June 27, 2015

Exchange and specialization

A Rough Ride to the Future is also an intellectual autobiography, in which Lovelock reflects on his life as a lone scientist, and asks—eloquently—whether his career trajec­tory is possible in an age of increased bureaucratization.

Matt Ridley - 2011 - ‎No preview - ‎More editions
In his bold and bracing exploration into how human culture evolves positively through exchange and specialization, bestselling author Matt Ridley does more than describe how things are getting better. He explains why.

A contrarian assessment of the near future explains how rapidly growing technologies and other powerful forces will be able to meet and exceed the basic needs of all people, profiling the revolutionary work of leading innovators in such ...

John Gray - 2015 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
This is a stimulating and enraging meditation on everything from cybernetics to the fairground marionettes of the title.

Bryan Caplan - 2008 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
Bryan Caplan suggests some provocative, and highly original, answers. This book may make you smile or it may make you scowl, but it will definitely not make you bored.

The book also expresses the idea that our growing global interdependence -- cultural, economic, and ecological -- can help us to 'sense the reality of each person within the unity of shared life' and thus be motivated to act in the ...

Matt Ridley - 1997 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
What are the reasons for altrusim? Matt Ridley explains how the human mind has evolved a special instinct for social exchange, offering a lucid and persuasive argument about the paradox of human benevolence.

Robert W. Sussman, ‎C. Robert Cloninger - 2011 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
Is it rational to argue for inherent goodness? Renowned biologist and writer Matt Ridley convincingly shows that there are reasons to be a rational optimist despite global negativity. In his book The Rational Optimist (2010) Ridley argues that  ...

From one of the world’s best-known development economists—an excoriating attack on the tragic hubris of the West’s efforts to improve the lot of the so-called developing world In his previous book, The Elusive Quest for Growth, ...

This edition also includes updated data throughout, as well as Shiller’s 2013 Nobel Prize lecture, which puts the book in broader context.

Thomas Nagel - 2012 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
In Mind and Cosmos, he does suggest that if the materialist account is wrong, then principles of a different kind may also be at work in the history of nature, principles of the growth of order that are in their logical form teleological ...

Frank S. Robinson - 2006 - ‎Snippet view - ‎More editions
Celebrating our human character and achievement as well as American ideals of liberty and opportunity, this compelling work is packed with thought-provoking ideas that engage the mind.

June 24, 2015

Marx and Mises, Teilhard and Sri Aurobindo

You can say that this book was over 35 years in the making and was a culmination of my many diverse interests. I have one of those omnivorous minds and from my early years I had a thirst to know, especially to know how the world worked and where our ideas came from. Besides being an avid sci-fi fan in my early years I got a penchant for looking behind the scenes, to rummage through the dust bins of history as it were, for all of those juicy tidbits you never get in history courses in school. So I careened through such diverse topics as the history of philosophy, comparative religions, occult history, Gnosticism, Eastern and Western mysticism, physics, science and technology.

When I discovered Fritjof Capra’s The Tao of Physics in my early 20’s I thought I was in heaven and it was one of the reasons that I became a physics major at first in college. The Holographic Paradigm by Karl Pribram was also a real game changer for me. Though I didn’t finish my physics degree, which I regret now, I did receive a B.A. in Integrated Studies pulling all of my varied interests and elective courses together. One course that had a profound effect on me was a course on Christian Mysticism in which I was introduced to Teilhard of Chardin. I thought that somehow he had read my mind as I had already come to a complex interrelated and evolutionary vision of the universe; his works set me on the road to eventually discovering the Russian Cosmists, which many Transhumanist’s have now done. So I had a great base and background in science that also became united to various complexity ideas which have fascinated me throughout my life.

