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Ch 4e: pp 56-60

For the Medieval Dinosaur in all of us.

Ch 4e: pp 56-60

Postby Stanley Anderson » 09 Jul 2007, 22:02

(Five paragraphs to the end of section A, beginning with "Though Chalcidius had invented a reason..." and ending with "...attitudes to the vernacular authors.")

This section has more about the Principle of Plenitude and the concept of the Triad that was briefly mentioned at the end of chapter 3. I find Lewis’ illustrations of the triad to be fascinating, especially the one about a human body with the reason on top in the head and appetite on the bottom in the bowels, with “energy” in between in the chest. Lewis says, “Reason and appetite must not be left facing one another across a no-man’s land. A trained sentiment of honour or chivalry must provide the ‘mean’ that unites them and integrates the civilized man.” This is almost exactly the premise of his book The Abolition of Man with its description of “men without chests” as the potentially disastrous result of the flaws Lewis saw in the educational system. And of course THS is a sort of novelization of the ideas expressed in Abolition of Man.

In Lewis’ line “In his Anticlaudian we are told tha the soul is fastened to the body ‘gumphis subtilibus’, ‘with tiny little nails’”. I’ve wondered if the name of Governor Gumpas in Voyage of the Dawn Treader was derived at all from the latin word “gumphis”, and if so, what was “nail-like” about Governor Gumpas:-)

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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triad

Postby liriodendron » 11 Jul 2007, 03:28

I have to admit that I'm finding the Triad a bit tiresome -- didn't they have anything else to think about so they didn't have to think this to death. I suppose I should read the Abolition of Man; perhaps that would help me appreciate the insight a little more. It's just that I don't see it as an accurate principle for the universe and the often repeated "common people obey" is just annoying to my American "all men are created equal" mentality.

I’ve wondered if the name of Governor Gumpas in Voyage of the Dawn Treader was derived at all from the latin word “gumphis”, and if so, what was “nail-like” about Governor Gumpas:-)

Hah. Maybe you need something else to think about too?
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Principle of Plentitude

Postby liriodendron » 11 Jul 2007, 03:50

Aether and air, like earth, must be populated 'lest any region be left void', lest the perfection of the universe should anywhere go limping.'


We now know this is not true; at least not with any creatures that our science can detect. Yet, here on earth it does seem true. We have that saying, "Nature abhors a void". And it does seem that things start growing and colonizing any empty space, even more than the medievals could have realized without microscopes. It seems, however, that you can't extend that principle beyond the earth.

Was it you once talking about a mathmatical formula for chaos that, when graphed, makes incredibly beautiful and intricate art shapes. (Forgive me that I can't be more specific.) The formula has much intensity and "plentitude", but outside it's boundaries is nothingness. Does that better fit our reality?
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Re: triad

Postby Stanley Anderson » 11 Jul 2007, 14:47

liriodendron wrote:I have to admit that I'm finding the Triad a bit tiresome -- didn't they have anything else to think about so they didn't have to think this to death. I suppose I should read the Abolition of Man


Well, yes if you can. AoM is pretty core to Lewis' ideas and especially to his medeival "dinosaur" outlook:-)

It's just that I don't see it as an accurate principle for the universe and the often repeated "common people obey" is just annoying to my American "all men are created equal" mentality.


Whether it is an accurate principle for the universe is not exactly a prime point here since the book's goal is to show how the medieval world view influenced thier writing and arts and such. It would be akin to complaining about any mention of the earth-centered cosmology since it is not an accurate portrayal of the solar system. That doesn't matter since, for the purposes of this book, we are presumably more interested in what the medieval mind thought, right or wrong.

But in fact, the idea of the triad is a pretty universal staple even in current scientific reasoning. It's "assumption" is the cause of befuddlement about the bizzare aspects of quantum physics where strange "action at a distance" seems to occur without any intermediary "connection" between to correlated events.

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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Re: Principle of Plentitude

Postby Stanley Anderson » 11 Jul 2007, 15:09

liriodendron wrote:
Aether and air, like earth, must be populated 'lest any region be left void', lest the perfection of the universe should anywhere go limping.'


We now know this is not true; at least not with any creatures that our science can detect.


Of course Lewis' point in, say, Out of the Silent Planet where he expounds to wonderful effect on this idea as Ransom is travelling through space on Weston's ship is that those "creatures" are not the sort that science could detect and that there is more to "space" and creation than instruments can sift out.

But even in the purely "phsyical" plane of modern physics you might be surprised at how it looks at "empty space" these days (and I'm not even referring to the suppositions about "dark matter")

Was it you once talking about a mathmatical formula for chaos that, when graphed, makes incredibly beautiful and intricate art shapes. (Forgive me that I can't be more specific.)


I'm assuming you must be referring to fractals and of the Mandelbrot set in particular

The formula has much intensity and "plentitude", but outside it's boundaries is nothingness. Does that better fit our reality?


Curiously if your statement has meaning it is more that "inside" its boudaries is nothingness. Here is an image of the Mandelbrot set:

Image

It is the dark blue interior that corresponds most closely to your suggestion of "nothingness", but even there I would say that we are talking about a fairly ill-defined concept or idea. But this all gets pretty complicated fast.

