Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Whimsical Aside

People I hope recall that this blog is not about Jan Cox, the 20th century philosopher and mystic, per se. It is about demonstrating his precept for his students, about originality -- a means to grow despite the mechanical nature of our world. But here we digress, with an incident that reminds us of a joke Jan liked: the one which ends "he had a hat." It is a common joke but to make sure everyone gets this-- the set up is an old woman and her grandson on a beach. The boy is swept away, but then rescued and returned by a heroic passer-by. The woman says --- ....

Of course he, and we from his example, liked making up our own new jokes, and this is an old one. It came back when I read this morning, from a blog of the Royal Society, this item in the records of the Royal Society Journal Book for 7 January 1702:

‘Mr Molesworth said, that Mr Haistwell’s brothers servant having lately lost his Hat in a Storm, in an East-India-Voiage: some 30 Leagues off, the next day, in a calm, they took a Shark, in which they found the Hat.’

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Time of the Signs

Here is what noted historians are saying now, quote, 
...the liberal thinker Michael Ignatieff recently wrote: “Enlightenment humanism and rationalism” can no longer adequately “explain the world we’re living in.”

More than once lately I am reminded of something Jan Cox said in the 1990s. He said, [For the first time in history] people have no place to go. To my knowledge he did not follow up that apercu.But its significance may become clearer. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The function of conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theories are all wrong for one basic reason. By this statement I refer not to the limits of verbiage. No, conspiracy theories are wrong because they all assume the human intellectual capacity is greater than it actually is. To pull off a conspiracy involving the twin towers is one example---- nobody is smart enough to set that up.  For this to be possible you have to estimate the intelligence of engineers as higher than it is, and then you would have to estimate the conspirators as a lot smarter than the engineers are. There is nobody on this planet, who knew in the moments before the plane hit a tower, that the tower would then collapse.

Another example-- the assassination of the archduke in Sarajevo. That succeeded because of an accident, the hit did not take place on the scheduled route.

Only in a world without contingency, a locked in jigsaw of comprehensible cause and effect, could the typical conspiracy succeed, but that is not the way our universe is.

Of course there are many physical scientists who assume this picture-- everything colliding in  ironclad causal interconnections--IS the way the world operates, and we just have not yet found out all the rules. They assume that all dim areas will be eliminated eventually, probably sooner than later.

Which brings me to UFOs, etc, nicely drawn on the blackboard in the picture below which I got from  Spiked Review.  The modern apprehension about life in outer space, the amounts spent on discovering that possibility, the generally gloomy visualizations of the possibilities of encounters with such, is actually a perspective that dates to before man's grasp of his reasoning capabilities even began. These views expressed by the spokesfolks for natural science, are the same as primitive man's apprehension that he is in a huge and transitory world and even the higher powers are fickle.

One word for the situation is that the complexity of which we are a part, is greater than man can comprehend. We succeed by knowing the boundaries as we press on them. Conspiracy theories function to hide man's ignorance.

Here is supplementary reading--- I didn't but you might like to. It provided me with a perch on which to sketch out some ideas about conspiracies. No need to read beyond the headlines, but if you insist, here is one.

FRANK FUREDI The politics of the hidden agenda
A short essay from 2009 on how conspiracy theorising has now become respectable.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pucker This

Maybe it is ALL----- all of discourse ---- all, dog whistling

Monday, October 31, 2016

What scary stories mean

Man is still evolving. He [everyone] has an awareness of this, but cannot directly face this open  edge, so to speak, because it is logically contradictory to his assumptions about his own competence and importance. Perhaps this is related to the desire he feels for scary stories. It is like he can look at his own unknowable future in a mirror. But why should that future edge be frightening. The scary part relates to his reliance on the presumption his binary rational mind is the best tool to deal with the world. Why after all should the unknown in itself be scary.  Only it seems to me because this prospect directly challenges the presumptions underlying his perception of his own self-worth.

That creaky board in the attic means your assumptions don't really weigh what you think they do.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Heraclitus and Parmenides Walk Into a Bar

Heraclitus and Parmenides Walk Into a Bar.
They look at each other as they raise their steins.
"To solid gold" says Heraclitus.
Parmenides says, "To constant turbulent effervescence."

From the corner of the bar Schrodinger's cat narrows his eyes.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

this slogan or that slogan

Not the best example I have noticed today,(October 9, 2016) perhaps, but this headline from the Nautilus newsletter, seeks to interest readers in an article with this headline:
We like to think modern man is inherently different, better somehow, than our ancient forebears. But is that just wishful thinking? 

Newsroom wise that headline must be pretty good--- it got my attention. Even so, just a little thought reveals these sentences to be total gibberish.

Yes, we like to think modern man is inherently different;
yes that is is just wishful thinking.

But man IS different, and alike both, both now, and then.

We inherit the realm of wishful thinking every morning, at least til we have coffee. And then we wishfully think, along with many other thoughts. and we still arrive at work, and valid conclusions, regardless of the hue of our thinking.

My point is these thoughts AND their opposites are equally appropriate.

To pick one, ANY ONE, of these options, yes or no, is to lose a reality which might be glimpsed.

What I am pointing to is the plausibility of that headline. It sounds learned and intriguing; who notices it is ridiculous? That is, if one can stand apart from the ordinary thinking process.