Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Delicious quotes from today's reading

Amrtya Sen: An epistemic methopdology that sees the pursuit of knowledge as entirely congruent with the search for power is a great deal more cunning than wise (Argumentative Indian p143)

Mark Steyn: A political entity hostile to the three principal building blocks of functioning societies - religion, family and wealth creation - was never a likely bet for the long term. (DTel)

Monday, June 27, 2005

Interesting words of dissent

Interesting words from Justice Scalia (p45) "I shall discuss first, why the Court's oft repeated assertion that the government cannot favor religious practice is false; second, why today s opinion extends the scope of that falsehood even beyond prior cases; and third, why even on the basis of the Court s false assumptions the judgment here is wrong."

This is wonderful and coruscating stuff - I particularly like his footnote on p54 "The Court thinks it surpris[ing] and truly remarkable to believe that the deity the Framers had in mind ... was the God of monotheism. ... This reaction would be more comprehensible if the Court could suggest what other God (in the singular, and with a capital G) there is, other than the God of monotheism." This is not necessarily the Christian God ...; but it is inescapably the God of monotheism."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Back from sailing

Long weekend doing (and passing) Day Skipper (2/4 candidates failed) Really exhilarating to night-sail right into Chichester harbour - even if I did run aground briefly!

Book proofs back having to read them and they go in for the award at the end of the month - so not much time to Blog!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Argumentative Indian

Went to the RSA to hear the wonderful Amratya Sen talk about The Argumentative Indian - title of his latest book. He emphasises the Indian traditions of debate and tolerance - a secularism of neutrality rather than of a (vain) attempt to supress religion.

Amazing that the oldest printed book in the world dates from 868 - The Diamond Sutra. Also wonderful how an engaged genius really can change the world.

Had one of his most brilliant ex-students to dinner on Monday, with her Fiance. They had been to the same production of Cosi but she was very offended by the notion that all women are unfaithful. Rightly. But I think the deeper point is that everyone has human frailty, and that you should marry the real person, not the ideal.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Perfect freedom

Wonderful afternoon yesterday - up to Cambridge and saw all the family. One grandson was v grunpy at first but went to Heffers and chose together a lovely illustrated Peter Pan which he then read aloud with relish.

Up early today to sail but after we and 23 other boats had launched the race was called off - too windy. So back home early, swam, yoga and church. The priest had prepared a sermon for the 12th Sunday and it was the 11th (but the 12th of June) so gave a hasty sermon on Matthew 9:35-10:10, during which he said odd things about the word exousia so looked it up in EDNT. It means freedom; ability; power; authority. However etymologically it must be from-being/substance ie you get ex-ousia from God ... whose service is perfect freedom

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Reality and Philosophy

An online gamer in China is given a suspended death sentence for murdering a fellow-gamer over the theft of a cyber-weapon. Scary how the virtual is invading the real. Very pleased that we started the Colloquiua on the Ethical and Spiritual Implications of the New IT and Telecoms Environment so many years ago.

No questions fof JCP for a while - I wonder what drives the lulls?

Voted in BBC poll of greatest philosophers - some are ludicrous but v hard to choose between Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Aquinas - went for Aquinas in the end 'cos he integrated Christianity. Personal favourite is Kierkegaard and I'm glad he's on the list. "To be the greatest philosopher in Denmark, it's just like being ... just think of it ... the greatest street actor in Odense"

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Love in many guises

Saw Cosi fan Tutte at the ENO last night - beautifully sung and conducted. Da Ponte - who knew Casanova - is clearly on the side of Don Alfonso but Mozart breathes real emotional depth into all the characters. Delicious, though of course inaccurate, translation by Jeremy Sams - but disappointingly at the 'punchline' when Alfonso makes the lovers repeat Cosi fan Tutte Sams has something different (I think "A school for lovers") .. how about "Thus do all women"? (NB it's Tutte not Tutti!) But although they know they are unfaithful - they marry them.

Today we had Hosea as the OT reading and Jesus eating with Matthew and sinners as the Gospel, and a lovely black priest from Kenya (studying Philosophy at the LSE) making the point that it's all about God's love - trusting people even though they are unfaithful.

So (apologies to W Blake) maybe Da Ponte is of God's party without knowing it.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Pure logic

The expected Dutch Nee seems to have made the EU Constitutional Monster dead, but whether there is a stake though it's heart remains to be seen.

An e-correspondent is worried about whether pure logic could cause the Universe to exist, without God. But any logical system has Axioms and Rules of inference and given these Axioms and Rules certain things follow, logically. So if it is an Axiom in a particular logical system L that "any logically possible universe must exist physically (in the multiverse)" then within the logical system L you could say that the multi/universe MUST exist. But there must be some reason, which cannot be within L, why L should apply and not some other logical system L'

Also no logical system can 'ignore' Godel's theorem - unless it is not rich enough to contain elementary arithmetic it cannot be both complete and consistent. This is a fundamental limiation on logical systems and really puts the kaibosh on any ideas that we are inevitable products of some impersonal logic.