"The mind is a compact, multiply connected thought mass with internal connections of the most intimate kind. It grows continuously as new thought masses enter it, and this is the means by which it continues to develop."

Bernhard Riemann On Psychology and Metaphysics ca. 1860

Today's Elites

Sunday, March 19, 2017

What Prevents Science from Achieving Accelerated Breakthroughs

The edifice of assumptions regarding the DNA code as the program that is determinate for life is fatally flawed. The reality is that life is of a higher order of transfinite than the non living. Likewise human creative reason is of a higher such order than the domain of lower life forms. The question is why do the vast majority of scientists not know what transfinite ordering is?

Edgar Allan Poe, whence the name of this blog, in his Eureka presaged this lack of epistemological clarity thus:

"Now, my dear friend," continues the letter-writer, "it cannot be maintained that by the crawling system, exclusively adopted, men would arrive at the maximum amount of truth, even in any long series of ages; for the repression of imagination was an evil not to be counterbalanced even by absolute certainty in the snail processes. But their certainty was very far from absolute. The error of our progenitors was quite analogous with that of the wiseacre who fancies he must necessarily see an object the more distinctly, the more closely he holds it to his eyes. They blinded themselves, too, with the impalpable, titillating Scotch snuff of detail; and thus the boasted facts of the Hog-ites were by no means always facts -- a point of little importance but for the assumption that they always were. The vital taint, however, in Baconianism -- its most lamentable fount of error -- lay in its tendency to throw power and consideration into the hands of merely perceptive men -- of those inter-Tritonic minnows, the microscopical savans -- the diggers and pedlers of minute facts, for the most part in physical science -- facts all of which they retailed at the same price upon the highway; their value depending, it was supposed, simply upon the fact of their fact, without reference to their applicability or inapplicability in the development of those ultimate and only legitimate facts, called Law.

"Than the persons" -- the letter goes on to say -- "than the persons thus suddenly elevated by the Hog-ian philosophy into a station for which they were unfitted -- thus transferred from the sculleries into the parlors of Science -- from its pantries into its pulpits -- than these individuals a more intolerant -- a more intolerable set of bigots and tyrants never existed on the face of the earth. Their creed, their text and their sermon were, alike, the one word 'fact' -- but, for the most part, even of this one word, they knew not even the meaning. On those who ventured to disturb their facts with the view of putting them in order and to use, the disciples of Hog had no mercy whatever. All attempts at generalization were met at once by the words 'theoretical,' 'theory,' 'theorist' -- all thought, to be brief, was very properly resented as a personal affront to themselves. Cultivating the natural sciences to the exclusion of Metaphysics, the Mathematics, and Logic, many of these Bacon-engendered philosophers -- one-idead, one-sided and lame of a leg -- were more wretchedly helpless -- more miserably ignorant, in view of all the comprehensible objects of knowledge, than the veriest unlettered hind who proves that he knows something at least, in admitting that he knows absolutely nothing.

"Nor had our forefathers any better right to talk about certainty, when pursuing, in blind confidence, the a priori path of axioms, or of the Ram. At innumerable points this path was scarcely as straight as a ram's-horn. The simple truth is, that the Aristotelians erected their castles upon a basis far less reliable than air; for no such things as axioms ever existed or can possibly exist at all. This they must have been very blind, indeed, not to see, or at least to suspect; for, even in their own day, many of their long-admitted 'axioms' had been abandoned: -- 'ex nihilo nihil fit,' for example, and a 'thing cannot act where it is not,' and 'there cannot be antipodes,' and 'darkness cannot proceed from light.' These and numerous similar propositions formerly accepted, without hesitation, as axioms, or undeniable truths, were, even at the period of which I speak, seen to be altogether untenable: -- how absurd in these people, then, to persist in relying upon a basis, as immutable, whose mutability had become so repeatedly manifest!

"But, even through evidence afforded by themselves against themselves, it is easy to convict these a priori reasoners of the grossest unreason -- it is easy to show the futility -- the impalpability of their axioms in general. I have now lying before me" -- it will be observed that we still proceed with the letter -- "I have now lying before me a book printed about a thousand years ago. Pundit assures me that it is decidedly the cleverest ancient work on its topic, which is 'Logic.' The author, who was much esteemed in his day, was one Miller or Mill; and we find it recorded of him, as a point of some importance, that he rode a mill-horse whom he called Jeremy Bentham: -- but let us glance at the volume itself!

