Numbers and mathematics are possible only because time flows

August 13, 2022

It is probably just a consequence of ageing that I am increasingly captivated (obsessed?) by the origin of things. And of these things, I find the origins of counting, numbers and mathematics (in that order) particularly fascinating. In that order because I am convinced that these developed within human cognition – and could only develop – in that order.  First counting, then numbers and then mathematics. The entire field of what is called number theory, which studies the patterns and relationships between numbers, exists because numbers are what they are. All the patterns and relationships discovered in the last c. 10,000 years all existed – were already there – as soon as the concept of numbers crystallised. Whereas counting and numbers were invented, all the wonders of the patterns and relationships that make up number theory were – and are still being – discovered. And what I find even more astonishing is that the entire edifice of numbers is built upon just one little foundation stone- the concept of identity which gives the concept of oneness.

Croutons in the soup of existence

The essence of identity lies in oneness. There can only be one of any thing once that thing has identity. Once a thing is a thing there is only one of it. Half that thing is no longer that thing. There can be many of such things but every other such thing is still something else.

Numbers are abstract and do not exist in the physical world. They are objects (“words”) within the invented language of mathematics to help us describe the physical world. They enable counting and measuring. The logical one or the philosophical one or the mathematical one all emerge from existence and identity. Neither logic nor philosophy nor mathematics can explain what one is, except that it is. Every explanation or definition attempted ends up being circular. It is what it is.

Given one (1), all other numbers follow.

Where numbers come from

Numbers start with one (1), and without a one (1) there can be no numbers. …… . Given the abstract concepts of identity (oneness, 1) and arithmetical addition (+), all natural numbers inevitably follow. With a 1 and with a +, and the concept of a set and a sum, all the natural numbers can be generated.

1 + 1 + 1 + 1 ……

…. Numbers, ultimately, rest on the concept of identity (oneness).

Equally fascinating are the questions that existence, time and causality are answers to. I am coming to the conclusion that the flow of time (whatever time is) does not emerge from existence but, in fact, enables existence.

Revising Genesis

…. What time is remains a mystery but the first act of creation is to set it flowing. Note that the flow of time does not need existence. To be, however, requires that time be flowing. Time itself, whatever it is, is a prerequisite for the flow of time and the flow of time is prerequisite for existence. ………. For even the concept of existence to be imaginable, it needs that the flow of time be ongoing. It needs to be present as a permanent moving backdrop. The potential for some particular kind of existence then appears, or is created, only when some particular rules of existence are defined and implemented. These rules of existence must therefore also be in place before the concept of things, whether abstract or material or otherwise, can be conjured up.


It is inevitable that my views have evolved and they may well evolve further but my current conclusion is that for mathematics to exist time needs to be flowing.

The bottom line:

  1. All branches of mathematics, though abstract, are existentially dependent upon the concept of numbers.
  2. Numbers depend on the concept of counting.
  3. Counting derives from the concept of oneness (1).
  4. Oneness depends upon the concept of a unique identity.
  5. The existence of a unique identity requires a begin-time.
  6. Beginnings require time to be flowing.
  7. Existence is enabled by the flow of time

Therefore

Numbers and mathematics are possible only because time flows


Canada euthanised 10,064 people in 2021

August 9, 2022

Canada’s Third Annual Report on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada (2021) was published at the end of July.

Euthanasia in Canada in its legal voluntary form is called medical assistance in dying (MAID) and it first became legal along with assisted suicide in June 2016 to end the suffering of terminally ill adults. In March 2021, the law was further amended by Bill C-7 which permits assisted euthanasia in additional situations, including for certain patients whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable, subject to additional safeguards.

Remarkably, there has been little media attention either in Canada or elsewhere. The daily euthanising of around 30 individuals of any other mammal species would hardly go unnoticed. Yet, it probably is a very good thing that assisted dying in Canada happens quietly and without fuss. Hopefully the system is sufficiently robust to prevent misuse.

