THURSDAY, JUNE 23, 2022
Home Improvement resumes tomorrow: We've been called away from our campus this morning. For that reason, the next installment in our Home Improvement series be postponed till tomorrow.
Later today, our afternoon explorations will continue. We'll continue with the valiant effort by Kevin Drum, our long-time favorite blogger, to explain Godel's incompleteness theorems.
Can anyone explain Godel's work in a way the general reader can understand? If the answer to that question is no, quite a few other questions may follow.
We'd call this a study of human nature. We'd call it "the beautiful game."
I can’t remember the philosopher’s name, just that I once read a quote from him essentially saying that the best environment for philosophers is leisure.ReplyDelete
Philosophers are in the rear with the gear. They will be and always have been second class citizens to men of action.Delete
Men and women, I apologize.Delete
Like those in the War College?Delete
You mean I’ll be denied Bob’s insightfulReplyDelete
take of the Press’s performance on the
Republican Party’s attempt to overthrow
The United States Government? How
will I survive?
Lord, even Fox has started covering
"Can anyone explain Godel's work in a way the general reader can understand? If the answer to that question is no, quite a few other questions may follow."ReplyDelete
Of course the answer is no. You don't jump into the deep end of the pool without first learning to swim. Why is this so hard for Somerby to understand?
Because not everyone agrees with that. And the layman's answer to the question is that Gödel's work in this area doesn't have real world applications.Delete
For example, among those that disagree with your premise: Einstein and Feynman. Pretty good company to keep.Delete
Einstein, you say? You mean the man whose supposedly simple book on relativity has stumped Somerby in post after post? That Einstein?
Yes that Einstein. This isn't the gotcha you think it is. His explanation of relativity was pretty damn good considering the complexity of what was being explained. Somerby isn't 100% right about everything. Neither is he 0% (the critics position on here.) Like anyone he is between those extremes. I leave propaganda to the propagandists, who are inclined to paint everything in black and white to make their vapid points.Delete
Someone said Einstein would disagree that no one can explain Godel's work. mh pointed out that Somerby has been unable to understand Einstein's supposedly simple explanation of his own work. You then accuse him of being a black-and-white thinker. On what basis? What is black-and-white about reminding a commenter of Somerby's own words?Delete
I think you like calling Somerby's critics here "black and white" thinks (and vapid to boot). Never mind whether that particular criticism is justified. (It doesn't apply to mh's remark at all). Somerby himself found Einstein's explanation inadequate. mh just reminds @12:39 of that fact.
It isn't sufficient to just label a commenter with a pejorative adjective (vapid). You need to have some substance to your criticism, which means you should at least explain what is black and white about reminding someone here of what Somerby previously said. Otherwise, you are just engaging in more name-calling, which is the hallmark of the Somerby-supporting trolls who infect this blog's comment section.
I just explained it in the same post. The critics disagree with 100% of what Somerby writes, never agreeing with any of it. It's black and white, it's propaganda and yes, it's vapid.Delete
Here are the comments of Janna Levin on Godel. She is a professor of Physics and Astronomy at Barnard College and has also written a book about Godel:ReplyDelete
"SC: To what other areas, outside of mathematics and logic, such as physics, theology, or philosophy, did Gödel contribute?
JL: He most directly, himself, personally contributed to physics. Obviously, his ideas had big implications that inspired other people to carry on, in probably all fields like theology, philosophy, physics, metaphysics, artificial intelligence, computer science—to everything he really was very influential. But he, himself, contributed to physics in a very interesting way, and it was kind of a similar idea to throwing a wrench in the works a bit.
He became very close to Einstein when he was at the Institute. And Einstein once said, “I only go to the Institute for the pleasure of Gödel’s company.” I think people have probably heard that quote before. In fact, he was such a recluse, Einstein might have been one of the only people he was speaking to, for months at a time, on these walks. And he became interested in Einstein’s ideas about the relativity of space and time.
Einstein’s theory of a curved space-time is a theory that you and I, traveling at different speeds or in a curved space-time, or somebody near a black hole, or somebody else, might measure, literally, the passage of time differently. We might age differently from each other. I won’t notice a difference. But you might look at me, near a black hole, and think, I’m aging very slowly, like thirty years have elapsed for you and only one year has elapsed for me. So there’s this very strange but very real relativity of space and time in Einstein’s theory.
