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David Berlinski

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David Berlinski

David Berlinski
Born 1942 (age 73–74)
New York City, USA
Residence Paris, France
Occupation Academic philosopher (PhD in philosophy from Princeton University)

David Berlinski (born 1942) is an American philosopher, educator, and author. Berlinski is a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. A critic of the theory of evolution, Berlinski refuses to theorize about the origins of life, and describes himself as a secular Jew. [1] He has written on philosophy, mathematics and a variety of fictional works. His daughter, Claire Berlinski, is a well known journalist.


  • Early life 1
  • Academic career 2
  • Author 3
    • Mathematics and biology 3.1
      • Collaborations 3.1.1
    • Fiction 3.2
  • Evolution 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Berlinski was born in the United States in 1942 to German-born pianist, musicologist and choir conductor, and his mother was Sina Berlinski (née Goldfein), a pianist, piano teacher and voice coach. Both were born and raised in Leipzig where they studied at the Conservatory, before fleeing to Paris where they were married and undertook further studies. German was David Berlinski's first spoken language. He received his PhD in philosophy from Princeton University.[2]

Academic career

Berlinski was a research assistant in molecular biology at Columbia University,[3] and was a research fellow at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria and the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques (IHES) in France. He has taught philosophy, mathematics, and English at Stanford University, Rutgers University, The City University of New York, the University of Washington, the University of Puget Sound, San Jose State University, the University of Santa Clara, the University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, and taught mathematics at the Université de Paris. [4] [5]


Mathematics and biology

Berlinski has written works on systems analysis, the history of differential topology, analytic philosophy, and the philosophy of mathematics. Berlinski has authored books for the general public on mathematics and the history of mathematics. These include A Tour of the Calculus (1995) on calculus, The Advent of the Algorithm (2000) on algorithms, Newton's Gift (2000) on Isaac Newton, and Infinite Ascent: A Short History of Mathematics (2005). Another book, The Secrets of the Vaulted Sky (2003), compares astrological and evolutionary accounts of human behavior. In Black Mischief (1988), Berlinski wrote "Our paper became a monograph. When we had completed the details, we rewrote everything so that no one could tell how we came upon our ideas or why. This is the standard in mathematics."[6]

Berlinski's books have received mixed reviews; Newton's Gift and The Advent of the Algorithm were criticized by MathSciNet for containing historical and mathematical inaccuracies[7][8] while the Mathematical Association of America review of A Tour of the Calculus by Fernando Q. Gouvêa recommended that professors have students read the book to appreciate the overarching historical and philosophical picture of calculus.[9]


Berlinski, along with fellow Discovery Institute associates Michael Behe and William A. Dembski, tutored Ann Coulter on science and evolution for her book Godless: The Church of Liberalism (2006).[10]

Berlinski was a longtime friend of the late Marcel-Paul Schützenberger (1920–1996), with whom he collaborated on an unfinished and unpublished mathematically based manuscript that he described as being "devoted to the Darwinian theory of evolution."[11] Berlinski dedicated The Advent of the Algorithm to Schützenberger.


He is the author of several detective novels starring private investigator Aaron Asherfeld: A Clean Sweep (1993), Less Than Meets the Eye (1994) and The Body Shop (1996), and a number of shorter works of fiction and non-fiction.


A critic of the theory of evolution. Berlinski is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, a Seattle-based think tank that is a hub of the intelligent design movement. Berlinski shares the movement's disbelief in the evidence for evolution, but does not openly avow intelligent design and describes his relationship with the idea as: "warm but distant. It's the same attitude that I display in public toward my ex-wives."[1] Berlinski is a scathing critic of evolution, yet, "Unlike his colleagues at the Discovery Institute,...[he] refuses to theorize about the origin of life."[1]

Berlinski appeared in the 2008 film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, in which he told interviewer Ben Stein that "Darwinism is not a sufficient condition for a phenomenon like Nazism but I think it's certainly a necessary one."[12] He also says:

In his 1996 article, The Deniable Darwin, published in Commentary, Berlinski says he is skeptical of evolution for a number of reasons, including the appearance "at once" of an astonishing number of novel biological structures in the Cambrian explosion, the lack of major transitional fossils transitional sequences, the lack of recent significant evolution in sharks, the evolution of the eye, and the failure of evolutionary biology to explain various phenomena ranging from the sexual cannibalism of redback spiders to why women are not born with a tail.[13] The article was described by historian of science Ronald L. Numbers as "a version of ID theory."

