November 30, 2008

Viermolengang Tweemanspolder

Augustine on number

"I find it very strange that most people esteem wisdom but consider number to be of little value, when clearly they are one and the same thing. True, Scripture says that wisdom 'reacheth from one end to another mightily, and sweetly doth she order all things.'. But perhaps the power that reaches mightily from one end to the other is number, and what is properly called wisdom is that which orders all things sweetly, with both powers belonging to wisdom as a whole.

"Wisdom gave numbers to all things, no matter the lowliness or loftiness of their station within the material realm. While bodies (being lofty) of course have number, the power to be wise was not given to them all, nor to all souls. But to rational beings wisdom gave enough to serve as an interior seat, from which to 'order all things' endowed with number, no matter how lowly. Because our judgments on bodies are made with the same ease as our judgments on things ordered lowlier than us, the numbers of which we perceive stamped into them, we therefore reckon numbers themselves to be beneath us, and consider them of little value. But when we begin to look above ourselves as well as below, we find that numbers transcend our minds and are permanently fixed in truth itself."

On Free Choice of the Will 2.II.30-1 (ca. 394/5 CE)

November 29, 2008

Philolaus of Croton

“All things which are known have number. For it is impossible that anything at all be recognized or known, without this.”

"Number has two types all its own, odd and even... And of both types there are many forms, which each particular thing indicates [autò sēmaínei]."

44B4-5 (DK)

November 28, 2008

A simile of Empedocles

As when painters -- men about their craft
through craft instructed -- fill in upright panels
and lay their hands to multicolored substances,
in concert mixing more of some and less of others,
and arrange them into forms like unto all things,
putting forth trees and men along with women
and beasts with birds and fish nursed on water
and, superlative in honor, gods of long tenure:
Go therefore with wits ungulled into believing the source of mortal things
is any different, no matter how unutterably many come into view.
Instead, take this on divine authority for certain knowledge.

Fragment 31B21 (DK)

November 11, 2008

A story of the painter Apelles

In painting a horse, they say he was so frustrated in his wish to depict the horse's lather that he hurled the sponge he used for wiping pigments off his brushes -- and that its impact on the picture replicated the lather of a horse.

Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism 1.28