Tuesday, April 08, 2003

"I would say, 'I wouldn't dream of trying to drive anyone from this paradise.' I would do something quite different: I would try to show you that it's not a paradise- so that you'll leave of your own accord. I would say, 'You're welcome to this; just take a look about you.'"
-Ludwig Wittgenstein, "Lectures on the Foundations of Mathematics", ed. Cora Diamond (Sussex: Harvester Press, 1978), 103


ctaylor said...

A picture of potential bitterness and tragedy. Yet she does not look hopeless, as she carried her memories in her hand. Could it be that she knows that she is a pilgrim, looking for a country that is not yet revealed? Or has she simply accepted the bitterness of this life, and is resigned to a nomadic life, dictated by the destructive forces in this world? It's hard to read.

Btw, how did you stumble across that powerful quote, in such a seemingly obscure text?

Peace, bro. May our hearts continue to bleed for the lost of this world.

Khylov said...

Hey dude. Yeah, I guess her expression you could interpret either way; it is kind of ambiguous, given the backdrop of the photo. But where she's at (Grozny, I think), what she's surrounded by, I don't think anyone can mistake what that is. Not place name or geography per se, but the reality of it... And that's what this world is, ultimately. Fallen.

I sometimes wonder if Americans will ever (in our own lifetimes at least) see this up close and personal, in our own backyards. Not much pretending when it's right there in front of you. But, satan's not dumb: he'll get folks to enter into his domain through war and strife just as easily as through something as innocuous as a predilection for a game of cards. Whatever works to distract them. (a'la Screwtape.)

Well, at any rate, the quote was from a book of essays dealing with Mormonism from (I guess) a more mainline Protestant angle. The context was (strangely enough) debating Mormonism's claim that the universe, all matter therein, etc, is eternal: Their angle was using infinite sets in mathematics to prove their point; whereas the Christian theologians' counterpoint were the philosophical and scientific reasoning behind why the universe had to have had a starting point.

I think the chapter ended with their concluding that while infinite set theory (and examples such as Hilbert's Hotel) are internally consistent within a mathematical context, they have absurd outcomes when placed within a finite linear time frame (i.e., our universe at the moment). Thus, an infinite set of moments or causes (an eternal material universe) would have an infinite number of moments preceding, which would have an infinite set of moments beforehand, and so on; which would mean that we would never have arrived at *this* moment, or at least no reason to conclude that we should have arrived in the here and now if we had an infinite linear progression of moments before, blah blah blah....

And hence, the quote.

It also makes things such as entropy somewhat hard to explain. If I understand correctly, an eternal universe violates both the 1st and 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics: Where did the energy come from if it was never created or had an Aleph Point? and why hasn't the universe reached maximum entropy yet if "all things tend towards chaos", assuming that the material universe has always been?

Blah, I think I burned my brain on that one.