The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0964 Tuesday, 27 April 2004 From: Marcus Dahl <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> Date: Tuesday, 27 Apr 2004 00:05:26 +0100 Subject: 15.0948 Stylometrics Comment: RE: SHK 15.0948 Stylometrics >or at least know that they cannot >know According to my non-mathematician's understanding of Godel he demonstrated that there is no fundamental axiom for all mathematics thus putting pay to about 30 years of work by Russell and Whitehead et al who were trying to show just the opposite in (I think) their 'Principia Mathematica' (or some such pseudo Newtonic title). My comment was then intended to refer to certain negative outcomes of Stylometry and one conclusion: (1) Rather than making a positive demonstration of authorship it may be possible to 'prove' instead that we cannot know who wrote certain texts attributed to certain authors. i.e. there may be a limit to either the theoretical or empirical evidence avilable to 'prove' positive authorship. (2) That such negative apriori or apostiori proofs may be non-the-less formally acceptable as 'proof'. Thus it may be possible to make some priori requirements for evidence and statements about that evidence before surveying that evidence which would formally curtail our ability to demonstrate positive proof. (3) That this situation could be beneficial to Attribution Studies generally. Now: I am to some extent conflating two things here (but I know I am) - the possibility of mathematical proofs (i.e. in a closed language system) and the possibility (imagined or real) of empirical proofs (or sets of statements etc for which falsifiable and repeatable evidence exists or might exist). My essential point remains the same - it is sometimes better to show that 'you don't know' by some form of universally acceptable proof or evidence than it is to show that 'you might know' by a set of non-universally accepted proofs or evidence. This is my fairly off the cuff response so will reflect more on any wider significance of rather my hand wavey Godel reference. I am sure Ward Elliott's collaborator Robert Valenza would know lots about this ... Gabriel is of course right to pick me up on this! Best, Marcus _______________________________________________________________ S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net> DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the editor assumes no responsibility for them.