Saturday, July 31, 2010

A. Einstein on Socialism

"Why Socialism?"


Albert Einstein

May 1949

Monthly Review

Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.

Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has—as is well known—been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.

But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called "the predatory phase" of human development. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.

Second, socialism is directed towards a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and—if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous—are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

Innumerable voices have been asserting for some time now that human society is passing through a crisis, that its stability has been gravely shattered. It is characteristic of such a situation that individuals feel indifferent or even hostile toward the group, small or large, to which they belong. In order to illustrate my meaning, let me record here a personal experience. I recently discussed with an intelligent and well-disposed man the threat of another war, which in my opinion would seriously endanger the existence of mankind, and I remarked that only a supra-national organization would offer protection from that danger. Thereupon my visitor, very calmly and coolly, said to me: "Why are you so deeply opposed to the disappearance of the human race?"

I am sure that as little as a century ago no one would have so lightly made a statement of this kind. It is the statement of a man who has striven in vain to attain an equilibrium within himself and has more or less lost hope of succeeding. It is the expression of a painful solitude and isolation from which so many people are suffering in these days. What is the cause? Is there a way out?

It is easy to raise such questions, but difficult to answer them with any degree of assurance. I must try, however, as best I can, although I am very conscious of the fact that our feelings and strivings are often contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in easy and simple formulas.

Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting, strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society. It is quite possible that the relative strength of these two drives is, in the main, fixed by inheritance. But the personality that finally emerges is largely formed by the environment in which a man happens to find himself during his development, by the structure of the society in which he grows up, by the tradition of that society, and by its appraisal of particular types of behavior. The abstract concept "society" means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations. The individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by himself; but he depends so much upon society—in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence—that it is impossible to think of him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society. It is "society" which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of work, language, the forms of thought, and most of the content of thought; his life is made possible through the labor and the accomplishments of the many millions past and present who are all hidden behind the small word “society.”

It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolished—just as in the case of ants and bees. However, while the whole life process of ants and bees is fixed down to the smallest detail by rigid, hereditary instincts, the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable and susceptible to change. Memory, the capacity to make new combinations, the gift of oral communication have made possible developments among human being which are not dictated by biological necessities. Such developments manifest themselves in traditions, institutions, and organizations; in literature; in scientific and engineering accomplishments; in works of art. This explains how it happens that, in a certain sense, man can influence his life through his own conduct, and that in this process conscious thinking and wanting can play a part.

Man acquires at birth, through heredity, a biological constitution which we must consider fixed and unalterable, including the natural urges which are characteristic of the human species. In addition, during his lifetime, he acquires a cultural constitution which he adopts from society through communication and through many other types of influences. It is this cultural constitution which, with the passage of time, is subject to change and which determines to a very large extent the relationship between the individual and society. Modern anthropology has taught us, through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organization which predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.

If we ask ourselves how the structure of society and the cultural attitude of man should be changed in order to make human life as satisfying as possible, we should constantly be conscious of the fact that there are certain conditions which we are unable to modify. As mentioned before, the biological nature of man is, for all practical purposes, not subject to change. Furthermore, technological and demographic developments of the last few centuries have created conditions which are here to stay. In relatively densely settled populations with the goods which are indispensable to their continued existence, an extreme division of labor and a highly-centralized productive apparatus are absolutely necessary. The time—which, looking back, seems so idyllic—is gone forever when individuals or relatively small groups could be completely self-sufficient. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that mankind constitutes even now a planetary community of production and consumption.

I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor—not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production—that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods—may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.

For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call “workers” all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production—although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. Insofar as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists' requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.

Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized by two main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the “free labor contract” for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present day economy does not differ much from “pure” capitalism.

Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an “army of unemployed” almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers' goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

Clarity about the aims and problems of socialism is of greatest significance in our age of transition. Since, under present circumstances, free and unhindered discussion of these problems has come under a powerful taboo, I consider the foundation of this magazine to be an important public service.

Werner Heisenberg's thoughts on modern science

"Theory of Uncertainty: we cannot know something as its exists "in and of itself"--because our very action to observe this thing has a shaping effect on it; it responds to our efforts to observe it--thus making a "neutral" observation impossible."

From Werner Heisenberg's Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science [1958] Chapter Five...

"The Development of Philosophical Ideas Since Descartes in Comparison with the New Situation in Quantum Theory"

IN THE two thousand years that followed the culmination of Greek science and culture in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. the human mind was to a large extent occupied with problems of a different kind from those of the early period. In the first centuries of Greek culture the strongest impulse had come from the immediate reality of the world in which we live and which we perceive by our senses. This reality was full of life and there was no good reason to stress the distinction between matter and mind or between body and soul. But in the philosophy of Plato one already sees that another reality begins to become stronger.

In the famous simile of the cave Plato compares men to prisoners in a cave who are bound and can look in only one direction. They have a fire behind them and see on a wall the shadows of themselves and of objects behind them. Since they see nothing but the shadows, they regard those shadows as real and are not aware of the objects. Finally one of the prisoners escapes and comes from the cave into the light of the sun. For the first time he sees real things and realises that he had been deceived hitherto by the shadows. For the first time he knows the truth and thinks only with sorrow of his long life in the darkness. The real philosopher is the prisoner who has escaped from the cave into the light of truth, he is the one who possesses real knowledge. This immediate connection with truth or, we may in the Christian sense say, with God is the new reality that has begun to become stronger than the reality of the world as perceived by our senses. The immediate connection with God happens within the human soul, not in the world, and this was the problem that occupied human thought more than anything else in the two thousand years following Plato. In this period the eyes of the philosophers were directed toward the human soul and its relation to God, to the problems of ethics, and to the interpretation of the revelation but not to the outer world. It was only in the time of the Italian Renaissance that again a gradual change of the human mind could be seen, which resulted finally in a revival of the interest in nature.

The great development of natural science since the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was preceded and accompanied by a development of philosophical ideas which were closely connected with the fundamental concepts of science. It may therefore be instructive to comment on these ideas from the position that has finally been reached by modern science in our time.

