Posts Tagged ‘Imagination’

Banality of Rogues

January 1, 2017

The famous Prussian Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt, an anti-Nazi who slept assiduously with the Nazi Heidegger, her thesis advisor, married to someone else, wrote about the “banality of evil”, a concept that became famous… Although Arendt’s “discovery” would have made the Catholic Inquisition shrug and smirk, five centuries prior (the Inquisition would have said:’This is exactly what we have been talking about, evil everywhere!’)

Today I will speak of the banality of rogues. You see rogues tie in with the (re-)Foundation Principle. No rogues, no civilization. (There goes one of the main critiques against Donald Trump! Yes, I just saw the movie “Rogue One”…)

We have a real, huge example in history, the very base of our present civilization: the Franks were both rogues, and “renovators”, as they themselves described themselves, of the Roman empire. No less. But actually the Franks did much more, founding Western civilization in full, by outlawing slavery, making secular education mandatory, and running an imperial, military society which, somehow, saved and overcame antiquity, while preserving an open society (the whole picture got in trouble with the First Crusade: see, it’s the fault of Islam, once again, ha-ha-ha).

I was reading in a history publication, how the Roman empire went down, and they mentioned all sorts of barbarians: Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Burgundians, Vandals, Alans, Huns… They forgot to mention the most important ones, the ones vested with Roman power, more than any others, the Franks… It was as if they talked about breathing, but forgot to mention air.

Ignoring the re-foundation of Rome by the Franks is ignoring, not just history, but the re-foundation of civilization, no less. Indeed the Franks removed the most glaring defects of Rome.  (That “renovated” empire officially went on until Napoleon, emperor of the rogue imperial part of said Roman empire called Francia, then France, shut it down in 1804.)  

Habitable Exoplanet With Ring In the Movie Rogue One: In Our World, Our Mental World, There Are Now Exoplanets Everywhere. In 1600 CE, Giordano Bruno got burned, just for suggesting that.

Habitable Exoplanet With Ring In the Movie Rogue One: In Our World, Our Mental World, There Are Now Exoplanets Everywhere. In 1600 CE, Giordano Bruno got burned, just for suggesting that.

[Earth may have had a ring at some point in the past (some scientist have speculated, looking at some otherwise weird data). Thousands of exoplanets have been found since the first one, 51 Pegasi b, at the University of Geneva eleven years ago. An exoplanet was found, in 2016, around the closest star, Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf; the planet is in the habitable zone. Details are unknown, as the planet does not seem to come between us and its star; good spending in astronomy would allow to look at it directly, using existing technology.But our corrupt leaders have prefered to give money to our plutocratic masters, and, thus, crumbs to themselves, rather than making science all it can be. Science is the one job for all, and necessary for survival, moreover.] 

How did Rome die? Basically from sclerotic thinking, mental paralysis, senility: the establishment by Augustus of his damned “Principate”, with a permanent “First Man” (Princeps) at the helm, was the fundamental cause of mental decay. We The People got completely disinterested from the most interesting question, and the few families at the helm were too idiotic to have any new ideas.

Once mental decay is at the helm, and pervades the base, nothing can save a society: when problems occur, they can’t be solved. This is what happened to Rome. Confronted with worse problems in the Fourteenth Century France sailed right through, as nothing had happened, because Fourteenth Century France was an intellectual power machine, greatest in civilization so far, ever.

Buridan, who was worth ten Newtons, at least, having overturned Aristotelian physics, discovered ⅔ of “Newton’s” laws, and justified, as a result, the heliocentric system, was not just chief of the university of Paris, but counselor to four French kings. That was typical of the situation in France, England, Germany and Italy at the time. Buridan’s network of students and collaborators extended throughout Europe. Meanwhile Florence’s bankers funded that Italian Republic’s mighty army with national bonds…

So the fierce, swift and abominable Black Plague killed half of Europe, and no aristocrats… So what? Rome, affected by smaller plagues, tottered on the brink of extinction…

Yes, one can point to the sorry state of the Demoncratic Party, with its entrenched interests, drinking the elixir served by self-serving plutocrats (such as those who set-up Obamacare without cost control. And no, don’t point at Trump; he and his Kellyanne Conway, among others, are a breath of fresh air, after decades of increasingly metastatic plutocracy. We will see what they do.

