Godel without (too many) tears

Peter Smith
Harvard University
odel’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 is – to be frank – a lot more in the book than is really needed by philosophers meeting the incompleteness theorems for the first time, or indeed by mathematicians wanting a brisk introduction. You might reasonably want to get your heads around only those technical basics which are actually necessary for understanding how the theorems are proved and for appreciating 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 a very 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 ought 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 (nor even about getting through all of the day’s intended menu of topics). These notes then expand things just enough, and give pointers to relevant chunks of IGT. Though I hope these notes will be to a fair extent be stand-alone, and 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..
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Gödel’s Master Argument: What is It, and What Can It Do?David Makinson - 2015 - IfCoLog Journal of Logics and Their Applications 2:1-16.

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