An excellent book covering many different aspects of logic in an exhaustive manner. It is the first volume of two, with the somewhat misleading subtitAn excellent book covering many different aspects of logic in an exhaustive manner. It is the first volume of two, with the somewhat misleading subtitle "Introduction to Logic". It should perhaps rather have been called "Introduction to a formal treatment of logic" or something along those lines. As a first book on logic, it is not a good choice. A word might be necessary on my use of the word "formal" here. Any treatment of logic is of course in a certain sense "formal". Arguments in natural language are often translated as examples to illustrate the meaning of the logical constants. But this does not amount to a formal treatment of logic itself. This book explains the use of mathematical induction to prove things about formulas, which relies on a formal definition on the syntax of the language of logic, gives extensive treatments on logical semantics and goes into some discussions about the correspondence between the model theoretic (semantic) approach (Tarski's beautiful truth definition is there) and proof theoretic (syntactic) approach to logical inference. In this connection some metalogical results are explained.
It is written with a strong linguistic focus. The ability of the formalisms to encode natural language is always a central issue, as opposed to the situation in more mathematically inclined books on logic where the translation of natural language sentences seems to often be more of a pedagogical thing. Towards the end, after the thorough treatment of classical logic, follows a few chapters on some other topics, with a more brief treatment. A chapter on various extensions and deviations on classical logic along with an explanation of the motivations of these (again, translations of natural language sentences are in focus) comes first. Then follows one on the pragmatics on logic and language, and finally, a chapter on the formal theory of grammar with a very brief explanation of the language hierarchy initially developed by Chomsky and its connection to types of automata.
This is an great text for the reader who already has a basic understanding of classical logic and wishes to delve a bit deeper, perhaps before getting into an even more formal treatment of logic in a course on metalogic (which is exactly what I'm about to do myself in about two weeks)....more
This is a wonderful book told in a spectacular fashion. It's the tale of the young seemingly innocent good looking man who bit by bit is corrupted byThis is a wonderful book told in a spectacular fashion. It's the tale of the young seemingly innocent good looking man who bit by bit is corrupted by an acquaintance and how a wish uttered without much thought affects his whole life. There is certainly a lot of moral background, but the story never feels preachy, it is more of a tale of the different figures and their different reactions to the actions of Dorian Gray, actions about which we never get too many details. We do get an insight into some of the ideas of moral behavior found in late 19th century England and how other members of the higher classes react to Gray's increasing immorality in their eyes, how he is more and more shunned by some, but he still manages to stay in those circles, the rumors seem easy enough to ignore and he's friend and corrupter seems to always get away with uttering complete distaste for morality in the most cynical way, getting no other response than mere laughter and some dismissal. It seems people refuse to believe that anyone is really that cynical and immoral, so they mostly just let it be. You get the feeling that the only people who really shun Gray are those that have had direct personal experience of some of his immoral behaviors. The consequences of Gray's actions are instead personal psychological effects, not that he worries too much about the people he has made to suffer, but in that he fears the effects on his soul, effects which are very clearly showing themselves in the portrait that he keeps hidden from the world. Not even in the end is he concerned about others, he has been corrupted and knows it, he regrets his life and wants to start doing good, but seemingly only for his own sake. The psychological aspects are always present, but there seems to me to be very little in the way of morality in the sense of actual consideration of the well being of other people. Those hearing Lord Henry's cynical statements seem somewhat shocked by how they go against some sort of code of proper behavior, not by how they display a distaste for empathy. Maybe the book was meant to show just this, that high society in England at the time showed interest only in upholding an agreed upon moral code, and cared very little about people's actual well being. Maybe any direct discussion of true moral values, based on consideration of others rather than fixed rules, was intentionally left out. In any case, I have a very hard time characterising the tale as one focused on morality, rather than as one focused on social codes.
Besides this discussion of the story, the language must at least briefly be praised as most eloquent and memorable. There's an almost limitless supply of epigrams and brief sayings, analyses of behaviors, differences between the sexes, marriage, art, rationality and pretty much everything else. And the narration is no less good, it moves along at just the right pace, with dramatic turns of events at several places, often hinting at the events just before they are about to happen, keeping the reader excited without drawing out things longer than needed. The language is beautiful without being pompous so that the book is an easy enough read for anyone fairly experiences in the English language. I have not looked at the translation into Swedish (my native tongue) but I'd strongly recommend any reader to get the original if possible before considering reading a translated edition. Even if the translation is a good one, this deserves to be read as it was originally intended....more
Dennett has conducted a wonderful investigation into the nature of consciousness. Not being satisfied to treat consciousness as something ontologicallDennett has conducted a wonderful investigation into the nature of consciousness. Not being satisfied to treat consciousness as something ontologically and fundamentally "special", he dismisses some misguided notions of the workings of consciousness which makes it seem as though there has to be some sort of "center or awareness" in which it all comes together along with the related notion of conscious experience as something which has further unexplainable phenomena, qualia, as its building blocks. Dennett insist on treating consciousness as just another biological phenomenon, needing an explanation in terms of more fundamental, unconscious, building blocks thereby dismissing the idea of qualia as ungrounded (unless understood as something further analyzable in terms of phenomena that do not exhibit qualia. These two intellectually unmotivated notions are related in that they both suppose that in order to explain consciousness, we need to find something fundamental which is itself like that which it is there to explain. Need to understand conscious experiences? Postulate the existence of basic states of conscious awareness which can not be "explained away": qualia. Need to understand the nature of a conscious person experiencing the world? Postulate the "Cartesian theater" at "the center of the mind" in which all the processing of the brain comes together to yield the final experience. Both these approaches to these questions are highly misguided: to explain the nature of conscious states, we need an explanation of their constituent parts in the brain, how the processes of the brain amount to experiential states, we do not need there to be, in addition to the purely physical processes of the brain, an accompanying unanalyzable state of conscious experience of the processing; to explain the nature of the conscious agent having these experiences, we do not need to find a further, smaller agent inside the mind, taking in all the results of the processes and experiencing their end result. Being predisposed to naturalistic explanation, as any thinking person should be, Dennett rightly concludes that these other explanations, being grounded in myths and mystery, will not do to explain what consciousness is and are often at odds with experimental results (which is, of course, enough to dispel them). Dennett does not have a detailed account of exactly how the processes of the brain amount to conscious experience (and it would be too early to attempt such an explanation), but goes a long way towards showing how scientific discoveries show us the way to asking the right questions. This is, it seems to me, both his usual approach and the right one. Upon suggesting that the mind and consciousness works a certain way, he accompanies the claim with scientific sources conducting experiments on the issue and sometimes suggest future experiments of his own that would test his thesis.
