van Konynenburg dies
2. Three excellent books about philosophy
eyes and my
But what's your job? There's no
harm in asking that.
LUCIAN: I'm an anti-cheatist, an anti-quackist, an anti-liarist, and an
anti-inflated-egoist. I'm anti all the revolting types like that - and
there are plenty of them, as you know.
PHILOSOPHY [smiling]: Well, well! You're quite an anti-body,
LUCIAN: I certainly am. You can see why I've got myself aso much
disliked, and why I'm in such a dangerous situation. Not that I'm not
an expert pro-body too. I'm a pro-truthist, a pro-beautician, a
pro-sinceritist, and a pro-everything that's pro-worthy. But I don't
find much scope for exercisting my talents in that direction, whereas
thousands of people are always queuing up for the anti-treatment. In
fact I'm so out of practice as a probody, that I dare say I have lost
the knack of it by now - but I'm a real expert at the other part of my
PHILOSOPHY [seriously]: That's bad. They're opposite sides of a
coin, as it were. So don't specialize in one at the expense of the
other. They should merely be different aspects of the same fundamental
LUCIAN: Well, you know best, Philosophy. But I'm so constituted that I
can't help hating bad types and liking good ones.
(From: Lucian Fishing for phonies, in de
Turner-vertaling, p. 177-8)
I leave the above quotation standing for the moment, since I like it a
lot, and it also describes me - or an aspect of me. (See my Spiegeloog-columns,
There have been made a
number of corrections to the
on September 23, 2012.
And I improved the more
section at the end: The links now ought to work.
1. Rich van
I was notified
of the fact mentioned in the title by a correspondent, who also
directed me to this item on the Phoenix Rising Forums under the title
sad news from Rich Van Konynenburg's wife":
I am very sorry to read this. Rich van
Konynenburg, Ph.D., seems to me
to have been a good, kind and intelligent man, who did a lot for
patients with M.E., especially as he found a plausible explanation and
helpful therapy (for more than not of those who tried it and reported
on it) for M.E.
more about and from the man himself:
These contain links to his lecture in
Sweden, the second containing the most links, and some links to his
theories about M.E. and his protocol.
pity for people with M.E. is that he had his own theory, that seems
quite sensible to me, and also has some empirical evidence, as the
videos explain, and that he seemed honestly concerned about patients,
and quite dedicated to helping them, while he did have a fine
scientific education and a clear non-pretentious style of writing - and
speaking, as the videos show.
hope someone else - Dr Nathan perhaps, who cooperated with Dr Van
Konynenburg? - will try to keep this theory alive, to develop and test
it further, and I also do hope his texts and videos will be kept
available on the internet.
2. Three excellent books about philosophy
am more than anything else a philosopher, and that of a type that is
I am a scientific
realist, that is, one who holds that the best way to
understand one's experiences and reality is by assuming
there is a real world and investigating it by the methods of
science, and I have been most interested in philosphy in philosophy
of science, logic,
and the classical philosophers.
The is not the
for there is also art, and there is conversation with other people, and
there is one's memory of things one experinced, and there is individual
thinking and judging to the
best of one's abilities, and there are books of any kind on any subject
- but by and large real science has the best explanations.
with my eyes.
especially if I look at
the screen of my computer, I am rereading books in my own - large -
library, and thus arrived at the topic of this section.
That topic is that there are three excellent books on
philosophy, all written in the 20th Century, that seem to be read and
indeed to have been read by far too few:
The links are to the
articles on the writers. Here is some about each - and let me warn you
that none of the books I mentioned is easy, though all are well written
and well informed.
Hermann Weyl was a mathematician, and as such one of
the best of the previous century, who also wrote a lot about physics,
and some about philosophy.
The book "Philosophy of Mathematics and Natural
Science" started as a German article in a
German book about philosophy in 1926; was translated and extended in
1946, of which I owe a 1963 reprint, and - so Wikipedia said - it was
published again in 2009, with a new introduction.
It is a great book about philosophy, mathematics and science, because
Weyl knew very much of all three subjects, and had a very clear mind
and very clear style.
The only problem I can see is that it probably requires some prior
knowledge of philosophy,
mathematics and science, but if you have that you'll find Weyl's
judgments are excellent, and also that - so I found now, having not
looked into it for decades - quite a few writers on philosophy seem to
have "borrowed" from him without proper acknowledgement.
Also, it has a curiosity I know of no other book, that I start with a
quote to provide context and some instruction:
Weyl was an admirer of L.E.J. Brouwer,
the founder of intuitionism
(in mathematics) - and I quote from the last link, in fact from
to Weyl 1946,
'Brouwer made it clear, as I think beyond any doubt, that there is no
evidence supporting the belief in the existential character of the
totality of all natural numbers ... the sequence of numbers which grows
beyond any stage already reached by passing to the next number, is a
manifold of possibilities open towards infinity; it remains forever in
the status of creation, but is not a closed realm of things existing in
themselves. That we blindly converted one into the other is the true
source of our difficulties, including the antinomies – a source of more
fundamental nature than Russell's vicious circle principle indicated.
