[FOM] Torkel Franzen

Charles Silver silver_1 at mindspring.com
Thu Apr 20 21:00:33 EDT 2006

	Solomon Feferman asked me to post this for him:


The death of Torkel Franzén on April 19 that has been announced on this
list is a loss that I and others who got to know him in person or
through email contact feel deeply.  Torkel was a frequent contributor to
FOM and will be remembered for his concise comments with a witty edge  
to my mind (of the ones that I saw) were always right on the mark.

He began his professional career with a PhD in Philosophy in Stockholm,
under the direction of Dag Prawitz.  His work on that is described by  
on his home page (http://www.sm.luth.se/~torkel/) as follows:

"Provability and Truth, my PhD thesis (in philosophy), is available from
university libraries in many parts of the world. This is not because of
any tremendous demand for it, but only because it appeared (in 1987)  
in a
series that many such libraries subscribe to: Acta universitatis
stockholmiensis, Stockholm Studies in Philosophy 9, ISBN 91-22-01158-7.
More simply, it is available here."

I find the ideas expounded in his thesis that he calls "classical
eclecticism" very thought-provoking and deserving of wider  

I first became aware of Torkel Franzén through the comments on his
homepage, Gödel on the net, that he turned into a book last year,
"Gödel's Theorem. An incomplete guide to its use and abuse"
(A.K. Peters, Ltd., 2005).  For the flap, I wrote:

"This unique exposition of Kurt Gödel's stunning incompleteness theorems
for a general audience manages to do what none other has accomplished;
explain clearly and thoroughly just what the theorems really say and  
and correct their diverse misapplications to philosophy, psychology,
physics, theology, post-modernist criticism and what have you."

(A much abbreviated article by Franzén on the same topic has appeared in
the April 2006 Notices of the AMS.)

A year before that, he published "Inexhaustibility. A non-exhaustive
treatment" (ASL Lecture Notes in Logic #16, 2004), that I consider the
best exposition of Gödel's incompleteness theorems in print, together  
an introduction to the work on transfinite progressions of theories (aka
ordinal logics) by Turing and me.

In that connection, I would also recommend his article, "Transfinite
progressions: a second look at completeness," Bull. Symbolic Logic 10
(2004), 367-389, in which he made several conceptual simplifications  
are very helpful in analyzing just what was accomplished by that work on

In this year of the Gödel Centenary, Torkel was to be an invited  
at several meetings featuring a tribute to Gödel. This was evidence  
of the
growing international recognition that he deserved for the above works.
In particular, he is on the list of lecturers for the conference  
of Truth" slated to take place next week in Vienna, April 27-29.  His
absence will leave a big hole there.

Sol Feferman

More information about the FOM mailing list