Recent Posts

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General Misc. / Re: Video Game Thread! What are you playing?
« Last post by sciborg2 on Today at 08:17:47 pm »
Unavowed: Great little point-click adventure game. Your character is a bit different than the usual - you were possessed and murdered a LOT of people. After the demon is exorcised the Unavowed offer you cover from being arrested in return for your services.

Unworthy: 2-D Dark Souls, very basic graphics. Boss battles are fun, currently fighting the Heir of Ambition aka a fucking archer bastard who was murking me on the daily until I put the game to the side to take a break.

Have a bunch more, I usually grab a lot of pixel art games on sale...
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Philosophy & Science / On Logos
« Last post by sciborg2 on January 25, 2020, 05:06:19 am »
On Logos

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The extraordinary character of the sense-making animal may be highlighted by contrasting a wild animal looking for the origin of a threatening signal with a team of scientists listening into space to test a hypothesis about the Big Bang, having secured a large grant to do so.

This suggests another way of coming upon the miracle of our sense-making capacity. Consider the relative volumes of our heads (4 litres) and of the universe (4 x 1023 cubic light years). In our less-than-pin-pricks bonces, the universe comes to know itself as ‘the universe’ and some of its most general properties are understood. That this knowledge is incomplete does not diminish the achievement. Indeed, the intuition that our knowledge is bounded by ignorance, that things (causes, laws, mechanisms, distant places) may be concealed from us, that there are hidden truths, realities, modes of being, has been the necessary motor of our shared cognitive advance. Man, as the American philosopher Willard Quine said, is the creature who invented doubt – as well as measurement, provisional generalisation, and modes of active inquiry.

It takes two to tango. The fact that the world is intelligible clearly cannot be just down to us, otherwise our stories about how things hang together would be somewhere between myths and an evolving consensual hallucination. The balance between the contributions of what is out there and what is in us, between the extent to which the mind conforms to the universe and the universe has mind-compatible properties, is an issue that has had a long history, shared between theology and philosophy.

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We cannot be sure when something equivalent to Logos first made its appearance in our conversation with ourselves. Some scholars trace it back to the Pyramid Texts of Heliopolis, nearly 2,500 years before St John wrote his gospel. From the primal waters the god Atum arose: he was the light of the rising sun and the embodiment of the conscious Word or Logos, the essence of life.

The Egyptian Logos does not map clearly on to what Logos subsequently became. The term was in common use when the Pre-Socratic philosophers – those “tyrants of the spirit who wanted to reach the core of all being with one leap” as Nietzsche characterised them in Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks – employed it, partly to pat themselves on the back for their own reason-based approach to questions about the nature of the cosmos. Although Logos referred to the way human rationality was reflected or expressed in discourse, it also captured the philosophers’ trust in their own arguments and explanations, and the sense of their awakening from the sleep of Mythos. The boundaries between Mythos – stories told as religious myths or in works of art – and Logos – a reasoned account – will always be contested, and their respective claims to truth likewise. After all, myths, too, are reasoned accounts of a kind: they make sense of making sense, and they use words. What’s more, reason itself operates on a given experience of the world, established long before reason does its work. Hence the endless returns of Mythos.

Logos was central to Heraclitus’s philosophy. According to F.M. Cornford in From Religion to Philosophy (1912), Heraclitus developed – “in flashes of mental lightning” – the notion of Logos as being both the rational structure of the world and the source of that structure. Reason was present in all things. This was asserted against the materialism of the Ionian philosophers, for whom the world was just what was visible. By contrast, Logos was an invisible, immanent reason – the general plan ensuring that the world was an ordered Cosmos rather than a disordered Chaos. It was the hidden harmony behind the discords and antagonisms of existence; behind the eternal war between the elements that kept Being in motion, leaving nothing immune from change. This rational order of things did not itself make the world conscious or thoughtful. Rather, the world became conscious and thoughtful in the human Logos, whose most developed representative was the philosopher himself, in whom the human Logos was united with the Logos of the Cosmos. Making sense of the world was the result of a marriage between microcosmic human Logos and the macrocosmic Logos of the universe itself. Logos provided the link between rational discourse and the world’s rational structure.

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These ideas inspired the Stoics, for whom the Logos was a supreme directive principle, the source of all the activity and rationality of an ordered world that was both intelligible and intelligent. It was the ‘seminal reason’ or underlying principle of the world, manifest in all the phenomena of nature. It acted as a kind of force, conferring inner unity on bodies and on the world as a whole, and at the same time guaranteed the intelligibility of the world to humans, since the human soul participated in the cosmic Logos. It is also because the one Logos is present in many human souls that we are able to communicate with each other: we all partake of ‘common sense’. The Stoics’ message was that humans were truly happy only when they were living in a state of harmony in which the Logos of their own soul resonated with the universal Logos, the harmony of nature.

