Posts Tagged ‘Greeks’

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:


“…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%).

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’

Selfish Culture, Selfish Genes

June 10, 2014

Someone pretty intelligent I know posted as “incredible” on her facebook page, a song competition show. The competitor, whose chest was adorned with appendages, much larger than her head, went through an elaborate show of showing “incredible” timidity, before engaging in an “incredible” song of heart and hope forlorn, complete with the, as usual, “incredibly” baffled “judges”.

Stupid Gets Who Stupid Watches

Stupid Gets Who Stupid Watches

Why is such corporate fantasy so fascinating to the uncomprehending masses? Don’t they have anything better to do with what’s left with their minds, than admiring incredibly stupid, canned chow show?

No. Because precisely they find salvation in what they have been designed for, incomprehension.

If one were cattle going to slaughter, what’s best? Pondering one’s fate? Or celebrating someone else’s horns? Well, it’s not a choice, when you have been designed to moo, and little else besides.

This happened to the Roman empire. By the time the People erupted in massive, lethal fighting about sport teams, the Green versus the Blue charioteers, in the Sixth Century, the masses had been completely mentally engineered to only care about “sports”.

Even Emperor Justinian, a highly educated despot who got to power at 16 years of age, and kept if for more than four decades, was disgusted by these Nikka Riots, to the point that he thought of abdicating. (His whorish wife dissuaded him to do so; at least so says official history.)

It’s not just that stress and sleeplessness is bad for your brain, and can make it degenerate irreversibly.

Epigenetics rules genetics. And culture rules epigenetics. Thus, a degenerate civilization, as Rome became, also enjoys degenerate genetic expression.

Stressed out mice have degenerated descendants.

One may want to use such findings. And thus block those who advocate a society exclusively based on buying, selling and competing. Or, in other words, stress and conflict.

Selfish genes don’t exist, but selfish, and degenerated cultures certainly do, and they affect the very substance of minds. Reciprocally, superior cultures will give superior gene expression.

This is no doubt why the Greeks, a genetically diverse group, were the overlords’ of world imagination for two thousands years at least (say from early Crete to the early Roman imperium).

The Minoan, Mycenaean, and  Greek traits: suspicion of authority, inquiry, individualism, ruled for that long, probably because those traits were epigenetically derived from the culture. Genetic race has no meaning, but culture makes a race.

Thus culture is no luxury, but the essence of who we are, aspire to be, and can do.

Patrice Aymé

Photon, Graviton, Contradiction

May 8, 2013

 Abstract: No need to dig very deep to find glaring contradictions in today’s physics. A discreet warning to those who act as if everything important is already understood.  I exhibit a few elementary reasonings where basic physics ominously implodes like an overstuffed star. Among other implosions, the “Planck Length” is derived, not from dimensional analysis, but through an outrageously simple analysis.



 May 8, 1945, the 68th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. A big deal in France. Starting in 1934, the French republic armed itself to the teeth to crush fascism. It took a while, but it worked. At this point, fascism is only history in Europe (and don’t forget the collapse of the USSR).

 Keeping May 8 as a mandatory vacation day helps to remind the young generations that for the Republic to fight racial fascism cost, over 31 years, more than four million dead, in the French empire alone. (More than 100 million, 5% of the world’s population, died, all together. More if one counts the (“Spanish“) flu epidemics that hitched a hike on the military situation)

 Fascism was an erroneous system of thoughts and emotions. All the more striking as it struck mostly the country with the most intellectual hubris, namely the “German Reich“. The basic mental deviations inciting such errors are best studied in pure science, or aeronautics; as the  situations are clearer.

 When looking at history on the largest scale, what counts are optimal results. If one gets optimally to a disastrous result, it’s still disastrous. The Greeks had tremendous physics. At least, they built excellent ships. Roman cements were astounding; they made siphons on such a scale, aqueducts could cross valleys this way.  

 Yet, both Greek optics and Greek were full of correct, intricate considerations. Yet, both were not just false, but inside out, the exact opposite of the truth in the most fundamental message.

 How did it happen? The Greeks had overlooked the obvious. It should have been obvious that the Sun, being so much more enormous than the Earth, did not turn around it: that contradicted intuitive notion about centrifugal forces (say when launching a stone from a sling), and the fact the much smaller moon rotated around the Earth.

