Thursday, June 13, 2019

Seeing the Seing

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — m759 @ 2:30 PM

The phrase "experimental metaphysics" appeared in Peter Woit's weblog on June 11.
Google reveals that . . .

" 'experimental metaphysics' is a term coined by Abner Shimony …."

Shimony reportedly died on August 8, 2015.  Also on that date —

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Three Things at Once

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 1:28 PM

Rosalind Krauss in 1979

Nanavira Thera in 1959

Cambridge University Press in 1999 —

See also Cube Bricks.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Machine That Will Fit

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 8:00 AM

Or:  Notes for the Metaphysical Club

Northrop Frye on Wallace Stevens:

"He… stands in contrast to the the dualistic
approach of Eliot, who so often speaks of poetry
as though it were an emotional and sensational
soul looking for a 'correlative' skeleton of
thought to be provided by a philosopher, a
Cartesian ghost trying to find a machine that
will fit."

Ralph Waldo Emerson on "vacant and vain" knowledge:

"The new position of the advancing man has all
the powers of the old, yet has them all new. It
carries in its bosom all the energies of the past,
yet is itself an exhalation of the morning. I cast
away in this new moment all my once hoarded
knowledge, as vacant and vain." 

Harold Bloom on Emerson:

"Emerson may not have invented the American
Sublime, yet he took eternal possession of it." 

Wallace Stevens on the American Sublime:

"And the sublime comes down
To the spirit itself,

The spirit and space,
The empty spirit
In vacant space."

A founding member of the Metaphysical Club:

See also the eightfold cube.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Triple Cross

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , — m759 @ 1:30 PM

(Continued See the title in this journal, as well as Cube Bricks.)

Cube Bricks 1984 —

An Approach to Symmetric Generation of the Simple Group of Order 168
Related material —

Dirac and Geometry in this journal,
Kummer's Quartic Surface in this journal,
Nanavira Thera in this journal, and
The Razor's Edge  and Nanavira Thera.

See as well Bill Murray's 1984 film "The Razor's Edge"

Movie poster from 1984 —

"A thin line separates
love from hate,
success from failure,
life from death."

Three other dualities, from Nanavira Thera in 1959 —

"I find that there are, in every situation,
three independent dualities…."

(Click to enlarge.)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Introduction to Pragmatism

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 7:29 AM

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
on the origins of Pragmatism:

"Pragmatism had been born in the discussions at
a ‘metaphysical club’ in Harvard around 1870
(see Menand…*). Peirce and James participated
in these discussions along with some other philosophers
and philosophically inclined lawyers. As we have
already noted, Peirce developed these ideas in his
publications from the 1870s."

From "How to Make Our Ideas Clear,"
by Charles Sanders Peirce in 1878 —

"The very first lesson that we have a right to demand that logic shall teach us is, how to make our ideas clear; and a most important one it is, depreciated only by minds who stand in need of it. To know what we think, to be masters of our own meaning, will make a solid foundation for great and weighty thought. It is most easily learned by those whose ideas are meagre and restricted; and far happier they than such as wallow helplessly in a rich mud of conceptions. A nation, it is true, may, in the course of generations, overcome the disadvantage of an excessive wealth of language and its natural concomitant, a vast, unfathomable deep of ideas. We may see it in history, slowly perfecting its literary forms, sloughing at length its metaphysics, and, by virtue of the untirable patience which is often a compensation, attaining great excellence in every branch of mental acquirement. The page of history is not yet unrolled which is to tell us whether such a people will or will not in the long-run prevail over one whose ideas (like the words of their language) are few, but which possesses a wonderful mastery over those which it has. For an individual, however, there can be no question that a few clear ideas are worth more than many confused ones. A young man would hardly be persuaded to sacrifice the greater part of his thoughts to save the rest; and the muddled head is the least apt to see the necessity of such a sacrifice. Him we can usually only commiserate, as a person with a congenital defect. Time will help him, but intellectual maturity with regard to clearness comes rather late, an unfortunate arrangement of Nature, inasmuch as clearness is of less use to a man settled in life, whose errors have in great measure had their effect, than it would be to one whose path lies before him. It is terrible to see how a single unclear idea, a single formula without meaning, lurking in a young man's head, will sometimes act like an obstruction of inert matter in an artery, hindering the nutrition of the brain, and condemning its victim to pine away in the fullness of his intellectual vigor and in the midst of intellectual plenty. Many a man has cherished for years as his hobby some vague shadow of an idea, too meaningless to be positively false; he has, nevertheless, passionately loved it, has made it his companion by day and by night, and has given to it his strength and his life, leaving all other occupations for its sake, and in short has lived with it and for it, until it has become, as it were, flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone; and then he has waked up some bright morning to find it gone, clean vanished away like the beautiful Melusina of the fable, and the essence of his life gone with it. I have myself known such a man; and who can tell how many histories of circle-squarers, metaphysicians, astrologers, and what not, may not be told in the old German story?"