In my late 30’s I became more interested in political and economic philosophy and its history. I hate to admit it now but I had a short “conservative period” and read works by Russell Kirk and a few other conservatives, I eventually left that path as the “conservative” writers became more and more constipated in their thinking. Along the way I one day discovered and became enamored with Ayn Rand and read through most of her works that are in print. A footnote in some book I was reading mentioned The Law by Frederick Bastiat and that led me to Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, Murray Rothbard and the Austrian School of Economics. As an avid enthusiast in science and technology and its potential to change the world for the better I also ran across Dr. Julian Simon’s work The Ultimate Resource and then went on from there to read more extensively on Techno–Optimism. Also Ray Kurzweil, Matt Ridly, Kevin Kelly and so many others along the way were also a great inspiration to me.

But the funny thing that got me into researching Karl Marx and his thought was Ludwig von Mises himself. I read his magnum opus Human Action and then his tome Socialismand I became enthralled by the “socialism calculation” debate and then Hayek’s “knowledge problem.” I went on to read everything that was in print by Mises and a lot by Hayek. It was their debate with the Marxists and discussing the various issues, especially Mises comparing and contrasting Marxism with classical liberal theory as propounded by the Austrian School that really captured and fired my imagination.
So I delved into reading Marx himself and any work on the socialist calculation debate or knowledge problem I could get my hands on. As I researched I began to see so many areas of convergence and cross fertilization that I was just stunned. When I came across Complexity Theory and Complexity Economics in my mid 40’s the die was cast and the Rubicon was crossed. I was brought around full circle and came to see a holographic quality, an interrelationship between all of these various ideas; Marxist, classical liberal, techno-optimist, and complexity theory that was just fascinating. [...] You could just as easily say that I complete Teilhard de Chardin’s or even Marx’s works as well.

In all humility though I would say that Lord Desai’s book supports parts of my book by giving it the firm foundation in Marx’s evolutionary ideas from a thoroughly Marxist background, and I take the next logical step forward that completes Lord Desai’s train of thought after correcting 19th century ideas with modern complexity and techno-progressive discoveries. If it wasn’t for his book though, I would not have had as much confidence in finishing and publishing my own work as having such strong support from a Marxian economist of his stature gave my evolutionary view of Marx’s philosophy, gleaned from both Marx and the Austrians, the strength it needed. [...] 
So Desai’s bravery in challenging the neo-leftist status quo to correct their view of Marx, that they glean from only reading Marx’s earlier works like The Manifesto, or reading Mother Jones, Salon et al. was in my mind heroic. He is to be given great credit and if you are on the left and haven’t been introduced to this line of evolutionary thinking within Marx’s thought, I recommend you read Marx’s Revenge before you take up and read my book. [...] 

Where I think my book stands out is that I take up this dynamist and evolutionist current and show that if you want to get to utopia, if you want to transcend the present economic system that you find so disagreeable, you cannot do it by “bringing it down now,” or by greater and greater interventions in the system, or by escaping to a rural Arcadia, which never existed except in the reified imaginations of the Romantic’s. Utopia lies ahead of us, but it will only come about through evolutionary processes and that was Marx’s and the Classical Liberal’s genius, that they saw this fact, which the techno-optimists have actually proven. That is why my book is so new as it is a corrective to show that in order for the left to be a vital force again, ultimately it has to rediscover elements in its roots. [...]

We are facing the unprecedented, the unknown, we will have to invent a new terminology in Later Futurity as we move from the era of Early Futurity that we are presently in, but I find it heartening that libertarians, techno-libertarians, and techno-progressives (techno-Marxist’s like yourself BJ) love my book. A techno-libertarian I know messaged me on FB and thanked me for writing the book as she had always felt “torn down the middle.” she told me that emotionally she had socialist humanitarian sympathies coupled with libertarian economics that always seemed to war within her and that as she read my book it revealed to her how this dialectical delusion is easily transcended and that both halves can actually be seamlessly wedded together. That to me is truly encouraging and satisfying as I really wrote the book for individuals, like her, who are tired of today’s constant ideological battles that get us nowhere. To truly have real change, we have to come together and work as a team

