(Roughly) Daily

“A hole can itself have as much shape-meaning as a solid mass”*…

Holes. Caity Weaver wonders about them:

What is a hole?

A hole is a portion of something where something is not. Beyond that, holes are slippery. (As a concept — only some in reality.) Is a hole necessarily empty on both sides, like the gaps in a slice of Swiss cheese? Or need it only be empty on one side, like a pit dug into the earth? Is a hole with a bottom less of a hole than one without one? Can a slit be a hole, or must a hole be vaguely round? Does a straw have two holes, as one Reddit user pondered, or just one — a single thick hole, if you will?…

[She then proceeds to explore the concept etymologically…]

Wait — What Is a Hole?

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy goes right for the, well… philosophical:

Holes are an interesting case study for ontologists and epistemologists. Naive, untutored descriptions of the world treat holes as objects of reference, on a par with ordinary material objects. (‘There are as many holes in the cheese as there are cookies in the tin.’) And we often appeal to holes to account for causal interactions, or to explain the occurrence of certain events. (‘The water ran out because the bucket has a hole.’) Hence there is prima facie evidence for the existence of such entities. Yet it might be argued that reference to holes is just a façon de parler, that holes are mere entia representationis, as-if entities, fictions.

[There follows a fascinating account of the theories of holes…]


A whole lot about nothing…

*Henry Moore


As we hit ’em where they ain’t, we might spare a thought for mathematician Henri Cartan; he died on this date in 2008. A founding member (n 1934) of and active participant in the Bourbaki group, Cartan made contributions to math across  algebra, geometry, and analysis, with a special focus on topology (that branch of math that plays with holes in toruses, Klein bottles, and other other-worldly shapes).


Written by (Roughly) Daily

August 13, 2023 at 1:00 am

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