Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Socrates

Tidbits and notes. Part 297Tidbits and notes. Part 296

And what the passionate youths want? Justice, eradication of privileges of the elite classes and human treatment of workers (No sweat shops). The youth movements fail because they forget to include what the retired and elderly people want: reforms of hospitals, hospices, decent living for those experiencing the nastiest of cruelty and indignities after a life time of toil.

The Real #deficit is different from the deficit announced by the state. He takes into account the #unpaid, the #arrears, and the accounts camouflaged and camouflaged outside the budget. At that time only we’ll be able to talk about #deficit _ real

 USA doesn’t care about that kind of deficit (unpaid, arrears, camouflage debts…): it has sovereign debt in the trillion. The same case for all the colonial powers who get extremely low interest rates on their foreign loans

Bomis’s concept and money made possible a side project called Nupedia, inspired by Wales’s childhood love of the World Book Encyclopedia. Nupedia posted articles after they had been vetted by experts and peer-reviewed. But peer review doesn’t scale. When Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia founder) sat down to write an entry about an economist that would have been edited by top academics, he realized what an intimidating and cumbersome process they had created.

Ne pas savoir est une autre forme de ne pas venir en aide aux victimes. Il faut remonter aux sources des inustices.

L’envers d’un homme et l’endroit d’une femme, cela en vaut: ces endroits sont aussi sensibles, et ne divisent pas les heritages? The practical British institutions turned a blind eye, as long as the sexual preference is Not acknowledged publicly, in order Not to disturb the Victorian conservatism.

Un philosophe antique, comme le moderne, a 2 fonctions: convaincre autrui (un sophist) ou convaincre soi-meme (un sage). La connaissance generale peut etre un catalyst pour la premiere fonction, mais a contre-courant pour se convaincre de sa vraie “self”.

The soul, the spirit… are what your brain interpret of your sensory experiences. Since we mostly ignore or forget the “context” of our experiences (people, environment, emotional status…) it is impossible to classify the types of spirit we ended up with.

Le system educationel de Seduction: offrire a ceux qui paient bien, l’impression qu’ils sont intelligent et beaux.

The ancient city-state of Athens could Not swallow the concept of free expressions in public. Athens political structure was mainly controlled by the oligarchy and the rich conservatives. And the famous “philosophers” like Socrates, Anaxagoras and Protagoras charged extravagant stipends from all these adventurer aristocrats, seeking political status through fomenting successive wars to keep the empire cowed and the subjugated city-sates paying their due taxes.

“Moi, je denonce les idees des autres ignorants. Le chien a une ame: il peut distinguer les humains amicaux et ceux hostilent a son existence” Diogene

1993: Internet pioneer Rick Gates suggests that a free, open-source encyclopedia could exist on the internet (he called it “Interpedia”).

1995: Ward Cunningham makes the first “wiki,” from the Hawaiian word for “quick” and inspired by Apple’s HyperCard programming language.

2001: American entrepreneurs Larry Saunders and Jimmy Wales register the domains wikipedia.com and wikipedia.org.

Why do they have to use trick terms? Why instead of “Leave” and “cancel” they don’t use “Do Not save” and “Save”? Leave should Not mean (Do Not save)

Israeli soldiers target a child and then wait to shoot at anyone who rushes to check on the child

“‘ When you have two sets of laws, two sets of norms, two sets of values, two sets of roads.’ How would you call such a State of Israel? Apartheid for sure, and worse, a colonial occupier too

Singapore lady PM Halima Yakoub wear the veil: Who said wearing the veil is synonymous to degraded society? Singapore of 6 million has a NP of $300 billion, with the strongest of passport

Want to track down which banks finance and enable illegal Israeli settlements? has launched this new database to support bank divestment campaigns from Israel’s occupation.

 

 

The written language has been invented seven thousand years ago in southern Iraq and the kingdoms of Sumer, Babylon, Akkad and Assyria managed to have sophisticated administrative systems, precise calendars, and astronomic knowledge.  The alphabet was discovered five thousand years ago in the City-State of Byblos (Phoenicia, and current Lebanon).  

The Phoenicians instituted a maritime civilization and were the masters of the Mediterranean Sea for over 6 centuries (1300 to 600 BC) in trades, commerce and artisanal skills; they established “democratic” City-States where the City-State inhabitants would elect representatives in the noble and aristocratic classes.  The Phoenicians built trading centers or villages along the coasts and in all the Islands.

