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Book Review: The Godmakers, Frank Herbert

The GodmakersThe Godmakers by Frank Herbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This makes a good and reasonable condensed version of some of the central spiritual and philosophical concepts underlying the Dune novels. If you have read those in the past, like myself, it can provide an interesting summary. If you have not read them, it could whet your appetite to explore Herbert’s world further with the Dune series.

As in Dune, a key point is that a close balance between chaos and order must be maintained for civilisation to persist in health and vigour. And the way to do this is by keeping in touch with, or rediscovering, our deep instinctual and spiritual pasts and channelling these energies, rather than trying to deny, repress, or overcome them.

Only in that way can we become “Godmakers”, rather than merely idol worshippers.

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Book Review: Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was quite a surprisingly good read. I had expected it may seem a bit aged now, but its parable style message about the tyranny of the present and the convenient forgetfulness of inconvenient past realities is as relevant, if not much more relevant now, than it was when it was written.

The meddling desire to interfere with our history, with our past, with our books, and even with our memories, in order to force it into line with present ideological expectations and present comfortable illusions is one of the most dangerous and insidious desires and common weaknesses that can inflict and infest human beings and human society and culture.

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Book Review: The Life Of the Cosmos, Lee Smolin

(Disclaimer: This review focuses more on my critique of aspects his ideas. I have much more positive to say about Smolin’s views in previous posts and in other posts to come)

The Life Of The CosmosThe Life Of The Cosmos by Lee Smolin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is an awful lot that is good in this book, with very cutting edge theoretical concepts and principles in basic physics and natural philosophy that are discussed openly and unabashedly. I also appreciate the way in which, unlike many physicists, he doesn’t over play the card of what his particular scientific specialisation knows about reality and is open and admits where there are current limitations. Add to this the whole fascinating idea of thinking of the whole cosmos as alive and connected to us in some meaningful manner, rather than trying to pass it off in a gloating way as some external thing that cares nothing for us as random accidents. (The typical disempowering schtick in our science education). For these factors alone, and for the novelty of the approaches and the interesting figures and ideas referred to, it is worth 4 stars.

However, there remain some criticisms. Firstly, he wavers with very ambiguous views of what natural selection is. Now, given he is arguing for a cosmology based on natural selection, you would think he would be clear on this central point. Unfortunately he is not, he does show awareness of the fact natural selection could just be a logic that underlies discourse, but then he also claims for it something like the status of a mechanism. If its the former, you are going to have to explain how such a logical/metaphysical view could be justified as being a physical explanation for our cosmology. If its the latter then you are going to have to explain what the driving mechanism is for this natural selection. Now, he claims there could be some empirical ways to test the theory, but they are often indicators, rather than verifiers, and I struggle to see how there could be a mechanism, given the mechanism even in biology of natural selection is still much disputed. Yes, we have genetics, but we also have epigenetics, and if it turns out there is interplay between these two things, then you are never going to be able to isolate a clear cut mechanism. Regardless, there is something to be said for Smolin’s general approach, and for his relational views of space. (Interesting, back at the time of this book, he was still considering the possibility that time is unreal, unlike in his later work where time is “reborn”.)

Another criticism is that he panders a bit too much to too many different people. So, he will say in one sentence that he is doing away with mystical and metaphysical views to pander to his positivist atheist and science fan boy readers, then in the next he will talk of the centrality of Leibniz’ principle of sufficient reason, pandering to more philosophical readers, totally unaware, it would seem, that this is a metaphysical principle.

Anyway, these caveats aside, mostly Smolin attempts in this book to face the limits and frontiers of our current scientific knowledge and tries to engage in discourse with other academic disciplines and sources of knowledge to move past, what at that time had been an era of stagnation due to over specialisation and narrow mindedness. The era of youtube and other things since then has helped to spur on more efforts to move beyond that parochial era and free up discourse, not just with people defending the institution that feeds them, but with independent individuals interested in truth for its own sake.

