CHAPTER 12

Gödel’s Theorem

The human mind is incapable of formulating…all its mathematical intuitions, ie., if it has succeeded in formulating some of them, this very fact yields new intuitive knowledge, eg., the consistency of this formalism. This fact may be called the ‘incompletability’ of mathematics.

(Kurt Gödel)


1 Introduction: the Euclidean paradigm

Gödel’s theorem is one of the most profound results in pure mathematics. When it was first published, in 1931, it had a devastating impact. On the one hand, it laid waste a variety of firmly held convictions and initiated a struggle that has been going on ever since to come to terms with its mathematical and philosophical implications. On the other hand, it took the breath away for its sheer beauty. My aim in this chapter is to present an outline of the theorem and to say what some of its implications are for our own enquiry.

In a nutshell, it concerns the Euclidean paradigm—the paradigm of axiomatization. It is possible, we know, to devise a finite stock of fundamental principles or axioms from which all of the infinitely many truths of Greek geometry can be derived: this is the Euclidean paradigm. 1 Prior to 1931 many people had assumed that what was possible in geometry must be possible anywhere else in mathematics (and perhaps in non-mathematical contexts too); the paradigm must represent the very essence of mathematical method. 2 One of the reasons for this relates back to our discussion in the last chapter. Suppose we grant that the meaning of a mathematical expression has to be grasped in terms of how it figures in the truths of a formal theory. Then must there not be some way of ‘capturing’ these truths and providing them with a finite characterization—precisely what an axiomatization (and that alone?) can supply? How else could anyone assimilate the truths and grasp the expression’s meaning? Again, relatedly, do we have any sense of mathematical truth apart from mathematical provability? When we say that a given mathematical state-

-172-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Infinite
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 268

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.