Home > satirical posts (about serious issues), serious posts > Of Axioms, Theorems and Proofs

Of Axioms, Theorems and Proofs

Here’s another sample of the postings on Auroconf in the last few days. In addition to Pandey’s rants, the “General Editor” of TheLivesofSriAurobindo.com could not miss the chance to make people aware of the “facts of the matter” by quoting at length from the “Information Handbook”. This is one of the responses:

Dear all,

All of us would have surely studied mathematics in our School days. I know that one of the erstwhile editors of TheLivesofSriAurobindo.com was surely known to be a student of Mathematics although about the other one I am not so sure. Be that as it may, in Mathematics – as it is well-known – there are Axioms and then there are Theorem and finally there are Proofs. No sane mathematician can substitute one for any other.

But in this case we find a curious phenomenon: An Axiom goes on rampage pretending that it is a Proof. That Peter has denigrated Sri Aurobindo, has harmed the Ashram , has abused Sri Aurobindo … etc. … etc. … I am sure many of us would like to know in which category (Axiom, Theorem, Proof) the erstwhile editors place these statements. I ask this because when I read the book myself my experience was very different. Contrary to what the erstwhile editors have obstinately asserted against all evidence and in a manner that is impervious to all known norms of reason, I find, as also do many others whom I know, that Peter has a very high regard for Sri Aurobindo.  Of course the erstwhile editors might say that Reason is not the highest guide for arriving at Truth. Most would not disagree with that. But please can the erstwhile editors tell us whether they also believe that the pursuit of Irrationality puts one securely on the path of Truth?

Now, I am sure that we have no problems with opinions – everyone is entitled to have them, be such opinions sane or insane. As long as opinions are treated as axioms there is no scope for any quarrel. And when there is no quarrel there is no scope or any need for some reconciliation.

However when such opinions present themselves not as Axioms and not even as Theorem to be proved or disproved but as irrefutable Proofs in themselves, we have a huge problem – a huge problem with the neo-mathematicians. Descartes would be somersaulting in his grave were he to know that his dictum has been significantly improved upon by his new age disciples: “ You may not agree with me – so what??? – I think it is so, therefore it must be so”.

The erstwhile editors, “committed to objective, academic, respectful and honest discussions”, are free to have their opinions but let them be upright enough to say that they are their opinions. Let them say that these are their axioms and they are free to build their own wonderfully resplendent phantasmagorical world based upon these axioms. That is their privilege and on one has any right to object to it. But for heaven’s sake let them not present these to us as if they were proofs. To put it more bluntly: let the erstwhile editors not impose what they know to be their views and what we classify as their prejudices upon others. If this be the case then from where would arise even the possibility of conciliation, mediation or whatever else some good-willed persons have been saying of late?


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