In the end, Dennett is unclear about exactly it means for someone to be conscious of something other than that it consists in the person being in a state where his or her brain currently processes information regarding the thing of which he or she is currently conscious. This might seem unsatisfactory, and this is perhaps necessarily so considering the current state of our scientific understanding of the mind. In any case, he does not dismiss consciousness, is not a complete eliminativist regarding it (as some seem to think he is), but rather seeks to demystify it, explain how it is that we are conscious beings and trying to convince the readers that we can keep our conscious minds without clinging on to unwarranted convictions of the special nature of the conscious mind. It's all very clear headed and Dennett seems to say almost exactly as much as should be said about the subject: there is no center of the mind in which experience and intentions arise (no Cartesian theater, no central meaner), there are no basic building blocks of conscious experience such that they can not be further explained in naturalistic terms (no qualia), there is no serious possibility of there coming into being creatures with all the behavioral complexity of conscious human beings who are nonetheless not conscious (no zombies) and the mind and all its workings, consciousness included, needs to be analyzed as a naturalistic phenomenon with no prejudices concerning the "special nature" of subjective experience (phenomenology) that is not explained in terms of objective phenomena (the scientific method)....more
An excellent satire of Soviet Russia and the general case of initially well-intentioned revolution gone wrong. What starts as a fight for freedom andAn excellent satire of Soviet Russia and the general case of initially well-intentioned revolution gone wrong. What starts as a fight for freedom and equality gradually changes into just another suppressive regime divided into a luxurious ruling class and an enslaved working class. The way in which the changes arise, slowly, one by one, all the while accompanied by clever propaganda and constant historical revisionism is extremely well told. The appreciation I felt at reading the book could probably have been even better had I a better understanding of the history of political upheavals and revolutions, there are probably subtle allusions and passing references to historical events and figures which I, in my reading, failed to catch. In any case, this book further increased my willingness to get better acquainted with history and politics, and that's another thing speaking in its favor: the fact that it has the characteristics, with its captive story, to effect an interest in politics and history in its readers....more
This is just a brilliant work! Frank Miller at his best. The tale is one of a dark future where nuclear war looms in the not so distant future and mutThis is just a brilliant work! Frank Miller at his best. The tale is one of a dark future where nuclear war looms in the not so distant future and mutant gangs roam the streets. Batman is retired and so are all the other heroes. Bruce Wayne is an old tired man now and so is police chief Gordon. Events make Wayne put on the costume again and return to his crime fighting ways, an act which upsets Gotham and soon America at large. Two face has been released, seemingly cured but immediately returning to crime, the Joker comes out of a catatonic state upon hearing of Batman's return, and the police, the media, and regular citizens of Gotham have differing views on Batman and the justification of his methods. After a while, it becomes inevitable that the president calls in Clark Kent to try to talk to Bruce...
The whole tale draws you in like barely anything else in the world of comics. Miller is dark but also funny, there's a lot of satire in these pages told mostly in the form of media reports. We get to see shallow news reporters cutting of serious input, pacifist by-the-book liberals going one-on-one with more Batman friendly persons in live tv debates, and street interviews with ordinary people responding to their actions amidst the chaos the arises. When reading this book, one gets the feeling of watching live coverage of real life events as war and chaos erupts on the streets. Nothing is presented in black and white, the standpoint of the writer is never really apparent as you find yourself leaning back and forth between different views on the actions of vigilantes. There are parts which can be read as supporting Batman against the by-the-books cops and pundits as even the new Batman hostile police chief finally that Batman is "too big" upon being asked by subordinates if they should intervene as Batman tries to stop the looting and violence in the streets of Gotham, but the argument put forth earlier by the previous police chief Gordon, one which seemingly finally converted the new chief to this way of seeing things, is not that Batman is necessarily justified in his actions, but rather that his importance is so big that you can not simply claim he is not justified, or at least not that he should be opposed. This does of course constitute a stance, but not one in support of Batman, rather one of acknowledging that the complexity of the situation is such that it's impossible to be completely against Batman even in the light of his obviously illegal methods.
I may be reading too much into all this, but I think Miller is very good here at subtly pointing at the complexities of law vigilantism and the corrupt corporatism which is behind at least some of the people that Superman lets himself be controlled by. There are, in other words, lots of elements of politics and poignant satire of the serious as well as the mundane.
The book comes highly recommended to pretty much everyone whether you are a comic book fan (as I am) or not, and more specifically whether you are a big Batman fan or not (I'm not)....more