The average age of the euthanised was 76.3 years. The main reasons for requesting MAiD were loss of ability to engage in meaningful activities (86.3%) and the loss of ability to perform activities of daily living (83.4%). Concern about pain was a reason for wanting to die for 57.6%. Around 20% indicated loneliness or isolation as a reason for wanting to die.

I observe that my views about medical assistance in dying have evolved over the years. Now at 74, I find that reduction of suffering and preventing the indignities of dementia take precedence.

BioEdge writes:

  • In 2021, there were 10,064 MAID deaths, representing 3.3% of all deaths in Canada.
  • This is an increase of 32.4% over 2020.
  • The total MAiD deaths since Canada’s 2016 legislation is 31,664.

….

Even if the MAiD annual report flew under the radar, the media has not ignored the issue. CTV News Toronto recently interviewed a Toronto woman in her 50s who is suffering from long Covid and has applied for MAiD. “[MAiD] is exclusively a financial consideration,” she said. “My choices are basically to die slowly and painfully, or quickly. Those are the options that are left.”

At the moment, the Canadian government is studying whether to expand eligibility for MAiD by extending it to people with mental illness. A doctor who is the physician chair of a hospital MAiD team expressed his alarm. Writing in the National Observer, Dr Sonu Gaind said:

It is a myth that expanded MAiD is just about autonomy. Expansion may increase privileged autonomy for some to die with dignity, but it does so by sacrificing other marginalized Canadians to premature deaths for escaping painful lives that we failed to allow them to live with dignity.

Highlights

Growth in the number of medically assisted deaths in Canada continues in 2021

  • In 2021, there were 10,064 MAID provisions reported in Canada, accounting for 3.3% of all deaths in Canada.
  • The number of cases of MAID in 2021 represents a growth rate of 32.4% over 2020. All provinces continue to experience a steady year over year growth.
  • When all data sources are considered, the total number of medically assisted deaths reported in Canada since the Parliament of Canada passed federal legislation that allows eligible Canadian adults to request medical assistance in dying in 2016 is 31,664.

Profile of MAID recipients

  • In 2021, across Canada, a slightly larger proportion of men (52.3%) than women (47.7%) received MAID. This result is consistent with 2020 (51.9% men vs 48.1% of women) and 2019 (50.9% men vs 49.1% women).
  • The average age at the time MAID was provided in 2021 was 76.3 years, slightly higher than the averages in 2019 and 2020 (75.2 and 75.3 respectively). The average age of women during 2021 was 77.0, compared to men at 75.6.
  • Cancer (65.6%) is the most commonly cited underlying medical condition in the majority of MAID provisions during 2021, slightly down from 69.1% in 2020. This is followed by cardiovascular conditions (18.7%), chronic respiratory conditions (12.4%), and neurological conditions (12.4%). Three-quarters of MAID recipients had one main condition, while one-quarter had two or more main underlying medical conditions.
  • In 2021, 2.2% of the total number of MAID provisions (219 individuals), were individuals whose natural deaths were not reasonably foreseeable (non-RFND) (in Quebec since 2019 and the rest of Canada after the passage of the new legislation on March 17, 2021). The most commonly cited underlying medical condition for this population was neurological (45.7%), followed by other condition (37.9%), and multiple comorbidities (21.0%). The average age of individuals receiving MAID who were non-RFND was 70.1.

 

Earth is spinning faster …. or maybe not

August 8, 2022

The simple truth is that we haven’t a clue as to why the earth spins, how it started spinning and why the speed of spin varies.

These are all recent headlines.

Earth spinning faster.

Faster

Earth spinning slower

Slower

Why does the earth rotate in 24 hours? It’s just magic

June 26, 2017

The rotational speed of a planetary body around its own axis is primarily set by the angular momentum the mass of matter making up the body had when it first coalesced into a planet. What determined that initial angular momentum is unknown. All known effects thereafter (mainly tidal and all fundamentally gravitational effects) slow this rotation. For the last 3,000 years the earth’s rotation has been slowing down to cause the day to lengthen by about 2 milliseconds per century.

