FOM: Rota AS IS
Robert Tragesser
RTragesser at compuserve.com
Thu Nov 19 22:35:56 EST 1998
Steve Simpson has mentioned Rota's "As" (as discussed in Rota's
INDISCRETE THOUGHTS) and Joe Shipman has expressed puzzlement. I'll
take a shot at explaining what's at issue and pointing to some
connections maybe relevant to FOM. I'll be brief; there are many
complexities and subtlties of course. . . It is [3] below that contains
the important content.
[1] Yes, the use of 'as' here surely has its roots in the Aristotelian
'qua', as in: "Paul Erdo"s qua mathematician", "Paul Erdo"s qua
nomad", 'Paul Erdo"s qua worrier about digestion problems".
[2] But the attention Rota pays to "as" and the jobs he makes it do,
undoubtedly come from Heidegger. In Heidegger, the pattern IS AS IS AS
IS AS becomes a kind of trope for the cycle of analysis or other sort of
laying open. It's not worth explaining this.
[3] Rota main philosophical point is that most any thing you choose
(including mathematical items and such) has a very messy identity
indeed. Nothing can be identitfied through a simple identification such
as X is B. Rather we have
X as A
X as B
X as C
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