Archive for the ‘Brain’ Category

Why Insist On The DARK Side?

May 23, 2015

The First Thing That Studying The Dark Side Reveals, Is That:

Individuals, Operate According To Different Neurological “LAWS”, So, Instead Of being One, As One Naively Expects, The INDIVIDUAL IS MANY. Ex Uno Plures.

We have met the Multiverse, and it’s us…

So why to study the Dark Side, besides generating confusion? Well, precisely because it is dark. And when we throw a light on it, we see all what our simplified lives have hidden. Instead, if one wants to understand what we are capable of, we have to bring the Dark Side to the light. How does one do that? One tries to understand one’s own reasons and motivations.

Some will sneer that this insight is not knew. Some will point out at Socrates’ “Know Thyself”. However, Socrates picked up what was the Delphi Oracle’s motto. Delphi was an interesting consortium managed by women. Nor was Delphi first. The Greeks apparently traded silk with China as early as the Sixth Century BCE. And they certainly traded philosophical and mathematical ideas with India. They may have heard of Lao Tzu. As traditionally related, custom officials prevented Lao Tzu to leave China, heading West, before he wrote down some of his ideas. Many of those were strikingly modern:

Lao Tze 600 BCE, Deep. But We Don't Want To Eliminate Ourselves. Sympathy For The Devil

Lao Tze 600 BCE, Deep. But We Don’t Want To Eliminate Ourselves. Sympathy For The Devil

Dark and negative? Sometimes circumstances call for dark negativism. When Sparta marched an army into Athens to eject tyrants who had succeeded to the enlightened democracy shepherded by Solon, it was dark, and negative, but necessary. From that promptly rose Athens’ Direct Democracy, a beacon to this day. World War Two was another famous example of diabolical negativism unleashed for the best reasons.

Is man rational? Some say yes, some say no. Pascal uttered that there were two sorts of reasons: one of them from “the heart, which has its reasons which reason does not have”.

So what’s reason? Generally that question is interpreted as: is man logical? The Logos, one of three deities or avatar of the deity, of Christianism (!) is about simple “logical” rules. Say:

(A-> B & B->C) -> (A->C). More generally, the old fashion logos can be generalized as diagram chasing as in Category Theory.

Logic, as traditionally envisioned, and Category Theory are all describable point to point and digitally. As both Quantum Mechanics and Non-DNA genetics point out, this is not how the world works, in full.

(Digitally is how the Abacus, and our Twentieth Century computers work; but that’s not saying much: that’s precisely their shortcoming; the Quantum Computers use Quantum mechanics, hence the continuously differentiable nature of the world.)

So it’s not surprising our brains act continuous differential. Just the opposite of neurons’ most spectacular antics. That consist in firing long range electric potential impulses down axons.

Continuously differential brainy means the EMOTIONAL, NEUROHORMONAL system.

How do we control that?

Well, that’s straining a bit out of the traditional approach to wisdom. Kama Sutra (truly a good life and family manual) and Tantric Texts come to mind (digging in the Tantra reveals a lot of analogy with what I preach, or what De Sade observed, namely that embracing nature is often the best teaching).

But one is better off observing how famous leaders of humanity, those who imparted momentum to civilization, lived. Well, they lived, mostly dangerously, and more strikingly, in various behavioral modes. Most monarchs were hard lovers and warriors, while appreciating the arts, and even science (contemplate the Duke of Normandy and Conqueror of England, asking pointed question about the state of motion of the Earth, of Ptolemy, the Marshall of Alexander (“the Great”) establishing Alexandria as a capital of knowledge, or Francois I, Louis XIV, and Napoleon pushing the sciences; contemplate Muhammad, warrior and philosopher).

And don’t forget Socrates’ military exploits, including, among other things killing four hoplites in hand to hand combat, and helping a wounded comrade survive in an harrowing retreat after a heavy defeat of the Athenian army.

What is going on here? What has hunting all day long, and skirt chasing to do with governance? Just as Catherine The Great, after she got her husband killed, and took as lovers many of the alpha males she detected. As Vlad The Putin would point out, that manly, adventurous attitude got her army a few miles from Berlin, and all over Ukraine.

What is going on is that varied behaviors lead to varied neurohormonal regimes, various moods, thus varied sets of mental laws. In the same “individual”.

This, in turn, leads to operating the brain under different “LAWS”. I borrowed the expression from Airbus, an airline company based in Toulouse, France. Airbus and its ancestors invented Fly By Wire (FBW), inaugurated with Concorde, (adopted for the Space Shutle,) and exclusively used in the Airbus 320 (now all serious aircraft makers have followed). When a plane flies normally it is in “normal law”. When things get abnormal, the computerized brain of the plane change “laws”, with the idea to put the pilots in charge. (The system has worked very well, for decades, up to two weeks ago when a brand new A400 M transport plane crashed because of a computer bug.)

The situation with human brains is that neurohormonal regimes put brains in different laws, that is, in different logics. This cannot be denied. It was intuitively understood, for a long time: hence the avice to not get angry, and that anger, or fear, are bad advisers, etc.

Well, maybe that’s the wrong approach. Maybe anger, fear, love, instead of being eschewed, have to be embraced, to explore the world under a different law.

