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Thursday, July 25, 2013

The lesson we gave in our home school, such as it was

You know things you do not know you know, just
as Plato told us through his mouthpiece, Socrates,
who died, remember, dribbling hemlock for telling

truths. So the risk is nothing new. Language,
before all, and so far as I know, this
is true of every language, is the same

as math. If you pick up a pebble, it
is only itself, first, and never a category
unless there is an observer; that is you.

You pick up another pebble. Once it has occurred
to you there are two things, thing one, thing
two, as Dr. Seuss told us, and they

are alike enough to have some equivalency,
you are doing arithmetic. 'One" plus "one,"
and then the idea "two" is introduced,

a great event in intellectual history,
as chronicled by Auel. So we have first
addition and subtraction, then multiple sets

of pebbles -- multiplication and division,
much later, but like the other, only
a little more abstract. A crow can do

this, enough to meet its needs. You like
a pea, so you look for another pea. Soon
enough, you know to go to the garden for

more peas. And a pea pod is parenthetical.
You are entering the realm of algebra, and a crow
can do that too. So it is with language.

A crow says to other crows, "Peas!" I have
seen them do it. There is a sentence implied;
"In this place there are peas." That is an algebraic

formula. "There are" is an operator; the subject
and object are operands. We pass along to others
the peas in our minds, so when they look they find

the peas we signified. This is portable;
that is, the same operation may be
performed on any like things, and also

to call some things unlike. Thus: A
equals B. Or: A equals not B.
"This apple is ripe." "no, it is not." That

is "assertion" and "refutation." The next step
is the exciting part, and is what we go
to colleges to learn. Before there were colleges

we learned it by song and dance, and by the telling
and retelling of old stories round the tribal
fires. Ready, now? Here you go:

A equals B, B equals C, therefore
A equals C. This is assertion by inference.
And: A equals B, B equals not C,

therefore A equals not C. This is refutation
by inference. Both are arguments, and both are,
together, all a university can tell you,

or, I must sadly report, tell you to misuse.
Thus: in business school, or law school, you
may be taught to subtly substitute a pebble

for a pea as one of your operands. Example:
"This is a new car. This blonde is with
this car in this image. Buy this car, and you

will get a blonde." And now you know, if you
will extrapolate from all I have told you today,
why your generation may not survive.


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