Foro Flamenco
Posts Since Last Visit | Advanced Search | Home | Register | Login

Today's Posts | Inbox | Profile | Our Rules | Contact Admin | Log Out



Welcome to one of the most active flamenco sites on the Internet. Guests can read most posts but if you want to participate click here to register.
This site is dedicated to the memory of Paco de Lucía, Ron Mitchell, Guy Williams, Linda Elvira and Philip John Lee who went ahead of us too soon.
We receive 12,200 visitors a month from 200 countries and 1.7 million page impressions a year. To advertise on this site please contact us.





The Tao of Physics   You are logged in as Guest
Users viewing this topic: none
  Printable Version
All Forums >>Discussions >>Off Topic >> Page: [1] 2 3 4    >   >>
Login
Message<< Newer Topic  Older Topic >>
 
Kevin

 

Posts: 294
Joined: Sep. 7 2008
 

The Tao of Physics 

Fritfjof Capra is the author of The Tao of Physics, a book I am just picking up. It's quite interesting.


_____________________________

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 27 2015 19:03:28
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2619
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Kevin

I read the book when it was fashionable in the 1970s. It suffers the defect of all "popular" books that speak of physics. (I am not qualified to speak to its explication of eastern religions.) The defect is that no natural human language is adequate to express physics. Not even in the late 17th century when Newton's magnum opus was published. People had to invent mathematics that was sufficient to express the theories, even of Newtonian physics. Relativity is far less intuitive, and quantum mechanics is far more abstract, requiring a lot more mathematical machinery.

Books without significant mathematical content may be fun to read or write, but they can't say what physics is.

Learning mathematics is not something that is utterly arcane nor need it be particularly difficult. But it takes time, and a degree of determination, like learning to play the guitar does.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 29 2015 5:38:08
 
Dudnote

Posts: 1766
Joined: Nov. 13 2007
 

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Richard Jernigan

I'm no physicist, but I've been told by a friend who has studied quantum physics that the Dalai Lama's "The Universe In A Single Atom" is very good.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 29 2015 6:18:39
 
Ricardo

Posts: 11137
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

ORIGINAL: Richard Jernigan

I read the book when it was fashionable in the 1970s. It suffers the defect of all "popular" books that speak of physics. (I am not qualified to speak to its explication of eastern religions.) The defect is that no natural human language is adequate to express physics. Not even in the late 17th century when Newton's magnum opus was published. People had to invent mathematics that was sufficient to express the theories, even of Newtonian physics. Relativity is far less intuitive, and quantum mechanics is far more abstract, requiring a lot more mathematical machinery.

Books without significant mathematical content may be fun to read or write, but they can't say what physics is.

Learning mathematics is not something that is utterly arcane nor need it be particularly difficult. But it takes time, and a degree of determination, like learning to play the guitar does.

RNJ


Yeah, as much as we love physic concepts, we laymen are at a loss without understanding the math. It's frustrating cuz math is quite challenging and abstract for some of us. I compare it to the concept of compas in flamenco...and specifically the metronome idea. As much as you might love the sound of the music and try to get around it, if you can't deal with metronome/compas issues you will never come to the deeper level of understanding.

here is a great lecture for laymen about math/physics relationships:
http://youtu.be/kd0xTfdt6qw

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 29 2015 13:53:48
 
Dudnote

Posts: 1766
Joined: Nov. 13 2007
 

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Ricardo

Richard Feynman has a book called Six Easy Pieces aimed to get the gist of some fundamental concepts down to a freshman level. It's been on my "to read" list for a little too long now
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 29 2015 14:02:54
 
Dudnote

Posts: 1766
Joined: Nov. 13 2007
 

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Dudnote

A great popular science book is Chaos byJames Gleick ~ in many of the chapters he does a pretty good job of getting over the main ideas in layman terms.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 29 2015 14:48:47
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 2846
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Richard Jernigan

There is a very good book published in 2014 entitled, "The Quantum Moment: How Planck, Bohr, Einstein, and Heisenberg Taught Us to Love Uncertainty," co-written by Robert P. Crease (Professor of Philosophy) and Alfred S. Goldhaber (Professor of Physics) It is informative about the development of Quantum Theory, and it is very entertaining when it describes how much Quantum Mechanics, particularly Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, has influenced popular culture for better or for worse, mainly for worse. Many people like to apply what they think they understand about physics (but usually do not) to everything from art and literature to philosophy.