Let’s go back to the aeronautical analogy. That A400M which crash was flown in a TEST, as a TEST aircraft (it was its first flight), by TEST pilots and engineers. As it turned out that was also the TEST of a new software to enable some specific military operations (acting on fuel and what is called “trimming”, a displacement of center of mass related to fuel, inaugurated on Concorde, nearly fifty years ago).

Well, the tests ended catastrophically: three engines cut-off, and the plane, badly trimmed, banked abnormally, and crashed.

It would have been better to run the whole thing as a thought, rather than test experiment. But for aircraft, there is no choice. Just as, for the Earth, there is no choice: we cannot run the Earth as a TEST SPACESHIP, doing whatever, and see what happens.

Because, whereas one crashed plane can be replaced, the Earth cannot.

So we have to make the most thorough thought experiments, much more thorough than we ever did before.

Why?

Because we want to understand our minds, or, more exactly, the minds of the oligarchy of a few thousands, dominated by Xi, Putin, Obama, Merkel, Hollande, and a few hundreds associated top plutocrats of, fully equipped with herds of minions, all the way down to academic critters producing the requested logic (plutocratic law).

Look back down at history. Consider FDR, a president of the USA at a time when, to avoid a holocaust, he had to make a united front with the French Republic. Instead, FDR did the opposite, pronouncing, ten years later, when they holocaust had been already unleashed, and millions were already dead, that the USA was the “Arsenal of Democracy”.

What motivated FDR in weakening and opposing France, while arguing with Hitler, when at the same time replacing his ambassador (Dodd) precisely because he was antagonistic to the Nazis, and tolerating a massive policy of investment with the Nazis that violated neutrality, and so on? One has to go to psychoanalysis.

My explanation? FDR was actually a plutocrat. His family had a (self-created) coat of arms (mine too, but it’s the fault of the king of Aragon, 12 centuries ago).

However, a half paralyzed Roosevelt had to impose an anti-plutocratic policy as candidate and president. And then FDR got the French government in his face, telling him he was all wrong. Indeed, then wrong FDR did, by being all too friendly to Hitler, and refusing Jewish refugees. In the end, FDR lived in denial.

The ultimate was when, although from an institutionally racist USA, FDR had to fight to death the racist-in-chief, Adolf Hitler, and make in a sense its bed for the Liberty-Equality-Fraternity Republic (never mind that France was not really that; FDR was furious he was pulled in the wrong direction; indeed, soon, under the pressure of the war, the U.S. army pushed for desegregation.

Notice that then one has to interpret emotions, such as FDR’s rage against the French, or his de facto friendliness to enemies of France such as Stalin. Texts, the digital thing, are insufficient.

To get to know ourselves, we have to know, not just our logic (roll over Socrates), or what we know (as a library of facts and demonstrations). We also have to know our emotions, and where they came from. More than that, we have to know what they are, or could be, capable of.

Thus we have not just to cultivate our garden (Voltaire), but also cultivate our emotional system, and especially its potential character. Don’t just imagine the Light. Imagine also the Dark.

Patrice Ayme’

Neurons, Axons, Axioms

March 30, 2015

(Second Part of “Causality Explained”)

Axiomatic Systems Are Fragile:

Frege was one of the founders of mathematical logic and analytic philosophy. Frege wrote the Grundgesetze der Arithmetik [Basic Laws of Arithmetic], in three volumes. He published the first volume in 1894 (paying for it himself). Just before the second volume was going to press, in 1903, a young Bertrand Russell informed Frege of a dangerous contradiction, Russell’s paradox (a variant of the Cretan Liar Paradox). Frege was thrown in total confusion: a remedy he tried to apply reduced the number of objects his system could be applied to, to just ONE. Oops.

Frege was no dummy: he invented quantifiers (Second Order Logic, crucial to all of mathematics). It is just that logic can be pitiless.

If  Those Neurons Evolved Independently From Ours, Neurons Solve Thinking

If Those Neurons Evolved Independently From Ours, Neurons Solve Thinking

Neurons are (part of) the solution to the problem of thinking, a problem so deep, we cannot conceive of it. A second independent evolution of neuronicity would certainly prove that.

Truer Axiomatics Is Simpler, More Powerful:

Russell and Whitehead, colossal mathematicians and philosophers, decided to demonstrate 1 + 1 = 2. Without making “Cretan Liar” self-contradictions.

They wrote a book to do so. In the second volume, around page 200, they succeeded.

I prefer simpler axioms to get to 1 + 1 =2.

(Just define the right hand side with the left.)

It would be interesting that philsophers define what “causing” means, and what “causality” is, for us. Say with explicit examples.

I want to know what cause causes. It’s a bit like pondering what is is.

Some creatures paid as philosophers by employers know 17th century physics, something about billiards balls taught in first year undergraduate physics. (I know it well, I have taught it more than once.) Then they think they know science. All they know is Middle-Ages physics.

These first year undergraduates then to explain the entire world with the nail and hammer they know so well.

They never made it to Statistical Mechanics, Thermodynamics, etc. And the associated “Causality” of these realms of knowledge.

***

Axiomatics Of Causality With The Quantum:

How does “causality” work in the Quantum Mechanics we have?

You consider an experiment, analyze its eigenstates, set-up the corresponding Hilbert space, and then compute.

