The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0977  Thursday, 29 April 2004

From:           Marcus Dahl <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 28 Apr 2004 13:30:05 +0100
Subject: 15.0974 Stylometrics
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0974 Stylometrics

I am not sure if Gabriel thinks that the link between AI, Godel and
stylometry was mine:

 >The unspoken link here is Artificial Intelligence and the popular (but
 >false) idea that Godel had shown that no Turing Machine could do the
 >intelligent things that we humans can do. The special thing we can do is
 >spot when a candidate for arithmetic truth really is true, which Godel
 >showed is something that no machine (because no algorithm) can do in
 >every case.  In fact, Godel's theorem doesn't apply even here, since in
 >fact no human can spot arithmetic truths unfallibly either: we
 >undoubtedly use algorithms just as a machine would. Godel dealt in
 >philosophical absolutes, while our minds only have to be clever enough
 >to get ourselves reproduced in order to fulfil the role they're made for.

But I assure him that nothing could have been further from my mind since
I had never thought of Godel in this context.

My thought was with the 'Key to All Mythologies' style accusation
against Stylometry - in which the critic accuses the attribution scholar
of attempting the impossible. My connection with Godel was simply that
sometimes it is possible to show reliably that we cannot in principle
know / do something - and that this form of Stylometry would be just as
useful as the kind that attempts to prove 'positive' knowledge.

It is interesting that Stanley Wells' post on Shaksper today precisely
shows my previous point concerning the editorial policy of Shakespeare
editors in respect to attribution of authorship - and how important it
is therefore to know whether the stylometric / attributive 'findings'
upon which the editor relies are in fact demonstrably 'true' (or contain
falsifiable conditions etc).

 >John Jowett's recently published Oxford Shakespeare/World's Classics
 >edition of Timon of Athens represents the strongest case yet made for
 >the collaboration, and EDITS THE PLAY with FULL ACCEPTANCE OF THE
CASE. (my capitals).

If John Jowett's evidence (or that which he 'fully accepts' cannot be
shown in principle to be false then it is Freudian, far removed from
Godel and Popper and not particularly useful - but if it can - then we
may 'fully accept' it with John Jowett).

All the best
Marcus best to be sure Dahl

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