George Eliot, Australian/American relations and incompleteness

From the editor…

I’m no expert on the mathematical science of set theory (and therefore offer in advance my apologies to Professor Mark Colyvan) but it sometimes appears to me that SOPHI might just be a subset of the ABC’s Radio National.

colyvan talk
Mark Colyvan on the Philosopher’s Zone

I was listening to podcasts (admittedly while pruning the trees in my garden before the council cleanup*) and heard the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science‘s Mark Colyvan talking on RN’s The Philosopher’s Zone, in a program entitled ‘Kurt Gödel and the limits of mathematics‘.
The program description reads:

Kurt Gödel was one of the foremost mathematicians and logicians of the 20th century, best known for his famous incompleteness theorem, which tells us that there are mathematical ‘blind spots’: parts of mathematics that traditional methods of proof cannot access. The theorem has far-reaching consequences for computing and even for our understanding of the nature of the human mind.

Given this was a man whom, according to Alan Saunders’ introduction, Einstein came to Princeton ‘merely to have the privilege of walking home with’, it made fascinating listening.

*I later listened again without secateurs in hand.

Moira Gatens on the Philosopher’s Zone

Only the day before (yes, it was a weekend!) I’d caught up on Moira Gatens from the Department of Philosophy speaking to Saunders in a program called The Philosopher and the Novelist, where she spoke about the influence of Spinoza on George Eliot — The discussion reinforced my admiration for Eliot, who is a favourite author of mine, even if Oscar Wilde (quoting Ruskin) referred to her characters being ‘like the sweepings of a Pentonville omnibus’! (He was more scathing of Mrs Humphrey Ward’s Robert Elsemere, which he said was ‘simply Arnold’s Literature and Dogma with the literature left out’.)

Moira has just returned from the University of Amsterdam, where she held the Spinoza Chair: A two month appointment which included the annual Spinoza lecture at Spinoza House in Rijnsburg, where you can still see the benches where Spinoza worked while plying his trade grinding optical lenses.

James Curran on Background Briefing

Curran programAnd then on Tuesday (9 June), James Curran from the Department of History was a guest on RN’s Rear Vision program A True Friend? The US/Australia alliance, where Australia’s relationship with the US, from the fall of Singapore through to ANZAS and the Bush/Howard alliance, were discussed in light of the now twice-cancelled trip to Australia by President Obama.

I recommend them all!
Radio National website
The Philosopher’s Zone website
Background Briefing website
Julie-Ann Robson


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