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Kurt Gödel is often held up as an intellectual revolutionary whose incompleteness theorem helped tear down the notion that there was anything certain about the universe. Philosophy professor, novelist, and MacArthur Fellow Rebecca Goldstein reinterprets the evidence and restores to Gödel's famous idea the meaning he claimed he intended: that there is a mathematical truth--an objective certainty--underlying everything and existing independently of human thought. Gödel, Goldstein maintains, was an intellectual heir to Plato whose sense of alienation from the positivists and postmodernists of the 1940s was only ameliorated by his friendship with another intellectual giant, Albert Einstein. As Goldstein writes, "That his work, like Einstein's, has been interpreted as not only consistent with the revolt against objectivity but also as among its most compelling driving forces is ... more than a little ironic."
This and other paradoxes of Gödel's life are woven throughout Incompleteness, with biographical details taking something of a back seat to the philosophical and mathematical underpinnings of his theories. As an introduction to one of the three most profound scientific insights of the 20th century (the other two being Einstein's relativity and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle), Incompleteness is accessible, yet intellectually rigorous. Goldstein succeeds admirably in retiring inaccurate interpretations of Gödel's ideas. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem, which proved that no formal mathematical system can demonstrate every mathematical truth, is a landmark of modern thought. It's a simple but profound statement, but the technicalities of Gödel's proof are forbidding. If MacArthur Fellow and Whiting–winning novelist and philosopher Goldstein (The Mind-Body Problem) doesn't quite succeed in explaining the proof's mechanics to lay readers, she does a magnificent job of exploring its rich philosophical implications. Postmodernists have appropriated it to undermine science's claims of certainty, objectivity and rationality, but Gödel insisted, to the contrary, that the theorem buttresses a Platonist conception of a transcendent mathematical reality that exists independent of human logic. Goldstein is an excellent choice for this installment of Norton's Great Discoveries series, which seeks to explain the ways of science to humanists. Her philosophical background makes her a sure guide to the underlying ideas, and she brings a novelistic depth of character and atmosphere to her account of the positivist intellectual milieu surrounding Gödel (including a caustic portrait of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein) and to her sympathetic depiction of the logician's tortured psyche, as his relentless search for logical patterns behind life's contingencies gradually darkened into paranoia. The result is a stimulating exploration of both the power and the limitations of the human intellect. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A bit oriented to the contest of Kodel and other mathematicians/logicians. This is , no doubt, what it is supposed to be. Just not my main interest.Published 25 days ago by Amazon Customer
One of the finest biographies I have ever read. Top class work!Published 4 months ago by ASWIN SEKHAR
Title: Reason and Systems
In this book we hear a ringing shot in the battle of the books. We can take this theme of rival books into many sources of wisdom. Read more
This book has two goals for the general reader, both of which it accomplishes beautifully. First, it attempts to explain the philosophical implications of Godel's proof and how it... Read morePublished 6 months ago by jjo
I enjoyed this book greatly, but primarily for reasons completely extraneous to Godel's "Incompleteness" theorem itself. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
An excellent biography, even if I would have preferred the biographer be someone who better understood Gödel as a person, rather than just as a historical figure. Ms. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Kire Du'Hai
Goldstein covers Godel's incompleteness theorem and it's effect on mathematics. She highlights the philosophical issues. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Clay Garner
Very clear exposition of difficult concepts, wrapped in a fascinating tale of genius. Both sophisticated and accessible for the general reader.Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
Totally enjoyed this book as I have other books by Rebecca Goldstein; I really like her sense of humor in addition to the breadth of knowledge she brings as an author. Wonderful.Published 17 months ago by Robert Ralston