental environment. It does not simply establish correspondences and verify what is already known; it gropes in the dark, at the frontier of uncertainty, in the uneven tension between ignorance and innovation: “We must deliver the sciences from every so-called 'theory of knowledge,'” from every “vain confrontation of language and experience. The sciences are procedures of truth. And thus they are fidelities, deductive or experimental, to unpredictable, chance events of thought.” 2

No less than its artistic counterpart, scientific truth proceeds as an effort to formalize that domain previously conceived as formless or unformable, monstrous. Cantor's project, for instance, was precisely an attempt to formalize the hitherto indeterminable formlessness of the geometric continuum. But,

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Badiou: A Subject to Truth
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