Monday, November 02, 2009

Discuss 7

'One of the most annoying things about the modern world is that it is so much less simple than it used to be.'
Bertrand Russell

15 comments:

  1. I like the use of the word 'annoying'. Poor bloke.

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  2. Ah, dear old Bertie, sitting there, baffling everyone within hearing range, spittle flecked lips working the audience, yet another batty theory.
    The rest of us would simply have said 'ain't life getting complicated', not Bertie, therein lies the rub.

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  3. Gazing up at the stars, that's what does it, Hoyle went the same way.

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  4. that's right, malty. it's not the world, it's these blokes coming up with new ideas for us to fill our heads with all the time! much simpler when we wanted something, we just cried.

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  5. Apparently there is a growing scientific consensus that, unless dramatic action is taken immediately, the world is at risk from rapidly accelerating global complexity. They insist the science is very simple.

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  6. I do think you guys are being hard on poor Bertie--just look at the intellectual turmoil he had to cope with. Indeed I think we are still processing it now--there is no settled consensus as to just what happened to physical reality in the early 20th century. Of course *I* know what happened, maybe along with almost everybody else, but as I said there is no consensus. That is a complicated situation considering that when Russell started out it was reckoned that they could hand physics over to hacks to work out the reaming decimal places.

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  7. I love the essay this quote came from. So I'll slip that into the thread: Are Criminals Worse than Other People?

    One by one, Bertie forgives each of the people in jail, and makes them interesting company. He even says that the murderer had the bad luck of being sufficiently provoked, plus that "ungovernable rage is a psychological aberration . . . a mark of disease rather than wickedness."

    And the cunning "forger and fraudulent company promoter" should be treated to a "course of Schopenhauer and a lobster salad, to cure them simultaneously of optimism and good digestion." I wonder what Madoff is reading and eating now. But oh, the good old days, when "[r]ogues, though they might prosper for a while, invariably came to a bad end; some honest men might fail to become rich, but this was considered exceptional, as was shown by the phrase 'honest though poor.'"

    Along these lines, however, Madoff is in jail, and Jeff Picower is no longer rich, but found dead in a swimming pool. With these developments, I can feel the world getting simpler again.

    It's curious, though, that the previous essay in the collection ended with this:

    If, therefore, we wish to diminish the love of money which, we are told, is the root of all evil, the first step must be the creation of a system in which everyone has enough and no one has too much.

    That seems like a simple wish. It has never been accomplished. I suppose Norway is the closest thing :o) But it hints at a simpler future, versus a simpler past.

    The problem is with the rogues who have no respect for money in the first place, which is a sort of prerequisite to amassing a fortune, legally in most cases, never mind illegally. But just as with murderers, they will always be with us. The essay on criminals then leads into a two-fold problem with creating a bright future. How can we have peace, when so many people are inherently violent? And how can we have a healthy socio-economic system when so many people are inherently rogues? It's just not going to be simple.

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