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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index L > Robert Latta Quotes

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Robert Latta
(15 Jun 1865 - 18 Feb 1932)

Scottish philosopher, translator and logician best known for his substantial translation of Leibniz’s chief works, to which Latta supplied substantial introductory essays, valuable notes and appendices. It was published in 1898 titled The Monadology and Other Philosophical Writings.


Science Quotes by Robert Latta (1 quote)

The influence of the mathematics of Leibnitz upon his philosophy appears chiefly in connection with his law of continuity and his prolonged efforts to establish a Logical Calculus. … To find a Logical Calculus (implying a universal philosophical language or system of signs) is an attempt to apply in theological and philosophical investigations an analytic method analogous to that which had proved so successful in Geometry and Physics. It seemed to Leibnitz that if all the complex and apparently disconnected ideas which make up our knowledge could be analysed into their simple elements, and if these elements could each be represented by a definite sign, we should have a kind of “alphabet of human thoughts.” By the combination of these signs (letters of the alphabet of thought) a system of true knowledge would be built up, in which reality would be more and more adequately represented or symbolized. … In many cases the analysis may result in an infinite series of elements; but the principles of the Infinitesimal Calculus in mathematics have shown that this does not necessarily render calculation impossible or inaccurate. Thus it seemed to Leibnitz that a synthetic calculus, based upon a thorough analysis, would be the most effective instrument of knowledge that could be devised. “I feel,” he says, “that controversies can never be finished, nor silence imposed upon the Sects, unless we give up complicated reasonings in favor of simple calculations, words of vague and uncertain meaning in favor of fixed symbols [characteres].” Thus it will appear that “every paralogism is nothing but an error of calculation.” “When controversies arise, there will be no more necessity of disputation between two philosophers than between two accountants. Nothing will be needed but that they should take pen in hand, sit down with their counting-tables, and (having summoned a friend, if they like) say to one another: Let us calculate.” This sounds like the ungrudging optimism of youth; but Leibniz was optimist enough to cherish the hope of it to his life’s end.
— Robert Latta
By Robert Latta in 'Introduction' to his translation of Gottfried Leibnitz, The Monadology and Other Philosophical Writings (1898), 85. Also quoted (omitting the last sentence) in Robert Édouard Moritz, Memorabilia Mathematica; Or, The Philomath’s Quotation-Book (1914), 205-206.
Science quotes on:  |  Alphabet (14)  |  Calculation (134)  |  Cherish (25)  |  Controversy (30)  |  Dispute (36)  |  Friend (180)  |  Hope (321)  |  Language (308)  |  Leibnitz_Gottfried (2)  |  Logic (311)  |  Mathematics And Logic (27)  |  Optimism (17)  |  Philosopher (269)  |  Philosophy (409)  |  Sign (63)  |  Symbol (100)  |  Thought (995)  |  Youth (109)


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Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton


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