Who Invented Calculus?

This has been a matter of debate for quite some time, but it is rather easy to resolve.

The question of whether Newton or Leibniz invented Calculus.

No, the answer is simple, Newton invented physics, why because he was the more practical of the two, he could not have invented a math, but rather, a way of describing motion, that was also mathematical.

Leibniz, however, was a not concerned with the physical at all, but rather the domain of pure thought, the locus of mathematical ideas and construction. Therefore it is obvious that the math belongs to him.

Give to the object its maker, and thoughts to the owner.

Latin Phrase.

Sports Metaphors

“Float like a Buttefly, Sting like a Bee…”

-Muhammad Ali

People don’t take the notion of athletic intelligence seriously very often, and I did not when I was younger, but as I get older, i’m convinced that kinesthetic genius is a completely real phenomena, and you don’t just see it in the physical motions of that athlete, you hear it in how they speak.

One thing I’ve noticed about kinesthetic geniuses, like Mohammed Ali or Bruce lee, is that they tend to use metaphor a little more often than the average person. Not only that, but they use it very differently.

When they call up metaphor, they are not searching for some vague expression to describe something almost altogether unrelated. Instead, they are speaking in highly specific terms, to describe not just motions or specific movements, but overarching themes of motion that link and tie movements and motion together.

When Bruce Lee says “Be Like Water,” he’s not just talking some new age theme of religious enlightenment to The West. He’s describing a unifying principle of how to move. How to attack, how to strike. One that ties more specific movements together in a unifying whole.

I never used to take these descriptions very seriously, but lately, Yoga Berra does not sound so crazy to me.

Rational Thought

It could be, and likely is, that reason is the most effective means we have of reaching truth.

That’s not a trivial observation, it’s basically the observation that separates the ancients from the moderns.

Now, there is another observation. I don’t know if they were as consciously aware of it, or valued it as much as we value reason, but the ancients definitely knew about it, and we still have it.

The best way to build things, maybe the only way, is with your hands. Now this is not so obvious in modern times, since we have all these factories and machines, but the ancients had tools as well, but just like with those tools, someone still has to work that machinery, and they do it with their hands, there’s no way around it.

But there is this tendency with reason, that maybe is or isn’t there for the latter observation, to think that somehow reason is the whole machine, that man is the machine.

Well, this is plainly not so. For the most rational among us, routinely lament, and maybe they are not so wrong, that human beings are irrational.

And we cannot say that whatever these irrational people are doing doesn’t work, for they seem to be getting along just fine, accomplishing the same things in life that so called rational people do, sometimes more successfully, sometimes less so, sometimes much more so.

But they can and often do use reason. And a person who sees themselves as completely rational might have a much harder time doing the opposite.

But there is a small problem with this, and it’s not having socially awkward behavior or mannerisms, it’s not being argumentative, or any of the other stereotypes we normally ascribe to rational people, because frankly, I don’t think these are always even necessarily true.

Rather, it’s a much simpler problem. If all you ever use is reason, then you don’t have anything to compare it to.

It’s like, if a person were to grow up thinking that hands are whats best for everything because of all the great things you can build with them, it might not occur to them that they could use anything else. They might never see how to play soccer.

Basically, the issue with only relying on reason, is that it’s not so rational. If you’ve never tried anything but reason, you have no way to gauge whether or not reason will lead to the the best solution, or whether or not it’s even appropriate.

Ironically, taking up some measure of irrationality only makes you better at using reason, because now you can choose whether or not to employ it, whereas before you could not.

Psychological Space

The mental hospital has some redeeming qualities.

The food is pretty good, and I’ve heard the same from others.

For the most part they leave you alone, giving you the option go to groups or recreation, which is pleasant.

But there is one aspect of being there, that I always found extraordinarily painful, and I don’t know if others have felt the same.

Now, one of the first things I noticed is that the hospital rooms on the ward, were about the same size as my college dorm room, maybe even a little larger, and it had about the same occupancy.

But I never had the sensation in my college dorm room, that there was not enough space to move around.

Now, I don’t think it’s entirely the fact that we are locked in there, although that is certainly part of it.

But moreso, it felt quite literally, that there was not enough space for my mind to exist, which for anyone who has never felt this pain, is quite torturous, if not difficult to describe.

The most common medications used for schizophrenia are anti-psychotics. And one of the most common side effects of anti-psychotics is akathesia.

It’s an extremely painful side effect, that if you had not experienced it, sounds quite trivial or mundane. I’ll describe it.

Akathesia is simply a form of restlessness caused by the pain or sensation of the inability to move.

If this sounds like something not so bad to you, think chinese water torture, and if you can imagine why that is painful, you’re probably closer to imagining akathesia.

I can’t recall what my sense of psychological space is like before the medication sets in at the hospital, but I do remember, that after the akathesia sets in, I always become acutely aware of the lack of psychological space.

So much so, that I could really only deal with the pain by walking around the ward constantly, and could only handle sitting still for minutes at a time, only to get up again and do the same. As if somehow that if I moved around in my environment enough, I would find more psychological space for my mind to exist.