One example I found entertaining describes the work of Valerie Laws, who in 2002 spray painted words onto sheep, enabling the flock to spell out randomly generated phrases. Apparently a spokesperson for Northern Arts, which funded this venture, said the result was "an exciting fusion of poetry and quantum physics." And the artist commented "I decided to explore randomness and some of the principles of quantum mechanics, through poetry, using the medium of sheep." I swear, you could not make this stuff up.

There is a lot of New Age twaddle that emerges from some of this thinking that has been derisively termed "Quantum Woo." Quantum Woo has been described as the justification of irrational beliefs by an obfuscatory reference to quantum physics. In other words, more pseudo-science.

Regarding "The Tao of Physics," Jeremy Bernstein, a professor of physics at the Stevens Institute of Technology, had this to say about the book: "At the heart of the matter is Mr. Capra's methodology – his use of what seem to me to be accidental similarities of language as if these were somehow evidence of deeply rooted connections. Thus I agree with Capra when he writes, 'Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science but man needs both.' What no one needs, in my opinion, is this superficial and profoundly misleading book."

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 29 2015 16:12:37
 
runner

 

Posts: 350
Joined: Dec. 5 2008
From: New Jersey USA

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to BarkellWH

An older book, yet one I found to be quite informative, is Heinz Pagels' The Cosmic Code: Quantum Physics as the Language of Nature. Like Bernstein, Pagels finds little of value in attempts to read into quantum physics notions such as Capra's and others of his ilk. But Pagels also acknowledges the difficulty of "understanding" quantum theory--he quotes Richard Feynman: "I think it is safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics. Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, 'But how can it be like that?' because you will go 'down the drain' into a blind alley from which nobody had yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that." Somewhere else in one of his recorded lectures, Feynman says something like "Nobody understands this stuff. You just have to follow the math where it takes you." Pagels' book has some helpful illustrations, though, and he is droll when needed, and properly professorial when required. Heartily recommended.

_____________________________

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 29 2015 19:13:21
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2619
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to runner

Feynman was an entertaining character, as well as one of the leading physicists of the 20th century. When he said "no one understands this stuff" he was taking a parallel path to Einstein's remarks about God. Einstein made it perfectly clear, in published writings, that he was not religious. His remarks about God were metaphors for intuition--notably wrong intuitions in a couple of cases. Feynman is just saying that parts of quantum mechanics are strongly counter intuitive in the natural language way of speaking. That's why natural language is incapable of expressing it, without the help of mathematics that was developed only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Feynman at least tried to give a hint of what he meant by adding, "You just have to follow the math where it takes you." Feynman had a superb understanding of the mathematics of quantum mechanics, enabling him to make a major contribution to quantum electrodynamics.

These days we are teaching calculus to high school students. If civilization continues its sometimes erratic advance, within another century or two we may be teaching calculus at an earlier age, and presenting high schoolers with rational treatments of probability theory and linear operators on infinite-dimensional spaces. In such an era, the so called "wave-particle duality", the "uncertainty principle" and other "paradoxes" of quantum theory will be seen by a larger public to be just the consequences of the perfectly logical development of quantum field theory, which abandons the picture of little objects bumping around that was first proposed (as far as we know) by Democritus.

But no doubt the deniers of evolution will still be with us.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 29 2015 19:45:54
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 2846
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

But no doubt the deniers of evolution will still be with us.


As will authors such as Fritjof Capra, attempting to draw New Age parallels between physics and Eastern Mysticism (see comments above). And let's not forget Deepak Chopra, whose claim to fame is something he calls "Quantum Healing," and who first entered the public consciousness with an appearance on Oprah Winfrey in the early '90s. (That, in itself, tells you all you need to know about his credibility.)

