First Thoughts

… HCR Meter is confused… economy is booming, build back better act likely to clear the house, thought the Senate is another story… lots of reasons why people should be happy with Dems, but the polls don’t look good… there will likely be a Republican controlled house after the midterms and it will be a shit show… the Republicans are mostly a shit show now and it is clear that if they get back into control of things Democracy will be finished… i keep wondering what i can do, what do i want to do… i have no desire to live in a world run by these bat shit crazy conservatives and their lord DT… there is only hope if the Dems pass voting rights legislation… maybe even then there is no hope…

… i keep thinking that nobody of true consequence has been held accountable for anything… nobody… our system seems incapable of doing that…

… i have the Gregorian chants on… they are soothing and spiritual…

… who would have thought that a desperate white patriarchy could cause so much trouble and possibly succeed in seizing control of government?… i always thought it was going to be a brutal struggle… i saw it coming a long time ago… i didn’t have an imagination vivid enough to see how bad it would really be… i don’t comprehend them and i have no patience for them… D was one of them… D was awful…

… Shifting the Silence by Etel Adnan arrived on my kindle yesterday… another book in the long list of books to read… it will likely preempt the Bertrand Russel book that has been waiting in the wings for some time… i will perhaps read it together with the Georges Perc book… Adnan’s book was published either just before or just after they died… they pushed it out knowing they would not be around very much longer… an act of hope?, acceptance?, what?… will i work right up to the end that way?… will i ever publish anything?… then i tell myself, i am publishing… self publishing… daily… my production is enormous, prolific… but is it worth anything?… more moments of frustration that nobody comments on my posts in Micro.blog… this is likely due to my lack of commenting on others posts… if you want community you have to participate in community… do i need to set some time aside for community cultivation?… perhaps… i don’t know… it all seems so tedious and, in the end, not rewarding… pictures of cats and funny anecdotes about cats and dogs get all the attention… are we so uncomfortable with direct interaction with one another that we need these surrogates to get along in public space?…

… i have signed up for Literal, a new community of readers sharing the books they read with one another… an alternative to Goodreads… i am hoping for community there… but then, will i be willing to put in the interaction time… H interacts massively with her friends, mostly on FB… she spends a large part of the day doing that…

… i got my pre-colonoscopy covid test done yesterday… the procedure on Tuesday of this coming week… these things seem like portals in one’s life… we do these health portals to find out if there is anything concerning going on, so of course, if there has been anything concerning before, we fret about it a bit… the day arrives and we go through the discomfort of preparing and then undergoing and when we wake up the doctor comes to tell us what they found which hopefully was nothing to minimal… if something, hopefully it is dealt with during the procedure and nothing more to do for another few years until the next one… we are through the portal onto other concerns, happinesses, sadnesses… Thanksgiving this week…

… i keep thinking about G’s woman friend and wondering if they will be at Thanksgiving… they are very attractive and admired my sartorial style at M’s wedding… i shouldn’t feel this way and it will be a bit awkward with them because i do… primal me just can’t give it a rest… lusting all the time… the hardest part of a committed relationship is letting all the possibilities drift by without acting on any of them… it’s also the easiest… no chance to humiliate oneself which i did with some regularity in the younger days…

Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Matter, Part I, The Logical Analysis of Physics, Chapter II, Pre Relativity Physics

… i am feeling up to the challenge… we will see how it goes…

  • starting with some words on Newtonian physics, because, modern day physics amends rather than replaces Newtonian physics…1
    • Russel says of the world described by Newton in Principia: nature is convenient for the mathematician2… not so for modern physics…
  • Newtonian physics describes a world situated in absolute space and absolute time, posits that particles are eternal and reduces the interaction of particles to force, mass and acceleration…
  • there are epistemological questions that haunt Newtonian physics which are less problematic for relativity, though not entirely unproblematic… 3
  • epistemological: relating to the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope, and the distinction between justified belief and opinion: what epistemological foundation is there for such an artificial discrimination?
  • absolute space, absolute time, is the most significant epistemic question… it would subsequently be proved that these are not necessary…
  • reasons for rejecting absolute space and time:
    • everything we observe concerns only the relative position position of bodies and events… Russell believes this argument has no force… he argues there is no logical reason that we can’t infer things to exist that are not directly evident… he further argues that the science of physics collapses if we are not able to infer…
    • points and instants are not a required hypothesis and Occam’s razor requires we dispense with them (Russell believes this argument is false as far as Newtonian mechanics is concerned, but not for Relativity)

