Thursday, December 01, 2011

Truth vs. Proof - Godel, Logicomix, and Beyond - See extraordinary "family movie" of Godel, Einstein, et al.

Read Logicomix and see YouTube video of "Family Movie" of Einstein, Dirac, Godel, Selberg, Harish-Chandra in Princeton 
Godel's Proof - mostly ignored - destroyed mathematics' perfection & changed my life. Graphic novel Logicomix makes this great work accessible & adds human/historical context (Bertrand Russell et al). I hope it works for you. SteveG
PS: Pre-Logicomix, more self-revealing description of the impact of Godel's work on me

Logicomix could have changed my life in 1960. That's when I first read _Godel's Proof_ by Nagel & Newman, which destroyed my beliefs about mathematics' purity, integrity, and completeness. Ever since, I've been puzzled and frustrated that so few people - even so few mathematicians and philosophers - recognize the brilliance and historical significance of Godel's Proof. Logicomix provides the historical, philosophical, and human context for the monumental intellectual achievements of Godel, Wittgenstein, Russell & Whitehead, and others in the early and mid-20th century.
"...Einstein told people that he went to his office “just to have the privilege of walking home with Kurt Gödel.” Part of the reason, it seems, was that Gödel was undaunted by Einstein’s reputation and did not hesitate to challenge his ideas. As another member of the Institute, the physicist Freeman Dyson, observed, “Gödel was . . . the only one of our colleagues who walked and talked on equal terms with Einstein.”

Have you read 
Logicomix ? If so, I'd like to know if it is either/both:
1. Understandable and interesting to those who have little background in the areas of mathematics, logic, and philosophy that it addresses.
2. Accurate in its simple summaries and introductions to many important thinkers and their ideas - and the significance of both in the worlds intellectual history

Read more: 

TIME BANDITS What were Einstein and Gödel talking about?
by Jim Holt, FEBRUARY 28, 2005, The New Yorker
A World Without Time The Forgotten Legacy of Godel and Einstein, Palle Yourgrau, Basic Books, 2005  [see excerpts below]
Complete Review - includes multiple reviews and other info about Yourgrau's book and other resources about Godel.
The Kurt Godel Society
Kurt Godel within website MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, Created by John J O'Connor and Edmund F Robertson, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland
Logicomix : An Epic Search for Truth (Paperback) Apostolos Doxiadis (Author), Christos Papadimitriou (Author) Paperback: 352 pages Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Advance Reader's Edition edition (September 29, 2009) Language: English ISBN-10: 1596914521 ISBN-13: 978-1596914520
 Excerpts from Yourgrau's A World Without Time

 "Maybe what brings them to logic is fear of ambiguity and emotion..." p. 282
"But for a lot of very intelligent people, the Incompleteness Theorem meant the end of a Dream!" p. 287

"...the spirit that lies at the very heart of the twentieth century. At its core it involves the dominance of form over content, syntax over semantics, proof over truth. It is no surprise that the principal embodiment of a formal system, the computer, a pure syntax machine, would become the century's dominant mechanical device. p. 54

"Consistency, not truth, increasingly became the goal of the formal systems of c=science, just as authenticity became the battle cry off the systems of ethics or forms of life. " ... " Godel's incompleteness theorem ... the most significant intellectual accomplishment of the twentieth century." p. 56

"... crucial difference between truth and proof.. Godel proved that mathematical truth is not reducible to formal or mechanical proof." p. 57

"To appreciate Godel's theorem is your birthright; let no one, including the mathematical police, deprive you of what you have a right to enjoy." p. 59
[Godel's Proof} "This was logic, it was mathematics, but it didn't look like logic or mathematics. It looked more like Kafka." p. 61

"Emil Post ... observed that as a result of Godel's theorems we know that 'mathematical thinking is, and must be, essentially creative.'" p. 74
"Godel's overarching ambition throughout his career consisted in the attempt to establish, by formal means, the limits of formal methods in capturing intuitive concepts." p. 75
Photo of Kurt Friedrich Gödel (1906 – 1978), ca 1926; Source
Permission "This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired and its author is anonymous."

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:38 PM

    On question 1: At times, I felt like I was back in a graduate course on computing theory - ugh! I didn't enjoy that the first time around. But overall, I found it to be an interesting approach to the subject matter (both the bio and the foundations of mathematics). I should read it again, though, because I'm sure I missed a lot! Not sure I can address question 2.


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