An Autonomous Agent

exploring the noosphere

Category: biography (Page 1 of 3)

Killing Time – Paul Feyerabend

Paul Feyerabend’s autobiography, Killing Time, is a nice summary of the life of a very interesting person. Very brief snapshot:

Growing up in Austria he eventually participated (drafted) in World War II and became a Nazi officer. Shot in the spine and disabled for life he went back to university where he studied music, theatre, and science. He became an important intellectual in the philosophy of science. After the war he participated and became a key member of the yearly meetings in Alpbach. His ideas were influenced by Karl Popper (initially), Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Felix Ehrenhaft. He eventually found his way to Berkeley, California where he became a professor. He taught mostly at Berkeley and ETH Zürich.

His life and ideas were intimately connected with many great thinkers of the 20th century: including Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, and Imre Lakatos. The autobiography is a good introduction to Feyerabend. Getting to know the background and personal experiences of the great thinker helps gain perspective while reading his philosophical works.

I wonder what, if anything, Feyerabend had to say about Alan Watts? In some ways I feel that Feyerabend has helped to add elements of Eastern Philosophy to Western Philosophy. For instance, Feyerabend’s principal that anything goes and his scientific anarchy seem to have a Zen or Taoist connection. His continual insistence that reality fails to be objectively expressed by language also suggests a connection, but I believe this was also expressed by Wittgenstein?

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014)

Aaron Swartz was a critical protagonist and fighter for open access. Sadly, for Swartz, centralized sources of power detest such proponents of freedom. These power hungry institutions are constantly trying to win legal control over various aspects of the internet. Restriction and control of the internet inevitably results in clever ways around such imposed sanctions. Why then, do they keep trying?! Money, as usual, is the answer. And it is the responsibility of all freedom supporting internet users to demand and fight for such rights as seem necessary to uphold the open and free internet. I hope that one day the US constitution includes internet access rights.
Swartz’s vision of the internet as a way to empower the individual is a powerful force for democracy and societal progress. I suggest watching the documentary and biography, The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.
Swartz ran into trouble when he tried to show the world how academic journal producers restrict access to their publications. They lockup knowledge and scientific discoveries inside virtual safes, where any combination of $$$$ will unlock the door. It is a shame. Academic knowledge should be shared and free to access; for a good example go to, also The Social Science Research Network.
P.S. I found out the other day that one of the coauthors of RSS was Aaron Swartz — when he was only 14 years old, wow! What would I do without RSS feeds!? They provide such a convenient and “simple” stream of articles, news, and updates. He was brilliant.

Golden Boy: The Harold Simmons Story – John J. Nance

I was a long term investor in Harold Simmons’ Keystone Consolidated Industries and now I am currently sitting on a nice return from an investment in Valhi. Being a coattail investor in his companies has paid off — if you can enter at a low price. Some have called him an “Evil Genius” and even a crook. However, I find his story to be an amazing story of business success, legal battles, and cunning financial maneuvers to become an icon of the rags-to-riches success story. His biography, written by John J. Nance and entitled Golden Boy: The Harold Simmons Story, provides a great account of the building of his empire.

Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine – Huston Smith

I was introduced to the works of Alan Watts by a meditation teacher about three years ago. Since then, I have been interested in mysticism, cognition, Buddhism, and scientism. Don’t ask me why, but these subjects just captivate me. I have been reading the works of various authors such as Douglas Hofstadter, Thich Nhat Hanh, Joseph Campbell, Stuart Kauffman, Francisco Varela, and Jiddu Krishnamurti; but what am I trying to learn; WHY?

Probably, this question will never be answered, but being only 23, I have barely began to experience the reality these authors seek to understand. I can live this reality and hopefully discover something worth telling others. Anyway, besides reading, Yoga and meditation have been my most direct experiences with the spiritual nature of the mind and universe. And just a few days ago I watched a video with Huston Smith. He makes me want to travel the world and experience other cultures. I have started reading his autobiography, Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine. Smith appears to be a fascinating individual and I think that I have much to learn from him. Perhaps you have read Smith? If not, I highly suggest that you do.

Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters – Matt Ridley

I started started reading Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, my first time reading anything by Matt Ridley. Ridley knows how to synthesize a great non-fiction novel from dry scientific facts. In this regard, I think he is similar to Carl Zimmer.

Page 1 of 3

Become a Friend of GNOME [ GNU Link] kde-user

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén