Wittgenstein’s Lectures on the Foundations of Mathematics Edited by Cora Diamond

Wittgenstein’s Lectures on the Foundations of Mathematics, Cambridge, 1939, Edited by Cora Diamond

Wittgenstein: What a mathematician gives you is a model which can then be used for certain purposes.

What is the relationship between trying to solve it and solving it? How would it be intelligible to say, “He looked for it and then found it”? Isn’t it absurd to say that?

Turing: Is it not at all absurd. It is like “He looked for a white lion” or “a white animal between a lion and a horse”.

Wittgenstein: But it is not like that. The very point of this discussion is to see the great difference…Have you found a white animal if you’ve drawn it? Could I draw the construction of the heptagon before I find it?

Turing: One could explain how to recognize the construction of the heptagon.

Wittgenstein: Yes, but that is very different from the description of a white lion. In the case of the white lion you can say what it will be like when you’ve found it. But not so in the case of the heptagon…The result of one’s search for the construction is that one finds that the question is meaningless.

Isn’t it queer–you look for something by drawing things. What the hell? You’re not looking for something.

June 12th, 2007 | Books, Quote, Rhetoric, Science | 2 comments

As She Climbed Across the Table

I knew my way to Alice. I knew where to find her. I walked across the campus that night writing a love plan in my head, a map across her body to follow later. It wouldn’t be long. She was working late hours in the particle accelerator, studying minute bodies, pushing them together in collisions of unusual force and cataloging the results. I knew I’d find her there. I could see the swell of the cyclotron on the scrubby, sun-bleached hill as I waked the path to its tucked-away entrance. I was minutes away.

Unlike the physicists, my workday was over. My department couldn’t pretend it was on the verge of something epochal. When the sun set we freed our graduate students to scatter to movie theatres, bowling alleys, pizza parlors. What hurry? We were studying local phenomena, recent affairs. The physicists were describing the beginning, so they rushed to describe it or bring about the end.

As She Climbed Across the Table by Jonathan Lethem

May 22nd, 2007 | Quote, Science | No comments