Goodbye, Descartes

PDF EBook by Keith J. Devlin

EBook Description

Promises much more than it delivers and a bit of a hodge- PDFpodge that could have used a better editor. Goodbye, Descartes PDF EBookBasically the central argument of the book boils down to the following:

othe reductionist, mathematical approach that came from the Greek schools of logic and that has been so successful in science and technology has failed pretty comprehensively in (at least) two important fields:human communication and human reasoning.
othe primary difference between these two fields and those in which reductionism has succeeded is that in both cases context is critically important, and mathematics today doesn't handle context very well.

And that's it.

Most of the book is spent explaining what formal logic is and how it has developed over the centuries, salted with superficial descriptions of the various historical attempts to apply it to human language and reason.Devlin is a reasonably competent writer and the style is engaging, so some readers will find this moderately interesting (even if not particularly enlightening).For me it was a bit of waste of time, since I knew most of the historical background anyway.

Unfortunately, Devlin then devotes next to no time to exploring what a "New Cosmology of the Mind" might look like, other than to present a fairly simplistic symbolic formalism with which one can express context in equations and then on that basis to make a fairly feeble plea that (as he terms it) "soft mathematics" will therefore still have a role to play.

Well duh.

Although written in 1996, the book's weaknesses can't be explained away as being a consequence of it's being dated... no, the central problem, it seems to me, is that beyond identifying why reductionism has failed in the fields of human reason and language, Devlin just didn't have that much to say. Like this book? Read online this: Contemporary Mathematics in Context, The Geometry of René Descartes.

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