So what Gödel did, he was able to construct a very unusual space-time, one which was rotating, which is not what our universe is doing, but just a hypothetical—imagine a universe, which is rotating in some specific way—and he was able to show that he could find specific observers in that world who could travel back in time."
A great sage once said the world rests on the back of a giant turtle. Someone asked him what the turtle sits on. Well, he replied, it's another turtle, he's on an even bigger turtle, and it's just turtles all the way down.ReplyDelete
In my layman's opinion, this seems to be what Gödel is said to do with math. You can count one, two, three. Two, four, six. All these numbers count and you can count the ways you count, and count the ways you count the ways you count. Etc
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
Dr. T asked about Drum's background. This is what Wikipedia says:Delete
"Drum graduated from Pacifica High School, in Garden Grove, California, then attended Caltech for two years before transferring to California State University, Long Beach, where he received his bachelor's degree in journalism in 1981. While at CSULB he served as city editor of the university's student run newspaper, The Daily 49er."
He is essentially a journalist, not a mathematician, although he may have taken some math courses at CalTech (a top technical school equivalent to MIT or Harvey Mudd) before transferring to CSULB (one of the Cal State campuses).
Leroy, philosophy does have a great deal to say to the "hoi-polloi". It is the major that many pre-law students take before applying to law school. It not only teaches how to argue points logically, but it focuses on issues such as ethics, what is right and wrong, how people ought to act, how to make choices among competing interests. Another career that philosophy prepares students to enter is professional mediation. Yet another career path is the ethicists who work in hospitals and other institutions, providing guidance on life and death choices made by doctors, and setting policy about who may be offered what sorts of treatments under what types of situations involving risk and uncertain outcomes. For example, the policies set during covid about triage (which patients should be offered scarce resources in ICUs when there was a lack of respirators during the early stages of the pandemic, or whether unproven treatments should be provided when patients demand it, even when known to be ineffective and perhaps even dangerous). Philosophy teaches students how to argue the pros and cons of ethical quandaries and how to weigh and balance competing goods or consequences. This type of position is required at some institutions where decisions must be made. The War College has a graduate certificate program in Ethics and Emerging Military Technology. An undergraduate philosophy degree is preparation for such a program, and professors who teach in it are often philosophy professors.ReplyDelete
It is understandable that the general public may not be aware of how philosophy applies to everyday life, and that there are careers involving philosophy (besides being a professor), but Somerby does nothing whatsoever to inform this discussion, by telling his readers that such jobs exist. Instead he pretends it is all navel-gazing, so that he can knock the whole concept that advanced training might have benefits to our society.
I'm through messing around.Delete
Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary field that includes philosophy as one of its core disciplines. There are courses in cognitive science taught in undergrad philosophy departments. Philosophy is concerned with logic and interacts with neuroscientists and psychologists in testing theories about how people think, as well as constructing models and creating machines that think. This is a very active field that has important consequences in machine learning and AI, as well as cognitive psychology.Delete
I doubt that Somerby has read anything beyond his original textbooks from the 1960s. He may be entirely unaware of things like fuzzy and modal logic, just as he seems unaware of how modern philosophers grappled with Wittgenstein's language-based critiques. For Somerby, philosophy seems frozen where it was when he first flunked his courses back in the mid-1960s. An undergrad with a philosophy major might go on to graduate study in cognitive science and a career at an AI research lab. In that case, philosiphy would have taught such a student how to compare the ways in which human beings and computers think and how to create a logic that describes such thinking and decision-making.
cognitive science definition: "the study of thought, learning, and mental organization, which draws on aspects of psychology, linguistics, philosophy, and computer modeling"Delete
Note the inclusion of both philosophy and linguistics (the field relevant to responding to Wittgenstein).
Philosophy is about debating ethics. The hearing today was entirely about men who are lawyers placing their jobs on the line over ethical issues. What more important application of philosophy could there be than what those men (Rosen, Donohue and the rest) did when they stood up to Trump over ethical concerns?ReplyDelete
Would Somerby have been Jeffrey Clark in that scenario, willing to do whatever the President demanded, regardless of consequences? Is that what his Harvard philosophy major taught him?
I cannot understand why Somerby doesn't see this very obvious connection.
Somerby picks on Godel because he thinks no one will object. Meanwhile, this is happening in our country:ReplyDelete