Saturday, September 1, 2012

Annotations: Proust and the Squid (part 2)


Chapter 3: The Birth of an Alphabet and Socrates' Protests

p. 58
What distinguished our ancestors in ancient Greece from us was the great value the Greeks placed on oral culture and memory. Just as Socrates probed his students' understanding in dialogue after dialogue, educated Greeks honed their rhetorical and elocutionary skills, and prized above all almost everything else the ability to wield spoken words with knowledge and power. The astounding memory capacities of our Greek ancestors are one result.

p. 60
Various influential twentieth-century scholars have argued that the alphabet represents the apex of all writing and that, consequently, alphabet readers "think differently."

...three claims about supposedly unique contributions of the alphabet...
(1) the alphabet's increased efficiency over other systems;
(2)the alphabet's facilitation of novel thoughts, never before articulated; 
(3) the novice readers' ease in acquiring an alphabetic system through their increased awareness of the sounds of speech.

p. 66
[point 2]
Every child, [whether using an alphabet, hieroglyph, or other, "nonalphabetic logosyllabary"], who learns to read someone else's thoughts and writer his or her own repeats this cyclical, germinating relationship between written language and new thought, never before imagined.

From a cognitive perspective, therefore, it is again not that the alphabet uniquely contributed to the production of novel thought, but rather that the increased efficiency brought by the alphabetic and syllabary systems made novel thought more accessible for more people.

[point 3]
The Greek alphabet did differ dramatically from previous writing systems in its incorporation of highly sophisticated linguistic insights into human speech. The ancient Greeks discovered that the entire speech system of oral language could be analyzed and systematically segmented into individual sounds.

Socrates' Protests, Plato's Quiet Rebellion, and Aristotle's Habit
p. 70
I regard the fifth and fourth centuries BCE, when Socrates and Plato taught, as a window through which our culture can observe a different but no less remarkable culture making an uncertain transition from one dominant form of communication to another. Few thinkers could be as capable of helping us examine the place of oral and written communication in the twenty-first century as the "gadfly" and his pupils. 

Socrates passionately decried the uncontrolled spread of written language; Plato was ambivalent, but used it to record arguably the most important spoken dialogues in written history; and as a youth Aristotle was already immersed in "the habit of reading."

p. 71
Socrates taught students to questions the words and concepts conveyed by spoken language so they could see what beliefs and assumptions lay beneath them. Socrates demanded that everything be questioned...

Socrates’ objections to written language
[1] First, Socrates posited that oral and written words play very different roles in an individual's intellectual life;
[2] second, he regarded the new--and much less stringent--requirements that written language placed on both memory and the internalization of knowledge as catastrophic; and
[3] third, he passionately advocated the unique role that oral language plays in the development of morality and virtue in a society. (71-72)

p. 73
Underlying the Socratic method lies a particular view of words--as teeming, living things that can, with guidance, be linked to a search for truth, goodness, and virtue. Socrates believed that unlike the "dead discourse" of written speech, oral words, or "living speech," represented dynamic entities--full of meanings, sounds, melody, stress, intonation, and rhythms--ready to be uncovered layer by layer through examination and dialogue. By contrast, written words could not speak back. The inflexible muteness of written words doomed the dialogic process Socrates saw as the heart of education.

In his classic work Thought and Language, Vygotsky described the intensely generative relationships between word and thought and between teacher and learner. Like Socrates, Vygotsky held that social interaction plays a pivotal role in developing a child's ever deepening relationships between words and concepts.

p. 74
A more subtle concern for Socrates is that written words can be mistaken for reality; their seeming impermeability masks their essentially illusory nature. Because they "seem... as though they were intelligent" and, therefore, closer to the reality of a thing, words can delude people, Socrates feared, into a superficial, false sense that they understood something when they have only just begun to understand it. 

[second objection: Memory Destruction]
p. 75
By committing to memory and examining huge amounts of orally transmitted material, young educated Greek citizens both preserved the extant cultural memory of their society and increased personal and social knowledge.

...Socrates held this entire system in esteem not so much for a concern for preserving tradition as from the belief that only the arduous process of memorization was sufficiently rigorous enough to form the basis of personal knowledge that could then be refined in dialogue with a teacher. From this larger interconnected view of language, memory, and knowledge, Socrates concluded that written language was not a "recipe" for memory, but a potential agent of its destruction.

