Chrestomathy

“4.026 The meaning of simple signs (words) must be explained to us if we are to understand them. With propositions, however, we make ourselves understood.
4.027 It belongs to the essence of the proposition that it should be able to communicate a new sense to us.
4.0312 The possibility of propositions is based on the principle that objects have signs as their representatives. My fundamental idea is that the ‘logical constant’ are not representatives; that there can be no representatives of the logic of facts.”
—L.Wittgenstein, ‘Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus’, Routledge & Kegan Paul, second edition of new translation, 1971, pp.42/3 (first published 1921)

“What students believe about an idea is an empirically discoverable fact, and is not logically deducible from the form of the proposition that expresses it.”
—Laurillard (1993) ‘Rethinking University Education’ p 188

“…the epitome of explanation in at least some highly prestigious sciences is not the identification of regularity (by Mill’s method or whatever other means), but rather the identification of elements which, through their systematic interaction, produce a structure which is the phenomenon at issue.”
—Antaki, C (1994) ‘Explaining and Arguing’ p16

“Man looks at his world through transparent templets which he creates and then attempts to fit over the realities of which the world is composed.”
—Kelly, G. A. (1955) “The Psychology of Personal Constructs”, New York: Norton, pp.8-9

“Hypotheses are nets: only he who casts will catch.”
—Novalis (quoted in ‘The Logic of Scientific Discovery’ Popper, K., 1959)

Vladimir : When you seek you hear.
Estragon : You do.
Vladimir : That prevents you from finding.
Estragon : It does.
Vladimir : That prevents you from thinking.
Estragon : You think all the same.
Vladimir : No, no, impossible.
Estragon : That's the idea, let's contradict each other.
—'Waiting for Godot' Act II - Beckett

“In mathematics, the largest degree of self-evidence is usually not to be found quite at the beginning, but at some later-point; hence the early deductions, until they reach this point, give reasons rather for believing the premises because true consequences follow from them, than for believing the consequences because they follow from the premises.”
—A.N.Whitehead and B.Russell, ‘Principia Mathematica’ (Cambridge: University Press, 1910), I, p. v.

“Socrates [to Phaedrus]: … The story is that in the region of Naucratis in Egypt there dwelt one of the old gods of the country, the god to whom the bird called Ibis is sacred, his own name being Theuth. He it was that invented number and calculation, geometry and astronomy, not to speak of draughts and dice, and above all writing. Now the king of the whole country at that time was Thamus, who dwelt in the great city of Upper Egypt which the Greeks call Egyptian Thebes, while Thamus they call Ammon. To him came Theuth, and revealed his arts, saying that they ought to be passed on to the Egyptians in general. Thamus asked what was the use of them all, and when Theuth explained, he condemned what he thought the bad points and praised what he thought the good. On each art, we are told, Thamus had plenty of views both for and against; it would take too long to give them in detail. But when it came to writing Theuth said, ‘Here, O king, is a branch of learning that will make the people of Egypt wiser and improve their memories; my discovery provides a recipe for memory and wisdom.’ But the king answered and said, ‘O man full of arts, to one it is given to create the things of art, and to another to judge what measure of harm and of profit they have for those that shall employ them. And so it is that you, by reasons of your tender regard for the writing that is your offspring, have declared the very opposite of its true effect. If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks. What you have discovered is a recipe not for memory, but for reminder. And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by telling them of many things without teaching them you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they know nothing, and as men filled, not with wisdom but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their fellows.'”
—Plato (c. 429-347 B.C.E), “Phaedrus” (c. 360 B.C.E.), 274c-275 b, R(eginald) Hackforth, transl., 1952

“All human knowledge thus begins with intuitions, proceeds thence to concepts, and ends with ideas.”
—Kant

“It seems that the human mind has first to construct forms independently before we can find them in things. Kepler’s marvelous achievement is a particularly fine example of the truth that knowledge cannot spring from experience alone, but only from the comparison of the inventions of the mind with observed fact.”
—Albert Einstein, “Johannes Kepler” in Ideas and Opinions (New York : Crown, 1954), 266

“Men discern situations with particular vocabularies and it is in terms of some delinated vocabularly that they anticipate the consequences of conduct”.
—Mills, C.W. (1940) “Situated Actions and the Vocabularies of Motive”, American Sociological Review, 5:904-13

“A person’s processes are psychologically channelized by the way in which he anticipates events.”
—Kelly, G. A. (1955) “The Psychology of Personal Constructs”, New York: Norton, p.46