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 29 2015 20:25:22
 
runner

 

Posts: 350
Joined: Dec. 5 2008
From: New Jersey USA

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Richard Jernigan

One cannot recommend highly enough Feynman's wonderful tales collected in such books as Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman, What Do You Care What Other People Think, and short essays as in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. The biography, by the above-mentioned James Gleick, Genius, is also must reading. As Richard knows, Feynman was also not a religious man; in another of his interviews, his criticism of traditional religious belief was that it could not account for the disparity between the enormous, complex universe that we know surrounds us, and the rather smaller religious drama postulated as being enacted here on earth--he said the theater was far too vast for the play being performed within.

_____________________________

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 29 2015 20:29:43
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 2846
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to runner

Not that it detracts from Feynman's genius, both scientific and literary, but he was also an inveterate, serial womanizer. He was sort of the Bill Clinton of the World of Physics.

Just as an aside, when I was serving in the American Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia in the mid-'90s, we had a Regional Medical Officer who kept tabs on health conditions in the region. He and I played squash regularly at our club, and during the Lewinsky scandal, he suggested that there was a part of Clinton that was a case of arrested development. In that compartmentalized area of arrested development, Clinton was forever 18 years old, cruising Main Street at midnight looking for chicks to pick up. Perhaps Feynman had a similar compartmentalized area in his make-up.

In any case, Feynman was a genius who would have made a good companion to share a beer with.

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 29 2015 21:00:50
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2619
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to runner

I liked Feynman's story about visiting Rio de Janeiro at Carnaval time. He stayed at a hotel on the route of the parades by the samba schools. In typical Feynman fashion, he became friendly with the staff. A waiter offered to reserve him a sidewalk table with a good view for the parade of one of the more notable schools. Feynman said not to worry, he had it all taken care of. The waiter asked him how. Feynman told him just to watch the parade.

In the event, Feynman marched by in the second rank just behind the comissão da frente, beating out a mean samba on the frigideira. His usual instrument was bongos.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 29 2015 21:04:41
 
runner

 

Posts: 350
Joined: Dec. 5 2008
From: New Jersey USA

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Richard Jernigan

One of the most interesting, and roundabout, ways of meeting Richard Feynman is via a somewhat little-known book revered by sea kayakers entitled The Starship and the Canoe. This remarkable volume is part biography, part narrative, and it deals with the curiously divergent lives of Feynman's collaborator, mathematician Freeman Dyson, and Dyson's baidarka-obsessed son George. The book was written by Kenneth Brower, himself the son of Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth firebrand David Brower. Ken Brower got to know the reclusive younger Dyson, and ended up paddling the Pacific Northwest coast with Dyson in one of Dyson's modern reproductions of a classic Aleut baidarka, the kayak of those seafaring pioneers. He also befriended Freeman Dyson, and gets the senior Dyson to give us the outline of his life in mathematics and physics, and his life-changing meeting with Richard Feynman. At first, Freeman Dyson did not know what to make of the freewheeling Feynman, but came to appreciate him as a friend and as a profound thinker who was going to make a real mark in physics. We see Feynman as a young man as few knew him; we also read of the touchy relationship between the two Dysons, and of George's singular fixation with building, paddling, and sailing his ever-enlarging fleet of baidarkas. Ken Brower is a very fine writer, and, once well-begun, very few can put the book down. It can foster a deeper interest in the two Dysons, in Feynman, in physics, and in open-water kayaking--quite a feat for one small book.

_____________________________

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 29 2015 23:36:20
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2619
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to BarkellWH

Some would debate whether womanizing is always a symptom of arrested development, or in instances available to only a few, might be a stage beyond normal development.

Henry Kissinger, not especially known for his sheer animal magnetism, but well known for the attractiveness and variety of his dates said, "Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac."

I have not led a strictly puritanical life, but the obsessive womanizers I have known seemed in some way alien, though one or two were fairly good friends in my youth. They all seemed to have some sort of burr under their blanket.

