We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Thursday, February 26. 2009
A repost from 2007:
Today during lunch I read the piece by Tyler at Tangled Web about Dawkins, who is hopeful that a "final scientific enlightenment" will destroy religion on earth. Dawkins thinks it might require that elusive "theory of everything" to do the job.
Tyler correctly notes that the "theory of everything" will never address mankind's eternal questions.
Then I followed a link in one of his commenters to an essay by physicist Stanley Jaki, who makes the case that the "Theory of Everything" must be subject to Godel's Theorem. Very interesting essay, but I cannot cut and paste from it. Read it. He discusses Stephen Hawkings' epiphany, after many years of championing the quest, that a "theory of everything" is impossible.
Then I went over to Wikipedia to refresh my vague recollections of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem, which has nothing in common with Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. That Wikipedia entry was good, but there was some rough sledding in it.
And that led me to the entry on The Liar Paradox.
The Liar Paradox is the old "Nothing I say to you is true," and the many variations thereof.
Is the Liar Paradox a true paradox, or an artifact of symbolization? I think the latter, but that reveals my bias of expecting consistency from reality. If you're curious about the approaches to the puzzle, the Wikipedia entry seems to do a good job with it.
Thus passed a very enjoyable Tuesday lunch break for this dilettante. (The Escher image is perfect, Bird Dog - thanks.)
Update: Here's a piece that takes you deeper into the Liar Paradox. Thanks, BL
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I googled it--trying to remember the synonymous term "Cretan's Paradox", and found this great essay, written plainly, but if not exhaustive, nothing is.
Agnostic husband gave me Dawkins' book for Christmas. Sigh...Must go read it and demolish its arguments for the sake of better half's soul...Why is it that so many smart people cling to disbelief like a dog to a particularly rancid bone, when fresh wholesome food is theirs for the asking?! I think because both man and dog cling to that old doggerel "I'm a lean dog, a keen dog, a wild dog alone, a rough dog a tough dog, a hunting on my own, etc."* and shudder at the thought of anyone or Anything that might tame them...
*part of a favorite poem I enjoyed learning by heart at an otherwise revolting British girls' school
Smart people think they CAN in the future control everything....it is just a matter of time when aging, poverty, crime, accidents can all be prevented.
Then they get sick, get old regardless of their inputs or get hit over the head with the fact that the human psyche is often very illogical and destructive....this is when they start searching for a higher power.
When performing similar "knowledge hunts" I have, in my later years began to wonder to what end am I performing this?
I have long since past the point where I can engage the man on the street in such conversaton, whose eyes quickly glaze over.
In the blogsphere there is enormous opportunity to engage other bloggers in one-ups-man-ship, but here again to what end.
I know, it must be man's never ending quest for knowledge. It is simple mental masturbation, for when one has chased down all the links on the "scavenger hunt for knowlege and truth" they are still confronted with more questions and philosophical proofs to be answered that will have as much practical effect on mankind as Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russells,"Principia Mathematica" in which it took 247 pages to prove that 1+1=2.
But to what end?
Francis Collins - physician, genticist, biologist, and devout Christian - offers a nice counterweight to Dawkins and company in his The Language of God (2006). It's a brisk, stimulating read, well worth an afternoon's time. He gave this agnostic quite abit to think about.
Uh, knowledge, like virtue, is its own reward? I know, prissy-ass amswer. I dunno. Can't watch tv without surfing the net? Presbyopia making all reading not on a screen, difficult? FUN?
So, a TOE is improbably difficult to attain
And by Gödel, impossible to prove
Tho’ impacts not the contingency of the universe
Whose contemplation does still us behoove
But even within the known physical cosmos
Is there undecidability or true randomness at work
and is the making of each moment future
A function of mind and matter, God or quirk?
If Consciousness makes choices
Between one quantum state and another’s
Does that point to a state of Free Will
While Determinist Presby’s have their druthers?
