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Classes will be held via Zoom.
How can we, as finite beings, grasp the concept of infinity? Yet humans have been contemplating infinity for millennia, whether inspired by nature, philosophy, spirituality—or mathematics. This course is a historical and conceptual approach to the latter realm, the mathematics of infinity. Our topics will include the ancient Greeks’ discovery of irrational numbers and Zeno’s paradoxes; Aristotle’s distinction between “actual infinity” and “potential infinity”; debates about infinitesimal numbers in the history of calculus; and the seeming paradoxes of infinite sums.
But our main goal will be explore the beauty of “the paradise that Cantor created for us”—the theory of infinite sets created by Georg Cantor in the 1880s. We will grapple with one of the great proofs in the history of mathematics, Cantor’s famous “diagonalization” argument, which shows that the set of real numbers is uncountably infinite–meaning, in a precise sense, that the real numbers constitute a larger infinity than the integers (the “counting numbers”). In fact, Cantor’s argument establishes that there is an infinite hierarchy of infinities!
As a guide to this intellectual history, we will read portions of David Foster Wallace’s Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity and William Dunham’s Journey Through Genius: The Great Theorems of Mathematics in conjunction with additional readings on the history, mathematics and philosophy of infinity, including primary texts by Cantor, David Hilbert and Kurt Gödel.
There *is* no physical Brooklyn Institute. We hold our classes all over (thus far) Brooklyn and Manhattan, in alternative spaces ranging from the back rooms of bars to bookstores to spaces in cultural centers, including the Center for Jewish History, the Goethe-Institut, and the Barnard Center for Research on Women. We can (and do) turn any space into a classroom. You will be notified of the exact location when you register for a class.
This course is available for "remote" learning and will be available to anyone with access to an internet device with a microphone (this includes most models of computers, tablets). Classes will take place with a "Live" instructor at the date/times listed below.
Upon registration, the instructor will send along additional information about how to log-on and participate in the class.
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This class isn't on the schedule at the moment, but save it to your Wish List to find out when it comes back!
The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...
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The Los Angeles Center of Photography is thrilled to produce an ongoing series on the history of photography. The series, typically offered the third Tuesday of each month, will be divided into the genres of photography. This year features lectures on notable Black and Women photographers in history, Street Photography, Still Life, Landscape and Documentary....
Tuesday May 17th, 5pm - 6:30pm Pacific Time
Racial Capitalism: Race, Class, and the Black Radical Tradition “Racial capitalism” is a concept that has become central to contemporary radical movements, from Black Lives Matter to the prison abolition movement to movements against state violence and for climate justice. The concept was first developed by Cedric Robinson in his monumental Black...
Monday Jun 6th, 6:30pm - 9:30pm Eastern Time(4 sessions)
Why do we want what we want? The critique of capitalism is very often associated – by both proponents and antagonists – with a critique of consumerism which, in turn, is treated as a pathology of individual desire. People should stop shopping; people should eschew goods; people should want less; people should police their own desires (or, if they...
Tuesday Jun 7th, 6:30pm - 9:30pm Eastern Time(4 sessions)
Relative to the enormous power it wields over American life, the article of the U.S. Constitution that creates the judicial branch is surprisingly brief: “The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” From those 30 words has...
Wednesday Jun 8th, 6:30pm - 9:30pm Eastern Time(4 sessions)
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