Friday, April 9, 2010

Logicomix, Science, and Sanity

I consider Logicomix a very important book for anyone who wants to begin to understand some of the important people and issues in the foundations of mathematics that profoundly influenced Alfred Korzybski in his work.

And it turns out that in its treatment of the relationship between 'logic', 'mathematics', and 'sanity', Logicomix comes close to some of Korzybski's most central concerns about mathematics, science, and sanity. Indeed Korzybski's work seems like 'the elephant in the room' in the story—not mentioned by name, perhaps not even recognized, but all-pervasive. For no one treated the relation of mathematics and science to human 'sanity' with greater depth and seriousness than Korzybski.


Apostolos Doxiadis said...

Where could I read about Korzybski's views on math and sanity?

Bruce Kodish said...

Do you have a copy of Science and Sanity or Korzybski's Collected Writings? Just about everything he wrote involves some kind of connection between math and sanity.Even his first book Manhood of Humanity contains not too hidden references to this.

Send me an email at and I'll pull out a few pdfs from his writings that might get you started.

My article, "Psycho-logical Fate and Freedom" on the sidebar of this blog directly deals with the topic and seems like a good place to start.

I want to say again, what a wonderful job you and your group of fellow workers did with Logicomix. The fact that you've independently gotten to the the realm that Korzybski plumbed, i.e., the nexus of mathematics, logic and sanity (all products of the human nervous system) speaks to the profundity of your book and subject.

pigeon toes said...

I agree with your statement regarding "everything he wrote involves some kind of connection between math and sanity." Currently reading that particular book. It is "time" experienced with delightful awareness of right now.

Ben said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Bruce. I ordered a copy of the book. I wonder if general semantics would have "cured" any insanity that the quest for the basic concepts of mathematics may have instigated.


Bruce Kodish said...

Thanks for your comments.

Ben, my friend and teacher Robert Pula would often say in his classes that 'General Semantics' doesn't do anything.

But those said mathematicians may very well have helped drive themselves 'nuts' by 'logically' following faulty premises, like Mr. Godel, who believed people were poisoning his food. (He died of starvation in a hospital.) And presumably they could have learned to drive themselves sane by applying some 'mental' rigor to their own personal evaluational processes and dropping 'aristotelian' premises of identity, elementalism, allness, etc., more than they did.

But the discipline must be applied by the individual, who must often, as Korzybski said, 'sweat blood'!