For a few years now I’ve been mildly obsessive about studying in regards to the Vienna Circle and positivism, given the philosophy’s profound influence on economics (for instance through Robbins) and given its seeming unravelling now (see related chapter of Cogs and Monsters – now in paperback). For instance, David Edmonds’ The Homicide of Professor Schlick, Wolfram Eilenberger’s Time of the Magicians, Karl Sigmund’s Actual Considering in Demented Instances, Benjamin Labatut’s When We Stop to Perceive the World.
This week I polished off Journey to the Fringe of Motive, Stephen Budiansky’s biography of Kurt Gödel. The guide is an evocative portrait that attracts on Gödel’s personal diaries written in a singular shorthand. It’s a gripping learn. Like so many inhabitants of Austro-Hungary, Gödel skilled a turbulent early twentieth century, fled the German Reich (in a considerably dilatory method) within the Nineteen Thirties, and settled within the US (on the Institute for Superior Research in Princeton). There his closest pal was the opposite resident genius, Albert Einstein. Journey to the Fringe of Motive is a terrific portrait of a troubled, lonely man, but one whose unusual thoughts revolutionised arithmetic and logic.