logicomix

Thanks to Judith Rousseau (who gave me the book to read), I have enjoyed very much Logicomix: An epic search for truth, which is written in the format of a comic book or a graphic novel (just like Nietzsche, even though it is drawn in an altogether different if pleasant and colourful style). This bestselling book is about Bertrand Russell‘s doomed quest for the logical foundations of mathematics and about the intense debates in the philosophical and mathematical communities at the turn of the  century, ending with Gödel’s incompleteness theorem and Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Philosophicus. (Which reminded me of another book, Wittgenstein’s poker, that I read ages ago.)

Logicomix is not that deep a story, obviously, but the progression of the philosophers’ reasoning almost has a thriller quality! As an aside, I find the inclusion of the debates and questionnings of the authors of the book within their own book a bit annoying (or worse if this is intended as an heavy-duty illustration of self-referential concepts!), but this represents a small portion of the whole book. I also appreciated the way the book deals with the borderline sanity of most actors involved in this dangerous game, even though some parts are rather caricaturesque, like Russell letting his son to almost drown as a lesson in self-control! (The book has been translated in many languages, French included.)

A strange thing, though, is the use of meaningless mathematical formulae in the drawings, like

\dfrac{e\omega}{\eta\cos\text{PSM}'}

or

\dfrac{\partial^nF(y)}{\partial x_i^n}=\dfrac{1}{h!}\sum_{i=1}^\infty \int F^n(x_i)\text{d}x_i

which certainly makes not sense whatsoever… This is weird given that the two writers, Doxiadis and Papadimitriou, have enough of a mathematical background to realise that this non-sense is bound to annoy mathematicians!.

One Response to “logicomix”

  1. […] trust a review considering Sartre as a major philospher?! At least, he appears as a counterpart to Bertrand Russell in the frontispiece of the review.) As illustrated by the above quote (which first part I […]

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