Monday, 12 July 2004 15:58

Hard Science and Philosophy

Is it even possible for scientists and mathematicians to understand or appreciate philosophy? Do they lack a neccessary nimbleness to discern philosophical questions or the impact of such answers? For many (most) among the "harder" sciences, philosophy shares a stage with religion, art, or fantastic child-like whimsy. Why is this? Could it be they are too judgmental or inflexible in their beliefs? Might they be too acquisitive to be distracted by the philosophical implications of their work? Are they not clever enough to understand it? Perhaps they are too shallow to even grasp fundamental questions?

Mike Alder (a mathematician) explains why practicioners of hard science don’t like philosophy but discretely pursue it anyway. He offers explination to explain why scientists and mathematicians are inclined to be dismissive of the subject. Additionally, Mr. Alder explains how and why they still explore philosophy pseudonymously.

The scientist’s perception of philosophy is that a philosophical analysis is a sterile word game played in a state of mental muddle. When you ask of a scientist if we have free will, or only think we have, he would ask in turn: “What measurements or observations would, in your view, settle the matter?” If your reply is “Thinking deeply about it”, he will smile pityingly and pass you by. He would be unwilling to join you in playing what he sees as a rather silly game.

Published in Academic
Sunday, 13 March 2016 01:53

How to be Good

An Oxford philosopher thinks he can distill all morality into a formula. Is he right?

The philosopher Derek Parfit believes that neither of the people is you, but that this doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that you have ceased to exist, because what has happened to you is quite unlike ordinary death: in your relationship to the two new people there is everything that matters in ordinary survival—a continuity of memories and dispositions that will decay and change as they usually do. Most of us care about our future because it is ours—but this most fundamental human instinct is based on a mistake, Parfit believes. Personal identity is not what matters.

Published in Academic
Tuesday, 03 May 2016 19:04

Neuroscientists Word-Map Brain

Scientists have created an “atlas of the brain” that reveals how the meanings of words are arranged across different regions of the organ. Like a colourful quilt laid over the cortex, the atlas displays in rainbow hues how individual words and the concepts they convey can be grouped together in clumps of white matter. “Our goal was to build a giant atlas that shows how one specific aspect of language is represented in the brain, in this case semantics, or the meanings of words,” said Jack Gallant, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley.

Published in News
Wednesday, 25 April 2012 12:03

Rinzai Zen - Fujaku, fugu.

"Where should your mind be kept?  If your mind is not fixed anywhere it will pervade throughout the body... If your mind is fixed on a certain spot, it will be seized by that spot, and no activities can be performed efficiently. Not to fix your mind anywhere is essential. Not fixed anywhere, the mind is everywhere."

  • Study Zen -- one discovers the key to all forms of Buddhism.
  • Practice Zen -- one's life is brought to fulfillment in the attainment of enlightenment.

Samsara is the same as nirvana, defilement the same as purity, and delusion the same as enlightenment.  The challenge to understanding is due to one's ignorance -- the ignorance in mistaking phenomena for ultimate reality. Great is Mind. Heaven's height is immeasurable, but Mind goes beyond heaven; the earth's depth is also unfathomable, but Mind reaches below the earth.

Published in Personal
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