Peirce himself may or may not have been entirely successful
in making his ideas clear.  See Where Credit Is Due  (Log24, 
June 11, 2016) and the Wikipedia article Categories (Peirce).

* Menand, L., 2001. The Metaphysical Club A Story of
Ideas in America
, New York:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Divine Comedy

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:33 PM

The Story Theory of Truth

“We have a need to tell ourselves stories
that explain it all. We use these stories to
supply the metaphysics, without which
life seems pointless and empty.”

David Brooks, NY Times of Nov. 10

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's website has quotes on her soon-to-be-published novel 36 Arguments for the Existence of God

"Savagely funny"
"Supremely witty"

Description of the novel–

"At the center: Cass Seltzer, a professor of psychology…."

Not to be confused with Professor Seltzer in Wanted  or characters in the films of Matt Damon–

The professor in Good Will Hunting and The Professor in The Bourne Identity

Related material–

Stories and Metaphysics

Saturday, November 14, 2009

For St. Lawrence O’Toole’s Day

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 7:20 AM

“We have a need to tell ourselves stories
that explain it all. We use these stories to
supply the metaphysics,* without which
life seems pointless and empty.”

David Brooks, NY Times of Nov. 10

“The story-teller of hell”

— Publisher’s promotional quotation
for The Nick Tosches Reader

Nick Tosches on the cover of 'The Nick Tosches Reader'

* “the metaphysics“– This link leads  to a web page at the Archdiocese of Dublin whose relevance to metaphysics is not obvious. Of course, from the point of view popular with viXra authors (see Thursday), everything is related to metaphysics. The link is to a homily that mentions Sr. Joan Chittester, O.S.B. A search on her works at Amazon.com leads to Welcome to the Wisdom of the World And Its Meaning for You: Universal Spiritual Insights Distilled from Five Religious Traditions. The title indicates that despite Chittester’s personal virtues, her book is, unlike the Tosches book above, less than first-rate. Still, a “meaning for you” is, in my case, not lacking. Continuing the search for a Joycean epiphany related to metaphysics, I found that the Chittester book‘s date of publication (by Eerdmans, the Grand Rapids Calvinist publisher) was July 24, 2007. For a metaphysical phrase on that date– “the Platonic ‘source of all images,'” see The Church of St. Frank. For metaphysics and the Church of some other saints, see the essay on the “metaphysics of goodness” linked to on the publication date of Chittester’s book.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Tuesday August 17, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 AM

The Zen of Abraham

Today’s Zen Chautauqua, prompted by the fact that this is Abrahamic week at the real Chautauqua, consists of links to

The Matrix of Abraham,

Matrix of the Death God, and

Happy Birthday, Kate and Kevin.

The real Chautauqua’s program this week is, of course, Christian rather than Zen.  Its theme is “Building a Global Neighborhood: The Abrahamic Vision 2004.”  One of the featured performers is Loretta Lynn; in her honor (and, of course, that of Sissy Spacek), I will try to overcome the fear and loathing that the Semitic (i. e., “Abrahamic”) religions usually inspire in me.

To a mathematician, the phrase “global neighborhood” sounds like meaningless politico-religious bullshit —  a phrase I am sure accurately characterizes most of the discourse at Chautauqua this week.  But a Google search reveals an area of research — “particle swarm optimization” in which the phrase “global neighborhood” actually means something.  See

A Hybrid Particle Swarm
and Neural Network Approach
for Reactive Power Control,
by Paulo F. Ribeiro and
W. Kyle Schlansker

This article includes the following:

Given the sophistication of his writing, I am surprised at Schlansker’s Christian background:

A good omen for the future is the fact that Schlansker balances the looney Semitic (or “Abrahamic”) teachings of Christianity with good sound Aryan religion, in the form of the goddess Themis.

 Themis, often depicted as “Justice”

For those who must have an Abraham, Schlansker’s paper includes the following:

A Themis figure I prefer to the above:

For more on religious justice
at midnight in the garden of
good and evil, see the Log24
entries of Oct. 1-15, 2002.