The first great philosopher of this new period of science was Rene Descartes who lived in the first half of the seventeenth century. Those of his ideas that are most important for the development of scientific thinking are contained in his Discourse on Method. On the basis of doubt and logical reasoning he tries to find a completely new and as he thinks solid ground for a philosophical system. He does not accept revelation as such a basis nor does he want to accept uncritically what is perceived by the senses. So he starts with his method of doubt. He casts his doubt upon that which our senses tell us about the results of our reasoning and finally he arrives at his famous sentence: ''cogito ergo sum'. I cannot doubt my existence since it follows from the fact that I am thinking. After establishing the existence of the I in this way he proceeds to prove the existence of God essentially on the lines of scholastic philosophy. Finally the existence of the world follows from the fact that God had given me a strong inclination to believe in the existence of the world, and it is simply impossible that God should have deceived me.

This basis of the philosophy of Descartes is radically different from that of the ancient Greek philosophers. Here the starting point is not a fundamental principle or substance, but the attempt of a fundamental knowledge. And Descartes realises that what we know about our mind is more certain than what we know about the outer world. But already his starting point with the 'triangle' God - Word - I simplifies in a dangerous way the basis for further reasoning. The division between matter and mind or between soul and body, which had started in Plato's philosophy, is now complete. God is separated both from the I and from the world. God in fast is raised so high above the world and men that He finally appears in the philosophy of Descartes only as a common point of reference that establishes the relation between the I and the world.

While ancient Greek philosophy had tried to find order in the infinite variety of things and events by looking for some fundamental unifying principle, Descartes tries to establish the order through some fundamental division. But the three parts which result from the division lose some of their essence when any one part is considered as separated from the other two parts. If one uses the fundamental concepts of Descartes at all, it is essential that God is in the world and in the I and it is also essential that the I cannot be really separated from the world. Of course Descartes knew the undisputable necessity of the connection, but philosophy and natural science in the following period developed on the basis of the polarity between the 'res cogitans' and the 'res extensa', and natural science concentrated its interest on the 'res extensa'. The influence of the Cartesian division on human thought in the following centuries can hardly be overestimated, but it is just this division which we have to criticise later from the development of physics in our time.

Of course it would be wrong to say that Descartes, through his new method in philosophy, has given a new direction to human thought. What he actually did was to formulate for the first time a trend in human thinking that could already be seen during the Renaissance in Italy and in the Reformation. There was the revival of interest in mathematics which expressed an increasing influence of Platonic elements in philosophy, and the insistence on personal religion. The growing interest in mathematics favoured a philosophical system that started from logical reasoning and tried by this method to arrive at some truth that was as certain as a mathematical conclusion. The insistence on personal religion separated the I and its relation to God from the world. The interest in the combination of empirical knowledge with mathematics as seen in the work of Galileo was perhaps partly due to the possibility of arriving in this way at some knowledge that could be kept apart completely from the theological disputes raised by the Reformation. This empirical knowledge could be formulated without speaking about God or about ourselves and favoured the separation of the three fundamental concepts God-World-l or the separation between 'res cogitans' and 'res extensa'. In this period there was in some cases an explicit agreement among the pioneers of empirical science that in their discussions the name of God or a fundamental cause should not be mentioned.

On the other hand, the difficulties of the separation could be clearly seen from the beginning. In the distinction, for instance, between the 'res cogitans' and the 'res extensa' Descartes was forced to put the animals entirely on the side of the 'res extensa'. Therefore, the animals and the plants were not essentially different from machines, their behaviour was completely determined by material causes. But it has always seemed difficult to deny completely the existence of some kind of soul in the animals, and it seems to us that the older concept of soul for instance in the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas was more natural and less forced than the Cartesian concept of the 'es cognitans', even if we are convinced that the laws of physics and chemistry are strictly valid in living organisms. One of the later consequences of this view of Descartes was that, if animals were simply considered as machines, it was difficult not to think the same about men. Since, on the other hand, the 'res cogitans' and the 'res extensa' were taken as completely different in their essence. it did not seem possible that they could act upon each other. Therefore. in order to preserve complete parallelism between the experiences of the mind and of the body, the mind also was in its activities completely determined by laws which corresponded to the laws of physics and chemistry. Here the question of the possibility of 'free will' arose. Obviously this whole description is somewhat artificial and shows the grave defects of the Cartesian partition.

On the other hand in natural science the partition was for .several centuries extremely successful. The mechanics of Newton and all the other parts of classical physics constructed after its model started from the assumption that one can describe the world without speaking about God or ourselves. This possibility soon seemed almost a necessary condition for natural science in general.

But at this point the situation changed to some extent through quantum theory and therefore we may now come to a comparison of Descartes's philosophical system with our present situation in modern physics. It has been pointed out before that in the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory we can indeed proceed without mentioning ourselves as individuals, but we cannot disregard the fact that natural science is formed by men. Natural science does not simply describe and explain nature; it is a part of the interplay between nature and ourselves; it describes nature as exposed to our method of questioning. This was a possibility of which Descartes could not have thought, but it makes the sharp separation between the world and the I impossible.

If one follows the great difficulty which even eminent scientists like Einstein had in understanding and accepting the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory, one can trace the roots of this difficulty to the Cartesian partition. This partition has penetrated deeply into the human mind during the three centuries following Descartes and it will take a long time for it to be replaced by a really different attitude toward the problem of reality.

The position to which the Cartesian partition has led with respect to the 'res extensa' was what one may call metaphysical realism. The world, i.e., the extended things, 'exist'. This is to be distinguished from practical realism, and the different forms of realism may be described as follows: We 'objectivate' a statement if we claim that its content does not depend on the conditions under which it can be verified. Practical realism assumes that there are statements that can be objectivated and that in fact the largest part of our experience in daily life consists of such statements. Dogmatic realism claims that there are no statements concerning the material world that cannot be objectivated. Practical realism has always been and will always be an essential part of natural science. Dogmatic realism, however, is, as we see it now, not a necessary condition for natural science.

