1. Not finding help here? Sign up for a free 30min tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Support PF! Reminder for those going back to school to buy their text books via PF Here!
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Worth it or not?: Bertrand Russell's Principia Mathematica

  1. May 8, 2012 #1
    Worth it or not?: Bertrand Russell's "Principia Mathematica"

    Evening,

    As a physics undergrad, I feel that my understanding of mathematics is lacking – not in terms of how to do something, but in terms of why you'd do something. For example, why take the integral of Schrödinger's Equation? Why not derive it? Why derive velocity to find acceleration? (These are examples so you can see where I'm coming from)

    So because of this, I'm interested in purchasing Principia Mathematica by one of my favorite philosophers, Bertrand Russell. Is it a worthy purchase? Will it help me understand the concepts, or is there anyone book you recommend?

    Thanks for your help,
    Daniel
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 8, 2012 #2

    AlephZero

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

  4. May 8, 2012 #3
    Re: Worth it or not?: Bertrand Russell's "Principia Mathematica"



    I think Bertrand Russell is one of the greatest minds of the last two centuries and all his books are worth reading

    even more than once, but his Principia is a very, overwhelmingly technical book. I don't think there are lots of people

    who read it completely. You better check first what it is about before you buy it to read it, though I guess

    it could be an important book for consultations for logicians.

    DonAntonio
     
  5. May 8, 2012 #4

    Stephen Tashi

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Re: Worth it or not?: Bertrand Russell's "Principia Mathematica"

    Principia Mathematica could be read as a historial document, in the same manner that you could read Newton's Principia as a historial document in physics. Reading Newton's original work won't teach the modern approaches to classical phyics and it doesn't use modern notation. Reading Principia Mathematica won't teach you the modern approaches to mathematical logic and it doesn't use modern notation.
     
  6. May 9, 2012 #5

    MathematicalPhysicist

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Re: Worth it or not?: Bertrand Russell's "Principia Mathematica"

    I tried to read the first volume, the notation there is really hard to understand.

    I don't think it's worth time spent, unless you want to become a logician, and even then not every logician has read these three gigantic volumes, I guess most logicians didn't read these volumes.
     
  7. May 9, 2012 #6
    Re: Worth it or not?: Bertrand Russell's "Principia Mathematica"

    even logicians don't read this stuff.. it's mostly of historical importance at this point.
     
  8. May 9, 2012 #7

    mathwonk

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Re: Worth it or not?: Bertrand Russell's "Principia Mathematica"

    Its a great buy, and if you believe that, then I have a few thousand pages of class notes to offer you at a dollar a page.

    To be honest, there do exist people who think that book is worth reading.


    I do not personally know any of them.


    Lets put it this way. DO NOT spend one cent on that book until going to the library or online and looking at it for a while.


    I did that once and discovered that after a hundred pages or more of turgid nonsense they finally concluded something like 1+1 = 2.


    So to me that book is just absurd. But I am a mathematician, not a philosopher or logician.
     
  9. May 9, 2012 #8
    Re: Worth it or not?: Bertrand Russell's "Principia Mathematica"

    The more rigid the foundation, the easier it is to break.

    I don't know anything about Principia except that the author attempts to build everything from a rigid logic and set theory frame work and the entire work will come crashing down if an inconsistency is found.

    Considering this I think the whole thing is kind of pointless. I think intuition as to why 1 + 1 = 2 is far more valuable then constructing the abstract mathematical object of 1 and 2 from it.
     
  10. May 9, 2012 #9

    AlephZero

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Worth it or not?: Bertrand Russell's Principia Mathematica
  1. Abridged Principia? (Replies: 2)

  2. Principia Matematica (Replies: 3)

Loading...