Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Mon Jul 7 19:42:08 MDT 2003

Thanks very much, Les, for your mathematical comments. My primary interest
as a student was not in mathematics but more in certain sorts of logical
systems, particularly as applied to problems of social organisation (I think
I did have a slight effect, but what you gain on the swings you lose again
on the roundabouts). And I had this idea I wanted to give this stuff about
"dialectics" some real meat.

Building socialism, eh. I am very aware that socialism needs mathematicians,
but, of course, you do need to give them a well formulated problem, not

One day in the 1970s, I attended a public lecture at Christ's College,
Christchurch, New Zealand, and a mathematician explained to me that you
could devise a set of equations such that, at the end of the reasoning, zero
= a non-zero number. I do not remember the details, but it made me a little
skeptical about mathematics and number theory. After all, it is supposed to
be that 0=0 and if you start to say 0=2 then you've got a problem. My father
was a reasonably good mathematician in an engineering sense, but he got
irritated trying to teach me stuff, he saw me more as an artistic mother's

So anyway, I did not get anywhere spectacular with mathematics, in fact I
occasionally wagged maths classes, I have been a bungler with women, and all
that stuff still remains to be worked out in the future if I get the
opportunity, which I might not. But my alma mater wasn't so bad, you know,
Rutherford came from there. So anyway my mathematical ideas have to be
developed yet, I wanted to make a new start in 1991 but I just do not seem
to be so good in hitting it off with mathematicians for some reason, and
muck around in Wittgensteinian-type conundrums often, asteroidally. Other
thing is, you cannot just do everything in life you want, you got to
prioritise, and meanwhile you have to deal with the world out there and your
own emotions about it, which can be a problem at times. And I don't really
believe in an emotionalist politics.

I am just thinking now among many other things about Quine's essay on
"Empirical Content", same book, which makes some good points. There's people
like Quine and Putnam who represent the best standards of philosophy in
America, and when the world is filled with inane political utterances I
retreat back into philosophy.

Please keep providing your insights, logic is an important tool for our kind
of politics, and we need lots of logical and mathematical people on our
side, never mind the religious justification for imperialist wars, which is
a distraction.


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