Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

Re: [Icehouse] Zendo rules question

  • From"Marc Hartstein" <marc.hartstein@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • DateFri, 8 Dec 2006 13:34:10 -0500
On 12/8/06, Timothy Hunt <games@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

A Koan has the buddha nature, if and only if it contains a stack whose
total pip value is the same as the number of letters in the colour of
the top-most pyramid in that stack.

That rule is legal, but poorly defined.  As you point out, the phrasing allows for some potential ambiguity.  An unambiguous phrasing would have been "...the same as the number of letters in the official name of the colour..." (or the official English-language name if there's more than one)

I refer to the official name because there's also potential ambiguity, for instance, whether the CYAN pieces are CYAN, TEAL, LIGHT BLUE, or some other name, which would have a different result.

The reason the rule is legal is that the Master wasn't going to change languages depending on which player was looking at a koan.  Regardless of time, location, or any other outside factor, the Master of that game would mark any given koan the same way.  Thus, it's possible for the students to determine the rule.

Another way of looking at this is that a student who doesn't know English can still figure the rule out.  It will be an exceedingly difficult rule for them, but they can figure it out.  The rule is, "A koan has the Buddha nature iff it contains a stack whose total pip count is determined by the color of the top-most pyramid according to the following: BLUE = 4, RED = 3, YELLOW = 6, GREEN = 5"

Notice that my rule is the same as the rule proposed, assuming the Master was referring to the official English names of the standard four colors.

A lot of people have trouble stating rules unambiguously.  This is ok as long as they, as Masters, can interpret the rule without ambiguity.  This is for the same reason that a guess is correct if it cannot be disproven even if it's not stated the same way as the rule the Master was thinking of.
Do you see how this is different than a rule which refers to, a piece pointing North, or a piece placed by John?

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