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On Tue, Sep 27, 2011 at 6:09 PM, MorphemeAddict <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> On Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 12:37 PM, Patrick Dunn <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> > On Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 10:34 AM, Jörg Rhiemeier <[log in to unmask]
> > >wrote:
> >
> > > =====================================
> > > >
> > > > Finally, I read Plato as part of my BA degree very many
> > > > years ago; I was not persuaded by his theory of Forms
> > > > ("Ideas") then and have not been since. I cannot go along
> > > > with any notion that there is some 'perfect Form of English'
> > > > or 'perfect Form of Lojban' or indeed any other language. My
> > > > approach is unashamedly empirical.
> > >
> > > Same to me.  How can eternal, unchangeable Forms account for
> > > a universe which is characterized by variation, evolution and
> > > creativity?  One would have to assume an infinity of Forms
> > > for everything that could ever be, most of which are never
> > > ever manifested in the physical world.  To me, that is nonsense.
> > >
> > >
> > That would be nonsense, or at least pretty unlikely, but that's not the
> sum
> > total of Platonism.  In fact, Platonic forms may be more or less roughly
> > equivalent to universal laws, which even you empiricists admit do not
> > change
> > (at least, not since the establishment of the universe).  The laws of
> > geometry do not change, and we can imagine that an alien with no contact
> > with human culture would very likely develop something quite a bit like
> the
> > Pythagorean theorem all on its own.  Yet the universe is not, on the
> whole,
> > a plane, and no triangle within the physical universe is a perfect right
> > triangle, so how can it be that two beings separated by lightyears could
> > acquire the same thought?  If the Pyth. th. is an approximation based on
> > empirical evidence, then how is it that two people separated in time and
> > space could make the same exactly approximation?
> >
>
> Because that's part of your initial assumption: "we can imagine that an
> alien with no contact
> with human culture would very likely develop something quite a bit like the
> Pythagorean theorem all on its own."
>
> stevo
>
> Do you regard it as possible, then, that an alien orbiting another planet
in another solar system might conclude, correctly, that for any right
triangle in a plane  x^3 + y^3 = z^3?  Or does x^2 + y^2 = z^2 describe
every single right (planar) triangle?   If you believe the former, then you
claim something intuitively and logically -- ahem -- unusual.  If you
believe the latter, then you (or someone, somewhere) needs to account for
how it can be that we can make universally true claims about ideal objects.

When we do make contact with extraterrestrial intelligence (or they with
us), I imagine our very first conversations will consist of x^2 + y^2 = z^2,
and 3.14159 . . . so that we can judge whether or not they know this.  If
our friends from Gliese say back to us, No, it's not 3.14159, it's 4 1/3, I
imagine we will think them not very smart.  (Of course, correcting for base
and so on, just for you Mensa members who will insist on that)



-- 
Second Person, a chapbook of poetry by Patrick Dunn, is now available for
pre-order from Finishing Line
Press<http://www.finishinglinepress.com/NewReleasesandForthcomingTitles.htm>.