"Prospero :                                  ...I pitied thee,
	Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour
	One thing or another : when thou didst not, savage,
	Know thine own meaning, but wouldst gobble like
	A thing most brutish, I endowed thy purposes
	With words that made them known...
Caliban : You taught me language; and my profit on't
	Is, I know how to curse: the red plague rid you,
	For learning me your language!"
—W.S 'The Tempest' Act I scene ii

“There is no such thing as conversation. It is an illusion. There are only intersecting monologues, that is all.”
—’There is No Conversation’ Ch1 by Rebecca-West

“If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information with the fewest words?…”
—Richard Feynman., et al., ‘The Feynman Lectures on Physics, vol. 1, 1-2

“Indeed, the necessity of Communication by Language, brings Men to an agreement in the signification of common Words, within some common latitude, that may serve for ordinary Conversation; and so a Man cannot be supposed wholly ignorant of the Ideas, which are annexed to words by common Use, in a Language familiar to him. But common Use, being but a very uncertain Rule, which reduces itself at last to the Ideas of particular Men, proves often but a very variable Standard.”
—from Locke’s ‘Essay on Human Understanding’ (1690:III.xi.25)

“…the archive, the machine of discursive meaning, is at bottom a Weltspeil, a worldplay, a ludic cosmos ever engendering new active interpretations (discourses as practices) of life and society.”
—J.M.Merquior ‘Foucault’ (1985) Fontana Press, p 83

“The truly ‘creative’ aspect of language resides not in its ‘infinite generative capacity’ but in cycles of production and comprehension mediated by a mind capable of reflecting upon the multiple meanings attachable to an utterance, meanings that need not have been present in the thought that gave rise to an utterance but which became available through self-comprehension (or deep interpretation of another’s utterance) and can lead to a new thought to be expressed and re-interpreted, and so on indefinitely”
—H S Straight (quoted in Dennett, 1991)

"For out of olde feldes, as man seith,
Cometh al this newe corn, froe yeer to yere;
And out of olde bokes, in good feith,
Cometh al this newe science that men lere."
—Geoffrey Chaucer (1340? - 1400) 'The Parlement of Foules'

“There was a passionate craving amongst all the intellectuals of [the] age for a means to express their new concepts. They longed for philosophy, for synthesis. The erstwhile happiness of pure withdrawal each into his own discipline was now felt to be inadequate. Here and there a scholar broke through the barriers of his speciality and tried to advance into the terrain of universality. Some dreamed of a new alphabet, a new language of symbols through which they could formulate and exchange their new intellectual experiences.”
—H.Hesse ‘The Glass Bead Game,’ Jonathan Cape, 1970, p37 (first published 1943)

“Twenty-five years ago I tried to bring home the point to a group of physics students in Vienna by beginning a lecture with the following instructions: ‘Take pencil and paper; carefully observe, and write down what you have observed!’ They asked, of course, what I wanted them to observe. Clearly the instruction, ‘Observe!’ is absurd. (It is not even idiomatic, unless the object of the transitive verb can be taken as understood.) Observation is always selective. It needs a chosen object, a definite task, an interest, a point of view, a problem. And its description presupposes a descriptive language, with property words; it presupposes similarity and classification, which in its turn presupposes interests, points of view, and problems.”
—Karl Popper (1963)

“It is the theory that decides what we can observe.”
—Albert Einstein quoted in Werner Heisenberg, ‘Physics and Beyond : Encounters and Conversations’, 1971, p77

“Without some guiding orientation, the observer’s attention will ‘scatter’, and his account is likely to become either a desperate attempt to get everything in, or a haphazard selection of the more dramatic items of the behaviour. What damages research is not the absence of a truly ‘open’ mind at its outset, but the false presentation of classroom data as ‘objective’ data constituting an independent test of the theory hidden within them. What observations will be selected as significant, and how they will be interpreted, will vary according to the researcher’s perspective. Unless that perspective is made available for criticism and discussion, it is impossible to evaluate the usefulness of the research.”
—Furlong and Edwards, 1977

“One cannot do theoretical research without having the courage to put forward a theory, and, therefore, an elementary model as a guide for subsequent discourse; all theoretical research must however have the courage to specify its own contradictions, and should make them obvious where they are not apparent.”
—Eco ‘A Theory of Semiotics’ (1976) Indiana University Press, p 7

Vladimir : In the meantime let us try and converse calmly, since we 
                are incapable of keeping silent.
Estragon : You're right, we're inexhaustible.
Vladimir : It's so we won't think.
Estragon : We have that excuse.
Vladimir : It's so we won't hear.
Estragon : We have our reasons.
Vladimir : All the dead voices.
—'Waiting for Godot' Act II - Beckett