[third objection: Loss of Control over language]
p. 77
Underneath his ever-present humor and seasoned irony lies a profound fear that literacy without guidance of a teacher or of a society permits dangerous access to knowledge. Reading presented Socrates with a new version of Pandora's box: once written language was released there would be no accounting for what would be written, who could read it, or how readers might interpret it.

p. 78
Socrates' enemy never really was the writing down of words, as Plato realized. Rather, Socrates fought against the failures to examine the protean capacities of our language and to use them with all our intelligence.

Annotations: Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf (part 1)

Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain outlines the history of mankind's attempt to learn to read, from using tokens and marks as a record keeping system, to hieroglyphics and cuneiform, to the Greek alphabet; it covers the development of reading in the life of the individual and how that process can become short-circuited; and it covers how reading disabilities prevent the usual development of reading ability. In my reading I am more interested in the first two sections.


Part 1: How the Brain Learned to Read

Chapter 1: Reading Lessons from Proust and the Squid

p. 1
We were never born to read. human beings invented reading only a few thousand years ago. And with this invention, we rearranged the very organization of our brain, which in turn expanded the ways we were able to think, which altered the intellectual evolution of our species. Reading is one of the single most remarkable inventions in history; the ability to record history is one of its consequences.

p. 5
Within the constraints of our genetic legacy, our brain presents a beautiful example of of open architecture. Thanks to its design, we come into the world programmed with the capacity to change what is given to us by nature, so that we can go beyond it.

p. 7
While reading, we can leave our own consciousness, and pass over into the consciousness of another person, another age, another culture. 'Passing over,' a term  used by the theologian John Dunne, describes the process through which reading enables us to try on, identify with, and ultimately enter for a brief time the wholly different perspective of another person's consciousness.

p. 9
...the brain doesn't find just one simple meaning for a word; instead it stimulates a veritable treasure trove of knowledge about that word and the many words related to it. The richness of this semantic dimension of reading depends on the riches we have already stored, a fact with important and sometimes devastating developmental implications for our children.

p. 11
Unlike its component parts such as vision and speech, which are genetically organized, reading has no direct genetic program passing it on to future generations.

p. 15
What happens between our first exposure to letters and expert reading is very important to scientists because it offers a unique opportunity to watch the orderly development of a cognitive process. The various features that characterize the visual system--enlisting older genetically programmed structures, recognizing patters, creating discrete working groups of specialized neurons for particular representations, making circuit connections with great versatility, and achieving fluency through practice--are similar in all the other major cognitive and linguistic systems involved in reading.

p. 16
Reading is a neuronally and intellectually circuitous act, enriched as much by unpredictable indirections of a reader's inferences and thoughts, as by the direct message to the eye from the text.

p. 17
...the generative capacity of reading parallels the fundamental plasticity in the circuit wiring of our brains: both permit us to go beyond the particulars of the given. The rich associations, inferences, and insights emerging form this capacity allow, and indeed invite, us to reach beyond the specific content of what we read to form new thoughts. In this sense, reading both reflects and reenacts the brain's capacity for cognitive breakthroughs.

p. 17 [Quoting Proust:]
We feel quite truly that our wisdom begins where that of the author ends, and we would like him give us answers, while all he can do is give us desires. And these desires he can arouse in us only by making us contemplate the supreme beauty which the last effort of his art has permitted him to reach. But by... a law which perhaps signifies that we can receive the truth from nobody, and that we must create it ourselves, that which is the end of their wisdom appears to us but the beginning of ours.

p. 19
As the cognitive scientist eloquently remarked, "Children are wired for sound, but print is an optional accessory that must be painstakingly bolted on." To acquire this unnatural process, children need instructional environments that support all the circuit parts that need bolting for the brain to read. Such a perspective largely departs from current teaching methods that focus largely on only one or two major components of reading.