But it has in the past played a very important role in the development of science; actually the position of classical physics is that of dogmatic realism. It is only through quantum theory that we have learned that exact science is possible without the basis of dogmatic realism. When Einstein has criticised quantum theory he has done so from the basis of dogmatic realism. This is a very natural attitude. Every scientist who does research work feels that he is looking for something that is objectively true. His statements are not meant to depend upon the conditions under which they can be verified. Especially in physics the fast that we can explain nature by simple mathematical laws tells us that here we have met some genuine feature of reality, not something that we have - in any meaning of the word - invented ourselves. l his is the situation which Einstein had in mind when he took dogmatic realism as the basis for natural science. But quantum theory is in itself an example for the possibility of explaining nature by means of simple mathematical laws without this basis. These laws may perhaps not seem quite simple when one compares them with Newtonian mechanics. But, judging from the enormous complexity of the phenomena which are to be explained (for instance} the line spectra of complicated atoms), the mathematical scheme of quantum theory is comparatively simple. Natural science is actually possible without the basis of dogmatic realism.

Metaphysical realism goes one step further than dogmatic realism by saying that 'the things really exist'. This is in fact what Descartes tried to prove by the argument that 'God cannot have deceived us.' The statement that the things really exist is different from the statement of dogmatic realism in so far as here the word 'exist' occurs, which is also meant in the other statement 'cogito ergo sum' . . . 'I think, therefore I am.' But it is difficult to see what is meant at this point that is not yet contained in the thesis of dogmatic realism; and this leads us to a general criticism of the statement 'cogito ergo sum', which Descartes considered as the solid ground on which he could build his system. It is in fact true that this statement has the certainty of a mathematical conclusion, if the words 'cogito' and 'sum' are defined in the usual way or, to put it more cautiously and at the same time more critically, if the words are so defined that the statement follows. But this does not tell us anything about how far we can use the concepts of 'thinking' and 'being' in finding our way. It is finally in a very general sense always an empirical question how far our concepts can be applied.

The difficulty of metaphysical realism was felt soon after Descartes and became the starting point for the empiristic philosophy, for sensualism and positivism.

The three philosophers who can be taken as representatives for early empiristic philosophy are Locke, Berkeley and Hume. Locke holds, contrary to Descartes, that all knowledge is ultimately founded in experience. This experience may be sensation or perception of the operation of our own mind. Knowledge, so Locke states, is the perception of the agreement or disagreement of two ideas. The next step was taken by Berkeley. If actually all our knowledge is derived from perception, there is no meaning in the statement that the things really exist; because if the perception is given it cannot possibly make any difference whether the things exist or do not exist. Therefore, to be perceived is identical with existence. This line of argument then was extended to an extreme scepticism by Hume, who denied induction and causation and thereby arrived at a conclusion which if taken seriously would destroy the basis of all empirical science.

The criticism of metaphysical realism which has been expressed in empiristic philosophy is certainly justified in so far as it is a warning against the naive use of the term 'existence'. The positive statements of this philosophy can be criticised on similar lines. Our perceptions are not primarily bundles of colours or sounds; what we perceive is already perceived as something, the accent here being on the word 'thing', and therefore it is doubtful whether we gain anything by taking the perceptions instead of the things as the ultimate elements of reality.

The underlying difficulty has been clearly recognised by modern positivism. This line of thought expresses criticism against the naive use of certain terms like 'thing', 'perception', 'existence' by the general postulate that the question whether a given sentence has any meaning at all should always be thoroughly and critically examined. This postulate and its underlying attitude are derived from mathematical logic. The procedure of natural science is pictured as an attachment of symbols to the phenomena. The symbols can, as in mathematics, be combined according to certain rules, and in this way statements about the phenomena can be represented by combinations of symbols. However! a combination of symbols that does not comply with the rules is not wrong but conveys no meaning.

The obvious difficulty in this argument is the lack of any general criterion as to when a sentence should be considered as meaningless. A definite decision is possible only when the sentence belongs to a closed system of concepts and axioms, which in the development of natural science will be rather the exception than the rule. In some cases the conjecture that a certain sentence is meaningless has historically led to important progress, for it opened the way to the establishment of new connections which would have been impossible if the sentence had a meaning. An example in quantum theory that has already been discussed is the sentence: 'In which orbit does the electron move around the nucleus?' But generally the positivistic scheme taken from mathematical logic is too narrow in a description of nature which necessarily uses words and concepts that are only vaguely defined.

The philosophic thesis that all knowledge is ultimately founded in experience has in the end led to a postulate concerning the logical clarification of any statement about nature. Such a postulate may have seemed justified in the period of classical physics, but since quantum theory we have learned that it cannot be fulfilled. The words 'position' and 'velocity' of an electron, € for instance, seemed perfectly well defined as to both their meaning and their possible connections. and in fact they were clearly defined concepts within the mathematical framework of Newtonian mechanics. But actually they were not well defined, as is seen from the relations of uncertainty. One may say that regarding their position in Newtonian mechanics they were well defined, hut in their relation to nature they were not. This shows that we can never know beforehand which limitations will be put on the applicability of certain concepts by the extension of our knowledge into the remote parts of nature, into which we can only penetrate with the most elaborate tools. Therefore, in the process of penetration we are bound sometimes to use our concepts in a way which is not justified and which carries no meaning. Insistence on the postulate of complete logical clarification would make science impossible. We are reminded here by modern physics of the old wisdom that the one who insists on never uttering an error must remain silent.

A combination of those two lines of thought that started from Descartes, on the one side, and from Locke and Berkeley. on the other, was attempted in the philosophy of Kant, who was the founder of German idealism. That part of his work which is important in comparison with the results of modern physics is contained in The Critique of Pure Reason. He takes up the question whether knowledge is only founded in experience or can come from other sources, and he arrives at the conclusion that our knowledge is in part 'a priori' and not inferred inductively from experience. Therefore, he distinguishes between 'empirical' knowledge and knowledge that is 'a priori'. At the same time he distinguishes between 'analytic' and 'synthetic' propositions. Analytic propositions follow simply from logic, and their denial would lead to self-contradiction. Propositions that are not 'analytic' are called 'synthetic'.

