George Boole (1815–1864)
George Boole was a British mathematician and philosopher, who made a decisive contribution to the development of modern (post-Aristotelian or post-syllogistic) logicand whose work anticipated many of the insights of Cantorian settheory. Boolean logic, expressive of Boole’s confidence in the power of symbolic thought, is also generally considered to be the forerunner of modern computer science. After an early interest in classics, Boole’s turned to mathematics and logic and led an uneventful life apart from his academic successes. In 1849 he was appointed the first professor of mathematics at Queen’s College in Cork, Ireland, where he would remain for the majority of his career. Boole presented an initial overview of his new approach to logic in a short book entitled the Mathematical Analysis of Logic (1847), which is excerpted in the Cahiers pour l’Analyse’s tenth volume in a translation by Yves Michaud. He provided a more substantial and more systematic exposition in his Investigation of the Laws of Thought (1854), which he intended to serve as the statement of his mature views. His Treatise on Differential Equations appeared in 1859, followed by a sequel, a Treatise on the Calculus of Finite Differences. In addition to his mathematical works, Boole delivered lessons on the social uses of science, inspired by his more general engagement with Western thought, from Aristotle to Spinoza. A towering figure in the history of logic, Boole’s work continued to inspire scholarship and thinkers, from Peirce to Keynes, well into the twentieth century.
In the Cahiers pour l’Analyse
George Boole, ‘L’Analyse mathématique de la logique’, CpA 10.2 | [HTML] | [PDF] | [SYN] |
Alain Badiou, ‘Marque et manque: à propos du zéro’, CpA 10.8 | [HTML] | [PDF] | [SYN] |
Select bibliography
- The Mathematical Analysis of Logic, Being an Essay Towards a Calculus of Deductive Reasoning. Cambridge: MacMillan, Barclay and MacMillan, 1847. Reprinted in Boole, Studies in Logic and Probability, ed. Rush Rhees. London: Watts and Co, 1952. Online at http://www.archive.org/details/mathematicalanal00booluoft.
- An Investigation of the Laws of Thought, on Which are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities. London: Walton and Maberly, 1854. Reprinted in George Boole’s Collected Logical Works. Chicago: Open Court, 1916, vol. 2. Online at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/15114.