Sunday, August 26, 2007

Gaping Hole Found in the Universe

Again, at Reuters:

A giant hole in the Universe is devoid of galaxies, stars and even lacks dark matter, astronomers said on Thursday.



Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Maybe Stephen Hawking created it, and we're all helping it grow by our assent.

Just going along with you here.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Tom, you're making even less sense than you used to...something which, a priori I would have thought impossible...

4:25 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Oh, you're no fun anymore.

5:53 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Translation: "You're not the man I married!"

Probable continuation:

WS: "What are you talking about?"

News: "We've just learned the man's name is 'Tom Van Dyke' and he's threatening to kill the hostages if his husband doesn't show up. His wife has no idea what he's talking about, but police have located what they're calling a 'shrine' to a man named 'Winston Smith' - more at 6:00."

12:39 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Sorry, Tom, I thought you were serious. My bad, and I apologize.

Tone is difficult to discern on these things.

But suggesting that I'm some kind of social constructionist is fightin' words in my book. Hence my ire.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I dunno what you are even after all this time, my friend. No clue.

I do know that Peirce thought that amoebas have consciousness. This is a somewhat radical claim, at least in the West. So too that the laws of nature are evolving. The ramifications of these propositions can lead almost anywhere.

I find them interesting, and it's unfortunate that Peirce got to them rather late in life and didn't flesh them out.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, Tom, you're far closer to being a relativist or a social constructionist than I am. Your occasional advocacy of the divine command theory, for example, puts you firmly in the same ballpark as cultural moral relativists, the DCT and CMR being just two versions of a very similar view.

Peirce didn't exactly think that amoebas are conscious, and not exactly in the way we ordinarily think of consciousness. Rather, he thought that consciousness was a phenomenon that in some way pervades the world. We lie fairly far along the continuum. Amoebas differ from us so vastly in degree that (as I understand it) it's easily mistaken for a difference in kind.

Also: I'm not even sure that he actually *thought* this...though he did suggest it, and he thought that it made sense of a lot of things. I think he sort of semi-thought it.

One advantage to his view is that you don't have consciousness magically appearing in human minds. It's a fundamental feature of the universe, it's just more concentrated in some places.

Not saying I think it's true, just waving a hand at a certain theoretical advantage the view has.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Oh, it's quite logical, even in its wigginess. One would expect that from Peirce, whose triadic method of reason seems to be finding great favor in the science world even today.

Since one can be a Thomist and an atheist (see Murray Rothbard), the divine command theory is off the table. (Strangely, it was the pagan Stoics, whom everybody digs because they weren't Christian, who leaned on that.)

Suarez and Grotius explicitly stated that if there were no God (perish the thought), natural law still would not change a jog or tittle.

Now, great philosophical minds have decreed that natural law theory "doesn't work," but like any inquiry, the development of the notion isn't a finished product, and perish the thought that any proper philosophical inquiry asserts it has found the answers.

At best a "school" of philosophy is merely an appraoch.

There's a certain prejudice in the academy that makes it detour around medieval Christian thought, but those guys knew their Plato and Aristotle as well as anyone, and still do today. There was not a jump from Athens to Paris and London; the road leads through Rome, and one need not even make a stop in Jerusalem.

As a logical rule, I also tend to favor the idea that a great deal of quantity can appear to be a difference in kind. Is the genius qualitatively different from a non-genius, or does he just have a lot more of the Right Stuff than everybody else? Are there non-philosophers, or does everybody philosophize merely in greater or lesser degrees?

Still, and unknown in Peirce's time, if you put enough enriched uranium together and achieve a critical mass (or enough mass itself together), you get a BOOM!, an atomic explosion or the birth of a star. Even more mass, a black hole.

Since he was first and foremost a scientist (he may even have predicted the Uncertainty Principle), I wonder what the scientific advances of the 20th century would have done to his pragmatical metaphysical musings. A star is qualitatively different from a non-star mass. So might it be with consciousness. How, or more importantly, why, well, Jerusalem has its own theory...

4:51 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Uh...not sure what to say about much of that.

As for "his triadic method of reasoning"...if you mean abduction+deduction+induction, scientists have used that all along.

Only philosophers have tried to make deduction and induction do all the work.

As for NLT being a work in progress...well, the versions that seem promising leave God behind, and don't look much at all like versions that are friendly to theistic versions. One can always say 'maybe someday'...but it's a fairly weak defense.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

The theistic versions simply run parallel, otherwaise they indeed would be DCT. Suarez and Grotius were hundreds of years ago and had made the break, explicitly. I had brought up John Finnis in hopes you were aware of his work, which is more formal than I can deal with at this time.

As for Peirce's triadic method, I was talking about some stuff I ran across where he's recently been incorporated by the sciences into software, as it were, and also that there was a formal proof 10 or 20 years ago of the validity of his "triadic," not just the traditional conception of "dyadic." I thought you might be able to expound and edify because he's your boy. A bit over my head, but interesting as hell, and also accrues to his worthiness as a thinker.

6:06 PM  

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