Saturday, December 17, 2016

I've got to go to a funeral so I won't be posting anything until Monday.  

Friday, December 16, 2016

Mary Lou Williams Three Waltzes

Mary Lou's Waltz
Waltz Boogie
My First Date With You 

Update:  From This Moment On 

Olivier Messiaen - Twenty Contemplations On The Baby Jesus - The First Communion of the Virgin

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano

".... your favorite bull shit ..... " Hate Mail

Update December 16,2016.

No, that piece I reposted yesterday isn't my favorite post, I don't know which one would be.  I can say that this one gave me a lot of pleasure.  I don't know if anyone else ever pointed out the incompetence of one of Richard Dawkins' most successfully sold bogus scientific ideas in therms of not only its obvious lapses in physics (speed of sound) and mathematics (his idea has to mean that decreasing numbers in a population has to result in an increase in percentage) but also in its basic contradiction of several claims of the very Darwinism Dawkins was trying to advance in creating his explanatory myth.

This second version contains an update saying a bit about why I've gone from a conventional belief in natural selection to being skeptical of the idea.   In the several years since I wrote it I've become even more skeptical of that explanation of evolution and more convinced that a lot of the supposed progress in biology based in it is likely as illusory as so much of the past progress it was imagined was being made in psychology under that field's conventional dogmas.   If I updated it it would be even more controversial because all of my subsequent reading on the topic has made me even more skeptical of it.  For the record, I don't believe any less in evolution, I am skeptical of the practice of explaining it in terms of the British class system, which is what Darwin actually did.   I doubt that there is any one definable force that explains evolution, I think it's certainly a far more massively complex phenomenon and suspect many individual "forces" or circumstances created it.

One of the most popular ideas in current materialism, atheism and among the self appointed "skeptics" is that "altruism" is a product of natural selection.   That idea was pushed by a latter day Darwinist named W.D. Hamilton* who came up with equations alleging to prove that conscious acts of self sacrifice by an individual were really acts of genetic self-interest, selfishness for the propagation of genes by organisms that are the mere robots and vehicles of them.

Backing up, the problem that acts of generosity posed for the theory of natural  selection goes back to the beginning with Darwin.  If natural selection is what formed all organisms, body and mind and behavior, acts of generous self-sacrifice, resulting in the death or injury or even some form of reproductive disadvantage can't be explained.  Natural selection is, as even Darwin asserted, all about "survival of the fittest" [On the Origin of Species 5th ed. p. 92] in a struggle for life and reproduction.  And, as seen in yesterday's post, Darwin and his followers were already making the most extravagant claims about its action in human societies.   They, of course, had nothing but narrative, lacking data to back up then claims.  Quite often in Darwin, Haeckel and others, the narrative was a thinly veiled creation myth designed to assert an appearance of natural selection in nature when it was only there in the fables.  That effort has continued down to today, it is the reason why such an overwhelming amount of asserted "science" surrounding behavior and thought becomes accepted, fashionable, out-moded and then junked as newer fables or, on occasion, some actual data or the application of reason debunks them.

In the hands of any Darwinian fundamentalist,  whose goal is not to test Natural Selection but to uphold it and assert its universal explanatory power,  all phenomena which could harm the theory must be either rejected or twisted to fit it.  "Altruism" as expounded by Hamilton is transformed into a mere appearance of generosity but which is, actually, Darwinian self-interest on behalf of genes contained within organisms.  In order to do that the human experience of generosity has to be made to equal behaviors in other species which are far removed from us in evolutionary descent by many hundreds of millions of years,  ants figure heavily in it.  I haven't seen any applications of Hamilton to organisms more distant in time for us, though the imperatives of the ultra-Darwinist claiming the total explanatory power of natural selection could hardly continue to ignore the vast majority of the living species, and grad students in the soft "sciences" will always be looking for novel ways to please the faculties in their field.

The most frequently articulated form of Hamiltonian "altruism" I've encountered, by far, is that of gene selfishness as popularized by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene.  And by a factor of many times to one, the expression of such "altruism" brought up by his fans is in the fable of "the first bird to call out".   I wrote briefly and quickly on that last spring.  My recent go around at Jeffrey Sallit's  atheist themed "science" blog, "Recursivity",  brought up some even more absurd aspects of it, so I will go over it again.  Here is the fable as Dawkins sets it out.

Laying down one's life for one's friends is obviously altruistic, but so also is taking a slight risk for them. Many small birds, when they see a flying predator such as a hawk, give a characteristic "alarm call", upon which the whole flock takes appropriate evasive action. There is indirect evidence that the bird who gives the alarm call puts itself in special danger, because it attracts the predator's attention particularly to itself. This is only a slight additional risk, but it nevertheless seems, at least at first sight, to qualify as an altruistic act by our definition.

Richard Dawkins:   p.6, The Selfish Gene,  Thirtieth Anniversary Edition, 2006

In my analysis last spring, I noted, at great detail that the entire basis of the invented "altruism" was the assertion,  "There is indirect evidence that the bird who gives the alarm call puts itself in special danger, because it attracts the predator's attention particularly to itself." Only where is that "indirect evidence" that the first bird calling out had more of a chance at being killed by the predator?   Dawkins gives none, something he has in common with others making assertions of "altruism" of this sort.   Lacking a large enough number of filmed examples to study in which to identify both the "first bird to call out" and that it was the one caught by the "flying predator" it would be impossible to make that hypothesis into real science.  No matter how well it might work as convincing narrative. 

Just on the basis of physics, if the other birds in the flock were close enough for the alarm call to allow them to escape, they'd have to be far closer than the predator and, the speed of sound being rather fixed, they'd probably have taken off in a flurry of confusion before the predator even heard the call.  I don't think that part of the fable passes muster either in terms of adequate scientific observation (something generally lacking in evo-psy)  or on the basis of basic physics.   I'll pass over the often observed phenomenon that when birds see a predator, they very often don't call out but play statues.  Also that among some birds, it's not uncommon for different species to flock together and for bird flocks to be found in close proximity to each other. 

But, as I put it to the mathematician, Shallit, the proposal has even more basic problems with it.   If Dawkins is correct that there is a genetic basis of  bird "alturism",  in lines with his fable, and that the "altruism" consists in the self-sacrifice of birds containing those genes, in order that other birds containing that gene can escape and reproduce, he ignores that birds not containing that genetic "altruism" would also benefit from that self-sacrifice.   That would mean that every time Dawkins fable happened, every time those "altruism" genes worked as proposed,  the percentage of birds containing the "altruism" genes would decrease and the percentage of those not containing them would increase within the flock and within the species.  For Dawkins fable to work, decreasing numbers within the population would have to result in either increasing percentages or, at the very least, a statistically neutral wash.   I challenged Shallit to explain why that wasn't true.  On my last check the self-promoted champion of science and mathematics had failed to do that.   As I noted to him neither has anyone else I've ever posed that problem to.