The last I saw of one of my womanizing friends, he had been married for a few years. They had spent a couple of years teaching at an international school in Peru. He had returned to Texas to join his father and uncle in their heavily leveraged, but highly promoted home building business. His wife had just made him send back home the young and beautiful maid they brought back from Peru. He said, "It's Hell being married to an intelligent woman, but better than putting up with a dumb one."

The other is still married, apparently happily, to the same woman for what must be about fifty years now. They are still among my best friends.

Quite a few women, including a couple of middle aged church ladies, exclaimed to me over Clinton's looks and attractiveness. When he was interviewed during the primaries by one of the big TV dogs, he lied with utterly impressive aplomb about his former mistress Jennifer Flowers, while Hillary sat beside him looking up at him with goo-goo eyes. I said to myself, "this guy can't possibly be president, but if he made it he would be the most impressive liar to hold the office during my lifetime so far."

Yes, that takes Lyndon Johnson into account. Johnson was an inveterate liar, but everyone knew it. It seemed possible that sizable numbers of people would actually believe Clinton.

Lewinsky was Clinton's downfall. When he went on TV to wag his finger and say, "I never had sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky," he sweated, trembled and couldn't look the camera in the eye. He had fallen from the top level of lying virtuosity to the pitiful rank of Richard Nixon. Nixon looked like he was lying even when he was telling the truth.

I happened to catch Clinton's televised mea culpa at the National Prayer Breakfast. Al Gore had to introduce him to the assembled clergy. I thought Gore's face was going to break before he stumbled through the ordeal.

On one of the news talk shows the senior CBS correspondent Paul Schieffer was asked his opinion of Clinton's performance. Schieffer said, "I'm from Texas. Many times I have seen those people come down to the front of the congregation and re-dedicate their lives to the Lord. But I never heard any one else say they would mount a strong legal defense."

Some time later I watched Clinton give his speech at the Democratic National Convention. He was so funny and positively charming that he just about stole the show from Obama. Clinton was back on form. What a guy.....

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 30 2015 2:27:25
 
Kevin

 

Posts: 294
Joined: Sep. 7 2008
 

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Kevin

Feynman was one of the greats, that rare breed who writes without being pedantic. In anthropology Geertz was like that. That generation seemed to be much more in tune with classical education and were able to draw from multiple historical sources to support their arguments and give depth to their work.

Anyway, it is interesting that Feynman was mentioned. Although I agree with Bill and Capra that science and mysticism do not need each other, I am more interested in the effects they have on each other when they do converse, as in the annual Mind Life conversations between the Dalai Lama and scholars from different fields.

Before I get to Feynman I want to bring Francisco Varela into the conversation. He was an evolutionary biologist. Although he was not a postmodernist as that term is normally understood, his conclusions resonate with many postmodern theories. He claims that perception is always perception of an individual organism and that this organism both coadapts and coevolves with the environment. This was counterintuitive in 1991 when he coauthored The Embodied Mind but is gaining proponents in cognitive science as an alternative to connectionism and cognitivism.

You would have to read the book and its recent follow-up Enaction (Di Paolo et al) but I hope this suffices to contextualize where I was going. Varela claims that an individual's perceptions is shaped by its ontogenetic (natural) and phylogenetic (environmental/cultural) past. For him, as for phenomenologists and Mahayana Buddhists who he borrows from, there is no ready made world ready to be received. We interpret the world or, in his terms, we enact it based on our (epi)-genetic makeup, and our cultural past.
We can never escape our cultural and individual biases completely and therefore, objectivity as it was understood before Heisenberg, is impossible.

Instead, borrowing from Nagarjuna's Middle Way, Varela makes the case that everything is connected and dependent on something else and it might be fruitful to try to understand what that something else is.

In the case of Feynman the "something else" is a pencil and paper. When a historian expressed his enthusiasm that Feynman had left a record of an equation he had worked out in his mind Feynman retorted that it was NOT a record, the work was not done in his head. Instead, the process is what yielded the work and the pencil and paper were a part of that process (this is related in Andy Clark's Supersizing the Mind).

