[Wittrs] Fwd from a Fuller School list: mentions Wittgenstein (RFM)

  • From: kirby urner <kirby.urner@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 4 Mar 2010 12:32:09 -0800

Here's some recent dialog regarding philosophy, with a mention of
Wittgenstein's Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics about
half way through.

Under discussion is this sculpture in a Zen garden (imaginary OK)
we're calling the "concentric hierarchy" of nested polyhedra (similar
to pictures Kepler used to draw, associated with Neo-Platonism).

This extends my "tetrahedral mensuration" theme on this list,
with links to such anchoring essays as this one to Math Forum:


My thesis in brief is that too many philosophers are missing out
on one of the big stories of our day, because of the fragmented
(narrowly splintered) nature of the discipline.  Those of us in the
Wittgenstein camp have an opportunity to dream weave it together
more, and not just because of the H.S.M. Coxeter connection,
although that's also part of the story.

Related reading:



--- In synergeo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "John Brawley" <jb@...> wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "coyote_starship" <kirby.urner@...>
> > --- In synergeo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "John Brawley" <jb@> wrote:
> >>

> >> Eh? I don't know; I wasn't thinking about volumes, only about a
> >> common-length building strut (a royal cubit, maybe?)
> >

> > Right, you're off on a tangent, like Zubek would be, wanting to
> > take "concentric hierarchy" in new directions perhaps -- and you're
> > free to, with whatever marketing. What I wouldn't intend, however,
> > is for Zubek to get any *exclusive* right to call his thing
> > "concentric hierarchy", as if now that he had some new meaning, we
> > had to relinquish our old one.

> Yeah, makes good sense; enough confusion (too much, actually) exists around
> already. I got no need fer label-stealing nor bandwagon relabelling....

> >> Kirby thinks it's a "cubist" desire (but I of course disagree: I can very
> >> make many non-cubistic items with equal-length sticks...) or that it
> >> doesn't matter, and to him (even maybe probably in general...), that's so.
> >

> > I'm just saying most standard textbook treatments, all by cubists,
> > do just what you say: make some edge length be the predominant
> > feature and calibrate all shapes to have exactly that edge. Your
> > idea is quite traditional.

> I agree.
> I don't agree it's 'cubist' (implies prejudice; exclusionaries; elitism,
> etc.)


It's cubist in the sense that all these textbook treatments with some
fixed edge, will use a cube of that edge as their unit. You didn't
specify if that's what you'd do, but it's what they all do.

I'm not saying they're elitist in doing that. On the contrary, this
is what their grandfathers did, and they're just plying their trade.
The inertia of tradition is what's at work here, not snobbery.

And of course because of the edge fixation, they'll miss the whole
number ratios that reduce the intimidation factor enough to make
polyhedra a Montessori school topic, something suitable for Sesame
Street. A billion dollar industry of life supportive animations
(mathcasts) is just sitting there, raring to be fired up. Computer
graphics galore.

They won't use the tetrahedron as unit because it never occurs to
them to do so. After some thousands of years, Bucky Fuller comes
along and realizes there's a doorway here, into a whole new way of

His thinking is a manifestation of the Zeitgeist in the sense that
a lot of thinkers are coming up with more 60-degree coordination in
their investigations. That's inherent in both sphere packing and
organic chemistry, where whole armies were working.

Alexander Graham Bell goes gaga for the octet truss.

That's a really interesting story but unimaginative Bucky detractors
just wanna use it to say "see, Bucky wasn't all that original, gets
patents for stuff others thought of".

That's to sidestep the whole issue of 60-degree (vs. 90-degree)
coordination in nature, which is something they *don't* want to talk
about (not explicitly), as that points back to the tetrahedron again,
which has become an annoyance if you're trying to command the loyalty
of your newest recruits to cubism -- some may be harboring doubts,
thanks to all that subversive stuff on the Internet.

In moving to the tetrahedron as a unit of volume and model of 3rd
powering, Fuller was distilling that trend to its essence, putting a
fine point on it, making it philosophically articulate and enduring.