[Humanity is not a resource that needs to be managed; it is an evolutionary force that needs to be finally set free.] https://t.co/JhM7GWgPqx 
[Science & technology are the only evolutionary forces on this planet and no future for any ideology, right or left] https://t.co/JhM7GWgPqx 
[many humans fear change and long for the very stable and static past. It is a delusion fueled by fear..] http://t.co/sEG9RPdcJy 

[Sri Aurobindo and Vivekananda provided the foundation before the Marxists. It is time to bring back their influence. http://t.co/Twq1Fn2Tm9

June 17, 2015

Jugal Kishore Mukherjee, Jayantilal Parekh, Mangesh V. Nadkarni, and R.Y. Deshpande

Hijacking Sri Aurobindo – by Rajesh Patel *The religious culture which now goes by the name of Hinduism … gave itself no name, because it set itself no sectarian limits; it claimed no universal adh...

Comment on Jayantilal Parekh's article on Ashram – by Shiva

On 14th March the League of Lost Logicians a.k.a.Well Wishers of Sri Aurobindo Ashram reproduced “The Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its Administration”, an article published in Mother India in June 2001, which was “explicitly written in the backdrop of adversely critical articles that were being planted by anti-Ashram elements in the various newspapers and journals in order to malign the Ashram”, by which it means the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust (SAAT) of the day. The article, more rightly a brochure, was undoubtedly compiled-written by the self-appointed ‘archivist-scholars’ of the Archives & Research Department set up by Jayantilal Parekh and since it was based on his viewpoint, it was hung round his neck.

We have recently come across an article that was written by the late Jayantilal Parekh, a senior and greatly respected member of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, that was published in the June 2001 issue of the Mother India magazine. This article describes the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its administration and was explicitly written by him in the backdrop of adversely critical articles that were being planted by anti-Ashram elements in the various newspapers and journals in order to malign the Ashram. Given that history tends to repeat itself, and that anti-Ashram elements like Raman Reddy, Sraddhalu Ranade, R.Y. Deshpande and their ilk have been resorting to similar anti-Ashram smear campaigns in the media, we have found it beneficial to also reproduce this clear, logical and most honest piece about the Ashram and its functioning.
As the article is comprehensive and detailed, it runs for a considerable length. The article however is divided in several distinct parts that cover the following topics which can also be read individually, depending on one’s interest or preference:
1) Aim of the Ashram
2) Growth of the Ashram
3) Membership of the Ashram
4) The Ashram Trustees
5) Functioning of the Ashram
6) Ashram Finances
7) Ashram Property
8) Educational  and Cultural Life
9) Sex and Spiritual Life
10) Conclusion

Pushed to the brink of his never-ending, round-about and personally motivated arguments to attempt to establish that the 1950-’51 edition of Savitri is the edition which is most sacred, holy, the most authentic, etc., RY Deshpande (RYD) has finally resorted to using what he appears to believe is his most potent ammunition and defense: Jugal Kishore Mukherjee’s (JKM) personal correspondence with the editors of the 1993 edition of Savitri.

What is most surprising is that RYD appears to believe that he and JKM are defending the same positions. There is actually nothing that is farther from the truth and a look at JKM’s correspondence as well as his behavior will reveal that there was much that was uncommon between RYD and JKM, at least as far as the editing of Savitri was concerned.

To be fair to RYD, the only common point between him and JKM was that they were both critical of certain aspects of the editing of the 1993 edition of Savitri. And the common trait that they shared in regard to this criticism and which resulted in much of their activism, is that they believed that their personal opinions were the ultimate and that other’s opinions (even those arrived at by the consensus of a larger group of peers) mattered less. This is certainly not something that any self-respecting scholar would be proud of.

Apart from that, the truth is that RYD and JKM had very little in common.

