me: Real science, real intellectuals, Chinese,
chess and much more
all three men, though so different, shared certain basic ideas
about human knowledge: these included, but were not limited to,
the importance of linguistic precision, the need for broad-based
comparative studies, the role of clarity in argument, the need
for thorough scrutiny of philosophical and theological
principles, boldness of explication, and clarity.
-- Jonathan Spence, about three real intellectuals of the 17th C
I am still not well and sad, and still not inclined to write about
various topics, but then I am getting somewhat better and less sad, and I
do like to write about what I really like.
So here is just a very short bit on someone I wrote before on the site,
but can't presently find fast, and who I also quoted to show that in the
17th Century some scientists were as sensible about real scientists as
real scientists are now, namely Robert Boyle, here is quite a lot more on
the man and his many interests, talents and activities and indeed some of
his friends and co-workers:
This is the text of Jonathan Spence's (professor emeritus of history at
Yale) 2010 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, and I liked it very much,
because it really explains what real intellectuals are and always were:
intellectually bright men and women who are most interested in using
their minds to find knowledge, and because it tells quite a lot of
interesting things about things that interest me, such as about science,
philosophy, China and Chinese in various respects, chess, and some very
intelligent and universally interestedd polymaths in the 17th Century.
It also relates many things I don't know, such as that there was a
Chinese who had Latin in England in the 1680ies, who also met Robert
Boyle and had his own portrait painted, and about one Thomas Hyde I had
never heard about, who among other things must have been an amazing
linguist (what with serious interests in Chinese, Persian, Hebrew,
Arabic, Syriac and his cooperation with Shen Fuzong, the Chinese who had
learned Latin in China from Jesuits, and who travelled to England in the
Here is a little quoted from Spence's lecture on the manner of men real
intellectuals are, and what they are interestes in besides foreign
languages, mathematics, physics, philosophy, science, books, and many
other things, and how they collaborate:
Shen’s presence in England intrigued both Hyde and Boyle, but did not
intrude in any cumbersome way. For the relationship between Hyde and
Boyle went back to the 1660s, and from that time onward they had
corresponded at fairly regular intervals. Their letters ranged widely,
but the majority of them seem to have focused on problems of language or
scientific experiments, due to Hyde’s stated wish to “consult chiefly
such authors as have not been perused by Europeans.” They discussed
Arabic and Persian texts, Malay grammars and Bible translations into
Malay, Dutch translations from the Malay, and how to access books from
Tangier, Constantinople and Bombay. Among the many scientific subjects
they explored were the chemical constituents of sal ammoniac and amber,
the efficacy (or lack of it) in medical diagnoses made from measuring the
pulse, the effectiveness of certain Mexican herbs, rare plant seeds, the
properties of vinegar and nitre, current studies of human blood and air,
the nature of papyrus, the writings of Ramon Llull and the use of elixirs
Here is Hyde to Boyle, on Easter Sunday 1677, quoted by Spence, with a
fine idea, and some ten years before knowing of and meeting Shen Fuzong:
“It were to be wished, that we had in Oxford a college for the
maintenance of some able men out of the several eastern countries; it
would be a great help to all eastern learning: …such eastern men being
amongst us, would enable us to be so accustomed to the true and genuine
pronunciation of those languages, that so our emissaries might be enabled
to discourse readily with the natives; for book learning alone will not
do it. And therefore I, for my own both benefit and pleasure, do catch at
all opportunities of discoursing with the natives of those countries in
their own languages.”
In brief: This is a very interesting lecture, with many fascinating
details about many things, mostly not mentioned here, that also very well
shows what real intellectuals are like, which is a topic that in these
modern times in which I live, in which most tenured academics I met and
know of are not real intellectuals like the men mentioned by name in this
text so evidently were or are, is of considerable importance.
To end with, here are Spence's concluding words from his lecture, that
show - in my terms - what all real intellectuals have in common, at
least. Boyle died in 1691, to locate things in time:
When one of the memorial speakers at Boyle’s funeral asked Hyde if he had
any last thoughts on his friend, Hyde replied yes, he had one thought to
share. Boyle had told him that, whenever he went to English church
services, he always carried with him a volume of the relevant scriptures
either in Greek or in Hebrew. That way, Boyle told Hyde, he “alwaies had
in his hand the original, wondering to heare our English translation so
different from it.” Shen, like Hyde, would have known just what larger
point about cultural interchange Boyle was making; for all three men,
though so different, shared certain basic ideas about human knowledge:
these included, but were not limited to, the importance of linguistic
precision, the need for broad-based comparative studies, the role of
clarity in argument, the need for thorough scrutiny of philosophical and
theological principles, boldness of explication, and clarity. Theirs,
though brief, had been a real meeting of the minds. And the values they
shared remain, well over three hundred years later, the kind that we can
seek to practice even in our own hurried lives.
P.S. As to the new forum: It's still advancing and still not open
As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):
1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor
of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about
maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter
of one's beliefs:
is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon
7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.
me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!
No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.
I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,
Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm,
Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below,
Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!"
- (Shelley, "Prometheus Unbound")
"It was from this time that I developed my way of judging the
Chinese by dividing them into two kinds: one humane and one not. "
ME -Documentation and
ME - Resources
ME - Resources
needs is a Work In Progress that hasn't progressed today.
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