Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’
More than 170 years before Jean-François Champollion had the first real success in translating Egyptian hieroglyphs, the 17th century Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher was convinced he had cracked it. He was very wrong. Daniel Stolzenberg looks at Kircher’s Egyptian Oedipus, a book that has been called “one of the most learned monstrosities of all times” in Public Domain Review.
As we take care not to jump to conclusions, we might send thoughtful birthday greetings to Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell; he was born on this date in 1872. A philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic, Russell is probably best remembered for Principia Mathematica (co-authored with Alfred North Whitehead), which attempted to ground mathematics in logic (though his essay “On Denoting” has also been celebrated as a “paradigm of philosophy.” He won the 1950 Nobel Prize in Literature ”in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought.”
Dutch designer Ruben van der Vleuten wondered what happened to the packages he sent between the time he shipped them and their arrival.
What happens when you send something by mail? What happens in between you sending it off and someone else receiving it? What people and processes are involved and how many steps does it take?
Those all were questions I was dealing with and wanted to find out. So instead of sitting back I started a simple project to actually see it myself. I put a small camera in a box, build a timer circuit using Arduino and shipped it.
That’s as simple as it is. The timer circuit was set to make a 3 sec video every minute and make longer videos while the box was moving: to not miss on the ‘interesting’ parts.
See the resulting video, “From A to B”.
[TotH to Flowing Data]
As we add some extra bubble wrap, we might send stoic birthday greetings to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus; he was born on this date in 121 CE. The last the “five good emperors” of Rome, Marcus Aurelius is considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers. His Meditations, written in Greek while on campaign during the Marcomannic Wars between 170 and 180, and describing how to follow nature to find and preserve equanimity in the midst of turmoil, is considered by many to be the urtext of the philosophy of service and duty.
Look beneath the surface; let not the several quality of a thing nor its worth escape thee.
- Meditations, Book VI, 3
As we lick our pencils, we might send thoughtful birthday greetings to Immanuel Kant; he was born on this date in 1724. One of the central figures of modern philosophy, Kant is remembered primarily for his efforts to unite reason with experience (e.g., Critique of Pure Reason [Kritik der reinen Vernunft], 1781), and for his work on ethics (e.g., Metaphysics of Morals [Die Metaphysik der Sitten], 1797) and aesthetics (e.g., Critique of Judgment [Kritik der Urteilskraft], 1790). But he made important contributions to mathematics as well: Kant’s argument that mathematical truths are a form of synthetic a priori knowledge was cited by Einstein as an important early influence on his work.
There is … only a single categorical imperative and it is this: Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.
- Chapter 11, Metaphysics of Morals
Australian artist Jeremy Geddes creates oil paintings that are astonishingly– dangerously– counterintuitive, at the same time that they’re astoundingly photo-realistic. Geddes’ describes his process in this 2011 interview with Empty Kingdom.
[TotH to Laughing Squid]
As we look away then back again, we might spare a thought for Jean-François Lyotard; he died on this date in 1998. A co-founder (with Derrida, Châtelet, and Deleuze) of the Collège International de Philosophie– the bastion of Postmodernism– Lyotard was a philosopher, sociologist, and literary theorist. As a champion of “the sublime”– in Lyotard’s rehabilitation of an ancient aesthetic concept, the pleasurable anxiety that one experiences when confronting wild and threatening sights– he would surely have approved of Geddes’ work.
“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void but out of chaos.”*…
… is intended as an outlet for the force-four brainstorm which rages in the background of my mind, much of the time. It seems to result, most days, in some kind of invention. Many of these ideas are naive, impractical or just unoriginal. Occasionally, a good one appears (eg www.scenereader.com). In any case, disclosure here of anything clever or original will make patenting it impossible**; which is probably a healthy situation…
The obvious thing to do is to forget patents and move straight to manufacturing and selling your own products. With desktop manufacture and online marketing, this is becoming a real possibility in some cases. I recognise, however, that I won’t have enough time and money to develop and launch the majority of the ideas here in the marketplace.
Please therefore feel free to read, mock and/or exploit commercially any which take your fancy. If they make you rich, do let me know (Donating to Unicef is a good idea, even if you haven’t yet made a mint)…
Consider, for example, #2302- “the Collareel”:
Today’s invention is a dog lead with the added benefit that when your animal is off-lead, it carries the whole thing itself.
A small, spring-loaded reel of strong cord is clipped to the ordinary lead. It is shaped to fit closely to the collar and thus be impossible for the dog to remove or for it to tear off while crashing about the undergrowth.
When you want to reign in your canine, first catch it and then pull the lead out to normal length.
Browse the bounty of his brainstorms at “Invention of the Day.”
* Mary Shelly
** Sadly, as of March 16, no longer true in the U.S.
As we await the illumination of the bulbs above our heads, we might tip the plumed birthday bonnet to Rene Descartes, the French philosopher and mathematician who thought and therefore was. He was born on this date in 1596.
Many contemporaries (perhaps most notably, Pascal) rejected his famous conclusion, the dualist separation of mind and body; more (Voltaire, et al.), since. But Descartes’ emphasis on method and analysis, his disciplined integration of philosophy and physical science, his insistence on the importance of consciousness in epistemology, and perhaps most fundamentally, his the questioning of tradition and authority had a transformative– and lasting– effect on Western thought, and has earned him the “title” of Father of Modern Philosophy.
“In order to improve the mind, we ought less to learn than to contemplate.”
- Rene Descartes
Your correspondent is headed again behind The Great Firewall, where the undependability of connectivity (even, these days, via VPNs) means a hiatus in these missives. Regular service should resume by April 10 or so.