Log24

Friday, September 17, 2004

Friday September 17, 2004

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:00 PM

God is in…
The Details

From an entry for Aug. 19, 2003 on
conciseness, simplicity, and objectivity:

Above: Dr. Harrison Pope, Harvard professor of psychiatry, demonstrates the use of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale "block design" subtest.

Another Harvard psychiatrist, Armand Nicholi, is in the news lately with his book The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life.

Pope

Nicholi

Old
Testament
Logos

New
Testament
Logos

For the meaning of the Old-Testament logos above, see the remarks of Plato on the immortality of the soul at

Cut-the-Knot.org.

For the meaning of the New-Testament logos above, see the remarks of R. P. Langlands at

The Institute for Advanced Study.

On Harvard and psychiatry: see

The Crimson Passion:
A Drama at Mardi Gras

(February 24, 2004)

This is a reductio ad absurdum of the Harvard philosophy so eloquently described by Alston Chase in his study of Harvard and the making of the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski.  Kaczynski's time at Harvard overlapped slightly with mine, so I may have seen him in Cambridge at some point.  Chase writes that at Harvard, the Unabomber "absorbed the message of positivism, which demanded value-neutral reasoning and preached that (as Kaczynski would later express it in his journal) 'there is no logical justification for morality.'" I was less impressed by Harvard positivism, although I did benefit from a course in symbolic logic from Quine.  At that time– the early 60's– little remained at Harvard of what Robert Stone has called "our secret culture," that of the founding Puritans– exemplified by Cotton and Increase Mather.

From Robert Stone, A Flag for Sunrise:

"Our secret culture is as frivolous as a willow on a tombstone.  It's a wonderful thing– or it was.  It was strong and dreadful, it was majestic and ruthless.  It was a stranger to pity.  And it's not for sale, ladies and gentlemen."

Some traces of that culture:

A web page
in Australia:

A contemporary
Boston author:

Click on pictures for details.

A more appealing view of faith was offered by PBS on Wednesday night, the beginning of this year's High Holy Days:

Armand Nicholi: But how can you believe something that you don't think is true, I mean, certainly, an intelligent person can't embrace something that they don't think is true — that there's something about us that would object to that.

Jeremy Fraiberg: Well, the answer is, they probably do believe it's true.

Armand Nicholi: But how do they get there? See, that's why both Freud and Lewis was very interested in that one basic question. Is there an intelligence beyond the universe? And how do we answer that question? And how do we arrive at the answer of that question?

Michael Shermer: Well, in a way this is an empirical question, right? Either there is or there isn't.

Armand Nicholi: Exactly.

Michael Shermer: And either we can figure it out or we can't, and therefore, you just take the leap of faith or you don't.

Armand Nicholi: Yeah, now how can we figure it out?

Winifred Gallagher: I think something that was perhaps not as common in their day as is common now — this idea that we're acting as if belief and unbelief were two really radically black and white different things, and I think for most people, there's a very — it's a very fuzzy line, so that —

Margaret Klenck: It's always a struggle.

Winifred Gallagher: Rather than — I think there's some days I believe, and some days I don't believe so much, or maybe some days I don't believe at all.

Doug Holladay: Some hours.

Winifred Gallagher: It's a, it's a process. And I think for me the big developmental step in my spiritual life was that — in some way that I can't understand or explain that God is right here right now all the time, everywhere.

Armand Nicholi: How do you experience that?

Winifred Gallagher: I experience it through a glass darkly, I experience it in little bursts. I think my understanding of it is that it's, it's always true, and sometimes I can see it and sometimes I can't. Or sometimes I remember that it's true, and then everything is in Technicolor. And then most of the time it's not, and I have to go on faith until the next time I can perhaps see it again. I think of a divine reality, an ultimate reality, uh, would be my definition of God.

Winifred
Gallagher

Sangaku

Gallagher seemed to be the only participant in the PBS discussion that came close to the Montessori ideals of conciseness, simplicity, and objectivity.  Dr. Montessori intended these as ideals for teachers, but they seem also to be excellent religious values.  Just as the willow-tombstone seems suited to Geoffrey Hill's style, the Pythagorean sangaku pictured above seems appropriate to the admirable Gallagher.

1 Comment

  1. Herman Melville dedicated his final volume of poetry to “Winifred” – a pet name for his wife.

    Comment by stephenhoy — Friday, September 17, 2004 @ 6:46 PM

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