Reading Notes 4/12/14

I’m almost done with Polyani’s ‘Personal Knowledge’, which has been a very interesting book. His discussions of the personal nature of logical propositions is probably the best part of the book – I can’t really recommend this volume enough for those interested in science, philosophy, philosophy of science, etc.

I’m making my way through ‘Foundation and Empire’, which hasn’t been quite as good as ‘Foundation’ so far – it’s been just a little bit slower in getting started. It’s good, obviously, but seems almost awkward in some places. Still a great book, though. I have ‘I, Robot’, somewhere, and would like to re-read that one as well. The film with Will Smith was good, but shared almost nothing but the name in common with the book.

There was an interesting section in ‘Mapping the Mind’ about the unity and disunity of the conscious experience in relation to depression and emotion – Rita Carter argues that meaning is bound up with emotion, and shows that the area called the ventromedial cortex is the brain’s emotional ‘control center’, and is the most important organ in the brain for tying all our conscious experiences and perceptions into one, meaningful unified experience. Fascinating stuff.

I skimmed through Torrance’s ‘Reality and Scientific Theology’, specifically, the chapter entitled ‘The Social Coefficient of Knowledge’. He expounds Polyani’s ideas of ‘pre’ knowledge – arguing that it’s this social coefficient and inter-personal existence that allows us to have ‘proleptic’ glimpses of the inherent patterns and rational order/structure of the universe, which is what allows us to inquire into reality in a meaningful way. A good quote:

‘It is worth repeating at this point that the social coefficient of our knowledge, or the cognitional structure of our social consciousness, does not generate in us concepts of reality, nor does it provide our knowledge with informational content, but it does predispose us toward explicit apprehension of the rational order intrinsic to the nature of things through the informal, inarticulate way in which it reflects it.’ (p. 114)


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