Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Origins of Modernity

Giordano Bruno (1548-1600, burnt alive by the Church) and Francis Bacon (1561-1626) put forward a clear program of domination or conquest of nature around about 1583-85, the time that Bruno visited England.
“The gods have given man intelligence and hands, and have made them in their image, endowing him with a capacity superior to other animals. This capacity consists not only in the power to work in accordance with nature and the usual course of things, but beyond that and outside her laws, to the end that by fashioning, or the power to fashion, other natures, other courses, other orders by means of his intelligence, with that freedom without which his resemblance to the deity would not exist, he might in the end make himself god of the earth … providence has decreed that man should be occupied in action by the hands and in contemplation by the intellect, but in such a way that he may not contemplate without action or work without contemplation …. when difficulties beset them or necessities reappeared … they sharpened their wits, invented industries and discovered arts … by force of necessity, from the depths of the human mind rose new and wonderful inventions.”
- Bruno, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast
Albert Schweitzer points out that an optimistic view of a modern world where knowledge, standard of living and health could all be improved (as compared with passive acceptance of ignorance, poverty and ill health) met considerable opposition from historical forces. Plato's ethic is world negation., Plato and Aristotle accepted slavery and so did not envisage the liberation of Humanity as a whole. The Epicureans and Stoics preached resignation.

Bacon took the moral stance that real charity involved meeting peoples needs in the full Christian sense of brotherly love. He contrasted this with the tendency of the Greeks to quarrel about opinions.

After dabbling in politics, initially without much success, Bacon took the view that invention was more useful than politics because it is felt everywhere and lasts forever.

Invention required the use of both intellect and labour, the head and the hand. The “mechanical arts” became central to Bacon's vision, he wanted the concepts spread far and wide to a thousand hands and a thousand eyes.

Bacon persistently criticised the influence of Aristotle and Plato on contemporary thinking because their mode of thinking (dialectical argument) did not support the rapid development of the mechanical arts.

Reference:
The Philosophy of Francis Bacon by Benjamin Farrington (1964), Ch 4, 5 and 6

Saturday, March 18, 2017

natural selection and Direct Instruction

Now for a pithy one liner which also happens to support Direct Instruction:
"Before there can be comprehension, there has to be competence without comprehension"
Dan Dennett, Intuition Pumps and other tools for thinking (2013), p. 105
Comprehension is a latecomer to the evolutionary process.
"Bacteria have all sorts of remarkable competences that they need not understand at all; their competences serve them well, but they themselves are clueless. Trees have competences whose exercise provides benefits to them, but they don't need to know why. The process of natural selection itself is famously competent, a generator of designs of outstanding ingenuity and efficacy, without a shred of comprehension.

Comprehension of the kind we human adults enjoy is a very recent phenomenon on the evolutionary scene, and it has to be composed of structures whose competence is accompanied by, enabled by, a minimal sort of semi-comprehension, or pseudo-comprehension - the kind of (hemi-semi-demi-) comprehension enjoyed by fish or worms. These structures are designed to behave appropriately most of the time, without having to know why their behaviour is appropriate."
- p. 105
Compare with my pithy one liner which critiques Direct Instruction:
"In Direct Instruction there is no script for those who depart from the script or who desire to write their own script"
- fork in the road options and Direct Instruction
You can't begin to write your own script until you have achieved at least a basic competence in whatever domain you are attempting to master.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

philosophers timeline

FIRST ENLIGHTENMENT

Pythagoras 560 BC - ?
Heraclitus 535 BC-475 BC
Zeno of Elea 490-430 BC
Democritus 460 BC-?
Socrates 469-399 BC
Euclid ? - 366 BC
Plato 429-347 BC
Aristotle 384 BC-322 BC
Epicurus 341-271 BC
Archimedes 287 – 212 BC
Chrysippus 280-206 BC
Cicero 106-43 BC
Ovid 43 BC-17 AD
Seneca 1-65
Plutarch 45-120
Lucretius early to mid 1st C

NOT MUCH PROGRESS YEARS

Thomas Aquinas 1225-1274
William of Occam 1285-1347

SECOND ENLIGHTENMENT

Nicolaus Copernicus 1473-1543
Michel de Montaigne 1533-1592
Giordano Bruno 1548-1600 (burnt alive by the Church)
Francis Bacon 1561-1626
Galileo Galilei 1564-1642
Johannes Kepler 1571-1630
Thomas Hobbes 1588-1679
Rene Descarte 1596-1650
Gerrard Winstanley 1609-1676
Blaise Pascal 1623-1662
Robert Boyle 1627-1691
Christiaan Huygens 1629-1695
Baruch Spinoza 1632-1677
John Locke 1632-1704
Robert Hooke 1635-1703

ENGLISH REVOLUTION / CIVIL WAR 1642-1660

Isaac Newton 1642-1727
Gottfried Wilhelm Liebniz 1646-1716
Jonathan Swift 1667-1745
Christian Wolff 1679-1754
George Berkeley 1685-1753
Montesquieu 1689-1755
Voltaire 1694-1778
Carl Linnaeus 1701-1778
Thomas Bayes 1702-1761
David Hume 1711-1776
John Jacques Rousseau 1712-1778
Étienne Bonnot de Condillac 1714-1780
Claude Adrien Helvetius 1715-1771
Baron d'Holbach 1723-1789
Adam Smith 1723-1790
Immanuel Kant 1724-1804
Nicolas de Condorcet 1743-1794
Johann Gottfried Herder 1744-1803
Jeremy Bentham 1748-1832
Pierre-Simon Laplace 1749-1827
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 1749-1832
Joseph de Maistre 1753-1821
Henri de Saint-Simon 1760-1825
Johann Gottlieb Fichte 1762-1814
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel 1770-1831
Charles Fourier 1772-1837

FRENCH REVOLUTION 1787-1799

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788-1860
Richard Jones 1790-1855
Charles Babbage 1791-1871
John Herschel 1792-1871
William Whewell 1794-1866
Auguste Comte 1798-1857
John Stuart Mill 1806-73
Charles Darwin 1809-1882
Soren Kiekegaard 1813-1855
Karl Marx 1818-1883
Friedrich Engels 1820-1895
Ernst Mach 1838-1916
Charles Peirce 1839-1914
William James 1842-1910
Frederick Nietzsche 1844-1900
Georg Cantor 1845-1918
Gottlob Frege 1848-1925
Henri Poincaré 1854-1912
Giuseppe Peano 1858-1932
Edmund Husserl 1859-1938
Henri Bergson 1859-1941
John Dewey 1859-1952
Rabindranath Tagore 1861-1941
Vladimir Lenin 1870-1924
Marcel Proust 1871-1922
Bertrand Russell 1872-1970
GE Moore 1873-1958
Albert Einstein 1879-1955
Moritz Schlick 1882-1936
Otto Neurath 1882-1945
Aldous Huxley 1894-1963
Ludwig Wittgenstein 1889-1951
Martin Heidegger 1889-1976
Hans Reichenbach 1891-1953
Rudolf Carnap 1891-1970
Mao Zedong 1893-1976
Lev Vygotsky 1896-1934
Gilbert Ryle 1900-1976
Herbert Feigl 1902-1988
Karl Popper 1902-1994
George Orwell 1903-1950
Gregory Bateson 1904-1980
BF Skinner 1904-1990
Jean-Paul Sartre 1905-1980
Raymond Aron 1905-1983
Carl Gustav Hempel 1905-1997
Kurt Godel 1906-1978
Nelson Goodman 1906-1998
Willard Van Ormon Quine 1908-2000
Isaiah Berlin 1909-1997
A. J. Ayer 1910-1989
Alan Turing 1912-1954
Wilfrid Sellers 1912-1989
Iris Murdoch 1919-1999
John Rawls 1921-2002
Imre Lakatos 1922-1974
Thomas Kuhn 1922-1996
Evald Ilyenkov 1924-1979
Paul Feyerabend 1924-1994
Michel Foucault 1926-1984
Hilary Putnam 1926-2016
Marvin Minsky 1927-2016
Seymour Papert 1928-2016
Bernard Williams 1929-2003
Allan Bloom 1930-1992
Richard Rorty 1931-2007
Marshall Berman 1940-2013

STILL ALIVE

Noam Chomsky 1928-
Amartya Sen 1933-
Jerry Fodor 1935-
Ian Hacking 1936 -
Michael J Crowe 1936 -
Ronald Giere 1938 -
Bas van Fraasen 1941-
Larry Laudan 1941-
Paul Churchland 1942-
Daniel Dennett 1942-
Marcello Pera 1943-
Donald Gillies 1944 -
Douglas Hofstadter 1945-
Hartry Field 1946 -
Martha Nussbaum 1947-
Camille Paglia 1947-
Richard Yeo 1948-
Luc Ferry 1951-
Michele Moody-Adams 1956-
Laura Snyder 1964-

Possibly will be updated from time to time.

The genuine refutation

"The genuine refutation must penetrate the opponent's stronghold and meet him on his own ground; no advantage is gained by attacking him somewhere else and defeating him where he is not"
- GWF Hegel, Science of Logic: Subjective Logic or The Doctrine of the Notion
Both the critics and supporters of Direct Instruction do not refute from within the others respective strongholds. That is why this quote has been playing on my mind for sometime.