Sunday, February 03, 2013

Links of Note, Notes on Links

* John Wilkins had two really good posts on classification recently:
Pattern recognition: neither deduction nor induction
The relation of classification to abductive reasoning

The latter question is a little tricky since we don't have a unified account of abduction, but both arguments seem to me to be right, and quite important. Of course, the fact that classification is not itself induction, deduction, or abduction is still consistent with large-scale classificatory inquiries involving the latter three on an extensive scale, just as large-scale inductive inquiries will inevitably include deductions; and I think this takes care of a lot of the cases that might initially seem to be counterexamples.

* Daniel Dennett discusses some of his major ideas and current interests. I haven't really paid close attention to Dennett since I started reading Freedom Evolves and decided it was a waste of my time, and haven't really come across anything since that I've thought was even remotely on par with some of his early work, but this interview is quite interesting even if you don't like Dennett.

* H. G. Wells: Mysticism and Machinery

* Richard Marshall interviews Stephen Mumford on causal powers theory.

* John Farrell talks about Sax Rohmer and Fu Manchu. It's an interesting case: the Fu Manchu works are racist in an obvious sense, since the whole point of Fu Manchu is to be the Yellow Peril in one man. But the result is a weirdly compelling villain, because he's so much. To be the Yellow Peril, Fu Manchu has to be the greatest threat to Western civilization ever encountered; and since Rohmer actually does a fairly gripping job of conveying this, it turns out to be pretty awesome villainy. What we find in the first novel, for instance, is that the finest minds and bravest souls in Britain try to hunt him down and with all the resources of the British nation they can barely keep up with him. But this is the inherent self-annihilatory tendency of Peril-stereotype racism: to attack an entire race as really being a terrible threat to the entire order of civilization, you have to portray them as capable of truly amazing things, because that's not a tiny little threat. What I'm really waiting for is a good pro-Fu-Manchu story -- one that makes him the hero, or at least the anti-hero. There's no doubt that the potential is there; despite Rohmer's playing him up as an awful, evil person, it's hard not to root for him already. You kind of want to see Western civilization fall just to see how he does it.

* Gavin Kennedy reviews Alexander Broadie's Agreeable Connexions: Scottish Enlightment Links with France

* Gerald Russello discusses Christopher Dawson

* Faith, Wonder, and the Method

* The Chaldean Catholics have chosen a new patriarch, Louis Sako. It's an important decision; the Christian Church in Iraq has been fraying badly since the Iraq War, and the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans is one of the important leaders of the community. He'll have a difficult period ahead, but hopefully he can bring some order and stability to a community that has been under immense external pressures.

* Two Popes tweeting:

Pope Benedict XVI of Rome
Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria

So that's Catholics and Copts. It turns out that Patriarch Bartholomew also has a Twitter account, bringing the Orthodox in on the action, but unlike the other two he doesn't seem to use it for more than pointing to his addresses and open letters. Any others?

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