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A Quick “Wonderfully, Fearlessly, Hopefully Impossible” Note (with links) August 4, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in "Impossible" People, Books, Buddhism, Mathematics, One Hoop, Philosophy, Wisdom.
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“We have endeavoured above to employ only symmetrical figures, such as should not only be an aid to reasoning, through the sense of sight, but should also be to some extent elegant in themselves. But for purely theoretic purposes the rules of formation would be very simple. We should merely have to begin by drawing any closed figure, and then proceed to draw others in succession subject to the one condition that each is to intersect once, and once only, all the existing subdivisions produced by those which had gone before. There is no need here to exhibit such figures, as they would probably be distasteful to any but the mathematician, and he would see his way to drawing them readily enough for himself.”

– quoted from “Chapter II. Symbols of Classes and Operations.” in Symbolic Logic by John Venn Sc.D. ; F.R.S.

“This is what I heard,” that when the Buddha talked to the his disciples about the sutra “known as “‘The Diamond that Cuts through Illusion,’” he spoke figuratively and “did not have in mind any definite or arbitrary conception” or thought. Even when speaking of particles of dust, he said, “I am merely using these words as a figure of speech.” (DS 13) To me, using a figure a speech – a symbol, if you will – may prevent people from thinking that something is restricted to a particular person and/or situation and, therefore, does not apply to them and/or their situation. After all, a symbol can simultaneously mean anything and many things to one or more people.

Conversely, there comes a time when someone like John Venn, born today in 1834, “must obviously have some means of making it clear to myself and to others which things are x and which are not, which are y and which are not.” This is a point he makes repeatedly in Chapter 2 of Symbolic Logic, which breaks down the means and purpose of Venn diagrams. Since I’m a fan of such diagrams, here’s an excerpt from my 2020 post about some “impossible people” born on August 4th*:

“If you create sets based on the biographies of Maria Mitchell and Rabbi Regina Jonas, you might think that to make my ‘impossible list’ someone would have to be a woman who was the first woman to do something in a profession normally associated with men. You might even think that that someone had to be virtually unknown to the masses. But, then you have to add James Baldwin into the mix. Now, with the third set, you can broaden the definition to include any human who does something outside of society’s expectations – especially, if their achievements make it possible for others to follow in their footsteps and/or do something previously viewed as impossible.

I have heard that it is impossible to make a Venn diagram out of four circles – and I’ll admit that I probably wouldn’t do a very good job of explaining (mathematically) why it is considered impossible – but you can use ellipses. So, when you add in the fact that John Venn was a suffragist who also encouraged woman to run for office, you might think he makes my list. But, he doesn’t. Neither does Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was born today in 1792. Instead, today’s ‘impossible people’ are a musician, a president, and a duchess.”

Click here to read the whole post!

*NOTE: Some links in the excerpt are from 2022. Click here to start at the beginning of this theme.

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.)



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