An innovative, dramatic graphic novel about the treacherous pursuit of the foundations of mathematics. This graphic novel recounts the spiritual odyssey of philosopher Bertrand Russell. In his agonized search for absolute truth, he crosses paths with thinkers like Gottlob Frege, David Hilbert & Kurt Gödel, & finds a passionate student in Ludwig Wittgenstein. But his most ambitious goal—to establish unshakable logical foundations of mathematics—continues to loom before him. Thru love & hate, peace & war, he persists in the mission threatening to claim both his career & happiness, finally driving him to the brink of insanity. This story is at the same time a historical novel & an accessible explication of some of the biggest ideas of mathematics & modern philosophy. With rich characterizations & atmospheric artwork, it spins the pursuit of such ideas into a satisfying tale. Probing, layered, the book throws light on Russell’s inner struggles while setting them in the context of the timeless questions he tried to answer. At its heart, Logicomix is a story about the conflict between ideal rationality & the flawed fabric of reality.
Apostolos Doxiadis (Greek: Απόστολος Δοξιάδης) was born in Brisbane, Australia in 1953, and grew up in Greece. Although interested in fiction and the arts from his youngest years, a sudden and totally unexpected love affair with mathematics led him to New York's Columbia University at the age of fifteen. He did graduate work in Applied Mathematics at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, working on mathematical models for the nervous system. After his studies, Apostolos returned to Greece and his adolescent loves of writing, cinema and the theater. For some years he directed professionally for the theater, and in 1983 made his first film Underground Passage (in Greek). His second film, Terirem (1986) won the prize of the International Center for Artistic Cinema (CICAE) at the 1988 Berlin International Film Festival.
Since the mid-eighties, most of Apostolos' work has been in fiction. He has published four novels in Greek, Parallel Life (1985), Makavettas (1988), Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture (1992) and Three Little Men (1997). His translation of Uncle Petros was published internationally in 2000, to great critical acclaim, and has since been translated into over thirty languages. Apostolos now writes in both Greek and English.
Apart from his work in fiction, Apostolos has written two plays. In 1999, he wrote and directed the musical shadow puppet play "The Tragical History of Jackson Pollock, Abstract Expressionist", accompanied by a volume of texts and images, Paralipomena. In 2006, his play Seventeenth Night had a year-long run in an Athens theatre. The play is a fictional recreation of the last days in the life of the great logician, and father of the incompleteness theorem, Kurt Gödel.
In autumn 2008, Apostolos, completed the graphic novel Logicomix, co-authored with Christos H. Papadimitriou, with art by Alecos Papadatos and Annie di Donna. The book's story is based on the epic quest for the foundations of mathematics. Logicomix was published in Autumn 2009 by Bloomsbury in the U.S. and the U.K.
Apart from his work in the various modes of storytelling, in the past few years, Apostolos has been studying the relationship between mathematics and narrative. He is currently editing a volume on mathematics and narrative with mathematician Barry Mazur, of Harvard University, due to be published in 2010.
Apostolos lives in Athens with his wife, the novelist Dorina Papaliou, and their children.
نام نام كتاب، در انگليسى "لوجى-كميكس" است، به معناى "كميك منطقى"، و نه "كمدى منطق". اما ترجمه ی اسم کتاب به همین شکل به فارسی کمی بدآهنگ و بدنماست. همین باعث شده مترجم فارسی کار خلاقانه ای بکند، و با جلب رضایت نویسندگان اصلی کمیک، با تغییر مختصری در معنا و نه ساختار کلمات "کمیک منطقی"، اسم "کمدی منطق" را برای ترجمه ی فارسی انتخاب کند. در ریویوی قبلی، من به این تغییر نام اعتراض کرده بودم، و گمانم این بود که این ناشی از برداشت اشتباه از "کمیک" است که هم معنای کمدی و هم معنای داستان مصور می دهد. اما خود مترجم و بزرگواری دیگر، لطف کردند و در کامنت ها توضیح دادند که ماجرا چه بوده، و به این ترتیب ریویو اصلاح شد.
هشدار جدى اگر براى آينده تان برنامه ريزى كرده ايد و فلان رشته ى دانشگاهى یا هر هدف بلند مدت دیگری را برگزيده ايد، توصيه ى اكيد من اين است كه اين كميك را نخوانيد! ممكن است تمام برنامه ريزى هاتان را به هم بزنيد و بخواهيد فورى به دنبال منطق و رياضيات برويد! مثل من كه پشيمان شدم چرا رشته ى منطق را انتخاب نكردم و مصمم شدم تمام وقتم را روى منطق جديد بگذارم.
كتاب در مورد كتاب در ريويوها زياد نوشته شده. ماجراى زندگى يكى از بزرگ ترين منطقدانان معاصر "برتراند راسل"، در آغاز قرن فلسفه ى تحليل زبانى. دورانى كه فلسفه بافى هاى گذشتگان به يكسو افكنده شد و معيار هر گزاره ى علمى، دقت و صراحت آن معرفى شد.
همين حرف ها كه در بالا زدم، ابتدا من را در خواندن كميك مردد كرده بود، چون مى پنداشتم با اطلاعات ناچيزى كه از منطق جديد دارم، سر از كتاب در نخواهم آورد. ولى در عمل ديدم بيشتر كتاب به زندگى خود راسل پرداخته است، و انگيزه هاى كلى اش براى سفر حماسى-منطقى اش، و خيلى كم به بحث هاى منطقى و رياضى وارد شده، و همان ها هم بسيار ساده و شيرين است و به سادگى قابل فهم.
و ويتگنشتاين، ويتگنشتاين... چرا من اين قدر كم از ويتگنشتاين مى دانم؟؟
It’s marvellous that something like Logicomix exists: a graphic novel that seeks to put the Vienna Circle on the pop-culture map deserves a special Pulitzer for chutzpah (read those last three words aloud and you’d swear you were speaking Hochdeutsch). But I sensed an uncomfortable tension here between the genuine profundity of the ideas being explored and the inescapably hammy conventions of comic-book narrative. No doubt there’s a special, tiny place in my heart for hamminess, just as there’s a miniature compartment in my brain for profundity, but mash them up and my uncomplicated soul gets all squirmy. Which, incidentally, explains why Billy Corgan's poetry has never brought me the spiritual sustenance it obviously has to millions of others.
