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Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Godel (Great Discoveries Series)

Overview

"A gem. . . . An unforgettable account of one of the great moments in the history of human thought." —Steven Pinker
Probing the life and work of Kurt Gödel, Incompleteness indelibly portrays the tortured genius whose vision rocked the stability of mathematical reasoning— and brought him to the edge of madness.

"An introduction to the life and thought of Kurt Gèodel, who transformed our conception of math forever"--Provided by ...

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Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel (Great Discoveries)

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Overview

"A gem. . . . An unforgettable account of one of the great moments in the history of human thought." —Steven Pinker
Probing the life and work of Kurt Gödel, Incompleteness indelibly portrays the tortured genius whose vision rocked the stability of mathematical reasoning— and brought him to the edge of madness.

"An introduction to the life and thought of Kurt Gèodel, who transformed our conception of math forever"--Provided by publisher.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Godel'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 Godel'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 Godel 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 Godel (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. Agent, Tina Bennett. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A novelist and professor specializing in philosophy of science, MacArthur Fellow Goldstein reprises the life of mystical mathematician Godel. With a six-city author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393327601
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/6/2006
  • Series: Great Discoveries Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 560,778
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Rebecca Goldstein

Rebecca Goldstein is a MacArthur Fellow, a professor of philosophy, and the author of five novels and a collection of short stories. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

I A Platonist among the positivists 53
II Hilbert and the formalists 121
III The proof of incompleteness 147
IV Godel's incompleteness 207
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 2, 2009

    An excerpt from the Corcoran-Hicks review in MATHEMATICAL REVIEWS.

    The author is a prestigious MacArthur "genius" Fellow and the book has been praised by other writers and by logicians including Martin Davis and Gregory Chaitin. Surprisingly, it is a tediously disappointing read. The vocabulary alone is enough to deter readers: arrant, fey, coruscated, frontisquotes, monologicism, asperity, epigone, limpid, metaconclusion, metaquestion, metaconviction, metalight, imbibition, bruiting, veridical, stintless, eschatological, fractious, ensconced, valetudinarian, and ichor. Stunningly inept images pervade the book. Here is one example. "Think of it this way, if you care to: Axioms are like the classic first-borns in families: adored simply for being. Theorems are the children that come after, those who have to prove themselves worthy to gain acceptance."

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    Posted April 29, 2009

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    Posted November 5, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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