In November 1619, I had a dream involving the Seventh Ode of Ausonius,
which begins Quod vitae sectabor iter [“What road in life shall I follow”].
René Descartes • Experimenta
- As I write this on a machine that does its logic 64-bits at a time, I am finding it hard to imagine where the “ascent” to logical graphs with increasing numbers of variables will take us that the engineers haven’t already gone. Could you enlighten us on where you think this is headed?
But now it’s come to directions and things we must decide.
Here’s a passage from Robert Musil I often use as a guide.
It is understandable that an engineer should be completely absorbed in his speciality, instead of pouring himself out into the freedom and vastness of the world of thought, even though his machines are being sent off to the ends of the earth; for he no more needs to be capable of applying to his own personal soul what is daring and new in the soul of his subject than a machine is in fact capable of applying to itself the differential calculus on which it is based. The same thing cannot, however, be said about mathematics; for here we have the new method of thought, pure intellect, the very well-spring of the times, the fons et origo of an unfathomable transformation.
Just so I won’t be misunderstood, there is nothing axiomatic about Musil’s differentiation of mathematics from engineering, much less human souls from machines. For my part I have oscillated over time between taking his distinctions at face value and challenging them with more integral projects of my own. With that in mind the question becomes: What degrees of reflection on practice are essential to the roles of mathematicians and engineers, respectively?
To be continued …
- Logic Syllabus
- Truth Tables
- Zeroth Order Logic
- Minimal Negation Operators
- Cactus Rules
- Cactus Graphs on Three Variables
- Propositional Forms on Three Variables