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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Scholarship in 1961…

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Before Derrida's writings on Plato and on inscription

A remark by the late William Harris:

"Scholarship has many dark ages, and they do not all fall
in the safe confines of remote antiquity."

For more about Harris, see the previous post.

Discussing an approach to solving a geometrical problem 
from section 86e of the Meno , Harris wrote that

"… this is a very important element of method and purpose,
one which must be taken with great seriousness and respect.
In fact it is as good an example of the master describing for us
his method as Plato ever gives us. Tricked by the appearance
of brevity and unwilling to follow through Plato's thought on
the road to Euclid, we have garbled or passed over a unique
piece of philosophical information."

Harris, though not a geometer, was an admirable man.
His remark on the Meno  method is itself worthy of respect.

In memory of Harris, Plato, and pre-Derrida scholarship, here
are some pages from 1961 on the problem Harris discussed.

A pair of figures from the 1961 pages indicates how one view of the
section 86e problem (at right below) resembles the better-known 
demonstration earlier in the Meno  of how to construct
a square of area 2 —

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