Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Milton Wilcain’s Intelligence

Milton Wilcain was obviously not a very smart man. Sure, he went to college, eventually receiving a Master's Degree, and he ran a business employing three hundred people, but we know he was unintelligent nonetheless. Despite these seeming contradictions, we can come to this conclusion because if he had been intelligent, he would have been allowed to keep his money to spend as he wanted and he would have been allowed to live as he wished, without anyone telling him how. Instead, other people took what he owned and used it better than he could have. But Milton was not content at being unintelligent, so he decided to run for the city council.

Milton soon proved that, as dim-witted as he was, clearly he was more intelligent than his opponent, and he was easily elected. As he took his seat on the council, he was certain he could feel his intelligence increasing. He was certain at the very least that he was more intelligent than the rest of the men in the city, save perhaps his fellow council members and the mayor. He did many brilliant things for the city, including figuring out a way to take more money from the lower and middle classes so a brand new Opera House could be built, and managing to keep the potholes down to a mere ten per block.

It soon became clear to Milton, though, that his rise in intelligence was not enough. He was certain he knew very well what the city needed, but since he was not allowed to make many decisions, it soon became apparent that he did not. Milton was at first confused. He was certain he knew more than either the state or federal government what the city needed, since he was living there, but then he remembered that as a private citizen he was obviously unaware of the best way in which to live, so he could possibly be wrong about whether or not he knew how to run a city better than the state, which is why Milton decided once again to try to raise his intelligence.

The run for the state legislature was rougher and closer, but Milton managed to prevail, clearly showing his superior intelligence. He moved with his family to the capitol, and as he neared it, he was certain he could feel his intelligence growing. But it was when he took his seat in the legislature that he became certain his intelligence had become higher than he remembered it. He became certain he was far more intelligent and knew the right and proper things to do than did the city governments and especially the private citizens. He made certain the cities, which were obviously run by a bunch of idiots who had no idea how to run a city let alone make peoples' lives better, did exactly what he decided they should do, whether he had been in the city or not. After all, as a state legislator, he knew what was best for the people, more than those morons running the cities. They were always asking for unimportant things like tax cuts and more money for roads. Milton had more important things to do for his citizens, such as building a new airport at the capitol and preventing new licenses from being given out so the state's largest company would not have any competition.

But again it did not take long before Milton came to realize he was not as intelligent as he could be. It was growingly obvious that, since he was not trusted to make the right decisions for his state, there were people more intelligent than he. Otherwise, they would have obviously allowed him to make more decisions about his state, since he lived there and therefore should have known more about it than the federal government. But this was clearly not the case. And Milton decided that he wanted to be more intelligent than he was.

Having won much praise from his fellow party members, he easily won a seat in Congress. With this win, it was apparent that Milton was one of a handful of the smartest men in the state. He could feel his intelligence increasing as he boarded the plane and took his seat. The rapid takeoff gave his mind a jolt of intelligence unlike any it had experienced, and he grew smarter and smarter the closer he came to Washington. Upon landing, he was bewildered at how intelligent he had become. He suddenly knew exactly what everyone needed and how they should run their lives. But it wasn't until he stepped into the capitol building that he really began to realize how important and brilliant he was compared to the average citizen, who he was certain could not feed, house, or clothe themselves without his legislative assistance, let alone educate their children or make good decisions, especially with their own money. So convinced was Milton of this later conclusion, the first thing he proposed was a tax increase, to make certain more of the citizen's money was spent properly. He was also convinced that the states, counties, and cities (need we include the ultimate example of mental dullness, the private citizen?) were full of idiots who were completely incapable of making good decisions for their citizens, and he worked to make sure the federal government had more and more power and was more capable of dictating to the local and state governments how they should be run. Milton was one of the country's most successful federal legislators and was highly praised by his party. After all, he managed to make sure more federal money was spent in his state than in any other, whether it was new bridges linking little-used roads or his fight for a new atomic clock being placed in his state (you can't be too certain what time it is, after all). In fact, before Milton arrived in Washington, nobody knew there were that many brilliant unknown artists in his state. There were few who had little to show for all they had done and spent. He was Washington's most successful legislator.