Currently the solar (siderial) day has a mean value of about 2 milliseconds greater than 86,400 seconds while the stellar day (relative to the fixed stars) has a mean value of about 86, 164 seconds.

But we have no real understanding of why it is what it is. …… 

We can observe that the day length on the planets are:

…….. The laws of physics (as we know them) did not apply at the Big Bang singularity. All the energy (dark, imaginary and real) in the universe and all the momentum in all the materia (dark or otherwise) making up the universe was determined in the singularity when the laws of physics did not apply. How the Big Bang caused matter to gain spin in the first place is also unknown. So the simple answer to why earth’s day is 24 hours long (and why any planet’s rotational speed is what it is) is that we haven’t a clue.

It’s just magic.

It used to be that a second was defined as 1⁄86400 of a day – this factor derived from the division of the day first into 24 hours, then to 60 minutes and finally to 60 seconds each (24 × 60 × 60 = 86400). But the day is now taken to be 86 400 seconds where a second is now defined as the time that elapses during 9,192,631,770 cycles of the radiation produced by the transition between two levels of the cesium-133 atom.

“Caesium is a relatively rare element, estimated to average 3 parts per million in the Earth’s crust. Caesium (55Cs) has 40 known isotopes, making it, along with barium and mercury, one of the elements with the most isotopes. The atomic masses of these isotopes range from 112 to 151. Only one isotope, 133Cs, is stable”.

The very concept of a day derives from the spin of the earth. Of course, if a day was still defined as the period of the earth’s rotation around its own axis and and not as a multiple of the second, there would be no need to have any headlines.

I wonder sometimes whether a second now is longer than a second was then.

And how would we know?


Revising Genesis

July 28, 2022

Either our universe is infinite or it is finite in an infinite void. Or there are an infinite number of infinite universes, each within an infinite void. Human cognition is unable to contemplate the universe without taking recourse to the infinite. Infinite is just a label. Invoking the infinite is merely acknowledging that human comprehension is finite and that some things are incomprehensible. So, all creation stories, whether based on physics or on theology, are stories by finite minds pretending to comprehend what is incomprehensible. They are all intrinsically self-contradictory in that they are all reduced to first acknowledging incomprehensibility and then explaining the incomprehensible. A scientific “infinite” is identical in incomprehensibility to a theological “divine”.

Either there was a purposeful creation event or there was purposeless happenstance. The truly random is not just without any discernible cause, it is without any possibility of there being any cause. The brute reality of our finite minds is that while our minds can rationalise and accept things without discernible cause, we cannot conceive of anything without any cause whatsoever. Invoking such an incomprehensible random, just as invoking the infinite, is an attempt to squeeze incomprehensibility into the finite box of the comprehensible. I observe that even hard determinism or quantum wave theory have their rules. Even purposeless happenstance apparently needs some rules to follow. And where there are rules there is purpose. Random, of course, is without cause or purpose and incomprehensible. Random lies in the laps of the Gods. A cosmologist relying on random events to explain the origins of the universe is no different to a priest invoking God the creator.

One might think it all begins with existence. There is a view that time and causality emerge from a randomly appearing existence. And that the capability of existing, in itself, is either the collapsing of the Great Quantum Wave Function that rules them all, or a creation of an already existing God. A self-creating God or a self-generating Quantum Wave Function are just labels for incomprehensibilities. I find both alternatives self-contradictory and unconvincing. They both assert incomprehensibilities which they then try to confine within the box of comprehensibility. I note that human comprehension, whether in attempting a scientific explanation or in describing a Divine creation, always resorts to a sequence of events. To have a sequence requires time, whatever time may be, to be flowing.

And so I make a stab at revising the Genesis sequence.

First comes the Flow of Time.

What time is remains a mystery but the first act of creation is to set it flowing. Note that the flow of time does not need existence. To be, however, requires that time be flowing. Time itself, whatever it is, is a prerequisite for the flow of time and the flow of time is prerequisite for existence.  The velocity of time flow clearly is variable, goes from zero to something, and can not be a constant. An event, of any kind, needs time to be flowing. (There is a level of unavoidable circularity here. Setting time to flow is itself an event). Things, of any kind, need the flow of time as a backdrop against which to exist.