  1. i am reminded of my idea that thinking of the world is flat was an accurate assessment of the situation if the extent of your travels was less than 25 miles from “home” during an entire lifetime… as we travel greater distances, weather physically or virtually, we encounter facts, such as roundness of the planet, that have to be accounted for… similarly, as our capacity to measure refines, our theories about how the world is made have to refine too [return]
  2. Bertrand Russel, The Analysis of Matter, p 13 [return]
  3. i am wondering if he is foreshadowing the difficulty of finding a starting place for consciousness and the idea that consciousness must be a fundamental quality… [return]

Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Matter

… as indicated yesterday, having finished the first chapter in the book, i am using what time i have through Saturday to review and/or deepen my understanding of concepts and definitions…

… i just finished a wikipedia entry discussing the philosophical definition of a “proposition”… i learn that in logic and linguistics, a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence… and that in philosophy, meaning is a non-linguistic entity shared by all sentences with the same meaning…why do we need logic?

… i move on to a definition and discussion of propositional calculus in Wikipedia, which has me jumping to a definition of first-order logic, or logic that uses quantified variables rather than non-logical objects and sentences that contain variables… there exists x such that x is Socrates and x is a man1

… higher-order logic and second-order logic encountered while reading about first-order logic, so i get interested in logic in general, which is defined as: an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning.2

Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Matter

… i am thinking my plan for reading and understanding the book should be to read and understand as thoroughly as possible one chapter per week… i have completed the reading of chapter 1, i will start the next chapter this Sunday… i will re-read and follow up on threads and individuals introduced as seems compelling to do in the interim… there are 38 chapters, so it will take almost a year, but in the process, i hope to learn a lot… this also makes time for other reading and pursuits…

Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Matter, Chapter 1, The Nature of the Problem

… Russell describes and illustrates the idea that:

The logical analysis of a deductive system is not such a definite and limited undertaking as it appears at first sight. This is due to the circumstances just mentioned—namely, that what we took at first as primitive entities may be replaced by complicated logical structures. As this circumstance has an important bearing on the philosophy of physics, it will be worthwhile to illustrate its effect by examples from other fields.1

… that a philosophy of physics would depend on a mathematical system of logic is intriguing to me… one reasons their way to an understanding of the nature of physical structures through a series of logical operations…

… the process of connecting arithmetic to logic, that is, of replacing constants in a progression with variables that represent the terms of the progression, is held to be similar in some ways, but different in others, to the process of connecting physics with perception…

… interpretation is held to be the determination of a set of objects to substitute for hypothetical undefined objects which is much more important than any of the other sets of objects that might be available… Russell claims this process is essential in discovering the philosophical import of physics.2

… he continues to illustrate with the case of geometry which may be interpreted through a set of real number coordinates, but that the important interpretation is that Geometry is part of applied mathematics and consequently, part of physics. Said another way, geometry can be directly applied to the description of the disposition of objects in space time (?)…

… the vital problem:

the application of Physics to the empirical world. … although physics can be pursued as pure mathematics, it is not as pure mathematics that physics is important.3

… the laws of physics are held to be true if they correspond with empirical evidence… that is, the laws of physics are tied to perception of one kind or another… the world of physics must be, in some sense, continuous with the world of our perceptions, since it is the latter which supplies the evidence for the laws of physics.4

… the modern problem of physics is that the world of physics is very different from the world of perception and it becomes difficult to accept the evidence acquired through perception as supportive of its laws… the accuracy of perception itself gives cause for concern about a system built upon its supply of evidence… Descarte and Berkley are mentioned as illuminating and making explicit this problem… Whitehead is mentioned as leading the way in a new interpretation of physics which brings matter into closer communion with perception…

The evidence for the truth of physics is that perceptions occur as the laws of physics would lead us to expect—e.g. we see an eclipse when the astronomers say there will be an eclipse. But physics itself never says anything about perceptions; it does not say that we shall see an eclipse, but says something about the sun and the moon. The passage from what physics asserts to the expected perception is left vague and casual; it has none of the mathematical precision belonging to physics itself. We must therefore find an interpretation of physics which gives a due place to perception; if not, we have no right to appeal to the empirical evidence.5

… this already appears to establish the direction that perception (consciousness) is a fundamental quality of the universe… or, at the very least, that the physical universe is intimately entwined with perception…

I believe that matter is less material, and mind less mental, than is commonly supposed…6

… and ultimately, that the two are not distinctly separate entities…

… it is noted that Hume questions the validity of scientific method but that his questions will not be addressed in the book, and scientific method properly pursued will be accepted as valid…

… the grounds for the truth of physics is addressed from the point of view of the solipsist (nothing can be held to exist beyond the self) and the non-solipsist who, none the less, believes that all that is real is mental… the latter point of view is favored over the former for the breadth of sense in which physics can be held to be true.

