A rose is a rose is a rose. Yeah, well it’s also true that a kidney stone is a kidney stone is a kidney stone.
Long before Gertrude Stein wrote her oft quoted floral identity, mathematicians knew this to be true. Things are what they are.
What a thing is, is what it is. Does this mean that a rose is a rose because it’s not a kidney stone? To say that something “is” something else means that the else is the something.
But does that mean that what the meaning of the word “is” is what meaning is all about? (Try saying that three times fast!)
Ow, my tongue hurts. Let’s get back to roses.
Better yet, let’s take a look at the basic math being used here.
(Come on, you really didn’t think you were going to get away without getting an earful — or eyeful — of math, did you?)
When we say something is something, such as “1 + 1 is 2”, we mean that one plus one and two are the same thing.
But if you write an equation saying “2 = 1 + 1”, that seems to bother people. Hey, isn’t the “2” on the wrong side of the equation?
Equal means equal. In other words, equal equals equal, is equals is, and is is is.
And so it is with numbers.