In a parallel Universe, philosophers sit up and pay attention,
because here's one of those breakthroughs that only happens very
infrequently, like a super nova. The journals fill with commentary
and students pick up on the buzz. Lots of positive futurism
attaches: talk about world game, the global grid, mass-produced
shelter solutions, remotely deployed high tech communities, a design
science decade... all very exciting, and all linked to timeless
mathematical truths that would've made Neo-Platonists dance for joy.

Do you think Kepler would have turned his back on a volume 6 rhombic
dodecahedron, with inscribed cube and octahedron of volumes 3 and 4?

In our Universe, philosophers are jealously guarding an academic
turf centered around musty-dusty pencil logic, not even machine
executable (there's a snooty attitude to any logic the runs on a
machine, even though this is what Leibniz dreamed about). They
have Wittgenstein's Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics,
which opens the space for innovative language games like Fuller's
to easily slip in. But they mostly don't read that.

Philosophy is not into anything "big picture" these days and besides,
Dr. Fuller's many PhDs in the humanities were simply given to him.
All the more reason to keep his Synergetics completely unmentioned,
uncited. The ancient links between philosophy and polyhedra have all
been stigmatized as superstitious (very conveniently).

> Not all 'traditional' ideas are progress-killers, tho'; some just retain
> commonsensibility over time (do unto others; don' spit into a headwind;
> square wheels are stupid, etc.) (*g*)

Of course. I go out of my way to reassure cubists that their cubism
isn't under attack, just because it's not the only alternative. But
cubists are inherently insecure (because of their allegiance to an
unstable hexahedron?) and don't want any "alternatives" in the
picture, don't want to share the road. There's a kind of religious
orthodoxy in this attitude, a dogmatism. Cubists aren't used to
confronting this aspect of themselves, just as they're not used to
being called cubists.

> >> I just like having a stack of identical sticks to build things with.
> >> Keeps the production line uncomplicated: no fractions, no conversion
> >> factors, etc.
> >> It also produces a common relationship between all things built with
> >> them;
> >> one can convert anything into anything else by starting with an edge, if
> >> all edges are identical.
> >

> > Sounds very workman-like and practical. It's not what we've got in
> > our zen garden (as a pre-frequency sculpture), but it's something
> > one might have instead. Here's another TV channel with its own
> > concentric hierarchy. Just punch the remote, and there ye be,
> > breaking bread with some other ethnicity (presuming you have bread
> > and break it).

> Well, I've always been a Handyman. Workman-like has its place. (Fix the
> plumbing in the Zen Garden when it breaks down; keep the weeds down on the
> palace grounds; spay the bitch 'cause her pups are overrunning the place...
> ...practical things that those living in rarefied atmospheres don't wanna
> deal with, y'know?


I notice you swiped Zen Garden for yourself, and you're welcome to.
You've got that different sculpture. You're welcome to have both
in fact, if you'd like a virtual copy of ours (no degradation twixt
original and copy in the digital age).

We do have a volume 2. The five cubes in the pentagonal dodecahedron
inscribed in the rhombic tricontahedron of volume 5 each have that.


> >> But it's no biggie; just a preference; I'm not on any CH crusade....
> >> (*g*)
> >

> > Me neither. The TV channel with the rhombic dodecahedron of volume 6,
> > vis-a-vis the tetrahedron of volume 1 etc., is still accessible.
> > Sharing the dial with lots of cubists is just a fact of life as far
> > as I'm concerned. There's more of them than there are of us.

> Always will be, unless your voice gets louder than theirs....
> Fact of life. (Same reason most of America hates science, turthful
> reasoning, and intelligence.)


I'm OK with our under-ground comic book culture, our SE Belmont with
Duke's, a headquarters for XO-based computing. I've been hoping to
get to some larger viewing audience through tele-media, but I'm not
sure what that will look like. I helped make Lindsey Walker famous
with that amateur Youtube video shot at Circadia (Burn Out), but
she's only tangentially into polyhedra in promoting Martian Math
through Laughing Horse, organizing a Free Skool event at Flipside.

However, I'm still hoping Portland, Oregon isn't the only subculture
where Synergetics is making lots of waves. I don't insist all our
sister cities be in North America, or that they be cities, or even
sisters, but I do hope they'll stay true to the music and not mess
up the channel with too many meanings of CH (Switzerland is OK, if
you're wanting to play nations).



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