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If controversies were to arise, there would be no more need for
disputation between two philosophers than between two accountants.
For it would suffice to take their pencils in their hands, to sit
down to their slates, and to say to each other (with a friend as
witness, if they liked): Calculemus [Let us calculate].

G.W. Leibniz (ca 1670) ... concerning the development of the Logical Calculus.

No one answer satisfies everyone, partly because any subject can be described at various levels of complexity. The classic example of this question of degree of detail is that of 'electricity'; this means, for the householder, knowing how to switch on lights: for the electrician, knowing how to mend fuses and repair wiring defects but for the physicist it is part of an abstract theory of matter. What explanation we give depends on the context and the use to which the answer has to be put.

One can also place emphasis on the research side of the subject or on its applications; in the case of cybernetics the first may seem abstract but the second is certainly concrete. Just to make matters more complicated there are various ways of defining terms apart from the degree of complexity which they carry; so if a definition is required then the problem is that much more difficult. We will start therefore with some abstract statements and then become more concrete, and leave the reader to select the level of approach he finds most helpful. The reader should always remember that we are trying, for the sake of clarity, to talk in the simplest terms.

F H George, Cybernetics, 1971.


It is impossible to disassociate language from science or science from language, because every natural science always involves three things: the sequence of phenomena on which the science is based, the abstract concepts which call these phenomena to mind, and the words in which the concepts are expressed. To call forth a concept, a word is needed; to portray a phenomenon, a concept is needed. All three mirror one and the same reality.

Antoine Lavoisier, 1789


[L]ogic, in so far as it exhibits the universal and necessary laws of the understanding, must in these very laws present us with criteria of truth. Whatever contradicts these rules is false, because thereby the understanding is made to contradict its own universal laws of thought; that is, to contradict itself.

Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, I, 2nd Part, II. Of Transcendental Logic


He who in reasoning cites authority is making use of his memory rather than of his intellect.

Leonardo Da Vinci, Thoughts on Art and Life


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