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Neumann, John von - The design for a computer

Identifier

014466

Type of spiritual experience

Background

I have put in two balancing observations and a diagram. 

Keen to support science and the measurement of things in the physical Neumann constantly stressed the idea of empirical knowledge. 

But then he ocasionally lets slip in a very quiet way - because letting slip this sort of remark was like saying to the inquisition you quite liked the Upanishads - that he thought that most ideas come from the spiritual - and indeed even more precise 'God'.

He was such a logical man, with a vast memory, that in general empirical ideas were all he was ever going to get, but if we look at the design for the computer, it has three basic parts - Will, Memory and Reasoning - and this was inspired; so sometimes maybe things did get through when it counted.

Input/output = perceptions

Arithmetic logic unit - Perception plus reasoning

Memory = memory

Control unit = Will

A partial model of the mind

A description of the experience

"The Mathematician", in The Works of the Mind (1947) edited by R. B. Heywood, University of Chicago Press, Chicago

I think that it is a relatively good approximation to truth — which is much too complicated to allow anything but approximationsthat most mathematical ideas originate in empirics. But, once they are conceived, the subject begins to live a peculiar life of its own and is … governed by almost entirely aesthetical motivations.

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There probably is a God. Many things are easier to explain if there is than if there isn't. As quoted in John Von Neumann : The Scientific Genius Who Pioneered the Modern Computer, Game Theory, Nuclear Deterrence and Much More (1992) by Norman Macrae

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The source of the experience

Neumann, John von

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image