In fact the most glaring difference between RYD and JKM is that the latter was never averse to the editing of the 1950-’51 edition. This is very clearly spelt out in the very beginning of JKM’s letter dated April 24, 1988 (reproduced by RYD), where in the very first paragraph of Section 1 he establishes his position ...

June 15, 2015

Debate between Einstein and Bergson most pregnant

Was the Magna Carta really about *civil liberties*? http://t.co/u3rsYyH8Sg http://t.co/cz2KtDCnZb
From Magna Carta to Maritain, the West has undergone catharsis for Democracy and Human Rights. http://t.co/AGkYN63xaw

I’m thoroughly enjoying Jimena Canales social, scientific, and philosophical history of the Einstein-Bergson debate in The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson, and the Debate that Changed Our Understanding of Time. There are quite a few pages on Whitehead’s alternative rendering of relativity theory. Earlier today, Justin commented under my essay on Whitehead’s cosmological scheme titled Physics of the World-Soul. 
First, let me say that reading your essay has been my first foray into Whitehead’s thought aside from passing mention of him in various books I’ve read over the years.

Thanks for your response. I realized when I was posting that you had written that essay several years ago, and I figured that you had refined your position since then; I just did not see another essay addressing the issue. And your posts today are much clearer than the mentioned section of your essay and do show such development…
I suppose that when people make their careers and life work out of forming opinions on various topics, it is probably quite unusual for these opinions or conclusions to remain rigidly unchanged throughout their entire duration. I think it is true though that Einstein’s relativity theory became so widely accepted within the mainstream scientific community because it did offer a framework whereby many scientists were able to make confirmable and repeatable predictions about physical phenomena. But I don’t think that anyone ever considers any theory to be an eternally and completely unquestionable fact applicable to all instances. But the fact that some theories can be reliably physically demonstrated must certainly be shocking in a way to their propagators and cause them to wonder about the connections of the creative imagination to deep aspects of reality. I think it is an ongoing dialogue amongst mathematicians about whether mathematics is ‘invented’ or ‘discovered.’ Anyway, isn’t it always necessary to start from (or at some point resort to) some kind of unproven or unprovable presupposition(s) in order to theorize over anything at all? And nobody comes up with their complete work all by themselves out of a vacuum. Everyone who does any kind of work is always indebted to countless others who have gone before them or alongside them. As Ecclesiastes says: “There is nothing new under the sun.”
I’m not familiar with Smolin’s work on physical constants, but I do agree that physical ‘constants’ do likely change over the vast sweeps of the cosmic creative processes.
I also cannot claim to be an expert in the subject, but if you are interested in the mathematics of relativity, there is a good book called _Einstein’s Theory: A Rigorous Introduction for the Mathematically Untrained_ co-authored by physicist Oyvind Gron and eco-philosopher Arne Naess (!). It starts from the basic concept of vectors and builds logically through each pertinent math concept carefully, step by step, without assuming any prior knowledge.
I am not saying that Einstein, or anyone, is beyond critique; it just seemed to me that certain assumptions germane to this critique on Einstein as it appeared in that section of your paper were not legitimate given that Einstein had addressed those assumptions in a way contrary to what was presented.

The article linked here seems to exhibit the same misconception about what Einstein was saying— i.e. that there was some kind of misplaced concreteness to his conception of space-time that dissociated it from the actual occasions of objects or events, or that there is only one universally valid coordinate system. Both of these things are contrarily explicitly refuted in Einstein’s own writing.

Justin, let’s step back for a second from critique to examine what these very different thinkers tried to construct. What do you see the major difference to be between Bergson and Einstein? Or between Whitehead and Einstein?
Or is it that you think Bergson and Whitehead were entirely mistaken about Einstein’s interpretation of relativity? That, in fact, he saw things exactly as they did in regard to space, time, and experience?

Einstein is a great contributor in the physical road to the end of time, the creation of of timeless description of the world. Julian Barbour continued on that road. Bergson began his philosophical journey with the realization that the time of physics is timeless. He was in the tradition of Heraclitus and nowadays Lee Smolin is one of the proponent of a physics that is not platonic and tried to eliminate time but that make everything changing.

