Thursday, June 3, 2021

930: The First Principles....

 When we focus on the period from 3200 BC to 1000 BC we see how the Babylonians were well capable of recognizing pattern.


They even must have known the mathematical principle behind the calculation of Pythagorean triples,


but there isn't a single clay tablet that elaborates on this principle. Apparently, the Babylonians were too pragmatic.


If you look at the period of 600 to 300 BC we get a different picture. If you would have any doubt about the evolution of the brain of homo sapiens,


you certainly may assume that a brain of 600 BC didn't differ from a current brain. I always have looked at literary works 


as proof of the fact that the psychology of man hasn't changed since Antiquity or before that time. The themes of classic tragedies and poetry are the same as those of Shakespeare.


We still sing "I love you......I miss you......" like so many have done through the ages. Has the brain reached its evolutionary endpoint?


That being the case, let's have a look at how man became interested in principles. I've got two names for you: Thales of Miletus (603 BC) and Dakṣiputra Pāṇini (350 BC), an Indian scholar.


Their ideas show that mankind was ready for the big questions, the questions of what is behind everything. They were done with all kinds of religious and mythological explanations.


Especially Thales, he assumed that the basic matter of which the world was made of is water, one single substance. It is not such an absurd idea.


Water can assume three appearances, solid in ice, liquid in water, and gas-like in steam. Besides, everything needs water to live, man, animals and plants.


With his principle, he could explain earthquakes. He assumed that the earth floated on water and earthquakes were caused by the waves of that water. 


The single matter material world idea was born and it never has left us since.


Contrary to Thales Panini was not interested in the world of nature but in the world of language. He wondered about the principles that were behind language. Language mirrored reality, the world.


The central question of Panini was how a finite set of grammatical rules made an infinite number of linguistic expressions possible, that is, describe an infinite number of real-world situations.


Panini's thesis was that language was based on the principle of recursivity. This means: you describe a state of affairs with a sentence and then use a sentence within the sentence for further description.


Example: the man is a criminal  ---> the man, who beats the dog, is a criminal --> the man, who beats the dog, that is barking, is a criminal ---> ad infinitum.


Or, if you look at the Escher behind me, the hand that draws the hand, draws the hand, that draws the hand, that draws the hand.......


Panini had many more brilliant ideas that reached Europe at the end of the 19th century and had a great influence on the development of linguistics.


Ferdinand de Saussure (1857 – 1913) was a Swiss linguist, semiotician and philosopher. Frits Staal (1930–2012), a Berkley professor of philosophy and Asian Studies, discussed the impact of Indian ideas on language in Europe. 


After outlining the various aspects of the contact, Staal notes that the idea of formal rules in language, proposed by Ferdinand de Saussure in 1894 


and developed by Noam Chomsky in 1957, has origins in the European exposure to the formal rules of Pāṇinian grammar.


What I want to conclude is, that we are standing on the shoulders of these pioneers and discoverers of principles behind patterns.


Thank you for your attention....

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Rens Bod: "Een Wereld vol Patronen".  2019


The Discussion


[13:19] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Thank you Herman

[13:19] herman Bergson: by the way...Saussure and Staal were experts in Sanskrit...the language Panini wrote a grammar some 3900 rules

[13:20] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): do we use all those rules today?

[13:21] herman Bergson: Panini also wrote about semiotics and the analysis of words....a theory still studied today

[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah

[13:21] herman Bergson: Not the rules odf Sanskrit of course...but n general we do the same....use the rules of grammar

[13:22] herman Bergson: Chomsky believed that there could exist a universal grammatica that applied to all languages

[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): today we even try learn computers grammatics with AI but thats another story I guess

[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): speech recognition

[13:23] herman Bergson: Computer languages are like natural languages with their own grammer and syntax

[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa programming languages

[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): that i know a few

[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): Lua is newest addition

[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and these indeed also follow certain rules

[13:24] herman Bergson: Lear tne syntax and grammar of PASCAL and you can program :-))

[13:24] herman Bergson: Here we use LSL

[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): interesting is i see just a bit of Pascal in Lua

[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i use it for Roblox

[13:25] herman Bergson: What strikes me is the idea of Thales.....

