Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Kant

Notes and tidbits on FB and Twitter. Part 66

La civilisation consiste en un long effort pour tromper les hommes sur eux-même. les calamités des guerres civiles sont la consécration que cette civilisation pourrie a reussi son objective

On a été élever pour prendre place dans un monde de gentlemen. Les coups bas étaient hors-la-loi. Et pourtant, ces coups bas sont devenus la régle

We all dance to a mysterious tune, people, animals, plants… To basic laws of nature Science is never finished: the human mind only uses a small portion of its capacity, and man’s exploration of his world is also limited.

Behind each cause is still another cause; the end or the beginning of all causes has yet to be found.

The whole of nature is life, and life, as I observe it, rejects a God resembling man.

The world needs new moral impulses which, I’m afraid, won’t come from the churches, heavily compromised as they have been throughout the centuries. If we want to improve the world we cannot do it with scientific knowledge but with ideals.

Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and Gandhi have done more for humanity than science has done.

The combination of scientific knowledge guided by humanistic ideals toward all living creatures can change the course of this rotten civilization

Trying to find out the laws of nature has nothing to do with mysticism, though in the face of creation I feel very humble.

I have faith in my intuition, the language of my conscience, but I have no faith in speculation about Heaven and Hell.

I’m concerned with this time—here and now. Intuition tells man his purpose in this life. Though we cannot strengthen our intuition without comprehending the limitation of accumulated facts

Robert Ford, former Ambassador in Damascus: Game is over in Iraq and Syria. Iran won and Assad won. We didn’t take into consideration the mass engagement of Iran and Hezbollah in Syria. (And 7ash sha3bi in Iraq).

Israel knows that the game is over in Iraq, Syria and even Lebanon.

It still sustain Trump’s illusions that something can be done. No US military bases will remain, unless the US wants a repeat of suicide attacks like in Beirut.

The Kurds in Syria must have no illusions of any kinds of independence: encircled on all fronts (Turkey, Syria and Iraq), no amount of weapons can sustain a food and energy blockade.

The most foolish Kurd leader is Barazani: He might attempt a suicidal confrontation with Iraq and Iran

Nadia Choukeir and Mariam Jawhari and their entire families died in the burning of the building with 58 other people. These two ladies were activists and submitted petitions demanding for remedies for the fire hazard to the rental administrators of Kensington and Chelsea 

The purpose of life is to reflect and decide after due diligence. Even domestic animals appreciate this acquired quality

It was in the making: dictatorship added to absolutism in Saudi Kingdom: wali wali al 3ahd stepped in after demoting wali al 3ahd

The missiles of Iran into Syria had 2 main messages for Kurdish Barazani and Jordan monarch: You harbour, train and dispatch terrorist Iranians in Iran and face dire consequences

Le capitaine decide, le commandant remarque, le colonel rappelled et le general s’étonne

On ne tue pas quelqu’un dont l’opinion est de donner á la paix une chance

On ne traite pas de traitre le pacifiste pour satisfaire les industriels de guerre

Les Francais hautement qualifiés et eduqués furent faucher en premiére lignes pour satisfaire “L’égalité du feu”, chair á canon égalitaire

Les Syriens et Libanais ont souffers du mandat Francais après WWI á cause de la pénurie de Francais éduqués et qualifiés en administration. On était réduit á endurer des militaires bornés.

If Kant made a difference in Einstein rational thinking, it maybe worth reading Kant.

Il y a une categorie de la plebe qui survit par calomnier tout le monde. Méprisant tout le monde. Une maladie incurable, mais vit trop longtemps.

Tant qu’elle mange, pisse et chie par l’anus et le larynx.

Une grande tribue qui n’a pas grand chose avec l’argent. Il y a des coins óu les indigénes vivent sur les arbres. C’est pas moi qui les forceraient á descendre.

On croit souvent qu’on est chez les autres, alors qu’on est seulement chez soi

L’irritation que l’on resent malgrés soi, lorsque les estropiés blessent votre vue. Ces fâcheux que l’on reproche d’y avoir survécu.

L’idée que les gens qui ont trop souffert ne sont plus capable de confiance, d’optimisme et de bonheur. Ces derniers characteristiques s’ appliquent aussi aux estropier emotionelles

On peut naturellement poser la question: “Que faites- vous ici au Tchad?” á pas mal de gens, ce qui fait qu’on ne la pose jamais.

Ca gratte: on a l’impression d’avoir Non pas choisi sa vie, mais de l’avoir manquée. Surtout quand on doit retourner 9 mois dans la forêt avec l’image des beaux yeux gris de la belle fille.

Les contradictions sont la roncon de toutes les veritiés á peu prés humaines. Et comme tout est contradiction, les vérités sont des création simplement humaine

Cette masse acharnés á la poursuite d’un ideal de dignité humaine, sans jamais parler de tolérance, de justice et de liberté.

Il me méprisait de toute la hauteur de 10 siècles de civilization trés blanche

In order to avoid any attempt to re-launch another peace process, Netanyahu and his extreme right parties has no choice but to divert attention to strategic Iran. Now that Iran won, Assad of Syria won, Hezbollah won, Iraq 7ashd sha3bi won… How long can Israel Netanyahu fool Trump and push him around and further into this quagmire?

The main fundamental ideology of Israel right parties is never to negotiate on acquired occupied Palestinian lands

Deterministic or free-will behavior: What is priming the “Thief Program”?

Do you know that a few universities have opened courses in “experimental philosophy“?

This new field of study combine neurosciences research with theoretical philosophical concepts such as finding out whether people believe that their behaviors and actions are determined (or perceived as predetermined) or if the “free-will factor” is a working concept…

This field of study wants to associate reflective and elaborate concepts with experimental studies.

Last September, the John Templeton Foundation contributed $4.4 million to a 4-year program in interdisciplinary research projects among natural scientists, philosophers, and theologians…

Apparently, Joshua Knobe and Shaun Nichols are working on 3 domains:  One, using neurosciences tools to study cerebral activities of subjects confronted with philosophical problems;

Two, adopting questionnaires to clarify intuitions and modalities of everyday reasoning, and

Three, conducting field experiences for observing the manners individuals behave in particular circumstances and situations.

US philosopher Daniel Dennett published “Theory of the evolution of liberty, (2004)” claims that we have tendency to dissociate the “I” from “my brain”.  For example, is there a specific zone in the brain exclusively reserved for the “I” or the “Cartesian theater of operations“?

The neuropsychology Benjamin Libet demonstrated that we become conscious of a decision half a second after our body gets prepared to react to a decision.

For example, the disparate “I” in our constitution and brain parts contribute to the decision.  It is sort every single muscle has an “I”, our genetic constitution has an “I”, every section and network of neurons has an “I”.

All our “I” have to reach a working consensus before the body react and a decision can be carried out. Isn’t that how a skill is described?

