19 ideas
8623 | Proof reveals the interdependence of truths, as well as showing their certainty [Euclid, by Frege] |
Full Idea: Euclid gives proofs of many things which anyone would concede to him without question. ...The aim of proof is not merely to place the truth of a proposition beyond doubt, but also to afford us insight into the dependence of truths upon one another. | |
From: report of Euclid (Elements of Geometry [c.290 BCE]) by Gottlob Frege - Grundlagen der Arithmetik (Foundations) §02 | |
A reaction: This connects nicely with Shoemaker's view of analysis (Idea 8559), which I will adopt as my general view. I've always thought of philosophy as the aspiration to wisdom through the cartography of concepts. |
13907 | If you pick an arbitrary triangle, things proved of it are true of all triangles [Euclid, by Lemmon] |
Full Idea: Euclid begins proofs about all triangles with 'let ABC be a triangle', but ABC is not a proper name. It names an arbitrarily selected triangle, and if that has a property, then we can conclude that all triangles have the property. | |
From: report of Euclid (Elements of Geometry [c.290 BCE]) by E.J. Lemmon - Beginning Logic 3.2 | |
A reaction: Lemmon adds the proviso that there must be no hidden assumptions about the triangle we have selected. You must generalise the properties too. Pick a triangle, any triangle, say one with three angles of 60 degrees; now generalise from it. |
8250 | So-called 'free logic' operates without existence assumptions [Meinong, by George/Van Evra] |
Full Idea: Meinong has recently been credited with inspiring 'free logic': a logic without existence assumptions. | |
From: report of Alexius Meinong (The Theory of Objects [1904]) by George / Van Evra - The Rise of Modern Logic 8 | |
A reaction: This would appear to be a bold escape from the quandries concerning the existential implications of quantifiers. I immediately find it very appealing. It seems to spell disaster for the Quinean program of deducing ontology from language. |
6297 | Euclid's geometry is synthetic, but Descartes produced an analytic version of it [Euclid, by Resnik] |
Full Idea: Euclid's geometry is a synthetic geometry; Descartes supplied an analytic version of Euclid's geometry, and we now have analytic versions of the early non-Euclidean geometries. | |
From: report of Euclid (Elements of Geometry [c.290 BCE]) by Michael D. Resnik - Maths as a Science of Patterns One.4 | |
A reaction: I take it that the original Euclidean axioms were observations about the nature of space, but Descartes turned them into a set of pure interlocking definitions which could still function if space ceased to exist. |
9603 | An assumption that there is a largest prime leads to a contradiction [Euclid, by Brown,JR] |
Full Idea: Assume a largest prime, then multiply the primes together and add one. The new number isn't prime, because we assumed a largest prime; but it can't be divided by a prime, because the remainder is one. So only a larger prime could divide it. Contradiction. | |
From: report of Euclid (Elements of Geometry [c.290 BCE]) by James Robert Brown - Philosophy of Mathematics Ch.1 | |
A reaction: Not only a very elegant mathematical argument, but a model for how much modern logic proceeds, by assuming that the proposition is false, and then deducing a contradiction from it. |
9894 | A unit is that according to which each existing thing is said to be one [Euclid] |
Full Idea: A unit is that according to which each existing thing is said to be one. | |
From: Euclid (Elements of Geometry [c.290 BCE], 7 Def 1) | |
A reaction: See Frege's 'Grundlagen' §29-44 for a sustained critique of this. Frege is good, but there must be something right about the Euclid idea. If I count stone, paper and scissors as three, each must first qualify to be counted as one. Psychology creeps in. |
8738 | Postulate 2 says a line can be extended continuously [Euclid, by Shapiro] |
Full Idea: Euclid's Postulate 2 says the geometer can 'produce a finite straight line continuously in a straight line'. | |
From: report of Euclid (Elements of Geometry [c.290 BCE]) by Stewart Shapiro - Thinking About Mathematics 4.2 | |
A reaction: The point being that this takes infinity for granted, especially if you start counting how many points there are on the line. The Einstein idea that it might eventually come round and hit you on the back of the head would have charmed Euclid. |
22278 | Euclid relied on obvious properties in diagrams, as well as on his axioms [Potter on Euclid] |
Full Idea: Euclid's axioms were insufficient to derive all the theorems of geometry: at various points in his proofs he appealed to properties that are obvious from the diagrams but do not follow from the stated axioms. | |
From: comment on Euclid (Elements of Geometry [c.290 BCE]) by Michael Potter - The Rise of Analytic Philosophy 1879-1930 03 'aim' | |
A reaction: I suppose if the axioms of a system are based on self-evidence, this would licence an appeal to self-evidence elsewhere in the system. Only pedants insist on writing down what is obvious to everyone! |
8673 | Euclid's parallel postulate defines unique non-intersecting parallel lines [Euclid, by Friend] |
Full Idea: Euclid's fifth 'parallel' postulate says if there is an infinite straight line and a point, then there is only one straight line through the point which won't intersect the first line. This axiom is independent of Euclid's first four (agreed) axioms. | |
From: report of Euclid (Elements of Geometry [c.290 BCE]) by Michèle Friend - Introducing the Philosophy of Mathematics 2.2 | |
