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Always interested in offers/projects/new ideas. Eclectic experience in fields like: numerical computing; Python web; Java enterprise; functional languages; GPGPU; SQL databases; etc. Based in Santiago, Chile; telecommute worldwide. CV; email.

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[Book, Review] Ray Monk - Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty Of Genius

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Fri, 3 Nov 2017 08:59:38 -0300

This is a curious mix of a book.

On the one hand, it's well written - clear and coherent.  A deftly
constructed account of Wittgenstein's life, painting an apparently
complete picture of its subject.

On the other - at least to this reader - it fails to explain exactly
why Wittgenstein was (and is) so admired.  Trudging through the
details of his obsessions, neuroses and fears, you begin to wonder why
you are spending so much time (~600 pages) on such an unpleasant
person:

 * Someone who gave up a huge amount of wealth, but continued to
   assume the privilege and standing of his birth, repeatedly relying
   on the influence of friends in high places.

 * Someone pathetically useless in social situations who felt
   qualified to tell others how they should behave.  Who was incapable
   of being a good teacher yet encouraged others to follow the same
   path.

 * Someone who intimidated and brow-beat.  Whose philosophy appears to
   be "I am right, you are wrong, but I cannot explain why."

 * Someone who felt they were making major contributions to the
   philosophy of mathematics yet lacked the technical ability to
   understand Godel's work.

 * Someone who could only connect emotionally with those who were
   younger, weaker, and easier to intimidate.

A thoroughly unlikeable man.

I am not arguing that only the nicest people should have biographies,
but perhaps the author should more clearly explain why they are
interesting.  Reports of "genius" from others in the same privileged
milieu are not enough.

Andrew

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