55 books
—
40 voters

Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.

Start by marking “Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel (Great Discoveries)” as Want to Read:

# Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel

## (Great Discoveries)

by

"A gem…An unforgettable account of one of the great moments in the history of human thought." —Steven Pinker

Probing the life and work of Kurt Gödel,

Probing the life and work of Kurt Gödel,

*Incompleteness*indelibly portrays the tortured genius whose vision rocked the stability of mathematical reasoning—and brought him to the edge of madness. ...more## Get A Copy

Paperback, 224 pages

Published
February 17th 2006
by W. W. Norton Company
(first published 2005)

## Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book,
please sign up.

## Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about
Incompleteness,
please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Incompleteness

## Community Reviews

Showing 1-30

Start your review of Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel (Great Discoveries)

**Gödel’s Riposte to Augustine**

I find an unexpected comfort in Gödel’s Proof of Incompleteness in mathematics - essentially that we have no good reason to believe that even arithmetic has a solid logical foundation. To me the implication is that no matter how much we learn, we will still be wrong. Not because we don’t know everything, but because what we do know is fundamentally uncertain. We are not unsure only about mathematics. Physics for example will always exhibit paradoxes like those of quan ...more

*Gödel, Escher, Bach*, and also in a video lecture, there’s hardly any biographical/personal information about the human behind the mathematician here to be found. That’s where Rebecca Goldstein jumps in. Her book focuses on the life of the “greatest logician since Aristotle”. About his time at the Vienna Circle (a.k.a. the Schlick-Group) in th ...more

*The more I think about language, the more it amazes me that people ever understand each other at all.*

Fucking Gödel.

The above (pictured with a rueful smile and head shake) succinctly summarizes my feelings for the incomparable Kurt Gödel—the greatest logician since Aristotle, as Rebecca Goldstein makes sure to iterate several times—the quiet and unassuming genius whose steel-trap mind could capture those ethereal abstract truths and convert them into human language constructs; who single-handedly ...more

In this book Rebecca Goldstein sets out to explain Kurt Godel’s life, including his incompleteness theorems. She first sets the stage in an environmental context, both personal and mathematical. Then comes her explanation of Godel’s theorems. And finally, the later stages of his life.

The book starts our interestingly enough with the relationship between Einste ...more

Jan 11, 2018
Jeff
rated it
liked it
·
review of another edition

Recommends it for:
Gödel-girls-and-boys

I'm going to reread the sections specifically about Gödel's incompleteness theorems because i'd really like to be able to speak about them without misrepresenting them one of these days. You could call it a New Year resolution if you wanted to.

I don't know how to rate this book because i'm so incapable of rating Goldstein's ability to convey the mathematical ideas. I can say that i thought i read many sentences more than once ... but in completely different sections of the book, as if the editor ...more

I don't know how to rate this book because i'm so incapable of rating Goldstein's ability to convey the mathematical ideas. I can say that i thought i read many sentences more than once ... but in completely different sections of the book, as if the editor ...more

This is a book that prefers to tell rather than show: Goldstein spends 160 pages telling the reader how amazing and important and revolutionary Göde ...more

1 The book goes through thumbnail sketches of Godel's famous proofs and then a more involved version, but even after the more detailed explanation I still felt like I had only scratched the surface of it. Some of the things asserted about the process of Godel numbering seemed almost magical as a result. This is a tough balancing act for any popular take ...more

We need to grasp Godel's theories accurately because we ...more

However I did not enjoy the first half of the book much at all. It felt like it was a 150 page set up to what the philosophical world was like that Godel was walking into. I didn't need that and didn't feel like it did much to move along my understanding of Godel ...more

Bad history, bad math

Pretentious and sloppy, filled with mistakes and repetitions. See the AMS review on-line for some details. Terrible.

And shame on S. Pinker and B. Greene for their glowing cover reviews. Were they swayed by the adoring references to them in the text?

---

Review from someone at Stanford

Goldstein bases her story of the development of the incompleteness theorems on the supposed fact that – in contrast to the views of the Vienna Circle – Gödel was already a confirmed P ...more

I got it as a gift and picked it up to see if I wanted to read. Actually, based on the subject I thought I might want to recommend to a book club I am part of because it's a subject I am very interested in and would make for a good discussion.

However, diving in at chapter ii (which is well into the book) there was a discussion about postulates (or axioms) and intuition. That axioms are necessary for a mathematical system because you need a foundation to build ...more

No doubt, Kurt Godel lived an interesting life. He was in the exemplary Vienna Circle, friends with Einstein, and is generally considered one of the most important mathematicians of the 20th century. However, his inwardness, strangeness and general disinterest in human connection does not make for a particularly interesting story.

If you're interested in the ideas of Godel, I don't think this is the ...more

Also note: Godel really needed to read some Chesterton, even though he would have hated it. ...more

Also, I didn't feel for Godel. He needed to get out more. ...more

Apr 11, 2020
Gabriel
added it

Abandoned it, actually. Dense reading, maybe next time I get it back

There are no discussion topics on this book yet.
Be the first to start one »

106 users

83 users

77 users

72 users

52 users

39 users

11 users

7 users

4 users

3 users

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein grew up in White Plains, New York, and graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College, receiving the Montague Prize for Excellence in Philosophy, and immediately went on to graduate work at Princeton University, receiving her Ph.D. in philosophy. While in graduate school she was awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship and a Whiting Foundation Fellowship.

After e ...more

After e ...more

## Other books in the series

Great Discoveries
(1 - 10 of 14 books)

## Related Articles

Walter Isaacson, it’s safe to say, is not afraid of tackling the really big topics. In 2011, he wrote about our ubiquitous computer culture...

113 likes · 21 comments

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“The necessary incompleteness of even our formal systems of thought demonstrates that there is no nonshifting foundation on which any system rests. All truths — even those that had seemed so certain as to be immune to the very possibility of revision — are essentially manufactured. Indeed the very notion of the objectively true is a socially constructed myth. Our knowing minds are not embedded in truth. Rather the entire notion of truth is embedded in our minds, which are themselves the unwitting lackeys of organizational forms of influence.”
—
11 likes

“No validation of our rationality - of our very sanity - can be accomplished using our rationality itself. How can a person operating within a system of beliefs, including beliefs about beliefs, get outside that system to determine whether it is rational? If your entire system becomes infected with madness, including the very rules by which you reason, then how can you ever reason your way out of your madness?”
—
2 likes

More quotes…