In one of my earliest posts I wrote of the two “species” of people in the world, Stuffers and Stackers. I have encountered the ultimate stacker, to date, described in the graphic biography of Bertrand Russell, “Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth” But really, what else should I expect with that subtitle?
Anyway, I want to let the act speak for itself. On page 170, the authors reprint the Addendum to Gottlob Frege’s second volume of “The Foundations of Mathematics.” The addendum is Frege’s response to Bertrand Russell’s discovery of what would be called, “Russell’s Paradox.” I’ll let you read the book for the details, but Russell writes, “Of all the acts of intellectual honesty I have witnessed in my life, none compares with Gottlob Frege’s reaction to my paradox.”
And here it is, in its sublime Stackerliness…
“Hardly anything more unfortunate can befall a scientific writer, than to have one of the foundations of his edifice shaken after the work is finished. I was place in this position by a letter of Mr. Bertrand Russell, just when the printing of this volume was nearing completion.
The collapse of one of my laws, to which Mr. Russell’s paradox leads, seems to undermine not only the foundations of my Arithmetic but the only possible foundations of Arithmetic as such.”
That is the standard to which any “card carrying” Stacker must aspire!! Rigorously analyze your foundations, and if one is proven to be dreck, admit it, get rid of it and start over.
Having now completed “Logicomix” I must hasten to add, having this rigor apparently drove a lot of the world’s greatest thinkers to madness. My! Now THAT’s a paradox. Russell, though apparently not driven mad by his life’s work, DID spend 362 pages of his landmark “Principia Mathematica” proving, for all time, that 1 + 1 = 2. I guess it needed to be done.