My point is that, from the enaction perspective there is no grand narrative. There are facts, whether about flamenco or physics, but these must all be placed in an interpretive framework. Unfortunately on this forum there tends to be a trend toward mocking anything that does not fit into a grand narrative model. It is most apparent in the "He plays the best so he must know more" types of posts.

I have no intention of responding to posters that do not at least skim through some of the cited works. It seems that we often talk past each other simply because we have not read the same materials. Also, please don't misinterpret my tone; I have never intended to piss members off.

Oh yeah! On a final note, another point I wanted to bring up is that the "West" is borrowing heavily from the "East" now. You see it in philosophy (Garfield/Middle Way and Slingerland/WuWei), evolutionary biology (Varela), and physics, among others. This is having serious effects on our ways of thinking. For example, Cartesian dualism is on its way out; there is no West and East, no subjective/objective (subjectivity is not preferable while objectivity, except in modified/qualified form, is not possible), no nature and culture (epigenetics destroys that one as does Varela's biology). Then again, my view is not THE view.

_____________________________

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 30 2015 6:07:51
 
runner

 

Posts: 350
Joined: Dec. 5 2008
From: New Jersey USA

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Kevin

I, for one, did skim (no more than skim) several references to Varela et al.; also Lakoff and Johnson. I was reminded of several notions of past years and even centuries--Bishop Berkeley's "To Be is to Be Perceived" Idealism, which was so robustly refuted by Doctor Johnson; Emerson's wonderful "I am a transparent Eyeball" Transcendentalism in the Nature essay; of G.E. Moore's asking whether one of his fellow philosopher friends was "one of those people who believe that trains only have wheels at the station."; and of Benjamin Whorf and his famous Whorf Hypothesis. Varela and company seem to me to take the excellent work of Lakoff and Johnson, the irrefutable hypothesis that our senses control/limit/define what we perceive, and then tack on several layers of supposition that I personally have no aptitude or appetite for, but others clearly do, perhaps making more of a fairly obvious observation than it warrants. Maybe I am completely misreading this whole endeavor, but I remain convinced that there is an outside reality that is more than the sum total of all perceptions of it, and that it exists independently of anyone's particular knowledge of it. Robinson Jeffers' poem Credo captures this perfectly:

The beauty of things was born before eyes and sufficient to itself; the heart-breaking beauty
Will remain when there is no heart to break for it.

_____________________________

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 30 2015 11:24:42
 
Kevin

 

Posts: 294
Joined: Sep. 7 2008
 

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to runner



This brings us back to physics. The first half hour or so gets the two points across, the points being that subjectivity is inescapable and objectivity is impossible (as objectivity was originally understood) and that everything is relational. The physicist in this clip emphasizes these two points in conversation with the Dalai Lama.

Varela was responsible for beginning these conversations but unfortunately passed young. Beginning around 46min the second speaker has some interesting things to say about the realism, idealism, and the Middle way.

I think Edwin Hutchins called this new framework interobjectivity.

_____________________________

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 30 2015 11:37:19
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 2846
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to runner

quote:

Bishop Berkeley's "To Be is to Be Perceived" Idealism, which was so robustly refuted by Doctor Johnson;


Bishop Berkeley finessed his "idealism" and worked around the absurd proposition that objects only exist if perceived by noting that God always perceives everything. Owing to God's perception, objects have an existence as continuous as common sense suggests.

Bertrand Russell's "A History of Western Philosophy" is still one of the finest, most readable introductions to Western Philosophy in existence. In his section on Berkeley's idealism, Russell quotes a clever limerick and reply, setting forth Berkeley's notion.

There was a young man who said God
Must think it exceedingly odd
If he finds that this tree
Continues to be
When there's no one about in the Quad

Reply

Dear Sir:
Your astonishment's odd:
I am always about in the Quad
And that's why the tree
Will continue to be
Since observed by
Yours faithfully,
God

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 30 2015 18:39:14
 
Kevin

 

Posts: 294
Joined: Sep. 7 2008
 

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to BarkellWH

quote:

Bertrand Russell's "A History of Western Philosophy" is still one of the finest, most readable introductions to Western Philosophy in existence.