“Corruption : The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike from those who think differently”
—Nietzsche from ‘The Dawn’

‘What do you consider the largest map that would really be useful?’ ‘About six inches to the mile?’ ‘Only six inches!’ exclaims Mein Herr, ‘We very soon got to six yards to the mile. And then came
the grandest idea of all. We actually made a map of the country on the scale of a mile to a mile!’ ‘Have you used it much?’ I enquired. ‘It has never been spread out much yet’, said Mein Herr: ‘The farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country and shut out the sunlight! So we now use the country itself as its own map and I assure you it does nearly as well.’
—from ‘Sylvie and Bruno Concluded’ (1893) by Lewis Carroll

“Words are the daughters of the earth, …things are the sons of heaven.”
—Dr Johnson

"                    Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still."
—T.S.Eliot 'Burnt Norton from 'Four Quartets'

“These ruled barriers along which the traced words, run, march, halt, walk, stumble at doutbful points, stumble up again in comparative safety…”
—J.J.’F.W.’ p 114

“You don’t need brains to be brainy.”
—Margaret Boden

“A video or audiotape, a written record, do more than just reinforce memory; they freeze it, and in imposing a fixed, linear sequence upon it, they simultaneously preserve it and prevent it from evolving and transforming itself with time, just as much as the rigid exoskeleton of an insect or crustacean at the same time defends and constrains its owner.”
—S. Rose ‘The Making of Memory’ p.61

“To put it all the more plumbsily. The speechform is a mere sorrogate.”
—J.J. ‘F.W.’ p 149

“[Mass circulation printed texts create] a sense of closure not only in literary works but also in analytic, philosophical and scientific works. With print came the catechism and the ‘textbook’, less discursive and less disputatious than most previous presentations… Catechisms and textbooks presented ‘facts’… memorizable, flat statements… the memorable statements or oral cultures tended…. to [present] not ‘facts’; but rather reflections.”
—Walter Ong

‘Thou hast frighted the word out of his right sense..”
—Benedict in Act 5, Scene II of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

[Tractatus 4.5] : “The general form of the proposition is : this is how things are… That is the kind of proposition that one repeats to oneself countless times. One thinks that one is tracing the outline of a thing’s nature over and over again, and one is merely tracing the frame through which we look at it.”
—Wittgenstein

Vladimir : We're in no danger of ever thinking any more.
Estragon : Then what are we complaining about?
Vladimir : Thinking is not the worst.
Estragon : Perhaps not. But at least there's that.
Vladimir : That what?
Estragon : That's the idea, let's ask each other questions.
—'Waiting for Godot' Act II - Beckett

[1835, 36] “There are critics who, being entirely without perception for anything that is individual, try to look at everything from a universal point of view, and in order to be as universal as possible climb as high as possible until they really see nothing but a wide horizon, just because their standpoint is too elevated.”
—Soren Kierkegaard (from his journals)

“— I foresee, Mr Deasy said, that you will not remain here very long at this work. You were not born to be a teacher, I think. Perhaps I am wrong.
— A learner rather, Stephen said.
And here what will you learn more?
Mr Deasy shook his head.
— Who knows? he said. To learn one must be humble. But life is the great teacher.”
—’Ulysses’ by J.J. p.41

“There must be discussion to show how experience is to be interpreted….Very few facts are able to tell their own story without comments to bring out their meaning”
—J.S.Mill

“In his teaching, the wise man guides his students but does not pull them along; he urges them to go forward and does not suppress them; he opens the way but does not take them to the place… If his students are encouraged to think for themselves, we may call the man a good teacher.”
—Confucius, c.500 B.C

“A man, viewed as a behaviour system, is quite simple. The apparent complexity of his behaviour over time is largely a reflection of the complexity of the environment in which he finds himself.”
—Simon (1969)

“There are often simple processes underlying the complexities of nature but evolution has usually overlaid them with baroque modifications and additions. To see through to the underlying simplicity, which in most instances evolved rather early, is often extremely difficult.”
—Crick (1979)

“Organisation is not mechanical… it is organic and unique to each individual business or institution. For we now know that structure, to be effective and sound, must follow strategy. Structure is a means for attaining the objectives and goals of an institution.”
—Drucker (1974)

“It appears that by our very nature we are classifying creatures, that is, we categorise our observations based on patterns of similarity.”
—Langenheim (1987)

‘Very well,’ said this gentleman, briskly smiling, and folding his arms. ‘That’s a horse. Now , let me ask you girls and boys, would you paper a room with representations of horses?’ After a pause, one half of the children cried in chorus, ‘Yes Sir!’ Upon which the other half, seeing in the gentleman’s face that ‘Yes’ was wrong, cried out in chorus, ‘No Sir! – as the custom is in these examinations. ‘Of course, no. Why wouldn’t you?’
—from ‘Hard Times’ by Charles Dickens (1894) quoted in ‘Observing Classroom Language’ Stubbs et al., (1980).

