Mark Stahlman (via RadioMail) on Wed, 9 Jul 1997 18:49:59 +0200 (MET DST)

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Re: <nettime> Goedel - a nomadic case study


I'll look forward to reading the book and its protrait of Goedel's life,
motivations and relationships.  Kurt Goedel's work is one of those
milestones in the history of philosophy that is all too often ignored or,
when it's impossible to ignore, (deliberately?) misused.  

To call him the greatest logician since Aristotle is most likely offered
out of the greatest irony.  Aristotle (Plato's pupil and Alexander the
Great's tutor) attempted throughout his life to undue the greatest work of
his teacher.  Plato taught that logic was never sufficient in human
affairs.  His "Simile of the Divided Line" (The Republic, Book VI)
specifically relegates logic to the inferior role in the realm of the
intelligible.  Above and subsuming logic was what Plato described as
"Understanding" and, in particular, he emphasised the need for the
understanding of the Good.

Goedel's work pulls the rug out from underneath all the Aristoteleans.  The
English Ideologues are Aristoteleans -- as demonstrated by their fervent
effort to separate reason (logic) from faith (understanding) just as
Aristotle did.  Studied Irrationalists are Aristoteleans -- whether of the
Frankfurt or the Heidegger variety.  Religious fundamentalists are also
Aristoteleans -- as evidenced by their adherence to such Aristoteleans as
Aquinas (in the Catholic case) or Maimonides (in the Jewish case), and so
on.  The priests and the anti-priests all have a vested interest in burying
access and even denying the existence of Understanding.  This is the
fundamental basis of their Yin-Yang alliance throughout time.

There seem to have been two priciple reactions to Goedel's work among those
who have taken it seriously.  One school opted to abandon philosophy on the
view that Aristotle had been overthrown and therefore philosophy had been
undone and could now be discarded.  The other school sought to rediscover
the philosophy which comprehended the defeat of Aristotle and went far
beyond Aristotle -- in the only direction to go, towards Plato.  Needless
to say, I seem to belong to that second school.

It will be fascinating to see how well these issues are understood by the
author of this biography and, in turn, given the context of his life, how
Goedel himself proceeded from his own critical discovery.

Mark Stahlman
New Media Associates
New York City
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