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Re: [ontolog-forum] Hermeneutics and semiotics

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 03 Apr 2014 16:19:06 -0400
Message-id: <533DC23A.3080404@xxxxxxxxxxx>
On 4/2/2014 4:14 PM, Barkmeyer, Edward J wrote:
> The mercantile economy began to make inroads in the feudal economies
> in the 11th century, but it did not come to dominate until the end
> of the 13th century.    (01)

The 13th c is the critical turning point.  Merchants always drive the
economy, but mathematics can make a big difference.  I recommend    (02)

    Crosby, Alfred W. (1997) The Measure of Reality:  Quantification
    and Western Society, 1250-1600, Cambridge: University Press.    (03)

Crosby notes the rapid growth in measuring and  calculating:    (04)

  * Modern mechanical clocks (tower sized) were invented around 1270.
    The hours, as measured by sun dials, didn't differ much between
    summer and winter in Africa, but variations were huge in northern
    Europe.  In 1270, there were no clocks.  By 1300, nearly every
    European town had a clock in the church tower or was building one.    (05)

  * In the middle of the 13th c, painters began to introduce three-
    dimensional effects.  By the end of the 13th and early 14th c,
    Giotto developed perspective.    (06)

  * In music (another of the four mathematical arts), polyphonic music
    developed in the 13th century.  To coordinate the voices, the new
    music (ars nova) divided music in *measures*.    (07)

  * Also in the 13th c, Fibonacci was the first European mathematician
    to adopt Arabic numerals.  The bookkeepers and bankers adopted them
    in the 14th c.    (08)

Quotation from Crosby, p. 206
> About 1300, in that wondrous era of eyeglasses, clocks, ars nova, and
> Giotto, some Italian accountants began using what we call double-entry
> bookkeeping.  Possibly, in its origins, it had some relationship with
> algebra (from the Arabic al-jabr, and not by accident), which also
> divides the grist that comes to its mill into two categories, insisting
> that what is plus in one column can only be minus in the other, and vice
> versa.    (09)

> What we do know is that at the beginning of the fourteenth century
> Rinieri Fini, agent of a Florentine banking house at the fairs in
> Champagne, and Tuscan merchants working out of Nimes in the south of
> France were keeping their books with assets and liabilities posted
> separately.  This was just a beginning.  Yet to come were a number of
> features of technical language, abbreviation, and form that we consider
> characteristic of and even essential to bookkeeping.    (010)

Crosby also notes that the success in measuring and counting inspired
theologians to quantify "indulgences" by the days deducted from a soul's
suffering in purgatory.  This might sound silly.  But modern parole
boards and employee appraisals aren't much better.    (011)

John    (012)

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