Neuroscientist Patrick Haggard wrote: “When we talk of free-will, we mean the richness of the act, of our capacity of acting intelligently, of not reacting in the same manner to the same stimuli…”

Scientists, neuroscientists, neuropsychologists, philosophers, theologians, and the legal profession have to agree on baseline consensus principles before any reasonable set of experiments can be carried out for the purpose of resolving this critical question.

First, operational definitions of “what is free-will decision” and “what is understood by deterministic behavior” we are measuring?

For example, how can these concepts be measured and quantified in any experiment? So far, neuroscientists consider an excitation of neurons in the brain as indication of a decision to act.  Their preferred measuring sticks are time of onset of the excitation and its duration…

Second, what kinds of excitations and their intensity level can be indicators of a particular decision? Sort of we need to agree on a taxonomy of decision.

For example, pushing a button, decisions for submitting to a test, an exam…considering an opportunity, running for election, committing a crime…

Third, the legal institutions must be involved in the definition and operational decisions. For example, will the court accept the definition and findings of the neuroscientists as valid in court under the principle of “individual responsibility”? Otherwise, how pragmatic any results can contribute to better mankind existence?

Four, how to separate community moral and ethical standards from how the real world functions and how people actually have tendency to behave?

For example, experiments demonstrated that group of subjects who were induced to believe in a deterministic world tended to cheat significantly (statistically) more often than the compared groups… Does cheating an indicator of community culture or an individual moral value…?

In Jan. 23, 2010, I published an article titled “Abduction field” or a priori “stealing” program” behavior.

I coined the term “abduction field” to describe and explain how people manage to function in their daily routine. People move and act as if executing an “a priori program”:  They seem to mentally “pick up” objects and event as they go about. People seem to know in advance what they want to do.

Hazards are just obstacles that the “abduction field” in the brain failed to adjust, in a timely manner, to redesign the plan.  It might be a good idea to explain what abduction reasoning means before I venture into this topic, and I urge you to read note#1, before you resume reading.

People use the abduction reasoning technique as routine behavior to decide, move, or act. People have implicitly a priori (idea, plan, concept, hypothesis, path, or line of actions) before they get moving.

People move as if they already know what will happen next; they adjust their plan as frequently as obstacles occur.  Thus, abduction reasoning is the rule instead of the exception in most commonly used strategies.  We either start our “conscious day” with a priming thief program or we opt for the default “Habit thief program” to carry on our daily decisions and activities.

The abduction field explains the contradictory feeling we have that our actions are frequently determined or occasionally following a free-will course of action.

For example, if we consciously start with a thief program that is pre-programmed to suit what we want today, we tend to steal objects, events, opportunities on our way.  Otherwise, the default value is the “habit thief program”, and we feel that the day is pretty much determined.

The individual “I” is spread all over our organism, physical, genetics, and mental (brain). Decisions are delayed until all the different varieties of “I” reach a working consensus, or a particular “I” or a set of “I” override the other I, depending on which thief program we launched at the start of the day, rejump it during the day according to our circadian cycles.

For a set of “I” to be able to override the many other “I” it requires a conscious effort of training and awareness for a long time. That is why, we have the feeling that our behavior is pretty much determined because we allow the “conventional wisdom”, habit of convenience, comfort, and “common sense” attitude to taking over our decision processes.

A good way to explaining the abduction field theory is by observing someone who is familiar with a particular supermarket.  The customer moves around and pick up items in a determined manner.

A few times, the customer stops and study particular varieties of the “same” items for prices, weight and chemical contents.  The supermarket guide the customer to pose and attend to special new items displayed on shelves. The customer might look as if he just woke up or is disoriented, but his action is kind of planned: he behaves pretty “sober” in his decisions.

People move and act within abduction fields of reasoning, otherwise, how can we imagine extending a step forward without advanced planning? The initial schemas of abduction fields are not that well oiled, and many errors and pitfalls occur during the abduction plans.  By the by, the human brain gets adjusted and trained to secure better fit in forecasting next steps and moves.

Highly intelligent people differ from normal intelligence in that, more frequently than not, they consciously apply deductive and inductive reasoning on their initiated abduction fields.  The implicit purpose is to optimize the “abductive field” performance by supporting it with better formal or coded laws among the working laws.

With conscious training and application of the other two reasoning methods, the individual acquire higher intelligence reasoning choices or diversified perspectives to viewing and resolving a problem.

Brainwashing is an application phenomenon of abduction field distortion.  Brainwashing is not so much a process of feeding misinformation or disinformation as in ideologically and dogmatic State-controlled government.  Brainwashing is the process of altering the abduction field so that an individual lacks the objective flexibility to pick up the appropriate objects, tools, or events to place on his “abduction path”.

For example,  the individual is picking what is available on his path, including ready-made terminology and definitions, and not what his brain was more likely to select in normal conditions.  The more institutions restrict the freedom of choices, the more the citizen is expected to select what is available to him.

The citizen starts emulating the “ideology” or the opinions of what have been displayed to him.  Most State institutions control people in restricting the availability of choices and opportunities, regardless what names are given to them (communist, socialist, democratic, capitalist, theocratic…)

When we say “this guy is a one track-mind or one-dimensional mind”, we basically means that his abduction field has been restricted by habit: His brain ended up lacking the potential flexibility and versatility to train and develop his abduction field reasoning.

Note 1: It might be a good idea to explain what abduction reasoning means before I venture into this topic.  Human mind uses many reasoning methods such as deduction, induction, and abduction.

Deductive reasoning is a process that starts from a set of basic propositions (proved or considered the kind of non provable truths) and then prove the next propositions based on the previous set.  In general, a law, natural or social, or a theorem in mathematics guides the demonstration.  Practically, it is like using a function to find the appropriate pieces of data or information that are available on a well drawn path or trend.

Inductive reasoning is a process of selecting samples from a phenomenon or a basket of items and then studying the samples.  If the items are the “same” in each sample then the individual is prone to recognize that a law is guiding that phenomenon. The sample taker is ready to form a law, though he knows that logically, if in the future one sample is wrong, then the law is logically invalid. In the mean time, the sample taker can resume his life as if the law is valid, as long as it is working (more frequently than not).

We call a “paradigm shift” the period when accumulated samples or observations are showing to be “false” and that the law has to be dropped for a better performing law.  The process needs time before the scientific community reaches a consensus for a change in venue, simply because it was comfortable using well-known mental structures.  The paradigm shift period is shortened if a valid alternative is demonstrated to work far better, not just slightly better, than the previous theory.

Abduction reasoning is an “intuitive” process such as having a few facts or data and we manage to find a connection among these facts.  In a way, we got an idea that the facts follow a definite trend.