After many years, Milton decided to retire. His pension was large enough to live comfortably on and he was very happy with what he had accomplished. When his term ended, Milton cleared out his office and had everything sent back to his home state, which he hadn't seen since his last campaign. After the retirement party his comrades had thrown for him, Milton boarded his plane to leave his beloved Washington. But when he did, an amazing thing happened. His remarkable intelligence was beginning to disappear. As he crossed the country, Milton became dumber and dumber until finally, upon landing, he realized that he had become as stupid as he had been before he had embarked on his famous career. We know this because if he had been smart, he would have been allowed to keep his money to spend as he wanted and he would have been allowed to live as he wished, without anyone telling him how.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Libertarianism and Communitarianism

The argument over the moral underpinnings of libertarianism basically boils down to the fact that there is necessarily a communitarian element to ethics. If we accept that libertarianism means radical individualism, then libertarian ethics appears to be an oxymoron. And for those libertarians who do believe in the Cartesian form of individualism as the basis of libertarianism, it likely is an oxymoron. I’m not sure a libertarianism whose philosophical underpinnings are the same as those that gave us the French Revolution (especially the Terror), Naziism, and Communism is the kind of libertarianism we really want.
But there is another option: the option of the Scottish philosophers, and the communitarian individualism they espoused. In the Cartesian version, the person is a radical individual who defines himself, preferably apart from society. In the Scottish version, the person is an individual imbedded in a nested hierarchy of communities, including nuclear and extended families, churches, workplaces, schools, neighborhood and communities, towns and cities, counties, states, and nations. We are defined in various ways by each of these things, and we are different people in each of these different situations. Thus is our individuality defined within our social situation. Recent studies in anthropology, ethology, and primatology have shown that the Scottish philosophical tradition is much more accurate than is the Cartesian tradition.
At different levels within the hierarchy, we should expect different levels of communitarianism. Those levels wherein we can have the most information about the members within the level can and should be the most communitarian – and should therefore have the strongest moral rules. The family is a good example of this. No one in their right mind would want to run their household according to libertarian principles – this would be a recipe for disaster in raising children. As Walter Williams once said in a talk I saw him give: Marxism works, it’s how one should run one’s household. You should expect more from your spouse, and give more to your children. At this level, it is easy, as it is easy to keep up with the names. But when you cannot keep up with the names, when you can no longer recognize what is best for each individual (which you cannot do for someone whose name you do not know), then you have to ease the communitarian principles.
Churches, workplaces, and schools – and, to some extent, neighborhoods, communities, and towns – are places we voluntarily become members of. By joining these groups, we agree to their set of rules. Here we have a level of voluntary communitarianism – and if you are not a child, all communitarianism should be voluntary. And that is why all communitarianism should also be highly local – if we do not like the rules of the group we have joined, we can always vote with our feet. The problem with having communitarian states and nations is precisely that when we are talking about the size of a state or a nation, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to vote with one’s feet. Also, at these levels, it becomes increasingly difficult for the leaders to know the names of those they rule – and as such, they become increasingly ignorant of what is actually best for the citizens.
As we get farther away, as more people become included in the social system, as we have in a state or nation – or even in a large city – the ignorance of the leaders increases, and the only ethical approach to governance is precisely libertarianism. It is here where individualism should be taken into consideration, as it is the individual who is most affected by the laws passed at this level, even though they are farthest away from the leaders. At this level, one cannot make ethical choices for others, as you do not know the people well enough to know everything about them, to understand their overall circumstances. This is not to say that we should not have any ethical laws: what else are laws against the use of force or fraud, the only laws libertarians think governments should have? But these are laws that make sense to apply to everyone, across the board, regardless of race, religion, economic situation, etc. These are laws that are laws in every society, throughout human history and pre-history. But those ethical issues for which there is any debate should be avoided by states and nations. Those are values that can and should be taken into consideration closer to home. They are the communitarian values.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Values and the Election

