[lit-ideas] Re: A Service Profession

  • From: John Wager <jwager@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 29 Jun 2009 19:20:50 -0500

A quote from another source, with a very different conclusion:

we have only to discover these laws of nature, and man will no longer have to answer for his actions and life will become exceedingly easy for him. All human actions will then, of course, be tabulated according to these laws, mathematically, like tables of logarithms up to 108,000, and entered in an index; or, better still, there would be published certain edifying works of the nature of encyclopaedic lexicons, in which everything will be so clearly calculated and explained that there will be no more incidents or adventures in the world.

Then--this is all what you say--new economic relations will be established, all ready-made and worked out with mathematical exactitude, so that every possible question will vanish in the twinkling of an eye, simply because every possible answer to it will be provided. Then the "Palace of Crystal" will be built. Then.... In fact, those will be halcyon days. Of course there is no guaranteeing (this is my comment) that it will not be, for instance, frightfully dull then (for what will one have to do when everything will be calculated and tabulated), but on the other hand everything will be extraordinarily rational.

Of course boredom may lead you to anything. It is boredom sets one sticking golden pins into people, but all that would not matter. What is bad (this is my comment again) is that I dare say people will be thankful for the gold pins then. Man is stupid, you know, phenomenally stupid; or rather he is not at all stupid, but he is so ungrateful that you could not find another like him in all creation. I, for instance, would not be in the least surprised if all of a sudden, A PROPOS of nothing, in the midst of general prosperity a gentleman with an ignoble, or rather with a reactionary and ironical, countenance were to arise and, putting his arms akimbo, say to us all: "I say, gentleman, hadn't we better kick over the whole show and scatter rationalism to the winds, simply to send these logarithms to the devil, and to enable us to live once more at our own sweet foolish will!" That again would not matter, but what is annoying is that he would be sure to find followers--such is the nature of man.
Dostoevsky, in/ Notes from Underground./

The problem is that ALL calculations and ratiocinations have, as their subject matter, the world as it existed before humans knew the result of those calculations, and the world where humans have discovered those calculations is by definition NOT the reality that the calculations were done upon. Or, as Karl Jaspers said in just about every chapter of every book, man is more than he can know about himself." Our knowledge of ourselves produces a different self, one not covered by that knowledge.

karltrogge@xxxxxxxx wrote:

On 29-Jun-09, at 10:12 PM, Robert Paul wrote:

'...it will hardly be possible to end controversies and impose silence on the sects, unless we resolve complex arguments into simple calculations, and substitute well-defined symbols for terms with vague and uncertain meanings...Once this has been done, however...disputes between philosophers will become as unnecessary as disputes between accountants. All we need to do is...take up our pens, or sit down at our abacus, and say to one another, _calculemus_.'

A free Mutton College T-shirt to the first person to identify the author of this quote (size XXXL only).

It sounds like Leibniz to me.

Karl Trogge

To change your Lit-Ideas settings (subscribe/unsub, vacation on/off,
digest on/off), visit www.andreas.com/faq-lit-ideas.html

To change your Lit-Ideas settings (subscribe/unsub, vacation on/off,
digest on/off), visit www.andreas.com/faq-lit-ideas.html

Other related posts: