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# Week 316

Somehow the idea of starting to write about Milankovich cycles was sufficiently intimidating that I wrote a This Week's Finds about something completely different - genetic engineering.

It's a kind of mental game: I think that because writing about Milankovitch cycles feels like the first step towards a very uncertain new career, I keep putting it off. But when I get 'writer's block', I just write about something else.

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1.

I'm also suffering from writers block. Currently it's actually a cycle of mutually enforcing blocks.

Here's one: Since we don't have a wiki entry on Gaia theory I thought about creating one. But the wikipedia entry is good enough (except it says "the environmentalist Lovelock", which should be changed to chemist). Then I got enchanted by Lynn Margulis little book "Symbiotic Planet" which culminates in a chapter on Gaia. Plus: there's the thermodynamic view on life which brings "purpose" into nature and life and seems a good explanation of the much criticised Gaian teleology (which Lovelock denies - yet he was talking about entropy in a 1969 paper where the first Gaian idea was formulated...) ...

Alas I'm neither an expert on microbiology nor thermodynamics and information. But we got some lurking around here. So perhaps we might create a blog post. Methinks it is time to gather some "grand organic view" on that miracle of life the Azimuth project is ultimately concerned with.

I suggest the catchy title "Gaia, Evolution, and the Schrödinger paradox". I'll start a wiki page soon where I'll first drop some references and quotes.

Comment Source:I'm also suffering from writers block. Currently it's actually a cycle of mutually enforcing blocks. Here's one: Since we don't have a wiki entry on Gaia theory I thought about creating one. But the wikipedia entry is good enough (except it says &quot;the environmentalist Lovelock&quot;, which should be changed to chemist). Then I got enchanted by Lynn Margulis little book &quot;Symbiotic Planet&quot; which culminates in a chapter on Gaia. Plus: there's the thermodynamic view on life which brings &quot;purpose&quot; into nature and life and seems a good explanation of the much criticised Gaian teleology (which Lovelock denies - yet he was talking about entropy in a 1969 paper where the first Gaian idea was formulated...) ... Alas I'm neither an expert on microbiology nor thermodynamics and information. But we got some lurking around here. So perhaps we might create a blog post. Methinks it is time to gather some &quot;grand organic view&quot; on that miracle of life the Azimuth project is ultimately concerned with. I suggest the catchy title &quot;Gaia, Evolution, and the Schrödinger paradox&quot;. I'll start a wiki page soon where I'll first drop some references and quotes.
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2.
edited July 2011

If a wiki article on Gaia theory seems too intimdating, can I lure into starting a blog post? We've got a system for doing on that on the wiki; you can just copy the pattern here:

If you start writing a blog post, maybe some others of us can help finish it.

Any blog entry on Gaia theory needs to start by explaining it, explaining the most famous objections to it, and explaining why those objections might not be fatal.

However, if you just want to say a few new things, you can say those and I can write an introduction setting them in context.

Comment Source:If a wiki article on Gaia theory seems too intimdating, can I lure into starting a blog post? We've got a system for doing on that on the wiki; you can just copy the pattern here: * [[Blog articles in progress]] If you start writing a blog post, maybe some others of us can help finish it. Any blog entry on Gaia theory needs to start by explaining it, explaining the most famous objections to it, and explaining why those objections might not be fatal. However, if you just want to say a few _new_ things, you can say those and I can write an introduction setting them in context.
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3.

I started with doing a wiki entry on Lames Lovelock, copying material from his homepage and a funny scholarly artice. Perhaps a bit too elaborate.

I'll perhaps continue with a wiki entry on Gaia - a "wiki entry in progress". Perhaps that can then be extended into a blog post. I don't have anything "new" to contribute, but there's stuff from unrelated scientists and philosophers, like: Teleology and Maximum Entropy Production. Kant's Critique of Judgement and teleologic heuristics. And instead of Gaia's impact on New Age and Deep Ecology etc. I'll quote Martin Heidegger.