"Ah! -- 'Ability or inability to conceive,' says Mr. Mill very properly, 'is in no case to be received as a criterion of axiomatic truth.' Now, that this is a palpable truism no one in his senses will deny. Not to admit the proposition, is to insinuate a charge of variability in Truth itself, whose very title is a synonym of the Steadfast. If ability to conceive be taken as a criterion of Truth, then a truth to David Hume would very seldom be a truth to Joe; and ninety-nine hundredths of what is undeniable in Heaven would be demonstrable falsity upon Earth. The proposition of Mr. Mill, then, is sustained. I will not grant it to be an axiom; and this merely because I am showing that no axioms exist; but, with a distinction which could not have been cavilled at even by Mr. Mill himself, I am ready to grant that, if an axiom there be, then the proposition of which we speak has the fullest right to be considered an axiom -- that no more absolute axiom is -- and, consequently, that any subsequent proposition which shall conflict with this one primarily advanced, must be either a falsity in itself -- that is to say no axiom -- or, if admitted axiomatic, must at once neutralize both itself and its predecessor.

"And now, by the logic of their own propounder, let us proceed to test any one of the axioms propounded. Let us give Mr. Mill the fairest of play. We will bring the point to no ordinary issue. We will select for investigation no common-place axiom -- no axiom of what, not the less preposterously because only impliedly, he terms his secondary class -- as if a positive truth by definition could be either more or less positively a truth: -- we will select, I say, no axiom of an unquestionability so questionable as is to be found in Euclid. We will not talk, for example, about such propositions as that two straight lines cannot enclose a space, or that the whole is greater than any one of its parts. We will afford the logician every advantage. We will come at once to a proposition which he regards as the acme of the unquestionable -- as the quintessence of axiomatic undeniability. Here it is: -- 'Contradictions cannot both be true -- that is, cannot coexist in nature.' Here Mr. Mill means, for instance, -- and I give the most forcible instance conceivable -- that a tree must be either a tree or not a tree -- that it cannot be at the same time a tree and not a tree: -- all which is quite reasonable of itself and will answer remarkably well as an axiom, until we bring it into collation with an axiom insisted upon a few pages before -- in other words -- words which I have previously employed -- until we test it by the logic of its own propounder. 'A tree,' Mr. Mill asserts, 'must be either a tree or not a tree.' Very well: -- and now let me ask him, why. To this little query there is but one response: -- I defy any man living to invent a second. The sole answer is this: -- 'Because we find it impossible to conceive that a tree can be anything else than a tree or not a tree.' This, I repeat, is Mr. Mill's sole answer: -- he will not pretend to suggest another: -- and yet, by his own showing, his answer is clearly no answer at all; for has he not already required us to admit, as an axiom, that ability or inability to conceive is in no case to be taken as a criterion of axiomatic truth? Thus all -- absolutely his argumentation is at sea without a rudder. Let it not be urged that an exception from the general rule is to be made, in cases where the 'impossibility to conceive' is so peculiarly great as when we are called upon to conceive a tree both a tree and not a tree. Let no attempt, I say, be made at urging this sotticism; for, in the first place, there are no degrees of 'impossibility,' and thus no one impossible conception can be more peculiarly impossible than another impossible conception: -- in the second place, Mr. Mill himself, no doubt after thorough deliberation, has most distinctly, and most rationally, excluded all opportunity for exception, by the emphasis of his proposition, that, in no case, is ability or inability to conceive, to be taken as a criterion of axiomatic truth: -- in the third place, even were exceptions admissible at all, it remains to be shown how any exception is admissible here. That a tree can be both a tree and not a tree, is an idea which the angels, or the devils, may entertain, and which no doubt many an earthly Bedlamite, or Transcendentalist, does.

"Now I do not quarrel with these ancients," continues the letter-writer, "so much on account of the transparent frivolity of their logic -- which, to be plain, was baseless, worthless and fantastic altogether -- as on account of their pompous and infatuate proscription of all other roads to Truth than the two narrow and crooked paths -- the one of creeping and the other of crawling -- to which, in their ignorant perversity, they have dared to confine the Soul -- the Soul which loves nothing so well as to soar in those regions of illimitable intuition which are utterly incognizant of 'path.'

