From TruthDig: What is a Thought?

Posted on Sunday, 22nd April 2012 @ 02:55 PM by Text Size A | A | A

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Back to the Dawn of the Modern World
Harvard professor and author Stephen Greenblatt won a Pulitzer Prize this week for his account of how an ancient Roman philosophical epic jump-started the modern world.

“The Swerve” tells the story of the role that poet-philosopher Lucretius’ “On the Nature of Things” played in the Renaissance, a three-century, cross-cultural explosion of the intellect that pulled Europe out of the Dark Ages. The poem argued for a godless universe and against religion and superstition in the name of humanism and prefigured modern atomic theory with the notion that matter was composed of tiny, indivisible particles that “swerve” and collide. —ARK

Harvard Gazette:

Once thought lost, the poem was rediscovered on a library shelf in the winter of 1417 by a Poggio Bracciolini. The copying and translation of the book fueled the Renaissance, inspiring artists such as Botticelli and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno; shaped the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein; and had a revolutionary influence on writers such as Montaigne and Shakespeare and even Thomas Jefferson.

Greenblatt’s book argues that the influence of Lucretius’ work washed over modern thought like a tidal wave, anticipating not only social thought, but whole branches of modern science.

“It argues that the universe consists of atoms, void, and nothing else,” Greenblatt explained earlier this year at the third in a series of book talks given by Harvard faculty and alumni as part of Wintersession programming. “The atoms are eternal and always moving. Everything comes into existence simply because of the random movement of atoms, which, given enough time, will form and reform, constantly experimenting with different configurations of matter from which will eventually emerge everything we know, and into which everything we know will collapse.”

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TAGS: books education epic history literature lucretius philosophy poem pulitzer prize renaissance stephen greenblatt swerve

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By jimmmmmy, April 21 at 9:46 am Link to this comment

Lucretius was certainly a strong contributor , but “jump started” thats a little strong. Its like the guy looking for The meanining of it all in The HitchHikers guide and after 10 million years of computer work is told 42, I think was the answer. These old prestige school profs. seem to feel the need to own history, they find a person or cause reseach it extensively and assign it as a main cause of Historical change, usually in a book This strkes me as a very conservative manifestation the university system as they become more and more for profit. Sort of like the 70s when the right hi-jacked Jesus and turned him into a corporatist.

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By jimmmmmy, April 21 at 9:31 am Link to this comment

I don’t want to agree with you that thought is atoms, but I’m not smart enough to know why. I’ve had the idea that thought is energy since childhood but energy as atoms is a step to far for me. I need to reference Sam Harris on this or Lawrence Krause on string theory. Can you flesh that idea out a little? I love the internet every day I find something intriguing and this is a poser. How many atoms in a thought, does a true thought require more or less atoms than a false one? How about conscicous and unconscious thoughts?

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By vector56, April 21 at 4:42 am Link to this comment

Brian Greene (Professor Mathematics & Physics Columbia University) suggests that our 3 dimensional reality might only be a “projection” from the two dimensional realm of “Black Holes”.

Consider it for a second; the 3D space and all that we know as “reality” could be a GUI generated by a natural machine(s) (black holes) that exist in “2D flatland!

“The holographic principle, simply put, is the idea that our three-dimensional reality is a projection of information stored on a distant, two-dimensional surface. Like the emblem on your credit card, the two-dimensional surface holds all the information you need to describe a three-dimensional object—in this case, our universe. Only when it is illuminated does it reveal a three-dimensional image.”

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By vector56, April 21 at 4:21 am Link to this comment

the bottom line christian96 is that bio-chemical-electrical impulses (thoughts) are just as “Natural” as any other activity within the biosphere.

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By vector56, April 21 at 4:12 am Link to this comment

“Are your thoughts composed of atoms?”

christian96; Yes!

Thoughts are “Bio-Electrical” impulses. Think (no pun intended) of it this way; Your computer used something called a GUI (Graphic User Interface) to display the “machine language of the computer (binary) in such a way where the “cyber” reality you work, play and explore looks very different from the ones and zeros the CPU can only see; you might say the CPU dwells in a kind of electronic “Flat Land”.
Now, lets say I took a hammer and smashed your CPU, hard drive and motherboard! Most here would assume that the GUI that was displayed on the Monitor (Windows) would not remain. Once the thing(s) that generated the GUI are destroyed the GUI which is in reality only a “projection” of what the hardware generated will dissipate.

Our minds are somewhat like a GUI; and our “wetware” (brains) act like the hardware in a computer that generate cyber reality. The “you” that you know is nothing more than a bio-electrical projection that springs from that grey matter between your ears. Damage the source of the projection, and the GUI will stop!

Any more questions?

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By christian96, April 20 at 7:07 pm Link to this comment

Vector56—-Are your thoughts composed of atoms?

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By vector56, April 20 at 3:45 pm Link to this comment

Amazing! Reality itself is a creation of the “half spin” of an Electron.

Humbling isn’t it?

A few years a go I got into an argument with an old friend who insisted on dividing reality into two basic categories; Natural and Man (human) made.

My friend insisted that everything that was sprang from the mind of Man was to be considered “Man made”: plastic, science, culture, technology, literature,…
All the other “stuff” outside of Man; subatomic interaction, the movement of the stars and planets, and the evolution of the biosphere itself was “Nature”.

Just as I take issue with my religious friends separating reality into “Natural” and Super Natural” realms I also have a problem with the separation of humanity (man) and the natural world.

My logic goes like this;

If Man (humanity) is part of the biosphere and everything within the biosphere is “natural”, should it not follow that all that springs from the mind of humanity is also natural? If this is so, then the separation of “Man made” and “Natural” is a facade created only to stroke

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