Sometimes heavy destruction is the only way to construction. It is alway the case, when the construction is huge. (And this is true for brains too, explaining why philosophers have it hard, when they interact with the commons… and reciprocally!)

Oh yes, it can hurt: this is the implicit theme in the last Star War saga (“Rogue One”). The rebellion has done evil things we are informed, and we see it trying its very best, to do some more (the father of the heroine is assassinated by the rebellion, although he works against the empire; the movie is notable also for the fact the main hero and character is a human female in her full glory, second to males in no way whatsoever!)

It is a complicated world. It will get ever more complicated. Mastering its complexity is the most crucial part in fighting evil. To master complexity, one has to understand it first. Thus, standing in the way of understanding is the greatest, deepest meta-evil.

Only rogues dare to understand, and act upon, what others refuse to understand, or even see. Rogues are necessary to progress, forward, and civilization is riding a bicycle: no forward motion means collapse. Because a ruined ecology is always biting at the heels of civilization.

Civilization may not like rogues, but it needs them, to be born again, with a better intelligent design, necessary for survival.

Being a rogue is not just a neurohormonal state. It is a mental architecture. Studies just published showed that first mothers get their brains permanently modified (details another time). Similarly a rogue brain is different from the brain of a servant of the establishment like Obama. It is permanently different. Giordano Bruno, or Galileo, or Descartes, or Montaigne or Abelard, were permanently different.

The superiority of the “West” (“Pars Occidentalis” as the Romans said) is due to its being just enough of a host medium to rogues. The fate of rogues was not as good in Islam, by orders of magnitude; after he got in so much trouble for fighting the Church, Abelard, in the Twelfth Century, toyed with the idea of going to live among the Islamists (so he wrote). Wisely, he did not do it: he would have been killed there (instead, in the West, his ideas won, over the centuries…)

Happy New Year To All (even the abysmal Obama, basking in Oahu, and his cohort of the corrupt!)

Rogues watch ants with sympathy…

Patrice Ayme’

Against Literature, Yet For Modiano

October 9, 2014

So Patrick Modiano got the Nobel Prize in literature, the 15th French to be so honored (Sartre declined it). Was it about France? Living in an imaginary world, full of imaginary friends?

I do not know Modiano’s work (but I have seen him try to talk on TV, many times in the past). Actually I do not know literature. Not anymore. Generally, it bores me to death. I used to read a lot, in my zeroes, including Dickens, Moby Dick, Hugo, Dumas. Later I did Voltaire, Moliere, Corneille, Shakespeare, lots of Latin authors (sometimes in the original, although that was time-consuming, somewhat pointless).

Rosny Aine’’s War of Fire (Guerre du Feu) and Victor Hugo made a lasting impression. But not as much as Caesar. Some other famous authors I found completely indigestible. Then came my teenage years pass: I grew up. My focus of inquiry turned to the real world. I found that wild baboons had more to say that was authentic, than self-admiring tycoons of letters parading in Paris’ smoky saloons.

What’s wrong with literature?

I watch French literature shows on TV, where famous authors come, and are interviewed. Some are well connected cuties, like Amelie Nothombe, who just made an entire book about drinking drugs, to great applause. She is a scion of an originally aristocratic English family whose father, somehow, ended as Belgian ambassador to Japan (thus the grandson of Britain’s Queen Victoria ended as Kaiser of Germany while his cousin was Czar of Russia). She sold millions of books, and she is as interesting as a door knob with a black hat.

So I watch those literature shows the French are obsessed with, and the scenario is always the same. Some guy (it’s most often a guy, barring the occasional cutie) comes and starts to speak about some fictitious character(s) whom he invented with letters, as if that creation had really existed.

Others swarm around, mouth gaping about the pathetic inventions, feeble echoes  of a distant real universe, evoked by the great man, as if it had all really happened. They are exactly like little children with a bedtime story.

But all I see is some guy telling me about some people in his imagination, in his imaginary circumstances doing his imaginary things. I see the guy, I see him, I see his limitations, I see that he says what he says because of who he is. Generally somebody whose reality is far more mediocre, far more mundane thn the real reality out there.

