Goodbye, Descartes: The End of Logic and the Search for a New Cosmology of the Mind

Goodbye, Descartes: The End of Logic and the Search for a New Cosmology of the Mind

by Keith Devlin, Keith Devlin
     
 

"[Goodbye, Descartes] is certain to attract attention and controversy..a fascinating journey to the edges of logical thinking and beyond." -Publishers Weekly (???) Critical Acclaim for Keith Devlin's Previous Book Mathematics: The Science of Patterns "A book such as this belongs in the personal library of everyone interested in learning about some of the most… See more details below

Overview

"[Goodbye, Descartes] is certain to attract attention and controversy..a fascinating journey to the edges of logical thinking and beyond." -Publishers Weekly (???) Critical Acclaim for Keith Devlin's Previous Book Mathematics: The Science of Patterns "A book such as this belongs in the personal library of everyone interested in learning about some of the most subtle and profound works of the human spirit." -American Scientist "Devlin's very attractive book is a well-written attempt to explain mathematics to educated nonmathematicians . the basic ideas are presented in a clear, concise, and easily understood manner. Highly recommended." -Choice "[Devlin] has found an interesting way of exhibiting how mathematics is unified . the author's presentation is a tour de force." -Mathematical Reviews A Selection of the Newbridge Library of Science and Reader's Subscription

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a wide-ranging exploration of the limits of scientific and mathematical thought, Devlin (Mathematics: The Science of Patterns), a mathematician and senior researcher at Stanford University's Center for the Study of Language and Communication, is certain to attract attention-and controversy-with his claim that scientific logic, as exemplified by the philosophy of Descartes, will never enable us to understand the human mind. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is bound to fail, he asserts, for its goal of machine intelligence is an impossible one. Furthermore, he argues, Noam Chomsky's field of Cartesian linguistics is similarly flawed. Though the structure of a human language, like a computer language, can be analyzed in terms of syntactic rules, understanding human communication requires "four key features... that were explicitly ignored in Chomsky's logic-inspired analysis of language: meaning, context, cultural knowledge, [and] the structure of conversation." Given his perceived failure of AI and Chomsky's linguistics, Devlin asks, "what are the possibilities of a science of mind and language, and what kind of a theory should we be looking for?" The answer, he claims, is a "soft mathematics" that does not yet exist but will emerge as an established branch of the field. Readers must grapple with the text and be prepared to argue with the author with Talmudic fervor. AI experts will dispute Devlin's definition of their field and its objectives. Scientists or mathematicians will fill the margins with questions and comments. In the end, whether or not readers have joined Devlin in saying, "Goodbye, Descartes," they will have experienced a fascinating journey to the edges of logical thinking and beyond. (Jan.)
Library Journal
After years of effort to create a computer that can really think, many workers in the field of artificial intelligence are now beginning to concede it may be impossible. Mathematician and science writer Devlin believes that this is because the computer is a logic machine, and rational thought and human communication involve mental processes that go beyond logic. To convince us, he takes us on a tour of traditional logic, mathematical logic, modern linguistics, congitive science, and theories of communication and information. He concludes with a plea for the development of a new branch of mathematics-soft mathematics-designed to deal with those areas of science that do not fit the traditional paradigm of the hard sciences. An excellent book that should be read by everyone who has ever wondered how we communicate with one another but find it so frustrating to interact with computers.-Harold D. Shane, Baruch Coll., CUNY
Booknews
Explains the new science of mind based on the failures of artificial intelligence (AI), chronicling the centuries-old quest to discover the laws of thought and looking at recent discoveries which prove that the mind operates rationally but not logically. For general readers. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780471142164
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
12/20/1996
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.47(w) x 9.53(h) x 1.14(d)

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