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Genius
Posted: 24 July 2007 04:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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I have little of substance to add because Brennen and Doug have covered the topic extremely well.

However, first, I’d rephrase Edison’s comment to something like, “Genius is a small amount of inspiration, a large amount of perspiration, and a fair amount of plagerism.”  He stole quite a few of the ideas for his patents from Nicola Tesla, who was inspired, and probably a genius in technical areas.”

Second, many women are strongly attracted to power, and once a male genius has developed the reputation, he has quite a few women aviable to him.  However, if he’s married, womanizing sort of points out that genius and strong ethics aren’t necessarily connected.

Occam

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Posted: 24 July 2007 04:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Occam - 24 July 2007 04:03 PM

I have little of substance to add because Brennen and Doug have covered the topic extremely well.

However, first, I’d rephrase Edison’s comment to something like, “Genius is a small amount of inspiration, a large amount of perspiration, and a fair amount of plagerism.”  He stole quite a few of the ideas for his patents from Nicola Tesla, who was inspired, and probably a genius in technical areas.”

Second, many women are strongly attracted to power, and once a male genius has developed the reputation, he has quite a few women aviable to him.  However, if he’s married, womanizing sort of points out that genius and strong ethics aren’t necessarily connected.

Occam

Not too sure that womanizing (note the US spelling) in that situation represents weak ethics.  It’d be bloody rude not to.

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Posted: 24 July 2007 04:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Barto - 24 July 2007 09:15 AM

Well, Doug, I’d say the diferente its that Darwin (don’t know about Edison work) could see something so beatiful, clear and simple that sometimes it appears as an obvious idea (ok, not for everyone). Darwin saw something where the rest saw nothing.

I tend to think that a genious is someone who could see something based on some clues which are meaningless to the rest of us. I think a genious is someone who could see the evolution looking at some fosile and living things, or someone who could tell about the electrodynamics of moving bodies just thinking in the michelson-morley experiment. I speculate that this discoverers or developments requires hard work even to genius, but what was the diference between Einsten and the rest of physician who thinked in MM results?. Poincaré and Lorentz were close, but ... what happended? they didn’t dare?.

Lorentz wasn’t that spectacular really.  He just built on the observation made by Fitzgerald and applied it to time dilation rather than length contraction.  The idea that a moving object is shorter in the direction of movement than a stationary object of the same resting length in the rest frame was pretty revolutionary when you put it into context of the time it was stated.  Time dilation was slightly more obvious.  And his transformation rules were no great shakes either.

Well okay, they were better than I could ever do, but next to Einstein they were mere trifles.  It’s amazing when you consider that the work he won his nobel prize for was in the realms of quantum mechanics rather than relativistic ones.  Even his mundane stuff like the Stokes-Einstein equation just screams genius.  Considering the worrying time that German Jews were entering, it’s even more amazing.

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Posted: 24 July 2007 08:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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narwhol - 24 July 2007 04:31 PM

Not too sure that womanizing (note the US spelling) in that situation represents weak ethics.  It’d be bloody rude not to.

I think (or I hope) you missed the point about the male genius being married.  I have few qualms about a single male having sex with a consenting female.  The point was that, unless he and his wife have agreed to an open marriage, he is abrogating the marriage contract, and that is, in my opinion, a demonstration of weak ethics.

Occam

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Posted: 24 July 2007 10:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Weak ethics? Really? Was Jean Valjean who stole bread in Les Misérables a man of weak ethics? I think life can be more complicated than we might sometimes believe.

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Posted: 25 July 2007 10:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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I want to add something else to the “weak ethics” dilemma.  I remember reading a short story by a Czech writer Karel Capek where God was asked to judge somebody who committed a crime, to which he answered that He can’t judge anybody because He knows everything. Valjean stole the bread because he needed to feed his family and a married man might sleep around for reasons not visible to anybody else except for him. And the whole thing would get more complicated if we take into a consideration the possibility that free will might be after all a mere illusion and our “reactions” might be predetermined by a chain of inevitable actions preceding them.

[ Edited: 25 July 2007 10:38 AM by George ]
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Posted: 25 July 2007 11:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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narwhol - 24 July 2007 04:41 PM

Lorentz wasn’t that spectacular really.  He just built on the observation made by Fitzgerald and applied it to time dilation rather than length contraction.  The idea that a moving object is shorter in the direction of movement than a stationary object of the same resting length in the rest frame was pretty revolutionary when you put it into context of the time it was stated.  Time dilation was slightly more obvious.  And his transformation rules were no great shakes either.

I didn’t know the root of Lorentz. When I learned a little introduction to relativity in college, I thinked ‘well, this man (Lorentz) put the math basis… why he stopped here?’. I remember a lecture made by Poincare, in which, after knowing Einstein work wink, he seems very very close to the relativity theory.

Well okay, they were better than I could ever do, but next to Einstein they were mere trifles.  It’s amazing when you consider that the work he won his nobel prize for was in the realms of quantum mechanics rather than relativistic ones.  Even his mundane stuff like the Stokes-Einstein equation just screams genius.  Considering the worrying time that German Jews were entering, it’s even more amazing.

