# Thread: Giordano Bruno - spatial concepts of geometry to language

1. ## Giordano Bruno - spatial concepts of geometry to language

I was wondering if anyone knows more about this or something related. The following caught my interest while reading the wiki entry on Giordano Bruno

Other studies of Bruno have focused on his qualitative approach to mathematics and his application of the spatial concepts of geometry to language.
Geometric thinking and its use in language, which I have concluded is pervasive, is something I would like to further research but finding something directly on topic has been difficult for me. Others may have greater acquaintance with what is out there on the subject.

Any assistance would be appreciated.

Still looking, anything else appreciated.
Last edited by Canis Lupus; 2017-Feb-20 at 08:37 PM.

2. Here is a sample of a book..."Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science: Broken Lives and Organizational Power".

I recall how taken Galileo was when he was introduced to Euclid. Perhaps this more than anything else made him switch from being a doctor (per his father's wish) to being a mathematician (in spite of the fact that mathematicians were at the low end of the academic totem pole).
Last edited by George; 2017-Feb-20 at 10:00 PM.

3. Originally Posted by George
Here is a sample of a book..."Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science: Broken Lives and Organizational Power".

I recall how taken Galileo was when he was introduced to Euclid. Perhaps this more than anything else made him switch from being a doctor (per his father's wish) to being a mathematician (in spite of the fact that mathematicians were at the low end of the academic totem pole).
Excellent - thank you.

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Originally Posted by George
I recall how taken Galileo was when he was introduced to Euclid.
Via a medium at a seance? (I know what you mean. )

5. Originally Posted by Ken G
Via a medium at a seance? (I know what you mean. )
That's the beauty of geometry - drawing a Euclidean construction is like communicating with the spirit (metaphysical) world, with Euclid guiding your hand to the right letters on the table.

I like the description a mathematician once used for geometry "a metaphysical two way street", where the physical constructions played the part of a medium to the metaphysical.

From that simple idea, a million and one others are implied.

Bruno appears to have picked up on many of them.

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Yes, I do think the lure of mathematics is very much a sense of connecting to some kind of deeper truth. Mathematicians who explore the amazing structures that are spawned by a few simple postulates often have a sense that they are speaking to the eternal. Are they any less deluded than the stooge in a seance? Who knows, but mathematical structures do seem to bear eery resemblances to the outcomes of our observations, in carefully controlled systems.

7. Originally Posted by Ken G
Via a medium at a seance?
Nice one! Perhaps, however, that might be not be a bad approach for some students.

8. With farm duties taken care for this morning, I am left with a window of opportunity to express some reflections on this subject (yes, a thought bubble), particularly with the stimulation of observing the animals here.

Alternatively, I could label this post "Reflections Upon A Border Collie".

The border collie in question is not mine, who is but a mere 3 month old pup learning the ropes, but rather a mature 7 year old one who rules the roost here with the other 6 dogs and animals. Her name is "Rosie". She is what I regard as an "Old World" border collie, slightly shorter and stockier than the "New World" Australian Border Collie, which has had the Australian Kelpie introduced into its line. She is a beautiful dog to look at and to have by one's side proudly. Despite my fondness for her, I have few illusions about her character with the other animals - she is a "control freak". I nicknamed her "Bossy Boots".

In a human, of course, being a control freak is not regarded as a virtue generally. In a herding dog it is a virtue - that's why they are on the payroll. Observing the way Rosie works has illustrated to me a few things touching upon Bruno's ideas about geometry in thought and language. An odd connection maybe, but nonetheless valid IMO.

Rosie has an acute appreciation of the importance of gates, passageways and doorways - all areas where traffic is channeled. She uses it to assert dominance over the animals, particularly the dogs. She never fights, or even growls, but rather uses the channels of traffic to stare and dare others. The other dogs won't pass through gates, doorways and passageways while she holds their stare, denying permission to enter. This may seem odd behavior but when you reflect upon the way a Border Collie works with sheep this is exactly what they are doing with them.

This bring me to the point of geometry and Bruno. In behaving so Rosie is reflecting a natural talent or instinct for geometry, particularly triangular logic and thinking. If she didn't have this ability, she would be unable to control flow the way she does - the funneling of other animals is a triangle at work, which she is obviously capable of understanding. Whilst Bruno may have concentrated his thinking on this subject to humans, I think it possible to take it that one step further and apply it to animals generally. We are animals also, and reflect with greater intensity what occurs with other animals because of our greater intelligence, as Rosie does, who is more intelligent than her "peers".

Note what I am dealing with here is what comes "natural" before formal education which transfers natural geometric thinking into other languages and symbols in humans.
Last edited by Canis Lupus; 2017-Mar-10 at 03:43 AM.