Second comes the Capability for Existence.

For even the concept of existence to be imaginable, it needs that the flow of time be ongoing. It needs to be present as a permanent moving backdrop. The potential for some particular kind of existence then appears, or is created, only when some particular rules of existence are defined and implemented. These rules of existence must therefore also be in place before the concept of things, whether abstract or material or otherwise, can be conjured up.

Third comes the Implementation of the Rules of Existence.

It is easiest to conceive of rules governing existence in our universe as requiring a Guiding Intelligence, but it is not at all inconceivable that they emerge as a consequence of time having been set flowing. It is in these rules that causality manifests to link – and constrain – all events and things against the backdrop of flowing time. Whereas an event is defined by the flowing of time, it is the rules of existence which define the type of things (space, energy, matter, dark things, thoughts and concepts) that can exist. Invoking a Creator God or the Great Quantum Wave Function come as labels for this third step where the Rules of Existence are implemented. They are both merely labels for the incomprehensible.

Once time is flowing, rules of existence have been defined and these rules have been implemented, existence emerges. Causality rules. Things (matter, energy, fields, universes) emerge. But all these emergent characteristics do not lead inevitably to the emergence of Life. Mere Existence does not explain how Life comes to be.

Fourth comes Life.

From Life emerges finite brains and bodies and consciousness and thoughts and cognition and comprehension. And then come the self-contradictory stories about the comprehensible beginnings of the incomprehensible. 

And the rest is history.


 


Sweden openly becomes a nuclear weapons supporter

July 14, 2022

Politics is the art of the possible. Even-handedness, and especially the need to appear as being even-handed, often requires the simultaneous support to conflicting policies

That Sweden champions neutrality and disarmament has been a cherished perception that Sweden has promoted for over 60 years. The reality is not so so clear-cut. Swedish neutrality has always been laced with a large dose of pragmatism and opportunism. During WW2, Swedish neutrality “leaned” towards Germany while they were winning until 1942, and then leaned increasingly towards the Allies. Sweden has not yet signed or ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Sweden has consistently abstained from voting on an annual UN General Assembly resolution since 2018 that welcomes the adoption of the TPNW and calls upon all states to sign, ratify, or accede to it “at the earliest possible date”.

It is not quite hypocrisy, but it comes close, to both supporting the having of nuclear weapons (by proxy) and  to mouth righteous platitudes about encouraging disarmament and the eventual prohibition of nuclear weapons.

The Russian (mis)adventures in Ukraine and the subsequent fears have forced the Swedish application to NATO and the formal acceptance of nuclear weapons.

The Local:

Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT on Monday evening published a full copy of the letter Ann Linde, Sweden’s foreign minister, sent to Nato’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on July 5th, in which she formally confirmed her government’s “interest in receiving an invitation for Sweden to accede to the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949”. 

“Sweden accepts Nato’s approach to security and defence, including the essential role of nuclear weapons,” the letter, which can be read here in full, reads, adding that it “intends to participate fully in Nato’s military structure and collective defence planning processes, and is willing to commit forces and capabilities for the full range of Nato missions.” 

The clause will alarm those who were already uncomfortable with how Nato membership will clash with Sweden’s historical efforts to promote nuclear disarmament. 

As recently as 2019, Sweden launched the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament, through which 16 non-nuclear nations sought, among other goals, to “diminish the role of nuclear weapons in security policies and doctrines”. 

As a full NATO member Sweden will not be able to refuse the storage or deployment of nuclear weapons from Swedish territory. Of course, full NATO membership requires ratification from Turkey and that will only happen when Sweden stops (tacitly) supporting the PKK and gives up all the “dangerous Kurds” that have been granted asylum.

If ever necessary Sweden could produce and deploy nuclear weapons in less than 12 months. What was once a truth preferred to be hidden has now come into the open. Sweden is – and has always been – a nuclear weapons capable country.