For Philo of Alexandria, a first century Jewish philosopher steeped in Greek thought, the Logos was the model according to which the universe was created. It encompassed the creative principle, divine wisdom, the image of God, and man, the word of the eternal God. At the same time, it was the archetype of human reason, that through which the supreme God made contact with His creation. Logos is the intermediary between God and the world, the creator and His creation.

Which brings us back to the Christian notion of Jesus Christ as Logos. The Logos was the means by which God let Himself into a privileged part of His own creation – humanity. Philo’s connecting the ‘divine thought’ with ‘the image’ and ‘the first-born son of God’, ‘the archpriest’ and ‘the intercessor’, paved the way for the Christian conception of the incarnate ‘word become flesh’, and so of the Trinity. The Word by which He made the world, His law, and indeed Himself, known to man, was now identified with Christ. In the New Testament, the Logos is the Word, the wisdom of God, the reason in all things, and God Himself.
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Philosophy & Science / Why Religion Is Not Going Away and Science Will Not Destroy It
« Last post by sciborg2 on January 25, 2020, 12:38:48 am »
Why Religion Is Not Going Away and Science Will Not Destroy It

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The conflict model of science and religion offered a mistaken view of the past and, when combined with expectations of secularisation, led to a flawed vision of the future. Secularisation theory failed at both description and prediction. The real question is why we continue to encounter proponents of science-religion conflict. Many are prominent scientists. It would be superfluous to rehearse Richard Dawkins’s musings on this topic, but he is by no means a solitary voice. Stephen Hawking thinks that ‘science will win because it works’; Sam Harris has declared that ‘science must destroy religion’; Stephen Weinberg thinks that science has weakened religious certitude; Colin Blakemore predicts that science will eventually make religion unnecessary. Historical evidence simply does not support such contentions. Indeed, it suggests that they are misguided.

So why do they persist? The answers are political. Leaving aside any lingering fondness for quaint 19th-century understandings of history, we must look to the fear of Islamic fundamentalism, exasperation with creationism, an aversion to alliances between the religious Right and climate-change denial, and worries about the erosion of scientific authority. While we might be sympathetic to these concerns, there is no disguising the fact that they arise out of an unhelpful intrusion of normative commitments into the discussion. Wishful thinking – hoping that science will vanquish religion – is no substitute for a sober assessment of present realities. Continuing with this advocacy is likely to have an effect opposite to that intended.

Religion is not going away any time soon, and science will not destroy it. If anything, it is science that is subject to increasing threats to its authority and social legitimacy. Given this, science needs all the friends it can get. Its advocates would be well advised to stop fabricating an enemy out of religion, or insisting that the only path to a secure future lies in a marriage of science and secularism.
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General Misc. / Re: Quotes
« Last post by sciborg2 on January 23, 2020, 10:28:04 pm »
“There will remain a certain sphere which will be outside physics ... It is obvious that a man who can see knows things which a blind man cannot know; but a blind man can know the whole of physics.”
- Bertrand Russell

"We can recognize a materialist author by his habit of using the traditional forms of Christian piety in speaking about the material world.'
 – RG Collingwood
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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« Last post by Wilshire on January 23, 2020, 02:19:52 pm »
The Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (4)

Not the biggest fan of the setting, theme, or hook. Modern day fantasy, murder mystery, ivy league secret societies, respectively.
That said, it still was a very well written book that was enjoyable to read. I can understand why it got the attention that it did last year (2019), though I don't think it deserved to be goodreads "best fantasy of the year". The prose is great, and is what makes it worth reading. Bardugo was able to keep me interested in the book despite what I said above, and I think that's pretty impressive.

So if you like the setting/theme/hook above, definitely check this out. Its also set up for a sequel which could go an interesting direction, and I think I liked Ninth House enough to check it out whenever it gets released.
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Philosophy & Science / Re: Secrets of Math From the Bee Whisperer
« Last post by H on January 22, 2020, 08:54:33 pm »
IIRC, wasn't it shown that ants navigate by math?  That is, they may take a meandering path from point A to B, but they can take the straight-line path back from B to A because they mathematically "know" how many steps they've taken and so the actual distance covered away from the origin point.
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Philosophy & Science / Secrets of Math From the Bee Whisperer
« Last post by sciborg2 on January 22, 2020, 08:10:50 pm »
Secrets of Math From the Bee Whisperer

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It might seem a little strange — bees are insects, after all; what do they know about mathematics? A lot, it turns out. These eusocial flying insects can add, subtract and even comprehend the concept of zero.