"I should say 'With what porpoise?'
Don't you mean 'purpose'? said Alice.
I mean what I say, the Mock Turtle replied 
in an offended tone."
—Lewis Carroll, 'Alice in Wonderland'

“I take this defect among them to have arisen from their ignorance; by not having hitherto reduced politicks into a science … They are expressed in the most plain simple terms, wherein those people are not mercurial enough to discover above one interpretation.”
—Jonathan Swift, ‘Gulliver’s Travels : A Voyage to Brodbingnag’

“…all expressions in communicative speech function as indications. They serve to the hearer as signs of the ‘thoughts’ of the speaker. i.e. of his sense-giving inner experiences, as well as of other inner experiences which are part of his communicative intentions.”
—Husserl 1900-1901 translated as ‘Logical Investigations'(1970)

A temetetlen arvasagban,                
mint teli szemettelepen,
a hulladek kozt kapirgalva
szemelgetem az eletem.
—Pilinszky Janos 'Mire Megjossz'-bol

[92,1836/7] “It is the small things that irritate and so embitter one’s life. I can gladly fight against a storm so that the blood bursts from my veins; but the wind that blows a grain of dust into my eye can annoy me to such an extent that I stamp with rage.”
—from the journals of Soren Kierkegaard

[111, 1837] “Whilst I inveigh against others for not studying sources but compendiums – my life is a compendium – whilst I can win every argument I am bothered by a ghost of my own imagining which I cannot argue away.”
—from the journals of Soren Kierkegaard

“[465] Resurrection of the spirit. On the political sickbed a people is usually rejuvenated and rediscovers its spirit, after having gradually lost it in seeking and preserving power. Culture owes its peak to politically weak ages.”
—Nietzsche from ‘Human, all-too-human.’

‘Ineluctable modality of the risible’
—quote adapted from the ‘Proteus’ chapter of J.J’s ‘Ulysses’

[87, Dec 24th, 1836] “The square is the parody of the circle, all life, all thought etc, is a circle, but the petrification of life ends in crystalline forms which are never circular…”
—Soren Kierkegaard’s Journals

[90, 1836] “…Every time I want to say something someone else says it at the very same moment. It is as though I were a double-thinker and my other I always forestalled me, or else while I stand and talk everyone believes that it is someone else…”
—Soren Kierkegaard’s Journals

“One great part of every human existence is passed in a state which cannot be rendered sensible by the use of wideawake language, cutanddry grammar and goahead plot.”
—J.J

“The rest of us, not chosen for enlightenment, left on the outside of Earth, at the mercy of a Gravity we have only begun to learn how to detect and measure, must go on blundering inside our front-brain faith in Kute Korrespondences . . . kicking endlessly amongst the plastic trivia, finding in each Deeper Significance and trying to string them all together like terms in a powers series hoping to zero in on the tremendous and secret Function whose name, like the permuted names of God, cannot be spoken.”
—Thomas R. Pynchon!

“Consciousness generally has only been developed under the pressure of the necessity of communication.”
—Nietzsche, Life knowledge and Self-consciousness.

“Before my teacher came to me, I did not know that I am. I lived in a world that was a no-world. I cannot hope to describe that conscious yet unconscious time of nothingness…”
—Helen Keller, ‘The world I live in.’

“Philospophy, if it cannot answer so many questions as we could wish, has at least the power of asking questions which increase the interest of the world and show the strangeness and wonder lying just below the surface even in the commonest things of daily life.”
—Bertrand Russell

“The riddle does not exist. If a question can be put at all, then it can also be answered.”
—Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1889-1951) ‘Tractatus Logico Philosophicus’, New York, 1922.