What is, according to Kant, the criterion for knowledge being 'a priori'? Kant agrees that all knowledge starts with experience but he adds that it is not always derived from experience. It is true that experience teaches us that a certain thing has such or such properties, but it does not teach us that it could not be different. Therefore, if a proposition is thought together with its necessity it must be 'a priori'. Experience never gives to its judgments complete generality. For instance, the sentence 'The sun rises every morning' means that we know no exception to this rule in the past and that we expect it to hold in future. But we can imagine exceptions to the rule. If a judgment is stated with complete generality, therefore, if it is impossible to imagine any exception, it must be 'a priori'. An analytic judgment is always 'a priori'; even if a child learns arithmetic from playing with marbles, he need not later go back to experience to know that 'two and two are four'. Empirical knowledge, on the other hand, is synthetic.

But are synthetic judgments a priori possible? Kant tries to prove this by giving examples in which the above criteria seem to be fulfilled. Space and time are, he says, a priori forms of pure intuition. In the case of space he gives the following metaphysical arguments:

1. Space is not an empirical concept, abstracted from other experiences, for space is presupposed in referring sensations to something external, and external experience is only possible through the presentation of space.
2. Space is a necessary presentation a priori, which underlies all external perceptions; for we cannot imagine that there should be no space, although we can imagine that there should be nothing in space.
3. Space is not a discursive or general concept of the relations of things in general, for there is only one space, of which what we call 'spaces' are parts, not instances.
4. Space is presented as an infinite given magnitude, which holds within itself all the parts of space; this relation is different from that of a concept to its instances, and therefore space is not a concept but a form of intuition.

These arguments shall not be discussed here. They are mentioned merely as examples for the general type of proof that Kant has in mind for the synthetic judgments a priori.

With regard to physics Kant took as a priori, besides space and time, the law of causality and the concept of substance. In a later stage of his work he tried to include the law of conservation of matter, the equality of 'actio and reactio' and even the law of gravitation. No physicist would be willing to follow Kant here, if the term 'a priori' is used in the absolute sense that was given to it by Kant. In mathematics Kant took Euclidean geometry as 'a priori'.

Before we compare these doctrines of Kant with the results of modern physics we must mention another part of his work, to which we will have to refer later. The disagreeable question whether 'the things really exist', which had given rise to empiristic philosophy, occurred also in Kant's system. But Kant has not followed the line of Berkeley and Hume, though that would have been logically consistent. He kept the notion of the 'thing-in-itself' as different from the percept, and in this way kept some connection with realism.

Coming now to the comparison of Kant's doctrines with modern physics, it looks in the first moment as though his central concept of the 'synthetic judgments a priori' had been completely annihilated by the discoveries of our century. The theory of relativity has changed our views on space and time, it has in fact revealed entirely new features of space and time, of which nothing is seen in Kant's a priori forms of pure intuition. The law of causality is no longer applied in quantum theory and the law of conservation of matter is no longer true for the elementary particles. Obviously Kant could not have foreseen the new discoveries, but since he was convinced that his concepts would be 'the basis of any future metaphysics that can be called science' it is interesting to see where his arguments have been wrong.

As example we take the law of causality. Kant says that whenever we observe an event we assume that there is a foregoing event from which the other event must follow according to some rule. This is, as Kant states, the basis of all scientific work. In this discussion it is not important whether or not we can always find the foregoing event from which the other one followed. Actually we can find it in many cases. But even if we cannot, nothing can prevent us from asking what this foregoing event might have been and to look for it. Therefore, the law of causality is reduced to the method of scientific research; it is the condition which makes science possible. Since we actually apply this method, the law of causality is 'a priori' and is not derived from experience.

Is this true in atomic physics? Let us consider a radium atom, which can emit an a-particle. The time for the emission of the a-particle cannot be predicted. We can only say that in the average the emission will take place in about two-thousand years. Therefore, when we observe the emission we do not actually look for a foregoing event from which the emission must according to a rule follow. Logically it would be quite possible to look for such a foregoing event, and we need not be discouraged by the fact that hitherto none has been found. But why has the scientific method actually changed in this very fundamental question since Kant?

Two possible answers can be given to that question. The one is: We have been convinced by experience that the laws of quantum theory are correct and, if they are, we know that a foregoing event as cause for the emission at a given time cannot be found. The other answer is: We know the foregoing event, but not quite accurately. We know the forces in the atomic nucleus that are responsible for the emission of the a-particle. But this knowledge contains the uncertainty which is brought about by the interaction between the nucleus and the rest of the world. If we wanted to know why the ~~-particle was emitted at that particular time we would have to know the microscopic structure of the whole world including ourselves, and that is impossible. Therefore, Kant's arguments for the a priori character of the law of causality no longer apply.

A similar discussion could be given on the a priori character of space and time as forms of intuition. The result would be the same. The a priori concepts which Kant considered an undisputable truth are no longer contained in the scientific system of modern physics.

Still they form an essential part Of this system in a somewhat different sense. In the discussion of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory it has been emphasised that we use the classical concepts in describing our experimental equipment and more generally in describing that part of the world which does not belong to the object of the experiment. The use of these concepts, including space, time and causality, is in fact the condition for observing atomic events and is, in this sense of the word, 'a priori'. What Kant had not foreseen was that these a priori concepts can be the conditions for science and at the same time can have only a limited range of applicability. When we make an experiment we have to assume a causal chain of events that leads from the atomic event through the apparatus finally to the eye of the observer; if this causal chain was not assumed, nothing could be known about the atomic event. Still we must keep in mind that classical physics and causality have only a limited range of applicability. It was the fundamental paradox of quantum theory that could not be foreseen by Kant. Modern physics has changed Kant's statement about the possibility of synthetic judgments a priori from a metaphysical one into a practical one. The synthetic judgments a priori thereby have the character of a relative truth.

If one reinterprets the Kantian 'a priori' in this way, there is no reason to consider the perceptions rather than the things as given. Just as in classical physics, we can speak about those events that are not observed in the same manner as about those that are observed. Therefore, practical realism is a natural part of the reinterpretation. Considering the Kantian 'thing-in-itself' Kant had pointed out that we cannot conclude anything from the perception about the 'thing-in-itself'. This statement has, as Weizsäcker has noticed. its formal analogy in the fact that in spite of the use of the classical concepts in all the experiments a non-classical behaviour of the atomic objects is possible. The 'thing-in-itself' is for the atomic physicist, if he uses this concept at all, finally a mathematical structure: but this structure is - contrary to Kant - indirectly deduced from experience.