(by the way, in searching for an image to post here, I found the one I used on this page: http://mail.colonial.net/~abeckwith/fractals.html. It is interesting to look at if you want to get some idea about fractals in general -- and it has some very pretty images to look at.

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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Triad and transitions

Postby liriodendron » 12 Jul 2007, 04:32

Whether it is an accurate principle for the universe is not exactly a prime point here since the book's goal is to show how the medieval world view influenced thier writing and arts and such.
Well, yes, I did realize is was taking it unnecessarily to heart - :tongue: - but it still did annoy me, like some people even now who get infatuated with an idea and take it to extremes.

And I will admit that transition is an important concept in design (I'm a landscape architect); but so is contrast.

Yes, the Mandelbrot fractal is exactly what I was refering to. I see from the picture that the outside does have transition, and it was the inside I was refering to. Of course the effect is the same for the little bit of color growing out into the empty center.


It is the dark blue interior that corresponds most closely to your suggestion of "nothingness", but even there I would say that we are talking about a fairly ill-defined concept or idea. But this all gets pretty complicated fast.
But even in the purely "phsyical" plane of modern physics you might be surprised at how it looks at "empty space" these days
There are a lot of things that get complicated fast - things I'd like to understand. But even though I was capable enough with highschool calculus and physics, I doubt I have the patience to understand this math, assuming I do have the mental ability. What you said about "empty space" is tantalizing, though; would you know any authors who do a good job of explaining it to the layman?



I was reading a Bible passage this morning that made me think of Chalcidius and daemon being the intermediary between Socrates and God (and even more with pseudo-Dionysius):
Galations 3: 19"Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. 20 Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one."
The passage is a little obscure, but it seems to be saying that the Old Covenant has 2 intermediaries between God and man - angels and Moses, but the New Covenant does not have an intermediary because God is the sole agent of the contract, making promises to us and dealing with us directly.
And then that reminded me of how in the Space Trilogy, Mars was a mediator for his subjects between them and God. But on Venus the Ostrya had stepped aside because Christ was communicating directly with it's "Adam" and "Eve".

Anyway, I guess these medievals were not seeing Galations 3:19-20 as I do or they would not have been so thrilled to have angle/daemons mediating for them.

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Re: Triad and transitions

Postby Stanley Anderson » 12 Jul 2007, 15:41

liriodendron wrote:What you said about "empty space" is tantalizing, though; would you know any authors who do a good job of explaining it to the layman?


I have some "popular" type books at home that I can take a look at, but I can't remember which ones in particular at the moment. I took a look at some Wikipedia entries and found the following portion under the "Casimir effect" heading (get ready -- you asked for it:-)

Vacuum energy

The Casimir effect is an outcome of quantum field theory, which states that all of the various fundamental fields, such as the electromagnetic field, must be quantized at each and every point in space. In a naïve sense, a field in physics may be envisioned as if space were filled with interconnected vibrating balls and springs, and the strength of the field can be visualized as the displacement of a ball from its rest position. Vibrations in this field propagate, and are governed by the appropriate wave equation for the particular field in question. The second quantization of quantum field theory requires that each such ball-spring combination be quantized, that is, that the strength of the field be quantized at each point in space. Canonically, the field at each point in space is a simple harmonic oscillator, and its quantization places a quantum harmonic oscillator at each point. Excitations of the field correspond to the elementary particles of particle physics. However, even the vacuum has a vastly complex structure. All calculations of quantum field theory must be made in relation to this model of the vacuum.

The vacuum has, implicitly, all of the properties that a particle may have: spin, or polarization in the case of light, energy, and so on. On average, all of these properties cancel out: the vacuum is after all, "empty" in this sense. One important exception is the vacuum energy or the vacuum expectation value of the energy.


Well, if you want more, as I said, it gets complicated fast:-)

I was reading a Bible passage this morning that made me think of Chalcidius and daemon being the intermediary between Socrates and God (and even more with pseudo-Dionysius):...
...
And then that reminded me of how in the Space Trilogy, Mars was a mediator for his subjects between them and God. But on Venus the Ostrya had stepped aside because Christ was communicating directly with it's "Adam" and "Eve".

Anyway, I guess these medievals were not seeing Galations 3:19-20 as I do or they would not have been so thrilled to have angle/daemons mediating for them.


Interesting comparison to Malacandra and Perelandra with the scripture passage (I love finding these sorts of things). I would note that there is a distinct difference between Adam, Eve, Tor, and Tinidril and us though -- that is that they are unfallen (at least Adam and Eve were at one point anyway), so "communicating directly" has a bit more "umph" for them than it might for us, I think:-).

Certainly God can "deal with us directly" and does so in many ways. But he also apparently chooses to deal with us in other ways too -- otherwise there would be no purpose in praying for others or asking them to pray for us. Presumably God could deal with all of us as directly as he did with Saul on the road to Damascus, but for whatever reason he doesn't (even the people right there with Saul could not experience what Saul experienced as directly as he did).

I suspect it has to do with His wanting us to be part of the Body of Christ and having that Body work his Will rather than dealing with each of us as though were were a collection of separate marbles (anyone remember that horrid scene from the movie The Lawnmower Man? Brr-rr-rr). And also perhaps something connected with Thomas and "blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" or Christ saying to his apostles "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me".

So I think the medievals were perhaps not so far off in some sense at least.

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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