[FOM] Question

Timothy Y. Chow tchow at alum.mit.edu
Fri Nov 28 18:30:42 EST 2008

Charles Silver <silver_1 at mindspring.com> wrote:
> 	A book on G?del's descent into madness correlated with his views 
> as his illness deepened would be most welcome.

In my view, such a book would be most *unwelcome*.

The scientific value of such a book would be doubtful at best.  Anyone who 
has studied abnormal psychology or psychiatry even casually will know that 
the definition of mental illness is highly controversial.  A retrospective 
study of a single deceased individual is worthless from the point of view 
of medical science.

Insanity, or mental illness, or whatever you want to call it, comes loaded 
with value judgments.  The attempt to draw correlations between Goedel's 
alleged mental illness and his philosophical views would amount to little 
more than an ad hominem attempt to discredit those views by exploiting the 
fact that readers would automatically discount the value of anything said 
by someone deemed "insane."

There is already enough foolishness in the popular imagination linking 
mental illness to mathematics and logic, without having to feed it with 
some kind of pseudo-scientific study like this.


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