“Billiard Balls” is what seems to happen when the associated De Broglie wave has such high frequency that the eigenstates seem continuous.

So Classical Mechanical “causality” is an asymptote.

***

Know How To Dream… To Bring Up New Axiomatics

Human beings communicate digitally (words and their letters or ideograms), and through programs (aka languages, including logic and mathematics).

All of this used conventions, “rules”, truths I call axioms, to simplify… the language (this is not traditional, as many of these axioms have had names for 25 centuries).

So for example, I view the “modus ponens” (if P implies Q and P happens, then Q) as an axiom (instead of just a “logical form” or “rule of inference”).

The reason to call basic “logic forms” “axioms” is that they are more fragile than they look. One can do with, or without them. All sorts of non-classical logics do without the “excluded third law” (for example fuzzy set theory).

With such a semantic, one realizes that all great advances in understanding have to do with setting up more appropriate axioms.

***

Buridan’s Revolution, Or An Axiomatics Revolution:

In the Fourteenth Century, the intellectual movement launched by Buridan, included Oresme and the Oxford Calculators. They discovered inertia, momentum (“impetus”), graphs, the law of falling bodies, the heliocentric system (undistinguishable from the geocentric system, said Buridan, but we may as well stick to the latter, as it is in Scripture, said Buridan, wryly).

Buridan’s revolution is little known. But was no accident: Buridan refused to become a theologian, he stuck to the faculty of arts (so Buridan did not have to waste time in sterile debates with god cretins… differently from nearly all intellectuals of the time). Much of Buridan is still in untranslated Medieval Latin, that may explain it, after centuries of Catholic war against him.

http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Jean_Buridan.aspx

These breakthroughs were major, and consisted in a number of new axioms (now often attributed to Galileo, Descartes, Newton). The axioms had a tremendous psychological effect. At the time, Buridan, adviser to no less than four Kings, head of the University of Paris, was untouchable.

The philosopher cum mathematician, physicist and politician, died in 1360. In 1473, the pope and king Louis XI conspired to try to stop the blossoming Renaissance.

More than a century after his death, Buridan’s works, his new axioms, were made unlawful to read. (However Buridan was mandatory reading in Cracow, and Copernic re-published the work, as soon as he was safely ensconced within the safety of his death bed).

The mind, the brain, is quite fuzzy (in the sense of fuzzy set theory; the dreaming part; think of dendrites, prominences within synapses, starfish-like astrocytes, neurotransmitters, etc.). Axioms, and axons enable to code it digitally. So mathematization, and programmation are intrinsic human mental activities.

***

We Are All Theoretical Scientists Of The Mathematical Type:

Human beings continually draw consequences from the axioms they have, through the intermediary of giant systems of thought, and systems of mood (mentality for short).

When reality comes to drastically contradict expected consequences, mentality is modified, typically in the easiest way, with what I call an ANTI-IDEA.

For example when a number of physics Nobel laureates (Lenard, Stark) were anxious to rise in the Nazi Party, they had to reconcile the supposed inferiority of the Jews with the fact that Einstein was a Jew. They could not admit either that Poincare’ invented Relativity, as he was also of the most hated nation (and of the most anti-German fascism family in France!).

So they simply claimed that it was all “Jewish Science” (this way they did not have to wax lyrically about why they had collaborated with Einstein before anti-Judaism).

When brute force anti-ideas don’t work after all (as became clear to Germans in 1945), then a full re-organization of the axiomatics is in order.

An example, as I said, is fuzzy set theory. It violates the Excluded-Third Law.

But sometimes the reconsideration may be temporary. (Whether A and Non-A holds in the LOGIC of Quantum Mechanics, the Einstein-Schrodinger Cat, is a matter of heated debate.)

***

 Quantum Logic:,Both In & Out Of This World:

The removal of old logical axioms can be definitive. For example the Distributive Law of Propositional Calculus fails in Quantum Logic. That has to do with the Uncertainty Principle, a wave effect that would be etched in stone, were it not even more fundamental.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_logic

***

Verdict? Neurons, Axons, And Axioms Make One System:

We have been playing with axioms for millions of years: they reflect the hierarchical, axon dominated, neuron originated most basic structure of the nervous system.

Why?

Well, the neuronal-axonal skeleton of minds is probably the lowest energy solution to the problem of thinking in the appropriate space. It has just been proposed neurons evolved twice:

https://www.quantamagazine.org/20150325-did-neurons-evolve-twice/

We do not just think axiomatically, but we certainly communicate axiomatically, even with ourselves. And the axiomatics are dynamical. Thus causes learn to fit effects.

The fact this work is subjective, in part, does not mean it does not have to do with nature. Just the opposite: causality is nature answering the call of nature, with a flourish.

Human mentality is a continual dialogue between nature inside (Claude Bernard) and nature outside.

Changing axioms is hard work: it involves brain re-wiring. Not just connecting different neurons, but also probably modifying them inside.

Mathematicians have plenty of occasions to ponder what a proof (thus an explanation) is. The situation is worse than ever, with immense proofs only the author gets (Fermat’s Last Theorem was just an appetizer), or then computer-assisted proofs (nobody can check what happened, and it’s going to get worse with full Quantum Computers).

Not all and any reasoning is made to be understood by everybody. (Mathematicians have to use alien math they don’t really understand, quite often.)