For many years it was a common adage – believed equally by the Republicans and the Democrats – that high voter turnout was bad for the Republicans. Well, so much for that theory. This year’s election totals are among the highest in American history, and President Bush won re-election with well over 3 million votes. And he brought with him an increase in seats in both the House and the Senate, thus breaking another stereotype of the incumbent losing seats in their re-elections.
What will be the results of this? One hopes that there will be less interest by the Republicans in suppressing the vote (however much this is actually true, and not Democrat propaganda – a good possibility, since they are very good at propaganda, as one sees in their convincing African Americans to vote Democrat, even though it was a Republican President who sent the national guard into Little Rock to force integration, there was a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats who voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and it was Richard Nixon who instituted Affirmative Action). At the same time, we may begin to see Democrats trying to do what they can to suppress votes – especially in the South.
We might also see increased interest in both parties in social conservatism. It was ethical issues, after all, that led in exit polls among reasons why people voted for Bush. I doubt that the Republicans can get much more conservative for Americans, but certainly the Democrats can. And if they want to win in the South, West, and certain parts of the Midwest, they will have to. It seems very likely that both parties will become more communitarian – a trend libertarians will have to work hard to hold in check. If the Democrats become more socially conservative, and Bush continues to spend money like a Democrat, the slim differences between the parties will become slimmer.
Of course, in the near future, we can probably expect the Democrats to become more shrill – including on social issues. The citizens of the flyover states will likely be decried as backwards barbarians little better than the Taliban in their support for oppressing homosexuals’ rights. If they take that approach, we can expect some backlash against the Democrats in the midterm elections in two years. If the Democrats take another election hit, I have little doubt that they will indeed start trending toward social conservatism.
So what is a libertarian to do? I’m not sure we can do much in the near future. We may be entering into a new "ethical" cycle, as much in response to the postmoderns’ insistence that there are no values as anything else (and the problem with Kerry was precisely that – he did not represent civil libertarian values, because he did not represent any kind of values at all). With 9-11, we saw what happens when people do not value life. And this election was a response to that kind of lack of values. With 9-11, we saw what those who preach against values really meant. Between Bush and Kerry, it was Bush who represented values, and in a country who is slowly rediscovering the value of values, we should not be surprised at a Bush win.
If we want to protect libertarian ethics, we need to make the argument precisely from the position of ethics and values. Our arguments have to become more substantial and, at the same time, more impassioned. People support those who are passionate enough in something to express emotions – reason is hardly, and never has been, enough. And we cannot rely on the Democrats to articulate these values either, as they do not believe in them as values, but only as pragmatic positions to get them votes from certain segments of society, any more than we can rely on Republicans to support true free markets and the sciences (many of those who voted on values are also those who do not believe the universe began in a Big Bang, or that evolution is a fact – two dangerous positions for the advance of the sciences). If we want to protect our values, we have to do it ourselves – and we have to do it precisely by articulating them as values. That should be the lesson learned from this election.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Government and Power Laws

