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Posted by spritzophrenia on July 16, 2010

Like interesting quotes? Here’s a random selection from my latest pile from the library:

[In] the novel Mindscan, in the future we will become immortal by first scanning our brains. … To ensure the mental health of the people undergoing mind transfer, Mindscan scientists find that these artificial brains must be pre-installed in robotic bodies before the person wakes up.

Clifford Pickover A Beginner’s Guide to Immortality: Extraordinary people, alien brains and Quantum Resurrection (Thunders Mouth Press, 2007) p94


The presumption of atheism which I want to discuss is not a form of presumptuousness. Indeed, it might be regarded as an expression of the very opposite, a modest teachability.

Anthony Flew The Presumption of Atheism (Elek/Pemberton, 1976) p13

If we take the concept of embodiment seriously, then there cannot be any mental concept without its physical expression.

Anne Forest God in the Machine: What Robots Teach us about humanity and God (Plume, 2004) [She talks about a concept of embodiment I’d already thought of. Exciting!] P 105

The important thing to note is that all appeals to an infinite number of different universes as an escape from the conclusion of a divinely designed universe are forms of the gambler’s fallacy.

Hugh Ross The Creator and the Cosmos (Navpress, 3rd ed, 2001) [Um… ok? Astronomer, not a young earth creationist.]

I think evolution is true. The process, as I reflect on it, is an expression of God’s creativity, although in a way that is not captured by the scientific view of the world. … Science provides a partial set of insights that, though powerful, don’t answer all the questions.

Karl Giberson Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution (HarperOne, 2008) [Former fundamentalist young-earth creationist tells his story.] p216

“The Spirit (God himself in his relationship to the world) also works in the creation and preservation of the world. Man is not forsaken by God. Otherwise he would live in a complete hell. … People create somewhat sanctified [social] structures, and those structures force people to conduct themselves in a somewhat sanctified manner. … Tying in with … that work, the Spirit works through sanctified people as instruments of love.”

Hendrikus Berkhof Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Study of the Faith (Revised ed.) (Eerdmans, 1986) p 512 [Theology text which has some useful notes on my thinking around experience and g0d for an article I‘m working on.]

Everything I see – the water, the log-wrecked beach, the farm on the hill, the bluff, the white church in the trees – looks overly distinct and shining. (What is the relationship of color to this sun, of sun to anything else?) It all looks staged.

Annie Dillard Holy The Firm (Perennial, 1977) [Pulizter Prize Winner] p49

Leave all these things alone: silence or speech, fasting or eating, solitude or company, and the like, and don’t bother about them; you don’t know what they mean, and it’s not worth your while trying to find out. … This grace will certainly never come to us through keeping strict silence [etc] … If we are to have this grace it has to come from within, from God…

From A Much Needed Letter on Moderation In Spiritual Impulses in Charles Crawford (trans) The Cell of Self-Knowledge: Early English Mystical Treatises (Crossroad, 1981)

The theoretical distinction between substances and modes is between those things that can exist on their own and don’t depend on anything else for their existence (substances), and those that cannot exist on their own and depend on substances for their existence (modes).

Cardinal, Hayward, Jones The Meditations [of] Rene Descartes (Hodder Murray, 2006) p67 [Well-done philosophy text to accompany D’s famous work.]

Magic seeks different satisfactions from science. It is best seen as a highly developed gesture language, not depending on hypotheses or evidence, or seeking causal explanations as does science. So there is no progress in magic as there is in science.

Heaton, Groves Understanding Wittgenstein (Ikon, 2005) p 124

15 Responses to “Booklust”

  1. Iain said

    That’s a wide range of very interesting looking books, my friend!

    But I notice one thing: Descartes. FLEE! FLEE TO THE HILLS!

    I must say, you seem to have a bit more patience than I do with respect to some of the literature that you’ll make yourself read through but it looks like they should make a good read.

    I’ve studied (and really enjoy) computer science, cognitive psychology, and cognitive science so if you get around to posting anything about transhumanism, the mind, or A.I. then I’ll definitely make sure to stop by to comment.

    • I have friends who are into transhumanism, mostly I read about it as Science Fiction, which is also rather enjoyable as well as possibly predictive. Some ideas might find their way into my own story ideas, it’s also annoying when I discover others have already had them!

      Re: Descartes. I never really felt I got to grips with his thinking, so thought a brief overview might help. Why flee?

      Thanks, your comments are always appreciated.