[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): the fact that a function ends with end and not } seem familiar from there but was forever since i used pascal

[13:25] herman Bergson: the idea that everything is composed of one single kind of matter....

[13:25] herman Bergson: as I said....this idea has never left us....

[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): keeps rollong on in new forms

[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but the main idea is same

[13:26] herman Bergson: A principle that has guided our thinking about matter through the ages

[13:26] CB Axel: The single kind of matter just keeps getting smaller.

[13:26] herman Bergson: Suppose he never had thought of it??? :-)

[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok

[13:27] CB Axel: Someone else would have eventually.

[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i guess

[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): there need to be some system

[13:27] CB Axel: Someone else might have thought about it before he did but wasn't listened to .

[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes CB....what this single type of particle is doesn't matter for the principle that everything is built of this kind of particle

[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but would ithad loked the same?

[13:28] herman Bergson: Leibniz had his monads for instance

[13:28] herman Bergson: Democritus his atoms

[13:29] herman Bergson: But in those days it was just a speculation

[13:29] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it was a revolution in thinking

[13:29] herman Bergson: Is it a tendency of the brain to simplify as much ass possible, that gives us such ideas?

[13:30] herman Bergson: It certainly was Beertje....

[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah

[13:30] herman Bergson: No god, no mythology....just water...period :-)

[13:30] herman Bergson: You almost would say...that was the beginning of secularization ^_^

[13:31] herman Bergson: a small seed tho :-))

[13:31] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): why took these ideas so long to develop?

[13:32] herman Bergson: that is relative Beertje....if you take into account that homo sapiens was a 35000 years old already....

[13:33] theo Velde is online.

[13:33] herman Bergson: from the moment Thales cam to his idea till now is 2700 years

[13:33] herman Bergson: did de development of knowledge took long or did we master a lot in a short time

[13:34] herman Bergson: To your right is that picture of a calender page Beertje...

[13:35] herman Bergson: on the wall....

[13:35] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes I can see it

[13:35] herman Bergson: that shows what we are on the timeline of history

[13:35] herman Bergson: just a blip in the night ^_^

[13:36] herman Bergson: There I must think of George Carlin.....

[13:36] oola Neruda: considering living conditions back then and how people were spread out... all trying, daily, to survive... lack of rapid transportation... I'd say it took a long time...

[13:36] oola Neruda: so many variants

[13:36] herman Bergson: He is surprised about the arrogance of man.....we gonna safe the earth.....we?

[13:36] herman Bergson: The earth has saved itself for 4 billion years so far :-))

[13:37] CB Axel: We're destroying the earth not saving it.

[13:37] herman Bergson: we are not destroying the earth CB....we are only destroying ourselves....

[13:37] CB Axel: Good point.

[13:37] CB Axel: The earth will survive us.

[13:37] oola Neruda: there are reasons for tribes... thus local language

[13:38] herman Bergson: and after that the earth will continue its rounds around the sun for another billlion years till the  sun dies

[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well destroying the rainforest and its entire ecosystem for profit i call destroying the earth

[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): AND ourselves

[13:38] oola Neruda: agree

[13:39] herman Bergson: I agree...we are not destroying the planet,,,no way....we are destroying parts of it....

[13:39] herman Bergson: but who cares..?

[13:39] herman Bergson: The dinosaurs were destroyed too

[13:39] CB Axel: We are destroying life as we know it.

[13:39] oola Neruda: destroying ourselves in the long run

[13:39] herman Bergson: the earth doesn't care

[13:39] herman Bergson: it continues its existence

[13:40] herman Bergson: we are a flee in its fur

[13:40] herman Bergson: or what do you call that insect

[13:40] CB Axel: Once man destroys itself some other species will flourish.

[13:40] oola Neruda: flea

[13:40] herman Bergson: thank you oola ^_^

[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well

[13:41] herman Bergson: Yes CB.....