For example, the astronomer and mathematician Kepler started with the notion that planets move in circles around the sun; his observations of Mars detected two positions that didn’t coincide with any circle. Kepler selected another trajectory among those mathematically described in geometry that might be appropriate.  The elliptical shape accounted for the two observed positions of Mars.

Kepler got convinced that planet trajectories are elliptical, but he needed to convince the “scientific community”. Thus, Kepler worked for many years waiting for Mars to cross different positions that he knew would inevitably be on the ellipse anyway.

Note 2: I am under the impression that Spinoza had the same philosophical theory when he wrote: “The movements of our investigative spirit obey real laws”.  If we think well, we are bound to think according to rules that link things one to another.  Kant adopted this reasoning and offered the “a priori” dispositions of the mind.

Note 3: You may access experimentalphilosophy.typepad.com

Note 4: I stumbled on this topic reading a piece in the French weekly “The International Courrier” #1095.

Maimonides (1138-1204) resurrects Ibn Rushd (Averroes) rational works

Maimonides (Mussa ibn Maimun) was 12 years younger than Ibn Rush (Averroes); they both were born in the same cultured city of Cordoba (southern Spain).

Cordoba was for over a century the center of intellect and civilization around the Mediterranean Sea basin.  In 1149, the family of Maimonides were given the option of leaving the city or convert to Islam:  A new Islamic tribe from Morocco (Almohades or the Al Muwahhidun) imposed a conservative climate in that free-spirited city where Moslems, Christians, and Jews lived in harmony.

The fathers of Maimonides and Ibn Rush are friends:  Ibn Rushd’s father is a Moslem judge while Maimonides’ father is a Rabbi of the Jewish community. Maimonides’ father encouraged the Jews who could not afford to leave to convert to Islam:  Islam is one of the purest monolithic religion and the mosques have no idols, icons, or pictures, on the basis that in due time, converted Jews can leave in order to resume their traditional ceremonies and way of life.

The family of Maimonides opted to leave:  It stays in Toledo (a city under King Alphonse VII of Castile), then move on to southern France to join a large Jewish community.  In 1160, the family is in Fez  (Morocco) and stayed there for 5 years; the family transfer to Tanger where Ibn Rushd is judge there.

In 1165, the family immigrated to Palestine. The father dies in Akka.  Maimonides is head of the family and they move to Alexandria (Egypt) and then to Fostat, 5 miles away from the Capital Cairo.  Maimonides will remain there and become the Ayubid Sultan’s physician.

Maimonides relied on Ibn Rushd’s works to perpetuate the rational and scientific trend.  He wrote:

“We may dispense of Platon’s works:  Aristotle’s works suffice, since they are the foundations and roots of scientific rational methods.  Aristotle’s works are difficult and many propositions cannot be comprehended without the commentaries and interpretations of Ibn Rushd.”

When Ibn Rushd was banned from publishing books or communicating what he wrote  in the last six years of his life, the increased pressures on Ibn Rushd’s freedom of expression resulted in regular events of  public burning of the scholars’ manuscripts.  Luckily, copies reached Cairo, northern Spain, and southern France (Languedoc province) where they were read and translated in Hebrew, Latin, and local languages.

As Ibn Rushd, Maimonides believes that “It is proven that all actions done by man emanate from his own volition.  No external forces oblige him to tend to virtue or evil doing.  Every man can become just or guilty, good or bad; it is his own will that select the way of what he desires.  If we suffer, it is by what we inflict upon ourselves; we tend to attribute our pains as originating from God. Mankind is but another species and element in this cosmos and the universe does not revolve around man.  God is but an abstract concept, even if the Books refer to hands and fingers of God just to accommodating the limited abstraction power of common people.  God should not be described as good, benevolent, compassionate, jealous or any other character attributes since they will break the unity of God.”

In 1199, Judah bin Tibon, who had been translating Maimonides works from Arabic to Hebrew in southern France, expressed the desire to visit him in Cairo. Maimonides discouraged Tibon to undergo this perilous voyage since he won’t have time to meet with him because of his tight schedule.

Maimonides wrote:  “Early every day I have to ride 5 miles to check on the health of the Sultan, his extended family, and the officials in the castle.  I rarely returns home before late in the afternoon.  When I arrive I am met by many visitors, judges, notable people, and mostly patients waiting for health check up.  I barely have time to have my only meal of the day.  By the time the patients are gone it is late at night, frequently until 2am.

On the Sabbath, the Jewish community pay me visit after morning prayer and we study till noon and give them instructions for the week. Frequently, they return after the afternoon prayer and we study some more til evening prayer.  Thus, I never have time for any private meeting.”

Maimonides spread the advice of Ibn Rushd:  “Have no fear searching for truth in sciences.  Truth cannot contradict truth; sciences is in accord with God’s revelations. God has nothing to fear when you use your rational intelligence to discovering the universe and the causes of phenomenon.  Dialectical and rhetorical reasoning cannot compensate for demonstrative reasoning.

Generally, common people confuse inferences with conclusions that are drawn from several premises. For example:  common people say “this person is a thief because he was seen wandering at night” and do not evaluate all the other factors that determine a thieving behavior.  Common people conclude that they will see God as we see the sun when they are told that God is light.

Learned people comprehend that beatitude and grace increase knowledge.  Truth is not intuitive but the accumulation of knowledge; we cannot become astronomer without learning and assimilating geometry and mathematics. Forbidding people from applying scientific methods on the ground that they lead to errors, abuse, and blasphemy is like forbidding someone from drinking lest he dies of thirst on the excuse that some people die from drowning.

Scientific methods of reasoning is not meant to defining God or the operations that lead to the creation of the universe:  It attests to its existence.  We cannot apply to God the categories and human concepts””

In 1180, Maimonides wrote to a Jewish community in Yemen asking for a second opinion:  A Jew proclaimed to be the Messiah

“It is not rare that such type of persons appears in history.  The Messiah cannot keep the promises that this person is spreading of happy eternal life:  The Messiah is not to change the laws of nature; pain, suffering, and injustice will not disappear; deserts will not become green and mountains will not be leveled out. The Messiah is not supposed to be a supernatural entity but someone to put an end to violence.  Those proclaiming to be messiah are but charlatans and mentally sick.”

One of the most known manuscripts of Maimonides is “Guide to the perplexed” or those who cannot help it but constantly raise questions relevant to the meaning of life, the universe, the identity of God… He suggested that the perplexed person gets on with the effort of studying philosophy and apply reason and scientific methods to resolving their uneasy conditions.

In Central Europe of the 18th century, the Hasidic Jewish sect would proclaim Maimonides and all the followers who consider him as their spiritual leader as “heretics”.  Nevertheless, Maimonides works influence Spinoza, Kant, Fichte, Darwin, Freud, Lancan, and Leo Strauss.

Ibn Rushd dared reflect on every single question exposed by the civilization of the period concerning the coherence among religious dogmas and scientific verities; he dared to write his answers.  Maimonides reflected too on the corny questions but refrained from writing them down; you could know his positions by inference to his answers.

