Intellectuals with interesting lives

Alan Turing: mathematician and philosopher; randy; gay; wore a full government issue gas mask as he cycled to work so as to avoid hayfever; had his house ransacked by the friend of a bloke he picked up—he reported the incident to the police but was himself arrested when they discovered he was gay (at a time when it was illegal); killed himself at the age of 41—he was found with a half-eaten cyanide coated apple, à la wicked witch.

John Maynard Keynes. I know only a tiny bit about Keynes. He’s most famous for being an economist. More fun, he did work on logical theories of probability (see Donald Gillies’ Philosophical Theories of Probability). Gay and randy, it would seem; he kept a sex diary, tallying activities every quarter under the three categories C, A, and W. C has the highest tally. Much debate over what the letters stand for.

Kurt Gödel: logician, mathematician, married a dancer; worried that his food was being poisoned… so he starved himself to death. Famous for his completeness proof of predicate logic, followed shortly by an incompleteness proof for Peano-like arithmetic (and—roughly—stuff which has induction in).

Richard Montague: logician, linguist, and philosopher; randy; gay; once had his house ransacked by a group of people he picked up (they tied him to a chair, but what followed wasn’t what he’d hoped for); murdered at the age of 41—strangled with a bath towel, after which his car was stolen, crashed, and set on fire. The killers were never found.

Simone de Beauvoir: philosopher, activist. Had an open relationship with Sartre: “… our relationship would endure as long as we did”, she wrote, “but it could not make up entirely for the fleeting riches to be had from encounters with different people.” They decided to be polyamorous and told each other everything; sometimes she shared Sartre’s women.

Viktor Tausk: “On the morning of July 3 1919 after Helene Deutsch had stopped Tausk’s treatment, Freud had demanded it, and after a complicated ménage à trois with Sigmund Freud and Lou Andreas-Salomé, Tausk committed suicide.”  Though a colleague has disputed this claim, as fun as it sounds.



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