Even more problematic from the point of view of natural selection would be the fact that every time an "altruistic" bird sacrificed itself, its breeding potential, passing on the "altruism" gene to a new generation, would be cut off.  In its stead the birds not carrying "genetic altruism" would have an increased chance of successfully breeding in its place and any offspring they produced would not have to compete with as many offspring carrying his "altruism genes" in the next generation.  How the "altruism genes" would increase from that needs to be answered.  As well as how those who claim to uphold the highest of scientific and logical integrity could create such "science".

Now, there is nothing in classical Darwinism that is more established than the contention that eyesight and hearing are the products of natural selection, progressively selecting individuals with inferior eyesight and hearing to die through predation and decreased success in producing offspring.  Good eyesight and hearing are the quintessential examples of positive adaptations,  offered as proof of the correctness of the theory of natural selection.   Natural selection fails as a theory if positive adaptations do not result in more offspring for those individuals having them than for those which don't have them, eventually resulting in new species which incorporate that adaptation.  That is the bedrock concept of natural selection and Darwinism.   Without that the long, violently contested  and continuing struggle over the evolution of the eye would never have happened.

I further noted that the proposed "altruistic" self-sacrifice, based in genetics would have the odd effect of turning superior eye-sight and hearing into a maladaptation.   "Altruistic" birds with superior eyesight and hearing would be more likely to see a predator first, more likely to call out first and more likely to die in its talons than an "altruistic" bird with bad eyesight and hearing.  Nearsighted, hard-of-hearing "altruistic" birds would be more likely to be among the survivors as their more able fellows sacrificed themselves, they potentially would increase the percentage of bad eyesight and hearing in the subset of "altruistic" birds, leaving them more prone to being preyed on in other ways.   I'll repeat that.  According to classic Darwinism, such good eyesight and hearing would increase the maladaptive effect of genes that directly led to early "altriustic" bird death if they had superior eyesight and hearing within the group of "altruistic" birds, but bad eyesight is, in itself, maladaptive.   Any way I can see,  Dawkins' proposed "altruism" is a maladaptation, failing in purely Darwinian terms as well as contradicting the properties of the set of Natural numbers.

How Richard Dawkins and those who peddle the idea of Hamiltonian "altruism" can be successful when their ideas are so essentially irrational needs investigation.  It also has to be asked how the entire effort to dispose of real generosity on behalf of a theory that can't explain it can lead alleged champions of science to so totally trash everything, including logic, including mathematics, including Darwinian doctrine, itself.  in order to deliver on a bad note of promissory materialism.

No matter what it's alleged scientific origin is, the concept of "altruism" set out in such illogical fashion is extremely popular with materialists,  atheists, "skeptics" because of their devotion to Darwinism.  As noted, it is frequently cited by them in online discussions and blog brawls.  It is ideologically important to them that Darwin's ultimate theory, which is natural selection, not evolution, has a standing similar to that of the laws of gravitation and those concerning chemical bonds.   I was brought up with a non-ideological faith in the power of natural selection which I've found extremely difficult to test and question and I wasn't wedded to it in the same, emotional way that atheists are.   The first reason for the atheist devotion to natural selection is found in its earliest supporters.   Galton said it in noting his motives in the invention of eugenics,

THE publication in 1859 of the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin made a marked epoch in my own mental development, as it did in that of human thought generally. Its effect was to demolish a multitude of dogmatic barriers by a single stroke, and to arouse a spirit of rebellion against all ancient authorities whose positive and unauthenticated statements were contradicted by modern science.

Ernst Haeckel, as well, expressed his adoption of natural selection in terms of its ideological use,

On the other hand, the theory of development carried out by Darwin, which we shall have to treat of here as the Non-miraculous or Natural History of Creation, and which has already been put forward by Goethe and Lamarck, must, if carried out logically, lead to the monistic or mechanical (causal) conception of the universe. 

Most explicitly he said,

This final triumph of the monistic conception of nature constitutes the highest and most general merit of the Theory of Descent, as reformed by Darwin.

As noted in previous posts, Charles Darwin was fully aware of Haeckel's statements as he cited the book in which Haeckel said it.  I have seen nothing to indicate that Darwin rejected that view.

The very real conflict over evolution overturning a literal interpretation of Genesis masks a far deeper ideological conflict that comes from natural selection, considered to be an absolute law of nature.   It was a fight that Darwin's accepted and deeply appreciated early promoters were already laying out in full detail, including, literally, a rejection of the most basic ideas of morality.  You can read Huxley, Galton, Haeckel, and others right down to today to see that has been a feature of natural selection as articulated by its foremost promoters.  As natural selection was, itself, based in the moral atrocity of Malthusian economics, any expectation of anything else coming from it is irrational.  There is no place for the real phenomena of human generosity in the declaration that the alternative to selfishness is death, which is what natural selection is.   Generosity escapes the artificial gravity of Darwinism, it will whenever it arises.  Its reality is denied by Hamilton's perversion of "altruism", itself a word invented by Comte to try to force generosity into his less sciency articulation of materialism.  It's hardly a surprise that, given the cynicism and stupidity of most of the promotion of atheism today, that turning it into selfishness by unthinking molecules would be so very popular.

* In a planned post I will look at the idea that what the rather awful and depraved W. D. Hamilton had to say about generosity and "altruism"  should have been taken with more pinches of salt than are compatible with health.

Update:  Since someone asked, my difficulty in questioning natural selection comes, first and foremost, in that it was the way I've been taught to think of evolution for more than fifty years.  Try to imagine how you would face the fact of evolution if you didn't presume that natural selection was both a law of nature and the framework into which all other thinking about evolution must fit.  Second was the enormous coercion that comes to someone who begins to question the theory.  That coercion is ubiquitous and powerful.  Creationists aren't affected by it because their denial of evolution removes them from its effects.  I was never brought up to believe in the literal truth of the early chapters of Genesis, I never have so I never had that to overcome.  I had been brought up to an entirely conventional belief in contemporary evolutionary theory.  My mother has a degree in Zoology, I did well enough in the biology classes I took that my teacher encouraged me to think of changing my major, I've had two field biologists in my family.  I used to care what the people imposing that coercion think, most people on the left still do.  I don't care about their opinion any longer.