 In optics, simplistic experiments would have shown light came from the observed objects, not conversely.

 The Greeks had overlooked the obvious in physics. I will talk about something that maybe similar. Now. Keeping in mind that the Greeks overlooked the obvious so much that their democracy lost three wars to plutocracy in 250 years. Thereafter democracy, or even a republic was not to be seen in Greece again for nearly 2150 years. I claim that’s related. The lack of necessary criticism. It may show up in politics, but it trains best in physics.



 Let’s assume light had a mass, m. (OK, modern physics assumes that light has no mass… otherwise modern physics would not be coherent. But that does not prove that light has, indeed, no mass!)

 If the mass of light were small enough, it would not be experimental detectable.

 Now let’s equate the energy of said mass to 1/2 mvv, the traditional kinetic energy. (Purists who know the Special Theory of Relativity will scream, as this is only the leading term in E = mcc.)

If the star is massive enough, it will bring light to a standstill, by pulling on it hard enough (forget about the geodesics of General relativity!)

 Now the potential gravitational energy of a mass m located at radius R in the gravitational field of a star of mass M is: GmM/R .

 Equating the kinetic energy with the gravitational potential energy:

 1/2 mvv = GmM/R. Putting v=c, the speed of light, eliminating the m’s, we get:

 R = 2 GM/cc

 This is the so-called Schwarschild Radius. When a star of mass is smaller than R, light can’t get out. That reasoning was made by the super mathematician and physicist Pierre Simon de Laplace in the Eighteenth Century. That is, during the Enlightenment. Laplace concluded that “les objets les plus massifs de l’univers ne peuvent etre vus (the most massive objects in the universe may not be seen). [To be entirely fair, an obscure Brit seems to have had the same idea too, at the time.]



 Laplace above made the hypothesis of what some physicists in 1929 came to call the “photon”, the particle of light. Meanwhile De Broglie rolled out his hypothesis that to each body a wave is associated. Although that does not prove the converse, namely that, to each wave a particle is associated, physicists take this for granted. 

 That there are gravitational waves, there is no doubt. Why? Because if one wiggles around a source of gravitation (say, a star), the direction of the incoming pull will vary, so a distant observer will be tugged back and forth. As the distance from the source augments, this will organize itself in nice waves.

 Backtracking conceptually, one gets particles of gravitation similar to particles of light, the gravitons. 

 Why not to play the game above?

 I made this smart remark one day to a Field Medalist specialist of General Relativity. He literally got enraged, fuming, repeating the offending sentence to himself, but unable to find a smart repartee. Indeed. There is none.

 If one plays the game above, the game Laplace first played, no graviton will be able to exit a sufficiently massive star, so the star, not only will not be seen, but not be felt. No wonder my friend got enraged.

 Could that really happen? Why not? Where would the energy go? if one insisted to keep the conservation of energy law? Well, what about coming out somewhere else as Dark Energy? 

 (Remember, we do not know, at all, about the dimensional structure of the universe; so energy could leak, through another dimension; a similar argument is central to some ultra modern theories of gravitation.)



 Another avenue of meditation is to observe that the Schwarschild Radius also exist for a graviton of mass m. It’s 2Gm/cc.

 The graviton’s own mass pulls the graviton itself towards itself. At high enough energy, the graviton becomes a contradiction onto itself.

 2G (hv/cc)/cc = 2G hv/cccc.  … Lv =c, v = c/L

Thus: L = square root (2G h/ccc)

 This “L” is the Planck Length. If the graviton’s matter wave  is confined within “L”, nothing will come out…

 It goes without saying that all of this ought to be taken with a grain of salt. First of all, the real structure of elementary particles is completely unknown. 

 String theory and M theory are attempts to guess said structure. However they assumed topological properties (such as compacity, locality, separability) that basic Quantum Theory violates enthusiastically. So they miss the essence conceptually, right from the start.

 Nevertheless, the reasonings above form the core of Quantum Gravity, the first order approximation. If that has no bearing on reality, neither will the rest.

 One of the main interests of the advancement of science is that it forces us to advance and refine what we mean by reason. In a world where the survival of the many will be increasingly in question, and depends essentially upon ever mightier reason, this is of the essence.


Patrice Ayme