In this reinterpretation the Kantian 'a priori' is indirectly connected with experience in so far as it has been formed through the development of the human mind in a very distant past. Following this argument the biologist Lorentz has once compared the 'a priori' concepts with forms of behaviour that in animals are called 'inherited or innate schemes'. It is in fact quite plausible that for certain primitive animals space and time are different from what Kant calls our 'pure intuition' of space and time. The latter may belong to the species 'man', but not to the world as independent of men. But we are perhaps entering into too hypothetical discussions by following this biological comment on the 'a priori'. It was mentioned here merely as an example of how the term 'relative truth' in connection with the Kantian 'a priori' can possibly be interpreted.

Modern physics has been used here as an example or, we may say, as a model to check the results of some important philosophic systems of the past, which of course were meant to hold in a much wider field. What we have learned especially from the discussion of the philosophies of Descartes and Kant may perhaps be stated in the following way:

Any concepts or words which have been formed in the past through the interplay between the world and ourselves are not really sharply defined with respect to their meaning: that is to say, we do not know exactly how far they will help us in finding our way in the world. We often know that they can be applied to a wide range of inner or outer experience, but we practically never know precisely the limits of their applicability. This is true even of the simplest and most general concepts like 'existence' and 'space and time'. Therefore, it will never be possible by pure reason to arrive at some absolute truth.

The concepts may, however, be sharply defined with regard to their connections. This is actually the fact when the concepts become a part of a system of axioms and definitions which can be expressed consistently by a mathematical scheme. Such a group of connected concepts may be applicable to a wide field of experience and will help us to find our way in this field. But the limits of the applicability will in general not be known, at least not completely.

Even if we realize that the meaning of a concept is never defined with absolute precision, some concepts form an integral part of scientific methods, since they represent for the time being the final result of the development of human thought in the past, even in a very remote past; they may even be inherited and are in any case the indispensable tools for doing scientific work in our time. In this sense they can be practically a priori. But further limitations of their applicability may be found in the future.

Werner Heisenberg [Wikipedia]

Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science


Werner Heisenberg

ISBN-10: 1573926949
ISBN-13: 978-1573926942

Deceased--Cécile Aubry

Brigitte [Bridget] Bardot

Cécile Aubry
August 3rd, 1928 to July 19th, 2010

I opened this post with a well-known movie star and personality...Brigitte [Bridget] Bardot who is around 76 now. But, I don't remember Cécile Aubry...the precursor to the sex-kitten persona of Bardot. Cécile had a short stint in the Hollywood movie business especially in the terrible film The Black Rose . I remember the film and the front row actors [Tyrone Power and Orson Welles] but not her.

"'Sex-kitten' French star who wrote and directed the TV series Belle et Sébastien"


Ronald Bergan

July 30th, 2010

In 1950, in a blaze of typical Hollywood publicity, Cécile Aubry, who has died of lung cancer aged 81, was signed up by 20th Century-Fox to co-star with Tyrone Power and Orson Welles in Henry Hathaway's The Black Rose. It was to be Aubry's only American film, placing her among several French actresses who had short-lived Hollywood careers after the liberation of France in 1944.

The petite, blue-eyed blonde with a seductive pout had appeared previously in only one film, playing the title role in Henri-Georges Clouzot's Manon (1949), which won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival. In this dark updating (to post-second world war Paris) of the Abbé Prévost's 18th-century novel Manon Lescaut, the 20-year-old Aubry made an immediate and vivid impression. She managed to bring out the duality of the character – both femme fatale and femme enfant – making her a precursor to the sex-kitten Brigitte Bardot.

Born Anne-José Madeleine Henriette Bénard into a wealthy family in Paris, she had an English governess and a personal dance teacher. In her late teens, she joined the celebrated acting school run by René Simon, where she was spotted by Clouzot. "To achieve what he wanted, Clouzot pushed the actors to the limit, especially the women," Aubry said. "But he also declared that he needed to be in love with the leading women he directed. The shoot was very long and very difficult, seven months. Clouzot sacrificed everything and everyone to his creation."

Hathaway also had a reputation as a bully, but in The Black Rose he failed to get good performances from Power, as a 13th-century Saxon nobleman seeking his fortune in the far east, or from Welles, hamming it up hugely as a Mongol warlord, or from Aubry as a half-English, half-Arab captive (with a French accent!) whom Power rescues from Welles. According to the New York Herald Tribune of the day: "The heroine is portrayed by Cécile Aubry with a studied gamin intensity. She bedevils the handsome Englishman with arch gestures when he is in the greatest peril. In a nonsensical role, she pouts prettily and puts on a variety of oriental costumes." This, more or less, sums up the reaction to Aubry's irritating performance, and her Fox contract was not renewed.

During the shooting of The Black Rose in Morocco, she met Si Brahim El Glaoui, the oldest son of the pasha of Marrakech. They were married in secret because she thought that a marriage would harm her Hollywood career.

On her return to France, Aubry starred in French and German versions of Bluebeard (1951), both directed by Christian-Jaque, with Pierre Brasseur and Hans Albers in the title role respectively. Aubry played Bluebeard's seventh wife as a sexy teenager, even performing a silhouetted striptease that left little to the imagination.

She appeared in a few forgotten movies in Italy and Spain, then retired from acting and lived in Morocco with her husband. After her divorce, she settled in France, where she became a director and writer of children's television series.

The most notable of these was the hugely successful Belle et Sébastien. Adapted by Aubry from her own novel, it ran for 13 episodes in 1965, with two sequels broadcast in 1968 and 1970. The adventures of a young boy, Sébastien (played by her son, Mehdi El Glaoui), and his large white dog, Belle, in a small village in the Pyrenees, the series continues to be shown on television internationally to each new generation. A dubbed version was broadcast by the BBC from 1967 to 1968.

Aubry is survived by Mehdi, who continued as an actor into adulthood.

Cécile Aubry [Wikipedia]

You want $5,000 and live near a wind turbine?

High dollar bribes?

"Turbines Too Loud for You? Here, Take $5,000"


William Yardley

July 31st, 2010

The New York Times

Residents of the remote high-desert hills near here have had an unusual visitor recently, a fixer working out the kinks in clean energy.

