Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Quote of the Week, 2014-10-29

I'm extremely opposed to a country that can run people out of town through denying them goods/services just because the owners of the business are bigoted jagoffs. On most things I'm pretty libertarian, but in this instance the Feds and state have a legitimate interest in protecting the rights of their citizens by intervening.

Nate505, JazzFanz post

I make no promises that Nate505 endorses every, or any, word of my commentary.

Does a state owe its citizens the right to be able to conduct business? Do other citizens have the right to de facto prevent citizens from conducting their business, or even inconvenience them in the conducting their business? Some people think that owners should be allowed to act upon their bigotry when serving the public, but I disagree. Being part of a community demands a certain level of respect for every other member of that community. You don't have to approve of them, or like them, but there is a reason that we refer to the minimum effort of acknowledging them and engaging with them as members of the public as being civil. It's a foundation of our civilization. It's what we owe every member of our community.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Quote of the Week, 2014-10-22

I do not see any reason to to suppose that the points and instants which mathematicians introduce in dealing with space and time are actual physically existing entities, but I do see reasons to suppose that the continuity of of actual space and time may be more or less analogous to the mathematical continuity. The theory of mathematical continuity is an abstract logical theory, not dependent for its validity upon any properties of actual space and time.

Bertrand Russell, Our Knowledge of the External World, Lecture 5

Retrieved from Project Gutenberg

Can you tell what I have been reading lately?

Russell regularly regales against philosophers who put their metaphysics as being, and here he sets his own standard for himself; the best he does is work with something somewhat analogous. I've been talking about philosophy as constructing models for reality since the very first of this blog. We never can know if we have a perfect model of reality, only if we have one that's working for our needs.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Quote of the Week, 2014-10-15

There is not any superfine brand of knowledge, obtainable by the philosopher, which can give us a standpoint from which to from which to criticize the whole of daily life. The most that can be done is to examine and purify our common knowledge by an internal scrutiny, assuming the canons by which it has been obtained, and applying them with more care and precision. Philosophy cannot boast of having achieved such a degree of certainty that it can have authority to condemn the facts of experience and the laws of science.

Bertrand Russell, Our Knowledge of the External World, Lecture 3

Retrieved from Project Gutenberg

Russell was a logical realist, in that he believed the principals of logic were basic facts; I am closer to being a fictionalist, in that I believe they are constructed by humans, for humans, and have been used to create a useful model that is simple enough to be understood and flexible enough to handle many things. So, I would agree with this quote from Russsell even more strongly than, perhaps, he would.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Quote of the week, 2014-10-08

But if human conceit was staggered for a moment by its kinship with the ape, it soon found a way to reassert itself, and that way is the "philosophy" of evolution. A process which led from the amoeba to man appeared to the philosophers to be obviously a progress--though whether the amoeba would agree with this opinion is not known.

Bertrand Russell, Our Knowledge of the External World, Lecture 1

Retrieved from Project Gutenberg

Of course, we know that evolution does not teach there is a process from amoeba to men, but rather, that amoebas and men have a common ancestry of a population of single-celled animals that we might call (for the purposes of this discussion) early eukaryotes. I don't know if Russell was aware of this inaccuracy or not; he makes this sentence in the process of describing philosophical positions, not biology, and so moves on quickly to philosophies that supposedly use evolution as a basis (of which he is not fond).

Still, I agree that the early eukaryotes may not consider either lines of their descendants to have progressed.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Quote of the week, 2014-10-01

Everyone knows that to read an author simply in order to refute him is not the way to understand him; and to read the book of Nature with a conviction that it is all an illusion is just as unlikely to lead to understanding.

Bertrand Russell, Our Knowledge of the External World, Lecture 2

Retrieved from Project Gutenberg

I am far overdue to respond to some posts by TheOFloinn. I will try to keep this in mind in my responses.

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