A brief background:  In Maimonides life, Europe is still battling among its various Christian schisms of monophysite, Niceans  (Catholics), Nestorians, Arianus followers (predominant among the Germanic and Slavic people).  The Calif of Baghdad is reduced to a figure-head while the Turkish princes are the main power (the Mogul hordes will soon sack and destroy (in 1250) this famous city of Baghdad that concentrated 3 million urban citizens back then).

The Western Roman Empire had vanished, and the Byzantium Empire was weakening (soon will be reduced to a vassal condition to the Ottoman expanding power in Turkey).  Papal Rome is being selected by the Germanic monarchs as well as the bishops, and in many occasions, two popes are elected and backed by various monarchs. The political and military confrontations among the many Christian religious schisms on the nature of Jesus have taken their toll on Europe.

The crusaders are loosing their grips in the eastern parts of the Mediterranean Sea, and Saladin recaptured Jerusalem.  The Catholic monarchs of Castile and Aragon (Spain) had started the “reconquista” and Andalusia was wracked by wars among the multiple small kingdoms of Islamic monarchs; these internal wars were called “wars of Tawaif”.  In

In 1112, Ibn Tumar, a literate Berber from Algeria who spent ten years in Iran, returned to proclaim that he is the awaited “hidden” Mahdi (since 874) of the Islam sect the Shias and formed the Almohades (Al Muwayidun) or united Islam.

The Spanish Catholic monarch Alphonse 7th put siege to Cordoba in 1148.  The  Caliph of Cordona Abd Mu2min calls on the Almohades for rescue and outset the Almoravids dynasty (Al murabitun) or the ones in vigilance.  The Almoravids originated from Mauritania and were a powerful tribe of traders in the western Sahara that captured Morocco.

In 1497, Papal Rome encouraged the institution of a university in Padua (Italy) to teaching Aristotle’s works and be translated directly from ancient Greek.  It was a strategy of ignoring the influence of Islamic culture that was spreading in Catholic Europe.  The Renaissance scholars dared not communicate the sources of their knowledge and learning.

Since then, European scholars have continued this custom of deliberately ignoring seven centuries of Islamic civilizations when accounting for western Europe civilization.

Note 1:  I refrained to approach the theological questions and their corresponding responses because I am not interested in abstract concepts that lack demonstrative methods for confirming or denying veracity. Mind you that current borders among the Maghreb States were delimited by the mandated powers of France and Spain. Unless we know exactly the name of the towns and regions, it is difficult to confirm from which current State the persons were from…

Note 2: Ahmed sent me an interesting comment stating that Maimoune had racist attitudes, pretty normal during the Middle Age and and still going strong even today.

“I copied and pasted the translation you mention from the following website:

http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2011/01/judaism-or-racism-the-rambams-view-of-black-people-456/comments/page/2/

This website gives the source as the following: Maimonides, Guide To The Perplexed, Translation from the Hebrew Version.

The popular Jewish Israeli thinker Israel Shahak confirms that Maimonides did indeed express anti-black racist views, also confirming that Kushite means Black people in his book called, “Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years,” which was first published in 1994 by Pluto Press. It can be found online here:

http://www.iamthewitness.com/books/Israel.Shahak/Jewish.History.Jewish%20Religion-The.Weight.of.Three.Thousand.Years.pdf

Understandably translations vary from author to author and an example of this can be downloaded from the University of California internet archive:

http://archive.org/details/guideforperplexe00maim

Download the PDF book. On page 384 you will see the racist quote and the context.

The version of the book I have at home is translated by Michael Friedlaender. You can find it Online here:

http://oll.libertyfund.org/index.php?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=1256&Itemid=27

Go to Part Iii, Chapter Li. The second paragraph is the following:

“I will begin the subject of this chapter with a simile.

A king is in his palace, and all his subjects are partly in the country, and partly abroad. Of the former, some have their backs turned towards the king’s palace, and their faces in another direction; and some are desirous and zealous to go to the palace, seeking “to inquire in his temple,” and to minister before him, but have not yet seen even the face of the wall of the house. Of those that desire to go to the palace, some reach it, and go round about in search of the entrance gate.

Others have passed through the gate, and walk about in the ante-chamber; and others have succeeded in entering into the inner part of the palace, and being in the same room with the king in the royal palace. But even the latter do not immediately on entering the palace see the king, or speak to him; for, after having entered the inner part of the palace, another effort is required before they can stand before the king—at a distance, or close by—hear his words, or speak to him.

I will now explain the simile which I have made. The people who are abroad are all those that have no religion, neither one based on speculation nor one received by tradition. Such are the extreme Turks that wander about in the north, the Kushites who live in the south, and those in our country who are like these. I consider these as irrational beings, and not as human beings; they are below mankind, but above monkeys, since they have the form and shape of man, and a mental faculty above that of the monkey.”

“Abduction field” or a priori “stealing” program; (Jan. 23, 2010)

I am coining the term “abduction field” to describe and explain how people manage to function in their daily routine. People move and act as if executing an “a priori program”: they seem to mentally “pick up” objects and event as they go about. People seem to know in advance what they want to do.  Hazards are just obstacles that the “abduction field” in the brain failed to adjust in a timely manner to redesign the plan.  It might be a good idea to explain what abduction reasoning means before I venture into this topic.

Human mind uses many reasoning methods such as deduction, induction, and abduction. Deductive reasoning is a process that starts from a set of basic propositions (proved or considered the kind of non provable truths) and then prove the next propositions based on the previous set.  In general, a law, natural or social, or a theorem in mathematics guides the demonstration.  Practically, it is like using a function to find the appropriate pieces of data or information that are available on a well drawn path or trend.

Inductive reasoning is a process of selecting samples from a phenomenon or a basket of items and then studying the samples.  If the items are the “same” in each sample then the individual is prone to recognize that a law is guiding that phenomenon. The sample taker is ready to form a law, though he knows that logically, if in the future one sample is wrong, then the law is logically invalid. In the mean time, the sample taker can resume his life as if the law is valid, as long as it is working (more frequently than not).

We call a “paradigm shift” the period when accumulated samples or observations are showing to be “false” and that the law has to be dropped for a better performing law.  The process needs time before the scientific community reaches a consensus for a change in venue, simply because it was comfortable using well-known mental structures.  The paradigm shift period is shortened if a valid alternative is demonstrated to work far better, not just slightly better, than the previous theory.

Abduction reasoning is an “intuitive” process such as having a few facts or data and we manage to find a connection among these facts.  In a way, we got an idea that the facts follow a definite trend.  For example, the astronomer and mathematician Kepler started with the notion that planets move in circles around the sun; his observations of Mars detected two positions that didn’t coincide with any circle. Kepler selected another trajectory among those mathematically described in geometry that might be appropriate.  The elliptical shape accounted for the two observed positions of Mars. Kepler got convinced that planet trajectories are elliptical, but he needed to convince the “scientific community”. Thus, Kepler worked for many years waiting for Mars to cross different positions that he knew would inevitably be on the ellipse anyway.

