BaalChatzaf

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Posts posted by BaalChatzaf


  1. Ellen-

    Good luck with the Principia. Hopefully they have translated the mathematics into a readable, modern form as well. I've never read it, but I've heard that mathematically it is trying for even physicists. Not that it is inherently difficult, but I don't think the equations are couched in modern forms.

    You are right. Newton derived his results using his newly invented calculus and differential equations, but his math was far too advanced for the readers of his time. So he translated the mathematical formulation to the more traditional Euclidean Geometric mode. In his time calculus was like the kind of mathematics used nowadays to express super string theory. Very few are sufficiently trained to follow it.

    Ironically, modern readers can handle the calculus based presentation, but are hard put to comprehend the older geometric approach. The central position of Euclidean Geometry in the mathematics curiculum has been denigrated and a watered down version is taught in American high schools.

    For a clear (but not easy) presentation of -Principia Mathematica- read the new translation edited by I. Bernard Cohen. The translation avoids some of the old fashioned locutions (in English) found in the Cajori translation. Really, who understands phrases like hemidemisubsesquintial ratios. (I exaggerate only slightly).

    Ba'al Chatzaf


  2. Where principles and rights break down

    This is going to be one of the shortest articles I have ever written.

    If some evil son-of-a-bitch wants to starve a child to ill health or death on purpose, irrespective of the reason, he better not do it in front of me or near me, because no principle or right on earth is going to keep me off him.

    Michael

    Interesting. May I ask why? I assume you are not related to that hypothetical child. Do you have a dog in this hunt? If so, what is it? Would you react strongly (or even violently) simply because you disapprove? Why is your approval or disapproval substantive? Is it substantive?

    I would caution you as an apparently decent and reasonable fellow that appointing yourself guardian of interests that at not rightfully or factually yours and without invitation or permission leads you down a dangerous path: the Path of the Buttinsky.

    This is not to say that I don't understand your emotional charge. I really do. But emotions, per se, are not proper warrants for actions. Have a care, lest ye become dangerous to your fellow humans.

    Ba'al Chatzaf


  3. The Objectivist position of existence is that no alternative to the fact of reality is possible or imaginable. All facts are necessary. In Ayn Rand’s words, the metaphysically given is ABSOLUTE. A is A. Facts are facts. Existence exists.

    ***

    Really? It is a fact that the United States consists of fifty States. Is that a necessary fact? Not at all. There was no law of nature compelling congress to admit Alaska and Hawaii as States. So the fact that the United States has fifty States is -contingent- on certain decisions having been made.

    Be careful now. You are on the verge of denying free will.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

    Ba'al,

    Welcome to OL.

    That either Alaska and Hawaii is a state (or at one time not) of the United States is not a "metaphysically given" fact, (which there is no alternative to) but rather a man-made fact. I take it that you are not too, too familiar with Rand's work, of else you would not have presented this type of challenge to me. :}

    -Victor

    First of all, I have read Ayn Rand (AS, TF, WTL) and I used to subscribe to -The Objectivist-.,

    A Fact is Fact. A Fact is that which is. The distinction between metaphysically given facts and facts arising from choices (by man, beast or plant) is nugatory. Whatever is, is a fact however it came about.

    If it is facts independent of human choices then grok this. Shot an electron through a Stern Gerlach magnet. The electron will go up or down wrt. to the plane dividing the heads of the magnet. All electrons are alike being in a superposed quantum state for there spin. You have a fifty fifty chance of an up or down outcome. Now shoot a stream of up-electrons through another Stern Gerlach magnet. Lo and Behold! The stream splits again. Which way it comes out is not determined by any observable property of the electron. The same electron with spin up on one occasion will emerge spin down on another. Since no discernible factor determines the output I would say the output is happenstance.

    The odds on the outcome are fixed (50 - 50) by the symmetry of the electron spins but the particular outcomes are not determined, hence are accidental, happenstantial not necessary etc. etc.

    Yet another. How about your conception or mine or anyone's. Zillions of sperm racing to the egg (and which egg? I could have been one of many.). Which one gets there is a function of the when and the where of the ejaculation, not a matter of necessity. We are all accidents. So much of life is a horse-race. So much is accidental. So little is necessary.

    The facts are just what happen to be the case. Which is not to deny the existence of laws governing what facts may be. But these laws are constraints, not determinants. Many outcomes are possible, but not any old outcome.

