Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Jennie Augusta Brownscombe, "The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth"

Monday, November 23, 2015

Apollo 14 Landing Site

Please click HERE to view more Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter photographs of Apollo landing sites.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"Poetic License: A Poesy Definer?"

Ebi Robert is a Nigerian poet whose work appears in Emanations: Foray into Forever and Emanations: 2 + 2 = 5.  Recently, he published an essay on "Poetic License: A Poesy Definer?" in the on-line  journal Tuck.  Please click HERE to read the article.
Ebi Robert

Friday, November 13, 2015

Theorizing 2 + 2 = 5: A Reality Outside of the Mind?

Suffice it to say the senses put us into contact (don't really know what contact means here, but anyway...) with a mind-independent reality.  Of course this begs the question: does 2 + 2 = 4 if there is no mind (or senses) coming into contact with the question (or the equation)?  That is, is someone perceiving (or thinking) 2 + 2 = 4 necessary for two and two to actually make four?  An affirmative answer should appear to depend upon some sort of separation of grammar, mathematics, and the stream-of-life where 2 + 2 = 4. This would have to be a place, however, where existence is cleared of all experience, a place beyond time, a place outside of space...  For as far as I can peer into this place, well, it seems to be a pretty odd environment.  That oddness itself smacks of non-existence. Really, what is it I am actually in contact with here?  Therefore, I conclude that two and two do not necessarily have to make four in a place that does not exist. But, conversely, could 2 + 2 = 5 be true in this place that does not exist?  The answer...  yes!  Two and two could make five in a place that does not exist, outside of space, beyond time, a place clear of all experience. For here--that is nowhere--anything might be possible. But as to the possibility of nothing at all, well--especially considering all of the above--that does seem absurd, doesn't it?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Theorizing 2 + 2 = 5: From Victor Hugo to Elizabeth Anscombe to G. E. Moore

At issue: the truth and majority opinions.

In Napoléon le Petit Victor Hugo writes:
Now, get seven million five hundred thousand votes to declare that two and two make five, that the straight line is the longest road, that the whole is less than its part; get it declared by eight millions, by ten millions, by a hundred millions of votes, you will not have advanced a step.
What can we do with this?  Most highbrows will immediately recall a remark by Elizabeth Anscombe in her essay on "Modern Moral Philosophy" concerning Kant's Duty Ethics and the legislative weight of philosophical opinions:
Kant introduces the idea of “legislating for oneself,” which is as absurd as if in these days, when majority votes command great respect, one were to call each reflective decision a man made a vote resulting in a majority, which as a matter of proportion is overwhelming, for it is always 1-0.  The concept of legislation requires superior power in the legislator.  His own rigoristic convictions on the subject of lying were so intense that it never occurred to him that a lie could be relevantly described as anything but just a lie (e.g. as “a lie in such-and-such circumstances”).  His rule about universalizable maxims is useless without stipulations as to what shall count as a relevant description of an action with a view to constructing a maxim about it.
To bring things full circle then, we might remark that asserting "2 + 2 = 5" is nothing but a lie, and that any relevant descriptions (outside of theoretical assertions) regarding the efficacy of the statement "2 + 2 = 5" are impossible, as surely the grammar of the statement  "2 + 2 =" must always result in "4". 

To add further interest to this line of inquiry, we might bring in G. E. Moore's naturalistic fallacy, which certainly lends no credence whatsoever to the proposition (i.e. "2 + 2 = 5"). Compare  "2 + 2 ought to = 5" which is patently absurd, for in the case of arithmetic equations, ought is never part of a legitimate statement or a sensible expression.  The question is rather one of identity.  2 + 2 is 4. 

Now, is the "truth" identical to itself? History will show that awkward thinkers have said "no" and impressed many. 

I have said very little here that needs to be said.  But that little ought to mean a lot.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Theorizing 2 + 2 = 5: psychology, sociology, political science, etc.

From 1984 by George Orwell:

From an interview with Theodore Dalrymple, author of Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses.
Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to. 
A question arises. What sort of people are the functionaries who distribute this "propaganda"?  From the same interview, Dalrymple advances a description that agrees with scenes Nabakov presents in his dystopian novel Bend Sinister:
FP: You mention how 19th century French aristocrat, the Marquis de Custine, made several profound observations on how border guards in Russia wasted his time pushing their weight around in stupid and pointless ways, and that this is connected to the powerlessness that humans live under authoritarianism. Tell us a bit more of how this dynamic works in Russia.

Dalrymple: With regard to Russia, I am not an expert, but I have an interest in the country. I believe that it is necessary to study 19th century Russian history to understand the modern world. I suspect that the characteristic of Russian authoritarianism precedes the Soviet era (if you read Custine, you will be astonished by how much of what he observed prefigured the Soviet era, which of course multiplied the tendencies a thousand times).

I suppose that people who feel little control over their own lives or destinies can obtain a slight sense of agency by interfering in the lives of others, in tiny ways. I have noticed that many of the men who are violently dictatorial at home often count for little once they pass their own threshold. They are the Stalins of their own home.

Incidentally, Custine called Nicholas I an 'eagle and insect.' I think this is a brilliant characterisation of dictators which aspire world power but who also need to enter into the tiniest and most intimate details of their citizens' existence.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Theorizing 2 + 2 = 5: strike it where you will, it rings like postmodernism

Nazi theory indeed specifically denies that such a thing as "the truth" exists. ... The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such an event, "It never happened" – well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five – well, two and two are five. This prospect frightens me much more than bombs.
            -- George Orwell, "Looking Back on the Spanish War" (1943)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Meaningless Innuendo; or, Lord Byron in Love

I know that two and two make four—& should be glad to prove it too if I could—though I must say if by any sort of process I could convert 2 & 2 into five it would give me much greater pleasure.
                 --Lord Byron to fiancée Anaabella Milbanke 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

2 + 2 = 5: C'est une péninsule!

L. Sterns Newburg has posted a review on Amazon. Please click the small image below.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Twice two...

Twice two makes four seems to me simply a piece of insolence. Twice two makes four is a pert coxcomb who stands with arms akimbo barring your path and spitting. I admit that twice two makes four is an excellent thing, but if we are to give everything its due, twice two makes five is sometimes a very charming thing too.
                   -- Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground, Part I. Chapter 9
Fyodor Dostoevsky metro station, Moscow