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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A historical approach for Gödel's proof and its epistemological ramifications, 22 Feb. 2010
This review is from: Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Godel (Great Discoveries (Paperback)) (Paperback)
This book primarily constitutes Gödel's biography and an analysis of the historical background from which the proof immerged and secondary an outline of the proof. The historical presentation is successfully entangled with the very intricate and interesting epistemological and philosophical ramifications of this great intellectual achievement. Finally the book is supplemented with an attempt to explain the main features of the proof. I concider the first three goals i.e. biography, historical context and analysis of proof's ramifications to meet with success but not so for the last one concerning the proof outline.

Every scientific idea - especially those which were so revolutionary that managed to shake the foundations of science and knowledge - seem naked, purposeless and unintelligible when presented without the accompanying historical context. Since history is created from special charismatic and dramatic persons, a historical approach inevitably comprise a biography and an account of the ideas which influenced the revolutionist thought. Ideas could be thought as intellectual species which evolve in human minds under the pressure of reality and the discovery of new inexplicable facts. Rebecca Goldstein successfully manages to achieve these two goals with an excellent presentation of the persons and the ideas relevant to Gödel's proof. Her narrating style makes these intricate epistemological and philosophical ideas much more easier to digest and pleasant to read.

One of the aspects which makes this book an excellent choice for reading is it's integrity. Not only it presents the historical context of the proof but it also bonds and evolves these past ideas to help exemplify the monumental ramifications of Gödel's intellectual child to epistemology and philosophy. I consider the presentation of these ramification to be the most interesting part of the book. There is a lot of misunderstanding concerning the epistemological interpretation of the proof and Rebecca Goldstein clarify the misconceptions which also held a great pain for Gödel himself.

The only drawback of the book is the epigrammatic presentation of the proof itself which I don't consider it to be a serious flaw because I think this presentation is basically out of the scope and the central idea of the book which is more historical and epistemological than technical. If one wants to have a better but not very technical and cumbersome explanation of Gödel's proof, I recommend the book "Gödel's Proof" from Douglas R.Hofstadter.

I surely recommend reading "Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Goedel". The reader who has a prior knowledge of this meta-mathematical triumph will acquire a more thorough-going understanding of its significance and the one who has never before had an acquaintance with the proof will have an excellent initiation to one of the doors leading to the understanding of what the mysterious nature of Mathematics might be and with what remarkable ways human beings acquire knowledge of this ghostly realm.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Apr 2011, 11:09:25 BST
A. Rodgers says:
Helpful review.

But note that "Godel's Proof" is by Nagel and Newman, whereas Hofstadter wrote "Godel, Escher, Bach".

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jul 2011, 20:31:01 BST
[Deleted by the author on 2 Jul 2011, 20:32:26 BST]

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jul 2011, 20:33:46 BST
You are absolutely right. Thank you for your post.
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