25 OCT 2017 by ideonexus

 The Importance of Networks in the Enlightenment

Like the Reformation, the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment were network-driven phenomena, yet they spread faster and farther. This reflected the importance of acquaintances in correspondence networks such as Voltaire’s and Benjamin Franklin’s, communities that might otherwise have remained subdivided into national clusters. It also reflected the way that new social organizations—notably, Freemasonry—increased the connectedness of like-minded men, despite established divisio...
Folksonomies: networks enlightenment
Folksonomies: networks enlightenment
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15 JUN 2016 by ideonexus

 The Singularity of the Human Species

The singularity of the human species, 1 the study and defence of which form the plan of this work, stands out principally in the actual characteristics of what we shall call in these pages the Noosphere (or thinking envelope) of the earth. But just because, forming a true singularity (and not a simple irregularity) in evolutionary matter, humanity is born not by an accident but from the prolonged play of the forces of cosmogenesis, its roots must theoretically be recognisable (as in fact they...
Folksonomies: evolution science culture
Folksonomies: evolution science culture
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30 JAN 2015 by ideonexus

 It is No Accident that We Inhabit a Veritable Paradise

Imagine a spaceship full of sleeping explorers, deep-frozen would-be colonists of some distant world. Perhaps the ship is on a forlorn mission to save the species before an unstoppable comet, like the one that killed the dinosaurs, hits the home planet. The voyagers go into the deep-freeze soberly reckoning the odds against their spaceship's ever chancing upon a planet friendly to life. If one in a million planets is suitable at best, and it takes centuries to travel from each star to the nex...
Folksonomies: evolution chance existence
Folksonomies: evolution chance existence
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03 SEP 2011 by ideonexus

 Pavlov's Conditioning and Humans

The dog [in Pavlov's experiments] does not continue to salivate whenever it hears a bell unless sometimes at least an edible offering accompanies the bell. But there are innumerable instances in human life where a single association, never reinforced, results in the establishment of a life-long dynamic system. An experience associated only once with a bereavement, an accident, or a battle, may become the center of a permanent phobia or complex, not in the least dependent on a recurrence of th...
Folksonomies: psychology conditioning
Folksonomies: psychology conditioning
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Humans can be conditioned by a single experience, while the dog must have regular conditioning to continue salivating at the sound of a bell.

25 JUL 2011 by ideonexus

 Be Mindful of Experience

There remains simple experience which, if taken as it comes, is called accident; if sought for, experiment. But this kind of experience is no better than a broom without its band, as the saying is — a mere groping, as of men in the dark, that feel all round them for the chance of finding their way, when they had much better wait for daylight, or light a candle, and then go. But the true method of experience, on the contrary, first lights the candle, and then by means of the candle shows the...
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Do not grope around in the dark, but light a candle of scientific understanding before venturing into experiences.

02 JUN 2011 by ideonexus

 Where We are Born Determines Our Religion

...the accidents of birth and geography determine to a very large extent to what faith we belong. The chances are very great that if you were born in Pakistan you are a Muslim, or a Hindu if you happened to be born in India, or a Shintoist if it is Japan, and a Christian if you were born in Italy. I don't know what significant fact can be drawn from this -- perhaps that we should not succumb too easily to the temptation to exclusiveness and dogmatic claims to a monopoly of the truth of our pa...
Folksonomies: religion secularism faith
Folksonomies: religion secularism faith
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Desmond Tutu makes a thoughtful point about how our parents determine our religion, which means we should not claim a monopoly on truth by our own faith, which was determined by accident.

29 MAY 2011 by ideonexus

 Spiritual Naturalist Definition of God

So this is my Credo. I am an atheist, if by God one means a transcendent Person who acts willfully within the creation. I am an agnostic in that I believe our knowledge of "what is" is partial and tentative-a tiny flickering flame in the overwhelming shadows of our ignorance. I am a pantheist in that I believe empirical knowledge of the sensate world is the surest revelation of whatever is worth being called divine. I am a Catholic by accident of birth.
Folksonomies: religion god
Folksonomies: religion god
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Not a personification, but a nebulous concept meant to be explored.

20 MAY 2011 by ideonexus

 The Fact of Our Own Existence

The fact of our own existence is almost too surprising to bear. So is the fact that we are surrounded by a rich ecosystem of animals that more or less closely resemble us, by plants that resemble us a little less and on which we ultimately depend for our nourishment, and by bacteria that resemble our remoter ancestors and to which we shall all return in decay when our time is past. Darwin was way ahead of his time in understanding the magnitude of the problem of our existence, as well as in t...
Folksonomies: nature wonder natural law
Folksonomies: nature wonder natural law
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An eloquent rebuttal to the Anthropogenic principle.

21 APR 2011 by ideonexus

 Guy Steele on Programming as Magic

I think it's not an accident that we often use the imagery of magic to describe programming. We speak of computing Wizards and we think of things happening by magic or automagically. And I think that's because being able to get a machine to do what you want is the closest thing we've got in technology to adolescent wish-fulfillment. And if you look at the fairy tales, people want to be able to just think in their minds what they want, wave their hands, and it happens. And of course the fair...
Folksonomies: computer science magic
Folksonomies: computer science magic
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Programming computers provides the individual total control over a system, a kind of magic that appeals to young minds.

03 JAN 2011 by ideonexus

 The Evolution of Culture

What science is, I think, may be something like this: There was on this planet an evolution of life to the stage that there were evolved animals, which are intelligent. I don't mean just human beings, but animals which play and which can learn something from experience (like cats). But at this stage each animal would have to learn from its own experience. They gradually develop, until some animal coudl learn from experience by watching, or one could show the other, or he saw what the other on...
Folksonomies: science memetics culture
Folksonomies: science memetics culture
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Although Feynman calls it "time-binding," this sounds very much like memetics.