"By the bye, my dear friend, is it not an evidence of the mental slavery entailed upon those bigoted people by their Hogs and Rams, that in spite of the eternal prating of their savans about roads to Truth, none of them fell, even by accident, into what we now so distinctly perceive to be the broadest, the straightest and most available of all mere roads -- the great thoroughfare -- the majestic highway of the Consistent? Is it not wonderful that they should have failed to deduce from the works of God the vitally momentous consideration that a perfect consistency can be nothing but an absolute truth? How plain -- how rapid our progress since the late announcement of this proposition! By its means, investigation has been taken out of the hands of the ground-moles, and given as a duty, rather than as a task, to the true -- to the only true thinkers -- to the generally-educated men of ardent imagination. These latter -- our Keplers -- our Laplaces -- 'speculate' -- 'theorize' -- these are the terms -- can you not fancy the shout of scorn with which they would be received by our progenitors, were it possible for them to be looking over my shoulders as I write? The Keplers, I repeat, speculate -- theorize -- and their theories are merely corrected -- reduced -- sifted -- cleared, little by little, of their chaff of inconsistency -- until at length there stands apparent an unencumbered Consistency -- a consistency which the most stolid admit -- because it is a consistency -- to be an absolute and unquestionable Truth.

"I have often thought, my friend, that it must have puzzled these dogmaticians of a thousand years ago, to determine, even, by which of their two boasted roads it is that the cryptographist attains the solution of the more complicated cyphers -- or by which of them Champollion guided mankind to those important and innumerable truths which, for so many centuries, have lain entombed amid the phonetical hieroglyphics of Egypt. In especial, would it not have given these bigots some trouble to determine by which of their two roads was reached the most momentous and sublime of their truths -- the truth -- the fact of gravitation? Newton deduced it from the laws of Kepler. Kepler admitted that these laws he guessed -- these laws whose investigation disclosed to the greatest of British astronomers that principle, the basis of all (existing) physical principle, in going behind which we enter at once the nebulous kingdom of Metaphysics. Yes! -- these vital laws Kepler guessed -- that it is to say, he imagined them. Had he been asked to point out either the de ductive or in ductive route by which he attained them, his reply might have been -- 'I know nothing about routes -- but I do know the machinery of the Universe. Here it is. I grasped it with my soul -- I reached it through mere dint of intuition.' Alas, poor ignorant old man! Could not any metaphysician have told him that what he called 'intuition' was but the conviction resulting from de ductions or in ductions of which the processes were so shadowy as to have escaped his consciousness, eluded his reason, or bidden defiance to his capacity of expression? How great a pity it is that some 'moral philosopher' had not enlightened him about all this! How it would have comforted him on his death-bed to know that, instead of having gone intuitively and thus unbecomingly, he had, in fact, proceeded decorously and legitimately -- that is to say Hog-ishly, or at least Ram-ishly -- into the vast halls where lay gleaming, untended, and hitherto untouched by mortal hand -- unseen by mortal eye -- the imperishable and priceless secrets of the Universe!

"Yes, Kepler was essentially a theorist; but this title, now of so much sanctity, was, in those ancient days, a designation of supreme contempt. It is only now that men begin to appreciate that divine old man -- to sympathize with the prophetical and poetical rhapsody of his ever-memorable words. For my part," continues the unknown correspondent, "I glow with a sacred fire when I even think of them, and feel that I shall never grow weary of their repetition: -- in concluding this letter, let me have the real pleasure of transcribing them once again: -- 'I care not whether my work be read now or by posterity. I can afford to wait a century for readers when God himself has waited six thousand years for an observer. I triumph. I have stolen the golden secret of the Egyptians. I will indulge my sacred fury.'"

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Leibniz and Einstein: an Equation of Sorts

To wit: Leibniz' revolution was f=ma and he wrote the Theodicy. Einstein's revolution was e=mc2 and he wrote that God doesn't play dice.

Thus does genius operate as a force upon history via hypothesis of the continuing order of creation with humanity at its summit.

Life After Death: A reflection upon the issue of brain death.

Human creative thought generates an infinite array of potential for the continued development of civilization. These waves involved are quite real. Indeed, the most powerful dialogues of this type are in perpetual synchronicity with the totality of human history, past and future.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

The Test for Religion

Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa in his On Learned Ignorance and Cotton Mather in his Biblia Americana each in their own way exemplify how religion can cohere and promote scientific progress. There exists a gulf between that type of Christian humanism and let us say the so called low church.

The same is true for virtually all religion. Take the Baghdad caliphate of Harun al-Rashid for instance. The development of transmission of the works of Plato, in particular his republic, as the basis of leadership by an imam parallels Cotton Mather's axiomatic approach to governance that inspired Benjamin Franklin: to do the good.

A great mission for society is necessary to uplift its vision beyond the here and now. That mission is in our stars so to speak. The ugliness of pessimism that has been virtually worshiped by so called intellectual elites in the western world for the course of the last two centuries must be overcome. There is no other path forward. People of good will are everywhere the same. That orientation is the basis for an end to the evil of geopolitics.

The future holds such a kernel for hope. Let it's universal anthem be Beethoven and Schiller's Ode to Joy.

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