“ "A human being is a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, of the temporal and the eternal, of freedom and necessity." ”—Søren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher (1813-1855), “Sickness Unto Death” in Basic Writings of Existentialism, edited and with an introduction by Gordon Marino, New York: The Modern Library, p. 41.
“Rudolf Carnap on the logical structure of the world
“We do not wish to make either a negative or positive value judgment about faith and intuition (in the non-rational sense). They are areas of life just like poetry and love. Like these latter areas, they can of course become objects of science (for there is nothing which could not become an object of science), but, as far as their content is concerned, they are altogether different from science. These non-rational areas, on the one hand, and science, on the other hand, can neither confirm nor disprove one another. (…)
The problem of mind-body dualism: are there two essentially different object types? Answer: the physical and the psychological are two different forms of order (analogy: stellar constellations) of the basic elements. There is only one kind of basic element, yet there are not only two, but very many, different ways of ordering them. This is no peculiarity of the empirical world, but holds analytically of any ordered domain.” ”—Rudolf Carnap, The Logical Structure of the World, and Pseudoproblems in Philosophy, 1967; originally published in 1928; translated from the German by Rolf A. George thx mhsteger
“ "I feel like there’s this tension that goes on in business and especially in marketing, this conceit that we can take humans—you know, messy, irrational, organic—and somehow cut them open and figure out the binary, rational, predictable, money-making algorithms that determine what they do.
You see all this harnessing of science, you know, whether it’s neuro-this or lie detector-that or psychotherapy-this that gets used in the service of, not helping people, but helping marketers crack the nut of what people want, where is the desire center in the brain. You know, that we can learn things about people in a way that is “true”—that is predictable and true, and will determine consumption patterns. I find the idea that we should be able to do that just fascinating, because that’s not the world of people that we live in as people, so why as marketers or designers or producers do we think that we should turn people into things that they really aren’t?” ”—Steve Portigal, from a fascinating discussion transposed here. (tnx chrbutler)
“ "Every one of us is precious in the cosmic perspective. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another." ”—Carl Sagan, Cosmos, Random House, New York, 1980, p. 339
“ "File cabinets and human minds are information-storage systems. We could model computerized information-storage on the mind instead of the file cabinet if we wanted to.
Elements stored in a mind do not have names and are not organized into folders; are retrieved not by name or folder but by contents. (Hear a voice, think of a face: you’ve retrieved a memory that contains the voice as one component). You can see everything in your memory from the standpoint of past, present and future. Using a file cabinet, you classify information when you put it in; minds classify information when it is taken out. (…)
The lifestream (or some other system with the same properties) will become the most important information-organizing structure in computing — because even a rough imitation of the human mind is vastly more powerful than the most sophisticated file cabinet ever conceived.” ”—David Gelernter, The Second Coming - A manifesto, Edge
“ "There may be nothing new under the sun, but permutation of the old within complex system can do wonders." ”—Stephen Jay Gould, 1977, American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and historian of science (1941-2002)
“ “He who knows nothing, loves nothing. He who can do nothing understands nothing. He who understands nothing is worthless. But he who understands also loves, notices, sees… The more knowledge is inherent in a thing, the greater the love. Anyone who imagines that all fruits ripen at the same time as the strawberries knows nothing about grapes.” ”—Paracelsus, cited in Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving, Harper & Row, New York, 1956
“ "We learn and teach words in certain contexts, and then we are expected, and expect others, to be able to project them into further contexts. Nothing insures that this projection will take place (in particular, not the grasping of universals nor the grasping of books of rules), just as nothing insures that we will make, and understand, the same projections. That on the whole we do is a matter of our sharing routes of interest and feeling, modes of response, senses of humour and of significance and of fulfilment (…) – all the whirl of organism Wittgenstein calls ‘forms of life’. Human speech and activity, sanity and community, rest upon nothing more, but nothing less, than this." ”—Stanley Cavell, ‘Must We Mean What We Say?’
“ "Now that physics is proving the intelligence of the universe, what are we to do about the stupidity of mankind? I include myself. I know that the Earth is not flat, but my feet are. I know that space is curved, but my brain has been cordoned by habit to grow in a straight line. What I call light is my own blend of darkness. What I call a view is my hand-painted trompe-l’oeil. I run after knowledge like a ferret down a ferret hole. My limitations, I call the boundaries of what can be known. I interpret the world by confusing other people’s psychology with my own. I say I am open-minded, but what I think is." ”— Jeanette Winterson, Gut Symmetries (via homeofthevain)
“ "Homo sapiens, the first truly free species, is about to decommission natural selection, the force that made us… Soon we must look deep within ourselves and decide what we wish to become." ”—Edward O. Wilson, American biologist, researcher in sociobiology, biodiversity, theorist, naturalist and author.
