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Great Minds are Made


About 30 years ago friends of David Hirsch's wife gave Hirsch the plaque pictured above.

At first Hirsch did not know what to make of it. Einstein, Freud, Franklin. Must be a list of smart people. Then Hirsch happily noticed who was listed fifth. A few seconds later Hirsch's mood changed. Why was he only fifth? Then his mood changed again when he realized he was the only living person on the list. It's great to be five, while you're still alive!

Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason has a chapter devoted to Jefferson, and another chapter on Newton. The book also addresses Aristotle. So who really belongs on the list? Hirsch is fine with Jefferson and Newton. But Aristotle on the list -- and number 1? Would love to hear from you after you read our book(s).

You may email david or dan by putting either first name in front of: @thestructureofreason.com


Ellicott's Eloquence


Surveyor Andrew Ellicott lived January 24, 1754 through August 28, 1820. He surveyed District of Columbia boundaries and helped map western territories. He completed work on the plan for Washington, D.C. He taught survey methods.

The quotation below is from the beginning of Andrew Ellicott's January 18, 1801, letter to Thomas Jefferson.

DEAR SIR                         Philadelphia Jany. 18th. 1801

The first part of the fifth volume of the transactions of our Philosophical Society is now with the printer.more than one half of it will consist of the astronomical journal kept on our southern boundary.The charts, and plans, are yet with our executive, and I do not expect to obtain them till after the 4th. of March next.I have been told by Mr. Pickering and others, that the work done on our North eastern boundary, has been executed in a truly scientifick manner, that the astronomical observations, and mathematical deductions, are very important, some of which will doubtless be found in the report.If so, and there should be no impropriety in it, it would be a desirable object to have them for our next volume. The journal with an account, and discription of the instruments made use of, if it could be had, would be preferable to the report, or the observations extracted from it.It appears to me that publicity ought to be given to all papers of that kind, particularly such as have a tendency to improve the geography of our own extensive country.A contrary policy can only originate in a narrowness of mind, and be defended by persons, who would prefer a conclusion drawn from one of Aristotle's syllogisms, to a deduction from Euclids elements. …


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Copyright 2012-2017 by David Hirsch and Dan Van Haften; all rights reserved.
    
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