What “right to life”?

July 12, 2022

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”

That all humans aspire to a long life, in liberty, to pursue their own happiness is true but obvious and rather trivial. Our individual aspirations are our hopes about an unknown, uncertain future. Achieving aspirations does not come easily. How close we come depends mainly on our own behaviour. Thus, they often guide, and sometimes dominate, our behaviour. With 7.5 billion individual aspirations it is hardly surprising that aspirations clash and come into conflict with those of others. And it is even less surprising that human behaviour, which is largely dominated by perceived self-interest, comes into conflict with, and even opposes, the behaviour of others.

However, to declaim that these aspirations are what all humans are entitled to, or that all humans are owed these things by all other humans and the universe at large is, at best, sentimental drivel. At worst, these declarations are religious dogma; imaginary and misleading.

entitlement: the state or condition of being entitled; a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract; belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges

entitled: having a right to certain benefits or privileges

right: something that one may claim as due

The imaginary “right” to life is not actually about living but about an expectation, a hope, of not being killed, whether by accident or by design, by someone else. In reality, around 160,000 humans will die today in spite of their purported “right” to life. Around 2,000 will kill themselves. Of the total, around 1,000 -1,100 will be murdered today by another human. Which means, of course that the world will gain another 1,000 murderers today. Less than half of all homicides will lead to anyone being charged with murder, and less than half of those charges will lead to a conviction. Less than 2 murderers (or drug-lords or corrupt officials) are executed every day and we probably have more murderers alive today than ever before. Another 4,000 – 5,000 of the 160,000 will die due to accidents or misadventure. Less than 200 on average die per day due to natural disasters. The vast majority of deaths will be due to “natural causes”. Nature, natural causes, and natural disasters pay no deference to the purported “right” to life. The “right to life” does not flow from the laws of the universe. No murderer ever refrained from murder because of the victim’s “right” to life. The “right to life” is of no value to those 1,100 who will be murdered today. The entitlement has no value for anybody else either.

In spite of the supposed “right” to life (or more accurately the “right” to not be killed), some people are granted the “right” (the licence) to kill. Suicide is no longer considered a sin and is an assumed human “right”. Everybody has the “right” to kill another in self-defence (subject only to proportionality). In armed conflict (whether declared a war or not), military personnel may kill opposing military persons in pursuit of “legitimate” military targets. They may even kill civilians as “collateral damage” to “legitimate” military objectives as long as the “collateral damage” is not excessive. Civilians, of either side, may kill members of opposing armed forces in righteous rebellion (with consequences depending upon who is victorious). “Freedom fighters” are permitted to kill members of the “oppressors”. Executioners always kill justly. Police may kill when faced by threat from armed miscreants. Doctors may kill by incompetence or error with few consequences. In some places doctors and medical staff are granted the “right” to euthanise those elderly or infirm who wish to die. Drunken and incompetent drivers may kill others by “accident”. Faceless mobs may lynch and kill with impunity. Children and the insane (including the temporarily insane) may kill with limited consequences. The imaginary entitlement to not be killed ceases once someone is killed. Legal systems cannot enforce the entitlement and can only deal with punishments to be exacted on the perpetrator, if caught.

(“Human rights” dogma has it that only living humans can have “rights”. Living murderers have rights, their dead victims have none. On the theory that a fetus is as insignificant as a toe-nail, some 130,000 fetuses are aborted every day. There are almost as many abortions per day as there are deaths by all causes. Of course, a fetus, like any toe-nail, has no “rights”).

Do these empty declarations about the “right to life” have any value at all? Of the 160,000 who die every day, such declarations do not apply to the 2,000 daily suicides. Clearly the “right to die” trumps the “right to life”. They are applicable (as violations of the “right”) only to the 1,100 murders. The pious declarations neither deter murderers nor do they apply to those who have a licence to kill. Having an imaginary “right to not be killed” prevents no one from being killed. Whereas the fear of being caught, or the fear of a heavy punishment, such as a death sentence, may prevent some murderous behaviour, the “right” of another not to be killed has little influence, if any, on such behaviour. These pompous declarations of imaginary entitlements have no influence on, and are irrelevant to, human behaviour. The bottom line is that the imaginary “right to life” has no relevance to life.

