Sunday, April 27, 2014

Thoughts 8

Chapter 2

Thoughts 8

In the first chapter I have tried to show nothing can be truly understood by the human intellect. We see in parts. I guess that means that anything I have to say from this point on is presumptuous of me, so here I go.

Hopefully I have made reasonably clear how we use reference frames to try to understand with our intellect. It appears to me that we use more complicated frames of reference trying to function in our modern society. The frames have to encompass many things, but it can never comprehend the society as a whole. The individual's societal frames of reference are shaped by family (genetics, tier of society, location, etc.), the mores of the particular society (culture), and the physical makeup of the individual. There are probably more than the ones I just named, but where I want to go with this it doesn't matter.

As a young man I played high school football. I wasn't very good at it, but I was out there. When the coach would yell at me or us about something done wrong, it would just reaffirm how I felt deep inside of me; I could not do anything right. Why try? Some, maybe all my team mates, were motivated to try harder. (Years later I talked with a good friend who had been on the team. It motivated him.) A long time after I talked with him, through observation and loving to learn, I realized that part of my reaction to the coach was hard wired into my brain through genetics. Having not studied the physical structure of the brain I cannot say for sure, but I would think that there is a difference in each persons brain structure. I am pre-wired to react in a general way to certain general situations. Not truly knowing, it seems to me that my physical makeup interacts with my environment to help me create the reality I live in; the way I experience everything.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Thoughts 7

Thoughts 7

The flow of eternity wraps around me and I exalt...!

I wrote the above in a modified version at the end of an earlier post, but here it is again in hopes that it will stimulate enough interest to help people continue to read. The above is the original form I wrote it in the 1990's. It is where I am trying to get to with this series of the blog.

We group things together to make a whole. Family is a whole. Nation is a whole. We have a comparison when we use family, nation, mountains, or mountain range. We have a duality; family: us and them, nation: again us and them, mountains: tall (high) to low (short). We break things into pieces so that we can tell what we are talking about.
Using the word family we could be talking about everyone with one particular family name or we could talking about a man, woman and children. There are still more divisions that could be made; splitting the family into individuals. Using the word ocean we know that the subject is not land. It is most of the Earth's surface, but we need to divide the great waters into segments to have a better understanding of the location on this orb we call Earth that we are talking about. Nations are not naturally made. Nations are set up by men. The divisions are arbitrarily set by men. There is still the comparison, so we have a start and a stop, a duality. Another way it could be described is a reference frame. When we talk; we have comparisons (references). We cannot talk about one individual and have the individual as part of mankind unless we are referencing the one to the whole.

One reference frame could be the United States of America. Another is the individual, but we can and do set reference frames for parts of the individual: hair, skin, eyes, organs, etc. We can further break this down to different cells which in turn break down to genes, and then genes into elements. But if we have the elements we cannot make a human, nor understand a person. We cannot randomly look at elements and say that the combination will make any particular thing except for what we have already set as standards. We divide to understand, but the more we divide the less we can see the whole.

We can see the relationship between some of parts. Take the human heart as an example. We can tell that the heart pumps blood through the body, but we cannot see how the human heart relates to the star of our solar system, Sol. Most of the energy that the heart uses comes from the sun, but does our heart affect the sun in anyway even the most minute way. That maybe an extreme example, but what I am trying to show is for the human intellect to comprehend we have to set up standards. Mentally break it apart and put it into reference frames.

The most basic duality or reference frame would have to be the material and non-material. We can look at the elements (material) that make up a human body, but we cannot see the human life (non-material) in the elements. We know that we think, but we cannot know the thought by looking the physical processes of a brain while thinking even though they are one thing.

If I need to be more complete in the description of learning with the intellect, please let me know and I will add the extra.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Thoughts 6

Thoughts 6

I have had some feedback about the difficulty understanding the previous post, so I have devoted this post to trying to make everything more understandable. The following would probably fit better before Thoughts 5. 

 For our human intellect to try to comprehend anything, we seem to have to set up what we call standards. Without a tall we have no short. Without a fat we have not skinny. Without pain, sadness, anger, anxiety, etc. we have no joy, peace, etc. We have the standard that we have set up for tall so we know what is short.