Yes, thinking is hard. And not always nice. But somebody has to do it. Just remember this essence, when trying to communicate with the stars: hard, and not always nice.

Patrice Ayme’

Three Neurons, Free Will

March 15, 2015

Modern Slaves Are Predictable, Free Worms Are Not:

Enough of these sad songs about how plutocracy, stupidity, cowardice and greed rule! Worms are smart, and willful! Yes, even worms have Free Will. Too bad for those who thought god controlled everything. Too bad for those who thought animals were machines. Too bad for those controlled by a decerebrating media: they are predictable, whereas worms are not.

That worms have free will is what a study led by Cori Bargmann shows. She is, among other titles, Torsten N. Wiesel Professor, head of the Lulu and Anthony Wang Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior at Rockefeller University (Americans love complicated titles, they aspire to aristocracy; Wiesel a Swedish neurologist, got the Nobel, and was president of Rockefeller).

Brainy Blonde Cori Bargmann “Think Like A Worm”

Brainy Blonde Cori Bargmann “Think Like A Worm”

Researchers can genetically engineered just two, or three neurons in the worm’s head to glow bright green if those neurons respond.

Each neuron in the worm’s brain is assigned a three letter name. By zapping specific neurons with a laser beam, the neuron’s role is deduced from whatever function the worm lost.

So doing, working through the 302 neurons of Caenorhabditis elegans, Cornelia Bargmann discovered that just one neuron control worm hibernation and that worms have a sense of smell, and taste.

In 2011, Bargmann was asked what would be required to understand the worm’s nervous system fully. “You would want to understand a behavior all the way through, and then how the behavior can change. That goal is not unattainable.”

Well, in the end, I believe the behavior of neurons will be found to boil down to Quantum, or even SUB-Quantum physics. So, in the end, there will be no full understanding, just good guesses.

This is indeed what Bargmann discovered in 2015 points towards.

[See below much of the press release from Rockefeller. Also a 2011 NYT’s article on Bargmann’s lab, “In Tiny Worm, Unlocking Secrets of the Brain” may help.]

***

FREE WILL WORM GNAWING OLD PHILOSOPHY:

First, let me philosophize on this recent scientific discovery, which is bound to shatter many old illusions. Philosophy means guess further, or observe, what it all means, or could mean.

Saint Bernard made a rather enlightened observation: “the animal spirit or soul is limited by time – it dies with the body.” Descartes, five centuries later, advanced the grotesque thesis that animals were machines. It was grotesque, because anybody familiar with animals can tell they have free will.

Now neurologists have put Free Will down to as little as three neurons.

Indeed, then, worms are not machines, at least not in the classical sense. Given an input, they behave in unpredictable way, differently from classical machines. That is what the neurologists found.

Do we know of machines behaving that way? Yes. Quantum machines. A Quantum machine is driven by the unpredictable certainty of Quantum Waves.

Are worms then Quantum machines? Yes and no, as Abelard would say. Not necessarily, but probably.

Worms were exposed to a stimulus, a delicious smell. The same smell, always, but it did not give rise to the same reaction. Sometimes worms wormed their way towards the source of the smell, sometimes not.

Conclusion?

The worms’ thinking prevent us to predict its behavior. (Worms are smarter than politicians, the latter being thoroughly predictable!)

Plato famously considered his cave, where people were described as watching shadows on a wall. That was supposed to depict the relationship between humans and reality. The image is still popular among philosophers, and so consequences of it trickle down to the masses.

Plato’s picture is interesting, and it sure applies to propaganda from the powerful, and the way it is received by most. But only as such. As a depiction of how the minds of free worms, let alone, free humans, works, it fails utterly.

However, as far as what science says, and thus, what philosophy ought to confirm, buttress, and fly from, Plato’s picture is now completely obsolete, deprived of reality and imagination.

If a network composed of only three neurons can have an internal mind of its own, a cave of its own, we have to review and change, the concept of mind.

So, what is a mind? A mind, even reduced to three neurons, a network of a mind, has its own mind. How could that be?

Minds are worlds, this is why and how they will. Let me explain.

Quantum Physics describes the behavior of Quantum Waves. Quantum Waves sort-of think (one thousand and one naïve philosophers screaming at this point).

What is thinking? Roughly, “looking”, or perceiving (somehow) what is out there, and then conducting a computation (of sorts) taking what is out there in consideration.

This is exactly what Quantum Waves do.

The roundworm, our hero of will, has 2,000 genes controlling its sense of smell (twice what the rats have, and rats have excellent olfaction). Roundworms do not hear, and do not see, they are all about smell.

That world of smell occupy (part of) their 302 neurons, and build up the rest.

Could we made a “classical” model of a three neuron network? Perhaps, in first order. Actually, even classical model, complete with guiding waves, have been partly made, not just on a computer, but experimentally… for Quantum Waves.

However, in the end, Quantum processes will be found to be non-local (because, well, they are). That will ultimately limit classical, guiding waves models of Quantum waves, Black Holes, or even Roundworms three neuron networks.

If a piece of a worm’s mind is a world, entangled with the rest of the galaxy at a distance, philosophy also has to stretch.