“You can see their decision-making process in their movements and flight patterns,” Howard said. While deciding which of two answers is correct, they often fly toward one of the solutions before seeming to think better of it and flying off toward the other.

Howard teaches one bee at a time, placing it next to an apparatus known as a Y maze, a covered box shaped like a block letter Y. The bee enters the bottom leg of the Y and sees a mathematical question, expressed in shapes and colors. In the arithmetic lessons, blue shapes mean “add 1” to the given number of shapes, and yellow shapes mean “subtract 1.” To answer the question, the bee chooses from one of two possible solutions posted at the entrances to the Y’s upper arms. The bee will find a reward — sugar water — in the arm associated with the correct answer, and a punishment — tonic water, which bees find bitter — in the arm with the incorrect answer.

To teach bees about zero, she first trained them to understand the concept of “less than.” As with the addition and subtraction problems, she offered reinforcements for correct choices. Once an individual bee demonstrated it understood “less than,” she advanced that bee to the testing phase of her experiment, where it would decide if any number of shapes is less than zero shapes — a number the bee had never encountered before. Each bee had only one chance to answer. The bees often identified “zero shapes” as smaller than any number of shapes, and Howard concluded that they must possess an innate understanding that zero is smaller than any positive integer.

For each experiment, Howard trains and tests approximately 100 random bees from the thousands in her hives. Handling them is simple enough. After each correct choice, the bee flies back to the hive on its own, to offload its sweet reward. Then, at some point, it’ll come back. That’s because bees are central place foragers, meaning they will remember the experiment and return to it for additional resources. To prepare for her next pupil, Howard changes the stimuli on the Y maze. She has hundreds, possibly thousands of stimuli printed and laminated.

“They’re laminated so we can clean them with ethanol, because bees will scent-mark,” said Howard. “They’ll do anything to cheat the tests. They’re smart! They’ll mark the correct answer. Bees are not as simple as we used to think they are. Or even as some people still think they are.”
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General Misc. / Re: Quotes
« Last post by sciborg2 on January 22, 2020, 07:21:50 pm »
“There will remain a certain sphere which will be outside physics ... It is obvious that a man who can see knows things which a blind man cannot know; but a blind man can know the whole of physics.”
- Bertrand Russell
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General Misc. / Re: What are you watching?
« Last post by TaoHorror on January 21, 2020, 07:53:55 pm »
I watch so much fucking television, you'all don't need to watch any of it, just wait for my reviews  ;D

I watched The Irishman. Long movie, but very well done. It was a real treat getting to see Pacino, Dinero and Pesci all on the same screen at once, pretty cool. Pacino and Dinero's parts were not new to them, but still excellent per usual. Pesci stole the show, he really strutted his acting chops in this thing. It's worth the investment, I'll put more on kinda spoilery

(click to show/hide)

I watched The Witcher. I liked it. After a few episodes, it appeared to be just a rehash of the short stories in the first book, which I read and I initially thought that was a mistake as a collection of stories with no epic tale would be boring. But stuck with it and glad I did as as an epic story does emerge. The magic is, well, hmm ... not sure what to make of it, it's very witchy and fairy tale-esc, seems both limited and unlimited and depends on the sorcerer's gifts - I guess we're supposed to learn that on our own, which is good the show doesn't hold your hand on everything - but that said, it's challenging to write overly powerful characters and abilities as you can always think, "why didn't they do that, they did it before ... ". Given the OP nature of the magic, they still did a descent job with it.

Caville did a good Witcher - not too challenging due to the lack of dialogue with the character, just brooding around being a badass, but he did it well. The monsters and lore all fairy tale style, quite a bit of violence, typical fantasy female hotty tropes and nudity ( not tasteful, but also doesn't seem too gratuitous, but that could be me becoming jaded ).

It is very well directed, doesn't hold your hand, we're on our own to piece it all together. There are time jumps with no date/time stamps, but it was fun to keep up and it beautifully weaves together toward the climax. And there are no maps either, so you're having to visualize the continent ( which has no name, it's just The Continent ). This is a strength of the show, it doesn't mire you in a historical introduction and just gets right into it.  I think you cats would dig it, not the greatest thing ever, but it's different enough and good enough to enjoy it.
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Philosophy & Science / Re: If You Find This World Bad, You Should See Some of the Others
« Last post by H on January 20, 2020, 01:40:43 pm »
The first one is certainly an experience that resonates for me, even more so the older I get.
Is it an appeal to something like Socrates' notion of "recollection" or the Platonic notion of innate ideas?

But, of course, my twisted mind can bring this to something like Hegel's notion of retroactivity, and perhaps something also about "over-determination."
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