Chapter 2: How the Brain Adapted itself to Read: The First Writing Systems

p. 27
["Tokens" are clay pieces with markings used to account for physical goods; they are also the earliest discovered attempts at writing.]
A lovely irony of our species' cognitive growth is that the world of letters may have begun as an envelope for the world of numbers.

p. 28
...along with cave drawings like those in France and Spain, tokens reflected the emergence of a new human ability: the use of a form of symbolic representation, in which objects could be symbolized by marks for the eye.

p. 37
The act of teaching not only requires a firm knowledge of the subject, but also forces the teacher to analyze what goes into the learning of a particular content. Moreover, good teaching renders the multiple dimensions of the subject to be taught more visible..."

p. 38
A major contribution of early Sumerian writing is the way that teaching methods promoted conceptual development. Requiring Sumerian pupils or any other children to learn semantically and phonetically related words helped them recall words more efficiently, increase their vocabulary, and increase their overall conceptual knowledge. In current terms, the Sumerians used the first known metacognitive strategy to teach reading. That is, Sumerian teachers gave their pupils tools that made explicit how to learn something, and how to remember it.

p. 42
The English language is... a historical mishmash of homage and pragmatism. We include Greek, Latin, French, Old English, and many other roots, at a cost know to every first- and second-grader. Linguists classify English as a morphophonemic writing system because it represents both morphemes (units of meaning) and phonemes (units of sound) in its spelling, a major source of bewilderment to many new readers if they don;t understand the historical reasons.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Annotations: Heidegger Explained: From Phenomenon to Thing by Graham Harman

Annotations from Heidegger Explained: From Phenomenon to Thing by Graham Harman, specifically from Harman's section regarding Being and Time.

p. 56

...the question of being has been forgotten since the days of ancient Greece. Being is now assumed to be something present for human view, or physically present: being is spirit, or atoms, or God, or will to power, or phenomena in consciousness.

In Being and Time, Heidegger wants to revive the forgotten question of being through an analysis of human existence. He chooses Dasein [human beings] as his topic because only Dasein can ask the question of being in the first place; to understand what the question of being means, we must first understand  the structure of Dasein.

No Dasein is a mere set of properties: Dasein can only be understood as the event, act, or performance of its own being. It is never entirely visible from the outside.

...the "horizon" of the question of the meaning of being is none other than time. When he says that time is the horizon, this means that only within the concept of time can we reach any proper understanding of being at all.

p. 57

In posing the question of the meaning of being, Heidegger realizes that many people consider it not to be a real question at all. The first task of his book is to reawaken the need for this question, which has withered away since the high period of ancient Greek philosophy.

...every question has three parts: that which is asked about, that which is interrogated, and that which is to be found out by the asking.

... on closer examination, we simply have our old friend the threefold temporal structure. Every question analyzes something that is already given to us (past: the interrogated), in order to find out something new (future: that which is to be found out), with the resulting combination giving us the question as a whole (present: that which is asked about).

p. 58

He begins by saying that beings must be interrogated to learn about their being. But just one paragraph later, it is human Dasein alone that is hauled in for questioning. Since it is humans who ask the question of the meaning of being, he thinks that we need to clarify the being of the human questioner in order to understand the question properly. Even so, this can be only a first step. As Heidegger memorably puts it: the being of beings is not itself a being.

[comparing the quest for ever less vague understanding of the being of Dasein, Harman refers to Plato's Meno. Though the sophists think it fruitless to question the search for virtue as either we already know what it is, or, if we don't know what it is, then we have no way of recognizing what it is when we find it.] 
Heidegger's response is essentially the same as that of Socrates to the Sophists: we do know what being (or virtue) is in advance, but only in a vague, partially defined way, and not yet as the rigorous concept we seek. In present-day philosophy this is often called the "hermeneutic circle," or circle of interpretation.

"Ontological," of course, refers to being. "Ontic," by contrast, pertains to specific beings.

p. 60
Unlike countless other great philosophers, Heidegger does not believe that his own philosophy is the final one.

Dasein is in each case mine; "mineness" is in fact its key feature. What distinguishes Dasein from bicycles, mushrooms, or even dogs is that Dasein's own being is always an issue for it. I am constantly occupied with my own being, and with how things are going for that being. Dasein is not made up of a list of qualities: its essence is nothing but existence. Only Dasein has existence, and only Dasein has "mineness".

Heidegger insists that the proper way to gain a philosophical understanding of Dasein is not to look for a special case of it.

..we should consider Dasein in its "average everydayness."

..we must never forget that Dasein is a "who," which means an event action, action, or performance, and not a "what" that can be seen from the outside. This sweeping caveat rules our every past interpretation of human being, especially the two most influential: the Greek concept of humans as rational animals, and the Christian idea of humans as created in the image of God.

p. 61

...being-in means that Dasein is immersed in the world, involved with it, permanently intertwined and occupied with it even when it feels alienated or lonely. For this very reason, Heidegger says that only Dasein can touch other entities, since only Dasein has access to them or is truly aware of them.