Some would say that whether minds are Quantum, or entangled at a distance, will not bring the bacon on the table: this is neither here, nor there, as it has no practical effects. They would be wrong. Indeed, Non-Local philosophical models, Non-local, Quantum models of thinking, will allow to stretch human understanding so far that it may end up meeting reality itself.

Patrice Ayme’

***

Here is much of the press release from Rockefeller University:

Analysis of worm neurons suggests how a single stimulus can trigger different responses

March 12, 2015 | Science News

Even worms have free will. If offered a delicious smell, for example, a roundworm will usually stop its wandering to investigate the source, but sometimes it won’t. Just as with humans, the same stimulus does not always provoke the same response, even from the same individual. New research at Rockefeller University, published March 12 2015, in Cell, offers a new neurological explanation for this variability, derived by studying a simple three-cell network within the roundworm brain.

Worm brain: All the neurons within this microscopic roundworm are highlighted, with the large cluster at one end representing the brain. Coelomocytes, a type of immune cell, appear as dots along the body.

“We found that the collective state of the three neurons at the exact moment an odor arrives determines the likelihood that the worm will move toward the smell. So, in essence, what the worm is thinking about at the time determines how it responds,” says study author Cori Bargmann, Torsten N. Wiesel Professor, head of the Lulu and Anthony Wang Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior. “It goes to show that nervous systems aren’t passively waiting for signals from outside, they have their own internal patterns of activity that are as important as any external signal when it comes to generating a behavior.”

… By changing the activity of the neurons individually and in combination [researchers] could pinpoint each neuron’s role in generating variability in both brain activity and the behavior associated with it.

The human brain has 86 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses, or connections, among them. The brain of the microscopic roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, by comparison, has 302 neurons and 7,000 synapses. So while the worm’s brain cannot replicate the complexity of the human brain, scientists can use it to address tricky neurological questions that would be nearly impossible to broach in our own brains.

Worms spend their time wandering, looking for decomposing matter to eat. And when they smell it, they usually stop making random turns and travel straight toward the source. This change in behavior is initially triggered by a sensory neuron that perceives the smell and feeds that information to the network the researchers studied. As the worms pick up the alluring fruity smell of isoamyl alcohol, the neurons in the network transition into a low activity state that allows them to approach the odor. But sometimes the neurons remain highly active, and the worm continues to wander around – even though its sensory neuron has detected the odor.

By recording the activity of these neurons, Gordus and colleagues found that there were three persistent states among the three neurons: All were off, all were on, or only one, called AIB, was on. If all were off, then, when the odor signal arrived, they stayed off. If all were on, they often, but not always, shut off. And, in the third and most telling scenario, if AIB alone was active when the odor arrived, everything shut off. “This means that for AIB, context matters. If it’s on alone, its activity will drop when odor is added, but if it’s on with the rest of the network, it has difficulty dropping its activity with the others,” Gordus says.

AIB is the first neuron in the network to receive the signal, which it then relays to the other two network members, known as RIM and AVA; AVA sends out the final instruction to the muscles. When the researchers shut off RIM and AVA individually and together, they found AIB’s response to the odor signal improved. This suggests that input from these two neurons competes with the sensory signal as it feeds down through the network.

Scaled up to account for the more nuanced behaviors of humans, the research may suggest ways in which our brains process competing motivations. “For humans, a hungry state might lead to you walk across the street to a delicious smelling restaurant. However, a competing aversion to the cold might lead you to stay indoors,” he says.

In the worm experiments, the competition between neurons was influenced by the state of the network. There is plenty of evidence suggesting network states have a similar impact on animals with much larger and more complex brains, including us, says Bargmann…“In a mammalian nervous system, millions of neurons are active all the time. Traditionally, we think of them as acting individually, but that is changing. Our understanding has evolved toward seeing important functions in terms of collective activity states within the brain.”

 

 

Emotional Thinking Is Superior Thinking

March 11, 2015

By claiming that emotional thinking is superior, I do not mean that “logical” thinking ought to be rejected, and replaced by passions running wild. I am just saying what I am saying, and no more. Not, just the opposite, “logical” thinking ought to be embraced. However, there are many “logical” types of thought in existence (as Pascal already pointed out). Including the emotional type. They are entangled.

Emotional and logical thinking can be physiologically distinguished in the brain (the latter is mostly about axons; the former about the rest).

Any “logical” thinking is literally, a chain made of points. (And there are no points in nature, said a Quantum Angel who passed by; let’s ignore her, for now!)

Elliptic Geometry In Action: Greeks, 240 BCE, Understood The Difference Between Latitude & Geodesic (Great Circle)

Elliptic Geometry In Action: Greeks, 240 BCE, Understood The Difference Between Latitude & Geodesic (Great Circle). (Traditionally, one quotes Eratosthenes. However, it’s Pytheas of Marseilles who first did this elliptic geometry computation… A century earlier. Pytheas also discovered the Polar Circle, sea ice, and maybe Iceland, among other things boreal…) Whether to develop, or not, this sort of mathematics and physics was, fundamentally, an emotional decision. Involving in particular the emotional worth of the axioms involved.

Some say that hard logic, and mathematics is how to implement “correct thinking”. Those who say this, do not know modern logic, as practiced in logic departments of the most prestigious universities.

In truth, overall, logicians spent their careers proposing putative, potential foundations for logic. Ergo, there is no overall agreement, from the specialists of the field themselves, about what constitute acceptable foundations for “logic”.

It is the same situation in mathematics.

Actually dozens of prestigious mathematicians (mostly French) launched themselves, in the 1950s into a project to make mathematics rigorous. They called their effort “Bourbaki”.

Meanwhile some even more prestigious mathematicians, or at least the best of them all, Grothendieck, splendidly ignored their efforts, and, instead, founded mathematics on Category Theory.

Many mathematicians were aghast, because they had no idea whatsoever what Category Theory could be about. They derided it as “Abstract Nonsense”.

Instead it was rather “Abstract Sense”.

But let’s take a better known example: Euclid.

There are two types of fallacies in Euclid.

The simplest one is the logical fallacy of deducing, from emotion, what the axioms did not imply. Euclid felt that two circles which looked like they should intersect, did intersect. Emotionally seductive, but not a consequence of his axioms.

Euclid’s worst fallacy was to exclude most of geometry, namely what’s not in a plane. It’s all the more striking as “Non-Euclidean” geometry had been considered just prior. So Euclid closed minds, and that’s as incorrect as incorrect can be.

To come back to logic as studied by logicians: the logicS considered therein, are much general than those used in mathematics. Yet, as no conclusion was reached, this implies that mathematics itself is illogical. That, of course, is a conclusion mathematicians detest. And the proof of their pudding is found in physics, computer science, engineering.

So what to do, to determine correct arguments? Well, direct towards any argument an abrasive, offensive malevolence, trying to poke holes, just as a mountain lion canines try to pass between vertebras to dislocate a spine.

That’s one approach. The other, more constructive, but less safe, is to hope for the best, and launched logical chains in the multiverses of unchained axiomatics.

Given the proper axioms, (most of) an argument can generally be saved. The best arguments often deserve better axiomatics (so it was with Leibnitz’s infinitesimals).

So, de facto, people have longed been using not just “inverse probability”, but “inverse logic”. In “inverse logic”, axioms are derived from what one FEELS ought to be a correct argument.

Emotions driving axiomatics is more metalogical, than axiomatics driving emotions.

***

To the preceding philosophy professor Massimo Pigliucci replied (in part) that:

“Patrice, 

“…Hence, to think critically, one needs enough facts. Namely all relevant facts.”

Enough facts is not the same as all the relevant facts, as incorrectly implied by the use of “namely.” 

“It is arrogant to think that other people are prone to “logical fallacies”.”

It is an observation, and facts are not arrogant. 

“A Quantum Wave evaluates the entirety of possible outcomes, then computes how probable they are.”

Are you presenting quantum waves as agents? They don’t evaluate and compute, they just behave according to the laws of physics.

“just as with the Quantum, this means to think teleologically, no holds barred”

The quantum doesn’t think, as far as I know. 

“Emotional Thinking Is Superior Thinking” 

I have no idea what you mean by that. Superior in what sense? And where’s the bright line between reason and emotion?

“Any “logical” thinking is literally, a chain made of points”

No, definitely not “literally.” 

It may not follow from the axioms, but I am having a hard time being emotionally seductive by intersecting circles. 

“Euclid’s worst fallacy was to exclude most of geometry, namely what’s not in a plane.”

That’s an historically bizarre claim to make. Like saying that Newton’s worst fallacy was to exclude considerations of general relativity. C’mon. 

“as no conclusion was reached, this implies that mathematics itself is illogical” 

Uhm, no. 

“to hope for the best, and launch logical chains in the multiverses of unchained axiomatics” 

Very poetic, I have no idea what that means, though.”

***

Massimo Pigliucci is professor of philosophy at CUNY in New York, and has doctorates both in biology and philosophy. However, truth does not care about having one, or two thousands doctorates. It would take too long to address all of Massimo’s errors (basically all of his retorts above). Let me just consider two points where he clings to Common Wisdom like a barnacle to a rock. The question of Non-Euclidean geometry, and of the Quantum. He published most of the answer below on his site:

Dear Massimo:

Impertinence and amusement help thought. Thank you for providing both. Unmotivated thought is not worth having.

The Greeks discovered Non-Euclidean geometry. It’s hidden in plain sight. It is a wonder that, to this day, so many intellectuals repeat Gauss’ self-serving absurdities on the subject (Gauss disingenuously claimed that he had discovered it all before Janos Bolyai, but did not publish it because he feared the “cries of the Beotians”… aka the peasants; Gauss does not tell you that a professor of jurisprudence had sketched to him how Non-Euclidean geometry worked… in 1818! We have the correspondence.).

The truth is simpler: Gauss did not think of the possibility of Non-Euclidean geometry (although he strongly suspected Euclidean geometry was not logical). Such a fame greedster could not apparently resist the allure of claiming the greatest prize…

It is pretty abysmal that most mathematicians are not thinking enough, and honest enough, to be publicly aware of Gauss’ shenanigans (Gauss is one of the few Muhammads of mathematics). But that fits the fact that they want mathematics to be an ethereal church, the immense priests of which they are. To admit Gauss got some of his ideas from a vulgar lawyers, is, assuredly, too painful.

That would be too admit the “Prince of Mathematics” was corrupt, thus, all mathematicians too (and, indeed, most of them are! Always that power thing; to recognize ideas have come out of the hierarchy in mathematics is injurious to the hierarchy… And by extension to Massimo.)

