[FOM] alleged Hilbert quote

Patrick Girard pgirard at stanford.edu
Wed Sep 28 13:19:09 EDT 2005

On Fri, 2005-04-08 at 11:19 -0700, Martin Davis wrote:
>>/ Thanks to all who responded. As I presumed, the quotation is spurious - 
/>>/ apparently having been initiated by E.T. Bell.
/"One must be able to say at all times -- instead of points, straight lines,
/>/ and
/>/ planes -- tables, beer mugs, and chairs."

/There is something similar in Hilbert's letter to Frege on December 29, 1899 (cf. Frege-Hilbert correspondence):

"If in speaking of my points I think of some system of things, e.g. the system: love, law, chimney-sweep... and then assume all my axioms as relation between these things, then my propositions, e.g. Pythagoras' theorem, are also valid for these things."

and he goes on to say:

"All the statements of the theory of electricity are of course also valid for any other system of things which is substituted for the concepts magnetism, electricity..., provided only that the requisite axioms are satisfied."

On January 6 1900, Frege answered:

"Given your definitions, I do not know how to decide the question whether my pocket watch is a point."

Best Regards,
Patrick Girard 

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