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Individualism, Objective Reality, and Open-Ended Knowledge – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Individualism, Objective Reality, and Open-Ended Knowledge – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Mr. Stolyarov explains how an objective reality governed by physical laws is compatible with individual self-determination and indeed is required for individuals to meaningfully expand their lives and develop their unique identities.

Reference

– “Individualism, Objective Reality, and Open-Ended Knowledge” – Post by G. Stolyarov II

Individualism, Objective Reality, and Open-Ended Knowledge – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Individualism, Objective Reality, and Open-Ended Knowledge – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
September 11, 2013
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I am an individualist, but not a relativist. While I have no dispute with individuals determining their own meaning and discovering their own significance (indeed, I embrace this), this self-determination needs to occur within an objective physical universe. This is not an optional condition for any of us. The very existence of the individual relies on absolute, immutable physical and biological laws that can be utilized to give shape to the individual’s desires, but that cannot be ignored or wished away. This is why we cannot simply choose to live indefinitely and have this outcome occur. We need to develop technologies that would use the laws of nature to bring indefinite longevity about.

In other words, I am an ontological absolutist who sees wisdom in Francis Bacon’s famous statement that “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” Individual choice, discovery, and often the construction of personal identity and meaning are projects that I embrace, but they rely on fundamental objective prerequisites of matter, space, time, and causality. Individuals who wish to shape their lives for the better would be wise to take these prerequisites into account (e.g., by developing technologies that overcome the limitations of unaided biology or un-transformed matter). My view is that a transhumanist ethics necessitates an objective metaphysics and a reason-and-evidence-driven epistemology.

This does not, however, preclude an open-endedness to human knowledge and scope of generalization about existence. Even though an absolute reality exists and truth can be objectively known, we humans are still so limited and ignorant that we scarcely know a small fraction of what there is to know. Moreover, each of us has a grasp of different aspects of truth, and therefore there is room for valid differences of perspective, as long as they do not explicitly contradict one another. In other words, it is not possible for both A and non-A to be true, but if there is a disagreement between a person who asserts A and a person who asserts B, it is possible for both A and B to be true, as long as A and B are logically reconcilable. A dogmatic paradigm would tend to erroneously classify too much of the realm of ideas as non-A, if A is true, and hence would falsely reject some valid insights.

These insights illustrate the compatibility of objective physical and biological laws (physicalism) with individual self-determination (volition or free will). There is a similar relationship between ontology and ethics. An objective ontology (based on immutable natural laws) is needed as a foundation for an individualistic ethics of open-ended self-improvement and ceaseless progress.

Paradoxes, Not Contradictions – Post by G. Stolyarov II

Paradoxes, Not Contradictions – Post by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
September 10, 2013
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I am personally fond of Ayn Rand’s identification of certain matters as “paradoxes, but not contradictions”. In my view, contradictions do not exist in reality, though there may be elements that are difficult to reconcile mentally because of incomplete information or preliminary errors in one’s perception of existence.

A paradox arises when a person’s initial intuitions do not appear to hold. This means that either the initial intuitions are wrong, or one’s information is incomplete. For instance, the famous “water-diamond paradox” of Classical economics was an inability to explain why the price of water, which is essential for life, was so much lower than the price of diamonds, which, at the time, only had uses in jewelry and decoration. The 1871 Marginalist Revolution (a development independently arrived at by Carl Menger, Leon Walras, and William Stanley Jevons) resolved the paradox by explaining a key fact about human valuation that the Classical economists had missed – namely, that a person does not evaluate the entire stock of a given good, but only considers particular quantities of goods at the margin. So the paradox was resolved in an entirely rational, non-contradictory manner, by demonstrating that the abundance of water has enabled its life-sustaining uses to be fulfilled for most individuals, while the relative scarcity of diamonds means that, for most consumers, any diamond they obtain would be put to the highest-valued purpose they would find for a diamond.
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I see the progress of human civilization as, in part, consisting of the increasing resolution of paradoxes. While, of course, it is possible that new paradoxes would arise as the old ones are resolved, these paradoxes arise on the boundaries of the new intellectual territory that is yet to be fathomed and incorporated into the domain of human mastery. Paradoxes, mysteries, and unresolved questions occur on the outermost edges of human advancement at any given time. As the edges expand, old mysteries and paradoxes are solved and new ones may arise in territory that was previously completely unexplored. In this sense, encountering a paradox can be seen as a challenge – a call to resolve the quandary and thereby score gains for human progress. As a meliorist who sees no limits to the potential of human reason and technology, I think that all questions are ultimately answerable and all paradoxes are solvable, given enough time, effort, and proper means. Sometimes the resolution of a paradox requires highly creative, unorthodox, and unprecedented thinking – which must transcend conventional dichotomies and posited antagonisms in order to arrive at a new understanding.

