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Communications Norbert Wiener Biography Some Revisions to the Review

Communications Norbert Wiener Biography Some Revisions to the Review Communications Communication s Norbert Wiener Biography — Some Revisions to the Review Professor Masani has pointed out that my review of his biography of Norbert Weiner (Kybernetes, Vol. 20 No. 1, 1991, pp. 11-16) contains a number of statements that are erroneous or misleading. I was unfair to Wiener's father in saying that he encouraged some mildly anti- Semitic attitudes. His failure to reveal Norbert's origins can perhaps be seen as encouragement by default. But there is no record of any anti-Semitic expression by the father. An unfortunate impression may be given by my use of the word "belligerent" in connection with Norbert Wiener's attempts to enlist during the First World War. His determination to play a part in both World Wars stemmed from deep feelings about the issues, and from his awareness that others were dying while he had the chance to live in safety and comfort. These feelings are consistent with Wiener's philosophical and religious viewpoints as discussed in Chapters 20 and 21 of the biography. I was totally wrong in stating that Norbert Wiener was head of the mathematics department of MIT. I think my misconception about this stemmed from first hearing about Wiener in the 1950s, when the title "Professor of X " in a British university usually implied that the person was the Professor of X, and automatically head of department. I should of course have realised my error as I read the biography. My reference to Wiener's membership of the mathematics department was not meant to suggest special privileges, but merely to dissociate him from my comments about the ramshackle Building 20, which was not his primary location. I am grateful to Professor Masani for correcting me on these points. In my review I referred to the existence of trivial typographical errors, and the author has invited me to list these and to add them to the eight-item errata list he has supplied. In fact, most of the errors are so trivial that when I found them I did not note them individually as there did not seem to be any point in troubling readers with a list. In subsequent thumbing through the pages I have located only two that are extra to Professor Masani's list, and the ten-item list is: Errata: Norbert Wiener: 1894-1964 p. 18, footnote For: whithin Read: within p. 26, 8th line up For: reverence Read: reference p. 122, 16th line up For: become Read: became p. 185, line 8 For: intensitive Read: insensitive p. 215, line 12 For: involutary Read: involuntary p. 271, line 2 For: (b) Read: (p) p. 329, lines 2 and 3 For: Menscius Read: Mencius Photograph captions p. 212 For: Weisner Read: Wiesner p. 304 For: Tores Read: Torres p. 364 For: Weisner Read: Wiesner Alex M. Andrew Viable Systems, Devon, UK http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Kybernetes Emerald Publishing

Communications Norbert Wiener Biography Some Revisions to the Review

Kybernetes , Volume 20 (5): 1 – May 1, 1991

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0368-492X
DOI
10.1108/eb005897
Publisher site
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Abstract

Communications Communication s Norbert Wiener Biography — Some Revisions to the Review Professor Masani has pointed out that my review of his biography of Norbert Weiner (Kybernetes, Vol. 20 No. 1, 1991, pp. 11-16) contains a number of statements that are erroneous or misleading. I was unfair to Wiener's father in saying that he encouraged some mildly anti- Semitic attitudes. His failure to reveal Norbert's origins can perhaps be seen as encouragement by default. But there is no record of any anti-Semitic expression by the father. An unfortunate impression may be given by my use of the word "belligerent" in connection with Norbert Wiener's attempts to enlist during the First World War. His determination to play a part in both World Wars stemmed from deep feelings about the issues, and from his awareness that others were dying while he had the chance to live in safety and comfort. These feelings are consistent with Wiener's philosophical and religious viewpoints as discussed in Chapters 20 and 21 of the biography. I was totally wrong in stating that Norbert Wiener was head of the mathematics department of MIT. I think my misconception about this stemmed from first hearing about Wiener in the 1950s, when the title "Professor of X " in a British university usually implied that the person was the Professor of X, and automatically head of department. I should of course have realised my error as I read the biography. My reference to Wiener's membership of the mathematics department was not meant to suggest special privileges, but merely to dissociate him from my comments about the ramshackle Building 20, which was not his primary location. I am grateful to Professor Masani for correcting me on these points. In my review I referred to the existence of trivial typographical errors, and the author has invited me to list these and to add them to the eight-item errata list he has supplied. In fact, most of the errors are so trivial that when I found them I did not note them individually as there did not seem to be any point in troubling readers with a list. In subsequent thumbing through the pages I have located only two that are extra to Professor Masani's list, and the ten-item list is: Errata: Norbert Wiener: 1894-1964 p. 18, footnote For: whithin Read: within p. 26, 8th line up For: reverence Read: reference p. 122, 16th line up For: become Read: became p. 185, line 8 For: intensitive Read: insensitive p. 215, line 12 For: involutary Read: involuntary p. 271, line 2 For: (b) Read: (p) p. 329, lines 2 and 3 For: Menscius Read: Mencius Photograph captions p. 212 For: Weisner Read: Wiesner p. 304 For: Tores Read: Torres p. 364 For: Weisner Read: Wiesner Alex M. Andrew Viable Systems, Devon, UK

Journal

KybernetesEmerald Publishing

Published: May 1, 1991

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