“Human rights” are an imaginary notion. They do not flow from the natural laws of the universe and, in that sense, are unnatural. All religions are based on imaginary, artificial notions. Declarations of “rights” are also the empty dogma of a false religion. The concept of a “human right to life” is not anything which can, or does, influence human behaviour, and to pretend otherwise is misleading.

As humans we must make the most – as we see it – of living, but no human has any claim of a “right to life” on others. Or on the universe.


A square is rounder than a rectangle

July 2, 2022

Sometimes (for example after imbibing my third whiskey) I am both intrigued and frustrated by the nature of shapes. Do shapes exist at all? Except, perhaps, as a property of a thing?

Without dimensions there can be no shapes. A point has no shape. In one dimension, shape is almost, but not quite, trivial. A one-dimensional shape is just a line. Both a point and a line are abstract things and do not exist physically. We perceive three physical dimensions but we are also constrained to experience nothing but 3 dimensions. We can imagine them, but there are no 1-D or 2-D things. Even a surface, which is always two-dimensional, is abstract. We talk about circular things but the concept of a circle is also an abstraction in an abstract two dimensions. Look as much as you like in the physical world but you can never find any 2-D circles in this 3-D world. Most shapes are two-dimensional. So how, I wonder, can some 3-D thing be described in terms of a 2-D circularity. If you rotate the abstract two-dimensional object called a circle in 3 dimensions, you can generate an abstract 3-D object called a sphere. It pre-supposes, of course that 3-D space exists within which rotation can occur. But what is a sphere? How do you rotate an abstract object? A square rotated gives a cylinder – not a cuboid. A point stretched into two dimensions, or twirled in three, remains a point and still imaginary. A line rotated gives just a line.

I find the word shape is diffusely defined in dictionaries – possibly because it is itself philosophically diffuse.

shape (n):

  • the external form, contours, or outline of someone or something;
  • a geometric figure such as a square, triangle, or rectangle;
  • the graphical representation of an object or its external boundary, outline, or external surface.

Shape, it seems to me, has a connection with identity. Things without identity have no shape. All countable, physical things have shape as an attribute. But uncountable things – rain, mist, water, … – are devoid of shape. But any shape is also an abstraction which can be taken separate from the physical things. Abstract things and uncountable things can also be invested with shape as a descriptor, but this is both figurative and subjective. We can refer to the shape of an idea, or the shape of a history, or of a culture, but the meaning conveyed depends upon the physical things normally connected with such shapes. Even when we use the word shapeless we usually do not mean that it is devoid of shape but that the shape is not a standard recognised form. Shape emerges from existence though not necessarily from the existence of things. It is here that the distinction between form and substance originates. Shape needs existence but it is not difficult to imagine the concept of shapes existing in even a formless universe without substance.

In philosophy, shape is an ontological issue. There have been many attempts in philosophy to classify shapes. For example:

The shape of shapes

An important distinction to keep in mind is that between ideal, perfect and abstract geometric shapes on the one hand, and imperfect, physical or organic mind-external shapes on the other. Call the former “geometric shapes” and the latter “physical shapes” or “organic shapes”. This distinction can be understood as being parallel to types (classes, universals, general entities) and instances (individuals or particulars in the world). Geometric shapes typically have precise mathematical formalizations. Their exact physical manifestations are not, so far as I am aware, observed in mind-external reality, only approximated by entities exhibiting a similar shape. In this sense geometric shapes are idealizations or abstractions. This makes geometric shapes similar to types or universals. Their instances are inexact replicas of the shape type in question, but have similar attributes or properties in common, properties characterizing the type. By contrast, organic or physical shapes are irregular or uneven shapes of mind-external objects or things in the world. A planet is not perfectly spherical, and the branches of a tree are not perfectly cylindrical, for example. “Perfectly” is used here in the sense of coinciding with or physically manifesting the exact mathematical definitions, or precise symmetrical relations, of geometric shapes. Objects and physical phenomena in the world, rarely if ever, manifest or exhibit any concretization of geometric shapes, but this is not to say that it is not possible or that it does not obtain at times. Objects are not precisely symmetrical about a given axis, cube-shaped things do not have faces of exactly the same area, for example, and there is no concretization of a perfect sphere. ……………