The Canaanites, of which the Phoenicians were the maritime branch, had established City-States along the main rivers (Euphrates and Al Assy rivers) such as Marie, Homs, Hama, Jerusalem, Antiochus…The Phoenicians built Thebes in Greece, centuries before Athens existed.  Alexander would completely destroy Thebes before leading his army to current India’s borders.

Pre-Socratic philosophers immigrated from the eastern part of the Mediterranean City-States (current Turkey, Syria, and lebanon) to Athens in order to educate its noble citizens to the art of rhetoric, dialectic, and math in order for the aristocratic class to having an edge for successfully running to political positions. They were paid handsomely as teachers and that is why they flocked to Athens:  Democratic Athens had high demand of the intellectual and administrative skills of the Phoenicians.

In China, Confucius was instituting his moral system for good governance and the raising of the “good man”: “Practice good morality in society before studying sciences and acquiring knowledge.”

Socrates battled with the sophism (wise attitudes) of these teachers who turned philosophy into an art of rhetorical clever communication; Socrates instituted a school of rational dialogue.  Platon, a disciple of Socrates, transcribed the dialogues and instituted his own school of philosophy in Athens.  Aristotle, was a student at Platon’s school for 18 years and he established the experimental method (empiricism) for rational investigations (into cause and effects phenomena and categorized matters and scientific fields of studies, backed by advances in arithmetic and geometry.

Aristotle’s works would have gone into oblivion, as so many manuscripts of famous scholars, if not for the Phoenician scholars who translated, commented, interpreted Aristotle’s works into their Aramaic language (spoken by Jesus), later called Syria.  The newly built city of Alexandria became a lighthouse of knowledge; scholars translated scientific, religious, and philosophical manuscripts and invented new fields of sciences.

In India of the 3rd century BC, the monarch Asoka ruled for 35 years and sent missionaries and delegates to all the known civilized world such as Syria, Egypt, Greece, and Persia and resurrected the Buddhist religion that was verging into oblivion amid the Hindu continent.  Asoka chiselled in 84,000 huge stone columns the principles and laws of Buddhism and his laws (dharma) dispersed thousands upon thousands of these columns at every major road intersections.  The island of Sri Lanka became Buddhist at that period.

Hundreds of Christian sects dominated the landscape of the Near East, from Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Turkey, and Greece. Every sect had its particular religious books for sources of belief and a style of living.  Mostly, they relied on the Jewish laws and differed on the nature of Jesus.  The Virgin Mary was rarely mentioned as source of devotion or as a saint.  

In Alexandria around 320, a priest known as Arius explained that Jesus is a distinct entity than God and that the Holy Ghost proceeds only from God.  This line of theology is accepted by the Goths, the Ostrogoth, and all the people in Germany and in Eastern and central Europe.

In 325, Emperor Constantine decided that Christianity (barely representing 10% of the population) should be the official religion of the Byzantium Empire, though he remained pagan.  The New Christian Church was modified to include three Gods (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost for Virgin Mary) as the pagans were accustomed to worshiping trinity of  Gods.  The pagan symbolism and pageantry were included in Catholicism after the conclave of Nicaea.  

Since this conclave, the Roman/Byzantium Empire was wracked in civil wars among dozens of Christian sects or schisms known as heretics and supported by various monarchs and princes.  Among those sects we have the Homeans, the Anomoean, the Monophysitism, the Nestorians (that would advance with its message into China and translate its version of the New Testaments into Chinese), … One of the schism settled in Mecca (Arabic Peninsula); the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad was the Patriarch of the sect and Muhammad was his closest assistant. The Roman/Byzantium Empire would wage internal religious/political battles ways into the 13th century.  Frequently, two Popes would be elected, backed by a coalition of monarchs.  Then another cycle of internal religious wars would restart in the 16th century with Protestantism, Calvinism, and Huguenot.

In the 6th century AC, the Roman scholar and politician Anicius Boethius (Boece) translated and commented Aristotle’s works into latin.  Aristotle’s works had to wait the Arab/Islamic Empire to settle in Damascus (around 660) before his works are resurrected from oblivion. Why?

Prophet Mohammad had encouraged and demanded that Moslems seek knowledge, even from China. Muhammad said that many verses in his message are confusing and needed the interpretation of scholars.  Muhammad said: “Science is more meritorious than prayer.  A single man of  science has more power over demon than a thousand devotees.  Among the servants of God, only scholars fear God.”  Thus, Moslem scholars undertook to translate available knowledge into the Arabic slang of Mecca from the Syriac manuscripts relying heavily on the “Syrian” scholars and later, on the persian scholars during the Abbassid dynasty.  