[13:41] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): we are polluting mars now too

[13:41] CB Axel: And it probably will be an insect. :)

[13:41] herman Bergson: Eventually this might become the planet of the anpes :-))

[13:41] herman Bergson: apes

[13:42] herman Bergson: yeah...silly idea Beertje :-))

[13:42] herman Bergson: The moon is already a junkyard :-))

[13:42] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): no not a silly's reality

[13:42] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): we zijn rommelkonten

[13:42] herman Bergson: lol

[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

[13:43] CB Axel: lol

[13:43] herman Bergson: I wonder if google translate can handle that word Beertje :-)

[13:43] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it does as the reactions of CB and Bejiita

[13:44] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): :))

[13:44] herman Bergson: doesnt

[13:44] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): you tried?

[13:44] herman Bergson: yes

[13:44] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): lol

[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hahah

[13:44] CB Axel: I think it gets the general idea.

[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i can probably program it to do that

[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): or no i cant, 1 i don't understand the word and 2 i don't have access to google translates source code

[13:45] herman Bergson: I wouldn't know an english equivalent....

[13:45] herman Bergson: sloppy ass....:-)

[13:45] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): me either, that's why I said it in Dutch

[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hahah well it sounded something like that

[13:46] CB Axel: I think I'd just say that we're pigs. :)

[13:46] bergfrau Apfelbaum: or messy ass

[13:46] CB Axel: Or slobs

[13:46] herman Bergson: Anyway....this was again a nice piece of learnt a lot today, I see

[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well we can create  a mess

[13:46] bergfrau Apfelbaum: /oink

[13:46] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): rommelkonten is a bit friendlier

[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): lets not mess up the linguistix now

[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): either in spoken or programming language

[13:47] Marlena Rickettsi (marlenalilly): It took a lot of knowledge though to make any mess on Mars.  It was not easy.

[13:47] herman Bergson: I guess you should consult Panini on this and his analysis of compounds ....really interesting

[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): lets keep that part as tidy as possible for now

[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah

[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): at least need to chech the dude up further

[13:47] herman Bergson: That is true appreciation for the effort might be in place here ^_^

[13:48] Marlena Rickettsi (marlenalilly): :)

[13:48] CB Axel: I was thinking of you Dutchies yesterday.

[13:48] Marlena Rickettsi (marlenalilly): I loved learning about Panini.

[13:48] herman Bergson: Oh...Bejiita...careful...

[13:48] herman Bergson: DON"T google on Panini....what you get is hilarious

[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): what did you tink about them CB?

[13:48] herman Bergson: google on Panini indian scholar

[13:49] CB Axel: I saw a video of a person going across a bridge over the Kill van Kull in New York/New Jersey.

[13:49] oola Neruda: I was thinking of the parallels between living on mars.... and the stories about Captain Nemo....

[13:49] CB Axel: I know that kill means river. :)

[13:49] herman Bergson: You actually learned about Panini Marlena?!

[13:49] Marlena Rickettsi (marlenalilly): Well I had never heard of him before today.

[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): isnt Panni sonething u eat?

[13:49] herman Bergson: Did you study semiotics or Sanskrit?

[13:50] herman Bergson: ohhhhh....^_^

[13:50] Marlena Rickettsi (marlenalilly): It's better to know they exist, lol.

[13:50] Marlena Rickettsi (marlenalilly): I had known of the panini to eat already.

[13:50] CB Axel: Yeah, Bejiita. A panini is a toasted sandwich made in a press.

[13:50] herman Bergson: and a lot more CB :-)))

[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa yes! tghose i have eaten and theyre yummy!

[13:51] herman Bergson: I guess we are far enough off topic to conclude this lecture for today ^_^

[13:51] CB Axel: :)

[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well

[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

[13:51] herman Bergson: It is fun however,,,,but yet

[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I guess

[13:51] herman Bergson: Thank you all agin

[13:51] CB Axel: We have gone from linguistics to sandwiches. :)

[13:52] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.

[13:52] herman Bergson: Class dismissed....

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