Speaking in a general way, and within certain liberal and expansive limitations, it should appear that there is no evil under which the human species can labour, that man is not competent to cure.
William Godwin, On Population (6.9)

I’m reading Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue (2009) by R.P. Hanley, which is a study of Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments and its publication history. Hanley argues that having laid out a theory of market economics in The Wealth of Nations (1776), Smith became one its first serious critics as well in his revisions to The Theory of Moral Sentiments, first published in 1759. It went through six editions, and in the final edition in 1790, Smith added a chapter called “Of the corruption of our moral sentiments, which is occasioned by this disposition to admire the rich and the great, and to despite or neglect persons of poor and mean condition.”

Amass as much knowledge as you please, but no authorities. To quote authorities is a vulgar business; every soulless hypocrite can do that.
William Godwin in a letter to John Thelwall on September 18, 1794
It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.

Aristotle (via azspot)

οὐ γὰρ ἴσως ταὐτὸν ἀνδρί τ᾽ ἀγαθῷ εἶναι καὶ πολίτῃ παντί (Nic. Eth. 1130b)

(Reblogged from azspot)
Mark Rothko, Brown, Grey, and Brown-orange (1963)

Mark Rothko, Brown, Grey, and Brown-orange (1963)

Mark Rothko, Orange, Red and Red (1962) Dallas Museum of Art

However you may be, be your own source of experience! Throw off your discontent about your nature; forgive yourself your own self, for you have in it a ladder with a hundred rungs, on which you can climb to knowledge.
Friedrich Nietzsche, from Human, All Too Human  (via violentwavesofemotion)

(Source: whyallcaps.us)

(Reblogged from tout-fait)
When something is true, it doesn’t need to be entrenched. Criticizing it, conceiving that it might be false, actually strengthens one’s understanding of such a truth. If you take an idea on board critically, then you will see why your criticisms actually fail—and criticisms failing is what we actually have, that’s what is really possible, unlike authority or infallibilism or whatever. If you see why the criticisms fail, then you can be comfortable, not that it’s true, but that the rival ideas that you might have entertained are false. And if they aren’t false, they’ll be some reason that they aren’t false, which you don’t know yet, which you need to find via criticism again. On the other hand, if you’re told even perfectly true things, in a way that either prevents you from criticizing, or if you’ve already given up on criticism and don’t criticize yourself, then you never really understand why they’re true, even if they are completely true. It’s a commonplace observation that people can, say, pass an exam in a subject, get all the questions right, without ever actually understanding what they’re saying, so that when they then come up with a practical situation that’s framed in a different way from the way that an exam can be framed, or the way they’re accustomed to exams being framed, then they don’t know how to connect what they learned to say with the actual situation.
(Reblogged from superfluidity)


Peter A. Levchenko(Левченко Петр Алексеевич  Ukrainian, 1856-1917)


(Source: ukr-artists.livejournal.com)

(Reblogged from sirhumphry)


Peter A. Levchenko(Левченко Петр Алексеевич  Ukrainian, 1856-1917)

Зимняя река  Winter River  1900’s  

oil on canvas

(Reblogged from sirhumphry)

Since the Enlightenment, technological progress has depended specifically on the creation of explanatory knowledge. People had dreamed for millennia of flying to the moon, but it was only with the advent of Newton’s theories about the behavior of invisible entities such as forces and momentum that they began to understand what was needed in order to go there.

This increasingly intimate connection between explaining the world and controlling it is no accident, but is part of the deep structure of the world. Consider the set of all conceivable transformations of physical objects. Some of those (like faster-than-light communication) never happen because they are forbidden by laws of nature; some (like the formation of stars out of primordial hydrogen) happen spontaneously; and some (such as converting air and water into trees, or converting raw materials into a radio telescope) are possible, but happen only when the requisite knowledge is present—for instance, embodied in genes or brains. But those are the only possibilities. That is to say, every putative physical transformation, to be performed in a given time with given resources or under any other conditions, is either

-impossible because it is forbidden by the laws of nature; or
-achievable, given the right knowledge.

That momentous dichotomy exists because if there were transformations that technology could never achieve regardless of what knowledge was brought to bear, then this fact would itself be a testable regularity in nature. But all regularities in nature have explanations, so the explanation of that regularity would itself be a law of nature, or a consequence of one. And so, again, everything that is not forbidden by laws of nature is achievable, given the right knowledge.

This fundamental connection between explanatory knowledge and technology is why the Haldane-Dawkins queerer-than-we-suppose argument is mistaken—why the reach of human adaptations does have a different character from that of all the other adaptations in the biosphere. The ability to create and use explanatory knowledge gives people a power to transform nature which is ultimately not limited by parochial features, as all other adaptations are, but only by universal laws. This is the cosmic significance of explanatory knowledge—and hence of people, whom I shall henceforward define as entities that can create explanatory knowledge.

David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity (2011:55-56)

Claude Monet, The Thames Below Westminster (1871)

Miguel Macaya, Spanish (b. 1964)

(Source: lachinapoblana)

(Reblogged from smokethereisfire)
This consideration should make us look with aversion upon all resources of violence. When we descend into the listed field, we of course desert the vantage ground of truth, and commit the decision to uncertainty and caprice. The phalanx of reason is invulnerable; it advances with deliberate and determined pace, and nothing is able to resist it. But when we lay down our arguments, and take up our swords, the case is altered. Amidst the barbarous pomp of war and the clamorous din of civil brawls, who can tell whether the event shall be prosperous or miserable?
William Godwin, Political Justice (1793:113)