This book presents the entire body of thought of Norbert Wiener (1894-1964), knowledge of which is essential if one wishes to understand and correctly interpret the age in which we live. The focus is in particular on the philosophical and sociological aspects of Wiener's thought, but these aspects are carefully framed within the context of his scientific journey. Important biographical events, including some that were previously unknown, are also highlighted, but while the book has a biographical structure, it is not only a biography. The book is divided into four chronological sections, the first two of which explore Wiener's development as a philosopher and logician and his brilliant interwar career as a mathematician, supported by his philosophical background. The third section considers his research during World War II, which drew upon his previous scientific work and reflections and led to the birth of cybernetics. Finally, the radical post-war shift in Wiener's intellectual path is considered, examining how he came to abandon computer science projects and commenced ceaseless public reflections on the new sciences and technologies of information, their social effects, and the need for responsibility in science.
Leone Montagnini has worked on the history and philosophy of science and technology for more than 20 years, during which time he has devoted much attention to cybernetics and the thought and work of Norbert Wiener. He holds a PhD in Computational and Computer Sciences, an MA in Philosophy, an MA in Sociology, and a degree in Nuclear Engineering. Dr. Montagnini has lectured across the world, including at Tsinghua University in Beijing, the Universities of Vienna, Budapest, and Helsinki, and the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa. He has published many journal articles and book chapters on his chosen topics.
Introduction.- PART I 1894-1918.- Chapter 1 - Roots.- Chapter 2 - Education.- Chapter 3 - A young Philosopher.- PART II 1919-1939.- Chapter 4 - A Mathematician at work.- Chapter 5 - Reflections on Science and Technology.- PART III. 1940-1945.- Chapter 6 - Military Research Projects.- PART IV - 1946-1964.- Chapter 7 - After Hiroshima and Nagasaki.- Chapter 8 - The book Cybernetics.- Ch. 9 - After Cybernetics.- Conclusions.- References.- Index of names.- Subject index.