I was brought to not caring about it through my investigation of "evolutionary" psychology and Sociobiology and other "scientific" expositions of biological determinsm far earlier than my reading of Darwin's books and letters led me into total heresy on the matter.

I now doubt that natural selection is a force of nature in the same way that gravity or other physical forces abstracted into laws are.  I don't think that, as science, it's an especially good theory.  I don't believe that all of those trillions of  variable, changing lives of unique individuals, their deaths, their successes and failures at reproduction, the role of mere chance and far more subtle and effectively infinite variation in those really equals one force of nature.   I think a lot of the articulation of this is colored by natural selection instead of the actual events being accurately explained by it.

Natural selection's alleged virtue of providing an explanatory mechanism for evolution doesn't make up for its deficiencies as a theory.  Evolution would still be a fact if natural selection was junked and no successor framework for thinking about it replaced it.  There is no law of nature that everything has to be susceptible to that level of human comprehension.  The belief that everything is eventually explainable with science is a superstition, not scientific.    As I noted in talking about the enormous dimensions of evolution, both in time and in numbers of lives, the idea that Charles Darwin would find the key that unlocks the entirety on the basis of the information he had available in 1859 it is a matter of faith, not of reason.  I think that to a great extent the lens of natural selection might have a decisive effect on what is looked for, how what is found is looked at and for the acceptance of any analysis of that by science.  I will predict that, eventually, natural selection will either change far more radically than it already has in its history (Darwin and his contemporary colleagues, other than Weismann,  believed in Lamarckian inheritance, after all).  I think it's also possible that, eventually, natural selection will be laid aside as more of that enormous field of study is discovered.

Much is made about the instances of accuracy in what Darwin said and I am not entirely dismissive of Darwin.  I firmly believe in what I think is his greatest insight, common ancestry, while admitting that is based on belief and presumed probability.  Which will be the topic of my next post in this series.  But I am in the same position that St. George Mivart, an early convert to Darwinism, found himself in while attending a series of lectures on the subject given by no less of an authority than Thomas Huxley.  He found that the more he learned about it the less credible it seemed to him.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Olivier Messiaen - Twenty Contemplations On The Baby Jesus - The Contemplation of the Spirit of Joy

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano

From David Bentley Hart:  God, Creation, and Evil: The Moral Meaning of creatio ex nihilho

Of course, theological language is determined by scripture; which is why I began with some of the New Testament’s most famously universalists verses, including those asserting a strict equivalence between what is lost in Adam and what saved in Christ; I could have added several more. It is odd that for at least fifteen centuries such passages have been all but lost behind so thin a veil as can be woven from those three deeply ambiguous verses that seem (and only seem) to threaten eternal torments for the wicked. But that is as may be; every good New Testament scholar is well aware of the obscurities in what we can reconstruct of the eschatological vision of Jesus’s teachings. And, really, plucking individual verses like posies from the text here and there is not the way to see the entire landscape. The New Testament, to a great degree, consists in an eschatological  interpretation of Hebrew scripture’s story of creation, finding in Christ, as eternal Logos and risen Lord, the unifying term of beginning and end. For Paul, in particular, the marvel of Christ’s lordship is that all walls of division between persons and peoples, and finally between all creatures, have fallen; and that ultimately, when creation is restored by Christ, God will be all in all. There is no more magnificent meditation on this vision than Gregory of Nyssa’s image of the progress of all persons towards union with God in the one “pleroma” of the totus Christus: all spiritual wills moving, to use his lovely image, from outside the temple walls (in the ages) into the temple precincts, and finally (beyond the ages) into the very sanctuary of the glory—as one. By contrast, Augustine, in the last masterpiece produced by his colossal genius, wrote of two cities eternally sealed against one another, from everlasting in the divine counsels and unto everlasting in the divine judgment (the far more populous city destined for perpetual sorrow). There is no question to my mind which of them saw the story more clearly. Or which theologians are the best guides to scripture as a whole: Gregory, Origen, Evagrius, Diodore, Theodore, Isaac of Ninevah…George MacDonald.

Here however, again, the issue is the reducibility of all causes to their first cause, and the determination of the first cause by the final. If we did not proclaim a creatio ex nihilo—if we thought God a being limited by some external principle or internal imperfection, or if we were dualists, or dialectical idealists, or what have you—the question of evil would be an aetiological query only for us, not a terrible moral question. But, because we say God creates freely, we must believe his final judgment shall reveal him for who he is. So, if all are not saved, if God creates souls he knows to be destined for eternal misery, is God evil? Well, why debate semantics? Maybe every analogy fails. What is not debatable is that, if God does so create, in himself he cannot be the good as such, and creation cannot be a morally meaningful act: it is from one vantage an act of predilective love, but from another—logically necessary—vantage an act of  pudentialmalevolence. And so it cannot be true. We are presented by what has become the majority tradition with three fundamental claims, any two of which might be true simultaneously, but never all three: that God freely created all things out of nothingness; that God is the Good itself; and that it is certain or at least possible that some rational creatures will endure eternal loss of God. And this, I have to say, is the final moral meaning I find in the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, at least if we truly believe that our language about God’s goodness and the theological grammar to which it belongs are not empty: that the God of eternal retribution and pure sovereignty proclaimed by so much of Christian tradition is not, and cannot possibly be, the God of self-outpouring love revealed in Christ. If God is the good creator of all, he is the savior of all, without fail, who brings to himselfall he has made, including all rational wills, and only thus returns to himself in all that goes forth from him. If he is not the savior of all, the Kingdom is only dream, and creation something considerably worse than a nightmare. But, again, it is not so. God saw that it was good; and, in the ages, so shall we.

Materialism Is Quaint And So Ignorant Of Its Own Nature - Reposted

The death of my nephew has put me off of writing for now.  Perhaps if I felt inclined I could come up with an entertaining response to the atheist dolts who snarked stupidly at what I said the other day about how reading had led me out of the pose of agnosticism.  And a pose agnosticism is.  If agnostics and the atheists which most of them really are applied their demanded standards of "objectivity", "knowledge", that intentionally never to be found "evidence" atheists are always demanding, only to reject as it is provided and, most absurdly of all "proof" to anything else, including the science they set up as an idol instead of an academic discipline, they couldn't get through an hour, never mind a day.

Well, there are more days to be gotten through, this is one of them.  Luckily, I said a lot of it before.

