In 1996 Ray Monk, well known as the biographer of Wittgenstein (The Duty of Genius) and of
Bertrand Russell, asked me to write a short text on Alan Turing for a series called The Great Philosophers.|
My short text on Alan Turing's philosophy appeared in 1997 as Turing, in The Great Philosophers series issued by Phoenix (London). |
My subtitle is A natural philosopher.
ISBN 0 753 801922, price £2.00
Amazon.co.uk page here.
The American edition was published in 1999|
by Routledge (New York).
ISBN: 0415923786, price $6.00
Amazon.com. page here
About the book
In accordance with the scheme of the Great Philosophers series, the text is intended to show exactly what Turing wrote, for instance regarding the Turing machine and the Turing test. Of the 58 pages about half are taken up with original Turing text and half with commentary.
To some extent this is a condensed version of what I said about Turing's ideas in my biography
Alan Turing: the Enigma.
But this book introduced a new view on how they developed, stimulated by Roger Penrose's books The Emperor's New Mind and Shadows of the Mind.
The Omnibus Edition, 2000
Twelve of the original twenty-four Great Philosophers texts were compiled for an omnibus volume. Happily, mine was included and the new book, entitled The Great Philosophers, is subtitled From Socrates to Turing.
From hemlock to cyanide, in fact.
|The chosen twelve are: Socrates, Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Berkeley, Hume, Marx, Russell, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Popper and Turing. Like the original series, the omnibus edition is edited by Ray Monk and Frederic Raphael.
I never thought I would be bound together with Roger Scruton (writing on Spinoza). I seriously disagree with him about the Pet Shop Boys, to me song-writers of great beauty and originality, but to him a product of machine-made culture. Perhaps this disagreement illustrates one of Turing's themes.
That said, I have only learnt from reading his essay, along with all the other fine and clear writing in this cornucopia of unpretentious and committed thoughtfulness.
The text is also available in Spanish translation,
published by Editorial Norma S.A., Bogota, Colombia, 1998
in Polish translation, published by Wydawnictwo Amber, Warszawa, 1998
ISBN 83-7169-568-3, price zl 9.80
in Portuguese translation, published by UNESP, Sao Paulo, 1999
and in Finnish translation, ISBN 952-1-1673-3.
Translations into Italian, Hebrew, Chinese and Estonian may exist.