Alfred Tarski: Life and Logic

I just finished reading the new Tarski biography, Alfred Tarski: Life and Logic, by Anita Burdman Feferman and Sol Feferman. It is a well-researched, interesting, beautiful, and sometimes moving account of the life of one of the leading figures in the field. It was especially interesting reading for me, since a great chunk of his life was spent building up a center for logic at the University of California, Berkeley. When I studied there, in the Program in Logic and the Methodology of Science, it was of course a far cry from the excitement of it’s heyday in the 1960’s, but a good number of the people that Tarski had taught and/or hired were still there. Bill Craig shared his office with me! The stories and the gossip are enthralling. I knew that Tarski was an exacting and sometimes intimidating teacher and supervisor; I didn’t know that he was also a notorious “ladies’ man” around female students (i.e., a sexual harasser), or that he took speed (and later on, caffeine/cola pills). Fascinating. It hits the North American shelves in October.

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