Mundane is a problem. Mundane comes from the Old French mondain “of this world, worldly, earthly, secular.” Mondain has come to mean, in modern French “from the upper reaches of glittering high society”.

Methinks that the confusion between this very limited imaginary make-believe and the real world, contributes a lot to the gathering failure known as France, or, for that matter, the gathering failure of the West.

What do I propose instead?

I propose that those who sell (lots of) books are not necessarily the top intellectuals. Pure imagination looking at its own navel goes only that far (as Buddhism has amply demonstrated).

I propose that literature is not philosophy. Reading, and writing, children fables, is different from scathingly critical thinking (which top philosophy, or physics, has always to be… I am not talking about perfecting blue LEDs here).

In the particular case of Modiano, I should not be that critical. Like  J. M. G. Le Clézio, here is an author that has deeply inquired about reality… Instead of just petting the masses.

Patrick Modiano’s Nobel, is, to some extent an acknowledgment that literature stands to gain much by interrogating the cold, real facts of the Dark Side of man. Modiano’s work is much about what happened during the more than four years during which France was occupied by the Nazis. He actually hunted down some facts, and the tragic fate, say, of a girl assassinated in Auschwitch (Dora Bruder).

The period, Nazism, was a great revelator of human nature, in all sorts of astounding ways, and has not been tapped enough that way. So, be it only for that, it’s excellent that Modiano got recognized (it’s not his first prize).

Modiano evokes a Nazi collaborator, who is also a Jew. No doubt it’s fun to ponder the facts. But reality is much more striking. A Jew like Hannah Arendt ended in her adviser’s bed, the extremely prominent and nefarious Nazi Martin Heidegger (himself a devout Catholic married to someone else).

After the war, Hannah and Martin made friends again. Hannah, by then famous, and an authentic resistance fighter, condemned whole sale the Jewish Councils for having collaborated with Hitler. She was right. But she was hated for it. She also did not get the Nobel, although this was a very important perspective upon human nature.

I have myself spent a lot of time mulling over the Nazi period, as it is an excellent teacher (so is the reaction of the Politically Correct about those who meditate on Nazism).

I do feel like imagining what went through Edwin Rommel’s mind, went he went from Nazi, mass murdering, war criminal monster in 1940, to somebody who, by 1944 stood in opposition to much of what he had fanatically propped up earlier.

However, I don’t feel as making up imaginative explanations I do not have a good evidence for.

Although I have read several dozens of thousands of pages on the subject, all of them claiming to depict reality, I have never opened a book of Modiano.

I have the same problem with Greco-Roman history. I enjoy the historians, and the original documents. But I cannot stand the fictionalized histories purporting to depict what happened. (I tried to read many of those.) The problem? They come short. They make palatable the unpalatable, thus losing the main point. “Presentism” degenerates not just history, but what history can teach about reality.

I have seen several movies purporting to depict Hitler. But I have the real books and documents where one can see Hitler thinking, for real, and that is much more instructive. Hitler thought of himself as an artistic genius (quite a bit like Nero), but others also thought he was a genius, and a kind one (!). Reading him in context explains why his monstrosity went undetected by the deliberately naive.

No novelist could depict Hitler for real, be it only because readers and critics would detest it, call it names, and the novelist will get no readers to speak of. Thus would not become a novelist, and even less, a Nobelist.

Novelism, Nobelism, literature, are all about marketing, in the end. It’s about the next best new (novel) thing which sells so well that a few old guys in Stockholm notice it.

Evidence, the real world, teach. Teach wisdom. Adulating marketing teaches the folly of the herd.

Littera” in Latin originally just mean “letter”, and, from that, a writing. Confusing whatever is written with reality is a disease. However, writing whatever as a possible imaginative path to reality, is a wisdom. A wisdom which, confronted to reality, always comes short. The trap of literature is to make feeble, marketable imagination, a fashion show, in other words, into all the reality that matters.

The Nobel Prize in literature will never replace the non-existent Nobel Prize in wisdom. But then, of course, only the wise can judge the wise. To the ant, the baboon is rather dumb to crush it under foot. There is nothing more unfair than mental capability, that’s why some try to compensate it, by offering bananas.

