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Wednesday, 26 June 2013


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"learn better from reading words rather than listening to them

Certainly holds true with myself. Have yet to listen to a speech in its entirety (more than 5 minutes) from the lofty one. The written word being more digestive (decipherable?) than the oral version.

Yes, and also whilst 'listening' in conversation mode we are all guilty of thinking about what we are going to say next which does not aid concentration. And, boy, do you need concentration for this Gödel stuff!

Have you read the JR Lucas book yet?


Good wiki write-up to put you in the mood.

His work is the DNA of freedom; John Stuart Mill, Hayek, Popper et al, the mere creatures formed from it. Great and righteous they all are, but one and all they are down-stream from Lucas's proofs and arguments, his arguments being so fundamentally rooted in the irrefutable logic of Godel's proof.

And where in God's green and pleasant land did this gentleman choose to retire himself? Dorset! Spooky,


Thanks, SoD, the Lucas book awaits but first I must finish Gleik (who has at least given me an intro), and then I just have to read Keegan's "American Civil War" otherwise JK will beat me up and DM will give me a hundred lines!

Oh, and all the best people retire to Dorset, or at least, South Somerset!

"learn better from reading words rather than listening to them": when I was young I was told that in lectures the male students learnt best from what was written, the female from what was said.

P.S. How nice to see that Gödel is becoming fashionable again.

Well, if I signal approval, DM, then the man's home and dry!

You are the very model of a modern Blether-General.

I'd like to recommend "godel's proof", by earnest nagel.

Thanks a million, Dom, I only manage two and a half paragraphs of a pdf version I found and already, at 8.45 in the morning, I have a headache!

The essence of your comment is correct, DM, but the rank is wrong - I only made corporal!

Is this Gödel as in "Gödel, Escher, Bach"?

Now there's an addition to your reading list, D!

If you ever read and understand it all, please do a post about it because you'll be the first person I've ever "met" who has done so.

It's a fun read, though: Achilles and the Tortoise indeed.

Yes, Andrew, that's the fella' and I'm happy to say that I think 'SoD' has my old copy which I don't think I ever finished - well, actually, I know I didn't!

However, what I do have is 'SoD's copy of "I Am a Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter and after blowing the dust off it I see from the old bookmark still inside that I reached page 67!

Not even 'E' for Effort!

Hello there, David. I'm a little late to the party on this post and see that Andrew Duffin has beaten me to it, as far as mentioning the Douglas Hofstadter book is concerned. I read it many years ago, still have it and occasionally dip into it; I particularly liked the explanations about the musical forms of Bach, Pachelbel etc.

However, as far as Godël is concerned, I think that his work much influenced that of Alan Turing.

Hello, Paul, and I'm sorry but I had to rescue you from the Spam Bin - bloody-bloody TypePad!

I don't know about Turing but he has certainly influenced 'SoD' (Son of Duff) who never stops spouting off about him. He has given me a copy of a book entitled "Freedom of the Will" by J. R. Lucas who is, apparently, a Godelian disciple. I haven't read it yet but I was struck by this random sentence I chanced upon: "We cannot reduce reason to rules, or mind to matter. And therefore we cannot take a completely materialist or determinist view of the universe ..." That chimes with me.

I'm getting used to TypePad consigning me to the spam bin! Thanks for rescuing me so promptly!

I don't know if you've read it, but there is a good biography of Alan Turing by Andrew Hodges, which I read a few years ago. Another 'hero' of mine is Paul Dirac; I've yet to read his biography, 'The Strangest Man' by Graham Farmelo, but am looking forward to it, after I've finished my Wilbur Smith tale of ancient Egypt 'River God'!

Must get back to the baseball now (watching on ESPN America) - the only sport I follow avidly now, for some strange reason.

Your quote from Lucas "We cannot reduce reason to rules, or mind to matter..." illustrates the contrast between Lucas and Hofstadter's conclusions from Gödel's proof: Hofstadter understands Gödel to mean precisely that we are in fact reducible to a Turing machine / neural network / strange loop (delete as applicable) implemented in carbon!

Their dispute is bitter; Hofstadter quotes Lucas extensively in GEB and attacks him with the vicious bitchiness that only academics can manage - unequaled even by Luvvies.

I find it stunning that anyone can possibly conclude that we are Turing machines / neural networks / strange loops or any other analytical contraption after the Godel penny drops; to do so seems to have missed point so completely as to be diametrically opposite to what follows from the proof.

There's a beautifully succinct sum-up in Lucas's Wiki: -

(1961) began a lengthy and heated debate over the implications of Gödel's incompleteness theorems for the anthropic mechanism thesis, by arguing that:
1.Determinism ↔ For any human h there exists at least one (deterministic) logical system L(h) which reliably predicts h's actions in all circumstances.
2.For any logical system L a sufficiently skilled mathematical logician (equipped with a sufficiently powerful computer if necessary) can construct some statements T(L) which are true but unprovable in L. (This follows from Gödel's first theorem.)
3.If a human m is a sufficiently skillful mathematical logician (equipped with a sufficiently powerful computer if necessary) then if m is given L(m), he or she can construct T(L(m)) and
4.Determine that they are true--which L(m) cannot do.
5.Hence L(m) does not reliably predict m's actions in all circumstances.
6.Hence m has free will.
7.It is implausible that the qualitative difference between mathematical logicians and the rest of the population is such that the former have free will and the latter do not.

What part of "I am not a Turing machine / neural network / strange loop" doesn't anyone understand after that?

The materialists / mechanists have been slain by Gödel and Lucas. What started with Socrates geeing up Aristotle and Plato for a two thousand year dispute, with Aristotle probably having had the upper hand, swung conclusively the other way from 1931. Out of fashion Gödel might be, but when the full realization dawns on mankind, which like all the great ideas, Christianity, Liberalism, even Marxism, might take some time, the world will be changed, imho, more so than any ism or ity that preceded it.


Oh God, my head's hurting! I'm off shopping so I will return later.

Paul, don't take your incarceration in the Spam Box personally - you were sharing it with 'SoD' this morning!

'SoD', somewhere around 4,5, and 6 above, you lost me!

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