A reaction: This postulate was challenged in the nineteenth century, which was a major landmark in the development of modern relativist views of knowledge. |
10250 | Euclid needs a principle of continuity, saying some lines must intersect [Shapiro on Euclid] |
Full Idea: Euclid gives no principle of continuity, which would sanction an inference that if a line goes from the outside of a circle to the inside of circle, then it must intersect the circle at some point. | |
From: comment on Euclid (Elements of Geometry [c.290 BCE]) by Stewart Shapiro - Philosophy of Mathematics 6.1 n2 | |
A reaction: Cantor and Dedekind began to contemplate discontinuous lines. |
10302 | Euclid says we can 'join' two points, but Hilbert says the straight line 'exists' [Euclid, by Bernays] |
Full Idea: Euclid postulates: One can join two points by a straight line; Hilbert states the axiom: Given any two points, there exists a straight line on which both are situated. | |
From: report of Euclid (Elements of Geometry [c.290 BCE]) by Paul Bernays - On Platonism in Mathematics p.259 |
14157 | Modern geometries only accept various parts of the Euclid propositions [Russell on Euclid] |
Full Idea: In descriptive geometry the first 26 propositions of Euclid hold. In projective geometry the 1st, 7th, 16th and 17th require modification (as a straight line is not a closed series). Those after 26 depend on the postulate of parallels, so aren't assumed. | |
From: comment on Euclid (Elements of Geometry [c.290 BCE]) by Bertrand Russell - The Principles of Mathematics §388 |
1600 | Euclid's common notions or axioms are what we must have if we are to learn anything at all [Euclid, by Roochnik] |
Full Idea: The best known example of Euclid's 'common notions' is "If equals are subtracted from equals the remainders are equal". These can be called axioms, and are what "the man who is to learn anything whatever must have". | |
From: report of Euclid (Elements of Geometry [c.290 BCE], 72a17) by David Roochnik - The Tragedy of Reason p.149 |
8719 | There can be impossible and contradictory objects, if they can have properties [Meinong, by Friend] |
Full Idea: Meinong (and Priest) leave room for impossible objects (like a mountain made entirely of gold), and even contradictory objects (such as a round square). This would have a property, of 'being a contradictory object'. | |
From: report of Alexius Meinong (The Theory of Objects [1904]) by Michèle Friend - Introducing the Philosophy of Mathematics 6.8 | |
A reaction: This view is only possible with a rather lax view of properties. Personally I don't take 'being a pencil' to be a property of a pencil. It might be safer to just say that 'round squares' are possible linguistic subjects of predication. |
8971 | There are objects of which it is true that there are no such objects [Meinong] |
Full Idea: There are objects of which it is true that there are no such objects. | |
From: Alexius Meinong (The Theory of Objects [1904]), quoted by Peter van Inwagen - Existence,Ontological Commitment and Fictions p.131 | |
A reaction: Van Inwagen say this idea is 'infamous', but Meinong is undergoing a revival, and commitment to non-existent objects may be the best explanation of some ways of talking. |
8718 | Meinong says an object need not exist, but must only have properties [Meinong, by Friend] |
Full Idea: Meinong distinguished between 'existing objects' and 'subsisting objects', and being an object does not imply existence, but only 'having properties'. | |
From: report of Alexius Meinong (The Theory of Objects [1904]) by Michèle Friend - Introducing the Philosophy of Mathematics 6.8 | |
A reaction: Meinong is treated as a joke (thanks to Russell), but this is good. "Father Christmas does not exist, but he has a red coat". He'd better have some sort of existy aspect if he is going to have a property. So he's 'an object'. 'Insubstantial'? |
7756 | Meinong said all objects of thought (even self-contradictions) have some sort of being [Meinong, by Lycan] |
Full Idea: Meinong insisted (à la Anselm) that any possible object of thought - even a self-contradictory one - has being of a sort even though only a few such things are so lucky as to exist in reality as well. | |
From: report of Alexius Meinong (The Theory of Objects [1904]) by William Lycan - Philosophy of Language Ch.1 | |
A reaction: ['This idea gave Russell fits' says Lycan]. In the English-speaking world this is virtually the only idea for which Meinong is remembered. Russell (Idea 5409) was happy for some things to merely 'subsist' as well as others which could 'exist'. |
15781 | The objects of knowledge are far more numerous than objects which exist [Meinong] |
Full Idea: The totality of what exists, including what has existed and what will exist, is infinitely small in comparison with the totality of Objects of knowledge. | |
From: Alexius Meinong (The Theory of Objects [1904]), quoted by William Lycan - The Trouble with Possible Worlds 01 | |
A reaction: This is rather profound, but the word 'object' doesn't help. I would say 'What we know concerns far more than what merely exists'. |
20919 | How can things without weight compose weight? [Alexander] |
Full Idea: How could weight come about out of things composed of what is without weight? | |
From: Alexander (On Aristotle's Metaphysics Book 2 [c.200], p.36.21-27) | |
A reaction: This is obviously why Epicurus added weight to the features of atoms. Alexander seems unaware of this move. |