George Boole Quotes

A list created by Lee Sonogan

Largely self-taught linguist, his work in differential equations and algebraic logic laid the foundation down for the information age. Best known for his book called The Laws of Thought in (1854) his invariant theory and Abstract algebraic logic is one more fun way to appreciate mathematicians who are also philosophers. Also, as a professor/founder that created many research papers, surely this guy shall pop up again in my own similar search.

  • It is not of the essence of mathematics to be conversant with the ideas of number and quantity. Whether as a general habit of mind it would be desirable to apply symbolic processes to moral argument, is another question.
  • That language is an instrument of human reason, and not merely a medium for the expression of thought, is a truth generally admitted.
  • “There was yet another disadvantage attaching to the whole of Newton’s physical inquiries, … the want of an appropriate notation for expressing the conditions of a dynamical problem, and the general principles by which its solution must be obtained. By the labours of LaGrange, the motions of a disturbed planet are reduced with all their complication and variety to a purely mathematical question. It then ceases to be a physical problem; the disturbed and disturbing planet are alike vanished: the ideas of time and force are at an end; the very elements of the orbit have disappeared, or only exist as arbitrary characters in a mathematical formula.”
  • “There is a common ground upon which all sincere votaries of truth may meet, exchanging with each other the language of Flamsteed’s appeal to Newton, “The works of the Eternal Providence will be better understood through your labors and mine.”
  • The last subject to which I am desirous to direct your attention as to a means of self-improvement, is that of philanthropic exertion for the good of others. I allude here more particularly to the efforts which you may be able to make for the benefit of those whose social position is inferior to your own. It is my deliberate conviction, founded on long and anxious consideration of the subject, that not only might great positive good be effected by an association of earnest young men, working together under judicious arrangements for this common end, but that its reflected advantages would overpay the toil of effort, and more than indemnify the cost of personal sacrifice. And how wide a field is now open before you! It would be unjust to pass over unnoticed the shining examples of virtues, that are found among tho poor and indigent There are dwellings so consecrated by patience, by self-denial, by filial piety, that it is not in the power of any physical deprivation to render them otherwise than happy. But sometimes in close contiguity with these, what a deep contrast of guilt and woe! On the darker features of the prospect we would not dwell, and that they are less prominent here than in larger cities we would with gratitude acknowledge; but we cannot shut our eyes to their existence. We cannot put out of sight that improvidence that never looks beyond the present hour; that insensibility that deadens the heart to the claims of duty and affection; or that recklessness which in the pursuit of some short-lived gratification, sets all regard for consequences aside. Evils such as these, although they may present themselves in any class of society, and under every variety of circumstances, are undoubtedly fostered by that ignorance to which the condition of poverty is most exposed; and of which it has been truly said, that it is the night of the spirit,—and a night without moon and without stars. It is to associated efforts for its removal, and for the raising of the physical condition of its subjects, that philanthropy must henceforth direct her regards. And is not such an object great 1 Are not such efforts personally elevating and ennobling? Would that some part of the youthful energy of this present assembly might thus expend itself in labours of benevolence! Would that we could all feel the deep weight and truth of the Divine sentiment that ” No man liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
  • That axiom of Metaphysicians which is termed the principle of contradiction and which affirms that it is impossible for anything to possess a quality, and in the same time not to possess it, is a consequence of the fundamental law of thought, whose expression is x²=x.
  • Perhaps it is in the thought that there does exist an Intelligence and Will superior to our own,—that the evolution of the destinies of our species is not solely the product either of human waywardness or of human wisdom; perhaps, I say, it is in this thought, that the conception of humanity attains its truest dignity. When, therefore, I use this term, I would be understood to mean by it the human race, viewed in that mutual connexion and dependence which has been established, as I firmly believe, for the accomplishment of a purpose of the Divine mind… One eminent instance of that connexion and dependence to which I have referred is to be seen in the progression of the arts and sciences. Each generation as it passes away bequeaths to its successor not only its material works in stone and marble, in brass and iron, but also the truths which it has won, and the ideas which it has learned to conceive; its art, literature, science, and, to some extent, its spirit and morality. This perpetual transmission of the light of knowledge and civilisation has been compared to those torch-races of antiquity in which a lighted brand was transmitted from one runner to another until it reached the final goal. Thus, it has been said, do generations succeed each other, borrowing and conveying light, receiving the principles of knowledge, testing their truth, enlarging their application, adding to their number, and then transmitting them forward to coming generations
