Tagged: Descartes Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • feedwordpress 08:01:55 on 2018/07/14 Permalink
    Tags: , Descartes, , , , , The Twist,   

    “One cannot conceive anything so strange and so implausible that it has not already been said by one philosopher or another”*… 

     

    philosophy

    There comes a moment in every philosophy student’s life, perhaps when struggling through a logic set or trying to parse some impenetrable Derrida essay, that the inevitable question comes up: What’s the point? A new philosophy paper, published in the June 2018 edition of the Journal of Practical Ethics, argues that there isn’t one.

    At least, there’s not a singular coherent point that the field is working towards. Whereas history is clearly focused on understanding our past and biology is devoted to explaining living organisms, there’s some confusion as to philosophy’s purpose. There are clear themes of course, such as the meaning of life, and what constitutes reality. But the subject is huge and sprawling, encompassing questions about metaphysics, epistemology, language, and ethics, among others. Is the point of philosophy to unravel the nature of the universe, or how we know what we know, or the role of language, or answer some other great question?…

    Find out why (and whether it matters) at “What’s the point of philosophy? A new philosophy paper says there isn’t one.

    * René Descartes

    ###

    As we wax philosophical, we might recall that it was on this date in 1961 that Billboard Magazine reported that the teenage dance craze, The Twist, was being picked up by the adult crowd in Philadelphia.

    twist source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:22 on 2018/03/31 Permalink
    Tags: codes, , Descartes, , , musical cryptography, ,   

    “Secret codes resound. Doubts and intentions come to light.”*… 

     

    Music cryptography is a method in which the musical notes A through G are used to spell out words, abbreviations, or codes…

    Early 17th- and 18th-century mathematicians and cryptologists such as John Wilkins and Philip Thicknesse argued that music cryptography was one of the most inscrutable ways of transporting secret messages. They claimed that music was perfect camouflage, because spies would never suspect music. When played, the music would sound so much like any other composition that musically trained listeners would be easily fooled, too. Thicknesse wrote in his 1772 book A Treatise on the Art of Deciphering, and of Writing in Cypher: With an Harmonic Alphabet, “for who that examined a suspected messenger would think an old song, without words, in which perhaps the messenger’s tobacco or snuff might be put, contained a secret he was to convey?” Written letters don’t have this advantage…

    This music cipher was supposedly proposed by Michael Haydn (brother of Franz Josef Haydn). It appears in an appendix to a biography about Haydn by Werigand Rettensteiner published in 1808.

    More musical mischief at “With Musical Cryptography, Composers Can Hide Messages in Their Melodies.”

    * Wislawa Szymborska

    ###

    As we bury the lede, we might tip the plumed birthday bonnet to Rene Descartes, the French philosopher and mathematician who thought and therefore was.  He was born on this date in 1596.

    Many contemporaries (perhaps most notably, Pascal) rejected his famous conclusion, the dualist separation of mind and body; more (Voltaire, et al.), since.  But Descartes’ emphasis on method and analysis, his disciplined integration of philosophy and physical science, his insistence on the importance of consciousness in epistemology, and perhaps most fundamentally, his the questioning of tradition and authority had a transformative– and lasting– effect on Western thought, and has earned him the “title” of Father of Modern Philosophy.

    “In order to improve the mind, we ought less to learn than to contemplate.”
    – Rene Descartes

    Frans Hals’ portrait of Descartes, c. 1649

    source

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:36 on 2018/01/13 Permalink
    Tags: Act Against Multiplication, , , Descartes, Elisabeth of Bohemia, Henry IV, , , ,   

    “The ghost in the machine”*… 

     

    Pity (detail), by William Blake, c. 1795

    How is it that mind and body manage to interact and affect each other if they are such different things? This question was pressed on Descartes in the spring of 1643 by a young woman of twenty-four, Elisabeth von der Pfalz, also known as Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia. When others raised such difficulties, Descartes tended to brush them aside. But he listened to the princess…

    Anthony Gottlieb tells the remarkable story of the correspondence between René Descartes and Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia—a debate about mind, soul, and immortality: “The Ghost and the Princess.”

