Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Taking Note

I was just sitting down to look over the notes produced during an intensive discussion today with the ever-generous G Gollings and L Magee (more on this in a bit), when my son wandered over to have a look. I learned today, among other things, that L Magee and I have a similar style for capturing the logical (or, for that matter, associative) connections between ideas in our notes: we scatter words around the page, draw boxes around them, and then, as my son just noticed: “Oooo! Look at all those arrows!!!”

There is one key difference between our words, boxes and arrows, however: I have a tendency to double, triple, and quadruple the lines as the conversation returns to a point, such that more resonant concepts and relationships gradually come to inhabit a sort of layered cloud of increasingly dense and interweaving lines and half-sketched shapes, while the less well-travelled conversational paths remain in their original, more pristine form.

I also learned that LM is trying to understand what I am saying, by translating it into set theoretic notation – a discovery that elicits in me a certain combination of amusement and consternation. If anyone else feels this would be a step in the direction of greater clarity for me, I hereby appoint LM as the authorised translator of my work for such purposes… (Note that, while I have forbidden LM from commercialising this arrangement, LM may nevertheless require a small in-kind contribution in the form of ontology-matching services, to offset expenses…)

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3 responses to “Taking Note

  1. L Magee March 21, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    And yet I did struggle with composing self-reflexive sets (the set of all sets which are not members of themselves being something of a classical problem for at least naive set theory, which I, for one, am in no way beyond at this stage…). So this does point to some natural limits to the commensurability of NP’s notion of self-reflexive social theory and set theory. Hopefully your son’s drawings will illuminate this in ways that I clearly could not…

  2. orange. March 22, 2007 at 10:34 am

    According to our email conversation, I ve come to think the “male mind” (aka what is considered as such) may actually be the mathematical mind and may moreover provide a link between logic thinking and humour.

  3. N Pepperell March 23, 2007 at 8:55 am

    Your comment makes me wonder about whether other people will think, “why have they been having a backchannel conversation about the ‘male mind’?!” I suspect they’d never guess… ;-P

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