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Infinity and the Mind: The Science and Philosophy of the Infinite

Overview

In Infinity and the Mind, Rudy Rucker leads an excursion to that stretch of the universe he calls the "Mindscape," where he explores infinity in all its forms: potential and actual, mathematical and physical, theological and mundane. Rucker acquaints us with Gödel's rotating universe, in which it is theoretically possible to travel into the past, and explains an interpretation of quantum mechanics in which billions of parallel worlds are produced every microsecond. It is in the realm of infinity, he maintains, ...

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Infinity and the Mind: The Science and Philosophy of the Infinite

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Overview

In Infinity and the Mind, Rudy Rucker leads an excursion to that stretch of the universe he calls the "Mindscape," where he explores infinity in all its forms: potential and actual, mathematical and physical, theological and mundane. Rucker acquaints us with Gödel's rotating universe, in which it is theoretically possible to travel into the past, and explains an interpretation of quantum mechanics in which billions of parallel worlds are produced every microsecond. It is in the realm of infinity, he maintains, that mathematics, science, and logic merge with the fantastic. By closely examining the paradoxes that arise from this merging, we can learn a great deal about the human mind, its powers, and its limitations.

Using cartoons, puzzles, and quotations to enliven his text, Rucker guides us through such topics as the paradoxes of set theory, the possibilities of physical infinities, and the results of Gödel's incompleteness theorems. His personal encounters with Gödel the mathematician and philosopher provide a rare glimpse at genius and reveal what very few mathematicians have dared to admit: the transcendent implications of Platonic realism.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Symbolic Logic - Joseph Shipman
Rudy Rucker, set theorist and science-fiction author, has continued the tradition ... of making mathematics and computer science accessible to the intellectually minded layperson.... Infinity and the Mind is funny, provocative, entertaining, and profound.
The American Mathematical Monthly - Craig Smorynski
Attempts to put Gödel's theorems into sharper focus, or at least to explain them to the nonspecialist, abound. My personal favorite is Rudy Rucker's Infinity and the Mind, which I recommend without reservation.
From the Publisher
"Rudy Rucker's Infinity and the Mind is a terrific study with real mathematical depth."New Yorker

"Rudy Rucker, set theorist and science-fiction author, has continued the tradition ... of making mathematics and computer science accessible to the intellectually minded layperson.... Infinity and the Mind is funny, provocative, entertaining, and profound."—Joseph Shipman, Journal of Symbolic Logic

"Attempts to put Gödel's theorems into sharper focus, or at least to explain them to the nonspecialist, abound. My personal favorite is Rudy Rucker's Infinity and the Mind, which I recommend without reservation."—Craig Smorynski, The American Mathematical Monthly

"[Rucker] leads his readers through these mental gymnastics in an easy, informal way."San Francisco Chronicle

"A captivating excursion through the mathematical approaches to the notions of infinity and the implications of that mathematics for the vexing questions on the mind, existence, and consciousness."Mathematics Teacher

"It is difficult to find any aspect of infinity that is not explored in this compelling book. . . . This memorable book is one to be kept on an accessible shelf after reading it: it will not leave the reader unaffected."Journal for Research in Mathematics Education

New Yorker
Rudy Rucker's Infinity and the Mind is a terrific study with real mathematical depth.
Journal of Symbolic Logic
Rudy Rucker, set theorist and science-fiction author, has continued the tradition ... of making mathematics and computer science accessible to the intellectually minded layperson.... Infinity and the Mind is funny, provocative, entertaining, and profound.
— Joseph Shipman
San Francisco Chronicle
[Rucker] leads his readers through these mental gymnastics in an easy, informal way.
Mathematics Teacher
A captivating excursion through the mathematical approaches to the notions of infinity and the implications of that mathematics for the vexing questions on the mind, existence, and consciousness.
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education
It is difficult to find any aspect of infinity that is not explored in this compelling book. . . . This memorable book is one to be kept on an accessible shelf after reading it: it will not leave the reader unaffected.
The American Mathematical Monthly
Attempts to put Gödel's theorems into sharper focus, or at least to explain them to the nonspecialist, abound. My personal favorite is Rudy Rucker's Infinity and the Mind, which I recommend without reservation.
— Craig Smorynski
New Yorker
Rudy Rucker's Infinity and the Mind is a terrific study with real mathematical depth.
Journal of Symbolic Logic
Rudy Rucker, set theorist and science-fiction author, has continued the tradition ... of making mathematics and computer science accessible to the intellectually minded layperson.... Infinity and the Mind is funny, provocative, entertaining, and profound.
— Joseph Shipman
The American Mathematical Monthly
Attempts to put Gödel's theorems into sharper focus, or at least to explain them to the nonspecialist, abound. My personal favorite is Rudy Rucker's Infinity and the Mind, which I recommend without reservation.
— Craig Smorynski
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691121277
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2004
  • Series: Princeton Science Library Series
  • Edition description: New Preface
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 432,556
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 9.66 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Rudy Rucker is Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at San Jose State University and the author of numerous books on mathematics and philosophy, including "Artificial Life Lab", "Mind Tools: The Five Levels of Mathematical Reality", and "The Fourth Dimension: A Guided Tour of Higher Universes". Among his works of science fiction are "White Light, Software," and "Space-Time Donuts".
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Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition ix
Preface xi
Chapter One: Infinity 1
A Short History of Infinity 1
Physical Infinities 9
Temporal Infinities 10
Spatial Infinities 15
Infinities in the Small 24
Conclusion 34
Infinities in the Mindscape 35
The Absolute Infinite 44
Connections 49
Puzzles and Paradoxes 51
Chapter Two: All the Numbers 53
From Pythagoreanism to Cantorism 53
Transfinite Numbers 64
From Omega to Epsilon-Zero 65
The Alefs 73
lnfinitesimals and Surreal Numbers 78
Higher Physical Infinities 87
Puzzles and Paradoxes 91
Chapter Three: The Unnameable 93
The Berry Paradox 93
Naming Numbers 95
Understanding Names 100
Random Reals 107
Constructing Reals 108
The Library of Babel 120
Richard's Paradox 126
Coding the World 130
What is Truth? 143
Conclusion 152
Puzzles and Paradoxes 155
Chapter Four: Robots and Souls 157
Godel's incompleteness Theorem 157
Conversations with Godel 164
Towards Robot Consciousness 171
Formal Systems and Machines 172
The Liar Paradox and the Non-Mechanizability of Mathematics 175
Artificial Intelligence via Evolutionary Processes 180
Robot Consciousness 183
Beyond Mechanism? 185
Puzzles and Paradoxes 187
Chapter Five: The One and the Many 189
The Classical One/Many Problem 189
What is a Set? 191
The Universe of Set Theory 196
Pure Sets and the Physical Universe 196
Proper Classes and Metaphysical Absolutes 202
Interface Enlightenment 206
One/Many in Logic and Set Theory 207
Mysticism and Rationality 209
Satori 214
Puzzles and Paradoxes 219
Excursion One: The Transfinite Cardinals 221
On and Alef-One 221
Cardinality 226
The Continuum 238
Large Cardinals 253
Excursion Two: Godel's Incompleteness Theorems 267
Formal Systems 267
Self-Reference 280
Godel's Proof 285
A Technical Note on Man-Machine Equivalence 292
Answers to the Puzzles and Paradoxes 295
Notes 307
Bibliography 329
Index 339

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2002

    Excellent book

    This is a brilliant book but be ready to spend lots of time analyzing all the ideas. Definitely not ight reading material.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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