New Readings 001

Digital learning with all its screen time, scrolling, emailing, social media sharing, dark webbing, crypto mining, and hacking. Is it really a good place to study, a good environment/source for new understanding? One example argument against this would be that the virtuality and malleability of digital mediums means that objectivity and certainty are eroded in favor of too much information and too much processing of this information. So, traditionalists and those weary of the cookies crumbling on webbed computer connectivity called the internet might wish to continue at a slower pace. Perhaps the way humans have been slowly accruing, curating and collecting knowledge endures in a roughly similar manner. I’d like to demonstrate in one overly long and maybe unfinishable [from the readers perspective… but, I will be finishing it] blog post that we should be open to the internet as the natural environment for information in all it’s diversity. If I had the time I could even elucidate a potentially very valid argument we could make. Anyone ever perceived the internet as a certifiable, comprehensive, and often observable evidence for Plato’s ‘theory of forms’? Isn’t the internet a realm of things that exist as a participatory formalism, a copy of the objects we perceive in the natural world with our evolutionary eyes, our interesting irises, the pupil’s pupil?

The answer could well be yes and just as equally could unwell be no. Yet, let’s just take a closer look at the forms of learn-able stuff I’ve been consuming before 6g networks offer younger individuals even less time to digest information. I want to draw your attention to this website: https://aeon.co/essays. On this site you will be gifted a regular feed of writing from some of the greatest living researchers. Jewels that I have consumed recently include Silvia Jones’s discussion of ineffability, on what remains unspeakable; ends on a nice reference to that Frankfurter Theodore Adorno, ‘If philosophy can be defined at all,’ Adorno said, ‘it is an effort to express things one cannot speak about’. Next up on the fantastic archive of essays are two contributions by a thinker of the name Suki Finn. In one short text she explores the metaphysics of the hole. The essay begins with a picture comparing donut hole sizes and moves through very interesting subject matters: the ontological parsimonious-ness of the materialism found in David Lewis and Stephanie’s discussion of holes in 1970. Culminating in an affirmation of the importance of holes. But, the other essay is more impressive as it provides a mathematical argument for unconditional love. You can see the Bayesian proof (formula that differentiates between likelihood or probability); both its content and structure I currently find very beautiful.

‘O wad some Power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as ithers see us!

It wad frae mony a blunder free us.’

‘Oh, would some power give us the gift

To see ourselves as others see us!

It would from many a blunder free us…’

– Robert Burns

Stephen M. Fleming references this poem at the end of his essay on self awareness and the theory of mind. The sheer richness of literature available to any and all readers from Aeon is deeply impressive; and before moving on to other useful locations for enhancing your reading. I want to list the other texts I remember reading here and what they’ve made me want to read. First up is how Buddhism offers a rich wealth and indeed a healthy, organic, and plurality for logic. Graham Priest discussing how Relevant & Plurivalent Logic was prefigured by Buddhism and how contradiction should be embraced: this makes me want to learn about the similarities the author mentions in Gorampa/Kant and read the works of the 2nd Buddha Nagarjuna. Merali asking, ‘How cosmic is the cosmos?’ and Adrian Kreutz’s ‘Buddhism and Marxism’ are both highly recommended; for a more bibliographic text on the Buddha read Alexander Wynne’s account of the greatest teacher.

Enjoy getting lost in Aeon’s vast store of ideas. I think the qaulity of this site does more than hint at the human intellect’s presence in online discourses being diverse and inclusive enough. I also believe there is enough evidence to forge a perspective that opposes the dismissive narrative that says A.I will supplant and make obsolete human all too human contributions. Another website with a very similar effect is Lithub. The following are the examples of what you may find at this hub for literature. From a description of Compton’s finest and the undiluted rap mastery of the Pulitzer prize winning rapper Kendrick Lamar’s political activism to Haruki Murakami’s treatment of female characters and his continued inability to be granted a Nobel Prize (not that he should care). English philosopher Simon Critchley’s excellently questions his own identity in ‘Who is a Philosopher? A Laughing Stock an Absentminded Buffoon? Offers up this very fascinating and detailed description of ancient Greek culture from Plato’s Theatetus and other sources.

‘Socrates introduces the digression by making a distinction between the philosopher and the lawyer, or what Benardete nicely renders as the “pettifogger.” The lawyer is compelled to present a case in court, and time is of the essence. In Greek legal proceedings, a strictly limited amount of time was allotted for the presentation of cases. Time was measured with a water clock, or klepsydra κλεψύδρα, which literally steals time, as in the Greek kleptes κλέπτης, a thief or embezzler. The pettifogger, the jury, and, by implication, the whole society live with the constant pressure of time. The water of time’s flow is constantly threatening to drown them. By contrast, we might say, the philosopher is the person who has time or who takes time. Theodorus, Socrates’s interlocutor, introduces the digression with the words, “Aren’t we at leisure, Socrates?” The latter’s response is interesting. He says, “It appears we are.” As we know, in philosophy appearances can be deceptive. But the basic contrast here is that between the lawyer, who has no time, or for whom time is money, and the philosopher, who takes time. The freedom of the philosopher consists in either moving freely from topic to topic or simply spending years returning to the same topic out of perplexity, fascination and curiosity.’ 

– Simon Critchley, Lithub

Other writings I’ve enjoyed from Lithub include: Martin Puchner’s warning of the policing of language citing the elusive central European language Rotweslch. Discussing physics with Michio Kaku’s discussion of Hawking Radiation, is it true that, ‘according to quantum mechanics information is never lost. Even if you burn a book, by tediously analyzing the molecules of the burned paper, it’s possible to reconstruct the entire book?’ What Ana Menendez has to say about bilingualism and the English language is nice to read. Tiffany Watt Smith’s exploration of the German word Schadenfreude gifts us a list of synonyms in other languages: ‘The Japanese saying goes, ‘the misfortune of others tastes like honey. (for me very un-Japanese)’, Joie maligne, in Dutch and Danish: leedvermaak & skadefryd, in Hebrew simcha la-ed, in 在中文:恶意的喜悦 Èyì de xǐyuè, in Russian zloradstvo, Romans spoke of malevolentia, the Greeks epichairekakia (literally: epi, over, chairo, rejoice, Kakia, disgrace). Although interesting seeing others suffer is never good.

Finally, Avram Alpert’s analysis of the influence of Zen buddhism on J.D salinger’s fictions is a good example of the difficulty one can experience when that which is of the East finds its way into a process of Western translation. I hope this blogpost shares and encourages many people to visit Aeon or Lithub and join their regular readers. Who knows what matters of interest you may find here and with that part 001 of reading references is finished. The second part and post will encompass more than two websites and even more topics. Thank you for reading.             

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