“ "What truly is logic? Who decides reason? My quest has taken me to the physical, the metaphysical, the delusional, and back. I have made the most important discovery of my career - the most important discovery of my life. It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reason can be found. I am only here tonight because of you. You are the only reason I am. You are all my reasons." ”—John Nash, from A Beautiful Mind
“ "Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however they may seem, uniquely determined by the external world. In our endeavor to understand reality we are somewhat like a man trying to understand the mechanism of a closed watch. He sees the face and the moving hands, even hears its ticking, but he has no way to open the case. If he is ingenious he may form some picture of a mechanism which could be responsible for all of the things he observes, but he may never be quite sure his picture is the only one which could explain his observations. He will never be able to compare his picture with the real mechanism and he cannot even imagine the possibility or the meaning of such a comparison. But he certainly believes that, as his knowledge increases, his picture of reality will become simpler and simpler and will explain a wider and wider range of his sensuous impressions. He may also believe in the existence of the ideal limit of knowledge and that it is approached by the human mind. He may call this ideal limit the objective truth." ”—Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld in The Evolution of Physics: From Early Concepts to Relativity and Quanta, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1966, p. 31. Originally published 1938. (Source)
"The super-national character of scientific concepts and scientific language is due to the fact that they have been set up by the best brains of all countries and all times. In solitude and yet in cooperative efforts as regards the final effect they created the spiritual tools for the technical revolutions which have transformed the life of mankind in the last centuries. Their system of concepts have served as a guide in the bewildering chaos of perceptions so that we learned to grasp general truths from particular observations.
What hopes and fears does the scientific method imply for mankind? I do not think that this is the right way to put the question. Whatever this tool in the hand of man will produce depends entirely on the nature of the goals alive in this mankind. Once these goals exist, the scientific method furnishes means to realize them. Yet it cannot furnish the very goals. The scientific method itself would not have led anywhere, it would not even have been born without a passionate striving for clear understanding.
Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem—in my opinion—to characterize our age. If we desire sincerely and passionately the safety, the welfare and the free development of the talents of all men, we shall not be in want of the means to approach such a state. Even if only a small part of mankind strives for such goals, their superiority will prove itself in the long run.”
“Another feature of wisdom that could be considered for inclusion in the category of universals is that wisdom has a strong foundation in the social and the collective, that wisdom is collective knowledge. Thus one could make the point that wisdom is the hallmark of cultural evolution and collaborative production associated with cooperation and discourse. Furthermore, one can extract from historical work the argument that wisdom is a body of knowledge that is not located in individuals (Baltes & Smith, 1990; Staudinger, 1996).
On the contrary, one could argue that individuals are but weak carriers of wisdom. Rather, wisdom is collective knowledge about the conduct and meaning of life; and as a body of collective knowledge it includes multiple facets and styles of knowing and acting. Yet to include this view of wisdom in the category of universals would violate another part of the wisdom literature, namely the strong emphasis placed on the existence of so-called sages or wise persons such as Solomon.” ”—Paul B. Baltes in Wisdom as Orchestration of Mind and Virtue (pdf), p. 21., cited in Entersection
“ "The starships of the future, in other words the vehicles of the future, which will explore the high frontier of the unknown will be syntactical. The engineers of the future will be poets. This is what virtual reality holds out to us—the possibility of walking in to the constructs of the imagination. In a way culture is that. I mean our cities, bridges, highways, airliners and art galleries are condensations out of the imagination, but at tremendous cost because we must make them out of matter.
Once we can make them out of light, out of electrons, then we won’t build skyscrapers a hundred and twenty stories high, we’ll build them as high as we want. Roof height will no longer be a factor ruled by cost effectiveness and gravity, it will be a parameter ruled by the imagination as will all other parameters and then we will discover what man truly is—when we are able to erect, stabilize, share and explore our dreams in a kind of virtual hyperspace that, carefully analyzed, is seen to be linguistic. That’s what its connectors are made out of, that’s what its ferro-concrete and steel is, is the edifice of language. This is what the stuff of the imagination is made of and I think this is what we’re moving toward.” ”—Terence McKenna,Ordinary Language, Visible Language and Virtual Reality
“Terence McKenna: “Culture replaces authentic feeling with words”
“Cultural conditioning is like software, but beneath the software is the hardware of brain and organism and by dissolving the cultural conditioning to speak English, German, Swahili or whatever, then one returns to this ur-sprach, this primal language of the animal body and can explore the real dimension of feeling that culture has a tendency to cut us off from. Culture replaces authentic feeling with words.
As an example of this, imagine an infant lying in its cradle, and the window is open, and into the room comes something, marvelous, mysterious, glittering, shedding light of many colors, movement, sound, a tranformative hierophany of integrated perception and the child is enthralled and then the mother comes into the room and she says to the child, “that’s a bird, baby, that’s a bird,” instantly the complex wave of the angel peacock irridescent transformative mystery is collapsed, into the word. All mystery is gone, the child learns this is a bird, this is a bird, and by the time we’re five or six years old all the mystery of reality has been carefully tiled over with words. This is a bird, this is a house, this is the sky, and we seal ourselves in within a linguistic shell of disempowered perception, and what the psychedelics do is they burst apart this cultural envelope of confinement and return us really to the legacy and birthright of the organism.” ”—Terence McKenna,Ordinary Language, Visible Language and Virtual Reality
“ "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." ”—William Butler Yeaths, Irish poet and dramatist, and one of the most popular figures of 20th century literature among pro-Irish Americans (1865-1939)
I want to suggest that understanding depends on the sense you make of what is said or written. If the concepts the words have called up in you, and the way the sentences have prompted you to relate them, yield a conceptual network that fits the context created by what came before and is not countermanded by anything the speaker says or does now, then you assume that you have understood what he or she intended.
This, of course, is a simplification. What I called context is usually a hierarchy of different contextual levels, such as your past experiences with the speaker or author, your own construction of the experiential world in general, certain expectations you have formed, and other things as well. However, the point I want to emphasize is that on all levels it is a question of fit - not a question of receiving or reproducing conceptual structures that originated in the speaker’s head. What a speaker or author wants to say is forever inaccessible - you can only interpret what he or she actually said.”