9. Originally Posted by Canis Lupus
This bring me to the point of geometry and Bruno. In behaving so Rosie is reflecting a natural talent or instinct for geometry, particularly triangular logic and thinking. If she didn't have this ability, she would be unable to control flow the way she does - the funneling of other animals is a triangle at work, which she is obviously capable of understanding. Whilst Bruno may have concentrated his thinking on this subject to humans, I think it possible to take it that one step further and apply it to animals generally. We are animals also, and reflect with greater intensity what occurs with other animals because of our greater intelligence, as Rosie does, who is more intelligent than her "peers". Note what I am dealing here is what comes "natural" before formal education which transfers natural geometric thinking into other languages and symbols in humans.
What's sort of interesting I think is that our brains do indeed understand geometry even if we don't have the concept. For example, even children are able to learn how to catch a ball that's thrown into the air by predicting where it's going to fall. And actually, this requires being able to perform calculus, which wasn't formally developed until the 17th century. So even before Newton and Leibniz, people were able to perform the calculations that were later formalized. And I am sure that animals can do that too. Certainly they can understand "triangles," because predators will take a diagonal path to intercept prey (they will cut inside the curve rather than following the same curve) so that they are clearly predicting where the prey will end up rather than the path it is taking at the moment.

10. Originally Posted by Jens
What's sort of interesting I think is that our brains do indeed understand geometry even if we don't have the concept. For example, even children are able to learn how to catch a ball that's thrown into the air by predicting where it's going to fall. And actually, this requires being able to perform calculus, which wasn't formally developed until the 17th century. So even before Newton and Leibniz, people were able to perform the calculations that were later formalized. And I am sure that animals can do that too. Certainly they can understand "triangles," because predators will take a diagonal path to intercept prey (they will cut inside the curve rather than following the same curve) so that they are clearly predicting where the prey will end up rather than the path it is taking at the moment.
Yes, very true. It is noticeable in higher animals, the predators in particular.

11. Originally Posted by Jens
What's sort of interesting I think is that our brains do indeed understand geometry even if we don't have the concept. For example, even children are able to learn how to catch a ball that's thrown into the air by predicting where it's going to fall. And actually, this requires being able to perform calculus, which wasn't formally developed until the 17th century. So even before Newton and Leibniz, people were able to perform the calculations that were later formalized.
What the heck are you talking about?

What do you mean, kids perform calculus to catch a ball? If even adults did that, they'd get hit in the nose.
And I am sure that animals can do that too. Certainly they can understand "triangles," because predators will take a diagonal path to intercept prey (they will cut inside the curve rather than following the same curve) so that they are clearly predicting where the prey will end up rather than the path it is taking at the moment.

12. Originally Posted by grapes
What the heck are you talking about?

What do you mean, kids perform calculus to catch a ball? If even adults did that, they'd get hit in the nose.
Well, what I meant is that the brain maps out where the ball is going to be when it comes back down, so that you can run to where is is going to fall rather than pursuing a direct line to where it is. Admittedly the calculations are imperfect, because people adjust their position as the ball comes closer, but I think that the brain is somehow calculating how the ball is going to fall. But maybe that doesn't take calculus, just algebra... I don't mean literally doing it on paper.

13. Rosie calculates all her moves on paper first - them border collies are smart!

14. Originally Posted by Jens
Well, what I meant is that the brain maps out where the ball is going to be when it comes back down, so that you can run to where is is going to fall rather than pursuing a direct line to where it is.
I thought the method had been discovered.

Rather than attempting to compute where the curving ball is heading, as scientists had previously thought, the brain uses a simple rule of thumb to follow the ball's straight trajectory as it leaves home plate. [...] The visual cues that people use to catch balls on the fly are not that different from the automatic motion detectors built into the tiny brains of critters that catch flies on the wing: frogs. A frog "would have to use the same sort of optical cue to intercept the fly with its tongue," Kaiser said. "And it might make a decent outfielder as well."
If we computed ball trajectories, we wouldn't have to keep an eye on the ball.

15. Originally Posted by Jens
What's sort of interesting I think is that our brains do indeed understand geometry even if we don't have the concept. For example, even children are able to learn how to catch a ball that's thrown into the air by predicting where it's going to fall.
Even if this, or other skills, do involve an innate understanding of geometry, I don't see the connection to language.

16. Originally Posted by Jens
Well, what I meant is that the brain maps out where the ball is going to be when it comes back down, so that you can run to where is is going to fall rather than pursuing a direct line to where it is. Admittedly the calculations are imperfect, because people adjust their position as the ball comes closer, but I think that the brain is somehow calculating how the ball is going to fall. But maybe that doesn't take calculus, just algebra... I don't mean literally doing it on paper.
Ah, OK.

