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Thursday, September 3, 2009


(Hearaclitus, Greek circa 503 BC)

This excellent philosophical insight from the ancient greek whom Nietszche extolled as the greatest of philosophers, even though only fragments of his philosophy remain, once understood sets up the dichotomy with Plato, some centuries later, from which all that we are discussing derives.

For if you can't postulate a "river" as it is always changiing, e.g. flowing, nor tree - always growing (Nietzshe), nor human -always forgetting and experiencing anew; than by extension all things change nothing exists in and of itself, there are no first essences or eternal principles. One can contrast this with the Platonic in which idealized forms express the essence of things and exist somewhere outside of our observation for the world of observation and phenomenon is for most observers one of flux. Aristotle and Kant who dealt mightily with this problem came to the postulate of God in order for the observable to have a basis in permanent reality as opposed to flux.

It appears to me that the mathematical problem Barkley was laying out of math as an immutable system rooted in reality(classical) or a theoretical construct of our imagination - "intuitionism" is again this issue of flux or permanent discernible realities.

My impression is that belief in one or the other of these systems is a genetic pre-disposition informed only marginally by our experience. For me a tendancy in the direction of Heraclitus and the wonder of unending differences has been reinforced with age as I forget my early life ane renew my currrent interests and beliefs.

Has the belief in permanency aided economics (or medicine)? Perhaps, but any belief exercised to an extreme is exclusive and shuts out much of what should be known. This is where I believe we are in economics and I see no signs of it changing unless and until the crisis increases significantly. And it will if things are in flux.



Debra said...

SS, I see this problem as two different perceptions of what we call "time" and how we attempt to make sense of it.
One way of seeing is what I call in French, "evenementiel". To those with a linguistic bent, this corresponds to : Napoleon was born on August 15, 17__. (I know it's August 15 because it's my birthday, too...) Punctual time. Being born only happens once, in the sense of coming out of the womb.
But... life is made of daily actions that are repeated ad infinitum with small and sometimes large variants on the theme. (The sometimes extremely subtle variations being what Heraclitus was picking up on in his river image ?)
Whether or not there is a BIG difference between repeated (iterative) acts or punctual ones is important basically to our subjective perception of time.
You may have noticed how much we would like ALL of our actions to be... "happenings", your English word for what we call "evenement".
That is a little... UNREALISTIC, to use a word which you will not find me use very often without quotation marks around it.
Repetition is a major challenge for our civilization. We don't know how to give meaning to it...(It can be done, but it is an art, not a... science.)
I try not to bring God into any discussion in order to EXPLAIN anything. "He" "she" or "it" (language can be so inadequate) does NOT EXIST in order to EXPLAIN anything. (See last post.)

SS said...

I too am Virgo!!


Debra said...

Lol, sweetie, I'm not... Virgo, I'm...
LEO !!!!
Couldn't you tell ????
By the way, thought you would like to know that I had my husband dig out his copy of "le gai savoir" and I am now reading it, albeit... slowly, as I have mucho other reading on the burner...

SS said...

@ Heraclitus

Yes, yes, the passage of time is part of change and flux but the river itself has changed, water evaporates, some gone to salt, fish changed places, some droplets moved further downstream, volumes and flow-speeds at different points changed; nothing is the same.


SS said...

@ Leo

Napoleon and you missed the Virgo constellation by a week to 10 days. Too bad, you could have settled into idealized worlds rather than running around trying to make one.


Thai said...

"My impression is that belief in one or the other of these systems is a genetic pre-disposition informed only marginally by our experience."

WOW! Great post SS. I am really impressed; need to think about this.

... Hmmm, Is a genetic predisposition something of flux or permanence????

Dink said...

Things went fast today; I'll try to keep up:

1) Thai linked the article on finger-biting protesters.

2)Then SS commented:
Your husband should send you for retroactive care, and you Dink. Well you're condemned to the West Coast.
Thank god for Thai and the DAR purity commission."

3) Deb added a new post to yell at us.

4) Thai and Deb e-hugged

5)SS added a new post using the word "flux" (one of my favorites). It was nicely written and I need to reflect before I can comment.

6) Deb admitted to being a Leo like Napolean. I was born two days earlier so also a Leo, but more of the Fidel Castro/Annie Oakley/Don Ho variety. Were the bastards of the zodiac from what I understand!

Really SS, if you could explain item #2 I'd appreciate it ;)

Debra said...

Well, things are going even faster now, aren't they ?
E-hugged... have to think about that.
Since I yell about rules only to break them, Thai, I would appreciate it if you or anybody else interested managed to find a link about silicosis and sanding jeans in third world countries outside of the U.S.
If y'all don't already know this horrible story, you should.
Hugs and kisses to EVERYBODY.
(And where would the world BE without us Leos, Dink ?) It would be so much less... interesting.

Thai said...

Let's not forget Virgo and Libra

Dink said...

"Let's not forget Virgo and Libra"

Good fellows all. In fact, almost certainly better fellows than the ogre sun cats ;)

I googled astrology for the hell of it; very cool occult symbols and whatnot. Then sort of an odd melancholy hit. For thousands of years we poor H. Sapiens have been trying to make sense of ourselves.

Which sort of swings around to SS's post. The Earth certainly fluctuates a lot on a geological time scale, but it probably appeared permanent relative to our ancestor's brief lifespans. Permanent enough for "middle world" purposes. Our would is much different these last ~500 years.

