Grinworthy Quotes (15)

Posted on February 16, 2018 by

Frege on Euclidean geometry and axioms, but also astrology and alchemy. From his Nachlass*.

Now the question is whether to strike Euclidean or non-Euclidean geometry from the ranks of science and to put it alongside of Alchemy and Astrology as mummies. Where one only let himself toy with ideas, he need not take things so earnestly, but in science the quest for truth must impose a strong dominion. That means: either in or out! now is Euclidean or non-Euclidean geometry supposed to be flung out? That is the question. Does one dare to treat Euclid’s Elements, which have maintained an undisputed authority for over 2000 years, like Astrology?

I wonder if astrology or alchemy were prevalent for a couple hundred years more, they would be treated as true. Perhaps not Frege’s finest hour.


*Written between 1899 and 1906. In Nachgelassene Schriften (1969), Hermes, Kambartel, and Kaulbach (eds). Felix Meiner. (pp. 183-4). I found this in M. Resnik (1980), Frege and the Philosophy of Mathematics, Cornell University Press. (p. 176)