      • Iain said

        Descartes just really bugs me. Even though the idea didn’t technically originate from him, the notion of Cartesian Skepticism (am I a brain in a vat / dreaming / systematically deceived about reality by an evil demon? how can I tell?) has had a profound impact on hundreds of years of philosophy as well as the thoughts of a great many individuals.

        I see Cartesian Skepticism as a vast sink-hole that leads the unwary yet genuinely philosophically curious into it never to escape. An honest thinker concedes that, logically, it is correct on some level (but, to be specific, I wouldn’t even publically concede that without some caveats). But there is a range of contemporary solutions to it. Usually people ignore it because on a naive level we are “natural born believers” and we just take Realism for granted. Usually most people consider our senses to be a reliable foundation for knowledge. However, since Descartes is often delivered at an introductory level, most people have their Naive Realism bubble popped without having the philosophical skills to withstand Descartes and replace it with a more nuanced view.

        I consider Descartes to be a destroyer of unprepared minds (is that too strong?). Unless you take Descartes’ own way out of it (belief in God, who secures the guarantee of trustworthy perceptions) then many find his own answer unsatisfactory and they discover that they are in a logical dead-end. So they either react by considering Descartes and all philosophy like his own to be irrelevant and nonsensical OR they become a Cartesian Skeptic. Both are unfortunate results, in my opinion.

        I think the best approach would be to provide some introductory material on OTHER views first so that people have the ammunition to face Descartes’ master argument.

        • Wise words imho. I do get your point about being introduced to a world of EXTREME scepticism that kind of confounds your ability to think about other things.

          I’m probably some kind of realist, even if I can’t intellectually justify it. Doubting that I, or the world exists just seems kinda silly and doesn’t lead to much constructive. So take that Mr D.

          Although I do take from it the useful idea that one can be sceptical about anything, there is no “killer argument” that will absolutely convince everyone all of the time.

          My standard approach to anyone who says “Prove to me that God exists” is to say “Sure, but first prove to me that *you* exist.” The idea being to illustrate that point.

          Not that I am sure g0d exists, but that’s the point about being spritzophrenic, I can wear different hats 🙂

        • Iain said

          I think that you’ve hit on one form of response. The value is that it is valuable to be skeptical about a range of things but I think the important addition is to identify what level of skepticism you are applying to which issue. I won’t bother expounding the philosophical on that. The easiest way that I think about that is that skepticism is just like trust. “Can I trust this person?” has as many answers as the people that you ask it of, and there isn’t only two values (complete trust / complete mistrust).

          “prove to me that *you* exist” haha, yes, how annoying of you 🙂 The most irritating thing about CS is that it withholds judgment in the light of determining evidence which, since evidence is empirical, can never come. It’s the ultimate zero-burden-of-proof gambit; it doubts all without making ANY positive claims.

          (Sorry, I just like spelling “skeptical” with a K, due to my american introduction to skepticism. That and the fact that “sceptic” reminds me of “septic”.)

  2. Iain said

    p.s. I have some serious reservations about the direction Pickover is going in, but I’ll save my verbosity for when/if you make a post on that.

    • A particular post on Pickover is unlikely to happen at this point, so please write away, it’s welcome. In fact, if you wish to write a guest post on this subject, be my … er… guest. 🙂

      • Iain said

        Great, thanks, perhaps I’ll pen a few thoughts and see if I think they’re blogworthy.

        If you have any guidelines or expectations that you have for writing on your blog then you can email them to me. I’ll DM you my email address in Twitter. I apologize in advance for my address, I used to be in a Medieval Reinactment group…

        • Haha, I have friends in a Medieval reinactment group. I don’t think I really have any guidelines. Anything is fair game here, shorter is probably better than longer – one of my eternal failings.

          Anyway, talk to you via email.

  3. Anne said

    I think each of these quotes are worthy of a blog post… especially Anne Forest’s, which I’m afraid I don’t follow at all. : )

    • Don’t worry, Anne, it’s just a random excerpt from her short story so probably isn’t meant to make sense beyond evoking a feeling.

      I doubt I’m going to have time to blog about each thing in particular, but then there is no hurry really. Good suggestion 🙂

  4. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” ~S. Covey

    • I wonder if Covey got that from Francis of Assisi? There is a well-known “desiderata” if I got that right that includes the words “[God], let me understand before seeking to be understood?”

      Haven’t researched this, so my memory may be incorrect in the details.

  5. Hmmm. No idea but wow.

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