So why do I claim the Greeks invented Non-Euclidean geometry? Because they did; it’s a fact. It is like having the tallest mountain in the world in one’s garden, and not having noticed it: priests, and princes, are good at this, thus, most mathematicians.

The Greek astronomer Ptolemy wrote in his Geography (circa 150 CE):

“It has been demonstrated by mathematics that the surface of the land and water is in its entirety a sphere…and that any plane which passes through the centre makes at its surface, that is, at the surface of the Earth and of the sky, great circles.”

Not just this, but, nearly 400 years earlier, Eratosthenes had determined the size of Earth (missing by just 15%).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eratosthenes

How? The Greeks used spherical geometry.

Great circles are the “straight lines” of spherical geometry. This is a consequence of the properties of a sphere, in which the shortest distances on the surface are great circle routes. Such curves are said to be “intrinsically” straight.

Better: Eusebius of Caesarea proposed 149 million kilometers for the distance of the Sun! (Exactly the modern value.)

Gauss, should he be around, would whine that the Greeks did not know what they were doing. But the Greeks were no fools. They knew what they were doing.

Socrates killed enemies in battle. Contemporary mathematicians were not afraid of the Beotians, contrarily to Gauss.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) was keen to demonstrate that logic could be many things. Aristotle was concerned upon the dependency of logic on the axioms one used. Thus Aristotle’s Non-Euclidean work is contained in his works on Ethics.

A thoroughly modern approach.

The philosopher Imre Toth observed the blatant presence of Non-Euclidean geometry in the “Corpus Aristotelicum” in 1967.

Aristotle exposed the existence of geometries different from plane geometry. The approach is found in no less than SIX different parts of Aristotle’s works. Aristotle outright says that, in a general geometry, the sum of the angles of a triangle can be equal to, or more than, or less than, two right angles.

One cannot be any clearer about the existence on Non-Euclidean geometry.

Actually Aristotle introduced an axiom, Aristotle’s Axiom, a theorem in Euclidean and Hyperbolic geometry (it is false in Elliptic geometry, thus false on a sphere).

Related to Aristotle’s Axiom is Archimedes’ Axiom (which belongs to modern Model Theory).

One actually finds non trivial, beautiful NON-Euclidean theorems in Aristotle (one of my preferred frienemies).

Non-Euclidean geometry was most natural: look at a sphere, look at a saddle, look at a pillow. In Ethika ad Eudemum, Aristotle rolls out the spectacular example of a quadrangle with the maximum eight right angles sum for its interior angles.

Do Quantum Wave think? Good question, I have been asking it to myself for all too many decades.

Agent: from Latin “agentem”, what sets in motion. Quantum waves are the laws of physics: given a space, they evaluate, compute. This is the whole idea of the Quantum Computer. So far, they have been uncooperative. Insulting them, won’t help.

Patrice Ayme’

Logos, Neurology, Stoicism, Christianity, Higher Morality

November 21, 2014

My statement:

“THE LOGOS IS MADE OF ELEMENTS OF BRAIN SIMPLIFIED”

Brought the observation: ”I’m afraid I can’t imagine what this means.” (Massimo from Scientia Salon.) Others have asked for more details. Here they are.

The statement was admittedly abstruse. It is supposed to mean that the Logos as speech is a representation of the Logos as more complex brain processes. (Here the word representation” is used in the mathematical sense, more general version: this is a new example of philosophy using fresh mathematics!)

How does this representative mechanism can be suspected to work? (I already wrote this, but this version has more definition).

Stars Inside. By Varying Myelin, Oligodendrocytes Act As Meta Controllers (2014)

Stars Inside. By Varying Myelin, Oligodendrocytes Act As Meta Controllers (2014)

Suppose we have brain “elements” X, Y, Z (to simplify, say X, Y, Z are neurons, but they could be organs in the brain, like the amygdala, or the geometric structure of some neighborhood in the brain, whatever… yes, here “neighborhood” is used as in General Topology, another mathematical field).

Yes, “brain elements” is an allusion to “elements of reality” as in the Einstein-Podolski-Rosen paper on non-separability in Quantum Mechanics.

Then suppose we have the situation X > Y, and Y > Z.

X>Y means that the brain element X acts on the brain element Y. In the simplest case, “>” are axons. But the first “>” does not have to be of the same nature as the second “>”, which could be, say, some neurohormone or transmitter, such as Nitrous Oxide, or even a burst of oxygen and sugar in an area of the brain, thanks to some gateway neuron.

This innocent sounding remark allows to incorporate all three forms of the Logos defined by Aristotle. Aristotle distinguished the Logos-as-reasoning, from the Logos as Pathos, and the Logos as Ethos.

Pathos implies emotion, sensation… Ethos judgment on these.

The Logos done in my most general way incorporates all these, logic, pathos and ethos, because it allows for emotions: a relation between Y and Z can be through, or about, neurohormones or neurotransmitters.

Logos in that most general X>Y way even includes some forms of interactions we can’t even imagine, such as Quantum Effects… which show up in magnetic field vision in birds, whose simplest explanation is something having to do with spintronics, a type of Quantum Mechanics scientifically elucidated, but not yet incorporated in technological devices.