“It is a mere accident that we have no memory of the future”
—Bertrand Russell

“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.”
—(the White Queen to Alice) Lewis Carroll, Alice Through the Looking Glass

“The click sound denoted by ‘!’ is similar to the pop of a cork being drawn from a bottle. It occurs as a consonant in most Bushmen languages and in some Southern Bantu languages. It is represented by ‘q’ in the Zulu orthography.”
—from ‘Phonetic Symbol Guide’ by Pullum & Ladusaw (1986)

“A bilabial velaric ingressive stop [denoted by a circle with a dot at its centre] is essentially a kiss. It is reported as a consonant in a number of Southern Bushman languages (though Doke 1926b, 126, denied the existence of such a click, defining clicks entirely in terms of labial articulation, and asserting that the Bushman sound in question was a labiovelar plosive).”
—from ‘Phonetic Symbol Guide’ by Pullum & Ladusaw (1986)

“One of the perennial curses of thought is the making separate of what is only distinguishable.”
—L.A.Reid ‘Philosophy and Education’ p82

“The conditions of freedom of thought are in danger of being destroyed by science, technology, and the mechanization of knowledge.”
—Harold Inns in ‘The Bias of Communication”

“Knowledge may be an encumbrance as well as a help. Many men know more than they are able to wield. There is a point… in the acquisition of knowledge…beyond which if more be acquired, the whole mass becomes useless to its possessor.”
—Latham.

“A small overweight of knowledge is often a sore impediment to the movements of common sense.”
—Peter Mere Latham, as attributed without citation in Aphorisms from Latham (1962), ed. William Bennett Bean, p. 37

“Technological innovation can thrive only in an environment that invites, or at least tolerates, dissent. Technological innovation is largely a process of imagining radical alternatives to what is currently accepted and sharing these new possibilities with others. Problems must be openly recognised and ferment must be generated among creative minds to find solutions. But these are, in effect, acts of subversion. They almost invariably stir things up… Moreover many of the new technologies are themselves subversive. Computers, word processors, and telecommunications equipment not only incite unorthodox ideas, they also allow them to be exchanged instantly. They inspire communities of dissent.”
—Robert B.Reich (1987) ‘Bread and circuits’. New Republic, 197 (5) pp.23-33

Words in their primary or immediate Signification, stand for nothing, but the Ideas in the Mind of him that uses them… That then which Words are the Marks of, are the Ideas of the Speaker: Nor can any one apply them, as Marks, immediately to anything else, but the Ideas, that he himself hath… They cannot be voluntary Signs imposed by him on things he knows not.”
—Locke (1690) ‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding’

“We then change the aspect by placing side-by-side with one system of expression other systems of expression. – The bondage in which one analogy holds us can be broken by placing another [analogy] alongside which we acknowledge to be equally well justified.”
—Wittgenstein, TS 220, 99; translated in Baker (1992)

“… in the first place, I put forth a general inclination of all mankind a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.”
—Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

“His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself-that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.”
—George Orwell, 1984

“Reification is the apprehension of human phenomena as if they were things, that is, in non-human or possibly supra-human terms. Another way of saying this is that reification is the apprehension of the products as if they something else than human products-such as facts of nature, results of cosmic laws, or manifestations of divine will. Reification implies that man is capable of forgetting his own authorship of the human world, and further, that the dialectic between man, the producer, and his products is lost to consciousness. The reified world is, by definition, a dehumanized world. It is experienced by man as a strange facticity, an opus alienum over which he has no control rather than as the opus proprium of his own productive activity.”
—Berger and Luckmann, THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF REALITY; Anchor Books, 1966. [p. 89]

I decided to go away into foreign parts, meet what was strange to me…Followed a long vagabondage, full of research and transformation, with no easy definitions…you feel space growing all around you, the horizon opens
—Friedrich Nietzsche (1921, 427), Translation (White 1992, 5) of a passage in Menschliches, Allzumenschliches.

Socrates: “…the reproach which is often made against me, that I ask questions of others and have not the wit to answer them myself, is very just–the reason is, that the god compels-me to be a midwife, but does not allow me to bring forth. And therefore I am not myself at all wise, nor have I anything to show which is the invention or birth of my own soul, but those who converse with me profit. Some of them appear dull enough at first, but afterwards, as our acquaintance ripens, if the god is gracious to them, they all make astonishing progress; and this in the opinion of others as well as in their own. It is quite dear that they never learned anything from me; the many fine discoveries to which they cling are of their own making. But to me and the god they owe their delivery. And the proof of my words is, that many of them in their ignorance, either in their self-conceit despising me, or falling under the influence of others, have gone away too soon; and have not only lost the children of whom I had previously delivered them by an ill bringing up, but have stifled whatever else they had in them by evil communications, being fonder of lies and shams than of the truth; and they have at last ended by seeing themselves, as others see them, to be great fools. Aristeides, the son of Lysimachus, is one of them, and there are many others.”
—Plato, ‘Theaetetus’, 360 B.C.E. Translated by Benjamin Jowett].