Naturally, the last few years, we have come over a new set of problems, and the left is looking to calcify itself again and withdraw into its mono-narrative stronghold. Thankfully, still in certain areas like theoretical physics there is room for some independent individuals with good ideas to win through such as Roger Penrose. And it does feel to me we now live in a time that is ready to move away from the standard big bang cosmology dogma. Relying, as it does, on too many arbitrary factors to come together in any physically justifiable way consistent with our reason. We could always just make some metaphysical postulates, and be open about this, but of course, this would then raise debate, discussion and criticism, so the tendency seems to be to play safe, to not rise above the parapet and to try and claim a purely physical basis for ones views, as if this will give it an independent credibility that cannot be criticised. There may be a purely physical and correct cosmology to be found, and aspects of Lee Smolin’s views may be part of it, but just appealing to natural selection is neither going to be sufficient nor reasonable.

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Book Review: The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick

The Man in the High CastleThe Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For a long time I had not considered to read this particular work by Philip K. Dick. It had seemed to me that it would be a different format and style to his usual books, given the subject matter. But, he manages to expertly weave this story into his usual style. Creating a semi-realistic vision of an alternate reality where the Nazi’s and Japan win the Second World War, as well as a typical story of his, like Ubik, and some of his later ones like Valis, where the reality of their world is questioned by the characters based on certain clues and suggestions of fakery compared to a more real world somehow hidden from view. The real world of course, in this case, perhaps unlike some of his other stories would be our actual history.

The book raises a lot of thoughts and questions on what is real, and addresses the differing mentalities of the eastern mindset and the anglo saxons, and the German idealistic insanity and where it can unhealthily lead when pursued to the extreme, and it always amazes me how Dick is able to convey so many deep thoughts and so much information about a subject with such short stacatto style sentences. In one brief paragraph, for example, he sums up well one of the perennial dilemmas we face as humans, that is discussed for whole books in ancient Greek moral philosophy with Socrates and Plato: “We do not have the ideal world, such as we would like, where morality is easy because cognition is easy. Where one can do right with no effort because he can detect the obvious.”

This whole section and other parts of the book also, evoke these kind of moral and metaphysical dilemmas we face between the world as we would like it to be the case, and the truth or real world that is presented to our senses. Cognitive dissonance in the face of such hard realities is unsurprising and difficult to avoid, and can make us all ask of ourselves just how real are the ideological things we often claim to believe in with such zeal and enthusiasm.

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Relational or Absolute Space and Time? Leibniz or Newton; Smolin or Penrose

This is a question that has intrigued and fascinated me probably ever since I first became acquainted with it. The circumstances of this were twofold. On the one side, I had come to see the power of the basic insight of empirical idealism, that we can only know our own experiences and perceptions with any certainty. On the other side I had read about Newtons attempts to prove that space is absolute based on the curvature experienced by water in a bucket while spinning. The argument, so it goes, is that since there is no evident external force acting on it, and there must be some force, then this force must be a rotation relative to absolute space. My fascination with the problem is that it goes to the core of the question about what space and time and dimensions really are. Are they externally existent things in some sense, or are they merely relational abstractions, ways in which we categorise our experiences?

The debate raged on between Leibniz and Newton at the time regarding this. Leibniz argued that it went against the principle of sufficient reason to have an existent thing that had no effective reason of its action on things. For instance, what would distinguish the absolute space we have from a similar absolute space that was moved a few meters to the left or from one that was magnified by a factor of 10, 100, or even 1 million? It seems nothing within the system could distinguish one such space from the other. And so we would be left as beings within that system as having to hold something as true for which we could distinguish no reason for it being that way. Newton was not too worried, as he imagined there to be some Deistic god who made things as they are originally from the outside, and so, for him there could be reason, if not for us. But this did not satisfy the rationalist, Leibniz, who insisted all things in being and existence must have a reason for their being and existing that we can at least potentially understand as ourselves rational beings.