Patricia Pilz of Caithness Energy, a big company from New York that is helping make this part of Eastern Oregon one of the fastest-growing wind power regions in the country, is making a tempting offer: sign a waiver saying you will not complain about excessive noise from the turning turbines — the whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of the future, advocates say — and she will cut you a check for $5,000.

“Shall we call it hush money?” said one longtime farmer, George Griffith, 84. “It was about as easy as easy money can get.”

Mr. Griffith happily accepted the check, but not everyone is taking the money. Even out here — where the recession has steepened the steady decline of the rural economy, where people have long supported the massive dams that harness the Columbia River for hydroelectric power, where Oregon has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives to cultivate alternative energy — pockets of resistance are rising with the windmills on the river banks.

Residents in small towns are fighting proposed projects, raising concerns about threats to birds and big game, as well as about the way the giant towers and their blinking lights spoil some of the West’s most alluring views.

Here, just west of where the Columbia bends north into Washington, some people are fighting turbines that are already up and running. In a region where people often have to holler to be heard over the roar of the wind across the barren hills, they say it is the windmills that make too much noise.

“The only thing we have going for us is the Oregon state noise ordinance,” said Mike Eaton, an opponent of the turbines.

Oregon is one of a growing number of places that have drafted specific regulations restricting noise from wind turbines. The Oregon law allows for noise to exceed what is considered an area’s ambient noise level by only a certain amount. But what those ambient levels are is sometimes disputed, as is how and where they should be measured.

And while state law limits turbine noise, the state office that once enforced industrial noise laws, housed within the Department of Environmental Quality, was disbanded in 1991, long before wind power became a state priority.

“We have the regulations still on the books, and entities are expected to comply with those regulations,” said William Knight, a spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Quality. “But there really isn’t anybody from D.E.Q. going around to find out if that’s occurring. I’m not sure who you’d call out there in Columbia Gorge.”

Local government is one answer. In May, after testimony from private acoustic experts, the Morrow County Planning Commission agreed with Mr. Eaton, his wife, Sherry, and a small group of other opponents that Willow Creek, a wind farm directly behind the Eatons’ modest house on Highway 74, was indeed exceeding allowable noise levels. The commission ordered the company that operates the site, Invenergy, to come into compliance within six months.

Invenergy quickly appealed — and so did the Eatons and their allies. The county’s board of commissioners also asked the planning commission to clarify its decision. A hearing is scheduled for this month.

“The appeals were all based on the same questions,” said Carla McLane, the county planning director. “What does ‘not in compliance’ mean, and what does it take to be in compliance in six months?”

Opponents say the constant whooshing from the turbines makes them anxious and that the low-level vibrations keep them awake at night. Some say it gives them nausea and headaches. Many other residents say they hear little or nothing at all, and the question of whether windmill noise can harm health is in dispute.

Critics say those complaining about Willow Creek are just angry that they were not able to lease their land to wind developers. Some opponents say they would be happy if Invenergy just turned certain turbines off at night, but others say they want reimbursement for losing their pastoral way of life.

“What we’re really trying to do is get Invenergy to the bargaining table,” said Dan Williams, a builder who is part of the group frustrated with the noise from Willow Creek.

While Invenergy is still dealing with the noise issue even after Willow Creek, which has 48 turbines, has been up and running for more than 18 months, Caithness Energy, the company asking some residents to sign waivers allowing noise to exceed certain limits, hopes it can solve the issue up front. It also has more at stake.

Caithness is building a much larger wind farm adjoining Willow Creek called Shepherd’s Flat. The new farm is expected to have 338 turbines and generate more than 900 megawatts when it is completed in 2013, which would make it one of the largest wind facilities in the country.

Large farms like Shepherd’s Flat are regulated by the state. Tom Stoops, the council secretary for the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council, said that large projects must prove they will comply with the noise ordinance and that noise waivers, or easements, are among the solutions. Asked if it was common for companies to pay people to sign such easements, Mr. Stoops said, “That’s probably a level of detail that doesn’t come to us.”

Ms. Pilz, the local Caithness representative, did not volunteer the information that Caithness offers people money to sign noise easements, though she eventually confirmed in an interview that it did. She also would not say how much money it offers, though several property owners said she had offered them $5,000.

“What we don’t do in general is change the market price for a waiver,” Ms. Pilz said. “That’s not fair.”

Some people who did not sign said that Ms. Pilz made them feel uncomfortable, that she talked about how much Shepherd’s Flat would benefit the struggling local economy and the nation’s energy goals, and that she suggested they were not thinking of the greater good if they refused.

“The lady that came said everyone else signed,” said Jarrod Ogden, 33, a farmer whose house would be directly opposite several 300-foot turbines once Shepherd’s Flat is completed. “But I know for a fact that some people didn’t. I’m all for windmills, but I’m not going to let them buy me like that. I think they’re just trying to buy cheap insurance.”

"Noise threat to wind turbines"

July 31st, 2010

Wind Watch: Industrial Wind Energy News

Westcountry households could see noisy wind farm developments blocked after the Government unveiled details of a review into controversial planning decisions.

Developers at sites across the Devon and Cornwall countryside have been locked in bitter disputes over the noise pollution caused by giant wind turbines that campaigners claim damage people’s health.

Plans to erect nine turbines at Den Brook, near Crediton, Mid-Devon, await a decision from the High Court following a two-day hearing this week. Now it has emerged the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has commissioned a review to examine how planning authorities have applied guidance on noise pollution.

Energy ministers want to establish “best practice” on noise pollution and ensure communities get the “intended level of protection” after a series of onshore wind farm developments have suffered long delays in the courts.

But a prominent Westcountry objector last night questioned how much protection homes close to developments would be offered as the Government insisted it had “no plans” to change the guidance.

Mike Hulme, who has fought the Den Brook development for five years, said: “It is a positive step that something is happening. This is the result of many questions being asked by MPs. I think it is a result of being put under pressure rather it being a desirable thing to do.

“But I wonder what is underlying this report. Is it as smoke screen or is it a genuine attempt to rectify the problem?”