But the answer is no, not calculus or algebra. It's just a simple rule of thumb that is easily learned (and engrained) through practice, and (as 01101001's link mentions) doesn't require complex math calculations. It's just a matter of maintaining a constant relationship with the ball--if you're able to do that, you end up in the same place as the ball.

17. Originally Posted by Strange
Even if this, or other skills, do involve an innate understanding of geometry, I don't see the connection to language.
Either do I. I was really commenting on that specific post, and I'm not sure how it relates to the OP.

18. Originally Posted by 01101001

If we computed ball trajectories, we wouldn't have to keep an eye on the ball.
That makes sense. I guess I was wrong about the calculations. I'm sure some of it is also experience.

19. Originally Posted by Jens
That makes sense. I guess I was wrong about the calculations. I'm sure some of it is also experience.
I wouldn't lose your confidence so quickly in the face of a few skeptical posts, Jens.

There is a calculation going on - the evidence is there in the results. The "calculation" type is very different from the ones we are formally educated to use, but nonetheless have to be there to work - most of the time. The fact that we don't understand nature's methods and its ability to make lightening flash geometric calculations in its own way reflects our shortcomings. Human conceit, which we all suffer from in our mental malaise, reduces the complexity of what is occurring with ideas like a "simple rule of thumb" as if the village idiot is being told how to get to the bakery - "just follow the smell of baked bread".

Hopefully, I will get a chance in the next few days to flesh out this idea better, but I have a lot on my bread plate atm. I'd like to read a bit more Bruno before returning to some details. One of my tasks is to pick up some baked bread to sell at the local market here on Sunday. Just follow the smell, I reckon, being a bit of a village idiot myself.
Last edited by Canis Lupus; 2017-Mar-10 at 09:42 PM.

20. Originally Posted by Canis Lupus
I wouldn't lose your confidence so quickly in the face of a few skeptical posts, Jen.

There is a calculation going on - the evidence is there in the results. The "calculation" type is very different from the ones we are formally educated to use, but nonetheless have to be there and work - most of the time. The fact that we don't understand nature's methods and its ability to make lightening flash geometric calculations in its own way reflects our shortcomings. Human conceit, which we all suffer from in our mental malaise, reduces the complexity of what is occurring with ideas like a "simple rule of thumb" as if the village idiot is being told how to get to the bakery - "just follow the smell of baked bread".
Or, you could read 01101001's link. It is *not* a complex calculation, this study and results have been around a couple decades. Human conceit is to think the brain is capable of magic. OK, well it is. Just not like that.
Hopefully, I will get a chance in the next few days to flesh out this idea better, but I have a lot on my bread plate atm. I'd like to read a bit more Bruno before returning to some details.

21. Originally Posted by grapes
Or, you could read 01101001's link. It is *not* a complex calculation, this study and results have been around a couple decades. Human conceit is to think the brain is capable of magic. OK, well it is. Just not like that.
I will look at it - thanks for the prompt. Of course, no-one has mentioned the word "magic" until now. That seems to be a little repositioning on your part, something members of this board are expert at and do so with great intelligence, but that's part of the "magic" of the human mind - to create things from thin air, even "magic" itself, I suppose.

Ironically, Bruno was often accused of being a magician with his mental demonstrations employing geometric principles which he was convinced were innate. The case was rather, he was a mathematician who appreciated like few others how nature and geometry pervaded human thought at every level.
Last edited by Canis Lupus; 2017-Mar-10 at 09:55 PM.

22. "A simple of rule of thumb"?

The link will make interesting reading, I'm sure. Perhaps I should read it before posting anything further, however, while feeding the chickens ( ) a thought occured. It involved cricket, something I used to be obsessed with, but not so much anymore.

The magnificent cover drive, particularly when the batsman goes on one knee for its execution (http://media.gettyimages.com/photos/...ture-id2821798) is something which cannot be accomplished using a "simple rule of thumb". The squarer the ball is hit, the more acute the calculation. Like many other examples of mastery, its complexity is breathtaking, which is why cricket crowds let out a collective sigh of admiration when it's played correctly. Having spent 20 plus years attempting to master the shot on countless baking hot summer days, I can attest to its complexity personally.

No rule of thumb is ever going to accomplish that shot, nor many other things which humans and animals do.

For those who are not familar with cricket here are some examples. It's one of the shots which make cricket worth watching for hours, just to catch a glimpse of this human "magic".

https://youtu.be/wvKXpIwrwLI

23. Originally Posted by Canis Lupus
I was wondering if anyone knows more about this or something related. The following caught my interest while reading the wiki entry on Giordano Bruno

Geometric thinking and its use in language, which I have concluded is pervasive, is something I would like to further research but finding something directly on topic has been difficult for me. Others may have greater acquaintance with what is out there on the subject.