There is this anecdote told by Calif Al Maamun: “I met Aristotle in my dream and I ask him “What is considered good?”  Aristotle replied: “What is good to reason.”  I asked: “And after reason?  He replied: “What is shown as good in revelation”  I said: “And after?”  He replied: “Good is what consensus agrees on” I said: “And after?”  Aristotle said: “There is no more of what after.”

The Syrians, Christians and Moslems, endeavored to translating the works of Platon, Aristotle, Galen, Plutarch, and Plotin (the Enneades that summarize Aristotle’s theology).  Geometry of Euclides, astronomy and medicine are taught in freshly built Arabic universities.  In the 7th century, Al Kindi wrote: “Though the Greek scholars fell short in sciences, they opened up the instruments for acceding to multiple types of knowledge.”   Al Farabi insisted on the necessity of separating intellectual speculation from rational reflection.  Ibn Sina (Avicenna) wrote in the 10th century, 300 manuscripts, of which 50 are in scientific fields and 40 in medicine; one particular medical book, the  “Canon of medicine” was taught in western Europe as a fundamental course till the 18th century.  The physician Ibn Zhur (Avenzoar), living in Andalusia, is reputed in all Europe.  The geographer Al Idrissi is considered in Europe as the “geography professor”.  Ibn Bajja made the apology of sciences and learned people; he said: “Ignorant people see the world as if they lived in a cavern and the only light they received was a diffused one:  They could discriminate among colors, and thus, have no coherent knowledge of the real nature.”

In the 12th century, many tribes in Central Asia and the Caucasus converted to Islam and were the backbone of the Islamic army by then.  These new converts believed literally in the Koran and refused any rational interpretations or commentaries.  Islamic civilization started its steady decline since then, except in Iran and Andalusia (Spain).

Papal Rome, backed by rich merchants, galvanized the Christians into a series of crusading campaigns in the Near East.  The official purpose was to liberating Jerusalem from the Moslem “infidels”; the tacit goal was capturing Egypt for direct maritime route for the spice and aroma trade coming from Far Eastern Asia Islands.  The rich merchant families and nobility in Europe got addicted to spices and aromatic products and prices were increasing by frequent wars along the land caravans in Moslem Kingdoms.  Three targeted campaigns to invading Egypt failed and the merchants were reluctant to investing in the established mini Christian Kingdoms in the Near East.  The fourth crusading campaign in 1204 sacked Constantinople and reduced the Byzantine Emperors to figure heads.

Then Ibn Rushd was born in the 12th century in Cordoba (Islamic Andalusia) and wrote: “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”:   That is basically what Ibn Rush (known as Averroes) tried to convey to civilization through his abundant writings in medicine, sciences, astronomy, philosophy, jurisprudence, and theology.  Ibn Rush, known as “Al hafid” (the grandson of the famous judge of the city) published abundant books; among them, 88 volumes on Aristotle’s works in 20,000 pages supplied with commentary and interpretation.

Moise ibn Maimuna (Maimonides), 12 years younger than Ibn Rushd and originally from Cordoba, was at the period settled in Cairo and was the official physician of the Caliph.  Maimonides was the direct beneficiary of Ibn Rushd rational and scientific works.  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 cannot be comprehended without the commentaries of Ibn Rushd.”

In 1497, Papal Rome encouraged the institution of a university in Padoua (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 and references 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.

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).

Idiosyncrasy in “conjectures”; (Dec. 21, 2009)

Idiosyncrasy or cultural bias relates to “common sense” behavior (for example, preferential priorities in choices of values, belief systems, and daily habits…) is not restricted among different societies: it can be found within one society, even within what can be defined as “homogeneous restricted communities” ethnically, religiously, common language, gender groups, or professional disciplines.

Most disciplines have mushroomed into cults.

A cult is any organization that creates its own nomenclature and definition of terms to be distinguished from the other cults in order to acquiring recognition as a “professional entity” or independent disciplines that should benefit from laws of special minorities (when mainly it is a matter of generating profit or doing business as usual).

These cults want to owe the non-initiated into believing that they have serious well-developed methods or excellent comprehension of a restricted area in sciences. The initiated on multidisciplinary knowledge recognize that the methods of any cult are old and even far less precise or developed; that the terms are not new and there are already analogous terms in other disciplines that are more accurate and far better defined.