Mr Hulme, who argues “noise nuisance” has driven people from their homes, says guidelines to assess the noise impact of any wind farm – known as ETSU-R-97 – are now 12 years old and “dreadfully outdated”.

While the Government has indicated it is anxious to push the development of offshore wind farms, thousands of turbines have been earmarked on dry land.

While nausea, headaches and anxiety have been linked to people’s close proximity to wind farm developments, many have called for more independent research into the effects on health.

A study by a panel of independent experts this year found that the irritation caused by the swishing noise around wind farms can effect certain individuals.

Wind farms have traditionally been seen by protesters as a blot on the British countryside, but noise is emerging as a significant block to development.

Mr Hulme says it is the intermittent “thumping” sound caused by the fast-turning turbine blades that is the cause of most concern.

But he thinks it is unlikely the noise threshold will be lowered any time soon as it would “possibly eliminate too many sites” – putting the Government’s renewable energy drive at risk – despite noise being the “major issue” for most wind farm objections.

In two separate written questions by MPs, the Energy Secretary Chris Huhne was asked “whether he plans to revise the noise assessment guidance for wind turbines”.

In response Climate Change Minister Greg Barker, wrote: “Noise is a key issue to be taken into account in considering proposals for wind farm development.

“There is no reason to believe that the protection from noise provided for by the ETSU-R-97 guidance does not remain acceptable, and we have no plans to change this.”

He went on: “However, I have commissioned an analysis of how noise impacts are considered in the determination of wind farm planning applications in England.

“The project will seek to establish best practice in assessing and rating wind turbine noise by investigating previous decisions.

“Our aim is to ensure that ETSU-R-97 is applied in a consistent and effective manner and that it is implemented in a way that provides the intended level of protection.”

Consultants Hayes McKenzie is to start the work in September and it is hoped the it will be completed by the end of the year.

"The Outer Limits"...original series worth watching

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to... The Outer Limits.

Heavy doses of science fiction in the original television series [1963 to 1965]. It must rank with two other offerings...The Twilight Zone and One Step Beyond. Minimal special effects and high on content.

I was going to offer a few episodes but, in a quest to keep advertising away from this blog, I decided against such postings. However, YouTube offers several episodes peppered with commercials.

Series Description:

The Outer Limits TV show was a 60 minute highly literate anthology sci-fi series on ABC that would strike fear into one's soul. They writers used some basis in science fact and usually a monster to keep your interest while they sent a message about the problems that existed in the world of the 1960s. Some of the messages were the evils of racism, nuclear holocaust, government intrusion on citizens' privacy, the dangers of nuclear power plants, biological engineering, slavery and many more! Many Outer Limits' shows involved Aliens too. If the message was against slavery, for example, the theme of the series would be the Earthlings being enslaved by the Aliens. There was always plenty of action and you were usually on the "edge of your seat" waiting for the horror that was coming at any moment!

The Outer Limits Trivia:

Originally, The Outer Limits was to be called "Please Stand By" but it was feared that the audience might think that a real emergency existed. Then the name "Beyond Control" was considered until finally settling on "The Outer Limits".

A typical episode cost $150,000 to produce with $40,000 being spent on special effects and sets. Most regular cast members get more per episode for EACH of their salaries today!

ABC liked the background music from the Outer Limits so much that it was also used, nearly note-for-note, on episodes of "The Fugitive (1963)" and "The Invaders (1967)".

Joseph Stefano co-created the series and wrote many of the scripts for the TV show. He also wrote the Alfred Hitchcock classic, "Psycho". During his career, the versatile Stefano worked as a singer and dancer. He also wrote songs including some for Sammy Davis Jr.

The Outer Limits attracted many big name guest stars (or soon to be big stars) to its episodes. Some you may have heard of include: Nick Adams (The Rebel), Eddie Albert (Green Acres), Edward Asner (Lou Grant), Dabney Coleman, Michael Constantine (Room 222), Robert Culp (I Spy), Bruce Dern, James Doohan (Star Trek), Robert Duvall (Lonesome Dove), Sally Kellerman (M*A*S*H), Martin Landau (Space 1999), David McCallum (Man From U.N.C.L.E.), Vera Miles (Cannon), Leonard Nimoy (Mission Impossible), Lloyd Nolan, Warren Oates, Donald Pleasence, Cliff Robertson, Martin Sheen (The West Wing), Adam West (Batman).

Leslie Stevens, Stefano's co-creator, also wrote many of the scripts. He started his career at age 15 as a "gopher" with Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre. When Welles moved that production from Washington to Philadelphia, Stevens ran away from home to keep the job.

The series ended when ABC executives moved it to Saturday nights in an attempt to steal viewers away from the "Jackie Gleason Show". To say the least, that didn't work out so well!


The First Season:

1.... The Galaxy Being (9/16/1963)
2.... The Hundred Days Of The Dragon (9/23/1963)
3.... The Architects Of Fear (9/30/1963)
4.... The Man With The Power (10/7/1963)
5.... The Sixth Finger (10/14/1963)
6.... The Man Who Was Never Born (10/28/1963)
7.... O.B.I.T. (11/4/1963)
8.... The Human Factor (11/11/1963)
9.... Corpus Earthling (11/18/1963)
10... Nightmare (12/2/1963)
11... It Crawled Out Of The Woodwork (12/9/1963)
12... The Borderland (12/16/1963)
13... Tourist Attraction (12/23/1963)
14... The Zanti Misfits (12/30/1963)
15... The Mice (1/6/1964)
16... Controlled Experiment (1/13/1964)
17... Don't Open Till Doomsday (1/20/1964)
18... ZZZZZ (1/27/1964)
19... The Invisible Enemy (2/3/1964)
20... The Bellero Shield (2/10/1964)
21... Children Of Spider Country (2/17/1964)
22... Specimen: Unknown (2/24/1964)
23... Second Chance (3/2/1964)
24... Moonstone (3/9/1964)
25... The Mutant (3/16/1964)
26... The Guests (3/23/1964)
27... Fun And Games (3/30/1964)
28... The Special One (4/6/1964)
29... A Feasibility Study (4/13/1964)
30... Production And Decay Of Strange Particles (4/20/1964)
31... The Chameleon (4/27/1964)
32... The Forms Of Things Unknown (5/4/1964)