Brouwer opened our eyes and made us see how far classical mathematics,
nourished by a belief in the 'absolute' that transcends all human
possibilities of realization, goes beyond such statements as can claim
real meaning and truth founded on evidence." (Kleene (1952): Introduction
to Metamathematics, p. 48-49)
As it happens, I agree with this, but
that is not the curiosity I mentioned, which is that in Weyl's book
there are several quotations from Brouwer in Dutch, without
translation. One is on p. 61, one on p. 63 of my edition, and here it
is for the Dutch, in Dutch that is over a 100 years old (with a much
better spelling than nowadays):
neo-intuitionisme ziet het uiteenvallen van levensmomenten in
qualitatief verschillende deelen, die alleen gescheiden door den tijd
zich weer kunnen vereenigen, als oergebeuren in het menschelijk
intellect, en het abstraheeren van dit uiteenvallen van elken
gevoelsinhoud tot de intuitie van twee-enigheid zonder meer, als
oergebeuren van het wiskundig denken."
Weyl read at least 5 languages, and
probably more, and probably also read Dutch (which is not difficult for
an intelligent German), and also knew Brouwer personally. Since this is
close to Brouwer's fundamental ideas about the subject, here is a
Mathematics and Natural Science, p. 63, section 11)
neo-intuitionism looks upon this falling apart of mments of life into
qualitatively different parts, that can be united again only when
separated by time, as the primal event in the human intellect, and
[looks upon] the abstraction of this falling apart from any content of
feeling as the intuition of two-oneness as such, as the primal event of
I will not attempt to explain this,
but it does make sense.
Hao Wang also was a mathematician, who did most of
his work in mathematical logic. I have most of his logical books, and
they are all very clear and well written, but not about easy subjects.
He also was interested in philosophy, and was one of the few
intellectuals, next to Einstein, who had a personal relation with Kurt Gödel
(the discoveret of the incompleteness theorems).
He wrote several books about this,
of which I owe Reflections on
Kurt Gödel. Wang also succeeded in
Kurt Gödel write out some things
that Wang was allowed to publish, in his own From
Mathematics to Philosophy. Since Gödel was very reticent,
this was quite a feat.
Also, Wang's book is excellent in many ways, and is about mathematics,
logic, minds and machines, computing and knowledge, and contains some
fine criticisms of analyic philosophers. Again, as in Weyl's case, it
probably needs some prior knowledge of mathematical logic.
One special reason why I like it - indeed the same holds for Weyl's
book - is that it is by a very fine mathematician and mathematical
logician, about problems of philosophy and logic: These men have a very
interesting perspective, and also a better mind and greater
mathematical and logical competence than most philosophers, including analytic
Michael Devitt and his book are not as well known as
they deserve to be: He is an analytic
philosophers who upheld realism and truth in the time they were
under attack from many analytic
philosophers, and also many others.
His book is about realism and truth, as the title says, and I agree
with most of it, and with its general tenets, viz. scientific realism
and the importance of the correspondence
theory of truth.
The Wikipedia article on the subject is postmodernistically lousy, so I
linked to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The former, and
indeed also the latter, but less stridently and more sensibly objects
to the effect that a statement "s" is true if and only if what s means
is so in fact - that "we don't have independent access to reality".
This is a nonsensical point, credible only to folks who aspire to be academic
philosphers for lack of scientific talent: Any map
will show it is
nonsense, and besides it can be met by "How do you know?" or "Then you
must also believe my experience does not exist" or "Let me stand on
your toes to argue that you thus cannot possibly have direct access to
my mass ".
Besides, it is as convincing as "Things have no insides, because all we
ever see is their outsides", and we
to make assumptions to get anywhere at all outside our direct
experience - which is also given to us in terms of assumptions we have
Anyway... Devitt is concerned about that kind of nonsense, i.e. that
there is no reality and there is no truth, which is totally at variance
with all real science, and he gives many good arguments against many
who have maintained variants of those positions.
Also, it is quite important to argue this, not only cognitively because
of real science, but morally and politically, because real bullshitters of all
favor of argueing that there is no truth and there is no reality
precisely because then their own brand of bullshit cannot be
refuted and lying, propaganda and PR aka "Public
relations" become the norm and standard of what is "appropriate"
and "(politically) correct" in all things.
eyes and my M.E.
little to add to the
except that I have to take care with looking at my computer screen and
that I probably wasn't careful enough writing this.
the way of good intentions: easy to make, hard to keep,
especially if they go against the grain or habit.
P.S. My eye
necessary corrections have to be made later.