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There's Something About Godel: The Complete Guide to the Incompleteness Theorem Paperback – November 9, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1405197670 ISBN-10: 1405197676 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (November 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405197676
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405197670
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,074,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Berto has provided a thoroughly recommendable guide to Gdel's theorems and their current status within and outside mathematical logic.

Tony Mann (President of the British Society for the History of Mathematics)  --Times Higher Education Supplement

"This is a beautifully clear and accurate presentation of the material, with no technical demands beyond what is required for accuracy, and filled with interesting philosophical suggestions." (John Woods, University of British Columbia)

"There's Something about G¨odel is a bargain: two books in one. The first half is a gentle but rigorous introduction to the incompleteness theorems for the mathematically uninitiated. The second is a survey of the philosophical, psychological, and sociological consequences people have attempted to derive from the theorems, some of them quite fantastical." (Philosophia Mathematica, 2011)

"There is a story that in 1930 the great mathematician John von Neumann emerged from a seminar delivered by Kurt Gödel saying: ‘It's all over.’ Gödel had just proved the two theorems about the logical foundations of mathematics that are the subject of this valuable new book by Francesco Berto. Berto's clear exposition and his strategy of dividing the proof into short, easily digestible chunks make it pleasant reading ... .Berto is lucid and witty in exposing mistaken applications of Gödel's results ... [and] has provided a thoroughly recommendable guide to Gödel's theorems and their current status within, and outside, mathematical logic.” (Times Higher Education Supplement, February 2010)

Review

"Berto's book will tell you everything you wanted to know about Gödel's theorem, but were too afraid to ask. Read it if you want your biggest organ pleasurably stimulated."
Graham Priest, University of Melbourne

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Grant on August 11, 2010
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I've often wondered how professional film critics can figure out how much of their reaction to a movie is due to its intrinsic merits and how much is based on the mood they happened to be in when they saw it. I find myself in an analogous situation as I write this review. I read _Godel, Escher, and Bach_ as a college freshman when it first came out, I've read Franzen's book on Godel, and I've been exposed to Godel's arguments on several other occasions during my career, but reading _There's Something about Godel_ has left me with a much better understanding of the Incompleteness Theorem than I previously had. I don't know for sure how much of this is really due to Berto's skill as a thinker and a writer and how much is due to those past influences finally sinking in, but to counterbalance some of the criticism he's received from others, I'm willing to give him the credit. He impressed me as a very clear writer, being patient without being tedious. (In that last aspect, this book didn't feel at all like a pop math book, a genre which professional mathematicians typically find boring.) Even the chapter on Wittgenstein, which I anticipated hating, was surprisingly tolerable, though I don't think I'm in any danger of becoming a fan of either Wittgenstein or paraconsistent logic.

Two final points:

(1) This is an English translation of an Italian book, and I presume Berto is a native Italian, but the English in this book is just fine--not at all stilted.
(2) Wiley has come out with some books with really ugly printing lately, even uglier than an average print-on-demand book. There's no such problem with this book, though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Tan on April 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
The first half of the book presents the mathematical meaning of the theorems in readable, everyday language. Five stars because of the second part, in which Berto provides an excellent discussion that complements and counterpoints that of Franzen's "Use and abuse".
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sam Adams on February 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is an English translation (by the author) of an Italian book. The author, Francesco Berto, is a philosopher, and the book is intended to be an accessible, informal account of Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems for students of philosophy who are interested in logic and Gödel's work in it. The second part of the book, influenced by Torkel Franzén's book Godel's Theorem: An Incomplete Guide to Its Use and Abuse, discusses misapplications of Gödel's Theorems outside of mathematical logic.

Philosophy students may feel at home with the author's style of thinking, whereas readers more inclined to mathematics may see the book as verbose and unclear. The book feels (to me) cluttered with unnecessary verbiage, and the presentation feels disorganized and muddled. Berto seems to be stumbling over himself, unsure of how much to say or when to say it. He ends up being both less informative and more informative than he sometimes needs to be. The discussion of the background to Gödel's Theorems is weak. The impression is that Berto wants to discuss the philosophical aspects of Gödel's work and that the mathematical context holds little interest for him.

When he reaches part two of the book, on misapplications of Gödel's Theorems, he begins with some promise, giving a clear, quick summary of postmodern skepticism.
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8 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Paul Vjecsner on February 4, 2010
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This is not my first review of a book on Gödel, and therefore I want to respond freshly, by considering this book in particular.

In view of the numerous attacks I was subjected to for not accepting "Gödel's incompleteness theorem", the main subject of this book, I could be taking comfort in author Berto's attention to Wittgenstein as a critic of Gödel's theorem. At least I have that prominent figure sharing my negative attitude, with Dr. Berto giving Wittgenstein some credence (p.213): "an audacious rethinking...may nowadays vindicate some of Wittgenstein's 'outrageous claims' on Gödel's Theorem, too swiftly dismissed by commentators who dogmatically took the logic of Russell and Frege as the One True Logic".

My view of Wittgenstein, though, is not the best, since he seems never to substantiate his flamboyant declarations, and Dr. Berto is really fully committed to Gödel, describing him, in keeping with today's adulation, as "the logician of the [last] millennium" (p.189).

In my eyes Gödel is nothing of the sort. He contrived an impossibly elaborately symbolized "proof" of a simple sentence, and perhaps still more preposterously he equivocated that sentence with a mathematical one. That sentence, famous by now, is

(1) "THIS SENTENCE IS UNPROVABLE" (in the logical system in which it occurs).

The sentence is modeled on the ancient Liar paradox, stating

(2) "THIS SENTENCE IS FALSE".

If (2) is true then, by its content, it is false; and if it is false then, again by its content, it is true.

Now, Dr.
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