I agree with you on American's false sense of permanency of our economy. Joe on SD seems bent on a Big Change within the year. Hell himself seems to imagine a gradual evolution to something more sustainable. My mood can flux between "gold and ammo" and "hey, maybe I should get back into the market" in the same hour. Man, I'd love some permanency to believe in.

Anonymous said...

@ truth will out!

Can we have a self-assessment of the permanence crowd versus the flux crowd.
Preliminary results from the virgo/Leo non alignment matrix have it as follows:
SS - flux
Debra - permanence
Thai - permanence -
Dink - flux
Okie- confused
Hell - permanence
Marcus - flux


Debra said...

SS, you are being lazy...
Just because the syllable "God" passed my lips that does NOT mean that I am a permanence person.
Heraclitus/Plato can be examined through the prism of linguistics as Beneviste understood, and then things get interesting.
The very nature of the substantive "river" is to FIX that unknowable (Heraclitus) and unfixable (Heraclitus) phenomenon that we have encapsulated and harnessed DUE to the very use of the substantive river.
But... as de Saussure understood, there is no determined relationship between our substantives, indeed our language itself, and that... not even THING that we give the name "river" to.
I am not a permanence person, and my insistance on repetition and its function/importance illustrates this, in my book at least.
Okie isn't necessarily confused. He doesn't have an opinion : maybe he doesn't bother to read our philosophica/poetical elucubrations.
And... we don't know when his birthday is either.
So... is Thai a Libra, then ?

SS said...


Are you sure a Leo can handle flux? Usually it's not allowed, Leos needing to be grounded and all that, there always trying to get a hold of things, devour them, toy with them in their massive paws, so when everything is not what it seems they seem to lose it. Virgos, no problem. I think I wll make the case for you though, you seem to be about as "flux" as one can get changing from minute to minute if not day to day. Maybe you've already lost your marbles, and with them any firm grip on reality? Glad you're married to a Doctor they seem to have a grip on things.

Anyway the zodiac commission will decide, it's out of my hands. LOL


Thai said...

Three cheers for permanence!

Hip hip hooray!
Hip hip hooray!
Hip hip hooray!

One is reminded of the Arnold Lobel bedtime stories I have read my boys for years; morning best!

... Start on page 8; I know you can read the chapter title "the club" as I read it to my kids when they were 2 and 3 and it is 8 pages of a children's book with big type... And SS has little ones if he has not read it to them already.

Be well all... Which reminds me, everyone should wish Okie a great cruise in the Caribbean. I am personally wishing he finds a hot mama like we all have at home (or hot papa at home like some have).

Debra said...

Well, Thai, what grapevine are YOU connected to, to know that Okie is going cruising around the Meditterranean and SHOULD hook up with a hot mama ????
Where are you getting your info from, please ????

Debra said...

Thai, I read through one half of the morning book before my eyes started glazing over and I had to close the window (not put it down anymore, is it... ???)
You should check out Claude Boujon, a French writer for children.
The advantage of Boujon's books is that... now that my children are approaching 20, they can still pick up his books, and... ENJOY them, something I defy you to do with the Lobel book I just dipped into...
But then, that's true, I have prejudices... after spending all my adolescent years desperately wanting to BELONG (to clubs, to anything...) now you couldn't catch me alive wanting to belong to anything...
Check out Boujon. And if he doesn't exist in English, well then, that's really too bad, 'cause there're few around writing as well as he did (yup, he's dead now...)
Enjoy !!!
Doctor Seuss (the Lorax is an excellent eco book) is ok too...

Thai said...

Deb no comment... other than to say you are not reading my posts (nor the chapter in Lobel's book) closely. I think my little one might reply to your comment: "huh?"

It's obviously just my opinion but Lobel's Grasshopper on the Road, and his all time classic Days with Frog and Toad are some of the very best children's books out there (for very little ones). And "yes, of course", Seuss is obviously also very very good as well.

My point:
Grasshopper- Flux
Frog and Toad- Permanence (fwiw)

And thanks for the recommendation, I'll check out Boujon.

Thai said...

Dink and resident philosopher SS, I read this last night and had to smile.

I hope it is true, it is such an elegant solution.

SS said...


That's really awesome.

I think physics along with Deb has gone off the deep end.


OkieLawyer said...

@ Deb:

Thai and I know each other (through the Sudden Debt blog). We even met once in person (when I was working in Pennsylvania).

We talk periodically on the phone, as well. So that is where he is able to get information.


What did you mean by my being "confused?" And what is all of this permanence vs. flux stuff about?

SS said...

Meanwhile back at the ranch.

Homeless children enrolled in school about doubled across the U.S.!

How one can be homeless and enrolled in school at the same time is beyond me but hey this is a can do country whatever that still means.


Debra said...

Mea culpa, Thai. I didn't read the Lobel book far enough (but I still couldn't read much farther with your link).
OK for flux for this book, although I couldn't read more than one page of the other one, and you know, it really is SO irksome trying to get English books over here...
I still find the vocabulary for these books extraordinarily "plat" as we say over here, or "flat", you might say in your neck of the woods.
They reflect a world where meaning is all about content, and not... playing with words (not too much word play in the Grasshopper story, is there ?).
For the physics, I agree with Dink. I must say : translation please ???

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Time Bandits