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Posts Tagged ‘philosophy

The folly in the quest for perfection!

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Lee Smolin at Harvard University
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Lee Smolin is a world class scientist and does his science in Canada. He recently reviewed a book by Marcelo Gleiser that has a highly suggestive title “A Radical New Vision for Life in an Imperfect Universe”. Here is a telling excerpt from that book selected by Smolin for his review:

It became clear to me that scientists and seekers of perfection from all walks of life have been courting the wrong muse. It is not symmetry and perfection that should be our guiding principle, as it has been for millennia….The science we create is just that, our creation. Wonderful as it is, it is always limited, it is always constrained by what we know of the world….We may search for unified descriptions of natural phenomena, and we may find some partial unifications along the way. But we must remember that a final unification is forever beyond our reach….The human understanding of the world is forever a work in progress. That we have learned so much, speaks well of our creativity. That we want to know more, speaks well of our drive. That we think we can know all, speaks only of our folly.

As I read those lines I couldn’t help thinking that he could be describing how religious authorities propose unified models for human morality. Surely the one constant here, human folly, applies as much in the scientific domain as in the moral.

Scientists seem to be ready to express humility in the face of human intellectual weakness. When will religious spokespersons do as much? Is it possible that religious authorities speak from a position of intellectual arrogance since they propose that they are the final judges on earth of the perfection of their vision of human life.

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NY Times calls it “The Stone”

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Simon Critchley
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But for me it’s more like a light in all the darkness out there. It’s a regular posting place for a number of Philo profs. Today’s post by Simon Critchley discusses the true meaning of Love. No not the schmaltz stuff of TV or tabloid but the real mcCoy, the one that hurts more than titillates. Real love nor emotional pap

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/08/09 at 00:27

Religious faith and what I believe!

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Cults and new religious movements in literatur...
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There are so many things I like about NY Times,  or maybe you haven’t noticed that it’s my main feed! This morning I found this nugget that reminds me of my non-religious beliefs and a sound reason for them.

Yes, I am an agnostic and that’s the position that most philosophers accept as the most tenable one for human bein’s. But I beg your indulgence and say that I am no philosopher, even with my agnostic thinking. Though it’s true that I like to philosophize.

Here’s the quote from this morning’s piece about philosophy:

In these popular debates about God’s existence, the winners are neither theists nor atheists, but agnostics — the neglected step-children of religious controversy, who rightly point out that neither side in the debate has made its case.   This is the position supported by the consensus of expert philosophical opinion.

So, I feel better in my conscious mind about my agnostic beliefs because the nonsense of an all powerful caring God Father in this universe of such immensity, violent beginnings and endings of star systems et al is just too obvious. I accept many of the moral teachings of Jesus, but God Incarnate, gimme a break!

Here’s the view of another agnostic who blogs at 3 Quarks:

Having recently spent two weeks in Cambridge (the one in the United Kingdom) on a Templeton-Cambridge Fellowship, being lectured to by believers and nonbelievers, I found myself feeling more than anything unconvinced by certainties on either side. And feeling the need for solidarity and identity with other doubters. Thus my call for a revivified agnosticism. Our T-shirt will read: I just don’t know.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/08/01 at 15:27

I guess philosophy is coming back!

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Bertrand Russell, Nobel laureate in Literature...
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A few days ago I commented here about the connection I found between a Big Think video by Stephen Fry and Bertrand Russell‘s “History of Western Philosophy” . This morning I read a new blog hosted by NY Times, The Stone, that we are promised will offer us regular writings by a variety of philosopher’s curated by Simon Chritchley.

Image representing Big Think as depicted in Cr...
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Chrichley begins the posts with the title “What is a philosopher?” in which he offers this succinct thought:

The freedom of the philosopher consists in either moving freely from topic to topic or simply spending years returning to the same topic out of perplexity, fascination and curiosity.

That thought reminds me of my attitude about a lot that I read on philosophy, history,  religion et al.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/05/16 at 15:55

According to BBC News …

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The Death of Socrates (1787)

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Here’s the lead paras:

It’s World Philosophy Day – an opportunity to contemplate one’s very existence and whether computer monitors really exist, says David Bain.

People expect different things of philosophers. Some expect us to be sages. When these people meet me, my heart sinks, since I know theirs is about to. Others expect us to have a steady supply of aphorisms up our sleeves, such as that love is never having to say you’re sorry (something no partner of mine has ever been persuaded of).

They too are disappointed when they meet me, especially when I say that the glass so beloved by optimists and pessimists is both half full and half empty.

They propose four “big questions” for you so read’em and weep!

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Sean Carroll is my favorite source about cosmology

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Sunset at loch EweImage by eleda 1 via Flickr

Sean Carroll writes some of the most compelling essays that seem to me to be about the philosophy of cosmology. His writing is lucid, interesting and gives me the faint impression that I actually understand what he is writing about!

And he seems to have all kinds of interesting acquaintances!

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2008/08/07 at 10:09

T. Dalrymple comments on neuroscience and the “meaning of any life”

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Statue of David Hume. Taken by Storkk in Edinb...
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Do the Impossible: Know Thyself – New English Review Annotated

  • Theodore Dalrymple makes acute observations about the human condition and this is another one in my book!
    – post by robertg69

His words:

In my opinion, the great philosopher David Hume understood why human self-understanding was forever beyond our reach. It is not a coincidence that he always expressed himself with irony, for the deepest irony possible is that of the existence of a creature, Man, who forever seeks something that is beyond his understanding.

Hume was simultaneously a figure of the enlightenment and the anti-enlightenment. He saw that reason and consideration of the evidence are all that a rational man can rely upon, yet they are eternally insufficient for Man as he is situated. In short, there cannot be such a thing as the wholly rational man. Reason, he said, is the slave of the passions; and in addition, no statement of value follows logically from any statement of fact. But we cannot live without evaluations.

Ergo, self-understanding is not around the corner and never will be. We shall never be able seamlessly to join knowledge and action. To which I add, not in any religious sense: thank God.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2007/03/08 at 09:18