Countless experiments have demonstrated various kinds of idiosyncrasies.  This article is oriented toward “cult” kinds of orders, organization, and professional discipline.  My first post is targeting the order of mathematicians; the next article will focus on experiments.

Mathematics, meaning “sure study” (wisekunde), has no reliable historical documentation. Most of mathematical concepts were written many decades or centuries after they were “floating around” among mathematicians.

Mathematics is confusing with its array of nomenclature. What are the differences among axiom, proposition, lemma, postulate, or conjecture?  What are the differences among the terms, theorem, questions, problems, hypothesis, corollary, and again conjecture?  For example, personally, I feel that axiom is mostly recurrent in geometry, lemma in probability, hypothesis in analytical procedures, and conjecture in algebraic deductive reasoning.

Hypothesis is in desuetude in mathematics. For example, Newton said “I am not making a hypothesis”.

Socrates made fun of this term by explaining how it was understood “I designate hypothesis what people doing geometry use to treating a question.  For example, when asked for their “expert opinion” they reply: “I still cannot confirm but I think that if I have a viable hypothesis for this problem and if it is the following hypothesis… then I think that we may draw a conclusion. If we have another hypothesis then another conclusion is more valid.”

Plato said: “As long as mathematics start from hypothesis instead of facts then we do not think that they have true comprehension, since they are not going back to fundamentals”

Hypothesis is still the main term used in experimental research. Theoretically, an experiment is not meant to accept a hypothesis as true or valid, but simply “Not to reject it” if the relationships among the manipulated variables are “statistically significant” to a pre-determined level, usually 5% in random errors.

Many pragmatic scientific researchers don’t care about the fine details in theoretical mathematical concepts and tend to adopt a hypothesis that was not rejected as law.  This is one case of idiosyncrasy when the researcher wants badly the “non-rejected” hypothesis to represent his view. Generally, an honest experimenter has to repeat the experiment or encourage someone else to generalize the results by studying more variables.

Conjecture means (throwing in together) and can be translated as conclusion or deduction; basically, it is an opinion or supposition based on insufficient proofs.

In the last century, conjectures were exposed in writing as promptly as possible instead of keeping them floating ideas, concepts, or probable theorems. This new behavior of writing conjectures was given the rationale that “plausible reasoning” is a set of suppositions thrown around as questions mathematicians guess they have answers to them, but are unable to demonstrate temporarily.

The term conjecture has been used so freely in the last decades that Andre Weil warned that “current mathematicians use the term conjecture when they fail after a few attempts to verify a concept, even if the problem is of no importance.”  David Kazhdan ironically warned that this practice of enunciating conjectures might turn out like a 5-year Soviet plan.

At first, a set of conjectures was meant to be the basic structure for a theorem or precise assertions that were temporarily used in the trading of logical discussions. Thus, conjectures permit the construction of rigorous deductions that are accessible to direct testing of their validity. A conjecture was a “research program” that move ahead in order to foresee the explored domain.

Consequently, conjecture is kind of extending a name and an address to a set of suppositions and analogies for a concept, long before tools and methods are created to approach directly the problem.

A “Problem” designates a mental task submitted to the audience or targeted for research or project; usually, the set of problems lead to demonstrating a general theorem. Many problems are in fact conjectures such as the problem of twin primary numbers that consists of proving the existence of an infinity of coupled numbers such that p-q = 2.

One of the explanations for using freely the term conjecture is the modern facility of mathematicians of discriminating aspects of uncertainty at the theoretical level. It is an acquired habit, an idiosyncrasy. Thus, for a mathematician to state a conjecture he must have solved many particular cases and recognize that a research program is needed to developing special tools for demonstrating the conjecture.  This is a tough restriction in this age where time is of essence among millions of mathematicians competing for prizes.

“Sophie’s World” on Hellenism; (Dec. 11, 2009)

After Alexander of Macedonia defeated the Persian Empire around 335 BC, the entire region in the Middle East and Egypt became Hellenistic; which means the elite and public servants learned to speak and write in the Greek language and to study Greek philosophies.

Athens got a new life as center of philosophical schools, and the newly built city of Alexandria in Egypt flourished as the center of sciences and medicine.

Four major philosophical schools captured the interest of the people and had repercussions in Rome till the year 400 AC, as the Christian Church got established as the State religion after the defeat of the last Germanic Emperor in Rome.