The Second Season:

33... Soldier (9/19/1964)
34... Cold Hands, Warm Heart (9/26/1964)
35... Behold, Eck! (10/3/1964)
36... Expanding Human (10/10/1964)
37... Demon With A Glass Hand (10/17/1964)
38... Cry of Silence (10/24/1964)
39... Wolf 359 (11/7/1964)
40... I, Robot (11/14/1964)
41... The Inheritors - Part 1 (11/21/1964)
42... The Inheritors - Part 2 (11/28/1964)
43... Keeper Of The Purple Twilight (12/5/1964)
44... The Duplicate Man (12/9/1964)
45... Counterweight (12/26/1964)
46... The Brain Of Colonel Barham (1/2/1965)
47... The Premonition (1/9/1965)
48... The Probe (1/16/1965)
49... The Invisibles (1/23/1965)

Friday, July 30, 2010

James Henry of the giants in Egyptology

The big names in Egyptology: Howard Carter, Sir Ernest Alfred Thompson Wallis Budge [E. A. Wallace Budge], and James Henry Breasted.

Archaeology magazine features James Henry Breasted.

"Passport to Antiquity"


Geoff Emberlin

July 1st, 2010


In 1919, the American Egyptologist James Henry Breasted received five years of funding from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., to found the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, which was to be a “Research Laboratory” for the study of the civilizations of the ancient Middle East. Even though World War I had just ended and the Middle East was far from stable or safe, the 53-year-old Breasted immediately made plans to travel with four companions through what is now Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel to purchase antiquities and identify sites for excavation.

Breasted’s trip is illustrated at an exhibit at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago: “Pioneers to the Past: American Archaeologists in the Middle East 1919-20” through August 30, 2010.

Passport to Antiquity

Breasted traveled by boat to England in August 1919, where he met colleagues and British government officials who gave him letters of introduction and permits to travel in areas still under British military control. The first of the national borders that we are familiar with today would not be established until 1921. Among the permits was one that allowed Breasted to travel with a handgun.

After passing through Paris and purchasing antiquities for the Oriental Institute there, Breasted arrived in Egypt at the end of October 1919. Archaeology was of increasing political importance, both to colonial powers and to growing nationalist movements in the Middle East. Breasted met the High Commissioner of Egypt, General Edmund Allenby, who gave him further permits and letters of introduction to British officers in Mesopotamia. He also gave Breasted access to a British military plane, which Breasted had requested because he wanted to take aerial photographs of sites, including the pyramids of Giza. Allenby had read Breasted’s book, Ancient Times, and had even used Breasted’s account of the ancient battle of Megiddo to plan his invasion of that region of Palestine during World War I.

Travel from Egypt to what was then called “Mesopotamia” (soon to be named Iraq) was by steamship to Bombay, India, and then to Basra. British control of Mesopotamia was administered by the India Office, and, indeed, many of the British rank-and-file soldiers in Mesopotamia were of Indian origin.

After a brief stay in Bombay (Mumbai), Breasted and his team were able to travel to Basra with permissions from the British Foreign Office. It had been six months since he left Chicago. In Mesopotamia, Breasted and his team were given transportation on British military trains, cars, and horses so that they could visit the known archaeological sites, including Ur, Nippur, and Babylon in southern Mesopotamia and the Assyrian capital cities of Ashur, Nineveh, Nimrud, and Dur-Sharrukin (Khorsabad) in northern Mesopotamia. Although it took a number of years, the Oriental Institute would go on to dig two of those sites (Khorsabad and Nippur), as well as a series of sites in the Diyala region that were unknown in 1920.

Percy Hambro, the British Quartermaster General in Mesopotamia, wrote to Breasted to tell him that soldiers digging a machine gun emplacement had uncovered some wall paintings near Abu Kemal at a site on the Euphrates River at the border of British control (now close to the border of Iraq and Syria, Breasted was able to identify the site as the ancient city of Dura-Europos). Breasted’s study of these paintings from the Roman garrison was carried out in a single day, immediately before the British withdrew toward Baghdad. Breasted and his team then crossed the border into what was then called the “Arab State” (now Syria), flying an American flag on their wagon to make sure that no one confused them with the hated British. This turned out to be good advice; within several weeks of their departure, the British political officer in Abu Kemal was killed by local tribesmen.

When the British had attacked the Ottoman Turks in a campaign that led them to capture Damascus, they were assisted by Arab irregulars, led by the Hashemite prince Faysal and T.E. Lawrence (“of Arabia”). The Arabs were promised their own state, and, after the end of World War I, they worked to establish one based in Damascus.

The extremely uncomfortable wagon trip through the Arab State extended along the Euphrates River and ended in Aleppo. Because of riots and instability, Breasted was not able to visit most of the archaeological sites he wanted to see in the Arab State, but he did visit the mound of Kadesh, site of a famous ancient battle between the Egyptian and Hittite armies in the 13th century B.C.

In Aleppo, Breasted obtained permissions to continue to Beirut (Beyrouth), which was under French control. While in the area that would become Lebanon, he visited the American University of Beirut and archaeological sites, including the Roman city at Baalbek and the Phoenician sites of Byblos and Sidon.

Returning to the Arab State, he met with King Faysal in Damascus. Within two months of Breasted’s departure the Arab State’s existence was ended by a French invasion from Beirut.

Having left Arab and French-controlled areas, Breasted and his expedition traveled toward Jerusalem. The city itself was controlled by the British military, but the countryside was considered extremely unsafe. Breasted nevertheless wished to visit Megiddo, the focus of some of his historical research. They were frustrated in their plans, however, as wrong directions and lack of good roads meant that he was only able to see the site from a distance. The Oriental Institute would, however, go on to excavate Megiddo from 1925-1939.

Breasted’s trip through the Arab State was of sufficient interest to the British government that he was summoned to London to discuss matters with Lord Curzon, the British Foreign Minister. Although he was not sent as a spy, the value of Breasted’s observations reflects an aspect of the connection between archaeology and politics in the colonial era. In mid-July 1920, he was finally able to return to Chicago, 11 months after he had departed. In addition to his passport, hundreds of letters and 1,100 photos document this founding trip of the Oriental Institute.

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