Jacques Bouveresse - Works - Incompleteness and Philosophy

Incompleteness and Philosophy

Apart from his work on Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jacques Bouveresse is interested in the incompleteness theorems of Kurt Gödel and their philosophical consequences. It is on this account that he has attacked, in a popular work Prodiges et vertiges de l'analogie, the use made of these theorems by Régis Debray. Bouveresse denounces the literary distortion of a scientific concept for the purpose of a thesis. This distortion, according to him, has no other purpose than to overwhelm a readership which lacks the training necessary to comprehend such complex theorems. Bouveresse's reproach to Debray is not that he uses a scientific concept for the purpose of an analogy, but that he uses such a difficult to understand theorem in the attempt to provide an absolute justification in the form of the classic sophism of the argument from authority.

According to Bouveresse, the incompleteness of a formal system which applies to certain mathematical systems in no way implies the incompleteness of sociology, which is not a formal system.

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... Gödel's incompleteness theorems are two theorems of mathematical logic that establish inherent limitations of all but the most trivial axiomatic systems capable of doing arithmetic ... The theorems, proven by Kurt Gödel in 1931, are important both in mathematical logic and in the philosophy of mathematics ... The first incompleteness theorem states that no consistent system of axioms whose theorems can be listed by an "effective procedure" (e.g ...

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