Most scientific discoveries are fundamentally of the abduction kind reasoning. Usually, in order to describe the discovery process, scientists prefer to introduce as many deductive or inductive reasoning in the explanation so as to avoid sounding that the discovery was a pure fluke of intuition and not hard mental work.

People use the abduction reasoning technique as routine behavior to decide, move, or act. People have implicitly a priori (idea, plan, concept, hypothesis, path, or line of actions) before they get moving.  People move as if they already know what will happen next; they adjust their plan as frequently as obstacles occur.  Thus, abduction reasoning is the rule instead of the exception in most commonly used strategies.

A good way to explaining the abduction field theory is by observing someone who is familiar with a particular supermarket.  The customer moves around and pick up items in a determined manner. A few times, the customer stops and study particular varieties of the “same” items for prices, weight and chemical contents.  The customer might look as if he just woke up or is disoriented, but his action is kind of planned: he behaves pretty “sober” in his decisions.

People move and act within abduction fields of reasoning, otherwise, how can we imagine extending a step forward without advanced planning? The initial schemas of abduction fields are not that well oiled, and many errors and pitfalls occur during the abduction plans.  By the by, the human brain gets adjusted and trained to secure better fit in forecasting next steps and moves.

Highly intelligent people differ from normal intelligence in that, more frequently than not, they consciously apply deductive and inductive reasoning on their initiated abduction fields.  The implicit purpose is to optimize the “abductive field” performance by supporting it with better formal or coded laws among the working laws.

With conscious training and application of the other two reasoning methods, the individual acquire higher intelligence reasoning choices or diversified perspectives to viewing and resolving a problem.

Brainwashing is an application phenomenon of abduction field distortion.  Brainwashing is not so much a process of feeding misinformation or disinformation as in ideologically and dogmatic State-controlled government.  Brainwashing is the process of altering the abduction field so that an individual lacks the objective flexibility to pick up the appropriate objects, tools, or events to place on his “abduction path”:  The individual is picking what is available on his path, including ready-made terminology and definitions, and not what his brain was more likely to select in normal conditions.

When we say “this guy is a one track mind or one-dimensional mind” then we basically means that his abduction field has been restricted by habit: his brain ended up lacking the potential flexibility and versatility to train and develop his abduction field reasoning.

Note: I am under the impression that Spinoza had the same philosophical theory when he wrote: “The movements of our investigative spirit obey real laws”.  If we think well then we are bound to think according to rules that link things one to another.  Kant adopted this reasoning and offered the “a priori” dispositions of the mind.  I think Einstein misinterpreted Kant’s “a priori proposal” because Einstein was engrossed with the deductive processes in resolving the restricted relativity theory.  Einstein was not concerned of how people behave in their daily routines.

Note 1: The abduction field explains the contradictory feeling we have that our actions are determined frequently or following a free-will course of action, occasionally.  For example, if we consciously start with a thief program that is pre-programmed to suit what we want today, we tend to steal objects, events, opportunities on our way.  Otherwise, the default value is the “habit thief program”, and we feel that the day is pretty much determined.

Note 2: The individual “I” is spread all over our organism, physical, genetics, and mental (brain). Decisions are delayed until all the different varieties of “I” reach a working consensus, or a particular I override the other I, depending on which thief program we launched at the start of the day.

Cases of “Historical Dialectics” of human and knowledge development; (Dec. 23, 2009)

            Dialectics is not only used to comprehend historical development of human or knowledge development but is basic in discussions and effective dialogues. Hegel was first to introduce “dynamic logic” and used the term of historical dialectics as the interaction of an extreme opinion (thesis) that generates an opposite extreme counter opinion (antithesis) which results in a consensus (synthesis).  Historical dialectics is a macro method for long range study and it does not explain the individual existential conditions (survival situations).  Hegel offered dialectics as a method for explaining how human knowledge developed by constant struggle between contradictory concepts among philosophical groups. The purpose of his method was to demonstrate how the “universe of the spirit” or ideas managed to be raised in human consciousness.

            Before I offer my version of knowledge development it might be useful to giving a few examples of historical dialectics. In Antiquity, the pre-Socratic philosophers were divided between the Eleatics or philosophers who claimed that change of primeval substances was impossible: we cannot rely on our senses.  Heraclites reacted with his position that we can rely on our senses and that everything in the universe is in a state of flow and that no substance remains in its place.  The synthesis came Empedocles who claimed that we can rely on our senses but that what flow are the combination of substances but the elementary particles do not change. 

            The Sophists during Socrates were the paid teachers of the elite classes and tore down the mythological teaching of the period and focused on improving individual level of learning.  They were in effect in demand by a nascent City-State democracy of Athens that relied on a better educated society to participate in the political system. Socrates reacted by proposing that there are fundamental truths and knowledge is not an exercise in rhetorical discourse. The same dialectics worked between the world of ideas of Plato and the empirical method counterpoint of Aristotle.

            In the Medieval period the Catholic Church set up a barrier or distance between God and man and forced people to believe that all knowledge emanates from God.  The Renaissance man (wanting to be knowledgeable in many disciplines) reacted by promoting the concepts that God is in every element, that man is a complete microcosm of the universe, and that knowledge starts by observing nature and man.

            Another example is the position of Descartes who established that rationalism was the main source for knowledge.  David Hume responded by extending that empirical facts generated from our senses are the basis for knowledge. Kant offered the synthesis that the senses are the primary sources for our impressions but it is our perceptual faculties that describe and view the world: there is a distinction between “matter” of knowledge or the “thing in itself” and “form” of knowledge or the “thing for me”. Kant became the point of departure for another chain of dialectical reflections.

            Many philosophers used the dialectic methods to explaining other forms of development.  Karl Marx wrote that Hegel used his method standing on its head instead of considering human material conditions. Marx claimed that “philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change it”; thus, he defined three levels as basis of society: condition of production (mainly the geographic, natural resources, and climatic conditions), means of production (such as machineries and tools), and production relations (such as political institutions, division of labor, distribution of work and ownership). Marx claimed that the main interactions are among the working class (the new slaving method of production) and the owners of the means of productions or the ruling class: it is this struggle that develop the spiritual progress.  Another dialectical process is the extreme feminist political claims of equality between genders which brought about a consensus synthesis for a period.

            My view of progress is based on the analogy of combination of two schemas:

            The first schema is the coexistence of two strings of evolution (picture a DNA shape): the knowledge development (mainly technological) and the moral string (dominated mainly by religious ideologies).  The second schema is represented by historical dialectic evolutions in the shape of helical cones. The time lengths of cycles for the two strings are not constant: the technological progress phase has shorter and shorter cycles while the moral string has longer cycles.

