24.118 | Spring 2019 | Undergraduate

Paradox and Infinity


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Recitation: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session


There are no prerequisites for this class. In practice, however, people who do well tend to have some experience proving things, or have done a lot of math or computer science. If you’re a freshman, you might consider waiting a year before signing up.


Here are the levels of philosophical and mathematical demandingness of each of the topics we’ll discuss:

  • On the philosophical side, a demandingness level of 100% means that some of the ideas we’ll be discussing are rather subtle; you won’t need philosophical training to understand them, but you’ll have to think about them very carefully.
  • On the mathematical side, a demandingness level of 100% means that the lecture is designed for someone who is familiar with college-level mathematics or is otherwise experienced in mathematical proof.


There is a required textbook, which you should use to supplement your understanding of the lectures and as an aid to completing problem sets:

 Buy at MIT Press Rayo, Agustín. On the Brink of Paradox: Highlights from the Intersection of Philosophy and Mathematics. MIT Press, 2019. ISBN: 9780262039413. [Preview with Google Books]

For specific chapter information, see the Readings section.

Grading Policy

Problem sets 80%

Pop quizzes and surveys

During some lectures, there will be pop quizzes or surveys. A pop quiz consists of multiple choice questions on material discussed in the current or preceding lecture. You’ll have to answer a quiz correctly to get credit. A pop survey is a questionnaire aimed at figuring out where the group stands on some issue. All it takes to get full credit on a survey is to participate. Your final Pop Quiz and Survey grade is the result of averaging your pop quiz and survey scores across the semester, after dropping your lowest score.


Recitation section attendance

Attending recitation sections is mandatory. For each recitation meeting, you will be assigned a grade of 100% if you attend, or 0% if you fail to attend. (Tardiness may count as an absence, at your TA’s discretion.) Your lowest attendance grade will be dropped.


For information on the problem sets, see the Assignments section.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2019
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Problem Sets