Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time - Bertrand Russell, Logician and Pacifist

Bertrand Russel from the Graphic Novell
'Logicomix - The Epic Search of Truth'
On July 11, 1906, mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell was suspended from Trinity College, Cambridge due to his engagement in pacifist activities. The remarkable Bertrand Russell, a philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic was best known for the famous 'Principia Mathematica', which he published along with Alfred North Whitehead between 1910 and 1913.

Bertrand Russel was born into a prominent family in Britain and differentiated thinking was passed on to him by his parents, who were very much ahead of their time and often positioned themselves politically against any expectancy. Unfortunately, his parents passed away soon. He grew up with his grandfather, who was the Prime Minister of Great Britain and his more dominant grandmother, who in contrast to his father John was truly religious, but still had liberal views on many topics, such as Darwinism. Her believes and principles had a great impact on Russell, such as her admiration for rules and definitions, which reflect Russel's later interest in logic.

Also he could benefit (at least scientifically) from the many home teachers his grandmother hired, especially from his math teacher who was the first to introduce him to Euclid's theories. Because of him being rather lonely in his childhood, Bertrand Russell had much time to educate himself and made mathematics to his first priority in life. He started studying at Cambridge to become a mathematician, but always missed finding the real truth of mathematics, i.e. the one thing in mathematics, you can rely on and you can build upon. Through his later first wife Alys Pearsall Smith he also occupied himself with philosophical studies. He is now seen as one of the founders of analytic philosophy and was greatly influenced by Gottfried Leibniz. Several meetings with George Edward Moore cleared up his mind and introduced him to the field of logic. In the early 1900's, Russell began his study on the foundations of mathematics, became a member of the Royal Society and published the first of the three books of 'Principia Mathematica' along with Whitehead. The first book dealt with set theory, cardinal numbers, ordinal numbers, and real numbers. Towards the end of their work the authors made clear that all known mathematical principles can be developed from the formalism depicted above.

Through the years, Russell could make up a great reputation for himself in many scientific areas, always questioning and seeking for the 'real' truth. He developed theories on society and distributed his clear religious convictions.

At yovisto you have the possibility the see an extraordinary lecture about a graphic novell about the life of the great philosopher Bertrand Russel entitled 'Logicomix - The Epic Search for Truth' by Prof. Christos Papadimitriou.



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