Revised and updated below 

Listening to the "Moving Naturalism Forward" discussions, one of the most striking things is how entirely old fashioned it is.   For a group that includes physicists and philosophers, it's as if the last century of revelation in the limits of knowledge never happened.    It doesn't take into consideration the fact that even the most allegedly objective "view of nature" that scientists could possibly obtain is anything but objective.  It is inescapable that all of human perception, all of human thought, all of human culture, including science, is inescapably governed by and controlled by the peculiar limits of   the human beings producing it.   There is no such a thing as an objective, direct observation or analysis of nature.  This has been known to be an inescapable limit on what science can tell us for most of a century.

An early encounter of ideological materialism with this fact can be found in Bertrand Russell's review of Arthur Stanley Eddingon's The Nature of the Physical World, the text of Eddington's  Gifford Lectures given in 1926-27.   Russell's review, titled The Twilight Of Science:  Is The Universe Running Down, is a remarkably bitter document.   It begins:

It is a curious fact that just when the man in the street has begun to believe thoroughly in science, the man in the laboratory has begun to lose his faith. When I was young, no physicist entertained the slightest doubt that the laws of physics give us real information about the motions of bodies, and that the physical world does really consist of the sort of entities that appear in the physicist's equations. The philosophers, it is true, throw doubt upon this view, and have done so ever since the time of Berkeley; but since their criticism never attached itself to any point in the detailed procedure of science, it could be ignored by scientists and was in fact ignored. Nowadays matters are quite different; the revolutionary ideas of the philosophy of physics have come from the physicists themselves and are the outcome of careful experiments. The new philosophy of physics is humble and stammering where the old philosophy was proud and dictatorial. It is, I suppose, natural to every man to fill the vacuum left by the disappearance of belief in physical laws as best he may, and to use for this purpose any odds and ends of unfounded belief which had previously no room to expand. When the robustness of the Catholic faith decayed at the time of the Renaissance, it tended to be replaced by astrology and necromancy, and in like manner we must expect the decay of the scientific faith to lead to a recrudescence of pre-scientific superstitions.

I read the review before I read Eddington's lectures and the contrast in tone couldn't be more obvious.   Eddington, the foremost English astro-physicist of his day, who certainly had more of a professional investment in the reputation of physics as providing an absolute view of nature, took the fact that it can't with remarkable tranquility,  But is was Russell, the professional mathematician and logician, who was left sourly announcing the possible "twilight" of humanities's scientific project.  The obvious reason for that is Russell's thorough materialism as compared to Eddington's Quakerism.   Russell was left with nothing once his faith in science and his faith in the asolutely objective view it provides of the material universe, was obliterated by science.  If the view of the universe provided by science isn't absolutely and objectively representative, then it is just another peculiarly human conception of uneven accuracy, not possibly attaining a status as absolute knowledge.  It is clear that was what Russell's shattered faith in science was,  in the wake of his reading of Eddington's lectures, by his comparison of its status with that of Catholicism in the wake of the reformation.

I was brought up to have great regard for Bertrand Russell, he was one of the heroes of my early adulthood for his anti-nuclear and political activities, both of which Eddington, as a Quaker, would have likely approved.  I read many of Russell's books, relying on his "A History of Western Philosophy" as a sort of jumping off point to read various philosophers, probably avoiding some of those who he clearly disdained*.   I was entertained by his anti-religious invective, his delightful recounting of the sins of popes and prelates, an apostate Catholic as entertained  by them as any atheist would be.  But, as time went on,  I came to see that what Russell said was often not dependable.  It was cultural lore told from his ideological interests and his thoroughly conventional British academic atheism.   He was a subtle ideologue as old line British academic atheists often were, but an ideologue, nonetheless. As I've grown older and have read more of what he wrote, I've become quite disillusioned with Russell who I've come to see as undergoing a crisis from the time of his reading of Eddington and the subsequent disappointments from the damage done by Godel and others to  his mathematical and logical work.  As many know, Godel destroyed the possibility of an informed person believing that mathematics or logic could have a self-consistent absolute foundation, which was what Russell and his teacher Alfred North Whitehead had tried to achieve in their enormous intellectual effort, the Principia Mathematica.  Noting in passing that Godel was also a Christian seems to me to be of possible relevance to Russell's subsequent writing.

Moving Naturalism Forward's website, which I assume was written by Sean Carroll, who convened the workshop, or, at least, under his oversight, contains this opening declaration:

Over four centuries of scientific progress have convinced most professional philosophers and scientists of the validity of naturalism: the view that there is only one realm of existence, the natural world, whose behavior can be studied through reason and empirical investigation. The basic operating principles of the natural world appear to be impersonal and inviolable; microscopic constituents of inanimate matter obeying the laws of physics fit together in complex structures to form intelligent, emotive, conscious human beings.

The idea that there is "only one realm of existence" is certainly not peculiar to scientistic atheism, it is certainly older than the declaration in the first sentence of Genesis.  From the beginning of recorded human thought a far more expansive view of that "one realm" was asserted than the view  contemporary atheism does.  In one of the many, many ironies of addressing this situation, it is the religious view of the universe that is definitely not anthropocentric, as is so often accused, in that it assigns the superior knowledge of the universe to God who is not human.  It is atheism in many of its forms which assumes that human beings have the most nearly godlike view of the universe.

The "naturalists'" declaration continues,  ".... one realm of existence, the natural world, whose behavior can be studied through reason and empirical investigation".   Something has been left out of this assertion, but more of that in a second.  What is peculiar about this declaration is that it defines the "one realm of existence" as being what is "studied through reason and empirical investigation"**.   What is left out is the fact that it is a group of human beings, using human perceptions and tools of human culture who are doing the reasoning and the empirical investigation.   That particular human beings are the one and only source of that, they are the source of it.  "Empirical investigation" isn't an exact, accurate and comprehensive view of "existence", it is, exactly, done through human observation, that fact means that it is limited by the abilities the humans making the observation, and the limits of the analysis of that experience they apply to it at the time the investigation is reported.  To ignore those facts in order to declare some kind of absolute status of reality for that report is to impose a level of unreliability on it.   It is defined by and limited by its source. That is an inescapable fact.

What we can know, absolutely, is extremely limited.   Worse than that what we can know absolutely is entirely personal and, so, would almost certainly be demoted by these same people to the disrepute of "subjectivity".  Again, Eddington knew this.

