Einstein is not a character in Frayn's play "Copenhagen," and I doubt
that Einstein is depicted as saying what the Salon reviewer quotes.
On Apr 10, 2005, at 1:24 PM, Les Schaffer wrote:
> Phil Gasper quoted
>> Gödel's faith in mathematical intuition put him in opposition to the
>> mathematical equivalent of positivism, a movement called formalism.
>> Formalism, led by the mathematician David Hilbert, believed that
>> mathematics was, in Hilbert's words, "a game played according to
>> certain simple rules with meaningless marks on paper." Or, as
>> Goldstein describes it, "mathematicians, according to formalism, are
>> not in the business of discovering descriptive truths, whether of the
>> real world of things in physical space or the trans-empirical world of
>> numbers and sets ... They are simply in the business of manipulating
>> the mechanical rules of self-enclosed formal systems."
> i'm all for rescuing math from the pomos.
> but it turns out with high likelihood that Hilbert never said anything
> like this, nor thought this simple-mindedly about mathematical
> formalism. see the discussion in the archives for the Foundations of
> Mathematics e-list run by Martin Davis, starting with this post:
> and followup replies. Turns out even Hilbert would have thought the
> pomo-ists odd. There is a beaut of a reply on the FOM list by John
> McCarthy, the inventor of LISP:
> which apparently was along the lines that Hilbert himself thought.
> Les Schaffer