Although it’s only a small part of the story told in Logicomix, I’m fascinated by the unlikely bromance between Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein. This is sort of unconscionable, but for the sake of brevity I’m going to translate their relationship into buddy-comedy terms: basically, Russell played the skirt-chasing Seth Rogen character to Wittgenstein’s high-strung, undersexed Paul Rudd. Of course, their differences ran a lot deeper than that. During the First World War, Russell’s pacifism landed him in prison, while Wittgenstein took the opposite route, volunteering for active duty on the eastern front and ending up a war hero (yes, brainy, unstable, rich-boy Wittgenstein. War hero. I shit you not. And in justifying his decision to enlist, he’d said that, before becoming a great philosopher, “he should become a human being.” Hard not to love the guy for that.)
I couldn’t philosophize my way out of a paper bag, but as I understand it (partially thanks to Logicomix), Russell and Wittgenstein didn’t exactly see eye to eye on the great metaphysical issues of the day, either. If this means anything to you, Russell was a straight-edge foundationalist, whereas Wittgenstein was a total, punk-rock anti-foundationalist. So what happened is, Bertie spent a good decade of his career building this lovely epistemological sand castle, and then one day his buddy Ludwig comes along and nonchalantly kicks the shit out of it. And so Russell was like, “Dude.” But no harm done. Russell got over it and maybe even secretly admired Wittgenstein all the more for it.
The lesson here is: don’t be friends with someone who’s much smarter than you unless you’re big-hearted enough to accept it. It’s a lesson I refuse to learn, but maybe you can profit from the example.
This wildly ambitious graphic novel is a fictional (auto?)biography of Bertrand Russell and traces his journey from doubt to certainty and back again.
It is littered with the lofty ideas of the many giants of mathematics and philosophy throughout, but is never daunting in its subject matter or too overreaching in its objectives. A list of the co-stars might be enough to induce you to stop reading this review, so I restrain myself from indulging.
The self-referential presentation, which shows the creators struggling with the same questions, helps the readers get into the real spirit of the 'Quest' and enjoy the ride and its uncertainties instead of agonizing over the answers that are guaranteed to never come in any case.
The comic sags a bit once the obsession with the theme of 'logicians and madness' threatens to run away with it and obscure the real story. But, the precisely mad and inanely confident Side-Kick to our Super Hero (read Russell) comes traipsing into the story with perfect timing and livens up the story and thickens the plot into a right stew. With Wittgenstein thus in the mix, Russell gets comfy in being true to his character (destiny?) and takes us to the logical conclusion of the pursuit of Truth - to Philosophy.
Fittingly enough, the story concludes with the legendary closing scene of Oresteia, which perhaps makes the whole experience more profound than it really deserved to be, but then that is the fun of great ideas - you never know when they are only pretending!
‘Organic life, we are told, has developed gradually from the protozoan to the philosopher, and this development, we are assured, is indubitably an advance. Unfortunately it is the philosopher, not the protozoan, who gives us this assurance.’ —Bertrand Russell
‘Logic! Good gracious! What rubbish! How can I tell what I think till I see what I say?’ —EM Forster
Logicomix has the admirable idea of presenting us, in comic form, with the story of the search for the logical underpinnings of mathematics in the early twentieth century, told mostly through the life of Bertrand Russell.
Usually, when this story comes up at all, it seems to be told by way of a prelude to the birth of computing (in, for instance, Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, which rushes past Russell to get to Turing), so it was nice here to see it placed front and centre. And on the whole, the details of these often quite abstruse theoretical investigations are very well explained here, embedded as they are in the context of the main players' personal lives and professional rivalries.
The set of all sets that do not contain themselves: Russell suddenly realises "Russell's paradox"
I really love Bertrand Russell for the way that his professional logicalism did not impede his towering moral authority – he embodied a pacifistic, anti-authoritarian activism that was awakened during the First World War and that lasted until the end of his life, when he was still being dragged away from protests by police in his eighties. This moral sensibility takes a backseat to the quest for logic in the book, though it's definitely there – a framing story concerns Russell's feelings about pacifism in the 1939 war, and within the main story the authors are careful to show the effects of the first war on all the major characters.
Wittgenstein has an existential epiphany in the trenches
I have to admit, with my ideal image of Russell in mind, it was painful for me to read about the way he behaved towards his first wife and his children, about which I knew nothing before I read this. The authors – as they themselves explain – are very concerned to make sure that this is a story about these mathematicians' and philosophers' private lives as well as their professional investigations. Though I have to admit, the drama in the forbidden relationships and family secrets never seemed quite as engaging to me as the actual nerdy stuff about logic.
Gödel drops the bombshell of his incompleteness theorem
I had lingering doubts as I read this of whether it was really suited to the comics form: somehow, it never really felt like it was playing to the strengths of the medium. I was also not convinced by the choice to include several metanarrational interludes in which the authors and illustrators talk about how best to tell the story; this seemed, on the whole, more of a distraction than anything else, although a final section set during a present-day production of the Oresteia is a tour-de-force.
The comic's authors walk around Athens
There's lots to get out of this book and I'd definitely recommend it, but in the end it's one of those pieces that I admired more for its concept than its execution. Illogical perhaps – but that, as the book demonstrates, is to be expected.
EDIT, APRIL 2020: The original vitriolic review I wrote here used to get the occasional vitriolic response, and each time I read the review thereafter, it made me a little more uncomfortable. Not because I disagreed with the basic sentiment: I originally set out to say that I thought this book was pretentious, and that it used the comics medium rather cynically in order to market itself, without really demonstrating much understanding of what makes the medium really interesting and useful for storytelling.
I didn't actually write any of those things -- it was mostly just a series of cartoonishly over-the-top insults (and, somehow, it also included the phrase "ninja dinosaur boobs"). But 'pretentious and cynical' is totally what I meant.
