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The Universal Computer, 3rd Edition by Martin Davis

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CHAPTER 3

Frege: From Breakthrough to Despair

In June 1902 a letter arrived in Jena, a medieval German town, addressed to the 53-year-old Gottlob Frege from the young British philosopher Bertrand Russell. Although Frege believed that he had made important and fundamental discoveries, his work had been almost totally ignored. It must then have been with some pleasure that he read, “I find myself in agreement with you in all essentials … I find in your work discussions, distinctions, and definitions that one seeks in vain in the work of other logicians.” But, the letter continued, “There is just one point where I have encountered a difficulty.” Frege soon realized that this one “difficulty” seemed to lead to the collapse of his life’s work. It ...

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