Responses to an Inquiry on Ethics, Human Purpose, and the Future of Humanity – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Responses to an Inquiry on Ethics, Human Purpose, and the Future of Humanity – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
September 5, 2013
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A recent philosophical exchange with reader Elu Sive on TRA’s “About Mr. Stolyarov” page was sufficiently interesting and constructive that I have decided to post it here for a general audience. Elu Sive raised ten points of view and requested my feedback, which I subsequently provided. Here, I will cite each of the points and my response.

Elu Sive Point 1: “There is an objective reality.”

My Response: I agree in full.

Elu Sive Point 2: “The purpose of democracy is mainly a means of fighting corruption and promoting the interests of the people as opposed to those in power. It is not a valid method to select the correct answer among alternatives and should never be used as such.”

My Response: I agree. The will of the majority does not determine truth, nor does it necessarily coincide with good policy. Moreover, most decisions should be left up to individuals to implement, so long as such implementation can be done non-coercively. Democracy is only useful in the highly limited context where conflicts of preference are unavoidable and necessarily involve some people’s preferences being overridden. For instance, if only one person can be the neighborhood sheriff, then it makes sense to put the issue to a majority vote. However, even then, the powers of the neighborhood sheriff should be highly limited to the protection of individual rights, and not their violation.

Elu Sive Point 3: “Science is the best method we have for evaluating what is true and not.”

My Response: I agree, especially when science is defined broadly to include logic and mathematics. More generally, rational inquiry based on real-world observation and logical deduction therefrom is the best method we have for evaluating what is true and not.

Elu Sive Point 4: “Our human existence is only meaningful in our social contexts, to our selves and to future generations (our existence is not meaningful in universal or spiritual fashion).”

My Response: Here I disagree. Our existence is meaningful per se and as the antecedent to all meaning and value. My video series “Life as the Basis of Morality” (see Part 1 and Part 2) explains my reasoning. I agree with Ayn Rand’s statement: “I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction.”

Elu Sive Point 5: “We should place a greater emphasis on our social context and future generations than on our selves. We should favor altruism over self-reliance.”

My Response: Here I also disagree. While I advocate considering the future and taking a longer-term view of one’s actions, as well as considering one’s impact on the world and on others, all of this should be done to promote one’s own enlightened, rational self-interest, particularly in the continuation of one’s own life and flourishing. Each individual is, by nature, best suited to promote his own well-being. In promoting his own well-being, the individual should be concerned about the well-being of others and should seek ways to exchange values with others to promote mutual flourishing. Complete autarky is impossible and undesirable; we can gain great values and improve our lives tremendously by interacting with others. However, each individual’s moral self-reliance – in the sense of thinking for oneself, acting out of one’s own initiative, and valuing one’s own productive work and independence from subjugation to the arbitrary dictates of others – is paramount for creating a world where human flourishing is maximized to the extent possible.

Elu Sive Point 6: “What classifies as common good depends on circumstances and must be continuously re-evaluated.”

My Response: What is good for people does depend on the specific context, but it is still rooted in objective requirements of human survival and flourishing. As a simple example, there are some items that can give our bodies energy if we consume them, while there are others that would poison us. The objective requirements of human survival and flourishing depend on the laws of nature, which are universally valid, though their applicability will differ based on the context. The correct answer in a given situation is like the correct choice of tool for constructing a building; it depends on what part you are working on, with what materials, in what setting, and for what goal (in terms of the values you are trying to realize). Multiple answers will be good enough for a particular problem, but some answers are clearly superior to others in achieving human survival and flourishing. That being said, it is important to continually use one’s rational faculty to evaluate the soundness of possible approaches on a case-by-case basis.

Elu Sive Point 7: “Our social context is only meaningful in the long-term context of supporting and improving human civilization, or a possible post-human civilization.”