The original review was written in 2009, when it seemed funny to me to sort of just yell at the internet and walk away without apologizing. For a variety of obvious reasons, I don't feel like I have the right to do that sort of thing anymore.
Over the years, I have had readers of the original review tell me I have the intelligence of an adolescent, that they are going to burn my house down, and that I should kill myself. This also used to seem kind of funny to me, because it seemed like an isolated set of responses and behaviors. Now it's 2020, and this is mostly just how we communicate with each other online, period. Again, I don't think I like that sort of thing anymore.
I do still feel like Logicomix was a cynical cash-grab attempting to capitalize on the boom of literati-approved graphic novels about ten years ago. At the time, I was very concerned about a trend I saw toward fairly uncritical reading practices on my Goodreads feed -- that if NPR or McSweeney's said a thing was good, then By God it Must Have Been. A lot of my anger toward this book was about that too.
Again, I'm not sure I really care anymore why people read comics, or why they read at all. I still sort of roll my eyes when people read crap books, or take Instagram pictures every time they read as if they deserve an award. But it feels more important that I just shut up and let people like what they like, and do what makes them happy. Being happy about anything these days without judgment or guilt seems like an endeavor unto itself.
But I still have trouble thinking about NPR without thinking about that Portlandia episode where they make fun of "This American Life," and I take some small joy in barely being able to remember when Logicomix was considered an important book.
"I was right!" I could scream uselessly into the Internet.
And the Internet would look back and me, and slowly blink, and say, "So?"
Ξεκίνησα το Logicomix με την ιδέα ότι θα δια��άσω κάτι πολύ ευχάριστο και ευκολοδιάβαστο που θα ρεύσει εύκολα μετά το τεράστιο (από κάθε άποψη, να μην τα ξαναλέμε) 2666 του Μπολάνιο. Έπεσα μέσα ως προς το πρώτο σκέλος (της ευχαρίστησης) αλλά έξω ως προς το θέμα της ευκολίας. Φυσικά, επειδή είναι εξαιρετικά καλογραμμένο και έχει πολύ καλαίσθητο σχέδιο κυλάει αρκετά γρήγορα. Ωστόσο, δεν είναι απλό, τουλάχιστον εάν σε ενδιαφέρει να κατανοήσεις αυτά που λέει πέρα από το να περάσεις την ώρα σου. Μου πήρε αρκετές μέρες να το ολοκληρώσω (για το μέγεθός του) και πολλά σημεία τα διάβασα περισσότερες φορές μέχρι να αισθανθώ ότι έχω κατανοήσει τι διάβασα. Γιατί εντάξει, ας μην κοροϊδευόμαστε, τα μαθηματικά δεν είναι το δυνατό μου σημείο, πόσο μάλλον η θεωρητική θεμελίωσή τους στη λογική.
Κεντρικός άξονας του έργου, λοιπόν, είναι η λογική στην αναζήτηση των θεμελίων των μαθηματικών. Και το κεντρικό πρόσωπο στην αναζήτηση αυτή είναι ο αγαπημένος Bertrand Russell, ο οποίος αφηγείται πώς τη βίωσε εκείνος μέσα από το έργο του αλλά και μέσα από τη γενικότερη εμπειρία του στο χώρο της Λογικής. Έμφαση δίνεται επίσης στο δίπολο λογική-τρέλα: γιατί τόσοι πολλοί μελετητές της λογικής τρελαίνονται; Μήπως η δόση της λογικής είναι τόσο μεγάλη που τους οδηγεί στην παραφροσύνη; Και τελικά, είναι τα μαθηματικά η σταθερή πηγή γνώσης της αντικειμενικής αλήθειας και της στέρεης γνώσης όπως μας μαθαίνουν στο σχολείο; Η απάντηση είναι τρομακτική: μάλλον όχι. Και τότε τι; Δεν ξέρω.
Μπόνους το πολύ ενδιαφέρον παράρτημα στο τέλος με υλικό για τα πρόσωπα, τις ιδέες και τις μεθόδους που αναφέρονται στο βιβλίο καθώς και η βιβλιογραφία, βάσει της οποίας ο αναγνώστης μπορεί να αναζητήσει και άλλες σχετικές πηγές για αυτά τα πολύ ενδιαφέροντα ζητήματα.
Ένα κόμικ που μπλέκει την ιστορία,τα μαθηματικά,την λογική σκέψη,τη φιλοσοφία και τις αρχαίες τραγωδίες.Πολύ καλή δουλειά με εξαιρετική εικονογράφηση.Ειδικά τα καρέ με φόντο την Ακρόπολη ή αρχαία θέατρα ήταν απλά καταπληκτικά!Ομολογώ οτι δεν κατάλαβα όλες τις θεωρίες και τους συλλογισμούς που διάβασα αλλά βρήκα το βιβλίο πολυ ενδιαφέρον,γραμμένο με χιούμορ και δεν βαρέθηκα ούτε μια στιγμή.
Πόση δόση λογικής αντέχει ένας άνθρωπος; Δεν ήταν εύκολο και δεν ορκίζομαι ότι τα κατάλαβα όλα. Αλλά επειδή μου αρέσει αυτό το θέμα λογικό-παράλογο, το βρήκα τρομερά ενδιαφέρον και έδινε τροφή για σκέψη και υλικό για μετέπειτα ψάξιμο. Ιστορία, φιλοσοφία, μαθηματικά, αρχαία τραγωδία, η τέχνη του κόμικ, αλλά κυρίως μια ιστορία ανθρώπων που ψάξουν απαντήσεις και αναζητούν την αλήθεια! Μου άρεσε το ανάλαφρο σχέδιο, τα χρώματα που άλλαζαν ανα εποχή καθώς και η συμμετοχή των δημιουργών στην ιστορία την οποία μας αφηγούνταν αλλά ταυτόχρονα προσπαθούσαν να καταλάβουν και οι ίδιοι. Με τις περιορισμένες μου γνώσεις στα μαθηματικά εγώ πάντως μια χαρά το απόλαυσα!