Now, I can’t imagine wards were designed this way intentionally, to restrict psychological space for patients, but maybe there is some incidental effect that is beneficial, after all I’m sure if it were acute harmful, psychiatrists would notice it, but if it were only incidentally beneficial for normalization, and not much else, maybe they would not.

Either way, the biggest relief I found upon leaving the hospital, had little to do with departing from the routine, or the boredom, I did not even find it to be quite that boring, but rather, that whenever I left the ward, there was finally enough psychological space for my mind to exist again.

At least that made the akathesia bearable.

Eastern vs Western Philosophy

I think while The West was concerned with what can we figure out with philosophy.

The East was concerned with what we can do with philosophy.

So, The East figured out war, and how to apply it.

They figured out battle, and how to apply it.

They used it for spiritual purposes, to master the self, and the spirit, and to achieve enlightenment.

But The West did none of these things with philosophy. They were entirely useless with it.

They sought out the meaning of virtue, and of truth, and wisdom.

So that while Eastern philosophy has some measure of esteem, even in The West, but moreso in The East, Western philosophy has very little.

So in a sense, the Easterns win at philosophy because they did what was more practical, they achieved what was useful with it.

But this is not so true in a philosopher’s eyes.

Dog Meat

Now, many point out that it doesn’t make much moral difference, eating cows, or pigs, vs dogs. That the difference is mostly arbitrary, based on sentiment.

And on the surface, this makes a lot of sense. After all, people can demonstrate the exceptional intelligence certain pigs have, and that they can even be smarter than dogs, or maybe even cats for that matter. Cows can probably do amazing things too. And i’m sure there are other qualities, that are much the same, so that it’s not entirely clear why a dog’s life should have any more value than any other animal that we do eat.

And such people are basically correct, except for one small matter. For whatever reason, along the course of human history, Humanity chose an animal to befriend.

I suppose we could have chosen pigs or chickens or cows, but we didn’t. We chose dogs.

We’re omnivores, with enough ingenuity we could eat just about anything on this planet if we wanted to, and of course, like those very clever ethicists point out, it wouldn’t have made much difference if we chose dogs for that, but for whatever reason we didn’t. We could have eaten anything, but we said to dogs instead, “Hey, we can eat anything, but we’re not gonna eat you, let’s just be friends instead.” And dogs seemed rather chill about it.

Now, you can argue all you want about whether or not it was right, but its pretty clear that this choice happened, and it happened all over the world.

So what’s at stake when it comes to eating dogs, is not whether there is any “intrinisic moral value of a dogs life or over that of any other animal” but rather, whether we can do that at all. Befriend a species.

Because if we turn around and say to the animal we befriended, “Hey, ya know what , I was kidding about the whole us being friends thing, I’m gonna eat you instead,” then what we’re really saying is that we’re incapable of befriending an animal. That we don’t have the power as human beings to make such a decision.

But if your moral abstractions are so certain, let’s do it, we can all give it up, we can give up the relationship. The only cost, is that we’re a little less human.

Now I don’t know if this was a completely conscious decision, or a little unconscious, but I am certain of one thing. Whenever it happened, when human beings decided to befriend another species, I’m sure another animal saw it. Because right after, the next thing they did was say to us, “Hey, I see what you did there, I can do the same thing to you.”

And I guess now we have to live with cats as friends too, against our will basically.

Viruses

More than any other aspect biology, the existence of viruses challenges our fundamental notions of what it means for an organism to be alive.

Alone, the virus is little more than a dead strand of dna or rna, held together in a casing.

They don’t have any metabolic activity of their own but can become animated by the metabolic activity of another organism, incorporating themselves into the hosts processes.

There is something odd about the viral life cycle though. It is basically backwards.

Whereas all other organisms start out as something living, and become dead, the virus starts out as something dead, and becomes living.

But when all other organisms reproduce, they give birth to something living, while the virus does not. The virus gives birth to something dead.

Now one might think that what’s different about the virus is the fact that it requires a host to propagate, but while parasites have this in common, they do not share this backwards life cycle. The parasite gives birth to something living, that later becomes dead, like any other organism, but it does not reproduce into a dead organism that later comes to life only in the presence of another.

Now perhaps it is akin to the state of dormancy bacteria sometimes enter into. But even this is not quite the same, as metabolic processes do not simply stop in this hibernation, but only slow down tremendously. But in the dead virus there is none. Were any other organism to cease all metabolic activity so utterly and completely, and for such long periods, we would have to call it dead, except they find a way to come alive again.

Myers-Briggs

I’ve read the Myer’s Briggs typology on and off for years, going through periods of intense fascination, only to put it down again.

Now, usually what deters me is the thought that if it is science, it’s one that almost completely borders on astrology.

Now this may or may not be, and it could be that Myers Briggs is simply a horoscope for those too intellectually elitist to stomach a psychic reading, when they would accept it were it not called as such.

That could be me.

But it could also be true, that maybe psychology as a science is one that can’t not border into mysticism on some level.

This observation has some merits. It would mean that only a 4th hard science is possible, because if one exists that borders on mysticism, then any after that is very likely not to be a science at all.

It would also mean that trying to force the science of the mind into rote materialism, because we all know “That’s what a science looks like,” is the very factor preventing its emergence.