If we take this into consideration, we shall see that it is each man’s duty to weigh well what are his own peculiar traits of character, to regulate these properly, and not to wish to try how another man’s would suit him. For the more peculiarly his own a man’s character is, the better it fits him.- Cicero: “De Officiis” .
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.- Oscar Wilde: “De Profundis”.
The findings at Göbekli Tepe suggest that […] it was actually the need to build a sacred site that first obliged hunter-gatherers go organize themselves as a workforce, to spend long periods of time in one place, to secure a stable food supply, and eventually to invent agriculture.- Elif Batuman: “The Sanctuary: The world’s oldest temple and the dawn of civilization” in the New Yorker.
Civilization did not rise and flourish as men hammered out hunting scenes on bronze gates and whispered philosophy under the stars […] No, garbage rose first, inciting people to build a civilization in response, in self-defense.- Don DeLillo: “Underworld” (1997).
Schmidt characterizes the people of Göbekli Tepe as “the victims of their own success.” Their way of life had been so successful that it found material expression in the form of a gigantic stone edifice, a reification of a spiritual world view. The very process of construction changed the world view, making the monument obsolete.- Elif Batuman: “The Sanctuary: The world’s oldest temple and the dawn of civilization” in the New Yorker, Dec. 2011.
The only thing is that the map… ..the map is not the territory- Sam. John Frankenheimer: “Ronin” (1998)
It is nevertheless the map that precedes the territory - precession of simulacra - that engenders the territory.- Jean Baudrillard: “Simulacres et simulation” (1981)
We say the map is different from the territory. But what is the territory? Operationally, somebody went out with a retina or a measuring stick and made representations which were then put on paper. What is on the paper map is a representation of what was in the retinal representation of the man who made the map; and as you push the question back, what you find is an infinite regress, an infinite series of maps. The territory never gets in at all. […] Always, the process of representation will filter it out so that the mental world is only maps of maps, ad infinitum.- Gregory Bateson: “Steps to an ecology of mind” (1972)
En aquel Imperio, el Arte de la Cartografía logró tal Perfección que el Mapa de una sola Provincia ocupaba toda una Ciudad, y el Mapa del Imperio, toda una Provincia. Con el tiempo, estos Mapas Desmesurados no satisficieron y los Colegios de Cartógrafos levantaron un Mapa del Imperio, que tenía el Tamaño del Imperio y coincidía puntualmente con él. Menos Adictas al Estudio de la Cartografía, las Generaciones Siguientes entendieron que ese dilatado Mapa era Inútil y no sin Impiedad lo entregaron a las Inclemencias del Sol y los Inviernos. En los Desiertos del Oeste perduran despedazadas Ruinas del Mapa, habitadas por Animales y por Mendigos; en todo el País no hay otra reliquia de las Disciplinas Geográficas- Jorge Luis Borges: “Del rigor en la ciencia” (1946)
- René Magritte: “La trahison des images” (1928-1929)
All the fragments of the afternoon collect around his airborne form. Shouts, bat-cracks, full bladders and stray yawns, the sand-grains manyness of things that can’t be counted. It is all falling indelibly into the past.- Don DeLillo: “Underworld” (1997)
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.- Francis Scott Fitzgerald: “The Great Gatsby” (1922)
- moscheles on Quora: Let’s formulate a version of the world without causation
I came to this problem from the research side of Artificial Intelligence. An AI robot will only ever see statistical correlations in its perceptions. In particular, the robot will need to remember causative correlations, and learn to ignore non-causative correlations in its sensory input. Humans do this effortlessly — naturally — since we carry around a Theory of Causation in our heads. But where would a robot ever get this idea? I do not see a way to bridge the yawning chasm between statistical or Bayesian correlations into a world containing causes.
Thinking writing, and reading about this for several months has forced me to confront the possibility that there is no such thing as causation in the physical world.
Were a man, such as Adam, created in the full vigour of understanding, without experience, he would never be able to infer motion in the second ball from the motion and impulse of the first. It is not anything that reason sees in the cause which makes us infer the effect. Such an inference, were it possible, would amount to a demonstration, as being founded merely on the comparison of ideas. But no inference from cause to effect amounts to a demonstration, of which there is this evident proof. The mind can always conceive any effect to follow from any cause, and indeed any event to follow upon another: whatever we conceive is possible, at least in a metaphysical sense; but wherever a demonstration takes place, the contrary is impossible, and implies a contradiction. There is no demonstration, therefore, for any conjunction of cause and effect.- David Hume: An abstract of A Treatise of Human Nature.
“The world for them is not a concourse of objects in space; it is a heterogeneous series of independent acts. It is successive and temporal, not spatial. There are no nouns in Tlön’s conjectural Ursprache… The perception of a cloud of smoke on the horizon and then of the burning field and then of the half-extinguished cigarette that produced the blaze is considered an example of association of ideas.”- Jorge Luís Borges, “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” in Ficciones [ES], [EN]
Gentlemen, welcome to the world of reality —there is no audience. No one to applaud, to admire. No one to see you. Do you understand? Here is the truth —actual heroism receives no ovation, entertains no one. No one queues up to see it. No one is interested.David Foster Wallace: “The Pale King”, p. 299.
“No matter what party one may belong to,” wrote Baudelaire in 1851, “it is impossible not to be gripped by the spectacle if this sickly population, which swallows the dust of the factories, breathes in particles of cotton, and lets its tissues be permeated by white lead, mercury, and all the poisoons needed for the production of masterpieces…; the spectacle of this languishing and pining population to whom the earth owes its wonders, who feeel hot, crimson blood coursing through their veins, and who cast a long sorrowful look at the sunlight and shadows of the great parks.” This population is the background which casts the outlines of the hero into bold relief. […] It takes a heroic constitution to live modernity. Balzac and Baudelaire are opposed to Romanticism on this point. […] The resistance that modernity offers to the natural productive élan of an individual is out of proportion to his strenght.Walter Benjamin: “The Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire”, (in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, vol 4. 1938-1940, p. 44.