I suspect someone more familiar with the players and their theories would get even more out of this, but I definitely feel more kindly and receptive toward these eggheads, having seen through this their human sides and their passionate struggles to reach truth. Their integrity requires ruefully accepting it time and again when the newest genius tears down the fortress of truth each thought he had built. The constant questioning of principles and fervent desire to locate truth has been associated with "madness', and that comes up in this, too. The drawing is engaging and witty. The story concludes, satisfyingly in an unexpected way, with a performance of the Orestia. Kudos to the author for coming up with such a well-executed and thought-expanding book.
اکنون شاید ده سالی از آن زمان -اوایل دوره لیسانس- میگذرد که متوّجه شده بودم آنقدرها ،چونان دیگران، برایم راحت نیست فهمیدن و پذیرش استدلال هایی که می شنیدم؛ نه آنهایی که سرِ کلاس دروس اثبات-محور ریاضیاتی می شنیدم و می دیدم و نه حتی ادعاها و استدلال هایی که در پیرامون بحث های داغِ اجتماعی در جمع دوستان و همسن و سالهایم داشتم. خوب در آن زمان یک احتمال قوی برای من قدرتِ درک و هوشِ پایین من نسبت به آن جمع ها و افراد بود؛ چیزی که الان هم مدعیِ غیر آن نیستم! اما مساله ای که وجود داشت و به آن باور داشتم و دارم ، علاقه ام به دانستن ریزِ جزییات و منشا و خاستگاهِ یک سیستم، یک استدلال ، یک نظریه ، ادعا و... بود و نه تنها این، که احساس نیاز شدید به اینکه وقتی در ساختمان یک استدلال یا نظریه یا ادعا، سوار آسانسور می شوی و دکمه طبقه اول را می زنی ، نه تنها به جایی برسی!- و سفری بی پایان و نامتناهی نداشته باشی!- بلکه وقتی به آن می رسی ، متوجّه نشوی که ای داد این ساختمان بر هوا بنا شده است.زیربنای آن واضح ، صریح و عقلانی باشد. از فضای تحقیرآمیز نسبتِ شعور و هوش خودم و آدم های میاندار آن کلاس ها و جمع ها -اغلب همسن و سالهای خودم!- که بگذریم ، یکی از راه های نجات از آن فضای روحی و ذهنی را در خواندن منطق می دیدم؛ دغدغه ای که سالیان دراز پس از آن به تعویق افتاد، شاید به خاطر آن فضای روانی تحقیرآمیز، شاید از ترسِ سختیِ راه، شاید تنبلی و یا حتی شاید از ترس اینکه اگر پس از روان شدن در پیِ آوازِ حقیقت، با این واقعیت روبرو شوی که پای بست این خانه بر هیچ باشد، آن وقت چه باید کرد؟! این همه امّا توجیه نرفتن نبود که به قول نادر ابراهیمی "پوسیدگی ، فرزندِ ایستادن است" اولین تجربه ی کمیک خواندم بسیار بسیار شیرین بود و شیرین تر از آن فهمیدنِ این موضوع که در دنیا آدم های دیگری هم بوده اند و هستند که چون من دوست دارند واقعیت های هستی را بر پایه ی حقیقتی قطعی و عقلانی ببینند!
I have a question for you. It's a simple-sounding question, but hard to answer, so I really want you to put a good amount of thought into it before you do. Okay? Yes, I'm still in Teacher-mode, but that's not important right now. My question is this:
What is truth?
It's one of those unanswerable questions that has bugged us ever since we started being able to ask unanswerable questions. Along with "Why is there evil in the world?" and "Do we have free will or are our lives pre-determined from the beginning?" or "What's the deal with that Justin Bieber kid? I mean really?" this question is one that people either ignore or obsess over.
Didn't think I could do a pop-culture reference like that, did you? Shows how much you know....
This graphic novel is about one man's pursuit of this question, and the ways in which it nearly destroyed his life. The man was Bertrand Russell, and we follow his life from his childhood to late adulthood as he searches for an unshakable foundation to mathematics and logic, and thus an absolute truth that he could rely on.
As a child, Russell lived with the question of why things are the way they are, and got no good answers from his domineering grandmother. It wasn't until his introduction to geometry and the wonder of mathematical proofs that he could finally say there was something about which he could be absolutely sure in the universe. Mathematics, he thought, would be the answer to everything. Pure, unsullied and utterly, utterly reliable.
But there was a flaw in math - the Axioms. Mathematics in the 19th century was a direct descendant of Euclid's work, and rested on a series of axioms in order to function. An axiom, then, is something that is assumed to be true so that you can go on to prove other things. For example, if you have a line, and a point not on that line, there can be only one line drawn through that point that is parallel to the first. Why is this true? Well... it just is. If you have to prove that, then you have to prove a thousand other things first, and you never end up being able to prove the thing you were trying to prove in the first place. It was like, he thought, the cosmological model of the world on the back of a turtle. Which stood on another turtle. Which stood on another, and another - turtles, all the way down.
That didn't satisfy young Russell, and he went off in search of the floor upon which the last turtle stood, as it were - new mathematics that would be able to define the foundations of math, and thereby give a concrete understanding of the universe. Along the way, his desire to apply the certainty of math to human thought and interaction led him to the discipline of logic, a strange chimera of mathematics and philosophy. By becoming a logician, he thought he might finally be able to pin down some absolute truths about not only abstract math but human nature itself.
Of course, he failed. Spectacularly. Broken marriages, broken friendships, ill health - his obsession with an absolute truth to the universe nearly destroyed everything he had. Fortunately for him, Russell pulled back from the abyss before it could swallow him whole, and became one of the early 20th century's greatest philosophers in the process. His failure to find an ultimate foundation for logic and math was not entirely without fruit - thanks to work by Russell and others, these disciplines were pushed forward in ways that made our modern lives possible. New ways of understanding the universe, from the unfathomable depths of infinity to the simplicity of 1+1=2, everything was open to examination in those days. Because of men like Bertrand Russell, humanity advanced in great leaps and bounds.