I don’t know about Stokes-Einstein (I am not a physicist). But the Einstein work I know is really amazing… because of the context (as you say, the prosecution against jewish), and because he only needed his brain,  pen and paper in his job in the patent office. Amazing.

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Posted: 25 July 2007 01:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Lorentz’s theory was a relativity theory.  Einstein did not invent the idea of relativity, he just worked in that field of Physics.

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Posted: 25 July 2007 07:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Sorry George.  I don’t buy the explanation that god was supposed to have given that he couldn’t judge because he knew all the circumstances.  I believe that ethics is more absolute than just matching the internal thinking of a person.  Unless Jean Valjean was going to have sex with the bread against the wishes of his wife, that example isn’t germane to my initial statement.  Once you willingly enter into a contract with someone, unless you have an extreme reason to break it, and the other party would agree, it’s almost certainly unethical.  After you entered into a marriage with your wife, and she expects monogamy (as promised), if you have sex with someone else (whether or not she finds out about it) you have broken that contract, and I consider that unethical. 

The woman may be the most sexually attractive woman in the world, you may be suffering from massive testosterone overload, there may be no way your wife would ever find out, and you may have had an ultimate ecstatic experience.  That’s all fine, I envy you, and am happy for you, but you still went against the contract you agreed to with your wife.  And, that’s unethical.

As far as the bread goes, there are basic social rules that justify self-preservation so in some cases stealing the bread could be considered on balance ethical.  However, what if Valjean stole the bread from another starving family?  Would that still be ethical?

Occam

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Posted: 25 July 2007 11:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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I was trying to use the “bread” example (instead of womanizing) precisely for the reason you seem to imply: that I cheat on my wife and hence need to justify it. (FWIW, that’s not the case).

So, let’s try something else. Tchaikovsky, who was a genius (so that we don’t depart entirely from Narwhol’s original post), once said that he was born an alcoholic. To be a drunkard is not quite the same as being a womanizer, but perhaps it can still be considered “inappropriate”. I believe the reason Tchaikovsky’s marriage didn’t last was probably due to the fact that he was a gay. But let’s assume, for the sake of the argument, that he didn’t make it because of booze.  Was that his fault? Didn’t he promise his wife support? (And in this example failing to provide the support due to his alcoholism.) Could he have done otherwise?

And was it ethical if Valjean stole the bread from another starving family? I don’t know, Occam. I know I don’t believe in Kant’s moral law and I see ethics as rather relative subject. Was it right for Valjean to steal the bread from another starving family? Yes. Ethical? Probably not. But this only shows you how impractical and illogical any definition of ethics might be.

I read in Hauser’s Moral Minds that Eskimo fathers would engage in sexual acts with their young daughters – this only stopped from continuing only a few decades ago. Ethical? It was ethical to them.

There are no absolute rules when it comes to morals. We make them as we go. The goal here is to survive; being nice (or “ethically strong”) is an illusion.

[ Edited: 25 July 2007 11:14 PM by George ]
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Posted: 26 July 2007 08:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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George - 25 July 2007 11:12 PM

There are no absolute rules when it comes to morals. We make them as we go. The goal here is to survive; being nice (or “ethically strong”) is an illusion.

What about being a “genius”?

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El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

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Posted: 26 July 2007 09:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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dougsmith - 26 July 2007 08:11 AM
George - 25 July 2007 11:12 PM

There are no absolute rules when it comes to morals. We make them as we go. The goal here is to survive; being nice (or “ethically strong”) is an illusion.

What about being a “genius”?

What do you mean, Doug? Sorry, I don’t understand your question. red face

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Posted: 26 July 2007 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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george,

biology and psychology are starting to show different on ethics. if they really were made up as we go then we should see radically different concepts of ethics throughout ages and cultures, but for the most part we dont. they are finding plenty of evidence of universal morals.

the golden rule is a great example.

even the hatfield and mccoy feud is having the behaviors of the mccoys explained by their genes.

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Posted: 26 July 2007 01:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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dougsmith - 26 July 2007 08:11 AM
George - 25 July 2007 11:12 PM

There are no absolute rules when it comes to morals. We make them as we go. The goal here is to survive; being nice (or “ethically strong”) is an illusion.

What about being a “genius”?

Once upon a time there was a philosopher (he was a genius, BTW wink ) who had a dream that he was a butterfly. After awakening he thought to himself: “Am I a philosopher who just dreamt about being a butterfly or am I a butterfly who is now dreaming about being a philosopher?”

I don’t know, Doug. Isn’t everything just a mere illusion?

(...)
Yo sueño que estoy aquí
de estas prisiones cargado,
y soñé que en otro estado
más lisonjero me vi.
¿Qué es la vida? Un frenesí.
¿Qué es la vida? Una ilusión,
una sombra, una ficción,
y el mayor bien es pequeño:
que toda la vida es sueño,
y los sueños, sueños son.

Calderón de la Barca, La vida es sueño

[ Edited: 26 July 2007 02:16 PM by George ]
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Posted: 26 July 2007 02:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Beautiful poetry, for sure, but no, I don’t think everything is an illusion ...

wink

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