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Those of us on the classic side of things are utterly delighted when someone from the more romantic traditions get Pirsig.  Congratulations!

What I find so amazing about him is that his search for some philosophic truths led him to open confrontation with the Aristotelian traditions at the University of Chicago--yet the only way he can explain his frustration with that form of academic posturing is by talking about keeping his motorcycle on the road.  

Amazingly, Aristotle still has influence in the more conservative schools.  Of course, no one takes his science seriously, but classical logic is still widely taught.  Bart Kosko, the guy who first did the math that "proved" why fuzzy logic was valid, wrote a book with a chapter called "The Road from Athens."  In it he argues that we wasted over $20 billion trying to give computers artificial intelligence and failed utterly because we tried to teach them Aristotle.  Yes, fuzzy is a bad name.  Yes Zehdi is Iranian.  Yes, new forms of logic coming from Berkeley in 1964 were going to be met with skepticism.  But even so...

I believe Kosko was right.  The REAL problem was Aristotle's logic.  When the Japanese found a thousand applications for fuzzy, they knew all the criticisms but it simply did not matter to them--they had never made Aristotle into a demi-god.  I mean, can you even imagine the steady-cam routines built into even the cheapest videocameras without fuzzy?--I can't.

Veblen most biting criticism was to call some form of thinking "mere taxonomy."  That was Pirsig's problem with Aristotle, if you recall.  And yet, I'll bet there are still universities that grant advanced degrees in the teachings of Aristotle.  No matter how wrong, the Aristotelians never seem to give up their debating points.


"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Sun May 27th, 2007 at 07:20:51 PM EST
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