Yes really, complete with miss-spelling of “enlightenment”. Don’t stop reading just because its about Hobbes, though :-). Its really about the LaRouche nutters, I think (the connection is via the Schiller Institute). My source is Brian Lantz, from the Spring 1996 issue of FIDELIO Magazine, found in the course of trying to work out the relationship between Hobbes and Francis Bacon (was he a pupil of, or just secretary to?). But moving on from that, we have a cornucopia of delights including

Over the past century, for geopolitical purposes, the British oligarchy has orchestrated a true Hobbesian “war of each against all,” bringing about two world wars and innumerable regional conflicts including, most recently, the horrors of Cambodia, Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia

and

Like his homosexual lover Francis Bacon and fellow British empiricist John Locke, Thomas Hobbes was deployed by the then Venice-centered oligarchy against the ideas of the Golden Renaissance, which had been set in motion under the influence of Nicolaus of Cusa at the 1439 Council of Florence.

After pausing, briefly, to note that the article does state that Kissinger was correct in identifying the axiomatics of British foreign policy as “Hobbesian,” which is in its favour. But mistaken; the most Hobbesian foreign policy is clearly that of the USA); I ought to note some oddities about the circle-squaring stuff:

For example, Cusa discovered why it was impossible to “square the circle” through algebraic methods, thereby discovering what we know today as the transcendental numbers. Why? Because a linear approximation of curvature is never curvature; circular action is not reducible to straight-line action.

This isn’t true; certainly the wiki article doesn’t mention him; and indeed the task wasn’t proved impossible until 1882. The reference to “algebraic methods” is odd, too: Cusa would have been concerned with geometrical ones. But this does touch on Hobbes, who was also interested in squaring the circle. Unfortunately he decided that he had managed to prove this, which was a futile waste of time as well as prestige. Ah well, a warning that however eminent you are in one field, that doesn’t necessarily transfer across; and that learning maths by yourself is Hard.

But enough from the article: doubtless everyone will find their own favoured bit of nonsense in there. I’ve now heavily hacked the [[Nicholas of Cusa]] article. Here is a before-and-after difference and here is the old version. I am (obviously) no expert in this area, so if anyone out there reading this is, please comment here or edit there.

[Update: How Not to Square the Circle by Tony Phillips provides some interesting detail on N of C's circle-squaring activities. If you believe that, then the LaRouche nonsense I started from gets it totally wrong: N was actually trying to square the circle and failing, not trying to prove it impossible (and failing). That article also points to an interesting parallel between Hobbes and N: both were attracted to the rigour of maths, both were amateurs, and both tried to use it to prove philosophical points (unsuccessfully, of course).

However, it gets worse, because the LaRouchies provide On the Quadrature of the Circle, 1450, Nicolaus of Cusa which (perhaps unwisely) I'll trust them to have reproduced accurately. That appears to be internally contradictory to me; perhaps the attempt to translate from the language of 1450 to present day has proved too hard. This may provide some further clues; or perhaps N was muddled himself.]

Comments

  1. #1 Robert Murphy
    2012/08/17

    Ah, the LaRouche nuts. If you need more evidence of how “out there” they are, here’s a piece by LaRouche himself about “The Pagan Worship Of Isaac Newton”.:
    http://www.larouchepub.com/lar/200/3045pagan_isaac.html

    I’m truly baffled that LaRouchian’s have not dominated the physical sciences given their deep insights into “True Science”.

    “Euler’s fraud was premised on the version of empiricism associated with such followers of that influential Paris-based Venetian, Antonio Conti, who played a guiding hand, from Paris, in transforming what had been a relatively obscure dabbler in black magic, Isaac Newton, into a Voltaire-backed celebrity of the Eighteenth-Century British-French “Enlightenment.” Although the system of moral corruption known as empiricism had been introduced to Seventeenth-Century England and France by the influence of Venice’s Paolo Sarpi on such Anglo-Dutch and French figures as Sir Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, René Descartes, and John Locke, it was the 1688-89 capture of the British Isles, as led by the Netherlands India Company’s William of Orange, and the related political and military developments of 1689-1714, which gave new twists to Sarpi’s neo-Ockhamite doctrine. It is only from this point of historical reference, that we are able to situate the present-day political significance of reductionists such as Euler, Lagrange, Kant, Laplace, Cauchy, et al. for reference.”

    How were we so blind??!! :)

    [Sarpi again. I never knew he was so important. Oddly, his wiki-bio is not inflated -W]

  2. #2 David B. Benson
    2012/08/18

    I had always thought he was actually a student.

  3. #3 Patrick Dennis
    2012/08/18

    Why would Cusa not have been interested in algebra? The history of algebra in the 13th-16th centuries seems to feature mostly Italian (and Arabic) names.

    [He is quite likely to have been interested in algebra. But I'm dubious that he would have applied it to circle-squaring; people did that stuff geometrically in his day.

    And since you've pushed me I've found http://www.ams.org/samplings/feature-column/fcarc-cusa -W]

  4. #4 PeteB
    United Kingdom
    2012/08/20

    Liked this quote from Lewis Carroll

    “The first of these two misguided visionaries filled me with a great ambition to do a feat I have never heard of as accomplished by man, namely to convince a circle squarer of his error! The value my friend selected for Pi was 3.2: the enormous error tempted me with the idea that it could be easily demonstrated to BE an error. More than a score of letters were interchanged before I became sadly convinced that I had no chance.”

    [Very nice. A one could nowadays replace "circle squarer" with "climate denialist" and "pi" with "temperature trend"... -W]

  5. #5 Hank Roberts
    2012/08/30

    Not all conspiracy theories are nutters, though.

    Can this one be real?

    “… $21 Trillion hoard hidden offshore by global elite.

    Yes that is a “T” and not a “B.” Just sit there and consider that number….

    The study in question estimates the staggering size of the offshore economy and how private banks help the wealthiest to move cash into overseas havens. Russian, Saudi and Nigerian oil barons top the list, followed by US and British bankers and then drug lords and other criminal enterprises.

    The totals amount to as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together. ….”

    tip of the tinfoil hat to http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/

  6. #6 Hank Roberts
    2012/08/30

    mangled link, that’s from quoted by Brin today, cited to http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jul/21/global-elite-tax-offshore-economy?CMP=twt_gu

    [Yes, its the Graun, who generally don't understand bizniz. Worse, the actual source is the Tax Justice Network, who are rubbish -W]

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