Incompleteness – the very idea

Abstract
Why these notes? After all, I’ve written An Introduction to Gödel’s Theorems (CUP, heavily corrected fourth printing 2009: henceforth IGT ). Surely that’s more than enough to be going on with? Ah, but there’s the snag. It is more than enough. In the writing, as is the way with these things, the book grew far beyond the scope of the lecture notes from which it started. And while I hope the result is still pretty accessible to someone prepared to put in the time and effort, there’s a lot more in the book than is really needed by philosophers meeting the incompleteness theorems for the first time. After all, you might want to get your heads around only those technical basics which are actually needed for understanding philosophical discussions about incompleteness. So you need a cut-down version of the book – an introduction to the Introduction! Well, isn’t that what lectures are for? Indeed. But there’s another snag. I haven’t got many lectures to play with. So either (A) I crack on at quite a fast pace (hard-core mathmo style), cover those basics, but perhaps leave too many people puzzled and alarmed. Or (B) I do relaxed talk’n’chalk, highlighting the really Big Ideas, making sure everyone is grasping them as we go along, but inevitably omit important stuff and leave quite a gap between what happens in the lectures and what happens in the book. What to do? I’m going for plan (B). But then I still need to do something to fill that gap between lectures and book. Hence these notes. The idea, then, is to give relaxed lectures, highlighting Big Ideas, not worrying too much about depth or fine-detail (or even about getting through all of the day’s intended menu of topics). Then after the lecture, I’ll write up notes that expand things just enough, and then give pointers to relevant chunks of IGT. The idea, however, is for the notes to be more or less stand-alone, and to tell a brief but coherent story read by themselves. So occasionally I’ll copy a paragraph or two from the book, rather than just refer to them. Warning: just occasionally in these notes, I’ll no doubt apply that good maxim ‘Where it doesn’t itch, don’t scratch’..
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