Hargrove Annual Report 2005: Jim
Photo Gallery Jim and Linda Charles Claire St. Croix Other Stuff

What this is all about

Over the years, Jim has included some weird nonsense in these annual reports under the heading "Philosophical Nonsense." This page collects some of these for your perusal and comment.

Old Comments

From 1992: Jim has abandoned his search for the answer to the question, “Why is there anything?” Now he is working on the simpler question, “Is there anything?”

From 1993: It has taken some time, but now I think I can state unequivocally that the answer is, “No. You’re imagining everything. Or maybe I’m imagining everything. Probably we’re both imagining everything.

From 2002: Jim has now decided that the question, “Is there anything at all?” doesn’t make sense, since the question depends on what the definition of is is. (Thank you Mr. Clinton, for this great quote.) You may have come to that conclusion already. Now, Jim is working on defining a consistent world view based on the First Principle: Reality exists.

Where does this leave us?

It seems that we can now state Jim's Second Principle of Reality, a sort of Zen-like observation:

We can be certain of only one thing: We can never be certain of anything, even this statement.

Descartes began his philosophical ruminations by doubting everything, then concluding that he couldn't doubt his own existence. "Cogito, ergo sum," he wrote. "I think, therefore I am." As Nietzsche observed, this is nonsense. Descartes didn't really apply himself. Anyone who works at it can easily doubt his own existence. All that Descartes really proved was that he thinks he exists. This suggests to me that we have to take reality as an axiom as I have done. That still leaves the hard problem of determining what is really real.

This is made more difficult by the notion that all knowledge is inherently imperfect, as stated above. Everything is a bit more complicated that it first appears. Consider the simple problem of finding the path of a thrown ball. We learn the formula for that in high school physics. The path is a parabola determined by the initial velocity of the ball and the force of gravity. However, as we delve into the problem, we learn that we need to consider air resistance, the friction between the thrower's fingers and the surface of the ball, the fact that the surface of the ball is not uniform, indeed, the entire ball is not uniform, and finally, the ball is probably spinning.

Einstein once commented that if a theory is beautiful, it doesn't represent nature, and if it represents nature, it is not beautiful.


Carl Sagan in Cosmos:

The cosmos is within us. We are made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself…We've begun at last to wonder about our origins, star stuff contemplating the stars, organized collections of ten billion billion billion atoms contemplating the evolution of matter, tracing that long path by which it arrived at consciousness.... Our obligation to survive and flourish is owed not just to ourselves but also to that cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring.

Stephen Weinberg: Closing of a speech to the FFRF:

I am all in favor of a dialogue between science and religion, but not a constructive dialogue. One of the great achievements of science has been, if not to make it impossible for intelligent people to be religious, then at least to make it possible for them not to be religious. We should not retreat from this accomplishment.


©2005-6 The Other Jim Hargrove About us Contact Us