The United States government was created out of a brilliant compromise. It took advantage of factions in and among the states, and used them to create a stable, peaceful system. The small states were concerned that the larger states, with larger populations, would take advantage of the smaller states – so a Senate was created, wherein minorities had complete equality with majorities. The larger states, however, justly thought that majorities should rule in a democracy – so a House of Representatives that represented population percentages was created. The electoral college – a brilliant development that is poorly understood or appreciated – was created to ensure that, with the election of Senators, the states would be the ones represented (we made a grave error in allowing for the direct election of Senators in the early part of the 20th Century, as it made the Federal government less federal, and more national), and with the election of the President, the smaller states would again be more fairly represented. The tenth amendment to the Constitution also made it clear that any powers not given explicitly to the federal government by the Constitution would fall to the states and to the individual citizens, respectively.
The government of the United States was further divided up among the states, which were to have more effect on the lives of the citizens than the federal government. The benefit of having stronger state governments was that each state could set up its own rules, and the citizens of that state could then choose to live in the state that most suited them. The states were further divided up into counties, and into town and city governments. There was a hierarchy of political power, with those governments closest to the people having the most power, and those farthest away having the least. Those with the most power would be the individuals, and whatever organizations they volunteered to join. The founding fathers of the United States stumbled upon the concept of power laws centuries before they were formulated in contemporary chaos theory.
What are power laws? Imagine that you are piling up sand one grain at a time. With the addition of each grain, there will be some stability, but quite often there will be avalanches. The vast majority of avalanches will be small ones – one-grain avalanches. Many will be just a few grains. There will be fewer small avalanches, fewer still medium-sized avalanches, and only very rarely will there be very large ones, with an entire side of the sand pile collapsing. As it turns out, there are many things which obey power laws – all of them systems of some sort. Extinctions follow power laws – there are many single-species extinctions, a few extinctions that take out several interrelated species, fewer that take out many species, and the rarest of all: mass extinctions. The same is true if we look at the economy. We have many small businesses, fewer medium-sized businesses, and fewest megacorporations. The lifetimes of corporations in an economy also follow power laws: many last only a short time, some last decades, very few last generations. The United States government too was set up to follow power laws. The individuals have the most power, and have the most effect on their own lives; families too have power, but less overall than individuals (though they affect the place and position of those individuals); voluntary organizations, such as churches, have less power and effect; city governments have less still; county governments even less; state governments less than even county governments; and finally, the federal government was designed to have the least effect of all, with the Senate and the House of Representatives designed to be fighting all the time with each other, so they could not get much done (recently they have been getting along altogether too well – though we got a glimpse of the founders’ intentions when President Clinton had to govern with a Republican Congress, during which time, very little was accomplished, and we also incidentally had some of the strongest economic growth in American history).
So it seems that the government of the United States of America was set up according to the laws that govern nature – particularly the growth of systems in nature. That is the very reason of its success. So why is it that, when the United States goes about helping countries set up new governments, that we do not encourage them to have a system similar to our own government? Take the situation in Iraq. It is a perfect place for an American-style government. We have several factions we want to get along. These sections – the Kurds, the Arab Sunnis, and the Shi’ites – should be divided up into equal sections – perhaps five each. These would then be different-sized states, which could elect two senators each. That way they would have thirty senators, and each of the groups would have equal representation, without any group having more power than the other. The minorities would be protected. However, we don’t want a tyranny of the minority any more than we want a tyranny of the majority (the danger inherent in true democracies). So those states would also be subdivided according to population – so that there would be a House of Representatives. This would allow for majority representation. Thus, there would be two houses of Congress, designed to protect the majority from the minority, and the minority from the majority. If we did this, we could have an executive branch similar to ours, wherein the President has very little actual power, and also a strong judicial branch to balance them all out. Further, each group would also get autonomy within their states, which should have more power overall than the federal government. The key is to take advantage of the factions in the country, so that they work together to make the country safe and strong. And each state could set itself up slightly differently from the other states. Shi’ites who wanted stronger religious influence on them from government could live in the state that set itself up that way. Shi’ites who were more liberal, could live in the more liberal state. And the Sunnis and the Shi’ites could live in peace, separately together, as would the Arabs and the Kurds. This system would work best precisely because it takes advantage of factions. Parliamentary systems rely too much on coalition-building, and as such cannot work as well in a situation such as we find in Iraq.
There is another place that could take advantage of such a form of government, and it is Afghanistan. In fact, in any country in the world where there are battling factions, this form of government would work best. It would work best because it is precisely the form of government that most accurately matches the way the world itself works, according to power laws. Thus, it is in fact the most natural form of government. So why do we not encourage other governments to set up governments similar to ours? Perhaps we have been reading too many philosophers in the Franco-German tradition, and have forgotten about the Scottish philosophers, who our founding fathers were reading. We should be reading less Marx, Heidegger, and Kant, and reading more Locke, Hume, and Adam Smith. The former seek to make everyone the same; the latter realize we are not all the same, and seek to take advantage of that to form better forms of government. The former think if we can just get everyone to love one another in brotherhood, everything will be fine; the latter realize you can’t get everyone to love one another, but you can set up a system wherein those factions learn to get along, because it is to the advantage of each individual to do so. And now we not only have Locke, Hume, and Adam Smith, but we also have the new science of chaos theory and power laws to back them up. If we truly want the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan to succeed, we will recommend to them a government very similar to our own.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

An Unauthorized Interview with Kitty Kelly

Kitty Kelly and I sat down in a fashionable New York City restaurant (I will not disclose the name of the restaurant, but I will note that it was small, and cost $65 each to eat there), to talk about her newest book The Family. The interview is based on the notes I took ­ since we were in a restaurant, I didn't record the conversation, but I assure you that these are her words as I heard them.

