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FILM SCREENING | TALK | BOOK LAUNCH
EINSTEIN'S VIENNA: DOUGLAS HOFSTADTER AND KARL SIGMUND IN CONVERSATION
WEDNESDAY, SEP 12, 06:30 PM
On the occasion of the publication of Exact Thinking in Demented Times (Basic Books, New York, 2017) by Vienna-based mathematician Karl Sigmund, we are honored to present the English premiere of the film Einstein's Vienna. The 45 minute TV documentary by Anna Maria Sigmund and Karl Sigmund is based on Sigmund's dazzling group biography portraying the members of the Wiener Kreis. This group of intellectuals and scientists frequently met in the 1920s and 1930s and deeply influenced the intellectual history of the twentieth century.
Following the screening, Karl Sigmund, one of the pioneers of evolutionary game theory, will be joined in conversation by the award-winning cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter, who wrote the foreword to Sigmund's publication and played a cameo role in the film.
ABOUT THE BOOK
In Exact Thinking in Demented Times: The Vienna Circle and the Epic Quest for the Foundations of Science, Viennese mathematician and writer Karl Sigmund tells the fascinating story of this rich period in twentieth-century thought. Founded by philosopher Moritz Schlick, mathematician Hans Hahn, and social reformer Otto Neurath, the group, soon joined by Kurt Gödel and Rudolf Carnap, was deeply influenced by Ernst Mach, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Karl Popper. The bold collaborations of its members had a huge impact on logical empiricism, logical syntax of languages, the foundations of computer science, economics and the modern scientific method. The search for a worldview based purely on science flew in the face of German metaphysics as well as the hazy ideology of the reactionary politics which became increasingly influential in Austria.
"A brisk and engaging account of the volatile mix of characters that came together to form the Vienna Circle: their fierce intellectual battles over its main doctrines, their foibles and eccentricities, their 'collective eroticism,' and their humiliations (mainly by Wittgenstein) and occasional mental breakdowns....Gives a vivid picture of the 'demented times' in which they attempted to carry out their 'exact thinking,' chronicling how Vienna between the wars... descended from cultural vitality into Nazi barbarism." -New York Review of Books
ABOUT THE PANELISTS
Douglas Hofstadter teaches cognitive science and comparative literature at Indiana University in Bloomington. Though best known for his writings on minds, thinking, and consciousness (such as Gödel, Escher, Bach and I Am a Strange Loop), he is also active in literary translation (for instance, he recreated Alexander Pushkin's novel-in-verse Eugene Onegin in English, and wrote Le Ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language).
Karl Sigmund is a professor of mathematics at the University of Vienna. One of the pioneers of evolutionary game theory, his previous books include The Calculus of Selfishness and Games of Life. He lives in Vienna.
Image Credit: (c) Indiana University (for Douglas Hofstadter)