Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Haley Reading Group: The Man Who Tried to Redeem the World with Logic
[The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2016)]
Amanda Gefter’s article, "The Man Who Tried to Redeem the World with Logic," gives a biographical sketch of scientist Walter Pitts. Pitts, a self-educated, extremely intelligent man, devoted much of his life to logic and how logic influenced mechanisms of the brain. Unfortunately, a failed friendship and new advances in science challenged his core ideas and sent him into a downward depression, ultimately causing his work to never be finished or published.
Gefter’s discussion of the ending of Wiener and Pitts' relationship was especially interesting. Gefter writes “for Pitts, it wasn’t merely a loss. It was something far worse than that: it defied logic” (61). This is interesting as it highlights that Pitts’ entire life was truly devoted to logic, as something that went against logic essentially ruined his life.
After reading Gefter’s article, at what point of Pitts career did you recognize that he was solely dependent on logic? How did it contribute to his career as a whole? Please provide a page number citation.