C's a poet
but she don't know it
but her feet show it
After scanning the philosophical legerdemain on the Paradox, so far, i agree with the host that the Paradox is actually symbological.
IOW, nature can be made into words, but words can't be made into nature. Words only describe it; the little squiggly marks we use for reading & writing, and the strange sounds we emit from our mouths, are just symbols of matters that exist in reality.
And as we all know, symbols often clash, like in the big finale of the 1812 Overture, where the symbolists are banging 'em together like mad while the cannons go off.
Good point, Buddy, but you also get triple points for using “legerdemain.” Who in their right mind would play you at Scrabble?!
Oh, I learned it from Johnny Carson. Well, his show, that is. The Magician Skits.
Listen, befo I shuffles off my careworn frazzled sleeves for the day, i have to say, that is a pretty nifty bit of meaningful rhyming verse-writing up there at #7. I think I'm going to copy/paste it, if that's too forward of me, and save it along with all those other pearls I've managed to lose track of. Of which I've managed to lose track (never use a preposition to end a sentence with).
Buddy, you're welcome to anal-yze and deconstruct it. Probably violated all sorts of physics and theological theory. As for me, I'm just discovering old threads here and there.
Amusing note you ended on!
I suppose to answer my own question, is that in a culture that has the free time to pursue such esoterica it beats the massive ennui, solipsicm, and Peter Panism that pervades our lives.
So what's next on the scavenger hunt?
Doesn't seem esoteric to me. Just interesting - and good mental exercise. Scavenger hunt is a good word for it. Most days, I don't have time for this sort of indulgence.
They were fun links and some worthy slogging, Barrister (and BL). Thanks!
For those wondering about habu's obvious depression, he is an old soldier and, now retired from physical danger, has apparently gone bereft of adrenalin sufficient to maintain a buoyant state of being. All I can say is, cheer up, dammit--think of all the good stuff to hand--food, tobacco, booze, tv, the wife & family, the internet, superior consumer road vehicles, indoor plumbing & temp/humidity control, drugs if you're so inclined, a new congress to delight the mind and eye, oh, all sorts of delights, wonders that would've overwhelmed the greatest kings of olde, yours for the fun & distraction.
You can also read Terrye's "I Dreamt Last Night" --an excellent bittersweet autobiographical short story and dairy procedural, over @ Flares.
...as retriever put it so perfectly up there at #2:
"...both man and dog cling to that old doggerel "I'm a lean dog, a keen dog, a wild dog alone, a rough dog a tough dog, a hunting on my own, etc." and shudder at the thought of anyone or Anything that might tame them...."
I guess you're right Buddy. After I lost my one eyed,three legged,deaf dog, Lucky, I just lost that drive.
But thanks to legal and illegal drugs I'm a new man. It's the spots. They're much clearer on the walls and the liver spots on me are beginning to take on a tre chic tattoo look. I think one actually looks like Lake Huron, always a top choice of tattoed folk.
This here place is lot's better than the old one . I gots ta make adjustment dat dis ain't dee unhappy place I done com'n from.
For all the lady folk out there who are conjuring an image ov ole Habu just think of Robert Redford in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", or if ya druther Burl Ives.
Sorry to hear about the demise of "Lucky". Reminds me of my job as insurance adjuster.
While visiting a farmer client whose house had burned some weeks earlier, a three-legged pig limped past.
Making small talk, I enquired as to the animal's peculiar condition. Client answered that the pig had actually awaked the family the night of the fire, and thus had saved their lives.
"So he was injured," I asked, "in the fire?"
"No," answered my client, "it's just that, he's our hero, and we hate to eat him all at once."
A moment later, oddly enough, several three-legged chickens ran past at about 50 miles per hour.
"Good Gravy," I exclaimed, "What in the world was that?"
Client explained that the family of three all preferred drumsticks, and so he had bred the three-legged chickens.
I was so shocked, all I could think of was to ask him, "Well, how do they taste?"