Moving forward, Kant came along to suggest an epistemology in line with Newtons absolute space and time, by arguing that these particular ways of categorising reality are written into our very subjective observational faculties, like a grid on a telescope that we look through, for instance. And so, there is no need to postulate the space and time as external entities in an arbitrary way, they are merely the necessary filters through which we must perceive all things, and he created a whole metaphysical approach around this idea, that still influences many domains of enquiry to this day. The only problem, of course, is that in the light of Einstein’s theory of relativity we know that Newton’s absolute space and time are incorrect representations of actual space and time. And I can myself give a critique of one of Kant’s own arguments for the absoluteness of a space framework of some kind. Kant argued that a left and a right hand are incongruent, no translation can make one fit neatly on the other. But, what this argument forgets to realise is that by labelling them left and right hands, you are already, tacitly evoking a third dimension of depth, and if you are given the option to flip one of the hands through 180 degrees in that third dimension of depth then you can quite easily make the left and right hand congruent. If such an absoluteness can be removed with a simple mathematical trick of introducing an extra dimension, it hardly seems adequate to ground a whole absolute view of space and time on.

The new point on which I am bringing up all this discussion is in relation to my current reading of the works of Lee Smolin and Roger Penrose. Because, it seems Smolin is an advocate of the purely relational view of space and time, seeing it as a natural outcome of general relativity, while Penrose is not a supporter of this view (I am taking this from a recent interview on youtube between Roger Penrose and Brian Greene where he stated this.)

So we have here an almost 400 year old philosophical debate about the true nature of space and time in which there is still disagreement among top physicists. What does relativity theory really say? Does it indeed take us to a purely relational view of space and time? Now, though I can see and appreciate Smolin’s arguments for it, particularly also in relation to his new way of trying to envision the whole debate in cosmology by developing a cosmological view from somewhere, so to speak, rather than trying to do the old absolutist approach of falsely imagining we can take a view from nowhere of the cosmos. This latter would be an idealised neutral view outside of it, when a more realistic view is that we are inextricably entwined with the universe in key ways. (Of course, it is one thing to state a view like this, but a whole other to make it respectable for theoretical and experimental physics, which is what Smolin tries to do in that book.) Despite of this value of the view, I don’t think we can quite say that relational space and time follow from general relativity. I think, in fact, the question remains open, and in a way general relativity avoids answering it.

The purpose of the field equations is that they can basically be adapted to any empirical, gravitational matter we decide to add to them. We can add them based on directly observed matter, or based on postulated matter. Either way they work the same and we can make models of any kinds of curved space-time we like. They show, yes, that there is no absolute metric for straightness and distance in space-time. This particular metric being determined by what mass is around in that space-time, from which we can then form geodesic paths, as the equivalent of straight lines. But, still its not really a relational view of space and time. A purely relational view would not only state dependence on the specific location of masses for determining space-time curvature, it would also have to do a much better job at explaining Newtons old problem of the spinning bucket. The alternative, relational suggestion of Ernst Mach initially, is that the bucket is spinning not relative to absolute space but relative to the rest of the matter in the universe. Now this remains an interesting speculation, but it has not been shown how this works in any precise physical theory that can also explain the things relativity can. General relativity does not take us this far as far as physical theory goes. It is less committal as to the actual nature of space, time and their curvature. It could be real, it could equally just be a mathematical model, like a climate model, were we are dealing with ever changing possibilities rather than set in stone realities.

So, currently, I would say my instinct is to agree with Penrose on this one. The debate needs to be looked at more in an open-minded way, because it is very easy, based each of us, on our own experience and past training and education, to rush to one conclusion or the other, as a sure judgment always looks better than an uncertain one in our social relations with others. From what I can gather so far on Penrose, his position seems to be that there is some basic reality to space and time, independent of ourselves as observers that can be discovered. This seems more consistent with his general approach of mathematical platonism, where mathematics is argued to be able to model reality accurately. This is a perspective that Smolin criticises and I think is a good subject for a future discussion also.