We set up institutions to keep examples of some of these standards. In the United States we have NIST, National Institute of Standards and Technology that does the job for us. Some of the standards that we need to be precisely set are an inch, a foot, a pound, a ton, a second, etc. We have said that from this point to that point is an inch; a certain volume of a particular material weights a pound; so many of a cesium atom is a second. By knowing what an inch is, we can know what multiples and fractions of an inch are. There are many different standards.

It seems that humans need something to compare when we try to understand anything. We cannot comprehend without duality (comparisons); tall and short; near and far, heavy and light, and on and on and on.

Let’s take one duality; distance. If we take an inch to be short or near then what is long or distant? If I am working with wood, a yard is long compared to an inch. When I compare a yard with a mile, the yard is not so long. Is a mile long? when it is compared to the distance from New York to San Francisco (2908 miles) it is not long. Expand Let’s go a little farther; the circumference of the Earth is 24-25,000 miles. Maybe, the distance for New York to San Francisco is not so far after all. What about the 25,000 miles around the Earth. The distance from the Earth to the Moon is approximately 276,444 miles. Miles are too short for astronomical distances so we have set up other standards: Astronomical Unit is the dictance form the Earth to the sun, Light Year is the distance it takes that light travel in a year, Parsec is 3.26 light years. It is according to what we are using as a standard that makes anything distant or close and all are comparison. 

We can do the same thing in the opposite direction. Is an inch short? In the English system we use ½, ¼. 1/8, 1/16, 1/32 of an inch. In the decimal system hundredths, thousandths, ten thousandths, hundred thousandths, millionths of a meter are used. When we get into the sizes of sub-atomic particles those fractions of an inch are large. An inch may be long. Here again it is the standard we set up that makes something short or long.

We have also set up standards for volume, temperature, luminosity, electric current, etc.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Thoughts 5

Thoughts 5

This part may be a little tedious, but please read it through because where I am going later will probably depend on what follows.

On October 25, 1791, Washington appealed a third time to Congress, "A uniformity of the weights and measures of the country is among the important objects submitted to you by the Constitution and if it can be derived from a standard at once invariable and universal, must be no less honorable to the public council than conducive to the public convenience", but it was not until 1838 that a uniform set of standards was worked out.*

A standard either has a starting and stopping place like time, or compares one thing with another.
The standards are kept at NIST ( National Institute of Standards and Technology ) for the USA. Some of these standards are:

Time base: Second; the duration of 9,192,631,770 cycles of the radiation associated with a specific transition the cesium 133 atom.**

Length base: Meter; the length of the path traveled b light in a vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,4589 of a second**

Electric current base: ampere**

Temperature base: Kelvin**

Luminous intensity: candela**

Mass: kilogram; a cylinder of platinum-iridium alloy kept by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures near Paris, France.**

Amount of substance: mole**

There are standards that we set up that are not so well defined. Some of these are fat/thin, near/far, big/small, many/few, tall/short, etc. We need all standards to communicate. An alphabet is standards for sounds of a language. A combination of sounds of an alphabet sets up another standard; a word. In English when someone says the sound for tree, all that speak English have an idea of what that person saying tree is talking about. We can use other sounds (adjectives for example) to further communicate what kind of tree we are talking about. Other languages may have more or possibly less words to describe a tree. Using one of the other languages allows us to better convey or less likely to convey an understanding of that tree. So the language we use can limit our understanding or help us more fully understand individual items.

As I said in the introduction, I am an expert at nothing, but it seems to me we have to have dualities for our intellect to try to comprehend anything; a start/stop, a small/large, etc. Of course there maybe others ways of learning than with our intellect. We may have propensities to act in certain ways in particular situations passed to us through our genes. Also, there maybe some intuitive way of learning. The only one that I am reasonably sure of is with our intellect. Intellect is what I will be referring to hereafter in this piece.

** “A Brief History of Measurement Systems” from NIST, U.S. Department of Commerce