  • Let us conceive, then, of an algebra in which the symbols x, y z etc. admit indifferently of the values 0 and 1, and of these values alone The laws, the axioms, and the processes, of such an Algebra will be identical in their whole extend with the laws, the axioms, and the processes of an Algebra of Logic. Difference of interpretation will alone divide them. Upon this principle the method of the following work is established.
  • THEY who are acquainted with the present state of the theory of Symbolical Algebra, are aware, that the validity of the processes of analysis does not depend upon the interpretation of the symbols which are employed, but solely upon the laws of their combination. Every system of interpretation which does not affect the truth of the relations supposed, is equally admissible, and it is thus that the same process may, under one scheme of interpretation, represent the solution of a question on the properties of numbers, under another, that of a geometrical problem, and under a third, that of a problem of dynamics or optics. This principle is indeed of fundamental importance ; and it may with safety be affirmed, that the recent advances of pure analysis have been much assisted by the influence which it has exerted in directing the current of investigation.
  • I have spoken of the advantages of leisure and opportunity for improvement, as of a right to which you were entitled. I must now remind you that every right involves a responsibility. The greater our freedom from external restrictions, the more do we become the rightful subjects of the moral law within us. The less our accountability to man, the greater our accountability to a higher power. Such a thing as irresponsible right has no existence in this world. Even in the formation of opinion, which is of all things the freest from human control, and for which something like irresponsible right has been claimed, we are deeply answerable for the use we make of our reason, our means of information, and our various opportunities of arriving at a correct judgment. It is true, that so long as we observe the established rules of society, we are not to be called upon before any human court to answer for the application of our leisure; but so much the more are we bound by a higher than human law to redeem to the full our opportunities. Tho application of this general truth to the circumstances of your present position is obvious. A limited portion of leisure in the evening of each day is allotted to you, and it is incumbent upon you to consider how you may best employ it.’
  • To infer the existence of an intelligent cause from the teeming evidences of surrounding design, to rise to the conception of a moral Governor of the world, from the study of the constitution and the moral provisions of our own nature; – these, though but the feeble steps of an understanding limited in its faculties and its materials of knowledge, are of more avail than the ambitious attempt to arrive at a certainty unattainable on the ground of natural religion. And as these were the most ancient, so are they still the most solid foundations, Revelation being set apart, of the belief that the course of this world is not abandoned to chance and inexorable fate.
  • Let x represent an act of the mind by which we fix our regard upon that portion of time for which the proposition X is true ; and let this meaning be understood when it is asserted that x denote the time for which the proposition X is true. (. . .) We shall term x the representative symbol of the proposition X.
  • It has been said, that the principle involved in the above and in similar applications is that of the equal distribution of our knowledge, or rather of our ignorance the assigning to different states of things of which we know nothing, and upon the very ground that we know nothing, equal degrees of probability. I apprehend, however, that this is an arbitrary method of procedure. Instances may occur, and one such has been adduced, in which different hypotheses lead to the same final conclusion.
  • From these definitions it follows that the word probability, in its mathematical acceptation, has reference to the state of our knowledge of the circumstances under which an event may happen or fail. With the degree of information which we possess concerning the circumstances of an event, the reason we have to think that it will occur, or, to use a single term, our expectation of it, will vary. Probability is expectation founded upon partial knowledge. A perfect acquaintance with all the circumstances affecting the occurrence of an event would change expectation into certainty, and leave neither room nor demand for a theory of probabilities.”

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