Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Higher learning

In the episode of The Big Bang Theory entitled 'The Anxiety Optimization' (Season 8 Episode 13) 'ground-breaking discoveries' were contrasted with 'solid research'. The latter is what is performed by the majority of workers in academia. These workers are portrayed as simply going through the motions and doing a job during that period of their adult lives when they worked and followed careers just like anybody else. Making 'ground-breaking discoveries' is depicted as the superior of the two activities. This takes a different mentality - a certain genius - that is less about being 'adult' and doing the 'career thing' and more about keeping a youthful sense of discovery. It has been said of Albert Einstein (1879-1955) that he maintained a childish sense of questioning throughout his life.

In another episode (Series 4 Episode 15 – The Benefactor Factor), Sheldon Cooper doesn't want to go to a university fund raising evening and tells his flat mate Leonard to tell the university principal that... "Dr. Cooper feels that the best use of his time is to employ his rare and precious mental faculties to tear the mask off nature and stare at the face of God."

Quite! Let those interested in and able to understand institutional finance tend to that sort of business.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Being alone

These two quotations perhaps sum up the desire for solitude:

"Hell is other people."
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980)

"Do I know where hell is? Hell is in hello"
Lee Marvin (1924-1987) in the song 'Wand'rin' Star' from the movie 'Paint Your Wagon'.

The next line of the song being:
"Heaven is goodbye for ever, it's time for me to go."

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Epictetus - 20

From: The Golden Sayings of Epictetus (translated by Hastings Crossley) - from Project Gutenberg.

First study to conceal what thou art; seek wisdom a little while unto thyself. Thus grows the fruit; first, the seed must be buried in the earth for a little space; there it must be hid and slowly grow, that it may reach maturity. But if it produce the ear before the jointed stalk, it is imperfect-a thing from the garden of Adonis. Such a sorry growth art thou; thou hast blossomed too soon: the winter cold will wither thee away!

Friday, 11 November 2016

Some unattributred quotes

"There is no such thing as definitive knowledge, only creative ways of describing what you make of the world."

"One should relish the amount of information that one has at one’s disposal and the benefits that will bring; not be distracted by what seems to be the herculean task of organising it. After all, bringing some sense of order to chaos was the first act of the creation."

"One is duty-bound to raise the most intriguing questions that one possibly can so that the generations to come will have a much better starting point from which to begin their work of questioning."

"In every life there is a question that nobody can ask for you; a question that gives your life its specific meaning. Sometimes it may not be possible to answer that question completely. What is terrible is not to have asked the question in the first place."

Saturday, 5 November 2016

On the having new thoughts

A brand new idea may lie just beyond a completely outrageous one. It may be totally inaccessible other than by first having that outrageous idea. The boldness in getting to the new idea is in being willing to have (and going ahead and having) the outrageous idea first. It would, therefore, be counterproductive prudishness not to allow oneself free rein when it comes to thinking. (In the privacy of one's mind, is it improper to think improper thoughts?)