FOM: Wittgenstein: fad?

Harvey Friedman friedman at
Fri Mar 27 09:04:32 EST 1998

Parsons 10:50PM 3/26/98 writes:

>I still don't agree,
>because I don't think the interest is great enough [in Wittgenstein's
>p.o.m.] to be a fad.

When I was recently at an ASL meeting in Baltimore, I was struck by the
intensify of some old acquaintances' "conversion" to Wittgenstein. These
include the highly respected Rohit Parikh, Aki Kanamori, Burton Dreben, and
Judy Roitman (although Roitman was much more interested in other aspects of
W). In light of this, W's f.o.m./p.o.m. should be taken notice of by f.o.m.
people, and it should definitely be thoroughly discussed on the fom.

>_Tractatus_ is another matter; it's view of logic was the model for the
>Vienna Circle's view of mathematics, and so indirectly it had very great
>influence. Moreover, the _Tractatus_ was the point of departure for F. P.
>Ramsey's work in the foundations of mathematics.

It would be very valuable for the fom if you could give a brief sketch of
the "Vienna Circle's view of mathematics" and the "point of departure for
Ramsey's work in f.o.m." Most of the subscribers on the fom know only that
Ramsey's work in math. logic survives permanently through Ramsey's theorem
and his application to purely universal relational sentences.

Forster 2:37PM 3/27/98 writes:

>Fad or not, the problem which remains is this: the
>philosophers who are interested in foundations of
>mathematics are likely to have a much higher opinion
>of the significance of Wittgenstein's writing on
>f.o.m. than do the mathmos they talk to, and this
>frays nerves (on both sides) and makes communication

Certainly some philosophers of mathematics I know have a low opinion of W's
writing on f.o.m., whereas others have such a high opinion that they think
that in many imnportant respects, W's contribution to f.o.m./p.o.m. is much
greater than Godel's. I would like to see a spirited discussion on the fom
where W's contribution to f.o.m./p.o.m. is delineated and defended.

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