Thursday, June 19, 2008

Forerunners to the Time-Binding Notion (Part IV)

By the mid-1800s, some notion of the process of transmission basic to time-binding had become widely accepted. George Boole, creator of the first system of mathematical logic, was able to clearly describe it in this passage from his address on “The Social Aspects of Intellectual Culture” to the Cuvierian Society, a science club in Cork, Ireland:

Each generation as it passes away bequeathes to its successor not only its material works in stone and marble, in brass and iron, but also the truths which it has won, and the ideas which it has learned to conceive; its art, literature, science, and, to some extent, its spirit and morality. This perpetual transmission of the light of knowledge and civilization has been compared to those torch races of antiquity in which a lighted brand was transmitted from one runner to another until it reached the final goal. Thus it has been said do generations succeed each other, borrowing and conveying light, receiving the principles of knowledge, testing their truth, enlarging their application, adding to their number, and then transmitting them forward to coming generations—Et quasi cursores vitai lampada tradunt [And like runners they pass on the torch of life]. (1) [Boole was quoting a line from De Rerum Natura by the poet-philosopher Lucretius who lived from 99 B.C.E.–55 B.C.E.. Greeks like Lucretius, not surprisingly, had also recognized aspects of the process of time-binding, almost 2 millennia before.]

(1) George Boole, qtd.George Boole: His life and work. By Desmond MacHale. Dublin: Boole Press (1985), p. 123.

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