Mozart and Einstein – reblog

Episyllogism


A Genius Finds Inspiration in the Music of Another – New York Times: “A Genius Finds Inspiration in the Music of Another
By ARTHUR I. MILLER

Last year, the 100th anniversary of E=mc2 inspired an outburst of symposiums, concerts, essays and merchandise featuring Albert Einstein. This year, the same treatment is being given to another genius, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born on Jan. 27, 250 years ago.

There is more to the dovetailing of these anniversaries than one might think.

Einstein once said that while Beethoven created his music, Mozart’s ‘was so pure that it seemed to have been ever-present in the universe, waiting to be discovered by the master.’ Einstein believed much the same of physics, that beyond observations and theory lay the music of the spheres — which, he wrote, revealed a ‘pre-established harmony’ exhibiting stunning symmetries. The laws of nature, such as those of relativity theory, were…

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On Happiness

*** ANNOUNCEMENT ***

WORKSHOP: VIRTUE, HAPPINESS, AND THE MEANING OF LIFE

Stockholm University
May 5–6, 2017

In recent years, psychologists, neuroscientists, economists, and other scientists have turned their attention to traditional philosophical themes of happiness, virtue, and the meaning of life. Perhaps not coincidentally, philosophers’ interest in these themes appears to have been rekindled. This two-day workshop aims to close the gap between empirical and philosophical approaches to questions of happiness, virtue, and the meaning of life, in the interest of encouraging the development of an empirically informed philosophy and a science with philosophical awareness.

Goals include to explore the degree to which the conclusions of philosophical reflection and systematic empirical study of issues of happines, virtue, and the meaning of life are converging (or not); what in general contemporary scientists can learn from philosophy, its history and methodology, and what contemporary philosophers stand to gain from engaging with the empirical literature; what in particular recent work has revealed about the nature of happiness (e.g., if it includes an account of the meaning of life) and virtue (e.g., whether it can be understood as a self-transcendent practical orientation); what the power and limitations of empirical methods are in addressing philosophical questions; and whether there remains a space for armchair philosophizing in addressing the topics.

The workshop is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy at Stockholm University in collaboration with the project “Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life” <http://virtue.uchicago.edu> which is made possible by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

On Terrorism

Top-10-Myths-of-Terrorism-2017

Source: eSkeptic

 

Terrorism is, in its broadest sense, the use of intentionally indiscriminate violence as a means to create terror or fear, in order to achieve a political, religious, or ideological aim. It is classified as fourth-generation warfare and as a violent crime.

Top-10-Myths-of-Terrorism-2017

Facts

I hate to break it to you, gentle reader, but fake facts are nothing new. We are designed by evolution to invent fake facts, fervently believe in them, and even defend them to the death. Still, there is something about the current epidemic of fake facts that should scare us into action.

Imagine grading everything you ever said according to two criteria: 1) How well it corresponds to what’s actually out there, and 2) what it causes you and others to do. These can be called factual realism and practical realism, respectively, and they are so familiar that we use the word “realistic” in both senses without needing to think about it. If we’re at an art gallery and I comment on how a portrait is realistic, I mean that it corresponds closely to the person being depicted (factual realism). When you outline your latest get rich quick scheme over lunch and I call it unrealistic, I mean that it probably won’t work out well for you (practical realism). All of us are experts at toggling between factual realism mode and practical realism mode as warranted by the situation.

Read the essay at the source : The Evolution Institute.

SS: Conversation

mark-twain

Old Man and Young Man in conversation.

Old Man:  I will tell you a little story:

 

Once upon a time an Infidel was guest in the house of a Christian widow whose little boy was ill and near to death.  The Infidel often watched by the bedside and entertained the boy with talk, and he used these  opportunities to satisfy a strong longing in his nature–that desire which is in us all to better other people’s condition by having them think as we think.  He was successful.  But the dying boy, in his last moments, reproached him and said:

“I BELIEVED, AND WAS HAPPY IN IT; YOU HAVE TAKEN MY BELIEF AWAY, AND MY COMFORT.  NOW I HAVE NOTHING LEFT, AND I DIE MISERABLE; FOR THE THINGS WHICH YOU HAVE TOLD ME DO NOT TAKE THE PLACE OF THAT WHICH I HAVE LOST.”