With respect to the mind-external world, notice that if shapes are properties (of things), then we may have a situation in which properties have properties. At first glance this seems true because we predicate shape of objects in the world; we say that objects have a certain shape. We also describe types of shapes as having specific properties. If a shape is defined as having a particular number of sides (as with polygons), a particular curvature (as with curved shapes, such as the circle and the ellipse), specific relations between sides, or otherwise, then it should be apparent that we are describing properties of properties of things. We might be inclined to say that it is the shape that has a certain amount of angles and sides, rather than the object bearing the shape in question, but this is not entirely accurate. Shapes, conceived as objects in their own right (in geometric space), have sides, but in our spatiotemporal world, objects have sides, and surfaces, as well. When we divorce the shape from that which has the shape via abstraction, we use ‗side‘ for the former as much as we do for the latter. The distinction between geometric and physical space, between ideas and ideal or cognitive constructions and material mind-external particulars is significant.

My preferred definition of shape is:

shape is an abstract identity of form devoid of any substance

I take shapes to be forms both in two dimensions and in three. So, by this definition, I include spheres and cylinders and cuboids and pyramids to be shapes. Shape is about form – whether or not there is a thing it is attached to. We can have regular shapes where the regularity is abstract. We can have irregular shapes which cannot be described by any mathematical expression. And we can have shapeless shapes. We can compare shapes and discover the concept of similarity. We can even compare dissimilar shapes. I can conceive of the quality of form and talk about circularity or squareness or sphericality or even shapelessness.

I can have curvy shapes and I can have jagged shapes. My ping-pong ball is more spherical than my dimpled golf ball. They are both rounder than an orange but I have no doubt that an orange is rounder than a cucumber. Just as an apple is squarer than an orange. A fat person is rounder than a thin person. I know one cannot square a circle yet I have no difficulty – in my reason – to attributing and comparing levels of squareness and roundness of things. Some squashes are round and some are cylindrical. A circle squashed gives an ellipse and the shape of the earth is that of a squashed sphere. Circular logic is not a good thing. Logic is expected to be linear. A spherical logic is undefined.

And any square is rounder than a rectangle.


Gender is a classification and identity is not a choice

June 30, 2022

Identity is not a choice.

Our physical attributes are a consequence of our identity – not the determinants of identity. Being tall or short or fat or black or slant-eyed are descriptors which can be used to distinguish between humans, but they all follow, or are consequences of, identity. Our names are identifiers, but are not identity. Our professions – lawyer, teacher, murderer, thief – are descriptors of identity, not determinants. Some physical characteristics can change and be changed, but identity remains inviolate. You can eat more and become fat, or have surgery to thin your lips, but your identity remains unchanged. Physical attributes can be disguised. A white girl in California (where else) can pretend to be black to gain some perceived privileges, but identity does not change. Our behaviour – within the constraints of what is physiologically possible – is a choice. Behaviour does not, however, determine identity.

Gender is a classification. It can be used as a descriptor, but it is not identity. Among humans, gender is a binodal classification, with overlap, in a continuum. There are only two classes – male and female. But being a classification, and since the two classes overlap to some extent, there can be masculine females and feminine males. (There are only two classes with overlap. There is no 3rd class). Surgery or hormone treatment can help change a classification but identity remains untouchable. You can change your name from Kyle to Courtney or from Elliott to Ellen or from Maxine to Max, but that does nothing to identity.

I observe that some sports are now applying common sense and not allowing men, pretending to be women, to compete against women. (I also observe that there are never any women, pretending to be men, competing against men).

