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Monday, June 7, 2010

Inspirational Combinatorics

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 AM

According to the Mathematical Association of America this morning, one purpose of the upcoming June/July issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society  is

"…to stress the inspirational role of combinatorics…."

Here is another contribution along those lines—

Eidetic Variation

from page 244 of
From Combinatorics to Philosophy: The Legacy of  G.-C. Rota,
hardcover, published by Springer on August 4, 2009

(Edited by Ernesto Damiani, Ottavio D'Antona, Vincenzo Marra, and Fabrizio Palombi)

"Rota's Philosophical Insights," by Massimo Mugnai—

"… In other words, 'objectivism' is the attitude [that tries] to render a particular aspect absolute and dominant over the others; it is a kind of narrow-mindedness attempting to reduce to only one the multiple layers which constitute what we call 'reality.' According to Rota, this narrow-mindedness limits in an essential way even of [sic ] the most basic facts of our cognitive activity, as, for example, the understanding of a simple declarative sentence: 'So objectivism is the error we [make when we] persist in believing that we can understand what a declarative sentence means without a possible thematization of this declarative sentence in one of [an] endless variety of possible contexts' (Rota, 1991*, p. 155). Rota here implicitly refers to what, amongst phenomenologists is known as eidetic variation, i.e. the change of perspective, imposed by experience or performed voluntarily, from which to look at things, facts or sentences of the world. A typical example, proposed by Heidegger, in Sein und Zeit  (1927) and repeated many times by Rota, is that of the hammer."

* Rota, G.-C. (1991), The End of Objectivity: The Legacy of Phenomenology. Lectures at MIT, Cambridge, MA, MIT Mathematics Department

The example of the hammer appears also on yesterday's online New York Times  front page—

http://www.log24.com/log/pix10A/100606-Touchstones.jpg

Related material:

From The Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy

Eidetic variation — an alternative expression for eidetic reduction

Eidetic reduction

Husserl's term for an intuitive act toward an essence or universal, in contrast to an empirical intuition or perception. He also called this act an essential intuition, eidetic intuition, or eidetic variation. In Greek, eideo  means “to see” and what is seen is an eidos  (Platonic Form), that is, the common characteristic of a number of entities or regularities in experience. For Plato, eidos  means what is seen by the eye of the soul and is identical with essence. Husserl also called this act “ideation,” for ideo  is synonymous with eideo  and also means “to see” in Greek. Correspondingly, idea  is identical to eidos.

An example of eidos— Plato's diamond (from the Meno )—

http://www.log24.com/log/pix10A/100607-PlatoDiamond.gif

For examples of variation of this eidos, see the diamond theorem.
See also Blockheads (8/22/08).

Related poetic remarks— The Trials of Device.

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