Then X>Z. Now there will be some meta-structure attached to all these relations between brain elements: I feel that the brain is all about different levels of “meta” piled upon each other. The structure of axons allow for this.

Namely if an axon (say) is active between Y and Z, another neuron, higher up in the meta-structure, can know about it (axons have varying level of myelin along themselves, and could be none; this differentiated activity of oligodendrocytes was observed in 2014).

The “meta” simplification works this way: whereas we started initially with three objects (X, Y, Z) and two relations (X>Y and Y>Z), that can be reduced two just two signals (X>Y and Y>Z) going to say, just one meta neuron.

Thus, aware of all these activations, higher meta neurons can then communicate the whole thing to the Broca or Wernicke speech area will convert all this in a speech.

Then we get something like : x>y & y>z & then x>z, where now “>” is just the verb “implies”, in plain speech, or a hand gesture. Thus a potentially very complex and variegated Brain-Logos activity has been simplified into Speech-Logos as usually interpreted.

WHY & HOW A GOOD TALK CAN SAVE THE WORLD:

Speaking of my preceding essay, and my observation that Christianity had to make the Logos into god, Massimo observed that: “The Stoics were talking about Logos / Nature / God / Zeus well before Christianity.” Indeed, pretty much something the imperial cooks of Christianity had to do . Christianity is a vast salad, artfully mixed with plenty of goodies.

Massimo also said: “The rest of your [essay] is interesting … but I fail to see what it has to do with Stoicism.”

It has to do with the Logos, recognizing its centrality in Stoicism. The best path to stoicism may be to talk calmly about a situation until it goes away. Talk it to death, so to speak.

Any short Logos, say 500 words, will miss many perspectives. But a good new perspective can pick in depth, where no pick has gone before.

Massimo opined that: “there is more value in Zeno and his followers than in Jesus”:

Indeed. Basically Jesus’ teeny-tiny Logos goes only that far.

Jesus is in love with one man, his dad. He also loves love. Nice, but such a ridiculously short a Logos can’t fill an entire universe. We need a bigger boat to handle that enormous ocean, and its giant sharks.

By making the Logos into God, one can talk like Jesus, love mummy, and daddy, and love itself, but also say much, much more, thus become like Jesus’ own dad.

There is indeed more value in all-encompassing complexity… As long as one is not a person with feeble mental capabilities. Persons who are not smart at all are better served with just a few instructions, the way Jesus had it (if one just picks the crème de la crème of what Jesus said, and not the mud of his mud). People at large are also best served if those who are rather stupid love their dad, and love. And stick with this, not trying to go beyond.

Christianity is a religion for the herd (consult Nietzsche for more on this, including sexual interpretations of the cross). Masters used something more robust (Nietzsche again, following meekly the more exuberant Marquis de Sade). Roman generals, under the Republic, before the Greek Stoics became prominent, were masters of stoicism. Stoicism on the largest scale is pretty much how the Roman Republic grew.

The Republic went down when too many in the Roman elite quit Stoicism for Greed (thus bringing along Plutocracy). It was sadly pathetic. Without forbearance, no exuberance!

Patrice Ayme’


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Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Patterns of Meaning

Exploring the patterns of meaning that shape our world

Sean Carroll

in truth, only atoms and the void

West Hunter

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat

GrrrGraphics on WordPress

www.grrrgraphics.com

Skulls in the Stars

The intersection of physics, optics, history and pulp fiction

Footnotes to Plato

because all (Western) philosophy consists of a series of footnotes to Plato

Patrice Ayme's Thoughts

Striving For Ever Better Thinking. Humanism Is Intelligence Unleashed. From Intelligence All Ways, Instincts & Values Flow, Even Happiness. History and Science Teach Us Not Just Humility, But Power, Smarts, And The Ways We Should Embrace. Naturam Primum Cognoscere Rerum

Learning from Dogs

Dogs are animals of integrity. We have much to learn from them.

ianmillerblog

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Defense Issues

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RobertLovesPi.net

Polyhedra, tessellations, and more.

How to Be a Stoic

an evolving guide to practical Stoicism for the 21st century

Donna Swarthout

Writer, Editor, Berliner

coelsblog

Defending Scientism

SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ

Where The Eagles Fly . . . . Art Science Poetry Music & Ideas

Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Patterns of Meaning

Exploring the patterns of meaning that shape our world

Sean Carroll

in truth, only atoms and the void

West Hunter

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat

GrrrGraphics on WordPress

www.grrrgraphics.com

Skulls in the Stars

The intersection of physics, optics, history and pulp fiction

Footnotes to Plato

because all (Western) philosophy consists of a series of footnotes to Plato

Patrice Ayme's Thoughts

Striving For Ever Better Thinking. Humanism Is Intelligence Unleashed. From Intelligence All Ways, Instincts & Values Flow, Even Happiness. History and Science Teach Us Not Just Humility, But Power, Smarts, And The Ways We Should Embrace. Naturam Primum Cognoscere Rerum

Learning from Dogs

Dogs are animals of integrity. We have much to learn from them.

ianmillerblog

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Defense Issues

Military and general security

RobertLovesPi.net

Polyhedra, tessellations, and more.

How to Be a Stoic

an evolving guide to practical Stoicism for the 21st century

Donna Swarthout

Writer, Editor, Berliner

coelsblog

Defending Scientism