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Unread 19 Jun 2008, 14:47   #1
All Systems Go
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Book Review

Has anyone read an Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy book by Bertrand Russell?

I found his History of Western Philosophy to be very concise and very readable, yet this book was printed in 1919 and I don't know to what extent mathematics has changed or developed in the ensuing 89 years.

Anyone?
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The 20th century has been characterised by three developments of great political importance. The growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power; and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.
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Unread 19 Jun 2008, 14:53   #2
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Re: Book Review

No but I'm reading A Thousand Suns at the moment if that helps!
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Unread 19 Jun 2008, 14:58   #3
All Systems Go
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Re: Book Review

Funnily enough, it does help. NOT!

Although at the moment, I'm currently not reading the copy of The Kite Runner that I have borrowed.
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The 20th century has been characterised by three developments of great political importance. The growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power; and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.
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Unread 19 Jun 2008, 14:59   #4
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Re: Book Review

Might watch the film.

Might illegally download.

Then again I might not do anything of the sort.

WHO KNOWS?
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The 20th century has been characterised by three developments of great political importance. The growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power; and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.
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Unread 19 Jun 2008, 15:33   #5
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Re: Book Review

Havent read it, but it's probably an introduction to Bertrand Russell's own views on the philosophy of mathematics (logicism). Its short though, so why not. Just be aware that its most likely a one-sided presentation, and that its very old (even things like ZFC/Godel werent around when it was written).

As a counter-balance I'd recommend this, which is a more of an empiricist/anti-foundationalist perspective.

Quote:
I found his History of Western Philosophy to be very concise and very readable
Its very readable/well-written, but its also quite biased/one-sided, and his scholarship towards people he doesnt agree with (Hegel/Nietzsche/etc) is appalling. Its largely because of this book that I suspect BRs introduction to mathematical philosophy is going to be more about BR's own views than about mathematical philosophy in general.

Last edited by Nodrog; 19 Jun 2008 at 15:50.
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Unread 19 Jun 2008, 19:35   #6
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Re: Book Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by All Systems Go
Might watch the film.

Might illegally download.

Then again I might not do anything of the sort.

WHO KNOWS?
I bought the film today. I read the Kite Runner in January. It's a beautifully written book, and the film is supposed to be just as moving.
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Unread 20 Jun 2008, 16:50   #7
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Re: Book Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomkat
I bought the film today. I read the Kite Runner in January. It's a beautifully written book, and the film is supposed to be just as moving.
The first half is good, before it turns into generic Hollywood 'wooo gotta go rescue the boy and kill all da baddies' nonsense.
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Unread 20 Jun 2008, 22:49   #8
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Re: Book Review

Yeah but you have a heart of stone so I don't really rate your opinion of a touching tragic story. If it was a book about numbers or something you'd be my first port of call!
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Unread 20 Jun 2008, 23:07   #9
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Re: Book Review

I saw the film months ago at the cinema and was really touched walking out of the building at the end of it. I recently started reading the book and although I'm not very far in it yet I have to say it's beautifully written with enough extra detail and nuance to make me forget the film's plot.
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Unread 21 Jun 2008, 00:38   #10
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Re: Book Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomkat
Yeah but you have a heart of stone so I don't really rate your opinion of a touching tragic story. If it was a book about numbers or something you'd be my first port of call!
After youve watched it you can come back here and tell me I'm right.
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Unread 23 Jun 2008, 13:23   #11
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Exclamation Re: Book Review

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Originally Posted by SilverSmoke
I saw the film months ago at the cinema and was really touched walking out of the building at the end of it.
Anyone you know?
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Unread 28 Jun 2008, 03:26   #12
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Re: Book Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by All Systems Go
I found his History of Western Philosophy to be very concise and very readable, yet this book was printed in 1919 and I don't know to what extent mathematics has changed or developed in the ensuing 89 years.

Anyone?
I haven't read this particular book and I don't really know much about it but here goes anyway.

Russell, with Alfred North Whitehead, was trying to prove the internal consistancy of mathematics using as few axioms as possible. Using set theory and building on the earlier work of Frege, he found some paradoxes (mostly of self-reference I think) and therefore failed. This seemed to be a popular pasttime, I think David Hilbert was trying the same thing with geometry.

Later, in the 1930s, Paul Gödel proved that the task was impossible with his incompleteness theorem. I think this came as a bit of a shock to mathematicians.

The was a ressurgance of multi-valued logic in the 60s, this time dubbed fuzzy logic by Lotfi Zadeh. This does away with the law of excluded middle, which I believe to be the cause of Russell's paradoxes. Later work by Bart Kosko introduces the concept of fuzzy containment, which I think should provide an escape from the paradox, but I haven't seen anything directly say this. It might just be a cop-out of saying 'don't know' or 'maybe'.

I don't know if fuzzy logic had a big impact on maths as a whole but it did on me personally, I really should read more on it.

I'd be interested to know more about the book and whether you agree with the things it says.
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