Are you making that assertion as a professional philosopher, a layman, or a student?
Perception requires a perceiver. The sky is not objectively blue. We perceive it as blue because our cognitive makeup affords it. Who knows what color the sky is to a frog or hawk? I'm sure there are trees in Colorado but since I am more interested in Mahayana Buddhism, which does not require a supernatural entity, I am skeptical about any tree unless I experience it.

I would read the Bertrand Russell but i am reminded of Paco's Paco's disdain for philosophy which he finally decided was vain pretention.

_____________________________

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 30 2015 20:38:28
 
guitarbuddha

 

Posts: 2969
Joined: Jan. 4 2007
 

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Kevin

I used to think that Descartes weakness was that he focused on logic instead of pettiness.

OK, actually I never did.


D.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 30 2015 22:04:27
 
runner

 

Posts: 350
Joined: Dec. 5 2008
From: New Jersey USA

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Kevin

Kevin, you say that you are sure there are trees in Colorado. You then state, somewhat at variance, that you are skeptical of any tree unless you have experienced it. Is this actually what you believe, not as a cool "idea" but as your normal working creed? When you turn your head and look away, do things possibly vanish? In his wonderful, brief essay, Naturalism Reconsidered, Ernest Nagel stresses that, as a philosopher, he strives to only argue for those beliefs and propositions that he holds in the course of his daily existence, in order to retain a sense of grounded responsibility in his occupation.

Nagel's essay remains the best short exposition of philosophical Naturalism extant; it is also clear that Naturalism directly descends from the Atomism of Democritus that Richard referenced, as then adopted and greatly expanded by Epicurus and then his disciple Lucretius. Lucretius's great poem de Rerum Natura marks the birth of the idea that the universe can be understood without recourse to extra-material agencies or gods. Once Galileo, running with this radical idea, begins close observation and experiment, modern science begins.

For a radically different take on perception and reality, there is nothing to compare with Robert Heinlein's 1941 SF/fantasy classic short story, They. It may be the best thing Heinlein ever wrote.

_____________________________

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 30 2015 22:11:01
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 2846
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Kevin

quote:

quote: Bertrand Russell's "A History of Western Philosophy" is still one of the finest, most readable introductions to Western Philosophy in existence.


Are you making that assertion as a professional philosopher, a layman, or a student? Perception requires a perceiver. The sky is not objectively blue. We perceive it as blue because our cognitive makeup affords it. Who knows what color the sky is to a frog or hawk? I'm sure there are trees in Colorado but since I am more interested in Mahayana Buddhism, which does not require a supernatural entity, I am skeptical about any tree unless I experience it. I would read the Bertrand Russell but i am reminded of Paco's Paco's disdain for philosophy which he finally decided was vain pretention.


I'm not sure what your point is. You seem to be responding to my statement that Bertrand Russell's "A History of Western Philosophy" is still one of the finest, most readable introductions to Western Philosophy in existence. I stand by that statement. Anyone who wishes to learn about Western Philosophy, from the ancient Greeks to the more recent Logical Analysis of our own time, and everything in between, would gain much by reading Russell.

I also commented on Bishop Berkeley's Idealism, which claims that all is mind and denies the existence of matter, thus leading him to conclude that objects exist only to the extent that they are perceived by a mind. And since, in Berkeley's thought, God perceives all things at all times, objects have an existence as continuous as common sense suggests. He sort of finesses his philosophical Idealism. That is neither Russell's nor my belief. It is simply an explanation of Bishop Berkeley's philosophy of Idealism.

Finally, I would suggest that an interest in philosophy is no more vain pretension than an interest in Mahayana Buddhism, or Hinayana Buddhism for that matter, of which I am very familiar, having spent much time in Southeast Asia, to where it migrated from Sri Lanka. I don't think an interest in Western or Eastern philosophy or religion is in and of itself vain pretension. That is a quality inherent not in the subject matter itself, but in certain individuals who make pronouncements about matters they do not fully understand, even as they think they do. Much like a lot of the twaddle in popular culture that passes for Quantum Mechanics.

