Thursday, December 29, 2005

Quick Hits

Someone searched in looking how to tune a mandolin by the hertz. This should be easy enough to find out, but the easiest way is to tune the bottom strings to a standard acoustic G string (from EADGBE), then tune in fifths (7 frets) up the instrument.

Here are my initial brief takes on Kuhn, though I haven't quite finished the book. I haven't started reading in my area yet, but the technology is new enough that I may be embarking on a pre-paradigm specialization for my thesis. This makes me very nervous, so I am entering the next semester with a lot of questions about how to search for standard methods, algorithms, data tests in natural language processing.

Second, I am interested in analogies to historiography, historical paradigms. It seems to me the main difference between history and science is that history never repeats, so there is no consensus reality. This makes different paradigms legion, because not only are the same facts interpreted from different paradigms as in science, but different facts are admissible. I think this makes crisis and revolution dependent on unimpeachable facts that alter a dominant paradigm. I don't know if that makes revolutions rarer or not in historiography.

Third, and somewhat related, I am interested in how coherence theories of truth work for religion. I've read a lot of unclear arguments about religion that pretend it is possible to criticize one religious paradigm in terms of another, or look for disproof of a religious paradigm in its anomalies. All theories have certain anomalies in them. Even in the physical sciences, it can take decades or even centuries before they are resolved, but they don't necessarily lead to a crisis. What that means is that you shouldn't take rejecting a religion lightly; that goes equally for my opinion of Islam as it does for someone else's opinion of Jesus.

This point of view is helping me think through some well-meant but naive things I have done in my life with religion, especially talking to other people about Christianity. Sigh. One that came to mind as I was typing is the Campus Crusade 4 Spiritual Laws/Knowing God Personally tract. It is a thumbnail sketch of Christianity, but calling it a presentation of anything like the Christian paradigm (or even the 21st century Protestant paradigm) is laughable. Evangelism revolving around such a tract seems dreadfully untenable to me, but YMMV.

So Mere Christianity looms ever larger as a primer on Christianity, because it isn't a sustained argument; it is a paradigm presentation, or using a term from David Tracy, a systematic theology. It is the story rather than the apologia, so it actually communicates with people of other paradigms. Lewis writes something like "I believe Christianity... because by it I see everything else." The connection to Kuhn is clear. If you think about religions as paradigms, ways of seeing, as opposed to theories to accede to, religious dialogue changes a lot.

For one thing, we would all have a lot more listening to do.

I got to think about all these things in depth yesterday on a very relaxing day off for my 3rd wedding anniversary. I have a thousand days of marriage under my belt... and boy are my arms tired! Insert your own joke. Anyway, here's hoping for many more.

That in-depth thinking time was at least partially inspired by this essay. I heard many echoes of myself in it; time will tell if I become rich and famous through science though. It's entertaining either way.

Tonight Sarah's brother Brian is coming over to watch Alex so Sarah and I can go out to Belated Anniversary Dinner Date, then we'll play his newest addiction, Settlers of Catan, which we got for Christmas. Yes, we hooked another one. First one's free! Seriously, download Sea3D at the link to the left if you want to know what the hubbub is about.

Happy New Year, and go Pac-10!

No comments: