Saturday, April 23, 2011

Readings du Jour

  • Sean Carroll skims over many, many thought provoking questions in Avignon Day 3: Reductionism
    Of course it’s difficult to describe people using Schrodinger’s equation, but that’s not evidence that our behavior is actually incompatible with a reductionist description. To believe otherwise you have to believe that somewhere along the progression from particles to atoms to molecules to proteins to cells to organisms, physical systems begin to violate the microscopic laws of physics. At what point is that supposed to happen? And what evidence is there supposed to be?

  • A delightful little piece on Israel-North Korea relations! In the early 90s, apparently the Israeli Foreign Ministry tried to persuade the North Koreans to not sell missile technologies to Israel's enemies.
    Enter Mossad. Israel's spy agency got wind of this plan, and rushed to Pyongyang to stop it. In a moment of high black farce, the two Israeli delegations each only learned that the other had been in town as well when they bumped into each other on the plane back to Beijing afterwards. (The foreign ministry officials were seated in first class, while Mossad had to slum it in tourist class.)
    Bush the younger - Kim Jong-bush, shall we call him? - made many a fateful policy choice. This is one of his less famous ones, but it may yet turn out to be up there with invading Iraq.

  • Terry Eagleton, whom I first came across in this critical review of "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins, where he distinguished himself with such drivel as
    Nor is he a principle, an entity, or ‘existent’: in one sense of that word it would be perfectly coherent for religious types to claim that God does not in fact exist. He is, rather, the condition of possibility of any entity whatsoever, including ourselves. He is the answer to why there is something rather than nothing. God and the universe do not add up to two, any more than my envy and my left foot constitute a pair of objects.

    This, not some super-manufacturing, is what is traditionally meant by the claim that God is Creator. He is what sustains all things in being by his love; and this would still be the case even if the universe had no beginning. To say that he brought it into being ex nihilo is not a measure of how very clever he is, but to suggest that he did it out of love rather than need.

    Whaddeva. But this piece on Marx is actually readable and interesting.

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