[FOM] Work of Timothy Gowers

Alasdair Urquhart urquhart at cs.toronto.edu
Tue Jul 8 10:42:18 EDT 2003

I persist in my claim that Dean Buckner misrepresented
Timothy Gowers's work.   In his original posting of
June 28, he says:

"His most interesting stuff is on the idea of definable sets.  He has the
Wittgensteinian insight that perhaps we can do all analysis using just
"definable" reals.  And since we obviously can't say what non-definable
reals are, why bother with them at all?"

and then goes on to quote a passage from the dialogue that
is attributed to "U", the undergraduate, though without
any indication that the passage is attributed to a fictional
character. In other words,
we are being asked to believe that a world-famous mathematician,
winner of the Fields medal, would put his own views in the
mouth of "U, an undergraduate who has recently learnt basic
analysis."  This kind of misrepresentation is not excused
by the weak remark in a later posting:

>I should add that I took the Gower quotes from a dialogue, where different
>characters represent different views.  The quoted views may not be his

Anyway, there is no real need for me to argue this point.
I invite readers of FOM to read Timothy Gowers's work for
themselves, and make up their own minds.  It's intelligently
written, and shows philosophical sensitivity.

More information about the FOM mailing list