Comment Source:I started with doing a wiki entry on Lames Lovelock, copying material from his homepage and a funny scholarly artice. Perhaps a bit too elaborate. I'll perhaps continue with a wiki entry on Gaia - a "wiki entry in progress". Perhaps that can then be extended into a blog post. I don't have anything "new" to contribute, but there's stuff from unrelated scientists and philosophers, like: Teleology and Maximum Entropy Production. Kant's Critique of Judgement and teleologic heuristics. And instead of Gaia's impact on New Age and Deep Ecology etc. I'll quote Martin Heidegger.
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4.
edited July 2011

Ah, quoting Heidegger - a sure way to stir up a firestorm! I spent a lot of time studying his work in grad school: some friends and I read through most of his stuff out loud in cafés on Friday nights, starting with Being and Time, and tried to figure out what he was saying. But a lot of people dismiss him because his writings are difficult and he was, after all, a Nazi. Or least did a good job of pretending to be one.

For example, he said:

We have the new Reich and the university that is to receive its tasks from the Reich’s will to existence. There is revolution in Germany, and we must ask ourselves: Is there revolution at the university as well? No. The battle still consists of skirmishes. So far, a breakthrough has only been achieved on one front: because new life is being educated (durch die Bildung neuen Lebens) in the work camp and educational association (Erziehungsverband) as well as at the university, the latter has been relieved of educational tasks to which it has till now believed it had an exclusive right.

The possibility could exist that the university will suffer death through oblivion and forfeit the last vestige of its educational power. It must, however, be integrated again into the Volksgemeinschaft and be joined together with the State. The university must again become an educational force that draws on knowledge to educate the State’s leaders to knowledge. This goal demands three things: 1. knowledge of today’s university; 2. knowledge of the dangers today holds for the future; 3. new courage.

Up to now, research and teaching have been carried on at the universities as they were for decades. Teaching was supposed to develop out of research, and one sought to find a pleasant balance between the two. It was always only the point of view of the teacher that spoke out of this notion. No one had concerned himself with the university as community. Research got out of hand and concealed its uncertainty behind the idea of international scientific and scholarly progress. Teaching that had become aimless hid behind examination requirements.

A fierce battle must be fought against this situation in the National Socialist spirit, and this spirit cannot be allowed to be suffocated by humanizing, Christian ideas that suppress its unconditionality.

I believe it's possible for someone to say things like this and still say other things that are worth listening to. Not everyone does, though.

Comment Source:Ah, quoting Heidegger - a sure way to stir up a firestorm! I spent a lot of time studying his work in grad school: some friends and I read through most of his stuff _out loud_ in caf&eacute;s on Friday nights, starting with _Being and Time_, and tried to figure out what he was saying. But a lot of people dismiss him because his writings are difficult and he was, after all, a Nazi. Or least did a good job of pretending to be one. For example, he [said](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heidegger_and_Nazism#Speech_to_Heidelberg_Student_Association): > We have the new Reich and the university that is to receive its tasks from the Reich’s will to existence. There is revolution in Germany, and we must ask ourselves: Is there revolution at the university as well? No. The battle still consists of skirmishes. So far, a breakthrough has only been achieved on one front: because new life is being educated (durch die Bildung neuen Lebens) in the work camp and educational association (Erziehungsverband) as well as at the university, the latter has been relieved of educational tasks to which it has till now believed it had an exclusive right. > The possibility could exist that the university will suffer death through oblivion and forfeit the last vestige of its educational power. It must, however, be integrated again into the Volksgemeinschaft and be joined together with the State. The university must again become an educational force that draws on knowledge to educate the State’s leaders to knowledge. This goal demands three things: 1. knowledge of today’s university; 2. knowledge of the dangers today holds for the future; 3. new courage. > Up to now, research and teaching have been carried on at the universities as they were for decades. Teaching was supposed to develop out of research, and one sought to find a pleasant balance between the two. It was always only the point of view of the teacher that spoke out of this notion. No one had concerned himself with the university as community. Research got out of hand and concealed its uncertainty behind the idea of international scientific and scholarly progress. Teaching that had become aimless hid behind examination requirements. > A fierce battle must be fought against this situation in the National Socialist spirit, and this spirit cannot be allowed to be suffocated by humanizing, Christian ideas that suppress its unconditionality. I believe it's possible for someone to say things like this and still say other things that are worth listening to. Not everyone does, though.
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5.

John wrote:

But a lot of people dismiss him because his writings are difficult and he was, after all, a Nazi.

A key to the success of the Nazis was their ability to unite a lot of different ideas, people and political parties under one hood, including, for example, environmentalists. This is one reason why reasoning along the lines of the reductio ad Hitlerum is a problem. If you cite

A fierce battle must be fought against this situation in the National Socialist spirit, and this spirit cannot be allowed to be suffocated by humanizing, Christian ideas that suppress its unconditionality.

and say that this comes from a Nazi, many people will think this is about killing uneducated people or whatever. But I think it would be very easy to reformulate this a little bit - in the spirit of the author -, put it in the mouth of, say, Ayn Rand, and get 30% of all US-Americans to agree with it. Something like

A liberal elite has taken over academia and claimed "scientific truth" to support their leftist agenda. A fierce battle must be fought against this situation in the spirit of the founding fathers, and this spirit cannot be allowed to be suffocated by socialist, Islamistic ideas that suppress its unconditionality.

Comment Source:John wrote: <blockquote> <p> But a lot of people dismiss him because his writings are difficult and he was, after all, a Nazi. </p> </blockquote> A key to the success of the Nazis was their ability to unite a lot of different ideas, people and political parties under one hood, including, for example, environmentalists. This is one reason why reasoning along the lines of the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_Hitlerum">reductio ad Hitlerum</a> is a problem. If you cite <blockquote> <p> A fierce battle must be fought against this situation in the National Socialist spirit, and this spirit cannot be allowed to be suffocated by humanizing, Christian ideas that suppress its unconditionality. </p> </blockquote> and say that this comes from a Nazi, many people will think this is about killing uneducated people or whatever. But I think it would be very easy to reformulate this a little bit - in the spirit of the author -, put it in the mouth of, say, Ayn Rand, and get 30% of all US-Americans to agree with it. Something like <blockquote> <p> A liberal elite has taken over academia and claimed "scientific truth" to support their leftist agenda. A fierce battle must be fought against this situation in the spirit of the founding fathers, and this spirit cannot be allowed to be suffocated by socialist, Islamistic ideas that suppress its unconditionality. </p> </blockquote>
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6.

Right. Luckily Heidegger's actual philosophical writings (as opposed to this thing, which was a speech he gave to students) are free of such rhetoric, which I find distasteful no matter who it's coming from.

Comment Source:Right. Luckily Heidegger's actual philosophical writings (as opposed to this thing, which was a speech he gave to students) are free of such rhetoric, which I find distasteful no matter who it's coming from.
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7.
edited July 2011

Actually I haven't yet read much of Heidegger. Most I know is from secondary sources. Being And Time is still on my list of books to order (when there's a book budget left). One thing I have read was his SPIEGEL interview, published posthumous 1976. There he defends his short engagement as university Rektor reasonably well, and most of his defense can be checked. E.g. the Rektotatsrede speech John quotes has to versions: A spoken one and one published in a Nazi student publication.

Heideggers language is indeed weird at times. It makes it exceedingly difficult to translate/transliterate. E.g. should I translate/transliterate "seyn" (his baroque spelling of "sein") simple-y as "being"??

Comment Source:Actually I haven't yet read much of Heidegger. Most I know is from secondary sources. Being And Time is still on my list of books to order (when there's a book budget left). One thing I have read was his SPIEGEL interview, published posthumous 1976. There he defends his short engagement as university Rektor reasonably well, and most of his defense can be checked. E.g. the Rektotatsrede speech John quotes has to versions: A spoken one and one published in a Nazi student publication. Heideggers language is indeed weird at times. It makes it exceedingly difficult to translate/transliterate. E.g. should I translate/transliterate "seyn" (his baroque spelling of "sein") simple-y as "being"??
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8.

Yes, translate "seyn" as "being" or "Being".

Reading Being and Time was a long and transformative journey for me, though often frustrating. Heidegger wrote "Making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy" - he thought that philosophy had to break out of everyday ways of using language.

Comment Source:Yes, translate "seyn" as "being" or "Being". Reading _Being and Time_ was a long and transformative journey for me, though often frustrating. Heidegger wrote "Making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy" - he thought that philosophy had to break out of everyday ways of using language.