    Ba'al Chatzaf.


  4. The Objectivist position of existence is that no alternative to the fact of reality is possible or imaginable. All facts are necessary. In Ayn Rand’s words, the metaphysically given is ABSOLUTE. A is A. Facts are facts. Existence exists.

    ***

    Really? It is a fact that the United States consists of fifty States. Is that a necessary fact? Not at all. There was no law of nature compelling congress to admit Alaska and Hawaii as States. So the fact that the United States has fifty States is -contingent- on certain decisions having been made.

    Be careful now. You are on the verge of denying free will.

    Ba'al Chatzaf


  5. There are effective ways to take care of Iran without doing a WWII on Iranians.

    --Brant

    Really? Do tell us what these ways are. Be very specific, if you please. No generalities, now. Just very specific ways of pulling the fangs out of the Iranian Mullahs.

    The Israelis may have had the right idea when they paid a visit to the French build reactor in Iraq back in 1981. These magnificent pilots of the IDF Air Force gave an entirely new meaning to the term: "surgical strike".

    Let us know how to make the Iranian Mullahs and politicians stop building A-bombs to kill the Jews and passing their nukes on to the Wahabites, without slaughtering the lot of them.

    Ba'al Chatzaf


  6. It required more than 3,000 police, the merciless beating of the students, and the killing of several, before the riots and the bloodshed ended.

    Are these students and other Iranians like them the people we should be nuking? We shoud be helping them in every way possible, helping them to break free of their tormentors, as we helped so many other courageous rebels in Eastern Europe when they were strugging to to break free of their Communist tormentors.

    Barbara

    Barbara,

    If you can come up with a nifty technique for separating the wheat from the chaff and the sheep from the goats would you let us know what it is?

    In the mean time killing lots of folks, many of them mothers and babies is one of the unavoidable infelicities of modern warfare. The Allies killed over 700,000 civilians in air attacks during WW2. But just keep in mind who started the war. In addition, if our enemies ever got wind of our soft feeling they would line their rooftops with their own children. What would you do then?

    We are living in hard times, and hard times call for hard actions. If you think it is o.k. to kill the bad guys, just keep in mind that they deliberately live among the not-so-bad guys. So how do you propose to kill the bad guys without killing some of the not-so-bad guys. If you can think of a nifty way, pray do let us know. In the real world we cannot fight Platonic wars. We can only fight by the means and tactics available to us. When Muslim fanatics do another number on New York City (and they will. because that is where the Jews are) I would really like to hear your response to that. Really and truly.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

    Eem yavoh l'hargechah hashkeem l'hargoh -- If he comes to murder you, rise up early and slay him first.

    Babylonian Talmud, San Hedrin 72A. This is the survival manual of a people who have been on everyone's hit list for over 2000 years. We are still here.


  7. "The problem with the global warming issue is that in popular public and political policy discussions the matter it is an ill-defined, epistemological mess. Asking 'Do you believe in global warming?' has the flavor of 'Do you believe in Jesus?' with lots of unstated implications. We need to break the matter down.

    The proper way of putting that question is: Are you convinced by the models and the data so far presented that

    1. global warming is largely anthropogenic and 2. said global warming will lead to catastrophic conditions?

    My response to those questions would be no and no.

    I have stated my reasons in another post concerning the nature an quality of climatic science and climatic modeling.

    Ba'al Chatzaf


  8. Kyrel -- You're right! E=mc2. The stock of energy and matter is the stock of the universe. The only things in short supply are rational minds that can figure out how to free energy at an economical price and the political freedom to do so!

    Ed

    In reality only a small amount of mass can be converted to energy in fusion and fission reactions. In fusion reactions about 0.007. That is 7/10 of one percent. When multiplied by c squared that is one humongous can of whoop-ass. HOO-RAH! But being an astronomer you should know we are not going to ever convert large percentages of mass to energy. The underlying physical processes have gone to a great deal of trouble to solidify energy into mass, since the Big Bang.

    Yodah says: Do not your breath hold, Young Ed, until all mass into energy converted is, else blue turn you will.

