Friday, January 21, 2011

2 + 2 = 3

When we learned our addition tables it was pressed on us there was a right answer for doing addition.

1 + 1 = 2

2 + 2 = 4

So the “+” sign means total the numbers. Very logical for if I have two apples and you have two apples the sum of those apples is four.

But tomorrow you wake up and the universe requires a new way to express mathematics and the language of addition is changed. Now we find that:

1 + 1 = 1

2 + 2 = 3

1 + 1 + 1 = 1 specifically (1 + 1) + 1 = 1

2 + 2 + 2 = 4 specifically (2 + 2) + 2 = 4

Because we had been raised with a certainty that the mathematics of addition worked one way this change would seem very strange and destabilizing for we couldn’t do addition as we have been able to do so for our lives.

The numbers look the same (and in themselves remain the same as before, but the “+” is now working strangely. Ignore the reason the underlying rule has changed for now “+” means “add the two numbers together and then subtract one”. Once you understand the rule things make sense and of course you have to reprogram yourself that then language of mathematics has a different meaning for the old concepts.

So 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 11 specifically ((((3+3)+3)+3)+3) = 11

A small object lesson on how changing the underlying concepts of a language yields different results.

(thanks Ludwig Wittgenstein for the inspiration for this –

quiz - Do you know who Ludwig Wittgenstein is?)

The underlying lesson is the same in the martial arts.

You’re taught a technique and given an explanation for it’s use. That of course is fine and you can use it that way forever. But when you change the underlying principle you have modified the language of your art and you end up with a new way of looking at the universe.

And that is one small step towards a larger multi-verse than you knew existed before.

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