Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/533

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529
THE VALUE OF SCIENCE

This is possible, but I shall observe first that this little humanness which would remain in the non-Euclideans would suffice not only to make possible the translation of a little of their language, but to make possible the translation of all their language.

Now, that there must be a minimum is what I concede; suppose there exists I know not what fluid which penetrates between the molecules of our matter, without having any action on it and without being subject to any action coming from it. Suppose beings sensible to the influence of this fluid and insensible to that of our matter. It is clear that the science of these beings would differ absolutely from ours and that it would be idle to seek an 'invariant' common to these two sciences. Or again, if these beings rejected our logic and did not admit, for instance, the principle of contradiction.

But truly I think it without interest to examine such hypotheses.

And then, if we do not push whimsicality so far, if we introduce only fictitious beings having senses analogous to ours and sensible to the same impressions, and moreover admitting the principles of our logic, we shall then be able to conclude that their language, however different from ours it may be, would always be capable of translation. Now the possibility of translation implies the existence of an invariant. To translate is precisely to disengage this invariant. Thus, to decipher a cryptogram is to seek what in this document remains invariant, when the letters are permuted.

What now is the nature of this invariant it is easy to understand, and a word will suffice us. The invariant laws are the relations between the crude facts, while the relations between the 'scientific facts' remain always dependent on certain conventions.

(To be concluded)