1. The Cynics school was founded in Athens by Antisthenes, a disciple of Socrates in 400 BC. The frugality of Socrates was the guiding idea as he wondered before a stall: “So many things that I never used or needs”.

The dogma of this school is that happiness is learning to feel independent (detached) from external advantages such as material luxuries or political power.

Happiness is in the reach of everyone if he so desired, and it can be lasting. Suffering and death should not be disturbing events. Feeling concerns for other people should be overcome.

Diogenes is the best representative of the Cynics; he lived in a barrel and carried no belonging but a stick. It is reported that he asked Alexander to step aside for he was blocking the sun rays as he was asking him what he can do for him.

The Church of Rome coined the pejorative term “cynical” referring to individual who exhibits a sneering disbelief in human sincerity, with penchant insensitivity to people’s plights: The Church was competing with all the Hellenistic schools of philosophy and religions.

2. The Stoics school was founded by Zeno in Athens around 300 BC. Zeno was not Greek by origin but from the Phoenician city of Sidon, and he studied in Alexandria before he landed in Greece following a shipwreck. Socrates and Heraclitus were his favorite philosophers and he used to teach under a portico (stoa).

Zeno dogma was that each individual is a complete microcosms reflected in the macrocosms.

First, there was a universal rightness or natural law based on human and universal reason that didn’t alter with time or place.

Second, there is no conflict between spirit (ideas) and matter; this concept was coined “monism” in contrast to Plato dualism of the two worlds of ideas and matter.

Third, sickness and death are within the natural law phenomena and must be accepted since everything happens out of necessity.

Fourth, happy events and moments should be received in natural composure with no undue exhilaration.

Stoics got involved in politics and social problems.

Cicero, the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca were staunch stoics. Seneca wrote “mankind is holy”; thus, considering individual dignity and well being as goal for improvement and care.

The Roman Christian Church coined the connotation stoic for individuals who do not let their feeling take over.

3. The Epicurean school was established by Aristippus, another disciple of Socrates. Epicurus founded this school around 300 BC in Athens. He developed the pleasure ethic of Aristippus and adopted the “atom soul” theory of Democritus which says that after death the soul disperses in all directions.

The story goes that Epicureans lived in gardens (safe-harbors): a notice hanged at the entrance said: “Stranger, here you will live well. Here pleasure is the highest good

The dogma of the Epicureans was:

First, pleasurable results of an action is always counterbalanced with side effects that we need to mind of;

Second, short-term pleasurable results should be analyzed compared to the potential longer-term alternative pleasures if we control our actions;

Third, pleasure is appreciation of values in friendship, art, and self control in sensual tendencies.  Epicurus summed up his doctrine in 4 “medicinal” treatments: first, the gods are not to be feared; second, Death is nothing to worry about since when we die then we no longer exist; third, Good is easy to attain; and fourth, the fearful is easy to endure.

Epicurus advice was to learn to live in seclusion.  Epicureans had little concern for politics and community services.  The roman Church coined a bad connotation such as “Indulge in or enjoy the moment

4. The Neo-Platonist school was founded by Plotinus (205-270 BC) and he was from the Near East and studied in Alexandria and settled in Rome.  Plotinus doctrine was influenced by Plato.

The world span two poles:

The One that constantly shines and the World that does not receive the light.  The immortal soul (concept of salvation) is the world of ideas that is illuminated by the One (or God), it is “a spark from the fire”.  The material world has no real existence until the light reaches it. Plotinus experienced mystical moments of fusion with the world of spirit.

The Roman Christian Church had a hard struggle with this powerfully competing school of Neo-Platonism and ended up adopting most of its concepts.

“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.)

Can our leading minds pass Socrates’ dialogue test?            

This is a challenge to all the scientific and research communities.  My contention is that over 75% of all scientists and researchers (in all natural sciences, all social sciences, all human sciences, and all engineering fields) lack general and comprehensive experimental mind; the experiments are mainly specific and fail the generality test to be applied scientifically.  I propose this simple test: submit to the subject scientist three peer reviewed research articles from fields different from his research or professional discipline.  Test the subject on his comprehension and interpretation for each research paper.  To be more specific: test his general knowledge on the experimental design, his correct discrimination of the various variables and factors (dependent, independent, control and confounding variables), his interpretations of the graphs and statistical results and what practical design suggestions he can extract from the paper. 

