Categories for the Hard-Working Non-Mathematician - June 24th - July 1st, 2018 - Night Lessons with Gabriel Catren

In this workshop, we shall propose a philosophically oriented introduction to the basics of the mathematical theory of (higher) categories addressed to persons who do not have a university background in mathematics. Introduced in 1945 by S. Eilenberg and S. Mac Lane and developed by mathematicians like A. Grothendieck and (more recently) J. Lurie among others, the theory of categories can be understood as a general theory of mathematical forms (such as geometric spaces and algebraic structures).
In the theory of categories, we do not describe mathematical forms by their internal composition, but by their place in the network of transformations or deformations that they can undergo. Among the different possible philosophical takes on category theory, we shall focus — but not exclusively — on the radical novelty of category theory with respect to the philosophy of the notions of identity and difference.

The workshop will take place during four days (starting on the evening of Sunday June 24th) separated by three “free” days in which the participants will have the time to work through the new material and read texts that we shall propose.

The workshop will be free (besides the accommodation and meals expenses).

Dates: June 24th (arrival date) – July 1st, 2018.
Location: Performing Arts Forum in Saint Erme, France
Accommodation: 18€ per night (to PAF) plus a 12€ one-year PAF membership
Teaching fee: None
Make reservations by writing to

Cooking will be collective. To make it possible, we will need at least five people to arrive on the morning of Saturday the 23rd (or earlier) to do all the shopping for the week, as well as to organize the ingredients in storage. Without these volunteers, the workshop cannot run smoothly. The recipes are already set, and the cooking will be handled by the participants, and preferably not by those who arrived early to help prepare.

For questions about the Category Theory week, you can get in touch with Gabriel Catren. For inquiries about Night Lessons generally (if you want to organize one, for example!), email

Gabriel Catren is a philosopher and a physicist working at the Institut SPHERE - Sciences, Philosophie, Histoire (Université Paris Diderot – CNRS, Paris). This workshop is part of the pre-launch stage of the Interzonal Laboratory Identities, Forces, Quanta.