- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 521 KB
- Print Length: 68 pages
- Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson (14 Sept. 2011)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B005KKQ4LE
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #429,273 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Great Philosophers: Turing: Turing Kindle Edition
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A star of Bletchley Park, the WWII code-breaking group without whom many creditable historians claim the Allies would not have won the war and on whom Churchill depended a great deal, he was a brilliant, if eccentric, intellectual. (I often wonder at the strange view and desire of many people who must reduce the brilliant and extraordinary individuals to the ordinary, one minute expecting their brilliance but unable the next to cope with their differences and, of course, not all their ideas are brilliant.)
He cycled with his gasmask on to avoid hay-fever, from which he suffered a great deal, and chained his tea-mug to the radiator to ensure it was there when he wanted it; he also cracked the Enigma-code and built and pioneered the use of an early computer to do it faster to speed the end of the war. Like many of Bletchley Park's darkest(?) secrets, he became inconvenient after the war and his homo-sexuality opened him to possible blackmail.
Turing's brilliant ideas and philosophies are explored in reasonable depth in this brief, well -researched volume. For anyone interested in this fascinating genius, this is a good beginning.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The book is full of quotes of his actual works which are well integrated into the reading.
In my opinion, the author made a great job presenting each of Turing's fundamental works in a way that motivates the reader to investigate further.
This book's author, Andrew Hodges, also wrote an earlier, much longer, biography called "Alan Turing: The Enigma." Hodges uses this diminutive book to update some of the thoughts presented in that earlier 1983 biography. This 1999 book, a follow-up of sorts, traces Turing's thought from early adulthood to his sad and tragic suicide in 1954. Though some 58 pages long, it feels comprehensive. Apart from "The Turing Machine," "The Universal Machine," "The Turing Test," and his early development, the breezy text covers Turing's travails with homosexuality, his cryptographic feats during World War II, his conception of a discrete state machine, his thoughts on ESP, his brief but somewhat uneventful run-in with Ludwig Wittgenstein in 1937, and reactions to his work by Roger Penrose, a skeptic concerning "mechanical intelligence." Throughout, Hodges refers to Turing as a "natural philosopher" in that he ignored many of the demarcations that still silo academia, such as the distinction between "pure" and "applied" mathematics. Though this attitude led to some of his greatest intellectual feats, it also made him somewhat cryptic to academia. To this day, Turing's work defies solid categorization. Nonetheless, his influence on modern life remains indisputable, though many consider, controversially, von Neumann the "real" inventor of the computer (his EDVAC predates Turing's ACE by one year). In any case, anyone searching for a good overview of Turing's thought and influence will find it here. And although the text sometimes becomes very technical, it thankfully never becomes inaccessible.
Alan Turing met a sad end, as described in this book's final pages. Blackmailed and arrested for then illegal homosexual activity, he took "nature altering" drugs rather than face prison. Thereafter barred from a normal life, he ate an apple laced with cyanide in 1954. The sardonic syllogism he wrote, included in the book, provides a tragic but apt summary for Turing's later life. More than fifty years later, his ideas and influence continue to spread as computers dominate the everyday lives of millions. Artificial Intelligence also considers him a forbearer. This small book exposes not only why Turing was a great philosopher in classic and modern senses, but how he indubitably shaped today's world and culture.
For me, this little book proves that most of Turing's work has been countered by Roger Penrose. For Penrose, the human mind is capable of the uncomputable, while Turing treats the human brain as a computable machine.
The discussion Turing had with Wittgenstein on the 'liar' paradox has been solved by Tarski (see his difficult book 'Logic, Semantics, Metamathematics').
Obviously, Turing did not play in the same league as the one of geniuses like Gödel or Russell.
Also good information on his tragic personal life.