Tag Archives: contingency

Whatever Works: Pierce’s Abduction, Darwin’s Evolution, Entropy, Bayes’ Rule, and Rorty’s Pragmatism

I’ve recently been struck by the similarity between Charles Sanders Pierce’s notion of abduction (reasoning to the best hypothesis; “may the best hypothesis win”), Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution (survival of the fittest; “may the best organism win”), entropy (what … Continue reading

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Terror Management Theory in a Nutshell

Freud and contingency. One of Sigmund Freud’s important insights is that each of us has a contingent history; that is, we each have been born into a particular place and time not of our choosing and live out our circumstances … Continue reading

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Embrace Chance?

In a collection of art essays by Roger Kimball titled Art’s Prospect (Ivan R. Dee 2003) is an essay on a Matisse exhibit in which Kimball writes the following (151): [Matisse] arrived [in Morocco in 1912] in the rainy season, … Continue reading

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Ralph Nader in His Prime

The ur-consumer advocate in 1970: __________ Good stuff. But I still blame him for Al Gore’s loss to George Bush in Florida in 2000. The gods of contingency can be absurdly and maliciously cruel to one’s legacy.

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The Lowdown

If you’re like me, you don’t want to die. And if you’re also like me, you’ve got things you tell yourself and things you do to divert your attention away from the fact that you will die. But even Ray Kurzweil will die. That’s … Continue reading

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From Lemons to Lemonade: Two Cool Examples of Contingency Turned to Art (One a Painting, One a Poem)

In a collection of art essays by Roger Kimball titled Art’s Prospect (Ivan R. Dee 2003) is an essay on a Matisse exhibit in which Kimball writes the following (151): [Matisse] arrived [in Morocco in 1912] in the rainy season, and his … Continue reading

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Bart Ehrman: Liars Wrote Parts of the Bible

Bart Ehrman has a new book out and it’s got a rather attention grabbing title: ‘Forged: Writing in the Name of God — Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are’ (HarperOne 2011). And in a recent piece for HuffPo, … Continue reading

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Chance v. Conspiracy Theory Watch: Ezra Klein’s Contingency Observations v. Matt Damon’s “The Adjustment Bureau”

At the Washington Post’s website, Ezra Klein shares why he can’t bring himself to sit through the conspiracy-themed Matt Damon film, The Adjustment Bureau: I can’t believe in guys in suits with the ability to plan things. And why can’t he believe … Continue reading

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Atheist universes without end: Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow’s ironically titled new book, “The Grand Design”

In a recent Washington Post review of Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow’s new book, The Grand Design  (Bantam 2010), physicist James Trefil summarizes how the authors answer this question: Where did our lawful universe come from?: Our current best description of the physics … Continue reading

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Jerry Coyne v. Jerry Fodor: The Great Divorce

Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini’s book, What Darwin Got Wrong (2010), received a fair amount of attention (and drubbing) when it first came out in February. On Tuesday of this week, evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne expressed dismay that Jerry Fodor, in a recent interview, continues … Continue reading

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Is a Fortunate and Highly Improbable Energy Resonance (that Makes Carbon Atoms—and Us—Possible) a Coincidence or a “Put-Up Job”?

Physicist John Polkinghorne thinks it’s a put-up job, and explains:

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Ontario Lacus: How Does It Feel to Live in an Alien World in Which Everything That Is Does Not Have to Be?

In a recent science article at the New York Times, the unpredictable blendings and contingencies of history jumped out at me in the way that Titan’s methane lake, “Ontario Lacus,” came to be named: In 2004 a camera known as the Imaging Science Subsystem on … Continue reading

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What does it mean to live in a contingent universe?

Does this mean the end of metaphysics (at least for this bicyclist)?: I think that the below Walker Percy quote, though about declining suicide (not the lucky escape of an accident) goes rather nicely with the above video. The above bicyclist, … Continue reading

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Nietzsche’s checkmate: does atheism lead to totalitarianism?

A.C. Grayling, an atheist author that I tend to otherwise love, calls the idea that atheism gave birth to communism and fascism a theist “canard.” But, as an agnostic who has been doing a good deal of Nietzsche reading lately, I’m not … Continue reading

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If I don’t think Islam is an inherently violent religion, then what theory do I offer for explaining contemporary Islamic terrorism as a phenomenon?

I’ll offer one to start: the collapse of Marxism as an ideological force over the past 20 years has left the poor in formerly colonial powers at a loss for an ideological substitute for resistance to what they perceive as … Continue reading

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In case you’re having a bad day

The below video offers a bit of perspective. Carl Sagan: Astronomy is a humbling and character building experience.

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What is amor fati?

What Friedrich Nietzsche took from Charles Darwin is the idea of radical contingency, and so Nietzsche’s amor fati  (love of fate) is an embrace of all of life’s contingencies. Do you have the courage to embrace your existential situation (what Sartre called … Continue reading

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Survival of the Physics: Quantum Darwinism?

Have you ever heard of quantum Darwinism? It’s not a form of New Age woo, but something that physicists are seriously exploring. This yesterday at PhysOrg.com: The basis of almost any theoretical quantum-to-classical transition lies in the concept of decoherence. … Continue reading

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A Song for Barack Obama: “Stuck in the Middle with You”

Barack Obama picked a hell of a time to be president: he’s a centrist politician who, in addition to inheriting a number of seemingly intractable economic and foreign policy dilemmas, is surrounded by total nut cases to one side of him … Continue reading

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Why I blog

Here’s my list of reasons for blogging: Contingency. Blogging is a rather pure way of embracing contingency (chance). Like dropping a marble down a pachinko machine, I put a random thought out into the world and see what associations it provokes in me and anyone … Continue reading

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