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Lesson Plans

Re: Evidence

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
R. Moore (ronmoore)
Wed, 2 Jun 1999 18:14:44 -0700 (PDT)

Truth can be a puzzling thing. Bertrand Russell used to amuse and confuse
his friends by printing out pieces of paper on which the words "The
sentence on the other side of this sheet is false" appeared on one side
and "The sentence on the other side of this sheet is true" appeared on the
other. As you can readily see (go ahead, give it a try!) this pair of
sentences produces pardoxical results: If you assume a given sentence to
be true, it will say of itself (through the sentence on the opposite side)
that it is false, and vice versa. So, where are we? Actually this kind
of puzzle led to important results in set theory and mathematical logic,
and it teaches us to be careful about self-referring claims. Magritte's
pipe says of itself that it isn't what it is. But, in a way it isn't a
pipe, of course; it's only paint on paper. But, then again, paint can't
say anything about itself, can it? Magritte's painting leads us to wonder
about reference, languge-cum-art, the limits of language, truth and
falsity. I think it's very healthy to give the old mind a spin from time
to time!

On Wed, 2 Jun 1999, Joseph Augusta wrote:

> KP RS wrote:
> > Art by its very nature cannot tell the 'truth', I mean didn't didn't Magritte
> > say "this is not a pipe"?
> >
> Not very profound, is it? And when you think about someone going through all the
> time and effort to produce a painting of a pipe and then writing on it that it
> isn't a pipe--don't you find this a bit silly?
> To be fair to Magritte, he did rise above this foolishness to produce some
> excellent paintings demonstrating complicated visual conundrums touching upon
> issues under consideration by the leading physicists of the day.
> Best wishes,
> Joseph