Berlinski is a secular Jew.[14] Berlinski's views towards criticism of religious belief can be found in his book The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions (2008).[14] In summary, he asserts that some skeptical arguments against religious belief based on scientific evidence misrepresent what the science is actually saying, that an objective morality requires a religious foundation, that mathematical theories attempting to bring together quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity amount to pseudoscience because of their lack of empirical verifiability, and he expresses doubt towards the Darwinian variation of evolutionary theory.


Non-fiction books
  • Berlinksi, David (1968). The Well-tempered Wittgenstein (Thesis (PhD)). Princeton, NJ:  
  • —— (1976). On Systems Analysis: An Essay Concerning the Limitations of Some Mathematical Methods in the Social, Political, and Biological Sciences. Cambridge, MA:  
  • —— (1976). Philosophy: The Cutting Edge. Port Washington, NY: Alfred Publishing Co.  
  • —— (1978). "Adverse Notes on Systems Theory". In  
  • —— (1986). Black Mischief: The Mechanics of Modern Science (1st ed.). New York:
    • —— (1988). Black Mischief: Language, Life, Logic, Luck (2nd ed.). Boston:  
  • —— (1986). "The Language of Life". In Casti, John L.; Karlqvist, Anders. Complexity, Language, and Life: Mathematical Approaches. Biomathematics 16. Berlin; New York:  
  • ——, ed. (1989). A Guide to the Compositions of Herman Berlinski. New York: Herman Berlinski Collection (  
  • —— (1990). The Rise of Differential Topology. Boston, MA:  
  • —— (1995). A Tour of the Calculus (1st ed.). New York:  
  • —— (1997). "Prague Interlude". In O'Reilly, Sean; O'Reilly, James; O'Reilly, Tim. Travelers' Tales: The Road Within: True Stories of Transformation (1st ed.). San Francisco, CA: Travelers' Tales, Inc.  
  • —— (1998). "Gödel's Question". In  
  • —— (1999). "Joseph Maier: A Personal Reminiscence". In Marcus, Judith T. Surviving the Twentieth Century: Social Philosophy from the Frankfurt School to the Columbia Faculty Seminars. New Brunswick, NJ:  
  • —— (2000). The Advent of the Algorithm: The Idea that Rules the World. New York:
    • —— (2001) [Originally published 2000 with different subtitle]. The Advent of the Algorithm: The 300-Year Journey from an Idea to the Computer (1st Harvest ed.). San Diego, CA: Harcourt.  
  • —— (2000). Newton's Gift: How Sir Isaac Newton Unlocked the System of the World. New York:  
  • —— (2003). "The Mathematics of Matter and the Mathematics of Mind". In Maler, Oded;  
  • —— (2003). The Secrets of the Vaulted Sky: Astrology and the Art of Prediction (1st U.S. ed.). Orlando, FL: Harcourt.  
  • —— (2005). Infinite Ascent: A Short History of Mathematics. Modern Library Chronicles (1st ed.). New York:  
  • —— (2006). "Two Fables by Jorge Luis Borges". In Dembski, William A. Darwin's Nemesis: Phillip Johnson and the Intelligent Design Movement. Foreword by  
  • —— (2008).
    • —— (2009). The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions (2nd ed.). New York: Basic Books.  
  • —— (2009).  
  • —— (2011). One, Two, Three: Absolutely Elementary Mathematics (1st ed.). New York: Pantheon Books.  
  • —— (2013). The King of Infinite Space: Euclid and His Elements. New York:  
Fiction books
  • Berlinski, David (1993). A Clean Sweep (1st ed.). New York:  
  • —— (1994). Less Than Meets the Eye: An Aaron Asherfeld Mystery (1st ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press.  
  • —— (1996). The Body Shop: An Aaron Asherfeld Mystery (1st ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press.  
Articles in peer-reviewed journals
  • Berlinski, David; Gallin, Daniel (May 1969). "Quine's Definition of Logical Truth".  
  • —— (September 1970). "Systems Analysis".  
  • —— (June 15, 1972). "Philosophical Aspects of Molecular Biology".  
  • —— (December 1974). by Michael Ruse"The Philosophy of Biology".  
  • —— (December 1976). by A. J. Ayer"Russell and Moore: The Analytical Heritage".  
  • —— (March 1977). by H. A. Simon"The Sciences of the Artificial by John D. Steinbruner; The Cybernetic Theory of Decision". American Political Science Review (Book review) (Washington, D.C.: Cambridge University Press; American Political Science Association) 71 (1): 424–428.  
  • —— (1990). "Knowing, Knowledge, Known". Logique et Analyse (Brussels: Nationaal Centrum voor Navorsingen in de Logica) 33 (129-130): 3–20.  
Articles in journals and newspapers
  • Berlinski, David (August 1975). "Mathematical models of the world".   Part 2 and part 3 published in Synthese, 36 (3) (November 1977), and 37 (2) (February 1978), respectively (OCLC 226993726).
  • —— (1978). "Catastrophe theory and its applications: A critical review".  
  • —— (October–December 1980). "Kurt Gödel (1906-1978)".  
  • —— (Winter 1989). "Vienna".  
  • —— (January 1996). "The Soul of Man Under Physics" (PDF).  
  • —— (June 1996). "The Deniable Darwin". Commentary (New York: American Jewish Committee).  
  • —— (November 2, 1996). "Keeping an Eye on Evolution: Richard Dawkins, a relentless Darwinian spear carrier, trips over Mount Improbable".  
  • —— (December 2, 1996). "The End of Materialistic Science". Forbes ASAP (New York:  
  • —— (July–August 1997). "Ground Zero: A Review of The Pleasures of Counting, by TW Koerner".  
  • —— (February 1998). "Was There a Big Bang?" (PDF). Commentary (New York: American Jewish Committee).  
  • —— (April 2001). "What Brings a World into Being?". Commentary (New York: American Jewish Committee).  
  • —— (November 26, 2001). "Where Physics and Politics Meet".  
  • —— (February 18, 2002). "God, Man, and Physics". The Weekly Standard (Book review) (New York: News Corporation) 7 (22).  
  • —— (March 2002). "Einstein and Gödel".  
  • —— (March 18, 2002). "Lucky Jim". The Weekly Standard (Book review) (New York: News Corporation) 7 (26).  
  • —— (Fall 2002). "Inventing Numbers: How Mathematicians Filled the Inky Void" (PDF).  
  • —— (December 2002). "Has Darwin Met His Match?". Commentary (New York: American Jewish Committee).  
  • —— (April 2003). "A Scientific Scandal". Commentary (New York: American Jewish Committee).  
  • —— (November 2004). "On the Origins of the Mind" (PDF). Commentary (New York: American Jewish Committee).  
  • —— (March 9, 2005). "There are valid criticisms of evolution".  
  • —— (April 1, 2005). "Academic Extinction".  
  • —— (February 2006). "On the Origins of Life". Commentary (New York: American Jewish Committee).  
  • —— (August 29, 2007). "Inside the Mathematical Mind".  
  • —— (May 5, 2008). "The Dang Thing".  
  • —— (April 18, 2008). "Connecting Hitler and Darwin".  
  • —— (April 28, 2008). "The Scientific Embrace of Atheism".  
  • —— (April 2008) [Published 2008 in chapter 8 of The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions as "Our Inner Ape, a Darling, and the Human Mind"]. "The God of the Gaps". Commentary (New York: Commentary Inc.).  