Too many philosophers have construed their model of human being by imagining humans as entities that  know the world. Heidegger sees that knowledge is only a rare special case of the way we deal with  our environment, as his tool-analysis will brilliantly show. Knowledge is not primary, because it arises from out of the world. Dasein somehow has to rise above its usual interaction with the world in order to gain anything resembling knowledge. Dasein and world are bound together closely from the start. If this seems to eliminate the traditional problem of philosophy of how human beings can know a world lying outside of them, then so much the better. For Heidegger as well as Husserl, this is a false problem that never should have existed in the first place.

p. 62

The usual idea of the world as "nature" must be rejected (just as Husserl would reject it) because the concept of nature arises from our average way of encountering entities. We need to look at the environment and how Dasein deals with it. Things are not present-at-hand in this environment, but are usually encountered as equipment.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Reading Kant

After attempting to read Kant's Critique and the Prolegomena, after banging my head against the wall repeatedly, I figured it was time to break down Kant's terms into something manageable.

First, a few notes from the introduction to the Critique of Pure Reason: Kant is concerned with securing a foundations for science and metaphysics. Being awoken from a dogmatic slumber by Hume, Kant explores the distinction between empirical (sense/experience) knowledge and rational knowledge (logical/known before sense/a priori).

Though Kant believes that we can know much a priori, that logic and rationality can help man make sense of the world (or at least of his own mind...!), he submits all knowledge begins with experience. Our "faculty of knowledge" is awakened by the things in the world around us. (1) Knowledge cannot arise in a subject without sense experience. But this does not mean that all our knowledge arises from experience. Instead, it seems a priori (non-empirical) knowledge is that knowledge that is "independent of all experience and even of all impressions of the senses." (2)

My hope is to develop a thorough, workable map of Kant's view of human understanding. How does man come about knowledge? What steps are taken from sense data to concepts and judgement?


Below are a few of Kant's quotes (indented) with my attempt at commentary/summation/paraphrase, and also the beginnings of a glossary in which the terms themselves are colored red and are followed by quotes and additional attempts at summary in italics. The translation used is Jonathan Bennet's Early Modern Texts.



Knowledge: knowledge is made up out of intuition and concepts (74); 

"For us to have knowledge about anything, we need three things to be given to us a priori: 
          1. the manifold of pure intuition; 
          2. the imagination’s synthesis of this manifold; and
          3. the concepts that give unity to this pure synthesis." (104)

"[...]•apprehending representations as states of the mind in intuition, •reproducing them in imagination, and •recognizing them in a concept. Synthesis: "By ‘synthesis’ in its most general sense I mean the action of assembling different representations and grasping their manifoldness—their variety—in one item of knowledge." (102); 

"synthesis in general is a mere effect of the imagination—something that the soul does blindly, usually without our being conscious of it—though it is in- dispensable because without it we wouldn’t know anything" (103); 


Kant Commentary

[...] objects are •given to us by means of sensibility, and that’s our only way of getting •intuitions; but objects are •thought through the understanding, which gives us •concepts. But all thought must ultimately be related to intuitions, whether straight away (directly) or through a detour (indirectly); so it must be related (in our case) to sensibility, since it is only through sensibility that objects can be given to us. (33)

Sensibility gives us objects and this process creates intuitions. Understanding, through which objects can be thought, gives us concepts. All thought must relate back to intuitions and thus to sensibility.





Sensibility: objects are "given" through this "stem of human knowledge" (29); 

"the name of the capacity for acquiring representations that reflect how we are affected by objects" (33); 

"our mind’s •receptiveness to getting representations when it is affected somehow, then ‘understanding’ is the right label for the mind’s power to produce representations from itself" (75)


Understanding: objects are "thought" through this "stem of human knowledge" (29); 

"I have explained what the understanding is, in several different ways: •an active cognitive faculty (in contrast to the passivity of sensibility), •a power of thought, •a faculty of concepts, •a faculty of judgments. When you look at them carefully, these accounts are all equivalent. ·And now I add yet another·: Understanding is •the faculty of rules." (A 126)

 process of getting from empirical sense to understanding: apprehension of experience association / reproduction their recognition (A 124)