It is difficult for the matter-of-fact physicist to accept the view that the substratum of everything is of mental character. But no one can deny that mind is the first and most direct thing in our experience, and all else is remote inference — inference either intuitive or deliberate. Probably it would never have occurred to us (as a serious hypothesis) that the world could be based on anything else, had we not been under the impression that there was a rival stuff with a more comfortable kind of "concrete" reality — something too inert and stupid to be capable of forging an illusion. The rival turns out to be a schedule of pointer readings; and though a world of symbolic character can well be constructed from it, this is a mere shelving of the inquiry into the nature of the world of experience. 

It is as close to an absolute fact as we can possibly have that our experience of our individual mind is the first and most direct reality available to us.   From that fact all other perceptions, observations, analyses, ideas and socially agreed to "laws" are secondary inferences.

This passage, as usually quoted usually ends with the words "all else is remote inference".  But that leaves out that it is part of a passage that must have sent Bertrand Russell into a state of despair, a long discussion of the inescapable remoteness of physics from the object of its study, the physical universe.   In rather exhaustively pointing out problems with the idea that physics can provide a direct view of the material universe that is not fundamentally and inevitably influenced by the minds of the people who are looking at it and writing about it.

In the next decades Eddington went much farther and pointed out that what could be said of the human view of the universe was also true of the physical laws that people invent to try to generalize  the conditions of the physical universe.

Eighteen years ago I was responsible for a remark which has often been quoted:

"It is one thing for the human mind to extract from the phenomena of nature the laws which it has itself put into them; it may be a far harder thing to extract laws over which it has had no control It is even possible that laws which have not their origin in the mind may be irrational and we can never succeed in formulating them."

This seems to be coming true, though not in the way that then suggested itself. I had in mind the phenomena of quanta and atomic physics, which at that time completely baffled our efforts to formulate a rational system of law. It was already apparent that the principle laws of molar physics were mind-made — the result of the sensory and intellectual equipment through which we derive our observational knowledge — and were not laws of governance of the objective universe. The suggestion was that in quantum theory we for the first time came up against the true laws of governance of the objective universe. If so, the task was presumably much more difficult than merely rediscovering our own frame of thought”.

Since then microscopic physics has made great progress, and its laws have turned out to be comprehensible to the mind; but, as I have endeavored to show, it also turns out that they have been imposed by the mind — by our forms of thought — in the same way that the molar laws are imposed…

A. S. Eddington The Physical Universe: The Philosophy of Physical Science

If the "empirical investigation" is mitigated by it being the product of human minds, the laws derived from those investigations can't, then, be detached from the conditions limiting those investigations.   It is a fact that laws, believed before the early 20th century to be a direct and absolute part of the physical universe, were, in fact, not the last word.  The habits of science that were built up before that revolution in scientists understanding the nature of science in the one and only context in which it exists, would seem to still govern the "naturalistic" ideologues thinking.  Naturalistic thinking which, inescapbly imposes its peculiar limits and conditions on their thinking.   This means that the very laws of physics exist within the limits of human minds.   Ignoring this fact that has been known since the 1930s,  materialism, naturalism, scientism, and most of atheism is left to attacking the very basis from which their great oracle of revelation speaks.  One of the discussions of the great minds of naturalism gathered together by Carroll is premised on what is, inescapably a circular discussion

Free will. If people are collections of atoms obeying the laws of physics, is it sensible to say that they make choices?

As always with ideologues of materialism, they assume that they are exempt from the very conditions imposed by their ideology.  The very source of the "laws of physics" are human minds.  Those "laws" must, inevitably, be restricted by the source that it is derived from.    But, it is clear, they insist on making those minds inferior to their products, "laws",  which depend, in their entirety, on the minds creating them.  Though, clearly, not the minds of these collected, "naturalistic" thinkers engaged in this weird circling spiral down some reductionist drain.  At least that's what they seem to believe.

Note:  You will have to forgive me for pointing out, again, that I once got Sean Carroll to answer a question during a long argument about whether or not physics was on the verge of having a "theory of everything".   It is something I'm rather proud of having gotten after many, many days of trying to get it.

I'll make a deal,if Sean will answer the question I put to him, I won't post another comment here. Is there a single object that physics knows comprehensively and exhaustively?

Sean Carroll said, Anthony @ 21: "No."  Thanks for commenting.

Considering the context of the two brawls on his blog in which the question was posed, I'm not convinced his thanks were sincere.   I believe at least two rather involved posts he wrote were in response to my question, including the one in which he gave me his one and only response.

If physics doesn't have a complete theory of even one object in the physical universe the idea that it has even a remote prospect of having a "theory of everything" is absurd on its face.  The earlier of the blog brawls linked to above was entitled "Stephen Hawking Settles the God Question Once and For All".   So, having to admit that physics, the science that Carroll's naturalism seems to see as the foundation of everything, including human experience, doesn't fully understand even the most pedestrian object in the universe believes that it can settle questions about God who is not a part of the physical universe.

I can see how a physicist, whose sense of personal worth and whatever fame and regard he has obtained depends on the status of physics, would insist on everyone believing that physics is the ultimate attainment of human culture.  I don't see how they can be allowed to ignore the past century of discoveries in obtaining a clearer picture of physics' place in reality.  The hangers on in philosophy and mathematics at that gathering should certainly know better.   Eddington, in his Swathmore Lecture,  Science and the Unseen World said:

Although I am rather in sympathy with this criticism of theology, I am not ready to press it to an extreme. In this lecture I have for the most part identified science with the physical science. This is not solely because it is the only side for which I can properly speak. But because it is generally agreed that physical science comes nearest to that complete system of exact knowledge which all sciences have before them as an ideal. Some fall far short of it. The physicist who inveighs against the lack of coherence and the indefiniteness of theological theories, will probably speak not much less harshly of the theories of biology and psychology. They also fail to come up to his standard of methodology. On the other side of him stands an even superior being – the pure mathematician – who has no high opinion of the methods of deduction used in physics, and does not hide his disapproval of the laxity of what is accepted as proof in physical science. And yet somehow knowledge grows in all of these branches. Wherever a way opens we are impelled to seek by the only methods that can be devised for that particular opening, not over-rating the security of our finding, but conscious that in this activity of mind we are obeying the light that is in our nature.

Perhaps it is understandable that his Quaker modesty isn't popular with many of our academics today.  They're only human, after all.

* Henri Bergson was one who I've come to be more interested in.  I would like to know more about what Russell said about Alfred North Whitehead's developed philosophical ideas, other than the Principia but am probably too old to go through the thorny books.  I'm rather resentful for Russell's ideological misrepresentations that dissuaded me from looking earlier.

