The opening lines of Franz Delitzsch's Babel und Bibel offer an unusually frank confession of the personal and psychological motives that animated German orientalism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For Delitzsch and countless others like him, orientalist scholarship provided an opportunity not just to expand their knowledge of the Near East and India, but also to explore the world of the Bible and, in doing so, effect a reckoning with the religious beliefs of their childhoods. In German Orientalism (...) in the Age of Empire, Suzanne Marchand opens up this scholarly world, exploring the criss-crossing forces and interests that shaped it, while effecting her own reckoning with orientalism as a historical and historiographical phenomenon. (shrink)
Since the dawn of Romanticism, artists and intellectuals in Germany have maintained an abiding interest in the gods and myths of antiquity while calling for a new mythology suitable to the modern age. In this study, George S. Williamson examines the factors that gave rise to this distinct and profound longing for myth. In doing so, he demonstrates the entanglement of aesthetic and philosophical ambitions in Germany with some of the major religious conflicts of the nineteenth century. Through (...) readings of key intellectuals ranging from Herder and Schelling to Wagner and Nietzsche, Williamson highlights three crucial factors in the emergence of the German engagement with myth: the tradition of Philhellenist neohumanism, a critique of contemporary aesthetic and public life as dominated by private interests, and a rejection of the Bible by many Protestant scholars as the product of a foreign, "Oriental" culture. According to Williamson, the discourse on myth in Germany remained bound up with problems of Protestant theology and confessional conflict through the nineteenth century and beyond. A compelling adventure in intellectual history, this study uncovers the foundations of Germany's fascination with myth and its enduring cultural legacy. (shrink)
I Would like to draw attention to the basic defect in the argument used by Mr J. R. Lucas. Mr Lucas there states that Gödel's theorem shows that any consistent formal system strong enough to produce arithmetic fails to prove, within its own structure, theorems that we, as humans, can nevertheless see to be true. From this he argues that ‘minds’ can do more than machines, since machines are essentially formal systems of this same type, and subject to the limitation (...) implied by Godel's theorem. (shrink)
In an interesting work ‘The Ethical Animal’ Professor C. H. Waddington valiantly attempts to bridge the gap between ‘ought’ and ‘is’ without, it seems, succeeding in doing so. Notwithstanding his erudition, honesty of purpose and charm in exposition, the gulf remains unbridged. Indeed there are passages where it is difficult to be certain whether the author considers that he has bridged it or even what standpoint he finally adopts.
This question as to whether machines can, or could, be made to think, has become familiar in recent years since the renewed outburst of interest that has taken place in the development of Cybernetics. The notion of servo–mechanisms and the like has a history in remote antiquity but the form of its fundamental question has recently taken on a new and especially acute significance.
I would like to make some further clarifying remarks about the nature of learning machines, or finite automata as they are more generally known these days. It is clear from much that has recently been written on this subject that there are still many misunderstandings about their capacity and significance.
Artificial intelligence and the interrogation game; Scientific method and explanation; Godel's incompleteness theorem; Determinism and uncertainty; Axioms, theorems and formalisation; Creativity; Consciousness and free will; Pragmatics; A ...