Kant Commentary

When an object affects us, its effect on our capacity for representation is •sensation. An intuition that is related to its object through sensation is called ‘empirical’. Anything that an empirical intuition is an intuition of—whatever the details—is called an ‘appearance’. The element in an appearance that corresponds to sensation is what I call the ‘matter’ of the appearance; and that which allows the manifold of appearance to have a certain ordered and interrelated pattern is what I call ‘form’ of appearance. This form of appearance ·isn’t a product of the matter·; the •form, which is required for the sensations to be ordered and patterned, can’t itself be another sensation! So it must lie in the mind a priori, ready and waiting for sensations ·to come and be shaped up by it·; so it can be considered separately from all sensation. All the •matter of appearance is of course given to us only a posteriori. (34)
Sensed intuitions (building blocks of experience) are called appearances. Kant uses a juxtaposition as old as the Greeks to divide the appearances into the 'matter' (the sense data) and the 'form' (the structure). The form comes from our minds ordering power; it itself is not another appearance.

Our minds come equipped with the ability to organize the sense data they receive.



Experience: a synthetic combination of intuitions (12); 

makes synthesis possible; "This thoroughgoing synthetic unity of perceptions is indeed the form of experience; it is simply the synthetic unity of appearances in accordance with concepts." (A 110);

"What enables us to have •experience—any experience—and •knowledge of its objects is a trio of subjective sources of knowledge— sense, imagination, and self-awareness." (115)


An object can be known under--and only under--two conditions:
an intuition, through which the object is given, though only as appearance; and •a concept, through which the object corresponding to the intuition is thought. (125)


Intuition: building block of experience; In whatever way and by whatever means an item of knowledge may relate to objects, what relates it to them immediately. . . .is intuition (33); 
intuition is by definition our ability to be knowingly confronted by individual things (33); 
"the aspect of an appearance that relates immediately to the object is called ‘intuition" (A 109)

Concept: "concepts are best thought of as capacities for making" (105)


From Transcendental deduction of the pure concepts of the understanding
Kant Commentary

The manifold of representations can be given in an intuition that is merely •sensible, i.e. merely something that is passively received; and the form of this intuition can lie a priori in our faculty of representation without being anything more than the way in which the subject—·i.e. the person’s mind·—is affected. ·To express this in terms of one of the two a priori forms of intuition: you can have an intuition that is organized spatially because that organisation is imposed on it by your faculty of intuition, this being something in respect of which you are passive—you don’t do anything to make the intuition spatial·. But the combination—·i.e. the pulling-together-into-a-unity·—of a manifold can never come to us through the senses; so it can’t be part of the pure form of passive intuition ·as space and time are·; this combination is an act of the active department of the faculty of representation—the one we call ‘understanding’, to distinguish it from ·the passive department, which we call· ‘sensibility’. Using this terminology, then: all combining is an action of the understanding; •whether or not we are conscious of it, and •whether it’s a pulling-together of the manifold of intuition (empirical or non-empirical) or of several concepts. I want to give this action the general label ‘synthesis’; this label reminds us that •we can’t represent to ourselves anything as combined in the object unless we ourselves have previously combined it, and that •combination is the only one of all our representations that isn’t given through objects. Because synthesis is an act of the mind’s self-activity, it can only be carried out by the mind itself. (130)
Here Kant recapitulates his view of the mind:

1. Sense data comes into the mind (already?) organized by space (external) and time (internal).
(sensibility)

2. The 'pulling together' of these bits of sensory data is performed by an active ability for representation.
(understanding)

In summary, the history of philosophy generally places Kant in the position of synthesizing the views of rationalists--those who believed human understanding used deductive, intuitive logic--and the empiricists--those who believed all human understanding comes from the senses. Kant's move was to argue that the human mind imposes an order (rationalizes) upon the sensory data (empirical data) of the world. The mind does this by ordering the world through the imposition of the 'pure intuitions' of space and time. Once information is so ordered, it can be processed by Kant's quite famous categories of understanding.

(yeah, it's in German. But the diagram give you an idea of the systematic nature of his categories of quality, quantity, modality, and relation.)


The process is, as the final excerpt form Kant outlines, one of receiving sensory data (a passive sensibility) and one of ordering this data so that it can be used and understood (an active understanding).

This means that humans are blocked off from transcendental (in the traditional sense) knowledge of the world; one cannot know the object as it exists (noumena), but can only know the mind's processed  representation of the object (phenomena).