Patrice Ayme’

 

The Turing Test Doesn’t Matter

June 18, 2014

More precisely: The Descartes (-Turing) Test Is Stupid

The “Turing Test” is a big deal in Artificial Intelligence and logic, for reasons that are assuredly not flattering. As the “Test” is obviously flawed. The Test confuses conversation and imagination, while identifying both to intelligence.

The fundamental error of this Descartes Test is mathematical (ironical, as Descartes was one of the greatest mathematicians, ever: he invented algebraic geometry, the foundation of all modern science and technology).

The Descartes Test overlooks the fact that the set of all possible conversations is not just countable, but even, certainly, in practice, finite. Thus a machine could plausibly, encompass all possible conversations, as it means interlinking a finite set with logical chains.

(To excuse Descartes, the notion of countability had not yet been clearly defined in his time; it leads, in turn, to the finiteness of speech, modulo my finite mood.)

Other objections to the Descartes Test show up in the essay reblogged below (which I wanted to write long ago, and have alluded to, here and there).

The “Turing” Test certainly ought to be called the Descartes Test, in light of the quote given in the attached essay. To know that the Turing test was actually invented by Descartes is of no small consequence.

Who “invented” what is not just a question of justice. And no just a question of the history of the systems of thought. It’s also a question of logic: knowing an idea appeared early on is a hint that it ought to be obvious, for example.

This process of associating the correct labels ought to be extended to all fields on inquiry. For example, Johanus Buridanus formulated clearly the law of inertia, circa 1320. That’s more than three centuries before the Anglo-Saxon gentleman generally celebrated as its author, was born.

This is a testimony that the Church was incredibly efficient, in the late Fifteenth Century, in its repression of advanced thinking. Buridan was put to the “Index”… Except in Cracow, where Copernicus studied, and, when he was dying, the latter re-published Buridan heliocentric proposition.

This ought to be a warning to the pseudo-scientist attitude about the Multiverse and Strings: too much craziness could lead to an anti-science backlash, on the ground of common sense.

(Fortunately, there is biology, which is much more scientific than physics, these days!)

The Turing Test pretends that intelligence is all about conversation, a finite process. It’s not. It’s about imagination (a much larger process).
Patrice Ayme’

Scientia Salon

turing testby Massimo Pigliucci

You probably heard the news: a supercomputer has become sentient and has passed the Turing test (i.e., has managed to fool a human being into thinking he was talking to another human being [1,2])! Surely the Singularity is around the corner and humanity is either doomed or will soon become god-like.

Except, of course, that little of the above is true, and it matters even less. First, let’s get the facts straight: what actually happened [3] was that a chatterbot (i.e., a computer script), not a computer, has passed the Turing test at a competition organized at the Royal Society in London. Second, there is no reason whatsoever to think that the chatterbot in question, named “Eugene Goostman” and designed by Vladimir Veselov, is sentient, or even particularly intelligent. It’s little more than a (clever) parlor trick. Third, this was actually the second time that a chatterbot passed…

View original post 2,075 more words

Axiom of Choice: Crazy Math

March 30, 2014

A way to improve thinking is to imagine more, and be more rigorous. What a better place to exert these skills than in mathematics and logic? Things are clearer there.

The crucial Axiom Of Choice (AC) in mathematics has crazy consequences. After describing what it is, and evoking some of its insufferable consequences, I will expose why it ought to be rejected, and why the lack of a similar rejection, at the time, in a somewhat similar situation, may have help in the decay of Greco-Roman antiquity.

This is part of my general, Non-Aristotelian campaign against infinity in mathematics and beyond. The nature of mathematics, long pondered, is touched upon. A 25 centuries old “proof” is mauled, and not just because it’s fun. There is deep philosophy behind. Call it the philosophy of sustainability, or of finite energy.

Intolerably Crazy Math From Axiom of Choice

Intolerably Crazy Math From Axiom of Choice

The Axiom of Choice makes you believe you can multiply not just wine, fish and bread, but space itself: AC corresponds, one can say, to a wasteful mentality.

The Axiom of Choice says that, given a collection C of subsets inside a set S, one can consider that a set exists, made of elements, each one of them is an element in exactly one of the subsets. That sounds innocuous enough, and obvious. And obvious it is, if one thinks of finite sets. However, if C is infinite, it gets boringly complicated.