    * Gilbert Ryle (The Concept of Mind, in part a critique of Descartes’ mind-body dualism)

    ###

    As we try to get it together, we might that it was on this date in 1404 that King Henry IV signed into law the Act Against Multiplication– which forbade alchemists to use their knowledge to create precious metals… and effectively, thus, outlawed chemistry in England.  Since the time of Roger Bacon, alchemy had fascinated many in England.  The Act of Multipliers was passed by the Parliament, declaring the use of transmutation to “multiply” gold and silver to be felony, as a result of concern that an alchemist might succeed in his project– and thus bring ruin upon the state by debasing the national currency and/or furnishing boundless wealth to a designing tyrant, who would use it to enslave the country.  The Act was in force until 1689, when Robert Boyle and other members of the vanguard of the scientific revolution lobbied for its repeal.

     source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:24 on 2017/03/31 Permalink
    Tags: , , Descartes, , , hukou, , ,   

    “The first problem of living is to minimize friction with the crowds that surround you on all sides”*… 

     

    China, the country with the largest population in the world, has just found another 14 million people, equal to about one percent of its population of 1.37 billion

    Note that 14 million people is a group larger than the populations of 124 of the world’s 197 countries– then read the full story at: “China keeps finding millions of people who never officially existed.)

    * Isaac Asimov

    ###

    As we emphasize enrollment, we might tip the plumed birthday bonnet to Rene Descartes, the French philosopher and mathematician who thought and therefore was.  He was born on this date in 1596.

    Many contemporaries (perhaps most notably, Pascal) rejected his famous conclusion, the dualist separation of mind and body; more (Voltaire, et al.), since.  But Descartes’ emphasis on method and analysis, his disciplined integration of philosophy and physical science, his insistence on the importance of consciousness in epistemology, and perhaps most fundamentally, his the questioning of tradition and authority had a transformative– and lasting– effect on Western thought, and has earned him the “title” of Father of Modern Philosophy.

    “In order to improve the mind, we ought less to learn than to contemplate.”
    – Rene Descartes

    Frans Hals’ portrait of Descartes, c. 1649

    source

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:00 on 2017/02/11 Permalink
    Tags: continents, Descartes, , Father of Modern Philosophy, , , , Mauritia, Mauritius, ,   

    “Plato intended to write a long fable about legendary Atlantis; like Solon, he never did write it. Yet there existed beyond the Atlantic an unvisited land, after all”*… 

     

    The lost continent of Mauritia likely spanned a great swathe of the Indian Ocean before it was torn apart by indomitable geologic forces and plunged into the sea. Now, a good chunk of it may have been found.

    In 2015, researchers visited the island of Mauritius, east of Madagascar, to study volcanic rocks. While there, they unearthed something unexpected. Embedded in the rocks were ancient crystals, dated up to three billion years old—300 times older than the island’s young volcanic surface. Rocks this old come from Earth’s continents, but there aren’t any continents around Mauritius. It’s surrounded by boundless sea in all directions. There was just one place left for the researchers to look—down. Their findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, suggest that the curious crystals came from a long-forgotten place buried well beneath the island…

    Plumb the depths of Earth’s history at “Scientists may actually have found a lost continent.”  See also here (from whence, the illustration above)

    * Russell Kirk

    ###

    As we take tectonics into account, we might spare a thought for René Descartes, the French philosopher and mathematician who thought and therefore was; he died on this date in 1650.

    Many contemporaries (perhaps most notably, Pascal) rejected his famous conclusion, the dualist separation of mind and body; more (Voltaire, et al.), since.  But Descartes’ emphasis on method and analysis, his disciplined integration of philosophy and physical science, his insistence on the importance of consciousness in epistemology, and perhaps most fundamentally, his the questioning of tradition and authority had a transformative– and lasting– effect on Western thought, and has earned him the “title” of Father of Modern Philosophy.

    “In order to improve the mind, we ought less to learn than to contemplate.”
    – Rene Descartes

    Frans Hals’ portrait of Descartes, c. 1649

    source

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:19 on 2015/08/19 Permalink
    Tags: Descartes, empiricism, , , Natural Selection, , , , ,   

    “Every technology, every science that tells us more about ourselves, is scary at the time”*… 

     

    Further to last weekend’s visit with Silicon Valley’s security robots...

    Researchers led by the University of Cambridge have built a mother robot that can independently build its own children and test which one does best; and then use the results to inform the design of the next generation, so that preferential traits are passed down from one generation to the next.

    Without any human intervention or computer simulation beyond the initial command to build a robot capable of movement, the mother created children constructed of between one and five plastic cubes with a small motor inside.

    In each of five separate experiments, the mother designed, built and tested generations of ten children, using the information gathered from one generation to inform the design of the next. The results, reported in the open access journal PLOS One, found that preferential traits were passed down through generations, so that the ‘fittest’ individuals in the last generation performed a set task twice as quickly as the fittest individuals in the first generation…

    email readers click here for video

    “Natural selection is basically reproduction, assessment, reproduction, assessment and so on,” said lead researcher Dr Fumiya Iida of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, who worked in collaboration with researchers at ETH Zurich. “That’s essentially what this robot is doing – we can actually watch the improvement and diversification of the species… We want to see robots that are capable of innovation and creativity…”

    See and read more here (and here).

    * Rodney Brooks

    ###

    As we select naturally, we might spare a thought for Blaise Pascal; he died on this date in 1662.  A French mathematician, physicist, theologian, and inventor (e.g.,the first digital calculator, the barometer, the hydraulic press, and the syringe), his commitment to empiricism (“experiments are the true teachers which one must follow in physics”) pitted him against his contemporary René “cogito, ergo sum” Descartes…

     source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:01 on 2015/02/21 Permalink
    Tags: Descartes, , errors, , , , , , , ,   

    “Learning languages is like learning history from the inside out”*… 

     

    In a way that’s analogous to the evolution of morphology via mutation, the changes in the languages that we speak are driven by “mistakes” that get baked into practice.  For instance…

    AMMUNITION

    projectiles to be fired from a gun

    It is common to misanalyze an article that precedes a word as if it were part of that word. Here the French phrase la munition was misanalyzed so the “a” of the article became part of the word, becoming l’ammunition

    ARCHIPELAGO

    a group of many islands in a large body of water

    The etymology of archipelago seems like it should be from Greek arkhi meaning “chief” andpelagos “sea,” suggesting the importance of a sea with so many islands. The problem is that this form never occurs in ancient Greek, and the modern form is actually borrowed from Italian, with the intended meaning being “the Aegean Sea.” If that’s the case, then the archi- inarchipelago is actually a corrupted version of Aigaion, which is how you say “Aegean” in Greek…

    More words that originated in error.

    * Eric van Lustbader

    ###

    As we misspeak creatively, we might spare a thought for Baruch (or Benedict) de Spinoza, the Dutch philosopher who lived a quiet public life as a lens grinder– but whose rationalism and determinism put him in opposition to Descartes and helped lay the foundation for The Enlightenment, and whose pantheistic views led to his excommunication from the Jewish community in Amsterdam.  He died on this date in 1677.

    As men’s habits of mind differ, so that some more readily embrace one form of faith, some another, for what moves one to pray may move another to scoff, I conclude … that everyone should be free to choose for himself the foundations of his creed, and that faith should be judged only by its fruits; each would then obey God freely with his whole heart, while nothing would be publicly honored save justice and charity.

    Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, 1670

     source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:52 on 2015/02/11 Permalink
    Tags: Anders Sandberg, Descartes, , hazard, , , , , , , warning   

    “History is a vast early warning system”*… 

     

    … Still, the hazards we face at any point in time have altogether-contemporary characteristics.  Happily, Anders Sandberg has ridden to the rescue a new collection of warning signs…

    See them all at “Warning Signs for Tomorrow.”

    * Norman Cousins

    ###

    As we duck and cover, we might spare a thought for René Descartes, the French philosopher and mathematician who thought and therefore was; he died on this date in 1650.

    Many contemporaries (perhaps most notably, Pascal) rejected his famous conclusion, the dualist separation of mind and body; more (Voltaire, et al.), since.  But Descartes’ emphasis on method and analysis, his disciplined integration of philosophy and physical science, his insistence on the importance of consciousness in epistemology, and perhaps most fundamentally, his the questioning of tradition and authority had a transformative– and lasting– effect on Western thought, and has earned him the “title” of Father of Modern Philosophy.

    “In order to improve the mind, we ought less to learn than to contemplate.”
    – Rene Descartes

    Frans Hals’ portrait of Descartes, c. 1649

    source

     
c
compose new post
j
next post/next comment
k
previous post/previous comment
r
reply
e
edit
o
show/hide comments
t
go to top
l
go to login
h
show/hide help
esc
cancel