"Don't know," he answered, "can't catch 'em."
They taste hot one minute and really cold the other. Not tasty, imo.
de gustibus not est disputadum, as the Romains lettuce remember.
(I just got this email from an aquaintance, and pass it on for the merit in it--BL)
WEATHER BULLETIN --Denver
Up here, in the "Mile-Hi City", we just recovered from a Historic event. May I even say a "Weather Event of Biblical Proportions" --- with a historic blizzard of up to 44" inches of snow and winds to 90 MPH that broke trees in half, knocked down utility poles, stranded hundreds of motorists in lethal snow banks, closed ALL roads, isolated scores of communities and cut power to 10's of thousands.
FYI: George Bush did not come. FEMA did nothing. No one howled for the government.
No one blamed the government.
No one even uttered an expletive on TV. Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton did not visit. Our Mayor did not blame Bush or anyone else. Our Governor did not blame Bush or anyone else, either.
CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX or NBC did not visit - or report on this category 5 snowstorm. Nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards.
No one asked for a FEMA Trailer House. No one looted.
Nobody - I mean Nobody demanded the government do something. Nobody expected the government to do anything, either.No Larry King, No Bill O'Rielly, No Oprah, No Chris Mathews and No Geraldo Rivera. No Shaun Penn, No Barbara Striesand, No Hollywood types to be found.
Nope, we just melted the snow for water. Sent out caravans of SUV's to pluck people out of snow engulfed cars. The truck drivers pulled people out of snow banks and didn't ask for a penny. Local restaurants made food and the police and fire departments delivered it to the snowbound families. Families took in the stranded people - total strangers. We fired up wood stoves, broke out coal oil lanterns or Coleman lanterns. We put on extra layers of clothes because up here it is "Work or Die".
We did not wait for some affirmative action government to get us out of a mess created by being immobilized by a welfare program that trades votes for 'sittin at home' checks.
Even though a Category "5" blizzard of this scale has never fallen this early, we know it can happen and how to deal with it ourselves.
In my many travels, I have noticed that once one gets north of about 48 degrees North Latitude, 90% of the world's social problems evaporate.
It does seem that way, at least to me. I hope this gets passed on. Maybe SOME people (Like NO and Wash. DC freeloaders) will get the message. The world does Not owe you a living. The Government and Tax $ are not your insurance company.
Kind of a rant--if host wants to delete it, it won't insult your truly. I just pasted it cuz I wuz proud of the Denverites.
Not a rant. I liked it. Cheered me up. Like that cool storyeverywhere today about the daddy risking his life to save the total stranger in the ny subway. We are descended from some pretty heroic folks, and the genes run true in parts of our country still...why it's worth preserving our culture and our way of life.
Reminded me of when our house got flooded and all the lower floor's contents got trashed four feet up the day before I went into labor with our third. People from church we had helped when their kid died, or when they lost a job, came by with meals, some with hipboots to fish out treasures from the muck, all with prayers and good cheer. Far more valuable than any handouts. Mercifully, my labor stopped after a night in the hospital, and I was able to go back home and clean mud and muck out of the house for two weeks with husband and two toddlers, and got the place fit for the new baby before eventual arrival two weeks later. Always liked the silly Schwarzenegger (?) line about that which does not kill you makes you stronger. Overcoming the effects of random natural events strengthens you and reminds you that you don't need any bureaucrat meddling...
Nice post, X, and sounds like a helluva an adventure-- But credit Neitsche (and fix my spelling?) with the Schwartznegger quote-- and probably Job before der unspellable supermen.
That'd be Fred NIETZCHE, who died after fondling a horse, died from syphilis, so they say, and is also credited with:
"A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything."
As a kid I formulated the problem thus: what happens if I build a machine that turns itself off when on, and on when off. Nails, board, wire, cut up can lid, voila, I invented the buzzer. That's proof that such philosophical inquiries can yield useful results.