George Spencer-Brown, 1923–2016


Farewell to G. Spencer-Brown, a creative mathematical logician extraordinaire, one of a handful of twentieth-century polymaths who saw the need to integrate spatial and numerical mathematics into a system of reasoning that is logically prior to conventional mathematics, symbolic logic, and mathematical science. While I never had the privilege of meeting him in person, I became aware of his work in 1984 when I purchased a copy of his exceptionally well-written book, Laws of Form. This book is one of my most prized possessions. I re-read it from time to time, and gain new insights every time.Similar to many brilliant thinkers who forge ahead of their time in history, he was misunderstood and misinterpreted by some who, although competent in their individual fields of specialization, failed to see the larger picture he was able to perceive. In my opinion he deserves a place of high honor in the Meta-Mathematics Hall of Fame, if there were such an institution, for revealing the connection of ‘imaginary’ numbers (an unfortunate misnomer) with symbolic logic and geometrical representation.

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