And the mother, also, reproached the Infidel, and said:

 “MY CHILD IS FOREVER LOST, AND MY HEART IS BROKEN.  HOW COULD YOU DO THIS CRUEL THING?  WE HAVE DONE YOU NO HARM, BUT ONLY KINDNESS; WE MADE OUR HOUSE YOUR HOME, YOU WERE WELCOME TO ALL WE HAD, AND THIS IS OUR REWARD.”

 

The heart of the Infidel was filled with remorse for what he had done, and he said:

“IT WAS WRONG–I SEE IT NOW; BUT I WAS ONLY TRYING TO DO HIM GOOD.  IN MY VIEW HE WAS IN ERROR; IT SEEMED MY DUTY TO TEACH HIM THE TRUTH.”

 

Then the mother said:

“I HAD TAUGHT HIM, ALL HIS LITTLE LIFE, WHAT I BELIEVED TO BE THE TRUTH, AND IN HIS BELIEVING FAITH BOTH OF US WERE HAPPY. NOW HE IS DEAD,–AND LOST; AND I AM MISERABLE.  OUR FAITH CAME DOWN TO US THROUGH CENTURIES OF ELIEVING ANCESTORS; WHAT RIGHT HAD YOU, OR ANY ONE, TO DISTURB IT? WHERE WAS YOUR HONOR, WHERE WAS YOUR SHAME?”

 

Y.M.  He was a miscreant, and deserved death!

O.M.  He thought so himself, and said so.

Y.M.  Ah–you see, HIS CONSCIENCE WAS AWAKENED!

O.M.  Yes, his Self-Disapproval was.  It PAINED him to see the mother suffer.  He was sorry he had done a thing which brought HIM pain.  It did not occur to him to think of the mother when he was misteaching the boy, for he was absorbed in providing PLEASURE for himself, then.  Providing it by satisfying what he believed to be a call of duty.

Y.M.  Call it what you please, it is to me a case of AWAKENED CONSCIENCE. That awakened conscience could never get itself into that species of trouble again.  A cure like that is a PERMANENT cure.

O.M.  Pardon–I had not finished the story.  We are creatures of OUTSIDE INFLUENCES–we originate NOTHING within. Whenever we take a new line of thought and drift into a new line of belief and action, the impulse is ALWAYS suggested from the OUTSIDE.  Remorse so preyed upon the Infidel that it dissolved his harshness toward the boy’s religion and made him come to regard it with tolerance, next with kindness, for the boy’s sake and the mother’s.  Finally he found himself examining it.  From that moment his progress in his new trend was steady and rapid. He became a believing Christian.  And now his remorse for having robbed the dying boy of his faith and his salvation was bitterer than ever.  It gave him no rest, no peace.  He MUST have rest and peace–it is the law of nature.

There seemed but one way to get it; he must devote himself to saving imperiled souls.  He became a missionary.  He landed in a pagan country ill and helpless.  A native widow took him into her humble home and nursed him back to convalescence.  Then her young boy was taken hopelessly ill, and the grateful missionary helped her tend him.  Here was his first opportunity to repair a part of the wrong done to the other boy by doing a precious service for this one by undermining his foolish faith in his false gods.  He was successful.  But the dying boy in his last moments reproached him and said:

“I BELIEVED, AND WAS HAPPY IN IT; YOU HAVE TAKEN MY BELIEF AWAY, AND MY COMFORT.  NOW I HAVE NOTHING LEFT, AND I DIE MISERABLE; FOR THE THINGS WHICH YOU HAVE TOLD ME DO NOT TAKE THE PLACE OF THAT WHICH I HAVE LOST.”