**  UPDATE:  Beginning by declaring that all reality is contained in what is susceptible to  what "can be studied through reason and empirical investigation" is the central intellectual dishonesty of many species of scientistic atheism.  It isn't an identification of what is real, it's a boundary line of what it is permitted, a restriction on what is allowed to be real.   As with the attitude of logical positivism, it is a scholastic effort made to outlaw ideas through definition.   It is a demonstration of the amazing hubris which has long infected the culture of science and other academic areas as science has gained in repute, to often irrationally overtake other areas of the study of human experience.  Eventually, as that attitude becomes ingrained, it has a real effect in what is regarded as science and it becomes as much a pollutant in the products of academic culture as any of the now discontinued dogmas of science such as the aether or the now discredited theories of light or human behavior.
There is no reason, outside of the most basic and unfounded belief in the potency of human abilities, to believe that all of reality is susceptible to human "reason and empirical investigation".  Scientists and their fans often leave out the word "human" from that kind of construction, pretending that science, reason, and empirical investigation have some kind of disembodied, Platonic existence when they are absolutely human activities, science being nothing other than a human invention.  Pointing out that science is a human invention has provoked many, many objections from atheists.  It's as if they believe it is the gift of gods that they don't believe in.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Olivier Messiaen - Twenty Contemplations on the Baby Jesus - The Contemplation of Time

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano

I've had another death in my family, following close on the last one.  This one was entirely unexpected, a young nephew I was very close to who died suddenly of a natural cause.   I will write or repost something later.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Pistévomen eis éna Theón

I am challenged to say if I believe that Jesus was born of a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the mocking way of anti-Christians and atheists.   To which the short answer is, I don't know, I wasn't there, I can't help feel it's none of my business.  It has little to do with why I believe that what Jesus said was true and why I think his public ministry was the greatest unfolding of the inspiration of God of which I'm aware.

I was raised a Catholic and was, from my early childhood,  quite taken with reading on the topic of religion.  I didn't, in the way of the time, memorize, verbatim, the Baltimore Catechism but I could paraphrase its answers to its endless questions pretty accurately.  In my adolescence I came to doubt and for several decades described myself as an agnostic.  A good part of that was that I held the stupid, unrealistic view of what constituted "knowledge" that I've come in the past two decades to realize is a false and phony pose of modernism but which has nothing to do with how ideas are held to be known in real life even by those most wedded to that notion of objective, impersonal knowledge.  It's amazing to me now how long I fell for that crap when my own experience, if observed closely and honestly would have told me otherwise.

In that period in the spiritual desert I still retained my interest in religion, reading a lot about Eastern religions, especially Buddhism, especially in its agnostic Theravada form.  I flirted with the quasi-Christian cultures of Unitarianism and the local, decidedly, in that period, non-Christian Quaker meeting, though I never committed to them.  In time I have become especially unattracted to Unitarianism, at least as it was presented by its formal writers.  I did like the early, decidedly Christian Universalist writers up to the period when they started dissolving into a Unitarian mush*. My gradual disillusionment with Buddhism came on the issue of justice, which I've written about recently, my disillusionment with Unitarianism is, I think, related to my gradual distrust of the "enlightenment" and modernism [See note].

Oddly, or so it seems to me now, my renewal of faith in Christianity followed on my reading of stuff from The Jesus Seminar - which I've pretty much got no use for, anymore - especially John Dominic Crossan.  Especially his book The Historical Jesus from the early 1990s.   Though my view of Jesus and what he said is definitely different from Crossan's and I think a lot of his conclusions are probably wrong, that book had as profound an influence in leading me back to Christianity as anything I read that turned me to agnosticism.  I can't remember if reading a closer, critical**, study of the words of Jesus was instrumental in taking a closer look at agnosticism and the theory of knowledge my agnosticism was based in,  I really don't remember.   That was a far longer and less formal process.  I know my reading of the great Quaker physicist  Arthur Stanley Eddington on the philosophy of physics had a huge impact on what I came to believe in that regard.  I think it might have been what shook loose my rigid, irrational belief in the possibility of objectively knowing something and forced me to confront the fact that, in the end, we choose what we believe, even those things we claim as knowledge.

I think the most important thing is how closely what we believe in strongly enough so it has a consistent effect on our actions is consistent with doing to others what we would have them do to us. That is the basis of my Christianity, how we treat the least among us, how we treat our enemies, those unrelated or unconnected to us, the alien among us, etc.  I do think that when Jesus gave his New Commandment to his followers, that they were to love each other as he loved them, it meant even more than that, I believe when he gave his indirectly stated Commandment to do to the Least Among Us what we would do to God, it is him speaking as the actual incarnation of God as the Holy Ghost who said it.  How that came to happen, through his own incarnation or as a matter of adoption, I don't know and I don't claim to know.  I do know that I believe it and I hope that, as I work at it, I'll get better at acting that way.  It's hardly a finished thing, it's hardly done.  If I'll become an orthodox Catholic or Christian, I don't know.

I will add that I've also been reading a lot from the early, pre-Augustinian theologians and find a lot in them that I think was buried in the West by Augustine and those influenced by him.  Gregory of Nyssa, especially, and especially his relationship of universal salvation as the ultimate summation of the Creation which is good and the place of Christ in that idea the universe is what I'm in the middle of now.  I doubt I'll live to get through all of that, those guys wrote an awful lot and a lot of it isn't easy going.   While I'm sort of dubious about the project of squaring the Hebrew revelation of the prophets and Jesus with classical Greek philosophy, I can understand why it was necessary for people who lived in what was still, largely, a pagan world  It is far more in Gregory's insights into the scriptures, themselves, that I'm finding it worthwhile.  I will admit it was his abolitionism - gotten from his sister, The Teacher, St. Macrina the Younger - was what first attracted me to him.  Also his great respect for her and her superior knowledge which he didn't hesitate to acknowledge. I get the feeling from reading him that he considered her greater than his scholarly brother Basil or their friend, the great theologian Gregory of Nazianzus   For someone living in the 4th century, he is astonishingly radical.   If by their fruits you are to judge the teaching authority of someone speaking in the name of Jesus, I think Gregory's are especially good.

Probably not the answer you wanted but it's the one you're getting.   I can say that when I listen to the Sixth Regard, Par Lui tout a été fait, I believe entirely and without reservation.

*  I've told the story of the old lady I knew who was raised in a Universalist Church but who left it when those amalgamated themselves to the Unitarians.   She was an active member of a United Church of Christ congregation when I knew her.