The objective of the investigation is not merely to guarantee valid results and accurate interpretations; it is to guarantee that the leading minds of our communities can pass Socrates’ dialogue test for sound rational societies and policy making.

If what I said is still not clear then please read my article for new angles and the basis of my challenge.

An Experimental mind

 

            I recall my advisor telling me once in frustration “At your age I was professor and had raised a family”.  I didn’t need this reminder to comprehend my desperate situation: I am just plainly stubborn with no imaginations on earning money.  These long years in a PhD program in the specialty of Human Factors, at the age 35 to 41, should be considered a waste of time for any career-minded student but they were valuable for my mind: I was exposed to the methods and vocabulary of five other disciplines in various departments. I think that I acquired an experimental mind, a mind that not many could claim to explicitly have

When someone asks “how” (the mechanical process or procedure) it is tacitly understood that he comprehend the why and what of the subject matter or the system; that he knows all the factors and variables that may affect the outcome of a system, including the human element within the system.  Maybe a practicing or a professional knows his particular system, (he should though implicitly most of the times, as engineers learn), but the fundamental question remains “has he acquired the generalized method and rationality to investigating systems outside his discipline?” 

I know what I am talking about but the difficulty is to express and disseminate the problem.  I have taught engineers who had no understanding for discriminating among variables such as dependent, independent, or controlling variables; you think that they implicitly know how to differentiate among the variables; wrong, they don’t. Even after three sessions coupled with examples they were still in the dark and still wondering what is all the fuss about. You think that they can interpret graphs, extract wealth of information and comprehend pages of written materials from one meaningful graph, they generally cannot.  I can testify that 30% of my engineer classes could not read; another 30% could not understand what they read.  It was a pleasure to educate a couple of good minds.  I have written several articles on that subject in my category “Professional articles” for further detailed clarification.

Worst, undergraduates are almost never exposed to research papers.  Most Master’s graduates barely comprehend or interpret correctly research papers.  Graduates join the “work force” of the rational minds practically illiterate; they cannot resume any continuation learning programs for a simple reason: they are illiterate in reading and comprehending research papers.

 

My contention is this.  If you acquired an experimental mind then you should be eligible to comprehend any field of study by reading the research papers in the field.  The major contraption devised my professions to discriminate among one another is a flimsy mask targeted in changing the technical terms and vocabulary; a secret ritual inherited from ancient times to creating castes of literates. Other than that, the experimental methodology is fundamentally the same.  When you acquire an experimental mind then all disciplines are one course away; you need to learn the slang, a new language that sound familiar, but with terms that have different meanings and connotations.  The ultimate goal in teaching is for every university graduating mind to be trained to comprehend research papers of other disciplines.

 

The “eminent” minds of Athens needed the stamp of approval of Socrates’ rational mind; they submitted to his dialogue test; an interview on the investigative and coherent experimental methods of the proclaimed leaders of Athens; most failed the test.  Socrates was put to death because Socrates failed Athens’ Gods of ignorance.

Our scientific communities could be failing the dialogue test; our schools and universities are not graduating experimental minds.  No wonder war zones, famine, apartheid, and genocides are still the landmark of our modern times.

Damascus saved the ancient Greek culture; (October 10, 2009)

 

            The German philosopher Heidegger stated: “Philosophy is purely Greek” and thus, the European love to believe that philosophy is purely a western conception. In “Aristotle at mount St. Michel”, the latest book of Sylvain Guggenheim, it is said in substance that Europe would not have needed the Arab civilization to accede to the Greek heritage in philosophy and sciences and that it is the Christian “Arabs” who introduced Hellenisms in the Islamic-Arab world. It goes on “As a religion, Islam didn’t offer anything to the European civilization, neither textual reference nor theological argument. It goes also in the legal and political domains.”

           

I got into thinking.

            The Islamic armies defeated the Byzantium forces of Heracles in Syria and the Persian Sassanide forces in Iraq and expanded into Egypt during the second Caliphate Omar Ibn Khattab.  Within five years, the Umayyad dynasty of Moawiyat decided on Damascus for Capital of the new Arab Empire.

            Damascus was the hotbed of most of the Orthodox Christian sects that paid allegiance to the center in Byzantium and they were learned in the Greek language along with the Aramaic popular language.  The “heretic” Christian sects had fled beyond the Euphrates River to the kingdom of Persia.

