/ truth / mathematical /
A discussion with philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein:
"Godel mistrusted our ability to communicate. Natural language, he thought, was imprecise, and we usually don't understand each other. Godel wanted to prove a mathematical theorem that would have all the precision of mathematicsÂthe only language with any claims to precisionÂbut with the sweep of philosophy. He wanted a mathematical theorem that would speak to the issues of meta-mathematics. And two extraordinary things happened. One is that he actually did produce such a theorem. The other is that it was interpreted by the jazzier parts of the intellectual culture as saying, philosophically exactly the opposite of what he had been intending to say with it."
A very interesting interview relating to Godel and his quest for a vindication of his Platonism, as well as the intellectual climate in which he thrived.
Just one gripe... Goldstein, referring to the friendship between Godel and Einstein says:
"... Both of them saw their work in a certain philosophical context. They were both strong realists: Einstein in physics, and obviously Godel in mathematics. That philosophical perspective put them at odds with many of their scientific peers..."
Well, mathematical realism (aka Platonism) and scientific realism are not quite the same thing. They are not related. Mathematical realism is a species of idealism, whereas scientific realism is strictly a (mutated) nephew of logical positivism, the antithesis of Platonism as explicitly mentioned by Goldstein herself in the linked article when she discusses Godel's differences with the Vienna circle. It's probably true furthermore, that calling Einstein a "realist" oversimplifies his somewhat eclectic and idiosyncratic philosophy of science. So the parallelism fails completely.
PS1: A book to read on Godel and Einstein and how Godel added a twist to Einstein's General Theory of Relativity is Godel Meets Einstein, by Palle Yourgrau.
PS2: Sorry about the missing umlauts (they wouldn't display properly)...
Link via Monochrom