In the end, it's a compelling book. I read and re-read it, convinced each time that there was something else I had missed. I was very often right. Doxiadis and Papadimitriou have put together a compelling tale of a man often overlooked by the general public, and they did so in a medium that's close to my heart - the graphic novel. The art, done by Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna, is wonderful. It has a simplicity that belies the complexity of its topic, and shows an excellent sense of storytelling. Hats off to the two of them, without a doubt.
This book, it should be noted, is not a primer on logic. If you're looking to know how logic works, or you want to know a bit more about higher mathematics and how to do them, then you'd best look for another book. As the authors tell us right in the beginning, this book is a story, a great tragedy that owes its inspiration to the ancient productions of the Greeks. It's the story of a man who pitted himself against the universe and lost, but who did so in such a way that he - and the world - came out better for it. The book ends with a scene from The Oresteia, a classic Greek drama about another man who found himself in a no-win situation with no absolutes to rest upon. Much like Orestes, when faced with two choices that could lead to his destruction, the only way forward for Russell was to compromise and to move forward. By doing so, he not only became a happier man, but became involved with humanity again, as a philosopher, a teacher, and an anti-war activist.
In the end, this book is about the compromises we all have to make as human beings. The world may be a logical place, but we are not. There is a limit to our logical understanding of ourselves, and sooner or later we have to accept that and deal with people as people, rather than as problems to be solved and equations to be balanced. Bertrand Russell's quest, as interpreted by this novel, is an example of how far we can push the need to know exactly that's at the bottom of it all. The fact that the foundations of our world appear to be unprovable and unknowable is, ultimately, unimportant. What is important is that we are here, now, and we need to make sense of our own lives.
Στα χνάρια του κόσμου της σοφίας για την ιστορία της φιλοσοφίας, αυτό το graphic novel αφορά την ιστορία της Λογικής, ενός κλάδου που προέρχεται από τα μαθηματικά αλλά έχει ιδιαίτερα στοιχεία φιλοσοφίας μέσα του (για να γίνω και λίγο προκλητική στους φιλολογικούς κύκλους: όλη η φιλοσοφία προέρχεται από την επιστήμη, απλά όσοι δεν σκαμπάζουν από μαθηματικά, τα αφαιρούν και κρατάνε το περιτύλιγμα, το οποίο επίσης είναι σπουδαίο!!!!! Τι έγινε; Πόσα comments μάζεψα;)
Σε κάθε περίπτωση πάντως, το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο είναι μια εξαιρετική προσπάθεια του Απόστολου Δοξιάδη και του Χρίστου Παπαδημητρίου να παρουσιάσουν την ιστορία της Λογικής, με το σκίτσο να είναι επίσης εξαιρετικό. Μια δουλειά για την οποία οι δημιουργοί της πρέπει να είναι περήφανοι, παρόμοιο του έργου του Ντενί Γκετζ και του Θεωρήματος του Παπαγάλου, επίσης για τα μαθηματικά. Διαβάζεται άνετα σαν ιστορία προσώπων και για τους μη γνώστες των μαθηματικών, ενώ νομίζω ότι μόνο οι απόφοιτοι του Μαθηματικού Τμήματος (ή όσοι έχουν σπουδάσει Λογική) θα το κατανοήσουν 100%
This book is too good. It's interesting in many ways: its choice of topic, presentation & narrative style. Even the introduction & bibliography comes with graphics :D
It depicts different phases of the life of Bertrand Russell - the mathematician, logician, philosopher, political activist, as well as a Noble laureate. The book tries to be a simple, interesting guide to Russell's complex, laborious & frustrating conquest to pin down the foundations of mathematics.
Though it has an open ending, I hope Doxiadis will soon come up with an interesting epilogue.
Το κόμικ αυτό με βρήκε εντελώς εκτός των νερών μου, καθώς η φιλοσοφία δε μου αρέσει καθόλου και οι γνώσεις μου στα μαθηματικά είναι περιορισμένες. Εντούτοις, σε κάποια σημεία κουράστηκα και βαρέθηκα και σίγουρα διαφωνώ με όσους λένε ότι είναι ευκολοδιάβαστο. Μου άρεσε πολύ το σχέδιο και ο τρόπος που ενσωμάτωσαν οι δημιουργοί τους εαυτούς τους μες στην ιστορία και χαίρομαι που ένα ελληνικό κόμικ έκανε τέτοια επιτυχία.
Logicomix An Epic Search for Truth, came as a complete surprise to me. Given to me by a good friend for Christmas, this graphic novel first struck me as a psychodrama about an obsessive-compulsive personality, not at all resembling myself. But when I started to read it I realized that it was a history of early 20th century philosophy and foundations of mathematics, featuring cartoon characterizations of people I have studied at some length, such as Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Gottlob Frege, Kurt Godel, Alan Turing and a dozen others. The first two of these are arguably the greatest philosophers of the 20th century.
The only exposure I had had to graphic novels was through my daughter, who is an illustrator and has done her own comix. I had from time to time leafed through her collection, and we had seen Persepolis. But to see the form stretched around a subject about which I had been very serious was astonishing to me. The story functioned on so many levels that it was dizzying.
On the highest, theoretical level the story was about the philosophical task of establishing mathematics on a firm logical foundation, so that it would become an ironclad vehicle for the pursuit of knowledge. This effort proved to have theoretical difficulties, which in turn led to the “anti-foundational” (pragmatic, relativistic) trend of philosophy in the second half of the 20th century. This intellectual history was portrayed by the activities of cartoon figures in dramatic situations. I had to strain to consider if they were getting it right, but I think they did a creditable job.
The second level, the psychological interplay of (cartoon) personalities, was even better. Although dramatic action was obviously condensed, there was a very gossipy portrayal of the lives and foibles of the great philosophers and mathematicians. Cartoons lend themselves to melodrama, and the philosophers themselves had more than enough melodrama in their lives.