Note:  I wrote this comment earlier today at RMJ's blog

Unfortunately, it wasn't only Republicans who gave up on good will and morality. Liberals did to an extent that it was destructive of liberalism. I would guess that easily a third to a half of those who identify as liberals would more honestly qualify as libertarians. It takes more than a mere and vague sense of niceness, such as is sometimes found among college faculty, to carry off liberal government.

The undermining of morality is one of the most enduring programs of modernism. I know it might seem like beating a horse I shot a long time ago but I do attribute a lot of that to the framing of Darwinism, natural selection does not produce kindness or generosity or even a willingness to sacrifice for the benefit of the weaker, the more unfortunate, the more disadvantaged. The Social Darwinist economics of which AynRand is merely a more ruthless expression is, in fact, and by Darwin's own definition, the same thing as natural selection. This is the real message of William Jennings Bryan in his undelivered final argument in the Scopes Trial. I have sometimes wished I could find out what Scopes would have thought of that later in his life after he converted to Catholicism, something left out of the plays and movies that inform most people's would-be knowledge of that trial.

Olivier Messiaen - Twenty Contemplations On The Baby Jesus - Contemplation of the Heights

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano

This one includes Messiaen's famous quotations of bird songs, specifically mentioning the lark and the blackbird as well as "all the birds" in the annotations.

One of the biggest surprises in the more intensive study of the First Testament I took up earlier this year was that, entirely contradicting the anti-Christian, anti-monotheistic propaganda of my youth, the scriptures are saturated with the most extravagant observation of, love of, even adoration of the natural world.  The affairs and lives of wild animals, especially birds, are held to be worthy of God's attention, by God's own words.  As I mentioned at the start of that, it God, herself, notes that she has made a covenant with all flesh, including animals, just as it did with Noah and the patriarchs.  The destruction of nature, the desertification of it is repeatedly given as a sign of human transgression of those covenants, the restoration of nature a result of the mending of those covenants.   It was those who turned life into a mechanism who denied the sacred status of animals, that turned, first them and, eventually, us, into objects, mere mechanisms.  It is the very same people who are turning the world into a desert, a filthy, polluted desert which can't sustain life.  In the Covenant with Noah, God promises not to destroy all flesh again, mentioning water.  We're the ones who are doing it now, with oil, gas, coal.   We're the fire next time.

Putin Sells Us More Puppet Strings To Hang Ourselves With

While it is satisfying to see Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romeny and others who might have wanted to be Trump's Secretary of State bypassed in favor of  Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil CEO - partner of the Russian Oligarchy, that he is certainly the choice of Trump's puppet master, Vladimir Putin more than makes up for the comeuppance those knaves and that most hypocritical fool got.  

The extent to which Putin is in control is becoming more obvious with every week.  The extent to which our political, legal and, most of all, journalistic institutions have just stood by for this is shocking, though it is a shock that is smoothed over in the conventions of all those institutions and the public disinformation system that replaced news long ago.  None of those are proving sufficient to protect the country, some of them, especially the media, are in on the sell out and sell off of the country.  

Khrushchev was wrong about most things but he got the corruption that was already in place in the American system right.  It took the post-Marxist, post-KGB apparatchik, Putin to sell the American People his puppet, and he had to rely on the help of our Founding Fathers and their democracy-prevention provisions, but we are buying the rope to hang ourselves with from the neo-Soviets.  Only they're puppet strings. 

Update:  While theirs has its faults and they have had their share of bad Prime Ministers and governments, I often envy the Canadians over their Constitution, a modern document that benefited from the lessons of the modern-democratic period.  Our Constitution which has produced this Trumping of democracy has been obviously flawed from the start but it has never been able to be reformed to get rid of some of its most basic anti-democratic provisions due to the enabling of regional, factional and economic interests built into it by intention.  The worship of it, taught by our idiotic pop-culture and phonied up history is a false religion.   Even the current Hamilton cult is part of that nonsense, even as its cast members spoke up to Pence. 

Will Barack Obama Strike A Profile In Courage Or Just In Irresponsible Convention?

One of the greatest outstanding questions of this post-election disaster is if Barack Obama will have the courage to do something audacious and even unconventional enough to try to avert the disaster that having Donald Trump succeed him will be.  So far there's little indication that he has the courage or the character to do that.  I invite him to prove me wrong.  I beg him to. 

Barack Obama should declassify and release to the public what is known, now, about the ties between Donald Trump, his campaign and those he has already named to government posts and the Putin regime.  As some of the electors who are scheduled to cast the "real" vote for president this week have said, they need to know that before they can fulfill their moral duty to defend the Constitution of the United States.  It would certainly be a violation of that duty for them to select the puppet of a foreign dictator and they need to know if that's what they are doing before history can judge how faithful they are to the oath they apparently take.  Of course Barack Obama took an oath to do that at least three times, as a U.S. Senator and as President.  I don't see much of any indication he is going to do that.  If he doesn't release that information now, he is in violation of his oath to defend and protect the Constitution and the country.  And it would have to be full, public disclosure.  If such information caused the electors to defeat Trump, the public would need to know why. 

Those words in those oaths are as empty as they can be in most cases.  Most Senators don't actually do much that defends the Constitution, they're more likely to violate it and most presidents of recent times have violated many of its provisions.  The entire thing is only as good as the people who comprise the government at any given time and they are often unfit for the office they hold. There has never been a time when those words they mouth when they're sworn into office have been more rigorously tested.  

Barack Obama has a chance to make up for many of his worst decisions as president but not much of one and not much time to do it.   Given his past conduct, his total lack of willingness to do anything but the most conventional of things, I'm not anticipating him doing what needs to be done right now. He has far less than a week to do it.   If he's expecting to ever have some "profiles in courage" stuff written about him, he's just at that kind of moment when he'd have to show some to get an honest one of those.  

Answer To A Question

You know, the other day it occurred to me that Simps trolls me so he can get lines out of me to steal.  

I don't go laying for him, I'd just as soon he never mentioned my name again so I'd never mention his or refer to him in any way.  He's never said anything I'd want to steal.   I never go bother the Eschatots with him or anything else, he apparently annoys them by trying to drag it over there.  They don't like their playtime interrupted with even his distorted mention of what is written here. 

It's surprising how popular it is when I decide to respond to his trolling. Those posts are almost as popular as some of my serious ones. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Trump Disaster Is A Test That Democracy Will Either Learn From Or It Will Die

We are about to be ruled by raving nutcases who have our national security in their hands as the president-elect refuses to be bothered with briefings on the topic.  