Identity – of anything – is not a choice in our universe. It is a consequence of existence.

Where numbers come from

To be discrete and unique give substance to identity. Existence (a Great Mystery) comes first, of course. To have identity is to have some distinguishing characteristic which enables the quality of “oneness”. Note that the quality of being identical (similar) does not disturb identity. Two, or many, things may be identical, but the identity of each remains inviolate. An atom of hydrogen here may be identical to an atom of hydrogen elsewhere, but the identity of each remains undisturbed. It is estimated that there are between 1078 to 1082 atoms existing in the observable universe. Each one distinct from all the others. Each one having identity.

We use the word identity in many contexts. In the philosophical sense, which includes the context of counting, my definition of identity is then:

identity – oneness; the distinguishing character of a thing that constitutes the objective reality of that thing

It is the discreteness and uniqueness contained in identity which gives rise to the concept of oneness as a quality of a thing which makes that thing countable. It is having the concept of oneness which allows us to define a concept of number, label it as “one” and give it a symbol (1). How the concept of identity (oneness) emerged in the species is another one of the Great Mysteries of life and consciousness.

With living things, uniqueness is conferred at the time of conception. The identity of any life-form is fixed when the existence of that life is conceived. It could be an egg or a seed or a zygote. Once fixed that identity persists till the death of that life. For humans that identity may be remembered long after its death. The identity of any living thing is never a choice.

Does life start when the egg is laid?

In the case of humans a fertilised egg is called a “zygote” until it has implanted itself (about 6 -10 days after conception) in the wall of the womb. It is then called an “embryo”. It is called a “fetus” only from 8 weeks after conception and remains a “fetus” till the birth of a “child”. Just as a “chick” only emerges after egg hatching, a human “child” only emerges after birth. But in both cases life, life has begun much earlier. By the time a hen lays an egg, the genetic identity of the embryo in the egg has already been fixed. The unique genetic identity whether for chicken or for human is actually fixed when conception occurs. ………

The time when a unique identity is established and life begins is quite simply defined and the Great Abortion Debate is actually about the ethics of terminating that life at different times during its existence. It is trying to make an ethical distinction between breaking an egg for a breakfast omelette or killing a chicken for a roast dinner. (But note also that many vegetarians eat eggs but a chicken eater is never considered a vegetarian). Abortion, infanticide, murder or euthanasia are just labels for different times at which life is to be terminated. Abortion always kills a fetus (not a child) and infanticide always kills a child (not a fetus). But whether it is a zygote which fails to implant itself, or a fetus which is aborted, or a child killed for being the wrong gender, or an aged person being assisted to die, it is the same life, the same identity, which is terminated. …..

A unique genetic identity and life are established with conception.


Related: Immortality of identity

A unique identity is recognisable first when an egg is fertilised. That identity cannot be foretold but it may be remembered long after the individual dies. It may in due course be forgotten. But whether or not it is forgotten, the fact of the creation of that identity remains. Forever. It is identity, once created, which remains unique and immortal.


An Act of God or is the EU just a 3rd world “country”?

June 20, 2022

Chaos across European airports.

Flights to Amsterdam, Schiphol cancelled because the “airport was too crowded”. Four hours to clear security at Stockholm, Arlanda.

And today it was Brussels.

But not to worry. It has been declared a Force Majeure event. So nobody is responsible except the Hand of God.

Force majeure

Any self-respecting third world country would be ashamed.


 

Vera Talerko wins

June 18, 2022

The Wilhelm Stenhammar final was last night and Vera Talerko won.

The winners in WSIMC 2022!

First Prize  Vera Talerko, 

Second Prize Rebecka Wallroth,

Third Prize Yohan John Ji, 

Stenhammar Prize Erica Back

Mozart Prize      Sarah Yang, 

Audience´s Prize  Vera Talerko 

My choice often does not match the verdict of more knowledgeable judges but on this occasion it did. Eight finalists and each sang two arias. Vera Talerko also won the audience prize on the day.

https://talerko.com/en/home

https://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Talerko-Vera.htm


 


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