Episode 11
Featuring Ray Monk
Demetri Kofinas speaks with philosopher Ray Monk about the philosophical foundations of mathematics. Where did this system of knowledge come from? What are Euclid’s axioms? What are Plato’s forms? How did our notions of mathematics evolve from the time of the enlightenment to the present day?

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Ray Monk. Ray Monk is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southampton in the UK, where he lectures on logic, philosophical mathematics and the philosophy of Wittgenstein. He is presently a visiting Miller Scholar at the Santa Fe Institute. A prolific biographer, professor Monk has written books on the philosophers and mathematicians Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell, as well as the theoretical physicist and director of the Los Alamos Laboratory during the Manhattan Project, Robert Oppenheimer.

In their conversation, Demetri and Ray explore the mysterious and paradoxical world of mathematics. What are the foundations of mathematics? Where did mathematics come from? How did this seemingly infinite body of knowledge arise from virtually nothing? What are Euclid’s axioms? What are Plato’s forms? What did the Pythagorean mystery cults worship? How did our notions of mathematics evolve from the time of the Ancient Greeks? What were Immanuel Kant’s insights about how we experience the phenomenal world? What did he believe about the nature of reality and the role of mathematics in structuring perception? What was Russell’s paradox and why did Bertrand Russell ultimately fail in his attempt to create a formal system of mathematics built off of logical axioms and postulates? What was it that Kurt Gödel uttered in 1931 that shattered our confidence in the very foundations of mathematics? What did his theorem of incompleteness prove about the limits of mathematical knowledge and the uncertainty of formal systems? Finally, what was the great insight of Ludwig Wittgenstein about why the paradoxes exist in mathematics? What did he have to say about the limits of language and expression? And what are the implications of all of this, for the existence of God?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

Ray Monk (born 15 February 1957) is a British philosopher. He is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southampton, where he has taught since 1992.

He won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the 1991 Duff Cooper Prize for his biography of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius. His interests lie in the philosophy of mathematics, the history of analytic philosophy, and philosophical aspects of biographical writing. His biography of Robert Oppenheimer was published in 2012.

In 2015 he was awarded a Fellowship by the Royal Society of Literature.



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