Any assistance would be appreciated.

Still looking, anything else appreciated.
I have given the author of the linked document the courtesy of reading it before commenting, and my perception of it is a lot of mumbo jumbo. I am unable to see what the reputed geometric nature has to do with how the language facilitates communication. I would say that either some of us are overthinking something here, or else I simply am not wired that way.

24. Originally Posted by Hornblower
I have given the author of the linked document the courtesy of reading it before commenting, and my perception of it is a lot of mumbo jumbo.
Not just me then.

25. Originally Posted by Strange
Not just me then.
Excellent. Now we can embark upon a real discussion, grinding out the details one way or the other with luck and determination.

Originally Posted by Hornblower
I have given the author of the linked document the courtesy of reading it before commenting, and my perception of it is a lot of mumbo jumbo. I am unable to see what the reputed geometric nature has to do with how the language facilitates communication. I would say that either some of us are overthinking something here, or else I simply am not wired that way.
Both options defeat the idea, but I get your meaning.

26. So, what is the connection between geometry and the arbitrary association of sign and signifier?

27. Originally Posted by Canis Lupus
I wouldn't lose your confidence so quickly in the face of a few skeptical posts, Jens.
I don't get your reasoning at all. It's not skeptical posts. It's simply that I assumed something and that people who have done actual research have found something differently. Since I'm interested in learning about how it's done, not supporting a prejudice I have, I don't see where confidence comes in.

28. Originally Posted by Jens
I don't get your reasoning at all. It's not skeptical posts. It's simply that I assumed something and that people who have done actual research have found something differently. Since I'm interested in learning about how it's done, not supporting a prejudice I have, I don't see where confidence comes in.
There's nothing wrong with skepticism - it's a virtue. If I stated "cynical" that would be different.

Forgive the correction, you didn't simply assume, you provided observation and reasons.

Research is one thing, it can reveal a lot, of course - that being its purpose or intention of research. Conducting research per se means little by way of proof or evidence.

The downside with all this authority based thinking, despite its advantages, is it tends to put one's own mental faculties in neutral. The expert said "this" and the expert said "that'. I'm always interested in what the experts state, don't get me wrong, but I don't let them think for me, but rather suggest and guide, provide "food for thought". I suppose there is some intelligence involved in familiarising yourself with what the expert (the authority) states (book learning), but there is a decided lack of intelligence if we suspend our own supreme arbitrator not evaluating for ourselves what the expert states.

You seemed to be on the right track to start with, but someone comes along with "the expert says there's a 'simple rule of thumb'", and then what happens: suspension of reasoning, deference to so called expert, and a backtrack?

I must trot over to the Mozart thread and add courage as a characteristic of genius.
Last edited by Canis Lupus; 2017-Mar-11 at 01:30 AM.

29. Originally Posted by Strange
So, what is the connection between geometry and the arbitrary association of sign and signifier?
Potentially there can be very little or none. The test of these signs and how these signs are used will be their connection with geometry. If they cannot be reduced to geometry or be shown not to reflect geometry, then they are indeed totally arbitrary and as useful as a fairy tale without a moral or deeper meaning - a bit Harry Potterish. Sort of like art for art's sake, a make believe world which can be entertaining and distracting but without foundation or reality.

30. Originally Posted by Canis Lupus
There's nothing wrong with skepticism - it's a virtue. If I stated "cynical" that would be different.

Forgive the correction, you didn't simply assume, you provided reasons.

Research is one thing, it can reveal a lot, of course - that being its purpose or intention of research. Conducting research per se means little by way of proof or evidence.

The downside with all this authority based thinking, despite its advantages, is it tends to put one's own mental faculties in neutral. The expert said "this" and the expert said "that'. I'm always interested in what the experts state, don't get me wrong, but I don't let them think for me, but rather suggest and guide, provide "food for thought". I suppose there is some intelligence involved in familiarising yourself with what the expert (the authority) states (book learning), but there is a decided lack of intelligence if we suspend our own supreme arbitrator not evaluating for ourselves what the expert states.

You seemed to be on the right track to start with, but someone comes along with "the expert says there's a 'simple rule of thumb'", and then what happens: suspension of reasoning, deference to so called expert, and a backtrack?
I see where you're going here, and it's not good, accusing someone of suspension of reasoning, just because they converted from your side. Some people are capable of reasoning, evaluating the evidence, learning, realizing they had a misconception, and move on to other things.
I must trot over to the Mozart thread and add courage as a characteristic of genius.
It's not a lack of courage, just the opposite. Some people cling to their beliefs, maybe out of fear of the unknown, maybe out of not wanting to ever be wrong, maybe just because that's the way they're wired whether they want to be or not. It's a lot like cricket.

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