Before you take this course, you should know what it is about, why it
matters, and what you are pledging to do if you register for the class.
What are the questions that this course addresses?
These questions matter because:
- What (if any) are the practical and absolute limits of (formal) reason?
- What kinds of questions do we know we can answer, what kinds do we know are costly to answer, and what kind do we know that we never can answer?
- What does it cost us to know?
What is expected of students?
- This stuff is interesting.
- We all want to know things, but should then first know whether they are the kinds of things that can be known.
- If we know the cost of knowing something, we can ask whether that thing is worth knowing.
- The most interesting questions in life -- how should I live? Is there a design to the universe? Am I free? And so on.... -- are the questions that appear to be the hardest to answer. We should stop and ask also, are these questions with answers? Are they questions that can be answered in principle? Are they questions that can be answered in practice?
- These questions may be of special importance to many fields, such
as the study of mind and artificial intelligence, along with more
obviously mathematics and sciences that make heavy use of mathematics.
- Ironically, practicing thinking about the limits of reason makes one's thinking about the questions within those limits sharper.
- You have to be willing to think about mathematics, and attempt some.
- You must be self-motivated, since much of the class material is in notes
and various articles.
- You have to be curious about what can be known.