            The two strings are intertwined and clashes frequently.  When one string overshadow the other string in evolution then there are a slow counter-reaction culminating in stagnate status-quo phases between the two forces. Technological or level of sustenance period has time length cycles that is shrinking at the top of the cone before the cone is inverted on its head so that the moral time length cycles start to increase and appears almost invariant (that what happened in the long Medieval period that stretched for over 11 centuries in Europe); then the cone is reverted on its base for the next “rebirth” cycles (for example the Renaissance period that accelerated the knowledge string ascent).

“Sophie’s World” on David Hume; (Written on Dec. 4, 2009)

How I stumbled on Jostein Gaarder’s “Sophie’s World”, one of New York Times best seller?

My niece is reading this book as required textbook in high school. The manuscript is of 513 pages divided in 35 chapters and talking of a wide array of philosophers and concepts from Socrates, to Descartes, to Hume, Hegel, Kant…, Freud, and the Big Bang.

A short introduction to the story might be entertaining.

The first chapter introduces us to Sophie Amundsen, a 15-year-old girl. Sophie arrives home from school and finds a first envelope addressed to her. The sheet of paper has a single hand written sentence “Who are you?”  Sophie finds another envelops that says “Where does the world come from?

The last delivery of the mailbox is a postcard “Hilde Moller Knag; c/o Sophie Amundsen, 3 Clover Close. Dear Hilde, happy 15th birthday. Forgive me for sending the card to Sophie. It was the easiest way. Love Dad.”

Sophie knows of no Hilde and the phonebook was of no help. Sophie has now three problems to resolve, all in one day. Sophie is baffled and confused:  She is starting her philosophical initiation.  Would Lillemor be the same person? If her hair was not straight and defying all cosmetics for a curly appearance, then would she behaved different? If her nose was a tad bit longer or her mouth smaller, would she be the actual Sophie?

The next problem is even harder to reflect on. Can anything come from nothing? If not, then how far has she to go to the sources in the creation process? Can a creating God come from nothing?

I jumped to page 267 on the British philosopher David Hume (1711-1776). 

Hume was the contemporary of Voltaire and Rousseau or the Age of Enlightenment.  The previous Age was of the “rationalists” such as Descartes, Lock, and Spinoza.

Hume published his main work “A treatise of human nature” when he was 28 of age.  He claims that he got the idea when he was 15.

The empiricist Hume (believing in experiments as the most valid method for acquiring knowledge) said:

“No philosophy will ever be able to take us behind the daily experiences or give us rules of conducts that are different from those we get through reflections on everyday life.”

For example, people have experienced or sensed wings on birds, but that does not mean that the complex idea of “angel” exists. Angels are associations in man’s imagination; thus, the concept of angels is false as an experienced reality and should be rejected from the knowledge baggage.

If a textbook does not offer any experimental reasoning concerning matter of facts and existence then it should be committed to the flames as a book of knowledge.

Hume wanted to know how a child experienced the real world. Hume established that man has two types of perceptions:

1. impression (immediate sensation) and

2. ideas of external reality.

Ideas are recollections of impressions.  For example, getting burned is not the same sensation as remembering getting burned: this would be a pale imitation of actually the stronger feeling of being burned.

Ideas can be simple or complex; we may form complex ideas of the world for which there is no corresponding “object” in the physical world such as angels or God. Each element in the complex idea was previously sensed and the mind constructed a “false object” if not actually existing for the senses.

Descartes indicated that “clear and distinct” ideas guarantee that they corresponded to something that really existed.

One example for Descartes affirmation is the ego “I”, which is the foundation for his philosophy.

Hume begs to differ.

Hume considers that the ego I is a complex idea and constantly altered.  Since we are continuously changing our alterable ego is based on a long chain of simple impressions that we did not experienced simultaneously. “These impressions appear, pass, re-pass, slide away, and mingle in infinite varieties of postures and situations.” It is like the images in a movie screen: they are disconnected single pictures, a collection of instants.

It is the same concept of Buddha (2500 years earlier). Buddha said “There is nothing of which I can say “this is mine” or “this is me””.  Thus, there is no “eternal soul” since “Decay is inherent in all compound things. Work out your own salvation with diligence.”  Hume rejected attempts to prove the immortality of the soul or the existence of God but he never ruled out their possible existence or that of miracles.

On his deathbed, Hume said “It is also possible that a knob of coal placed upon the fire will not burn.

A miracle works against the laws of nature; but again, we have never experienced the laws of nature.

All that we know results from “habit” of our experiences, such as witnessing relationship or “cause and effect” occurring many times, but that we can never say that it might happen “always”.

For example, adults are more awed by magic tricks than children: a child is no more impressed by an apple falling or just floating because he didn’t acquire the habit in his mind for natural occurrences.  Expectations lie in our mind and not in one thing following another.

We human are great in the task of cutting and pasting everything that impresses upon us. Hume says that the preconditions to assembling complex ideas is to have entered all the elements in the form of “simple impressions”.   If we imagine God to be infinitely “intelligent, wise, and good being” then we must have “known intelligence, wisdom, and goodness”.

(How man brought in the “infinitely” in his concept? Did it come from watching the sky as a substitute to the experience of infinity? Somehow, man is able to extrapolate on piece meal experiences).

Hume wanted “to dismiss all this meaningless nonsense which has long dominated metaphysical thought and brought it into disrepute.”  (The introduction of the term metaphysical gave terrible nightmares to the succeeding philosophers fearing that they might sound metaphysical and had to explain at great length their concepts).

Hume cut off the final link between faith and knowledge.

(I conjecture that the deficiencies of our perceptual senses provide rich sources of strong impressions that modify our view of the real world.  For example, when we see double for a while (a temporary affliction), or we feel the ground waving and shaking under our feet when drunk, or under the influence, or when we hear background noises, then these sensation are real first impressions and not just ideas.

Thus, the weaker our constitution, the more acute and varied are our experiences; the more adapted our brain for capturing associations the far more complex is our perception of the world.)

Einstein speaks on theoretical sciences; (Nov. 15, 2009)

I intend to write a series on “Einstein speaks” on scientific methods, theoretical physics, relativity, pacifism, national-socialism, and the Jewish problem.

In matter of space two objects may touch or be distinct.  When distinct, we can always introduce a third object in between. Interval thus stays independent of the selected objects; an interval can then be accepted as real as the objects. This is the first step in understanding the concept of space. The Greeks privileged lines and planes in describing geometric forms; an ellipse, for example, was not intelligible except as it could be represented by point, line, and plane. Einstein could never adhere to Kant’s notion of “a priori” simply because we need to search the characters of the sets concerning sensed experiences and then to extricate the corresponding concepts.

