Thursday, April 3, 2014

Who writes this stuff

Like everyone we know I am glued to the new Cosmos series during its time slot. Only now though (after three episodes) does come to mind a larger significance of that opening scene where people (drawings of people as the graphic mode is introduced to historical reconstructions) are cowering as they look up to the sky. The creators of Cosmos are heralding the theme of the whole series in this shot. That theme being man can go from fear to courage. I suspect this absurd view of history is designed to counter the climate change deniers. And here we see the limitations of binary thought, that is, the mechanical rational thought which is all most people know as thinking. The clarity of binary thought is seen in this division into brave modern science loving people and bad dumb people clinging to theistic models. Binary thought forces the listener into such silly divisions. Are you a science lover or a climate denier? I suspect this division is taken seriously by many working scientists, and maybe ALL science popularizers.

Perhaps I will come back to my theme: what is wrong with this picture-- science lovers versus climate change deniers. We could discuss--

1. Why this division obscures the important points, like how these first people may have been smarter and braver than we are now.

2. Is the underlying theme really that man can become himself, a god, rather than that science needs to get beyond religion?

3. Does the vista of the starry sky at night make man seem tiny and insignificant and is this perspective realistic? Or could this vista be, as those careful of their phrasing might say: the beginning of wisdom.

4. If the traditional definition of god is that being who is eternal, all-knowing, all powerful, ubiquitous, what does it mean to suggest these descriptions could be applied to man. 

I might return to these questions. Meanwhile I will not miss the next episodes. And how clever of the directors to cast Neil deGrasse Tyson in the main role, that adorable teddybear sweet and gentle and glowing with smartness guy. Brilliant casting. I can hardly wait. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

The strangest news this month

In a month of strange news-- mud slides, and lost planes, and fascist phantoms,
the strangest news might be the manner in which American commentators discussed the situation behind Putin's actions. 

I heard it several places but David Brooks, a conservative spokesman, is one, and he described the danger the world faced because Putin is "narcissistic and insecure." What kind of analysis is that. Couldn't that really describe everyone-- I mean how does that forward the discussion.
Is psychologism the best we can do. 

 And mainly, what happened to Lord Acton? Has his maxim been bettered? Power corrupts. 

And absolute power corrupts absolutely. What is happening is at the level of hormones. Everything really, but no need to push that aspect now. Hormones, not neurons are what is behind Putin's land grab of the Crimea. And while the future may sound more and more explicable in terms of psychological diagnoses, such, in fact, obscure what is going on.

Which is simple enough.