Me: There has been a lot of controversy surrounding your new book on the Bush family.
Kelly: That seems to happen a lot with my books.
Me: Why do you suppose that is?
Kelly: Well, people are always questioning my sources. They say that I'm inflammatory. But the fact of the matter is that they are all just jealous.
Me: Jealous?
Kelly: Of my success. These books all sell for millions. They're all just jealous that I'm successful, that my books sell so well.
Me: Some would say that you dance on the edge of what can be proven just to sell books.
Kelly: No one can disprove anything I have claimed in any of my books. You can't prove that any of these things didn't happen. Ms. Bush can't prove she didn't tell me this President, when his father was President, snorted cocaine while he was at Camp David.
Me: It seems to me that it should have to be you who proves she did say it.
Kelly: Nonsense. See who has to prove what if she is foolish enough to try to sue me.
Me: Well, you raised the issue of whether or not this President Bush used cocaine ­ one of your more controversial claims in the book...
Kelly: Look, I didn't even need Ms. Bush's statement to know President Bush used cocaine.
Me: What do you mean?
Kelly: Can you keep a secret? This is off the record.
Me: Of course.
Kelly: Half the people I hang out with have snorted half the cocaine in Columbia. So I should know what cocaine users look like.
Me: So you can tell if someone is a cocaine user just by looking at them?
Kelly: It's like hanging out with gay people. After a while, you just know.
Me: Well, that seems a little...
Kelly: This is all off the record, right?
Me: Of course.
Kelly: Then don't worry about it. Just trust me, with all the people I know who have done cocaine ­ and it's a lot ­ I know a user when I see one.
Me: A lot, you say?
Kelly: Most of the people I go to parties with. Though if you talked to any of them, they would all be the first to insist we keep drugs illegal.
Me: Well, I'm still wondering about some of the sources in your book.
Kelly: I stand by everything I say in my book.
Me: But do you have proof?
Kelly: Proof? I gave you my proof. It's all in the book. I have more proof than CBS and Dan Rather have with those documents.
Me: You don't believe those documents are legitimate?
Kelly: I don't know if they are or not. It wouldn't surprise me if they are.
Me: Even though one of the people mentioned in the memos retired a year and a half before?
Kelly: That doesn't mean anything. Prove he wasn't hanging around after he retired, trying to influence his former colleagues.
Me: It seems the burden of proof should be on CBS.
Kelly: Not at all. The burden of proof ­ and all the court cases I have won shows this ­ is on others to prove that they didn't say what I claim they said, and it is on others to prove that the documents aren't legitimate. Why should CBS care?
Me: Because they are a news outlet. Shouldn't they care if they are reporting facts?
Kelly: Our job as reporters is to report anything we hear or receive. Fact-checking is for historians. Our job is to report.
Me: Are you supposed to report falsified documents as truth?
Kelly: What is truth? Truth is what we report. It is true if we say it's true.
Me: But what about the facts?
Kelly: What about them? They will take care of themselves. I'm not interested in facts.
Me: So you admit, then, that your book isn't based on fact?
Kelly: Can I speak to you off the record again?
Me: Of course.
Kelly: History books don't sell. History just says how things were. I'm interested in how things could or ought to be. My book isn't factual, it's true. It tells the truth of the Bush family.
Me: What truth, exactly, is that?
Kelly: Well, mine, of course.

At that moment, Kitty Kelly looked at her watch and pronounced that she had to go. I thanked her for her time, looked at my notes, and said, "Well, I'm afraid I really don't have anything here ­ not enough for an article, anyway." She glanced down at my notes. "Looks like plenty," she said. I shook my head. "Not with everything you wanted off the record," I said. She shrugged. Sorry I couldn't do any more for you," se said. I turned to watch her leave, then asked before she could escape out the door, "What do you suggest?" She glanced over her shoulder and said, "Just use the same sort of judgement I would use, and you'll go far." It made sense to me.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

An Astrology

I stand, stare at the Cantor dust of stars,
Stand alone in the open field of grass
That glows in the silver of the moon brass
And dark emerald under a rising Mars.
I wage a silent war within my mind
As I wait in vain for a happiness
These stars cannot bring me. My loneliness
Soaks into the ground to be left behind.
I turn away from Mars and search the sky –
The false-star Venus must be out among
The stars and darkness, a beacon for me
To connect my life to, so I can fly
And leave this lonely-soaked ground a far-flung
Memory. I want to love and to be.