    Ba'al Chatzaf


  9. These people in Sydney are trying to save their lives - in the best way they know how. There is nothing altruistic about this! They honestly believe that global catastrophe is a reality - or at least a likely possibility. I am NOT advocating what they're doing - I am NOT advocating blackouts or suspension of human technology. Like I said before, I don't know what to think of global warming or how we can deal with it. I would think that there are other ways of going about saving the world besides an all-out shut-down of technology. I don't find anything inspiring about the coma of a city. And neither do these people in Sydney. That is WHY they're doing it. They don't want to see their lives and their homes and their loved ones lost under the unforgiving waves.

    The good folks of Sidney would be much better off if they replaced all incandescent bulbs with standard base florescent bulbs. The savings in in current is about 60 percent with no loss of illumination. In addition the fluros last five times longer than incandescents.

    Now to the main point: The basis for the dire predictions is so-called Climate Science. Climate Science which is based in part on physics is really not well grounded theoretically. Climate Science (so-called) is a collection of -models- (implemented by computer programs) and constructed to fit data measured from various sources. That, in itself, is not bad. When dealing with something as complicated as climate, it is unlikely that anyone is going to come up with some mathematically elegant axiomatic type model, such as we have in theoretical physics. Climate is much more complicated than the interactions of particles and fields.

    The correctness of climate models is very dependent on what and how much data is gathered. There is currently a bias built into temperature data, to wit, too many measuring stations are in or near cities. Cities have become "heat islands". The steel and concrete structures of a large city heat up under sunlight during the day and radiate the heat at night. This makes the temperature readings higher than they should be. Temperature gather stations should be spread out further away from cities. Unfortunately cities are where most of the universities and weather data gathering companies are located.

    The accurate collection of temperature data has no been going on long enough to accurately establish trends. That is another problem.

    So we have empirical models built on biased and potentially incorrect data. In addition there is really no theoretical underpinning to climatology. Let me make an analogy: climatology is where astronomy was in the time of Kepler. Kepler was the first to -fit curves- to data gathered from Tycho Brahe's instruments, then the best naked-eye (non-telescopic) data collection enterprise in the world. That is how Kepler derived the idea that planet orbits are elliptical (which is true to the first order of approximation). However Kepler did NOT have a theory underlying the motion of the planets. His understanding was data limited and the best he could do is fit curves to data. In short Kepler constructed a model. It happened to be a good model and it was left to Isaac Newton to produce a THEORY to account for the observations. The theory consisted of force laws and differential equations. Climate Science is still waiting for its Isaac Newton.

    O.K. So we do not have a well grounded -theory of climate-. All beginnings are hard. If this was the only problem it would be a matter of working smarter and thinking better until a theory is developed.

    Unfortunately, major policy decisions are based on climate models of dubious quality. In addition, many of the conclusions are -politically motivated-. Governments have an interest in making a case for telling foks what to do, what not to do and charging them for the privilege of being ruled in a less than reasonable manner. The UN IPCC has a genuine ax to grind in the matter of global warming. They make quasi-dire predictions to enhance their reputations for far-sightedness. Unfortunately their sight is derived from bent and dirty lenses.

    If Chicken Little is going to go around telling everyone that the sky is falling, it would behoove him to, at least have accurate data to that effect. The Chicken Littles of global warming have not yet met that requirement.

    Ba'al Chatzaf -- ever skeptical of those who think themselves wiser than the rest of us


  10. Bob or Cheek; Welcome! How old are you? Where do you call home? What have read of Ayn Rand?

    Thank you for inquiring.

    71 years old, born in the Bronx. I now reside in the Bad-a-Bing state, New Jersey, but my heart is still in Massachussetts, the home of the American Revolution.

    Yes, I have read Ayn Rand and I even subscribed to the Objectivist.

    No, I am not an Objectivist, but I am joined at the hip to Reality. If I were still religious, my god would be the facts.

    Ba'al Chatzaf


  11. Blackhorse:

    ~ Hadn't seen this I-have-no-doubt not-to-be-missed movie yet, but, did catch the History Channel's 'History in Focus' 1/2 hr 'analysis' on the movie. Quite interesting, overall. The only 'flaw' (if one doesn't grant any 'artistic license') was the lack of maximum armor the Hoplites used; expectably, their chests (et al) would have been covered with bronze plates, but, for macho-appearance-effect movie-wise, weren't.

