Book Review: Logicomix

Logicomix clearly illustrates: Any formal system of thought can be dismantled by the use of paradox.

Logicomix tells the story of a dream: The dream of a perfect understanding. The dream that logic can provide all the answers to humanity’s questions. An impenetrable chain of reasoning can support all rational thought. Pure logic can be used as a machine to choose between right and wrong. Good and evil. Both tamed by the cool application of ultimate truth. Logic makes man into God.

We only need a complete and consistent set of axioms for all of mathematics.

Russell has the dream.
Early in his life he is indoctrinated by his strict grandmother: Rules. Knowledge. The Bible.
His search for truth leads him to the forbidden books in the library.
He uncovers his family secrets.
Enraged, he begins his quest against madness.
His brilliant and unyielding mind brings him to mathematics.
He masters all the philosophies of his day.
Not relenting to closed minded professors, he questions all assumptions.
Mathematics is discovered to lie on a flimsy foundation.
He finds his calling is to be a logician.
Repairing the foundations of mathematical thought falls on his shoulders.

Russell encounters paradox.
Russell’s Paradox dismantles the set theoretical foundation of mathematics.
It must be replaced.

Russell partners with his closest collaborator to begin the replacement.
Russell’s dedication to certainty is overwhelming.
He goes as far as writing hundreds of pages to prove 1+1=2.
He labours for years.
At great personal sacrifice.
He is never satisfied that his arguments are certain enough.
His partner determines it’s time to unleash their masterpiece.
Behold the unshakable pillars all ye feeble minds: Principia Mathematica.

Despite Russell’s paranoia of paradox, Principia Mathematica stands.
The publishers determine that almost nobody will read it.
It is an impenetrable tome.
They refuse to publish.
So he publishes himself.
The work makes Russell one of the most respected men in mathematics.

The story then shows further developments in the field of logic.
Mathematicians and philosophers work hard to keep the dream alive.

Then, Gödel appears on the scene.
His steely-eyed dedication to logic is unsurpassed.
He masters the ideas in the Principia Mathematica.
Becoming the only person to do so other than Russell’s collaborators.
Then, he stoically challenges it.
He takes his line of thinking further, making an unexpected master stroke: The Incompleteness Theorems.

All honest mathematicians are compelled to agree.
The dream is dead.

Logicomix is a historical document.
Gödel’s incompleteness theorems have been rigorously proven.
Einstein endorsed them.
The second theorem is paraphrased thus: Any formal system of thought can prove it’s own consistency if and only if it is inconsistent.
This is a paradox dismantling any formal system of thought.

Logicomix is a graphic novel. A series of clear illustrations.

Therefore;
Logicomix clearly illustrates: Any formal system of thought can be dismantled by the use of paradox.

Phew!
Proved my thesis in 477 words.
I thought this might be a tough one.
When I was assigned this book report I was given 5 obstructions: No opinion. Objective. State thesis in first paragraph. 1000 words. Inspire neutrality in the reader.

Since I’m done with the report I can now share some opinions.
I’ll start with my opinion that I have satisfied the obstructions.
But I’ll let our noble reader be the judge of that.

Now I have 447 words left to complete the word requirement.
So I’ll do some fun incoherent ramblings!

Translat e talsnarT
Translate Tal’s N-Art.
What does N-Art mean?
Well, Tal was a girl we met on Easter Island.
She was interested in making a device to automate compacting dirt into tires.
Seems like a great project to develop using Open Source Ecology.
So I guess N-Art is the name of the automated tire pounding machine.
Or not, because that’s just based on a some random letters.
A great way for starting new ideas, no?

I want to guess the type of person who is reading this document.
To tell the truth, probably only Jenna and Tara will read it.
Bill will probably not be interested.
He probably has no interest in absolute truths (the theme of this document).

Now Jenna has contributed to this document to help with the word count:

This was written in order to increase the word count of the document, so that it will fulfill the requirements set out for Jesse when I gave him this assignment. I did not intend to have to help him in this way but I am happy to do it just so that everyone who reads this will know that it was written in response to a frivolous whim that his wife had, which was for him to create and produce something that would demonstrate and hone his mental capacities.

/jfg

Thanks Jenna!
You’re super.
Very helpful.

Now only 200 left.

Hey, I just realized that Ali might read this document too!

Hi Ali!

Have you read Logicomix?
If you have not, then I cannot recommend it.
If I recommended it I will unfortunately fail
in my quest to inspire neutrality.

Actually, now I’m thinking that this document might be regarded favourably…
And that might make people want to read Logicomix.
In that case I need to point out some of it’s downsides:

I think Ali has read many graphic novels and she might agree with me.
The illustrations were sub par and lack-lustre.

One hundred more words:

What’s in a hundred words?
Oh, what a great poet could do with this space.
But me, I’m just in a hurry to finish.

I’m sitting here with Jenna and Tara.
I should write down what they say,
since their conversation seems to generate more words/second
than my feeble attempts at writing.

I see:

zero times anything = zero
anything times infinity = infinity
therefore;
zero times infinity = anything?

What kind of reasoning is that?
Do you believe the universe is infinite?
Do you believe it’s made up of essentially nothingness?
Can you accept that both are true?

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