Given physics as a deductive system, derived from certain hypotheses as to undefined terms, do there exist particulars, or logical structures composed of particulars, which satisfy these hypotheses? If the answer is in the affirmative, then physics is completely true.7

… Russell proposes to bring physics and psychology (perception) together… the demonstration that mind matter separation metaphysically indefensible is a significant purpose of the book…

… end of chapter 1…


  1. Russell, The Analysis of Matter, p 4 [return]
  2. Ibid, p 5 [return]
  3. Ibid, p 6 [return]
  4. Ibid, p 6 [return]
  5. Ibid, p 7 [return]
  6. Ibid, p 7 [return]
  7. Ibid, p 8-9 [return]

First Thoughts

HCR meeter pointing slightly up…

  • full FDA approval of Pfizer COVID19 vaccine… the stock market rallied in anticipation of more shots in arms as the vaccine hesitant come forward to get them and as local and federal governments and corporations begin to mandate vaccination…
  • Florida rates of COVID19 are accelerating, hospitalizations and deaths have surpassed previous highest levels, Governor DeSantis doubles down on executive orders that there be no mask and vaccine mandates… large school districts ignoring him… i travel to Florida in a little less than two weeks…
  • evacuation of Americans and Afghans proceeding smoothly and unmolested… Pentagon says they can be finished by end of month, president suggests he might extend to Sep 11 if necessary, Taliban suggests they might not be tolerant of that…

… diner with friends last night… managed to avoid having too much wine… delicious dinner of African mint sausage and grapes, with a side of puréed celery root… celery root was especially delicious… felt the sausage was a little overcooked, dried out… company was great…

… Chas began whining at 3 AM… just my luck on a morning i want to sleep in a little…

… today begins back stair reconstruction… going to be hot next few days, but no rain predicted… demolition of existing stairs today… take stock of existing conditions and make final decisions of how to proceed… hopefully i have the right materials in place… if not, i will have to get untreated lumber as i won’t have time to let it dry out at all…

… as i get more organized about my reading, i wonder about organizing it to the point that i might start writing organized and thoroughly edited posts on the rabbit holes i am exploring… that is something that i have never mustered the determination to do… could i even get to the place where i publish a book?…

… do i need to or could carefully considered and edited posts suffice?… i think i am more likely to head in that direction…

… my copy of Bertrand Russell’s Analysis of Matter has arrived… i sloughed my way through it before and during the pandemic… i am contemplating reading it again with extensive note taking…

Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Matter, Frege’s Theorem

… i have begun re-reading The Analysis of Matter… my reason for reading it in the first place, and attempting to read it again now, is that it contains what many consider to be an argument supportive of the idea that there is some basic quality known as consciousness that is a fundamental constituent of the universe… that all matter exhibits awareness, down to the smallest fractions of that matter… that is, it is a text that can be viewed as supportive of panpsychism…

… as i have mentioned, i started reading this before the pandemic and got close to the end during the pandemic, though, during the pandemic, i don’t think i had sufficient patience and concentration to take it in fully… it’s a philosophical treatment of the subject of matter, which, at the level of Bertrand Russell, is challenging to read… arguments and examples are developed mathematically throughout the book, which makes it a further challenge as i have very little knowledge of the mathematics involved…

… similar to what Robert Haas says he has done with translating Japanese haiku, which is learn just enough Japanese and Chinese to be able to translate, i will do my best to familiarize myself with mathematical (and other) concepts i am not familiar with, trying to drive down to some kind of knowledge of base concepts on which the work is constructed…

… towards that end, my first inquiry (rabbit hole) is into Frege’s Theorem and Foundations for Arithmetic, which i know nothing about… i immediately encounter the phrase “second-order predicate calculus” which i also need to look up… Wikipedia describes second-order logic as “_ an extension of first-order logic, which itself is an extension of propositional logic1. Second-order logic is in turn extended by higher-order logic and type theory._2