But, from my own personal way of looking at it, I mean we have the example of the centrifugal force itself, (as is involved also in Newton’s bucket problem) which is claimed as a merely felt force, not a real dynamic force, but that is only based on a postulation of that force happening within a larger space-time arena. Now are we free to make these kinds of postulations or not? I am not sure we are, given a purely relational view, but I am also not sure how a non-purely relational view can avoid making some slightly ad hoc postulations about space and time one way or another, if not quite the extreme position of absolute space and time of Newton and Kant. I will have to explore this point further, as I still have much on this subject to read by both authors over the coming weeks, and will be sure to update with any new insights cropping up that can potentially take us a bit further in this debate.

These issues also of Platonism will come up more, as two of the physicists I am studying, Penrose and Barbour, seem to be more inclined to mathematical Platonism, while Lee Smolin and Stuart Kauffman seem more inclined to a view in which basic reality unfolds from within, so to speak, rather than emerging out of some prior externally existing mathematical framework or structure. This, I think, could reach close to the heart of both the fundamental physical and philosophical question in cosmology and ontology, of what our place and being in the universe amounts to, and warrants much more consideration in future posts.

Physics on the Frontier

I have been spending much time lately studying various perspectives in theoretical physics on the frontier of human knowledge and ignorance, and order and chaos, who are trying to push the boundaries of what we can know about reality and the cosmos slightly further.

This will make for a series of upcoming posts about various of these key thinkers and physicists from my own philosophical perspective. Too much time is spent in philosophy defending the existent, stable doctrines in physics, such as the standard atomistic model, or merely rehashing old clich├ęd historical conflicts and dilemmas in physics, with no intention of resolving them, such as the quantum theory uncertainty issue, when the true task of the philosopher is to pursue the theories and ideas that are reaching beyond and sometimes even questioning accepted common wisdom.

It is very much a work in progress, a developing knowledge and experience on my own part, rather than a finished product, because the areas being dealt with are quite intricate and unclear at times. But I think it is an important story to tell. It is where reality, logic and science can all meet together, not to merely justify some predecided conclusion we wanted to believe all along, but to explore terrain where we don’t yet know what the conclusion will be.

Four main thinkers immediately come to mind whose work I will be exploring in some philosophical detail over the coming months. Roger Penrose, from his ideas on consciousness to his conformal cyclic cosmology and his twistor alternative conception of fundamental physics to string theory. Stuart Kauffman, whose views on how to define life and complexity, stretch the common understandings in physics of thermodynamic entropy and natural selection, perhaps to breaking point. Lee Smolin, whose view of an evolving cosmos related to black hole production, and his sustained critique of the completeness of some of the standard positions in theoretical physics, alongside his position of a relational view of space and a new understanding of time make for important consideration. Finally, Julian Barbour, who has this year released a new book called the Janus Point, about a new cosmological theory.

We seem to be living in a time where many physicists on the frontiers are questioning the standard model position more and more and raising important questions about its limitations. They are also offering new cosmological perspectives within which to frame our whole understanding of being in general and the existence of things and life more particularly. This makes it also an exciting time for philosophy, whose duty is to try and keep up with these perspectives on that precarious and fragile border line between order and chaos, and knowledge and ignorance.

Let me reiterate, the task of the philosopher, is not merely to support currently accepted doctrines, or find excuses to accept what we already believe anyway. It is to navigate towards the real, those areas where there is still ignorance currently, but could one day be new knowledge.

Devastation

That feeling of nothing, freeing me

no burden, and nowhere I have to be

embracing the darkness, the end

no more need to lie and pretend

lost and found in pure nothingness

emptied of fear, pain and distress

immune to human preoccupations

aware of greater devastations

humanity through the telescope

small, insignificant, but with great hope.