The Trump transition, with its appointments and nominations of totally paranoid crackpots like Michael Flynn and totally unqualified people like the FOX commentator and blatant liar KT McFarland to back him up and a huge cast of other such horrors should be a golden opportunity for our great free press to shine but they are in on the con job and those who aren't are either hoping to get something out of it or they're cowards who won't point out that the ship of state is about to hit the rocks.  

I can't think of anything that would more please the enemies of the Unites States, more please our rivals and more horrify our allies and friends than the insanity that the Trump transition is exposing.

That our Constitutional system can produce this - FOR THE LOSER OF THE POPULAR VOTE - and not leave us with any means of preventing it is an indictment of the final and fatal inadequacy of that worshiped document.   That our "free press" not only created Donald Trump but enabled his installation by the corrupt electoral college system as he lost the election is the final indictment of it, as well.  They have supported a series of the worst presidents in recent history and the corruption of the Supreme Court.  The popular myth of liberals built up in the Warren Court years that the Supreme Court was going to save us from the worst inclinations among us is entirely delusional.   It was as much a part of creating this horror as FOX or CNN or NBC.

I am not terribly hopeful that even the coming horrors will be enough to overcome the corruption of the American character over the past half-century, though that is the only hope.   The temporary turn around in that after the Republican crash of 1928 was turned around by the regime of lying as TV took hold of our dominant force in formation of that character.   I think this entire thing lays out one of the greatest challenges for egalitarian democracy.   Democracy is only possible when its prerequisites are in place, it can exist only within a certain range of tolerance for deviation from good will and truthfulness, both of which we have allowed the media to destroy, entirely and cynically as its owners game things for their economic advantage.  

Our media is one of the things that deserves to be junked and replaced by things that tell us the truth. I think the most likely candidate for that is a coalition of religious journalists who have a deep and abiding reluctance to lie or to cover up even the most horrifying truth.  It would require institutional support of the kind that such churches might be able to provide, no shoe-string effort could hope to mount such an effort from scratch, depending on donations.    I doubt anything else can save us.   The secular press has failed to provide that, it is the greatest champion of its permission to lie which has brought us to where we are now.

Olivier Messiaen - Twenty Contemplations On The Baby Jesus - Contemplation of the Cross

Pierre-Laurent Aimard

Judge Teasdale As a Cynical Pop Music Critc

Horace Rumpole: May I read a short extract from a so-called historical novel entitled "Lord Stingo's Fancy".

Judge Teasdale: Ah yes, isn't that the one that ends happily?

Horace Rumpole: Happily *all* Miss Nettleship's novels end, my Lord - eventually.
[laughter from the jury]

You know, Simels, you going on and on about your Poldark fetish as if it's supposed to bother me only succeeds in making me feel smug.  I'm not unhappy to learn that you and other Eschatots are thrilled by faux-18th century bodice rippers as made by the BBC.   It's mildly amusing to find out that beneath that cynical, would-be sophisticate pose you're really the Judge Teasdale sort.  Like you, he enjoys a "ripping yarn," only he's got the attention span to read them.   

If I could find my copy of the Rumpole Omnibus that contains The Bubble Reputation I'd have more but I don't have time to search for it.  I think of my time reading all of the Rumpole stories as a minor vice but at least those were funny.   I'll always think of you with a judicial wig and a fussy little manner,  seeking vicarious but entirely safe thrills, now. 

Tell me, is Duncan a fan of that drivel, too? 

Update:  Oh, dear.  Lord Simps is not amused.

Image result for british judges

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Olivier Messiaen - Twenty Shewings Of The Baby Jesus - Through Him All Is Made

Yvonne Loriod, piano

This is the longest piece in the set, I believe.  Considering it is a vision of the relationship of Jesus to the creation of all things you'd expect it to have some sense of the comprehensive about it.  Loriod, Messiaen's wife for many years can probably be regarded as the official interpreter  of his piano music, her sister Jeanne Loriod, played many of the parts for Ondes Martenot which Olivier Messiaen wrote.  I posted this because the set I've been playing, which has the sheet music, divides this movement into two videos, it should be heard as one.

I am not really happy with translating "Vingt regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus" as Twenty Visions on The Baby Jesus.   The French word "regards" doesn't seem to me to translate well as "visions,"   The music gives me more of a sense of the same thing that Julian of Norwich called "shewings" in The Revelation of Divine Love but that word would be even more of a problem.  It is a direct experience, not an intellectual rumination, though not divorced from thinking about it.  The most famous passage of Julian's Shewings is definitely related to this piece:

Also in this He shewed me a little thing, the quantity of an hazel-nut, in the palm of my hand; and it was as round as a ball.  I looked thereupon with an eye of my understanding, and thought:  What may this be?  And it was answered generally thus:  It is all that is made.  I marvelled how it might last, for methought it might suddenly have fallen to naught for littleness.  And I was answered in my understanding:  It lasteth, and ever shall last for that God loveth it.  And so All-thing has the Being by the love of God.

In this Little Thing I saw three properties.  The first is that God made it, the second is that God loveth it,  the third, that God keepth it.  But what is to me verily the Maker, the Keeper, and the Lover,  --- I cannot tell;  for till I am Substantially oned to Him, I may never have full rest nor very bliss:  that is to say,  till I be so fastened to Him, that there is right nought that is made betwixt my God and me.

The score I have only has Messiaen's original, French annotations for both the set of pieces and the individual pieces I wouldn't attempt to translate them.  This site does have a translation of some of those for individual movements.   It translates "regards" as "glances" or, perhaps best of all,  "gazes" and gives some sense of Messiaen's intentions.  A glance is certainly too short to give any sense of what the music is.   "Gazes" is a pretty good translation but Messiaen was a mystic, a Catholic mystic, a French Catholic mystic so you get that kind of explanation.  Considering it's music that's probably more helpful than a philosophical discourse would be.

Hate Mail - Political Philosophy

Egalitarian democracy is the only legitimate form of government.

Egalitarian democracy is a political means of securing as decent a life for everyone as it is possible to achieve. 

It is a result of the moral practice of telling and knowing the truth in service to the duty to be good to each other.  

Anything that prevents that, either the promotion of being cruel and exploitative of other people and living beings or lying about reality is destructive of a decent life for everyone and of the political means of achieving that.   

Any political Constitutional article or provision or law or document or dogma that enables lying is anti-democratic, illegitimate and destructive of equality and a decent life.  Any Supreme Court that by its interpretation enables lying is actively destroying democracy.  Ours has done that for the past fifty years.  After a half a century to see what the results of it is, any further enabling of lying should be considered to have that intention. 

Being fashionable has nothing to do with any of it except in that both are inherently elitist and anti-egalitarian.  See motto above.