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 30 2015 22:33:55
 
Kevin

 

Posts: 294
Joined: Sep. 7 2008
 

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Kevin

Well, I am not sure how to respond. I have not made a convincing argument I guess. But I am quite certain that the new philosophy of mind known as enaction is solving all sorts of problems in philosophy including the Cartesian mind/body problem and its resulting Western dualism.

I am not quite sure why I stand accused of pettiness because my intention on this foro was never to piss anyone off.

At Bill: my point with vain pretention is that Paco finally decided that it was not worth it to analyze everything. Instead he just played. When I first got on the foro it was to fill a gap left in my life when I left a city where there was a strong flamenco community. In my new community there was not much flamenco so I got on the foro. I was excited about all the new trends in academia that had emerged since I had attended as an undergraduate and so I began sharing what I knew, about flamenco and from a perspective informed by the new material I was learning. One of the most important things that developed since I began undergraduate studies in 1989 was the new interdisciplinarity. Its aim is holistic. I thought there might be some like-minded people but there doesn't seem to be. Embodied cognition is taking off and is something that no one on this thread even seems to know exists.

Anyway, I now see that the problem is not me because, contrary to popular opinion here, I am very open-minded. It seems that some very erudite older gentlemen, whom I otherwise respect, are holding on to philosophies of twenty years ago, oblivious to recent trends that argue counter to their beliefs (I am not claiming either side is objectively right, only that there are very good counterarguments). Actually, Varela calls upon his readers to suspend their judgment because what he argues seems counterintuitive. He is working against a couple of hundred years of philosophy. He must have done something right because many are continuing his work where he left off.

The "vain pretention" is a reminder to myself that before I went to graduate school I studied with some great flamencos from Spain and I spent 4-7 hours a day practicing. I am just agreeing with Paco. What speaks more than anything on the foro is playing ability so it is to playing that I will attend.


Thank you gentlemen.

_____________________________

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 30 2015 23:22:56
 
guitarbuddha

 

Posts: 2969
Joined: Jan. 4 2007
 

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Kevin

quote:

ORIGINAL: Kevin



I am not quite sure why I stand accused of pettiness because my intention on this foro was never to piss anyone off.




I wasn't accusing you of pettiness Kevin, not in the least. Sorry if it seemed I did. Decartes said 'I Think Therefore I Am', and there was a fair bit of weight behind the construction.

There is a great history of self-satisfied attacks on many similar constructions. I don't enjoy the wit of those attacks as much as some people do.

I haven't really got anything to say about Buddhism because it is not something I have been thinking about recently. I will say that the pleasure in any book is the time spent and unless the agenda of it's writer is too transparently odious almost anything can be worthwhile for me.

I never read for improvement only for enjoyment.

D.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 31 2015 0:09:09
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2619
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Kevin

I fail to follow you, Kevin. This is not a backhanded way of saying I think you are wrong. It means to say I simply don't follow you.


quote:

ORIGINAL: Kevin



This brings us back to physics. The first half hour or so gets the two points across, the points being that subjectivity is inescapable and objectivity is impossible (as objectivity was originally understood) and that everything is relational. The physicist in this clip emphasizes these two points in conversation with the Dalai Lama.


Which one is the physicist in the clip? One neuroscientist speaks at some length. Another has her say more briefly. Addiction therapists identify themselves, but I can't pick out the physicist. My confusion would be easy to remedy. Just point out a time when the physicist is speaking.

In an earlier post you say that physics (among other academic disciplines) is "borrowing from the East". In fact, important contributions to physics have come from India, China and Japan, but to me the people I'm thinking of act just like other physicists. I assume this is not what you are talking about. I suspect you mean that physics has taken significant ideas from Asian philosophy or religion. If you would give an example or two, it would make your statement clearer to me.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 31 2015 2:19:21
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2619
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Richard Jernigan

I am traveling at the moment, so I don't have ready access to the books you require, but I have read with considerable interest the Wikipedia article on embodied cognition. I found it informative, especially the number of experimental results summarized there.