  1. ^ a b c Engber, Daniel (April 15, 2008). "A Crank's Progress".  
  2. ^ Berlinski 1968
  3. ^ Berlinski 1972
  4. ^ "David Berlinski, Senior Fellow - CSC".  
  5. ^ Phy-Olsen 2010, p. 73
  6. ^ Berlinski 1988, p. 167
  7. ^ "MR: Search Publications database".   Database search for MR1815707: Newton's Gift by Berlinski. Subscription required.
  8. ^ "MR: Search Publications database". MathSciNet. Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society.  Database search for MR1766416: The Advent of the Algorithm by Berlinski. Subscription required.
  9. ^ Gouvêa, Fernando Q. (January 1, 1996). "A Tour of the Calculus".  
  10. ^ Coulter 2007, p. 319: "I couldn't have written about evolution without the generous tutoring of Michael Behe, David Berlinski, and William Dembski, all of whom are fabulous at translating complex ideas, unlike liberal arts types, who constantly force me to the dictionary to relearn the meaning of quotidian."
  11. ^   Synopsis: "A memorial page for Marcel-Paul Schützenberger, with contributions from Herbert Wilf, Dominique Foata, David Berlinski, Dominique Perrin, Richard Askey and Moshé Flato."
  12. ^ a b Frankowski, Nathan (Director) (April 18, 2008).  
  13. ^ Berlinski 1996b
  14. ^ a b Berlinski 2009a, p. xiii


  • Phy-Olsen, Allene (2010). Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design. Historical Guides to Controversial Issues in America. Santa Barbara, CA:  

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