---

Next is to systematically outline the exact steps in this process of coming to knowledge. As the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy suggests, part of the problem of simplifying Kant's system of knowledge creation--besides the confusing terminology--is that many of the processes overlap, some are inseparable, and some are only explained in a 'shadowy' way.

And then on to my "real" question, the one that got me on this train: how can Pirsig have an a priori motorcycle?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Connecting the dots on America's suburbs

A recent NYTimes article on rising poverty in the suburbs connected with a few other readings and viewings I have encountered over the last few years. This topic is fascinating to me as Kristen and I recently made the shift from a suburban (perhaps exurban?) area into a metropolitan area. Additionally, this seems to be a topic close to home to millions of Americans--as evidenced in the comments section of the NYTimes article.


The Brookings Institution reported two years ago that “by 2008 suburbs were home to the largest and fastest growing poor population in the country.” In the previous eight years, major metropolitan suburbs had seen poverty rates climb by 25 percent, almost five times faster than cities. Nationwide, 55 percent of the poor living in the nation’s metropolitan regions lived in suburbs.

To add insult to injury, a new measure to calculate poverty — introduced by the Census Bureau just last year — darkens an already bleak picture: nationally, 51 million households had incomes less than 50 percent above the official poverty line, and nearly half of these households were in suburbs.
From The New York Times


James Howard Kunstler's thoughts on suburbia: (note: this video contains explicit language)


The True Cost of Gas may be much higher than we really think. How will the rise in gas prices (to levels normal around the rest of the world) impact less dense areas?


And finally, The Arcade Fire song "The Suburbs"

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Tao of Physics--annotations

Following are a few passages from The Tao of Physics that I found illuminating. 

The author's purpose is to demonstrate the similarities in the quantum/relative world view and the worldview of Eastern mysticism. Page numbers are for the 25th anniversary edition of the book published by Shambhala in 2000.

...the various schools of Eastern mysticism... all emphasize the basic unity of the universe... The highest aim for their followers--whether they are Hindus, Buddhists or Taoists--is to become aware of the unity and mutual interconnection of all things, to transcend the notion of an isolated self and to identify themselves with the ultimate reality."
(p.24)

The most important characteristic of the Eastern worldview--one could almost say the essence of it--is the awareness of the unity and mutual interrelation of all things and events, the experience of all phenomena in the world as manifestations of a basic oneness. (p. 131)


Capra mentions multiple times that Eastern philosophy sees the world as inherently unified (hence, universe) and dynamic. All separateness and all static objects are an illusion. In the subatomic world, the particles that make up the world around us are always in flux. Many of the features of these particles, for instance, cannot be known for certain as the quantum world has a basic indeterminateness to it. He contrasts these viewpoints with a mechanistic view--which he finds is the predominant Western worldview--that sees the world as made up of individuals objects and the forces that these objects respond to (or perhaps can influence as in the case of a human).

Rational knowledge is derived from the experience we have with objects and events in our everyday environment. It belongs to the realm if the intellect whose function is to discriminate, divide, compare, measure and categorize. In this way, a world of intellectual distinctions is created; of opposites which can only exist in relation to each other, which is why Buddhists call this type of knowledge 'relative'. (p. 27)

Because our representation of reality is so much easier to grasp than reality itself, we tend to confuse the two and take our concepts and symbols for reality. It is one of the main aims of Eastern mysticism to rid us of this confusion. (p. 28)

It is important to realize the difference between the mathematical models and their verbal counterparts. The former are rigorous and consistent as far as their internal structure is concerned, but their symbols are not directly related to our experience. The verbal models, on the other hand, use concepts which which can be understood intuitively, but are always inaccurate and ambiguous. They are in this respect not different from philosophical models of reality and thus the two can be very well compared. (p. 33)

At the atomic level, then, the solid material objects of classical physics dissolve into patterns of probabilities, and these patterns do not represent possibilities of things, but rather probabilities of interconnections. Quantum theory forces us to see the universe not as a collection of physical objects, but rather as a complicated web or relations between the various parts of a unified whole. (p. 138)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Physics Videos

I've been reading The Tao of Physics for the last two weeks. I keep swearing I will post some of my thoughts about this interesting book, but I have been so engrossed in the counter-intuitive ideas in the text that I spend my time reading and re-reading chapters. Anyway, as I'm canceling Netflix soon, I've been looking up videos to watch and found a few full-length introductions to physics.

Enjoy!


Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe on Nova