On a third level of art, the cartoon artistry was beautiful. There were portrayals of very dramatic scenes and locations, such as a walk around the Parthenon in Athens, or the battlefields of war torn Europe, or the life of the British aristocracy, or laid-back Berkeley, California. The book ended with a climactic scene from the Oresteia Trilogy of Aeschylus, which was imposing and appropriate. As I write this I wonder how I can be talking about cartoons as though they were panoramic epics, but it worked.
There were other levels as well, including connections to music, literature, languages, poetry, politics, history, and lots of other things. But at heart, the book was a great adventure of ideas, which I bought into completely. I think there is something fundamentally philosophical about portraying life with well-defined lines and shapes of uniform color. Everything is simplified and dramatized and so… graphic. It made me want to write the graphic novel of my life, or better yet, to live it.
kind of disappointing; don't think it set out to do what it aims to do (and what it aims to do is frequently stated) in bringing the story of the search for rigourous logic to life thorugh the lives of the main protagnist(s). essentially its a potted biography of bertrand russell, but so shortened as to be fairly meaningless. it's covering and explanation of logical theories is equally skimpy and vague. there's some neat comic tricks (asides to the reader, references to 'filming live'), a framing device of the comic creators discussing the comic's direction (which takes on more relevance in the context of russell's paradox) and a story within the story of one of the comic creators rehearsing a production of Oresteia, but ultimately it all falls short.
whats really annoying is the great reviews printed on the back cover. i think any comic that isn't superheroes automatically gets credit as being intelligent and genre breaking. its not. and it cost me 25quid. thats the danger in buying comics...
این کتاب با بیان زندگی برتراند راسل، به نوعی سرگذشت منطق رو بیان می کنه و شما رو با به قول خودش «غول» های منطق و یه سری از فلاسفه و ریاضیدان ها که در شکل گیری منطق نقش داشتن و نظریاتشون آشنا می کنه. جدا از اطلاعات عمومی و شناختن یه سری از ریاضیدان ها و فلاسفه و آشنایی با مقوله ی منطق، زندگی خود برتراند راسل و بقیه منطق دان ها خیلی عبرت انگیز بود. برای من که اولین بارم بود چیزی در مورد منطق می خوندم و هیچ اطلاعاتی در مورد الگوریتم ها و مسائل این چنینی نداشتم، کتاب شیوه ی روایت بسیار روون و قابل فهمی داشت. تنها بخشی که بهش زیاد پرداخته نشده بود و من هم خوب متوجهش نشدم اثبات قضیه ناتمامیت و مفهومش بود. نقاشی ها هم قشنگ و به واقعیت نزدیک بودن. دانشنامه ی کوچک انتهای کتاب هم اطلاعات خیلی مفیدی داشت.
اگر چیزی در مورد منطق نمی دونین، از دستش ندین. اگر منطق رو میشناسین و بهش علاقه دارین، باز هم از دستش ندین. خوندنش بسیار لذت بخش و تامل برانگیز بود.
After a long period of time I have finished a book in one stretch. The book is highly readable and is very immersive too. I find it admirable that the authors chose graphic novel format to convey some of the most profound ideas and logical underpinnings of mathematics. The greatest advantage this book presents is the accessibility of the content. It helps common people who might not be well versed with foundational mathematics to atleast have a peak into that world. I also liked the psychological interplay of various personalities in the book. Some of them are indeed respected philosophers and mathematicians of all time. The content manages to bring out the human side of the story through interactions. Although some literary liberty has been taken to give depth to the story but it isnt completely masking the reality. The authors have tried to build the story through the eyes of Bertrand Russell and his foundational quest in mathematics.
The parallel track of authors discussing these grand ideas also makes it more interesting. The authors have very well stated that it's by no means a serious maths/science/philosophy book. The fundamental focus is on the narrative and the development of logic. Through this they also go on to discuss the political and social condition of the times the personalities lived in. The book starts with the profound conviction that all the great problems are solvable rests on the principle that the world is totally understandable by reason. That if a question can be rigorously stated, it can be logically answered. But probably towards the journey and the epic search for truth one realizes that this might not necessarily be true always.
I never imagined reading a graphic novel--but here is a graphic novel that I highly recommend. As explained in the back of the book, this is not, strictly speaking, a biography. It is a novel, largely based on facts. Some of the meetings never took place in person, but all of the meetings are based, at the very least, on interactions through correspondence.
The book is highly readable, and enjoyable. It features interesting interactions between the authors and illustrators of the book, intermixed with the biography of the book's protagonist, Bertrand Russell. Very well done!
Αξιζε επειδή το βρήκα μισή τιμή. Είναι αρκετά ακριβό για τις πληροφορίες και τις γνώσεις που προσφέρει. Στα ίδια χρήματα κανείς μπορεί να πάρει 2-3 πολύ δυνατά βιβλία για το συγκεκριμένο θέμα και να μάθει όντως πολλά πραγματάκια. Βάζω 3.5 αστέρια επειδή είναι κόμικ και αυτό σημαίνει πως εκτός του content, σημαντικό ρόλο παίζουν και τα σκίτσα που είναι πραγματικά φοβερά και τρομερά. Πολλά βράδια πρίν κοιμηθώ ξεφυλλίζω και χαζεύω. Αν κάποιος θέλει να το πάρει για να μάθει, δυστυχώς δεν θα ικανοποιηθεί και θα δώσει και ένα όχι και τόσο ευκαταφρόνητο ποσό, συγκριτικά πάντα με τις εναλλακτικές που πα��ζουν. Δίνει βέβαια για να μην παρεξηγηθώ, αρκετές πληροφορίες για περεταίρω ψάξιμο, είναι αρκετά έγκυρο και σίγουρα μια καλή αφετηρία. Η επιλογή δική σας.. Κατά την ταπεινή μου άποψη πάντα και μην ξεχνάμε το κλισέ περί γούστου..
