On the Fluidity of Signs in Hegel, Gödel, and Turing
The universal machine, which the Englishman Alan Turing designed and actually constructed later, exhibits in principle a number of structural similarities to systems that the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel began to develop 130 years earlier. By stating that their logical constructions manifest a considerable degree of closeness, I am not suggesting that Hegel anticipated the computer. Neither is there any evidence that Turing sought to imitate Hegel's system of thought. Indeed, during Turing's student days in 1930's Cambridge the intellectual climate was decidedly anti-Hegelian. In 1914, the analytical philosopher Bertrand Russell had published a refutation of Hegel, Our Knowledge of the External World, in which he attempts to show that the idealist misapprehends the meaning of the copula "is". However, the proximity of Hegel's and Turing's systems makes it possible to locate them in a history of the mechanisation of thought as a means of understanding and to illuminate the one from the perspective of the other.
while(true). On the Fluidity of Signs in Hegel, Gödel, and Turing, in: Variantology 1. On Deep Time Relations of Arts, Sciences and Technologies, eds. Siegfried Zielinski, and Silvia Wagnermaier (Cologne: König, 2005): 261-278.
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