Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

Re: [Icehouse] [Zendo] Another Spock Rule question

  • FromMarc Hartstein <marc.hartstein@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • DateMon, 01 Aug 2011 18:21:53 -0400
Excerpts from Jeff Zeitlin's message of Mon Aug 01 17:26:42 -0400 2011:
> On Mon, 01 Aug 2011 08:53:46 -0400, "Ryan Hackel" <deeplogic@xxxxxxxxxx>
> wrote:
> >Since we're on the subject of the Spock Rule, I have a question from a 
> >recent session that I've been meaning to bring up.
> >The rule was "A koan has the Buddha Nature if the first letter of each 
> >color in a stack of pyramids, read from top to bottom, spells out a 
> >legit Scrabble-acceptable word."  For example, a stack of pyramids with 
> >a "B"lue on top of an "O"range on top of a "G"reen spells "BOG" and thus 
> >has the Buddha Nature, while a stack of Red-Purple-Yellow spells 'RPY" 
> >and lacks the Buddha Nature.  
> >Our cunning master argued that the BH was a function of the pyramids 
> >alone, independent of other things, and met the Spock Rule.  I 
> >countered, saying that it falsely assumed that Spock can spell in the 
> >English language. (We also argued about whether purple also counted as 
> >violet.)
> >Bottom Line: Does a rule that involves spelling or language violate the 
> >Spock Rule?
> I hold that it does, because the language that the colors of the
> pyramids are named in is not inherent to the pyramids, their
> relationship to each other, or to the surface.  You and I speak English,
> but what if Spock were to transport that koan to a table in (say)
> Helsinki, where the colors are named in Finnish?  Given that Finns play
> Scrabble in their own language, does the koan still have the
> Buddha-nature?

"A koan has the Buddha nature if and only if it consists of a single
stack of one or more pyramids, ordered such that if each color has a
mapping onto a letter in the Roman alphabet {blue -> "B", red -> "R",
green -> "G", yellow -> "Y", cyan -> "C", magenta -> "M", orange -> "O",
purple -> "P"}, if you concatenate the letters represented by the pieces
in order from top to bottom those letters form a single word which can
be found in the '[Scrabble] Official Tournament and Club Word List
Second Edition'"

If the koan were transported to Helsinki, the non-English-speaking Finns
could still map colors onto letters and check the letter clusters
against the word list. It would be tedious, and they'd be highly
unlikely to come up with the rule as the intuitive understanding of what
constitutes the set of Buddha-nature-having koans is outside of their
experience. This makes it a *bad* rule, not an invalid one.

The word list is not an "external reference". It's a fixed, well-defined
set. We can prove this because instead of including the word list by
reference, you could replace that section of the rule I give above by
"....can be found in the following list: {ab, ad, ah, ..." It would just
be an even more unnecessarily cumbersome phrasing.

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