Action

I’ve been tagged by Gordon Watts:

So the game is, take the closest book to you right now, go to the fifth sentence on page 123, write the following three sentences in the blog, and tag three people.

I’m home at my mom’s house in Yreka, and the closest book is “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl. On page 123, I find, a fifth sentence of

Sometimes the situation in which man finds himself may require him to shape his own fate by action.

Pretty optimistic, no? But what does it mean for you to take action and shape your own fate? Yep, I must get my philosophical genes from my mom 🙂 So I need to tag three people:

Quantumbiodiscs
Scrofulous
Life Without Translation

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2 Responses to Action

  1. John Sidles says:

    No blog should be lonely on New Year’s Eve! Plus, we’re at a break-point in our molecular imaging experiment (attempting the first viral-scale images). So here are the two books closest to my hand:

    The Matt Rielly technothriller Ice Station, from which sentences 6-8 of page 123 read:

    Like a demon rising from the depths, one of the pursuing killer whales roared out of the water and hurled its massive body up on the deck, landing on the thick metal grating with an enormous crash. The huge whale slid fast across the deck, carried forward by the weight of its own inertia. It rolled smoothly on its side as it moved, so that its jaws opened vertically, and then, with almost effortless grace, it caught one of the Frenchmen in its mouth and bit down hard.

    Now, I can guess what you’re thinking: “Why is the killer whale biting a Frenchman? Why is it not biting a Britishman?” To which I can only say, with reference to page 400, that gigantic plutonium-mutated (and extremely hungry) Antarctic elephant seals definitely prefer British cuisine.

    Uhhh … what’s the next-nearest book? It’s Jonathan Israel’s similarly gigantic (but hopefully not plutonium-mutated) Enlightenment Contested, from which sentences 6-8 of page 123 read:

    Nor should one suppose that, after Spinoza’s death, the Dutch Socian Collegiants as a group were favorably disposed toward Spinozism. Already in the 1670s, and especially in the 1680s, leading anti-Trinitarians among the Collegiants, such as Frans Kuyper (1629-91), editor of parts of the Bibliotheca fratrum Polonorum (1656-92), the most notorious and frequently-banned set of Dutch-Polish Socian writings which he began to publish in 1668, reacted strongly against the Spinozist (and Cartesian) penetration of their movement; and even the most uncompromisingly `rationalist’ wing of the Polish Socians in exile segregated themselves with growing insistence, both practially and theoretically, from the Deists and Spinozists, calling their doctrine `rational religion’ by which they meant something quite different not just from Spinozist but also the `natural theology’ or `natural religion’ of Blount, Toland, and Tindall, as well as of the providential Deists. If Toland’s first book, Christianity not Mysterious, can rightly be said to be `more a Socian than a Deist or Materialist work’, Toland’s subsequent intellectual development diverged sharply, in the direction of materialism, pantheism, and a republican quasi-Spinozism.

    Of course, many of us are thinking the same thing. Hey, Jonathan Israel is cheating! He’s using semicolons to make his sentences longer! While Matt Reilly, with greater consideration for the reader, wholly eschews semicolons, no doubt because they slow down the action.

    On the other hand, perhaps some of us are wondering, upon further reflection: “Maybe, just maybe, Matt Reilly and Jonathan Israel are really the same person. An author who writes history under his own name, while secretly authoring techno-thrillers for fun and profit? In which case, the killer whale surely represents the modern Radical Enlightenment, which allegorically seeks to devour the Moderate Enlightenment of Voltaire, Newton, and Locke?”

    In favor of which hypothesis we note, first, that Enlightment authors have long embraced a tradition of anonymous publication, and second, that no other explanation of Matt Reilly’s elaborate plot makes any rational sense.

    The only remaining question is “who to tag?” The obvious candidates are the quantum theorists Stephen Adler, Erik Verlinde, and Gerard ‘t Hooft. Stephen Adler, because he is prominently thanked by Jonathan Israel in the preface to Enlightenment Contested. Erik Verlinde and Gerard ‘t Hooft, because their quantum research has been sponsored in part by the Spinoza Institute.

    It’s good to know that the centuries-old engagement of science and philosophy is, evidently, still vital in the 21st Century.

    Happy New Year to all! 🙂

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  2. John Sidles says:

    As a followup to the above tongue-in-cheek post, our QSE Group’s (more sober) two-page New Year’s essay entitled What is Quantum System Engineering? is now on-line here.

    This essay was written originally as the introduction to a review article on large-scale quantum simulation, and it equally serves to provide a paragraph-by-paragraph tribute and acknowledgment of the influence of Prof. Jonathan Israel’s Enlightenment Contested on our engineering research (as discussed in an appendix to the essay).

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