The Euclidian mathematics preferred using the concepts of objects and the relation of the position among objects. Relations of position are expressed as relations of contacts (intersections, lines, and planes); thus, space as a continuum was never considered.  The will to comprehend by thinking the reciprocal relations of corporal objects inevitably leads to spatial concepts.

In the Cartesian system of three dimensions all surfaces are given as equivalent, irrespective of arbitrary preferences to linear forms in geometric constructs. Thus, it goes way beyond the advantage of placing analysis at the service of geometry. Descartes introduced the concept of a point in space according to its coordinates and geometric forms became part of a continuum in 3-dimensional space.

The geometry of Euclid is a system of logic where propositions are deduced with such exactitude that no demonstration provoke any doubt. Anyone who could not get excited and interested in such architecture of logic could not be initiated to theoretical research.

There are two ways to apprehend concepts: the first method (analytical logic) resolves the following problem “how concepts and judgments are dependents?” the answer is by mathematics; however, this assurance is gained at a prohibitive price of not having any content with sensed experiences, even indirectly. The other method is to intuitively link sensed experiences with extracted concepts though no logical research can confirm this link.

For example: suppose we ask someone who never studied geometry to reconstruct a geometric manual devoid of any schemas. He may use the abstract notions of point and line and reconstruct the chain of theorems and even invents other theorems with the given rules. This is a pure game of words for the gentleman until he figures out, from his personal experience and by intuition, tangible meanings for point and line and geometry will become a real content.

Consequently, there is this eternal confrontation between the two components of knowledge: empirical methodology and reason. Experimental results can be considered as the deductive propositions and then reason constitutes the structure of the system of thinking. The concepts and principles explode as spontaneous inventions of the human spirit. Scientific theoretician has no knowledge of the images of the world of experience that determined the formation of his concepts and he suffers from this lack of personal experience of reality that corresponds to his abstract constructs.  Generally, abstract constructs are forced upon us to acquire by habit. Language uses words linked to primitive concepts which exacerbate the difficulty with explaining abstract constructs.

The creative character of science theoretician is that the products of his imagination are so indispensably and naturally impressed upon him that they are no longer images of the spirit but evident realities. The set of concepts and logical propositions, where the capacity to deduction is exercised, correspond exactly to our individual experiences.  That is why in theoretical book deduction represents the entire work.  That is what is going on in Euclid geometry: the fundamental principles are called axioms and thus the deduced propositions are not based on commonplace experiences. If we envision this geometry as the theory of possibilities of the reciprocal position of rigid bodies and is thus understood as physical science, without suppressing its empirical origin, then the resemblance between geometry and theoretical physics is striking.

The essential goal of theory is to divulge the fundamental elements that are irreducible, as rare and as evident as possible; an adequate representation of possible experiences has to be taken into account.

Knowledge deducted from pure logic is void; logic cannot offer knowledge extracted from the world of experience if it is not associated with reality in two way interactions. Galileo is recognized as the father of modern physics and of natural sciences simply because he fought his way to impose empirical methods. Galileo has impressed upon the scientists that experience describes and then proposes a synthesis of reality.

Einstein is persuaded that nature represents what we can imagine exclusively in mathematics as the simplest system in concepts and principles to comprehend nature’s phenomena. Mathematical concepts can be suggested by experience, the unique criteria of utilization of a mathematical construct, but never deducted. The fundamental creative principle resides in mathematics. The follow up article “Einstein speaks on theoretical physics” with provide ample details on Einstein’s claim.

Critique

Einstein said “We admire the Greeks of antiquity for giving birth to western science.” Most probably, Einstein was not versed in the history of sciences and was content of modern sciences since Kepler in the 18th century: maybe be he didn’t need to know the history of sciences and how Europe Renaissance received a strong impulse from Islamic sciences that stretched for 800 years before Europe woke up from the Dark Ages. Thus, my critique is not related to Einstein’s scientific comprehension but on the faulty perception that sciences originated in Greece of the antiquity.

You can be a great scientist (theoretical or experimental) but not be versed in the history of sciences; the drawback is that people respect the saying of great scientists even if they are not immersed in other fields; especially, when he speaks on sciences and you are led to assume that he knows the history of sciences.  That is the worst misleading dissemination venue of faulty notions that stick in people’s mind.

Euclid was born and raised in Sidon (current Lebanon) and continued his education in Alexandria and wrote his manuscript on Geometry in the Greek language.  Greek was one of the languages of the educated and scholars in the Near East from 300 BC to 650 AC when Alexander conquered this land with his Macedonian army.  If the US agrees that whoever writes in English should automatically be conferred the US citizenship then I have no qualm with that concept.  Euclid was not Greek simply because he wrote in Greek. Would the work of Euclid be most underestimated if it were written in the language of the land Aramaic?

Einstein spoke on Kepler at great length as the leading modern scientist who started modern astronomy by formulating mathematical model of planets movements. The Moslem scientist and mathematician Ibn Al Haitham set the foundation for required math learning in the year 850 (over 900 years before Europe Renaissance); he said that arithmetic, geometry, algebra, and math should be used as the foundations for learning natural sciences. Ibn Al Haitham said that it is almost impossible to do science without strong math background.  Ibn Al Haitham wrote mathematical equations to describe the cosmos and the movement of planets. Maybe the great scientist Kepler did all his work alone without the knowledge of Ibn Al Haitham’s analysis but we should refrain of promoting Kepler as the discoverer of modern astronomy science. It also does not stand to reason that the Islamic astronomers formulated their equations without using 3-dimensional space: Descartes is considered the first to describing geometrical forms with coordinates in 3-dimensional space.

Famous Manuscripts Banned by the Vatican: (Part 2, April 19, 2009)

Thousands of literary works were indexed by the Vatican from around 1200 to 1966.

Virtually no author was spared indexing. Pascal, Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Rousseau, Kant, Diderot, Stendhal, Lamartine, Hugo, Flaubert, Balzac, Saint-Simon, Proudhon, Zola, Sartre, and even Gide were indexed for part of their work. 

Voltaire was the most indexed: each of his manuscripts was automatically indexed before reading it. Voltaire would occasionally sign Ecralinf meaning (Let us crush the despicable infamous Church of Rome)

Ironically, Darwin, Karl Marx, and Hitler were spared INDEXING.

The Defender of Peace” by Marsile of Padua (Rector of the University of Paris) is published in 1324 and banned by the Church. The manuscript said that the function of governance does not suit the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) because this urge for domination of the Church is the bane of all discords.  Communities should be governed by their own councils.

