Smullyan, Raymond

Tagged: Author

(1919-2017) US mathematician, philosopher and author, professor of philosophy at the City University of New York and Indiana University. His popular non-academic works include many collections of ingenious logical puzzles, often – as in Martin Gardner, Douglas Hofstadter and Ian Stewart – spiced with Fantastika. Thus the challenges in What Is the Name of This Book? The Riddle of Dracula and Other Logical Puzzles (coll 1978) feature Vampires, Zombies and characters from Lewis Carroll's Alice books, while The Chess Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes (coll 1979) applies the deductive skills of Sherlock Holmes to dramatized retrograde-analysis Chess problems. The cumulative effect of conundrums in such books as The Lady or the Tiger? and Other Logical Puzzles (coll 1982) and especially Forever Undecided: A Puzzle Guide to Gödel (coll 1987) conveys some understanding of Gödel's famously difficult incompleteness theorem in Mathematics, often invoked in sf. Non-puzzle compilations such as This Book Needs No Title: A Budget of Living Paradoxes (coll 1980) and 5000 B.C. and Other Philosophical Fantasies (coll 1983) include many Thought Experiments in Perception, philosophy and Religion, variously couched as brief essays, provocative dialogues (Socratic or otherwise) and fantastic fables such as the long "Planet Without Laughter" in This Book Needs No Title. Smullyan used multiple strategies – Fantastika, Paradoxes and Taoism among them – to provoke thought in his readers. [DRL]

Raymond Merrill Smullyan

born Far Rockaway, New York: 25 May 1919

died Hudson, New York: 6 February 2017

works (selected non-academic titles)




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