Log24

Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday December 29, 2006

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 11:01 AM
Tools
of Christ Church

"For every kind of vampire,
there is a kind of cross."
— Thomas Pynchon

Cover of Thomas, by Shelley Mydans: Sword and its shadow, a cross

Click on picture for details.

Today is the feast
of St. Thomas Becket.

In his honor, a meditation
on tools and causation:

"Lewis Wolpert, an eminent developmental biologist at University College London, has just published Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a pleasant, though rambling, look at the biological basis of belief. While the book focuses on our ability to form causal beliefs about everyday matters (the wind moved the trees, for example), it spends considerable time on the origins of religious and moral beliefs. Wolpert defends the unusual idea that causal thinking is an adaptation required for tool-making. Religious beliefs can thus be seen as an odd extension of causal thinking about technology to more mysterious matters. Only a species that can reason causally could assert that 'this storm was sent by God because we sinned.' While Wolpert's attitude toward religion is tolerant, he's an atheist who seems to find religion more puzzling than absorbing."

Review by H. Allen Orr in
The New York Review of Books,
Vol. 54, No. 1, January 11, 2007    


"An odd extension"–

Wolpert's title is, of course,
from Lewis Carroll.

Related material:

"It's a poor sort of memory
that only works backwards."
Through the Looking-Glass

An event at the Kennedy Center
broadcast on
December 26, 2006
(St. Steven's Day):

"Conductor John Williams, a 2004 Honoree, says, 'Steven, sharing our 34-year collaboration has been a great privilege for me. It's been an inspiration to watch you dream your dreams, nurture them and make them grow. And, in the process, entertain and edify billions of people around the world. Tonight we'd like to salute you, musically, with a piece that expresses that spirit beautifully … It was written by Leonard Bernstein, a 1980 Kennedy Center Honoree who was, incidentally, the first composer to be performed in this hall.' Backed by The United States Army Chorus and The Choral Arts Society, soprano Harolyn Blackwell and tenor Gregory Turay sing the closing number for Spielberg's tribute and the gala itself. It's the finale to the opera 'Candide,' 'Make Our Garden Grow,' and Williams conducts."

CBS press release

See also the following,
from the conclusion to

"Mathematics and Narrative"

(Log24, Aug. 22, 2005):

Diamond on cover of Narrative Form, by Suzanne Keen

"At times, bullshit can
only be countered
   with superior bullshit."
Norman Mailer

Many Worlds and Possible Worlds in Literature and Art, in Wikipedia:

    "The concept of possible worlds dates back to at least Leibniz who in his Théodicée tries to justify the apparent imperfections of the world by claiming that it is optimal among all possible worlds.  Voltaire satirized this view in his picaresque novel Candide….
    Borges' seminal short story El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan ("The Garden of Forking Paths") is an early example of many worlds in fiction."

"Il faut cultiver notre jardin."
— Voltaire

"We symbolize
logical necessity
with the box (box.gif (75 bytes))
and logical possibility
with the diamond (diamond.gif (82 bytes))."

Keith Allen Korcz 

Diamond in a square

"The possibilia that exist,
and out of which
the Universe arose,
are located in
     a necessary being…."

Michael Sudduth,
Notes on
God, Chance, and Necessity
by Keith Ward,
 Regius Professor of Divinity,
  Christ Church College, Oxford
(the home of Lewis Carroll)

For further details,
click on the
Christ Church diamond.

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