    Perhaps the movie should have been entitled -600 Pectorals-

    Bob Kolker


  12. I've also heard Objectivists argue convincingly that the universe is eternal, that there can't have been a time prior to which anything existed. They also argue that there can't be a place outside of which anything exists. This sounds like they are saying the universe is infinite, but it also sounds like the idea from cosmology that the universe is finite but unbounded. (Whatever that means.)

    REB

    Here is what it means. Let T be a topological space and S be a subset of T. p is boundary point of S if

    and only if every neighborhood of p contains a point in S and and point not in S.

    Now consider the surface of a three dimensions sphere. This a a two dimensional topological space where the

    neighborhoods are defined by "circles" around each point on the surface of the sphere. A neighborhood of p is the set of points whose great circle distance from p is <= r where r is less than the great circle distance between antipodal points. Under this definition, no point on the surface of the sphere is a boundary point. But the distance between any two points must be less than or equal to the distance between any pair of antipodal points. This makes the surface of the sphere -finite-. Hence the surface of the sphere is both finite and unbounded (no boundary points on it).

    It is a technical term requiring some grasp of basic point set topology. I hope you find this useful.

    Ba'al Chatzaf


  13. I just saw the film '300' last Saturday night. WOW! This is the best movie I've seen since 'Casino Royale'. It is an incredible, heroic epic that inspires one to stand tall for what it is right, even against seemingly impossible odds. Highly recommended for Objectivists. I can't wait to see it again.

    The idea of Spartans fighting for Freedom is almost an oxymoron. Sparta was one of the most repressed societies that ever existed and it lived on the slave labor of the Helots. No doubt the Spartan fought for Independence (from Persian domination) as did the Athenians. But Freedom and Liberty? Not a chance.

    Even Athens which was far freer than Sparta was not a democracy. Only one in six adult males living in the Athenian City-State had any standing in its governance. Five sixths of the population were either resident aliens whose presence was tolerated and found useful or -slaves-. Slavery was alive and well in Athens in those days. Aristotle even defended slavery.

    Don't get me wrong. I -loved- the movie. It was exciting, it was bad-ass, it got my juices flowing. Personally, I admire the way of the warrior, the man who puts his blood and vital organs between his family and community on the one hand, and the outsider who would come to conquer or destroy them. All hail the Warrior! The stand of the 300 is Sparta's lasting contribution to human culture along with its military memes. Spartan military modalities are -the- model for military organization in every subsequent society, be it fee or be it tyrannical. For example; the Romans were organized in the manner of the Spartan Hoplites.

    Here is Simonides verse on the Spartan stand in memory of Spartan bravery:

    Ώ ξειν', ἀγγέλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ότι τήδε κείμεθα, τοις κοίνων ρήμασι πειθόμενοι

    Oh Stranger passing by, go tell the Spartans....

    Graven on the statue of Leonidas at Thermopolea was the Spartan response to the Persian demand that they Spartans lay down their weapons.

    "Μολών λαβέ" ("Come and take them!").

    Damn! That gives me goose bumps.

    Ba'al Chatzaf


  14. Evidently scientists who doubt the theory of evolution as proposed by Darwin are being recruited using the following video.

    http://www.illustramedia.com/umolpreview.htm

    It is a beautiful video and the question is does all this occur by natural forces or does it require the divine intervention of a supernatural entity which is the belief of those who subscribe to the intelligent design perspective.

    I put this in the Metaphysics section because the basic issue underlying the debate has everything to do with one's understanding of just what kind of universe we live in. Either it is one created by one or more supernatural beings and in which such divinities intervene for reasons of their own or not.

    IF not then the Existence exists model is the rational alternative. This is the one for grown ups who have managed to give up any inclination to engage in wishful thinking.

    Scientists with Ph.D.s and M.D. are joining the list of those who doubt the validity of Darwinian Evolution although they do not indicate just what their alternative is.

    I imagine this issue has been discussed somewhere on the OL site but I am not aware of just where it is here. It is disturbing that scientists are being enlisted by the ID community. The truth of the matter is not going to be decided by a show of hands.

    galt

    Darwin's theory as presented in -Origin of Species- has undergone many modifications. For starters, Darwin did not have a well grounded theory to account for the inheritance of characteristics. He did not have an underlying genetic theory (that was developed by others) to account for variations. What he did get right was that natural selection culls those bundles of characteristics leading to organisms that cannot survive in the (current) world. Darwin's Rock Bottom assumption was that all development of living things from the beginning to now, however modified in their descent is caused by -natural processes-. In short, No Miracles.