Book Review: Men Among the Ruins, Julius Evola

Men Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical TraditionalistMen Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist by Julius Evola
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is in one part a revealing historical document of the post world war 2 ruins of European ideas and values, in another an early warning of what was logically inevitable to come for western society by following the path we did, and in a third aspect it suggests some ways and means of resisting this disastrous state of affairs. For those with their ideological blinkers on, or who have only learned of Evola second hand, they will come to this work rushing to the usual leftist battle cry judgments of things they don’t understand and don’t want to understand. But for the rest of us, there are a mixed bag of views in here that don’t fit neatly with either right wing or left wing ideas as we have come to caricature them. He believes in and emphasises the importance of tradition, yes, but also based on community values, and he is very much against the profit motive of the selfish capitalism of today which he sees as just one aspect of the problem of the materialism of our time. He also promotes birth control as part of population control measures against the position of the Catholic Church. And hopes for a United Europe based on meaningful qualitative values to counteract, at his time, further US materialism and degeneracy and the red Machine of the Soviets.

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China Joe

As China Joe takes office in the US, it is time for reflection on how we let Chinese propaganda infiltrate every aspect of Western society and how they managed to fool weak minded liberals on the left that this was a good thing, or at least managed to get them to sell out any values and principles they once had to Chinese money. The problem I think comes down to the rampant materialism, atheism and general lack of belief that has gained massive momentum in the whole Western world ever since the world wars. For a while, values were maintained along side the rise of this scourge, but with faltering economic growth, lack of opportunities or motivations to pursue worthwhile careers and an ever burgeoning debt and welfare state that could not be paid for, we have gradually become the weak shadow of our once great selves.

The Western diversity model has failed, it has made us weak and easily exploited by opportunistic others who have no such interest in diversity. It has also made us easy to divide by a hostile media who have been bought and paid for and who lost their journalistic integrity a long time ago. Indeed, by the standards of the left these days, things such as truth and reality don’t even exist anymore for there to be anything to have integrity relative to.

The psychological operation of enforced mask wearing, exaggerated virus deaths and cases, forcing people to distance from others, has all contributed to this final dissolution of Western society and our media all were and are implicit in this process. People have become fatally corrupted and mentally weakened, and I find myself deeply ashamed and disgusted with what we have become. A military coup was required alongside a sham election, alongside a year of covid lies and distortion from the mainstream media.

What these soulless filth may not realise is that some of us still respect truth and reality and have minds strong enough to face that reality, and will never forget this pathetic charade we have been subjected to this past year, and what motivated it. From now on, whereever you hear consensus science or consensus opinion in the mainstream media, you can rest assured that means what the CCP approves us to believe about science in the West, under threat of losing jobs and money and reputation.

It is a dark and black time ahead, so be prepared and be ready, support only your local community and completely ignore the fake global scene. They are all puppets and actors, playing a role for their puppet masters. Truth, has merely been seen and acknowledged for long enough, now it must be fought for.

Mainstream Media Lies, the Rarity of Truth Telling, and Manifesting your Fears

The past week or so has certainly been a whirlwind of craziness. The president of the United States was banned from all social media, and his message to his supporters to go home and be peaceful was censored, so that the mainstream media could run a fraudulent narrative to set up another, and pointless impeachment process. This was not the only thing the mainstream media lied about regarding the events the past weekend. They also covered up the fact that many were allowed into the capitol building by police and were walking around the building taking selfies like tourists, and many others were of course provoked into the violence by Antifa infiltrators. None of this matters to the mainstream media, just like their hypocrisy and double standard compared to their coverage of the “mostly peaceful” BLM and Antifa riots last year doesn’t matter to them.

And it all comes down to the fact that truth telling is a rare thing, and even rarer among people in positions of power and influence. Anyone within a mainstream media organisation has already gone through years of conditioning to speak and act in certain ways in order to get ahead in their career. And the only ones filtered through, who make it, are the ones prepared to sacrifice their own sense of what is right and what is true, to whatever the agenda of the day tells them to report on. I have many times in my own life faced that position and temptation to tell comfortable or convenient lies in situations where I felt the pressure of those around me who had influence to do it. Resisting has meant losing work, losing money and losing friends on many occasions for myself. This kind of ability to sacrifice to truth is actually a surprisingly rare thing.