When age-spanning epics are called for, there are few so often drawn from the Great Well of Story Archetypes as the battle between order and chaos. In the realms of the human and the personal, some variation of Boy Meets Girl is undoubtedly the go-to narrative frame. But when a teller really wants to up the stakes and sell his audience either a cosmology or an apocalypse, only gods and monsters will do. And such a pairing (almost until the postmoderns) demands Order in one corner, girded and ready, honed to perfection and waiting with grim determination to show ropes to Chaos, who spills out over the opposite corner, spoiling for blood and violence and the reckless anarchy of the brawl. It's the story of Yahweh and Lucifer, of Marduk and Tiamat, of Feanor and Melkor, of Gandalf and Sauron. And it's the story of Bertrand Russell as romantically couched by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou.
I haven't read a lot of Bertram Russell. Apart from a couple scattered essays, breezed through nearly twenty years ago, my acquaintance with the man's work is nearly without existence. And those writings I have spent time with have been rather facile, wholly practical works—neither of which included any expression of maths at all. Honestly, while I knew of Russell's status as a logician, I was unaware of what exactly that meant and exactly how foundational was Russell's place in the logical pantheon. (And this after taking several semesters of logic in college. We studied the application of logic rather than the history of the stuff and I didn't study enough of it to get beyond base symbolics, which I rather enjoyed.)
It seems that I missed out on a lot.
Logicomix is the story of what is apparently Russell's masterwork, Principia Mathematica, in which Russell seeks to ground mathematics in logic rather than in mere axiom. More though, as Logicomix unfolds, we see that the formation of the Principia is really Russell's struggle to impose Order on a world that seems to be built on Chaos. Doxiadis and Papadimitriou work hard to sell the concept, even to the point of overlaying the Oresteia as an interpretive framework. Will order govern chaos? Will logic come to supplant madness?
The authors keep us excited and invested in the tale's outcome. We see the stakes clearly spelled out by Russell even at an early age as he wrestles with the arbitrariness of the world as described to him by his religious aunt. We see his conundrum as his excitement over the promise of mathematics collapses entirely when he realizes his supposed salvation is built upon what amounts to wishful thinking. We see his hopes laid bare as he looks to logic for a foundation for mathematics—and so a foundation for belief in an ordered universe. We see the detritus of a history of logicians whose minds broke against the fortressed walls of infinity and paradox. Will Russell succumb? Will he find the elixir to banish paradox? Will he in his alchemical balance of math and philosophy—in his inundation into the fountain of logic—find salvation? Will we? Or will he only find one more succubus, a myth that will drain him of life and reason, leaving him as much a wreck as his predecessors?
Doxiadis and Papadimitriou excel at putting forth Russell's dilemma in terms easily understandable. We feel Russell's pain as he and his partner, Whitehead, struggle for years to find their solution. We wait with the rest of the early 20th century's logical community for a solution to Russell's paradox, what amounted to a devastating blow to the superstructure of logic itself. We understand why Russell teeters on the brink of madness, even as his forerunners Cantor and Frege succumb. Unfortunately, and perhaps this is testimony to its complexity, the authors only offer the most brushing glance at Russell and Whitehead's solution (and of Kurt Gödel's extrapolation). We see that it's there, that Russell has done... something. Only we aren't told what exactly.
Personally, I would have liked a page or two more on this tack. Even if a simplified explanation still sat over my head, at least I'd be able to pick at it, circle in on it, and take it apart at my leisure. As is, if I'm inclined to discover what Russell ended up doing, I'm forced to find that out on my own.
Still, as the creators attest in one of their self-referential fourth-wall-sundering interludes, their primary concern in this saga is the persons rather than the ideas. While the ideas belong to the characters and help shape their figures in our imaginations, people who are well-sketched are people built of emotions and histories and romance and goals and anguish. They are made of their circumstances and their ideas are made of them. Logicomix fights foremost to tell the story of people as people. And here it succeeds unflinchingly.
Every one of its figures are persons with their own lives and histories, all of which I am interested to discover. Should the creative team here devote pages to any one of the mathematicians, philosophers, or logicians that wander across Russell's life as presented here, I will purchase and read such a book. Wittgenstein in particular marks a character who I'd love to see pursued in his own book—even though Wittgenstein inhabits a fair percentage of Russell's book, I was thirsty for more.
[Oh Wittgenstein, could I ever not love you?]
Logicomix as biography is somewhat lacking, in that it tails off a good thirty years before Russell's death and leaves the story of the Principia's final impact upon logic merely hinted at. But as a story of Russell's search for order against the winds of chaos, I found the book a compelling excursion. The book is subtitled An Epic Search for Truth and, while the howling of Madness still sits spectre behind Russell's quest for a foundation in Logic, at the least Logicomix delivers a worthwhile yarn pretty near on a level with Marduk's duke-out with Tiamat.
Logicomix is an impressive (graphic) novel, as much in scope as visually and structurally, and as a reader with some background in mathematics and philosophy, I'm very glad that at least this kind of fiction is written. After some contemplation, I also came to agree that its subtitle, 'An Epic Search Truth', wasn't disappointed either. I fluctuated between the present one star short rating and the full during the course of my read, mulling over this point a fair bit and this is what I hope to remark on here.
This is a fictionalised biographical account of Bertrand Russell with a backdrop of escalating war on the one hand, and a story about telling a story on the other (self-referential, if you will- reflecting the central paradoxes of Russell's and the 20th century academic establishment's quest for a solid basis on which to operate). The choice of Russell struck me as somehow both inspired and obvious- in succession let's say, to avoid paradox. Through Russell, himself a dominating figure in philosophy and logic during its most productive period, we encounter the giants on whose shoulders our certainties, and more significantly uncertainties, today rest. These are odd, eccentric sorts we meet, and the narrative doesn't shy from the the frank suggestion that insanity and logic are intertwined in some way. The problem is that many of the depictions are exaggerated (it recalled to me E T Bell's Men of Mathematics) to keep the plot focused and pertinent. However, the meta-fiction aspect came to the rescue here, and through the account of a disagreement between the book's author and consultant, this claim doesn't go entirely unchallenged even if it affects the tone of the work. The truly frightening quality of insanity isn't the possibility that some germ of it is within you, as Russell is made to mull over, but that it's a continuous spectrum which reaches sanity through ambiguous mists. The problem is often about settling on what's enough to label someone mad rather than a distinct insane vs sane divide. Logicomix provides no discussion on this, but it offers a metaphor, following a confused journey through modern Athens in search of a rehearsal, that reality is mapped in men's minds and madness is when it's confused with its impression. This segues nicely into Wittgenstein's solution in the main storyline.