    Now matter how his theory has been modified (for example Gould's Punctuated Equilibrium) the underlying natural processes have not been denied nor has that assumption been refuted by experiment. Kenneth Miller in his book -Finding Darwin's God- point by point demolishes Behe's arguments for Intelligent Design.

    Ba'al Chatzaf


  15. The poster writes:

    I emphatically disagree with Dragonfly's assessment of the importance or value of the Law of Causality. (He is welcome to dispute this and to clarify his own view.) I think there is a lot we can do, as philosophers of science wielding Rand's metaphysical insights as a kind of "veto power" over invalid models of physical and psychological reality. As a relevant example, indeterministic models of physics (or psychology) that claim some actions are not caused but just happen, must be false.

    I reply:

    There are only two "veto powers" concerning a physical theory:

    a. An internal logical inconsistency.

    b. A properly designed experiment which shows that a prediction of the theory is false.

    There are your vetoes. Collision with one's philosophical predispositions do not count. Only facts count.

    Ba'al Chatzaf


  16. In other words "What quantum mechanics tell us is that nothing is real and that we cannot say anything about what things are doing when we are not looking at them. "

    So it seems the Copenhagen interpretation of QM is not compatible with Objectivism.

    Bob

    Fortunately, the interpretation is NOT the theory. Quantum theory in its latest from as a second renormalized theory is the most successful physical theory ever formulated. Its main defect is that it does not deal with gravitation. There are other interpretations, none of which sit comfortably with our man-scaled intuitions. So even if the theory is counter-intuitive and collides with our philosophical expectations, never the less it works and and works superlatively.

    If it works, use it. If it ain't broke don't fix it. If it smiles at you, smile back.

    Ba'al Chatzaf


  17. I recall thinking when I discovered that there were about twenty thousand subscribers to The Objectivist in 1968 that if each of them managed to enlighten one more person in the course of one year who in turn did the same that there would be a doubling each year in the number of us. Five million in eight years and twenty million in ten years In just a couple of years further there would be enough of us to win the election for president.

    Evidently that is not the rate of growth of adherents of our philosophy.

    Obviously we each have our own lives to live and no unchosen obligation to spread the word for anyone else's good. But certainly it is in our own interest as individuals to live in such a society and I would have thought that many of us would and probably do pass the torch to some extent as the opportunities arise.

    So how come there aren't more of us than there are? I am sure there are more of us than there were!

    After all the society is hurting and we are holding the key or the antidote.

    Perhaps the Atlas Shrugged movie will lead to more people rediscovering the Ayn Rand books and essays.

    Meanwhile I am sure that many of us do indeed at least recommend Rand's books. Hard to make a living as a torch passer.

    galt

    With all due respect. An -Atlas Shrugged- movie will disappoint you. Why? The novel is too big a story to fit into a motion picture of reasonable length. Even a trilogy a la Peter Jackson's movification of -Lord of the Rings- failed to do the novel justice.

    Yodah says: Do not your breath hold, Young GaltGulch, until made is movie of -Atlas Shrugged- else blue turn you will.

    BaalChatzaf


  18. Welcome to Objectivist Living. Come on in and say hello.

    Thank you for your kind invitation.

    My user name is BaalChatzaf which is Hebrew for cheeky guy.

    You can call me by my real name, Bob, if you are so inclined.

    I wish to post in this forum on mathematics and physics with their implications for epistemology. I consider epistemology the part of philosophy that is useful and important. Metaphysics? Well the only metaphysics I use is Reality Lite: Reality (the world outside our skin beyond our wishes and hopes) exists and we all have enough brains to understand it sufficiently to survive in it. Anything beyond this I consider excessive.

    I am not interested in ethics or morality. Any intelligent sentient being ought to know the difference between right and wrong and if he/she/it does not, he/she/it will soon find out, sometimes painfully.

    I consider mathematics, physics and flying airplanes the best things that humans do. Flying is the most exciting thing one can do while fully clothed. Next best is making war. We are rather good at it. We are not so good building fair and just social orders. That is a shame, but there it is.

    Later on topics of interest.

    BalChatzaf