Umbrella Quotes (3 quotes)

A paradigm is an all-encompassing idea, a model providing a way of looking at the world such that an array of diverse observations is united under one umbrella of belief, and a series of related questions are thus answered. Paradigms provide broad understanding, a certain “comfort level,” the psychological satisfaction associated with a mystery solved. What is important here, and perhaps surprising at first glance, is that a paradigm need not have much to do with reality. It does not have to be factual. It just needs to be satisfying to those whom it serves. For example, all creation myths, including the Judeo-Christian story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, are certainly paradigms, at least to those who subscribe to the particular faith that generated the myth.

The traditional mathematics professor of the popular legend is absentminded. He usually appears in public with a lost umbrella in each hand. He prefers to face a blackboard and to turn his back on the class. He writes

“In order to solve this differential equation you look at it till a solution occurs to you.”

“This principle is so perfectly general that no particular application of it is possible.”

“Geometry is the science of correct reasoning on incorrect figures.”

“My method to overcome a difficulty is to go round it.”

“What is the difference between method and device? A method is a device which you used twice.”

*a*, he says*b*, he means*c*, but it should be*d*. Some of his sayings are handed down from generation to generation:“In order to solve this differential equation you look at it till a solution occurs to you.”

“This principle is so perfectly general that no particular application of it is possible.”

“Geometry is the science of correct reasoning on incorrect figures.”

“My method to overcome a difficulty is to go round it.”

“What is the difference between method and device? A method is a device which you used twice.”

“In order to ascertain the height of the tree I must be in such a position that the top of the tree is exactly in a line with the top of a measuring-stick—or any straight object would do, such as an umbrella—which I shall secure in an upright position between my feet. Knowing then that the ratio that the height of the tree bears to the length of the measuring stick must equal the ratio that the distance from my eye to the base of the tree bears to my height, and knowing (or being able to find out) my height, the length of the measuring stick and the distance from my eye to the base of the tree, I can, therefore, calculate the height of the tree.”

“What is an umbrella?”

“What is an umbrella?”