The characters feel very real in that the reader's interest is sustained while their sympathies are made to vary, but they only broadly align with their historical selves. Certain details are preserved and recalled well where these are relevant, but the strength of Logicomix is that the finer points of logic interweave but never interrupt the drama of human failings and personal tragedy and the glimmer through all of it, of hope (for Russell, the quest is as much for this balance as for the truth that might liberate him from his foundational anxieties). As such when it comes to their field of study (which it often does!), characters tend to become mouthpieces for entire traditions of thought, some they founded, some they were the most famous part of, and thus exaggerated. This is a good way, combined with some of the other narrative techniques which allow for clarifications (like pausing for the questions and reflections at the studio and having the authors and staff voice the likely thoughts going through the reader's mind), to broadly do the concepts mentioned some justice, but it inflicts too much of the personal from time to time, if with the good intention of showing to the layman how some people can be so excited about such a seemingly dry subject (look at how the delegates from the International Congress of Mathematics at the turn of the century where Hilbert presented his famous problems come to embody collective reactions or the way Wittgenstein is shown to be 'intense' to the point of zeal). More serious is the problem that many of these personalities are put together a little incongruously, and compared to Russell lack context for some of their thought and ways, that the logic from madness or madness from logic theme theme might be unconsciously invoked without it being warranted. There is a note justifying some of the historical inventions and distortions at the end of the book which reasserts some of the historical, dare we say, artifice, and a detailed glossary and a bibliography follow, so to some extent this allowance is mitigated.
The art (a fresh, somehow very European style) and lettering (for an admirably clean, clear English suited to a book touching on logic, which nevertheless evokes Russell's period from time to time) reinforce the twofold nature of the ambitions chronicled, in that they strive for progress at great cost but also seem circular, and the nested stories are very smoothly brought back in line after digressions. I especially enjoyed the recurring and illuminating scenes from Aeschylus's Oresteia by way of the aforementioned drama rehearsal and how Wittgenstein's experiences in the war were portrayed.
A fantastic read in all, remarkable for its dexterity and character portraits (or at times suppositions, rather) as it shifts back and forth through a live history surrounding the 'foundational quest'. It's not a graphic-boosted textbook on logic or even particularly serious about logic at all, but an observation on the human condition through the frustrated efforts of some of mankind's greatest thinkers at establishing truth in the hopes of being free once and for all of continually shifting ground underfoot.
The book is a modern telling of two stories: the life story of Bertrand Russell and the development of Logic. The story within the story is of an old Bertrand Russell going to give a lecture just days after Germany invaded Poland and the protestors surrounding the lecture hall demand he support the call for pacifism, to keep Britain out of the war. Russell invites them in and begins the lecture - of his life, of Logic, and his answer to their calls.
It helps to have the two narrating voices - Russell in 1939 looking back on his life and the creative team putting all of this together in the '00s, as we get two interpretations of events to give a balanced view to the reader.
I won't go into all the detail of Russell's life but it is interesting. I also won't go into the maths/philosophy side of the book - mostly because I've forgotten it! The book does a very good job of explaining the philosophies of the thinkers in the book. Russell, Frege, Godel, even Wittgenstein are accessible and understandable in the writers' hands. The fact that, 2 days later, I've forgotten them just shows that I've no strong grasp of Logic theory and is no bad reflection on the book.
No matter - as the creators themselves acknowledge, every pain was taken to make this a graphic novel and by no means a maths/science/philosophy book. The narrative is more important than any lengthy explanations of the theories or the lives depicted within and so the story is the centre of the book which is why it's so much fun to read. Despite the lofty ideas you never find yourself intimidated and the pages fly by enjoyably.
The book also talks about how many logicians became mad. Christos, the consultant on the book, has a map in his mind of the area he grew up in but 30 years have passed when he visits it again and gets lost amid the changed landscape. He uses this to come up with a great line on insanity: "Sure, Frege, Russell, Whitehead were excellent map-makers but maybe eventually they confused their reality with their maps." (p.217).
A separate note should be made of the artwork. The team of Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna have created a story that is beautiful to look at. Their artwork reminded me of the other brilliant comics team of Phillippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian whose "Monsieur Jean" stories are gorgeous to see (though the subject matter is much more lightweight). The artwork really brought the book to life juxtaposing the academic material with swirling images and colourful landscapes. The scenes of Wittgenstein in WW1 were extraordinary as the reader was invited to see Wittgenstein's breakthrough in his work pulled back with a vast view of the nightmarish trenches and mortar fire with him in the midst of it. Really amazing work throughout.
It's an extraordinary comic and a brilliant piece of work.
This was my first read of a book which covers a topic of my interest in a comic format, and it has done the job superbly! It also has the very interesting breaking the 4th wall kind of narration where some of the characters are aware of us, the readers and talk to us!
The authors use their artistic license liberally to convey the biography of 'Bertie' Russell, by keeping the story line very captivating. Definitely a very good read for those who are interested in logic, theoretical computer science, mathematics or just pure philosophy.
Soooo good. A very fun graphic novel about people and their maddening quest for foundational mathematics and objective truth. The novel does a great job at faithfully portraying and expressing the obsession for solving these fundamental problems that consumes great minds. And no wonder-- it is written by mathematicians!
این کتاب رو پارسال خوندم و همه جزئیاتشو به یاد ندارم. یادمه که گرافیکش عالی بود و داستان هم بدک نبود. تنها نکته مفیدی که از کتاب به یادم مونده، اونجاست که به رویکرد چند نفر از منطقدانان بعد از راسل اشاره کرده بود؛ به جای سر و کله زدن با چیزهایی که از فهم ما خارجه، بیایید روی چیزهایی تمرکز کنیم که برای ما قابل فهمه