            The Arab Umayyad dynasty relied on the Orthodox Christian educated people to translate Greek philosophy, medicine, mathematics, and science manuscripts into the Arabic language; the Aramaic language was the root language for the spoken Arabic language in the Arabic Peninsula and thus it was easy for the Syrian to adopt Arabic and translate the Greek and Roman manuscripts.

            It is not that the Near East people just loved the ancient Greek manuscripts of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Euripides, and Sophocles. It is more likely that most of the Greek schools of sciences, philosophy, and medicine were erected by Greek speaking scholars born on the Mediterranean shores from Alexandria, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey; those famous scholars span from Euclid, Thales, Heracles, Plotine, Zenon, Ptolemy, and passing by the great law givers and founders of the Roman Empire located in Beirut.

            If the new Islamic Empire failed to settle on Damascus as Capital and opted to stay in Medina then it is very likely that the Greek manuscripts and culture would have vanished during the hegemony of the Arabic Empire.

 

I got into thinking.

            If in the nick of time, the fourth Caliphate Ali ibn Abi Taleb decided not to defeat and pursue the army of Mouawiyat then the Capital of the Islamic Arab Empire would have been Koufa in Iraq.  The ancient culture of Persia would have been the civilization of the land from the confine of China to England.  What the European scholars love to label their race as Indo-European would have been a more fitting name: the Persian-Indian culture and civilization.

 

I got into thinking.

            If the Prophet Muhammad did not adopt the Jewish Bibles and the Christian New Testaments as integral part of Islam in an attempt of consolidating common denominators among these monotheist religions then what kind of Christianity Europe would be having today?

            Damascus saved the ancient Greek language. Damascus saved its culture.  Like it or not, the European should be proud of their real Near Eastern heritage along the eastern Mediterranean shores. (More on that topic in following posts).

The Gods of beauty: Before the age of pimples (February 7, 2009)

 

Note:  I was inspired for this article by the critical introduction of Vincent-Mansour Monteil for his book “Abu Nawas”, the great Arab poet of the early Abbasseed period around the year 800.    

 

Through the ages, boys of 15 or a little less (khoumasi) were erotically more prized than girls of the same age in all civilizations.  Androgynous boys (effeminate, khanith) had grace in movement, they had pretty oval faces, fleshy, soft and smooth skins, and their muscle were firmer.  The western cultures are familiar with the tales and literatures of the antique Greek and Roman civilizations on that subject; for example, Socrates was a famous pedophile and his wife went as far as taking her husband to court.

            Abu Nuwass had Janane, an Iranian lesbian, as a front for his homosexuality and a particular penchant for the boys who were Christian Iranians serving as peons or slave pages in the courts of the affluent and powerful.  “You look like a boy but you are indeed a girl” (Abu Nawass) and “Man is a continent. Woman is a sea.  I prefer very much the firm land”.

I saw a movie done in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime; this very old sheikh purchased a pretty boy who was to be executed (she was indeed a girl who had her hair cut and dressed like a boy); when the sheikh was training the boys how to wash their testicles before prayer he was smitten by the boy/girl and repeated this verse of the Koran of those serving the predestined to Paradise “The peon (ghilman) are immortal Adonis, similar to hidden pearls”

            Rimbaud also had taken as front an indigenous woman in Harari (Ethiopia/Eritrea) so that he may reserve his total love for Djami, his companion and boy of 15.  Verlaine and Baudelaire had also the same preference.  Shakespeare wrote his sonnets, the first 126 sonnets for “My lovely boy; a very young man, barely an adolescent”; and also “A woman’s face with nature’s own hand painted, Hast thou the Master Mistress of my passion”

            Leonardo Da Vinci had the same preferences as Abu Nawass for boys of 15 of age; he bequest his inheritance to Francesco Melzi whom he had known at the “fatal age”.  Michel Angelo dedicated 50 epitaphs to Cecchino Bracci, dead at age 15 and was hopelessly in love with the indifferent Tommaso de’ Cavalieri “Who will defend me of your beautiful face?”  The best and most beautiful characters in the paintings of these giant artists are the androgynous young boys.  The difference between these two great painters is that Michel Angelo never dared satisfy “Biblically” his pedophilic urges who was mocked by the Pope Jules II as suffering of “terribilita”.

            Pederasty was common phenomenon in England in the turn of the last century, as long as gentleman did not display their loved boy publicly.  Oscar Wilde paid for his exhibitionism and outlandish temperament a long prison term.  Pedophilia is rampant everywhere now and internet and special websites are serving secret desires.  The Roman Catholic Church is still battling court cases of priests taking advantage of multitude of young boys studying in Catholic schools.