Mathematics as Nontranscendental Knowledge

When people want to defend a transcendental world view (particularly against science), they often bring up mathematics.
"How can you scientifically prove that two plus two equals four?" they ask. Since you cannot, mathematics must be transcendentally true. However, this shows a misunderstanding of how one can use science to understand aspects of philosophy. Using the scientific method is not the only way of using scientific knowledge to prove something is factual ("true" in Nietzsche’s "uninteresting" sense in his "Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense"). If we can show that it is natural for the brain to process the world in such a way that we can make statements such as 2+2=4, then we have a science-based (though not "proven" scientifically per se) explanation for math, meaning we do not need a transcendental explanation for it.
Math is the abstract expression of relationships in nature. Words are sounds representing conceptual categories, which are derived by observing many objects and placing those objects with certain similarities into categories. Take the Bactrian camel. We categorize camels as either Bactrians or Dromedaries, because the Bactrians have two humps, and the dromedaries have one. All the Bactrian camels more closely resemble each other than any one resembles a dromedary, or any other animal, for that
matter. So we categorize two-humped camels as Bactrian. But are Bactrians in fact identical? No, each one is different – we erase the differences so we do not have to create a different category for each individual object in the world, which would be very cumbersome (this, despite the fact that we do oftentimes give an individual it’s own category, as when we name our pet dogs and cats, because we become so familiar with them that they become more individuated in our eyes). Our brains, to be more efficient, conceptualize. If brains did not do that, the owner of the brain would not recognize that the cat that ate a member of the group was similar enough to the approaching cat that it would be prudent to try to escape. This is why and how vervet monkeys can have a different call meaning 1) big cat, 2) eagle, and 3) snake, which each result in different responses. The same is true of the one who needs to eat: one must be able to recognize what is not-food and what is food. To eat, one cannot have to relearn this information each time. Life was much simpler for one-celled predators: eat anything that moves (or, more accurately, whatever binds to the outside of the cell, meaning there is a kind of conceptualization even at the chemical level in the surface proteins). Those who could not make these judgements about the world and create concepts such as these would have died either from eating something poisonous or from being eaten. Any animal that could not make proper judgments regarding the reality of the world they were in would not have been able to survive. Those who were better able to make those judgements would be able to survive even better. I give as evidence a human population of over 6 billion people at present.
Due to the complexity of our brains and our use of language, humans are able to create more conceptual categories than any other animal. Further, those categories can overlap, and they can exist in nested hierarchies. The Bactrian camel is simultaneously a camel, in the camel family (which includes the humpless llama and its relatives in South America), an herbivore, a mammal, a vertebrate, an animal, and alive. Thus a Bactrian camel shares similarities with other herbivores – elephants, rabbits, buffalo, manatees, etc. – in that they all only eat vegetation. We call it a mammal because it has hair, is warm-blooded, and feeds its young milk, just like platypuses, whales, koalas, and leopards. It is a vertebrate because it has a backbone and an internalized skeleton, like fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
And what of math? "Two" is a conceptual category. It is necessary to keep track of group members (we are a social species after all), and to make proper divisions in a group (as chimpanzees share meat from a kill). It would also be useful information to share if one is hunting or gathering. "Yes, there are two of them. We need more hunters." "Two" is a conceptual category in the same way as "Bactrian camel" is. If we have tow humps on two different camels on two mountains with two rivers flowing from the two mountains, then the relationship among humps, camels, mountains, and rivers is "twoness" – a conceptual category we designate by using the word "two". The sound "two" may be an arbitrarily chosen sound to represent this concept, but the concept, and the fact that a word exists to represent it, are not arbitrary.
The rest of the equation is relationships. Relationships are inherent in nature. Math describes nature so well because all of nature is relationships, each object has and is in a relationship with other objects (objects here including pure, substanceless energy). "Equals" is such a relationship. If there are a number of objects that we call (in English) "two", and we have another number of similar objects that we would also call "two" due to the number of objects being equivalent, then we have a number of objects that we designate in our language as "four". If "four" represents this many objects: * * * * , and two represents this many objects: * * , and 2=2, then 2+2=4. A transcendental explanation is not needed in the least. All we need is a proper understanding of how concepts are formed in the brain, and we can learn that through cognitive psychology, which is science. Thus, while science cannot prove using the scientific method that2+2=4, while 2+2 cannot equal 5, and never can as long as we use the language and notation as we presently do, I have shown that a proper understanding of science can help us use philosophy to understand the source of mathematical statements as non-transcendental.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Another Law of Physics?