Moreover, AC has a consequence: given a unit sphere, one can cut it in disjoint pieces, and reassemble those pieces to build two unit spheres. Banach and Tarski, both Polish mathematicians working in what’s now Western Ukraine, the object of Putin’s envy and greed, demonstrated this Banach-Tarski paradox. It’s viewed as an object of wonder in General Topology.

I prefer to view it as an object of horror. (The pieces are not Lebesgue measurable, that means not physical objects. Such non measurable objects had been found earlier by Vitali and Hausdorff)

Punch line? The Axiom Of Choice (AC) is central to all of modern mathematics. Position of conventional mathematicians? The fact that AC is so useful, all over mathematics, proves that AC can be fruitfully considered to be true.

My retort? Maybe what you view as fruitful mathematics is just resting on a false axiom, or, at least one against nature, and thus, is just plain false, or against nature. One may be better off, studying mathematics that is not against nature..

As I showed earlier, calculus survives the outlawing of infinity in mathematics. That pretty much means that useful mathematics survives.

You see a problem with mathematics, even the simplest arithmetic, is that, once one has admitted the infinity postulate, thanks to the Cantor Diagonal process, one can always find undecidable propositions (this is part of the Incompleteness Theorems of mathematical logic: Gödel, etc.).

That means a field such as Euclidean geometry is infinite, in the sense that it has an infinite number of non-provable theorems. Each can be decided both ways: false, or true. Each gives rise to two mathematics.

Yet, even modern mathematicians will admit that studying Euclidean geometry for an infinite amount of time is of little interest. Proof? They don’t do it.

Yet, what’s the difference with what they are doing?

Mathematics is neurology, and neurology can be anything, but infinite. Think about what it means. Yes, mathematics is even cephalopod neurology, with the octopus’ nine brains. Fractals, for example, are part of math, but far from the tradition of equating angles or algebraic expressions.

It’s a big universe out there. The number one consequence to draw from the history of science, is that scientists make tribes. Quite often those tribes go astray… for more than 1,000 years (see notes). Worse: my making science, and, or mathematics, uninteresting, they may lead to a weakening of public intelligence.

I would suggest that effect, making science, and mathematics priestly and narrow minded, contributed to the powerful anti-intellectual tsunami that struck the Roman empire.

Greek mathematicians had excluded all mathematics as unworthy of consideration, but for a strict subset of “Euclid’s Elements” (some of the present Euclid Elements were added later). The implementation of those discoveries were made by others (Indians, and to some extent, Iranians and Arabs).

It turned out that these more practical mathematics, excluded by Euclid, because they were viewed as non rigorous and primitive, led to deeper and more powerful insights.

The irony was that Euclid’s Elements, in the guise of rigor, were using an axiom that was not needed, in general, the parallel axiom. That axiom, by supposing too much, killed the imagination.

I suggest nothing less happening nowadays, with the Axiom of Choice: it’s one axiom too far.

Patrice Aymé

Technical notes:

Up to a recent time, if one was not a Supersymmetric (SUSY) physicist, it was impossible to find a job, except as a taxi cab driver. There was a practical axiom ruling physics: the world had got to be supersymmetric.

Now the whole SUSY business seems to be imploding as the CERN’s LHC came up empty, and it dawned on participants that there was no reason for an experimental confrontation in the imaginable future… I have studied SUSY, and I have a competitive theory, where there are two hints of experimental proofs imaginable (namely Dark Energy and Dark Matter).

I said the AC was one axiom too far, but actually I think infinity itself is an axiom too far. I exposed earlier what’s wrong with the 25 centuries old proof of infinity (it assumes one can use a symbol one cannot actually evoke, because there is no energy to do so!).

The geocentric astronomy ruled from Aristarchus of Samos (who proposed the heliocentric system, 3C BCE) until Buridan (who used inertia, that he had discovered to make the heliocentric system more reasonable; ~1320 CE; Copernic learned Buridan in Cracow, Poland). It could be viewed as an axiom.

Hidden axioms are found even in arithmetic, for example the Archimedean Axiom was used by all mathematicians implicitly, before Model Theory logicians detected it around 1950 (it says, given two integers, A and B, a third one can be found, D, such that: AD > B; if not fulfilled one gets non-standard integers).