            Sodom and Gomorra might be fictitious two towns in the Bible that were burned by Jehovah but it illustrate that pederasty is an ancient and a prevalent erotic tendency in all ages and all civilizations.  Maybe sex among the same gender is a front to cover a deeper emotional predilection: maybe societies should start to accept the fact that the majority of people of both genders are unable to taking the drastic decision and making the serious effort to comprehend the other sex and prefer the community of their own gender.

Rationality Fraud: Can our leading minds pass Socrates’ dialogue test? (February 3, 2009)

This is a challenge to all the scientific and research communities. 

My contention is that over 75% of all scientists and researchers (in all natural sciences, all social sciences, all human sciences, and all engineering fields) lack the experimental mind. 

I propose this simple test:

1. Submit to the subjects three peer reviewed research articles from a field different from his research or professional discipline. 

2. Test the subject on his comprehension and interpretation for each research paper.  To be more specific: test his general knowledge on the experimental design, his correct discrimination among the various variables and factors (dependent, independent, control and confounding variables), his interpretations of the graphs and statistical results and what practical design suggestions he can extract from the paper. 

The objective of the investigation is not merely to guarantee valid results and accurate interpretations; it is to guarantee that the leading minds of our communities can pass Socrates’ dialogue test for sound rational societies and policy making. 

If what I said is still not clear then please read my article for new angles and the basis of my challenge.

An Experimental mind

 

I recall my advisor telling me once in frustration “At your age I was professor and had raised a family“. 

I didn’t need this reminder to comprehend my desperate situation: I am just plainly stubborn with no imaginations on earning money. 

These long years in a PhD program, the specialty of Human Factors in industrial engineering, at the age 35 to 41, should be considered a waste of time for any career-minded student, but they were valuable for my mind: I was exposed to the methods and vocabulary of five other disciplines in various departments. I think that I acquired an experimental mind, a mind that not many could claim to explicitly have. 

When someone asks “how” (the mechanical process or procedure),

1. it is usually tacitly understood that he comprehend the why and what of the subject matter or the system;

2. that he knows all the factors and variables that may affect the outcome of a system, including the human element within the system. 

Maybe a practicing or a professional knows his particular system (as engineers learn), but the fundamental question remains “has he acquired the generalized method and rationality to investigate systems outside his discipline?” 

I know what I am talking about, but the difficulty is to express and disseminate the problem. 

I have taught engineers who had no understanding for discriminating among variables such as dependent, independent, or controlling variables.

You think that they implicitly know how to differentiate among the variables; wrong, they don’t. Even after three sessions, coupled with examples they were still in the dark and still wondering what is all the fuss about.

You think that they can interpret graphs, extract wealth of information and comprehend pages of written materials from one meaningful graph, they generally cannot.  

I can testify that 30% of my engineer classes could not read; another 30% could not understand what they read.  It was a pleasure to educate a couple of good minds.  I have written several articles on that subject in my category “Professional articles” for further detailed clarification.

Worst, undergraduate engineers are almost never exposed to research papers.  Most Master’s graduates barely comprehend or interpret correctly research papers. 

Graduates join the “work force” of the rational minds practically illiterate. They cannot resume any continuation learning programs for a simple reason: they are illiterate in reading and comprehending research papers.

My contention is this.  If you acquired an experimental mind, you should be eligible to comprehend any field of study by reading the research papers in the field. 

The major contraption devised my professions to discriminate among one another is a flimsy mask targeted in changing the technical terms and vocabulary; a secret ritual inherited from ancient times to creating castes of literates.

Other than that, the experimental methodology is fundamentally the same.  When you acquire an experimental mind then all disciplines are one course away; you need to learn the slang, a new language that sound familiar, but with terms that have different meanings and connotations. 

The ultimate goal in teaching is for every university graduating mind to be trained to comprehend research papers of other disciplines.

 

The “eminent” minds of Athens needed the stamp of approval of Socrates’ rational mind; they submitted to his dialogue test; an interview on the investigative and coherent experimental methods of the proclaimed leaders of Athens; most failed the test.  Socrates was put to death because Socrates failed Athens’ Gods of ignorance.

Our scientific communities could be failing the dialogue test; our schools and universities are not graduating experimental minds.  No wonder war zones, famine, apartheid, and genocides are still the landmark of our modern times.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

July 2020
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