Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Just Reviewed Mario Livio’s “Is God a Mathematician?” for SBR

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Folks, my headline for my review at Shiny Book Review tonight is simple: 

http://shinybookreview.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/mario-livios-is-god-a-mathematician-math-as-philosophy/

That refers to Livio’s main argument, which is about whether or not math was designed by humans in order to reflect what humans see — a modern thought, that — or the view of the “Platonists” (mathematicians since Plato who agree with Plato’s point of view) that math was always present in the universe, but human beings may not have had the skill-set in order to be able to understand what they saw around them.  This “nature or nurture” type of argument is intriguing enough by itself, but in order to make it, Livio also had to sketch out a history of math and mathematicians or it wouldn’t have made any sense to a non-mathematician like myself.

That Livio did a phenomenal job in explaining what this philosophical argument is all about is intriguing enough, but the historical overview adds depth and breadth to it all, making the point that philosophy doesn’t have to be “dry as dust” stuff as it refers to things we all take for granted every day.  In that sense, Livio’s book reminds me of THE TAO OF PHYSICS in that there’s a great deal more to life than what’s been observed and measured up to now — but isn’t it interesting what’s around us that we can observe and measure?

Anyway, go read my review, then grab this book!  It’s something that will help you whether or not you’re a SF&F author; it’s something that will interest you if you’ve ever given thought as to how these mathematicians have managed to improve the world (and what we know of it) through the millenia of recorded history.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

July 24, 2011 at 3:14 am

Posted in Book reviews

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