For material on Aryan religion that is far superior to the damned nonsense at Chautauqua, New York, this week, see

Jane Ellen Harrison’s Themis: a Study of the Social Origins of Greek Religion, with an excursus on the ritual forms preserved in Greek tragedy by Gilbert Murray and a chapter on the origin of the Olympic games by F. M. Cornford.  Rev. 2nd ed., Cambridge, Cambridge U.P., 1927.

Those who prefer the modern religion of Scientism will of course believe that Themis is purely imaginary, and that truth is to be found in modern myths like that of Carl Sagan’s novel Contact, illustrated below.

Jodie Foster (an admirer of
Leni Riefenstahl) and the
opening of the 1936 Olympics

“Heraclitus…. says: ‘The ruler whose prophecy occurs at Delphi oute legei oute kryptei, neither gathers nor hides, alla semainei, but gives hints.'”
An Introduction to Metaphysics, by Martin Heidegger, Yale University Press paperback, 1959, p. 170

“The lord whose oracle is in Delphi neither indicates clearly nor conceals, but gives a sign.”
Adolf Holl, The Left Hand of God, Doubleday, 1998, p. 50

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Sunday September 22, 2002

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , , — m759 @ 8:02 PM

Force Field of Dreams

Metaphysics and chess in today’s New York Times Magazine:

  • From “Must-See Metaphysics,” by Emily Nussbaum:

    Joss Whedon, creator of a new TV series —

    “I’m a very hard-line, angry atheist” and
    “I want to invade people’s dreams.”

  • From “Check This,” by Wm. Ferguson:

    Garry Kasparov on chess —

    “When the computer sees forced lines,
    it plays like God.”

Putting these quotations together, one is tempted to imagine God having a little game of chess with Whedon, along the lines suggested by C. S. Lewis:

As Lewis tells it the time had come for his “Adversary [as he was wont to speak of the God he had so earnestly sought to avoid] to make His final moves.” (C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, Harcourt, Brace, and World, Inc., 1955, p. 216) Lewis called them “moves” because his life seemed like a chess match in which his pieces were spread all over the board in the most disadvantageous positions. The board was set for a checkmate….

For those who would like to imagine such a game (God vs. Whedon), the following may be helpful.

George Steiner has observed that

The common bond between chess, music, and mathematics may, finally, be the absence of language.

This quotation is apparently from

Fields of Force:
Fischer and Spassky at Reykjavik
. by George Steiner, Viking hardcover, June 1974.

George Steiner as quoted in a review of his book Grammars of Creation:

“I put forward the intuition, provisional and qualified, that the ‘language-animal’ we have been since ancient Greece so designated us, is undergoing mutation.”

The phrase “language-animal” is telling.  A Google search reveals that it is by no means a common phrase, and that Steiner may have taken it from Heidegger.  From another review, by Roger Kimball:

In ”Grammars of Creation,” for example, he tells us that ”the classical and Judaic ideal of man as ‘language animal,’ as uniquely defined by the dignity of speech . . . came to an end in the antilanguage of the death camps.”

This use of the Holocaust not only gives the appearance of establishing one’s credentials as a person of great moral gravity; it also stymies criticism. Who wants to risk the charge of insensitivity by objecting that the Holocaust had nothing to do with the ”ideal of man as ‘language animal’ ”?

Steiner has about as clear an idea of the difference between “classical” and “Judaic” ideals of man as did Michael Dukakis. (See my notes of September 9, 2002.)

Clearly what music, mathematics, and chess have in common is that they are activities based on pure form, not on language. Steiner is correct to that extent. The Greeks had, of course, an extremely strong sense of form, and, indeed, the foremost philosopher of the West, Plato, based his teachings on the notion of Forms. Jews, on the other hand, have based their culture mainly on stories… that is, on language rather than on form. The phrase “language-animal” sounds much more Jewish than Greek. Steiner is himself rather adept at the manipulation of language (and of people by means of language), but, while admiring form-based disciplines, is not particularly adept at them.

I would argue that developing a strong sense of form — of the sort required to, as Lewis would have it, play chess with God — does not require any “mutation,” but merely learning two very powerful non-Jewish approaches to thought and life: the Forms of Plato and the “archetypes” of Jung as exemplified by the 64 hexagrams of the 3,000-year-old Chinese classic, the I Ching.

For a picture of how these 64 Forms, or Hexagrams, might function as a chessboard,

click here.

Other relevant links:

“As you read, watch for patterns. Pay special attention to imagery that is geometric…”


from Shakhmatnaia goriachka

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