  • I find the debate between Einstein and Bergson (and Einstein and Whitehead–which is a somewhat different sort of debate) among the most pregnant sites for philosophical inquiry that the last century has provided us with.

Re: “chaotic heteronomy” — By this I mean that the depths of reality do not necessarily obey the clear and distinct laws that mathematicians use to describe them. That is, these chaotic depths have norms other than those of the highly trained mathematical mind.

I said I am not here to debate; that is because with intelligent people it is called exchange of ideas. (This is probably the concluding part from my side, so pardon me for being long winded, a bit casual, and frighteningly candid, in this write up. You are free to keep it personal and not publish).
Yes, I agree that zero, once learnt, is very easy to make use of — even 3 year olds can do it. Let us replace "zero" with "iPhone", and see.
iPhone is also very easy to use, and the kids are in fact master users of it. This doesn't mean that iPhone is a simple invention. It is perhaps the most complex invention of humankind till date.
Logic works on the surface: but below the surface, emotions and creativity are involved. And all true geniuses operate from even below that, from the AdhyAtmic depths. For that to happen, cultural depth is required; IQ only measures the surface width, that is Logic, but in the end we find that only those nations become the most innovative that possess depth commensurate with the width.
The laws of Science are universal, do not change from one country to another, or from one university to the other university. Yet, we find that successful products in the same category differ greatly among the brands of the different producer countries. The modern equivalence of "Horse" are the Fighter Aircrafts: and we indeed observe a great variety from brand to brand.
So, this is the core competency of the RV: it's got the DEPTH.
That is why any sincere researcher of RV, if he is half certain that zero had origins in India and he knows the significance of the idea of identity, will start by looking if RV has got it somewhere in the depths. (it has)
Nations that are producing brands are good not only at plain logic but also the arts. Take the examples of the newcomers, Japan, S.Korea, etc; one can even predict the next kid on the block.
"What good simple praising of devatas can do?"
"What kind of competency is in THAT?"
Well, devatas are not the same as in the notion of Abrahamic God, though the problem is today it is extremely difficult to avoid that perspective because of its overwhelming dominance.
Devatas are an "Agent based understanding" of Reality surrounding us.
Studying the Western scholarship on Indic traditions, I found that there are two types of Indologies:
1) Worked by their Humanities departments, expounding AIT in one form or the other (and peer pressure is such this continues on). This may be negative, but ultimately has some hidden strategic advantages too: controlling people and managing their expectations all around the globe. For example, what good it will possibly do to the Pakistanis by telling them about their glorious past? It will only make them even more restless, and worse. As the (negative) saying goes, "people deserve what they get".
2) Worked by their Science & Tech guys. The NASA paper on "Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence" is well known, but what is not so well known is that since then a lot of acceptance was gained into the Agent based worldview of the world, which is now mainstream. This is "real Indology".
All this while our own people are bereft of food, education and basic dignity. But there have been one-off, the beggars, who were real bhaktas and attained deepest realisations into their chosen ishTa devatas, and attained the very same highest bliss that true geniuses achieve anywhere else.
Our universities were destroyed (we'll never know what they were teaching there, but without coming to the competency level we will not succeed either in creating neo Nalandas with mere brick and walls).
But Dharma survived by becoming thinly distributed all over the common peoples of Bharata. PurANa-s are the democratic records, the masterpieces, of such "beggar-bhakta-s". We kept Dharma safe and Dharma kept us safe.
But this all will be meaningless if we fail to become producers again. The biggest obstruction are the very people who claim to represent Hinduism spiritually or politically.

Recollections of a Freudian:  https://t.co/YoLjZLexab

Sri Aurobindo demands for a legitimate understanding and practice of his teaching. DB http://t.co/5UGcUbQXFG