I have been reading Stuart Kauffman's new book, Investigations. I have been thinking about the same problem of the source of the complexity of the universe in light of the current 3 laws of thermodynamics. If the universe had its origins in the breaking of the perfect symmetry (nothing) that gave rise to the big bang, then symmetry-breaking would in fact be the primary law of the universe, giving rise to all the other laws of the universe, which evolved as the universe emerged. This is suggested by the equations in Kauffman's The Origins of Order, which I have shown in my dissertation "Evolutionary Aesthetics" could show how 10-11 dimentional strings could be derived from nothing, with D=0 giving rise to D=1, or the singularity that exploded into the universe. This initial symmetry-breaking becomes then a fundamental aspect of the universe, giving rise to the complexity of the universe, with its plurality unified into a hierarchy of complex systems. Thus I propose as a law of physics the tendency of the universe to break symmetries to create more diversity in the universe.

Monday, August 09, 2004

A Medical Consultation

My true concern is for your health
In asking you to share my bed –
I only wish to share the wealth
Of benefits that have been wed
By all the doctors of the day
To the one thing you’ve kept at bay.
Why would you miss this exercise,
So pleasant, easy when you’re prone?
How can you say that it is wise
To miss out on the firm and tone
Muscles that can make you sure,
With head held high through good posture?
Your lovely skin and thick, dark hair
Will turn much shiner and smooth –
Your loveliness will be more fair;
And it is said that this can sooth
Your headaches and your every stress –
And all you have to say is "Yes."
No better drug could lift you up
Than those you’ll brew up in this bed;
No pharmacist could yet brew up
A medicine to clear your head,
So every flower smells more sweet –
Just climb in here under the sheet.
Relaxed, you’ll get much better sleep
Than any that you’ve ever had –
With brighter light this tiny leap
Will open you and make you glad
You changed your mind and joined me here
So that same mind becomes more clear.
A longer life is here for you,
And much more slowly you will age;
You’ll be less sick – yes, it is true –
What arguments must I still wage?
My proof, at least, you must agree,
Is stronger proof than is a flea.

Aesthetics – Beauty

When the sun dapples through the trees’ leaves
And the world becomes a familiar stranger
In the wild and growing tapestry it weaves,
We’ll be in danger
Of finding flowers in reds and indigos
Sprouting up to fill the new open spaces
Once filled by the brush we’ve cleared with our woes,
Lost love’s embraces.
Pain breaks the chains we had while down in the cave,
Its deadly fires purify our perceptions,
Cleans them for the very few who can be brave –
Be gone, deceptions!
Be gone and let us see the world in color,
In resolution sharper than quarks can give us,
Sharper than old photos with their tin color
Most still use to truss
Up the prejudices and preconceptions
They hold, too terrified to question a thing
That they believe. Can we know what receptions
Deep knowledge could bring?

Etre Sartre

In France was an atheist, superb
At finding new ways to disturb –
A communist brand,
A Nazi’s friend, and
Philosophy based on a linking verb.


In the unbelievable and unknown –
In the unrefined and those without thought –
In the unremarkable and unwise –
We find our leaders
We find our heroes
We find our artists
I see it – there is a sun on the horizon –
The rosy fingers of an ancient dawn –
A rebirth of everything from everything we have torn apart –
A world in fragments – no longer a world –
Fragments gathered up –
A world reborn from the fragments –
A world reborn from the past, the ancients –
Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Africans, Arabs, Indians, and aborigines –
Yet –
I am not a postmodernist
And I am not a classicist
And I am not a romantic
And I am not a modernist
And I am not a naturalist
No –
I am each of these – and none
I am the moon and the sun
I am the earth and the sea
I am woman and man
Seriousness and fun
Fragments and unity
Plurality and one