Baruch Spinoza published “Treaty on Theological-Politics” in 1670.  He is excommunicated (herem) by the Jewish Wise Men of the synagogue of Amsterdam and later indexed by the Vatican. Spinoza claimed that the Torah is false, that soul dies with the body, and that God exist only philosophically.  Religions instituted a God with 7 main characteristics so that their logical scaffold can hold: God should be One, Unique, Omnipresent, has absolute authority and rights over everything, that obeisance to God consist in justice and charity, that Heaven and Hell are the consequences of our behaviors, and finally that God is forgiving because everyone is a sinner. Faith does not dwell on whether God is fire, spirit, light, or thought.

Pierre-Augustin de Beaumarchais published “The Wedding of Figaro” in 1781. This manuscript said of the aristocrats “You were given the pain of being born, and nothing else”; and thus was blamed for disturbing the social construct.  Beaumarchais published also “The Barber of Seville”

“Praise of Folly” (L’Eloge de la Folie) by Erasmus of Rotterdam was indexed in 1511.  Under the mask of irony, Erasmus creates a Foul dominating the World and supported by ignorant idiots with humongous Ego; he attacks the theologians and scholastic specialties whom thrive in adding subtlety over subtlety in order to obscure any kind of comprehension.  In just the same century, the manuscript is re-edited 600 times.

“The Prince” of Nicolas Machiavelli is published in 1513 in Florence.  The book explains how a Prince should behave to acquire and then retain power and would be one of the founders of modern political thinking.

“The Third Book” of Francois Rabelais was published in 1532.  The previous publications “Pantagruel” and “Gargantua” were not spared indexing too.  The art of mockery far exceed that of Erasmus and his farces scorch all the princes.  Moliere would rely on Rabelais’ works for his comedies.

The Essays” of about 107 of essays by Michel Montaigne are published as of 1580 and was censured by the Church Inquisition.  The Church didn’t like the offhandedness of mixing sacred topics with profane subjects and the manuscript was judged morally too permissive.

“The new Stories” succeeds the famous fables of Jean de la Fontaine and are published as of 1674 and mocks the clerics and was indexed for “corrupting the moral and inspiring libertine behaviors”.  Before he dies, his confessor forced him to recant, and he did so that he may die in peace of that pest of cleric.

“The Spirit of Laws” by Charles-Louis of Montesquieu was published in Switzerland in 1748 to avoid censuring.  The author demanded that the three branches of executive, legislative, and justice enjoy independent powers for check and balance in governance.

“Therese the Philosopher” by Jean-Baptiste Boyer was published in 1748, in the same year that “Fanny Hill” of John Cleland was published.  This manuscript described in details the bacchant sacrilegious ceremonies that a Pope relished. The Marquis of Sade would imitate that genre of pornography.  It is rumored that these kinds of books influenced the French Revolution more than any other manuscripts.  The French National Library cataloged this book under “Hell” section.

“Emile” by Jean-Jacques Rousseau was published in 1762.  Rousseau offered a new educational system for kids so that the natural kindness of humankind is preserved; that kids enjoy their lives as kids and refrain from reading before the age of 12; that they wear loose garments to play leisurely.  The manuscript was indexed and publicly burned in Paris for inciting man to follow his instincts.  Rousseau will publish “The Social Contract” in 1766 and Geneva Council banished it.  In reaction, Rousseau abandoned his Switzerland nationality.

Part 1. “The Ideological Analysis of Christianism in reply to  Nietzsche’s position”, by Aida Ghoussoub (April 5, 2009)

 

Note: Aida Ghoussoub wrote this French Doctorate thesis in 1984 at the Sorbonne. I found it well thought out to summarize her thesis and discuss it as an extension to my six articles on Nietzsche’s Philosopher of Life.  The first part is about the author and why she worked on Nietzsche; the second part will deal with the analysis proper.

 

            Aida Ghoussoub was a nun of the Christian Maronite sect before the civil war broke out in Lebanon in 1975; she had a bright mind too.  As the war dragged on, her religious institution took side in the conflict and showed its ugly face of intolerance and barbarism.  Aida repudiated her formal oath of blind obedience to the institution in order to follow her conscience and the true message of Jesus.  Aida was studying at the French faculty in Lebanon when the French government decided to temporarily close down the university; she immigrated to Paris and resumed her study in philosophy.

            Initially, the author contemplated a comparative study between Nietzsche’s ascetic ideal and the corresponding Maronite ascetic ideal.  (The Maronite constituted since the 6th century a structured social and religious institution oriented mostly toward ascetic life).  This project was out the window because the author had no access to Maronite manuscripts stored in monasteries during the war.  Christianism is an important topic in the author’s life and she admits that Christianity, even in secular societies, is permanently pervasive at all levels in the social fabrics from government, political decisions, education, and moral values; thus, Christianism is an ideology. Nietzsche has sensed the “bad taste” attitude of the sacerdotal caste to always view any opinion or position as an attack at its theology. It turned out that Nietzsche didn’t directly criticize Christianism from an ideological perspective, a void that the author considered worth investigating.

            But why study Nietzsche?  The author had to read Plato, Descartes, Kant, Hegel and Schopenhauer, but Nietzsche was an aggressive and affirmative philosopher, an active philosopher who wanted to change. He wrote: “A snake has to change its skin to survive.  The same goes to spirits: if free expression of opinions is usurped, then spirits die. Thinking in the active is to think against time, on the time, and in favor of the future time.” It is in the nature of man to be spiritual and to endeavor in the constant process of re-invention of the self.

  

Nietzsche interrogated on the every day realities of existence, and how man struggle with life day in, day out. Nietzsche wrote “Would you like to deal with fundamental problems on the salvation of humanity, God, immortality, and destiny after death? That is fine and dandy, commendable, and merit due reflection. As you are dealing with these abstract notions, I have a few questions to ask: How do you live with your body? What do you drink in the morning? How do you nourish your body? How do you relax? What are you work patterns? Are you aware of the climate that most suits you?  Don’t you think that all these little details turn out to be, in fact, more important to you? Are not these little details more exigent in rigor and of immediate nature than far-fetched concepts?”

            It must have been a lonely, silent, and daunting project for Aida, grappling with conditions of earning a living in Paris and constantly worried about the consequences of the civil war raging in her country.  However, the author took the warning of Nietzsche at heart: “Philosophy demands of its admirer to step aside, take time, learn silence, becoming slow in reading, profoundly, cautiously looking behind, ahead of oneself, with after thoughts, and eyes wide open.  That is why philosophy is more necessary today than at any other periods, because the kinds of work-habit and the frenzy required to finish with a task or a job is totally indecent in its demands”   

            The author was challenged in tackling Nietzsche’s train of thoughts: Nietzsche is the type who meditates, ruminates at great length, continuously transcribes his reflections and intentions, and answers his own and other philosophers’ queries. Nietzsche steps back from polemics and anticipate the future. It is difficult to interpret his mood swings, the situations that drive his aggressiveness and then his conciliating moments.

Note: I published “Is religion bunk? Case of Byzantium Empire” as a continuation of my review of Aida Ghoussoub’s thesis.


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