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Carrollian Notes

George Englebretsen

For more than a century now Lewis Carroll has been read and celebrated as the author of Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, and The Hunting of the Snark. Many have learned that he was actually Charles Dodgson. And some of those have known that he spent his professional career as a lecturer, researcher, and author of work on mathematics. Yet relatively few have been aware that he was an important contributor to what was called in the Nineteenth Century ‘Symbolic Logic’. Carroll carried out extensive critical correspondence with most of the leading logicians of his day. Late in his life he produced two books and two important essays on the subject. While his fictional work has been a well-exploited source of delightful quotations for many subsequent writers on logic, over the past half-century his contributions to logic have become the subject of slowly increasing scholarly attention from mathematicians, logicians, and historians of logic.

The present volume is a collection of notes, essays, and reviews that I have (with a great deal of help from time to time) published since the early 1970s until today. In them I’ve been critical to a certain degree of some of Carroll’s ideas. But I have offered studies of some of the important, original, lasting contributions he made to the field of logic. At least one thing will, I believe, become obvious to the reader: I have come to a better understanding and appreciation of Carroll as being more than what he called himself (“An obscure Writer on Logic, towards the end of the Nineteenth Century”).

George Englebretsen is a Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Bishop’s University in Québec, Canada. He has published extensively, especially on logic, the history and philosophy of logic, and the philosophy of language.

July 2021


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