… what is propositional logic?… more commonly(?) known as Propositional calculus, it is a branch of logic… logic is defined in wikipedia as:  Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning. Informal logic seeks to characterize valid arguments informally, for instance by listing varieties of fallacies. Formal logic represents statements and argument forms using formal languages such as first order logic. Within formal logic, mathematical logic studies the mathematical characteristics of formal languages, while philosophical logic applies them to philosophical problems such as the nature of meaning, knowledge, and existence. Systems of formal logic are also applied in other fields including linguistics, cognitive science, and computer science.3

… the article on logic points back to Gottlob Frege as one of the progenitors of modern formal logic…

… so, back to Frege’s theorem…

… Frege developed a second-order predicate calculus which he used _to define interesting mathematical concepts and to state and prove mathematically interesting propositions._… in doing so he included as an axiom Basic Law V from which he derived fundamental axioms and theorem of number theory… he believed it to be a logical proposition which, as it turned out, it was not… the resulting system was flawed as well, failing to be consistent as it was subject to Russell’s Paradox.4

… so, about Russell’s Paradox…

  • _ Russell’s paradox is the most famous of the logical or set-theoretical paradoxes. Also known as the Russell-Zermelo paradox, the paradox arises within naïve set theory by considering the set of all sets that are not members of themselves. Such a set appears to be a member of itself if and only if it is not a member of itself. Hence the paradox.
  • Some sets, such as the set of all teacups, are not members of themselves. Other sets, such as the set of all non-teacups, are members of themselves. Call the set of all sets that are not members of themselves “R.” If R is a member of itself, then by definition it must not be a member of itself. Similarly, if R is not a member of itself, then by definition it must be a member of itself.5

… the good news for Frege’s legacy is that buried in the invalid propositions and arguments of his Grundgesetze, is all the essential steps of a valid proof (in second-order logic) of the fundamental propositions of arithmetic from a single consistent principle.6

… known as Hume’s Principle, it asserts that for any concepts F and G, the number of F-things is equal to the number (of) G-things if and only if there is a one-to-one correspondence between the F-things and the G-things7

… the derivation of fundamental propositions of arithmetic from Hume’s Principle do not depend on Basic Law V, allowing Hume’s Principle to be used as an axiom. At this point, his accomplishment can be appreciated: his work shows us how to prove, as theorems, the Dedekind/Peano axioms for number theory from Hume’s Principle in second-order logic. This achievement, which involves some remarkably subtle chains of definitions and logical reasoning, has become known as Frege’s Theorem.


  1. Propositional Logic is (more commonly?) known as Propositional calculus, described by Wikipedia as a “branch of logic.” AKA, statement logic, sentential calculus, sentential logic, zeroth-order logic. [return]
  2. Second-order logic, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-order_logic [return]
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logic [return]
  4. Frege’s Theorem and Foundations for Arithmetic. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/frege-theorem/ [return]
  5. Russell’s Paradox, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/russell-paradox/ [return]
  6. Frege’s Theorem and Foundations for Arithmetic, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/frege-theorem/ [return]
  7. Ibid [return]

Conscious, Annaka Harris

… i bought this book after reading a Brain Pickings post… the subject of consciousness is one of my rabbit hole topics… panpsychism is an exciting rabbit hole within the rabbit hole that i have read a number of books and articles about, including the very dense and, in lots of places (because you need to comprehend high level mathematics), incomprehensible book by Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Matter… i began reading it before the pandemic broke out… it took months to get through and i can’t claim to have fully understood it because of the aforementioned mathematical content… Russell himself says you can’t fully understand the topic if you can’t fully understand the mathematics, but he minimizes the mathematics for those who don’t…

… for a very thorough treatment of Panpsychism, see the entry in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy…

… back to Conscious, by Annaka Harris…

… i am 25 pages in and it is clear to me that in 100 pages i am going to get a truly “popular” account of the subject… the initial chapters have been a little frustrating as she presents foundational concepts almost as sufficient arguments and definitions which i know are going to be undermined by a discussion of panpsychism which is, i believe, the main target of the book…

… i did finally realized that she is setting her readers up for an “aha!” moment as the weaknesses and inconsistencies in the earlier part of the book come to a point of breaking, cue the entry of our hero, panpsychism!…

… this approach was found by reviewers on Amazon to be either annoying or successful, and i suspect it has to do with ones prior knowledge of the concepts of panpsychism… mine is, I am guessing, deep relative to the average target audience, though i am at best an advanced beginner… i know her initial development of the subject is problematic, but i believe it will turn out to be intentionally so…

… it will be interesting to see how effective the “aha” moment is when i get to it…