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Showing posts from July 11, 2004
Bollettino   But I will never believe that all natural Knowledge was shut up in Aristotle's Brain, or that the Heathen only invaded Nature, and found out her Strength. We know that Time and not Reason, Experience and not Art both taught the Causes of such Effects, as that Sowerness doth Co[...]gulate Milk; but ask the Reason why and how it does it, and Vulgar Philosophy cannot satisfie you; nor in many Things of the like Nature, as why Grass is green rather than red. Man hardly discerns the Things on Earth; his Time is but short to learn, and begins no sooner to learn than to dye: Whose Memory has but a borrowed Knowledge; understanding nothing truly, and is ignorant of the Essence of his own Soul; which Aristotle could never define, but by effects, which all Men know as well as he. – Sir Walter Raleigh   The prestige of the  experiment In 1877, John Tyndall gave an address in Belfast that was emblematic of the high and confident positivism of the time. In one passage, he
Bollettino In his comments to my little note on thought experiments, Paul made two challenges. The second of those challenges is not, I think, a real problem. Paul asks whether my criteria for an experiment – that there be a performative stage in it – wouldn’t be fulfilled in going through a syllogism, thus collapsing the distinction between experiment and logic. There are two things to say here. One is that performance in and of itself isn’t sufficient to make an experiment, even though I maintain that it is necessary condition on any experiment. The second is that the material performance of the experiment must be such that it is somehow connected to the design of the experiment. That connection is what the risk in the experiment is all about. So, to use the example of the experiments made on humans in light deprived environments, the performance of the experiment put at risk a hypothesis about the length of human’s circadian rhythm. This is quite different from positing that all
Bollettino LI urges our readers to go to James Meek’s article about Siberia and Russia in the LRB, here : He takes down, with exemplary disdain, a Brookings Institute study by two residents, Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy, of Russia’s climate problem – which problem being the results of two centuries of Russian empire building that has left a considerable portion of the population in a part of the world where temperatures shift from the merely nippy, on the odd June day, to the deeper pockets of the frost-bite zone. Stalin’s mad and cruel relocating of significant masses of Russians to Siberia, in order to hack out the natural wealth of the region, has left Russia as a country that resembles an efficiency apartment connected to an industrial sized freezer. This, at least, is an observation that binds him to the people in the book he is reviewing. But he is unbound from the book by retaining a humanity that escapes the untrammeled and witless rationality of people in think tanks.
Bollettino “During one of my visits with Iranian war victims last summer, one veteran -- plastic tubes pumping oxygen into his body through his nostrils -- asked me why there was no international outrage when Iraq used chemical weapons. "Why did the world look the other way?" he asked imploringly. The United States and the international community should urge the Iraqi governing council to "look the other away" no more. All victims of Saddam's foreign wars should be included in the indictment, not just those who happen to be allies of the United States. All over the world, too many people think of Washington's human rights approach as selective, based on national interest, not moral imperative. Here's an opportunity to prove the naysayers wrong and do what is morally right -- as quaint a notion as that may be in international affairs. Now is the moment when Washington could step forward and urge the Iraqi governing council to include Iran's victi