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Posted by Harvey on July 8, 2004 20:49:03 UTC

"a point is the smallest distance possible so it can't be measured it's only measure for other concepts,but there is nothing more basic than it"

What do you mean by smallest? What do you mean by distance? What do you mean by possible? What is a measurement? What is a concept? What is nothing? What is basic? Let's re-word your sentence and maybe you can see what I mean:

"a squaz is the figgest mooth osins so it can't be lothlaned it's only lothlan for other fizzgothens, but there is alcazing more zippizy than it."

Now, before you just brush off this re-worded sentence as gibberish, consider that it replaces certain terms in your text with words that are undefined in English (as far as I am aware). No one who speaks English would have the slightest idea what you are talking about. By defining space you either must use words that have meaning by our common reference to spatial things that we experience in some fashion (e.g., point, distance, measurement, etc), or you have to introduce terms that have no meaning (e.g., squaz, figgest, mooth, osins, etc).

In the first case, you aren't defining space, you are merely making reference to things that humans experience. For example, if I have a dog named Spot, and then you hear me say the name 'Spot' you might know that I am talking about a dog, but 'Spot' doesn't define a dog, it only refers to a particular dog, my dog, named 'Spot'. If I secretly changed the name of the dog from 'Spot' to 'Xeonal', then you have no way of knowning what a 'Xeonal' is. Anybody who thinks Spot defines a dog is easily fooled in that case.

So, bottomline is that mathematics is not defining these basic terms, it just takes advantage of our human experience of certain concepts (e.g., space) and then with a little abstraction we fool ourselves into thinking that our human experience of space is somehow defineable by the language itself. Spot knows better than chasing his tail like this, but it still fools those who put too much credence in formal languages.

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