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Bertrand Russell (wikipedia.org)
12 points by HNLurker2 on May 5, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 5 comments

One of my favourites is his "The Conquest of Happiness". A very good commonsense approach to life. Some quotes at https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Conquest_of_Happiness

The graphic novel[1] of his biography, Logicomix, is terrific, informative, and has great art. Highly recommended.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logicomix

> Logicomix, is terrific, informative, and has great art.

I strongly disagree. Logicomix is informative in the same way a Hollywood biopic on Alan Turing is. Logicomix' point of view is that everyone that worked on the foundations of logic went mad. And the narrative sometimes bends the facts so that they better fit the model. IMO, reader have to be cautious with everything they learn from this source.

It's been a few years since I've read it and discussed it with co-workers at university, but I remember a few examples. The comics depicts a violent crisis of Frege, a moment a pure madness and antisemitic rage...that never existed. Frege was a very polite professor, with a Jewish PhD student, and it was a complete surprise to discover after his death that in his last years he secretly wrote vitriolic diatribes. They also "cheated" with Cantor's mental health. The depiction of Russel's child years is very far from the truth — at the time, I read a few chapters of Russel's memoirs to check on this.

IMO, Logicomix went too far in order to seduce a large audience. Yet I could forgive the historical lies if there was good mathematics in the book. But when they tried to explain the barber's paradox, they could not even write it correctly. They show Cantor's hotel, but do not try to explain what infinity is.

tl;dr Historical lies and no mathematical content, and even a wrong paradox, Logicomix has stretched "popularization" too far.

I get your point and it's been years since I read it, but I think the main takeaway was about Russel's personality and his own struggle with trying to find some kind of absolute truth.

It's common in fictionalized accounts in art to see deviations from reality and I think that's ok. When Disney's Pocahontas came out there were complaints about its lack of accuracy, too. As one snarky radio commentator put it, "Yes, and the animals didn't sing and dance quite as much in real life, either." Logicomix is a comic book, after all, and not a historical treatise or a math book.

>Historical lies and no mathematical content, and even a wrong paradox, Logicomix has stretched "popularization" too far.

Artistic license

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