To just list a few more of the lies in relation to the current UK situation regarding Covid. The government has reinstated, the past few months, classifying anyone who dies within 2 months of a positive covid test as counting as a covid death. The massive inflation of the covid deaths this entails has been swept under the carpet by the mainstream media who are happy to go along with a fear narrative that benefits them and government control, while hurting and punishing everybody else in the country, by being used to justify yet another lockdown and perhaps more controlling measures soon to come. Overall mortality throughout the UK this winter was actually on a par with two of the three previous winters, which is pretty astounding given the fact we are supposedly under assault both from a deadly virus and deadly lockdowns that are now actively denying people even regular critical hospital treatments such as in relation to Cancers.

You would think this remarkable fact would be almost a cause for great celebration… But alas, for the mainstream media the spring time excess now allows them to run the narrative that it is the worst year for mortality since world war two. Can one imagine the level of psychological abuse they are engaging in against the people. It is absolutely sickening to me to see what is being done. But I have been calling this stuff out for many years, and I hope many other people are now also seeing through all the lies.

It seems to me this whole new dystopian nightmare we have found ourselves in started out with very small, seemingly insignificant things some years ago, where a few of us at first refused to go along with certain mainstream narratives and perspectives, which we felt to be, plain and simply, lies. From the 9/11 shambolic justification for searching for WMD’s in Iraq as an excuse to overthrow countries in the middle east and destabilise the region, to the fake virtue signalling of corrupt individuals who we are supposed to admire, not for the content of their character, but solely based on their gender or the colour of their skin, and in complete ignorance of their character. Then on to this whole liberal delusion that equal democratic rights makes us all factually the same and naturally the same in every way. If only they could have accepted the bitter pill of truth, that what you want to be the case doesn’t guarantee that you can make it the case. Instead, they put their heads deep in the sand and allowed this nightmare to develop at breakneck pace.

Now we don’t even have a democracy, other than in empty title, worth talking of. The excuse of covid restrictions and mail in voting will be used to engage in fraud and steal every election in the US and the UK at least for a generation to come, where the numbers will simply be created to support the party they want, regardless of the initial numbers by finding pallets and pallets of extra mail in ballots after the initial counting to fix the result how they want it. And so talk of equality is not even true politically between people now, let alone it being true in some deluded way of every aspect and quality of each of us.

There will end the diatribe for the time being. I want to end with something more positive, at least for our own spiritual growth, which is that we have to realise how by fearing and obsessing too much on certain things we can manifest them into reality. All the conspiracy and dystopian fears of the past few generations seem now to be coming to pass. I don’t think this is coincidence, in the sense that , I also don’t think all those conspiracy theorists were “right” strictly speaking, generations ago. These events haven’t necessarily happened due to some outside conspiracy of some evil group, we have contributed significantly to their creation by thinking so much on this stuff that we have manifested it into reality. Our lack of self love, our lack of love for our neighbours and the people immediately around us, alongside our over consumption of distractions and social media has created a monster of a society where there is no trust, no community, and only safe spaces and resentment.

The human mind is a powerful thing, and we need to learn two main lessons from all of the recent events. Firstly, and obviously, to ignore all the fear porn and fear mongering of the mainstream media and be aware that they are not in the industry of telling the truth, for there has never been and never will be such an industry because truth telling is a rare thing. And, secondly, to be more aware and cognizant of our own mental powers of manifesting our own fears into being in society, and be more responsible in future so that we can learn to manifest better things in our future world.

I used to have a recurring dream when I was young that I was being chased by some being or entity, a bit like the faceless pursuit that exposes our psychological fears and anxieties portrayed in the movie Duel. Over time I learned a way to lucid dream so I could face that being, one day I stopped running, turned around to face my enemy and found that there was nothing to be afraid of at all. Until we, as a community, do an act of this kind, the monster of fear we are manifesting is just going to get bigger and bigger. But we can only do it when we realise we have the power and freedom to do it, and when we realise it is our own power and freedom in the first place that is manifesting the whole thing.

Stay safe and healthy: Vitamin D, Vitamin C and Zinc for these cold, dark and wet winter months and keep up the fight for the freedom of the human spirit!