And the mother, also, reproached the missionary, and said:

 

“MY CHILD IS FOREVER LOST, AND MY HEART IS BROKEN.  HOW COULD YOU DO THIS CRUEL THING?  WE HAD DONE YOU NO HARM, BUT ONLY KINDNESS; WE MADE OUR HOUSE YOUR HOME, YOU WERE WELCOME TO ALL WE HAD, AND THIS IS OUR REWARD.”

 

The heart of the missionary was filled with remorse for what he had done, and he said:

“IT WAS WRONG–I SEE IT NOW; BUT I WAS ONLY TRYING TO DO HIM GOOD.  IN MY VIEW HE WAS IN ERROR; IT SEEMED MY DUTY TO TEACH HIM THE TRUTH.”

Then the mother said:

 

“I HAD TAUGHT HIM, ALL HIS LITTLE LIFE, WHAT I BELIEVED TO BE THE TRUTH, AND IN HIS BELIEVING FAITH BOTH OF US WERE HAPPY. NOW HE IS DEAD–AND LOST; AND I AM MISERABLE.  OUR FAITH CAME DOWN TO US THROUGH CENTURIES OF BELIEVING ANCESTORS; WHAT RIGHT HAD YOU, OR ANY ONE, TO DISTURB IT?

WHERE WAS YOUR HONOR, WHERE WAS YOUR SHAME?”

 

The missionary’s anguish of remorse and sense of treachery were as bitter and persecuting and unappeasable, now, as they had been in the former case.  The story is finished.  What is your comment?

Y.M.  The man’s conscience is a fool!  It was morbid.  It didn’t know right from wrong.

 

O.M.  I am not sorry to hear you say that.  If you grant that ONE man’s conscience doesn’t know right from wrong, it is an admission that there are others like it.  This single admission pulls down the whole doctrine of infallibility of judgment in consciences.  Meantime there is one thing which I ask you to notice.

Y.M.  What is that?

 

O.M.  That in both cases the man’s ACT gave him no spiritual discomfort, and that he was quite satisfied with it and got pleasure out of it.  But afterward when it resulted in PAIN to HIM, he was sorry.  Sorry it had inflicted pain upon the others, BUT FOR NO REASON UNDER THE SUN EXCEPT THAT THEIR PAIN GAVE HIM PAIN.  Our consciences take NO notice of pain inflicted upon others until it reaches a point where it gives pain to US.

In ALL cases without exception we are absolutely indifferent to another person’s pain until his sufferings make us uncomfortable. Many an infidel would not have been troubled by that Christian mother’s distress.  Don’t you believe that?

 

Y.M.  Yes.  You might almost say it of the AVERAGE infidel, I think.

 

O.M.  And many a missionary,  sternly fortified by his sense of duty, would not have been troubled by the pagan mother’s distress–Jesuit missionaries in Canada in the early French times, for instance; see episodes quoted by Parkman.

 

Y.M.  Well, let us adjourn.  Where have we arrived?

O.M.  At this.  That we (mankind) have ticketed ourselves with a number of qualities to which we have given misleading names.  Love, Hate, Charity, Compassion, Avarice, Benevolence, and so on.  I mean we attach misleading MEANINGS to the names. They are all forms of self-contentment, self-gratification, but the names so disguise them that they distract our attention from the fact.  Also we have smuggled a word into the dictionary which ought not to be there at all–Self-Sacrifice.  It describes a thing which does not exist.  But worst of all, we ignore and never mention the Sole Impulse which dictates and compels a man’s every act: the imperious necessity of securing his own approval, in every emergency and at all costs.  To it we owe all that we are.  It is our breath, our heart, our blood.  It is our only spur, our whip, our goad, our only impelling power; we have no other.  Without it we should be mere inert images, corpses; no one would do anything, there would be no progress, the world would stand still.  We ought to stand reverently uncovered when the name of that stupendous power is uttered.

Y.M.  I am not convinced.

 

O.M.  You will be when you think.

 

The Project Gutenberg EBook of What Is Man?, by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)