As to "solving the mind-body problem"--among neoroscientists at least the mind-body problem hasn't been an issue for decades. But its spirit seems to survive in the buzz about finding a materialist solution to the emergence of consciousness. Perhaps a part of the solution will be a clearer understanding of just what consciousness is.

I found the Dalai Lama clip interesting and informative, in particular the Buddhist parsing of desire and craving more finely than did the neuroscientists.

I remain interested in your answers to the two questions posed in my previous post.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 31 2015 16:27:32
 
Estevan

Posts: 1845
Joined: Dec. 20 2006
From: Torontolucía

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to BarkellWH

quote:

Yours faithfully,
God

Bill


Aha - Bill is God!
I'm glad we've finally got that one sorted - thanks (for 'coming out')!

_____________________________

Me da igual. La música es música.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 31 2015 16:33:58
 
Kevin

 

Posts: 294
Joined: Sep. 7 2008
 

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Kevin

Richard, I am busy today and tomorrow but I wanted to note that I just reposted video above. I think the link I posted was not the one I originally intended, I have watched so many. Neither speaker is a physicist in this clip but they use some philosophical exercises taken directly from Einstein and Newton (I believe). See especially min 5 and 46. There is a middle way that rejects nihilism, idealism, or any extremes. Varela borrowed it "the middle way" from Mahayana Buddhism and one could say that phenomenology makes some similar claims. Here, the philosopher of science takes his cue from Varela.
I will respond to your questions shortly as well as to Runner and Bill.

_____________________________

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 31 2015 17:32:58
 
runner

 

Posts: 350
Joined: Dec. 5 2008
From: New Jersey USA

RE: The Tao of Physics (in reply to Kevin

I have now read four articles on embodied cognition and/or enactive cognition. I conclude that embodied cognition is much ado about something, to be sure--it is certainly a legitimate area of inquiry and research. But, as LBJ was fond of asking, according to his speechwriter Ben Wattenberg: "Therefore, What?" Some of the What appears as certain claims for embodied cognition that reflect much more the enthusiasm for their subject on the part of its investigators, than the power of the insights that are proffered by EC. Lakoff, for instance, has written a book arguing that certain branches of higher mathematics originated from the metaphor-driven cognition of the mathematicians, rather than from the intrinsic inner logic of the math itself. But as mathematician G.H. Hardy wrote in A Mathematician's Apology, "317 is a prime not because we think so, or because our minds are shaped in one way or another, but because it is so, because mathematical reality is built that way." Another mathematician, Alain Connes, wrote, " There exists, independently of the human mind, a raw and immutable mathematical reality." Some of the EC authors, or their adherents, speak of much of the structure of Western philosophical enquiry being overturned and rendered obsolete by the revelations of EC. Kevin quotes Varela as asking that judgment of Enaction be suspended for a while, as the accumulated baggage of pre-existing philosophy must be disposed of first. I think talk of this sort does EC no good at all. It appears to be a perfectly respectable area of study, whose ultimate merit will doubtless be established in due course, but some of its enthusiasts need to be more modest in their claims for it at this time. When the rest of the Western philosophical tradition does crash down at their feet, that will be the time for them to play Dylan's When the Ship Comes In.

_____________________________

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 31 2015 20:24:36
Page:   [1] 2 3 4    >   >>
All Forums >>Discussions >>Off Topic >> Page: [1] 2 3 4    >   >>
Jump to:

New Messages No New Messages
Hot Topic w/ New Messages Hot Topic w/o New Messages
Locked w/ New Messages Locked w/o New Messages
 Post New Thread
 Reply to Message
 Post New Poll
 Submit Vote
 Delete My Own Post
 Delete My Own Thread
 Rate Posts


Forum Software powered by ASP Playground Advanced Edition 2.0.5
Copyright © 2000 - 2003 ASPPlayground.NET

0.1411133 secs.