My Response: I agree with the goal of improving human and possibly post-human civilization (though I prefer the term “transhuman”, since I think that technological transformations will amplify and supplement our humanity, enabling us to transcend existing limitations, rather than take our humanity away). I think that human societal interactions can serve multiple valuable purposes both in the immediate term and in the long term. In the immediate term, it is certainly good that grocery stores exist in one’s vicinity to enable one to obtain food and other conveniences. The shorter-term interactions, as long as they are compatible with long-term perspectives and values, can certainly be of value as well.

Elu Sive Point 8: “The defining character of our age as judged by future civilization will be: short-shortsightedness and extreme individualism.”

My Response: I agree that there is considerable short-sightedness in our era, though it is probably less than in previous eras, when the average human lifespan was several times shorter than today. The extreme individualism, though, is not a phenomenon that I observe. I see all too many people bound by thoughtless traditions and norms, while refusing to think about matters on principle (instead of being attached to the concrete institutions and thought patterns that are fed to them by “opinion leaders” and the surrounding culture). The true individualist, who takes charge of his own life and is willing to engage in innovative thinking which transforms the world, is quite rare still. If asked to characterize our era, I would describe it as a time when the knowledge to solve many of the world’s problems is already available and accessible, but the willpower to solve these problems and overcome the constraints of obsolete institutions is lacking. I also see our era as characterized by a race between accelerating technological progress and increasingly outrageous authoritarian intervention.

Elu Sive Point 9: “We should practice future-oriented altruism: just as we care for others in our immediate vicinity in order to create a better life for everyone, we should care for our [descendants] as predecessors have, or we wish them to have had.”

My Response: I agree that we should look forward into the future and consider how life would be then, and how our current actions would affect future living conditions. I do not think that our focus should solely be on future beings, though. I hope to personally see a better future, and to structure my actions to maximize my chances. I am, though, happy to have been born into a world where the many generations of humans before me have already created an infrastructure of knowledge and capital to enable a relatively comfortable way of life. The great challenge of our time is to secure our lives against the still-omnipresent forces of ruin, death, and decay.

Elu Sive Point 10: “We should aim to replace humanity with post-human beings, remedied from most of the flaws that plague the human psyche and physiology today and in the past.”

My Response: I agree with remedying existing human flaws and transcending human limitations, with the important caveat that I consider such actions to be consistent with and to amplify humanity. Importantly, I think that we ourselves should be the beneficiaries of these improvements, through new medical treatments and augmentations (especially radical life extension), as well as the eventual integration of biological and non-biological components.

Always Think! – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Always Think! – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Mr. Stolyarov explains why thinking is essential and indispensable for everyone; that includes you. He discusses the fundamental purpose of his videos – to cultivate an broadly oriented intellectual mindset among viewers, in an effort to further the progress and maintenance of human civilization.

Remember to LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE this video in order to spread rational discourse on this issue.

Philosophy Lives – Contra Stephen Hawking – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Philosophy Lives – Contra Stephen Hawking – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Mr. Stolyarov’s refutation of Stephen Hawking’s statement that “philosophy is dead.”

In his 2010 book The Grand Design, cosmologist and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking writes that science has displaced philosophy in the enterprise of discovering truth. While I have great respect for Hawking both in his capacities as a physicist and in his personal qualities — his advocacy of technological progress and his determination and drive to achieve in spite of his debilitating illness — the assertion that the physical sciences can wholly replace philosophy is mistaken. Not only is philosophy able to address questions outside the scope of the physical sciences, but the coherence and validity of scientific approaches itself rests on a philosophical foundation that was not always taken for granted — and still is not in many circles.

References
– “Philosophy Lives – Contra Stephen Hawking” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II
– “The Grand Design (book)” – Wikipedia
– “Stephen Hawking” – Wikipedia

Philosophy Lives – Contra Stephen Hawking – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Philosophy Lives – Contra Stephen Hawking – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
January 1, 2013
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In his 2010 book The Grand Design, cosmologist and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking writes that science has displaced philosophy in the enterprise of discovering truth. While I have great respect for Hawking both in his capacities as a physicist and in his personal qualities – his advocacy of technological progress and his determination and drive to achieve in spite of his debilitating illness – the assertion that the physical sciences can wholly replace philosophy is mistaken. Not only is philosophy able to address questions outside the scope of the physical sciences, but the coherence and validity of scientific approaches itself rests on a philosophical foundation that was not always taken for granted – and still is not in many circles.

Hawking writes, “Living in this vast world that is by turns kind and cruel, and gazing at the immense heavens above, people have always asked a multitude of questions: How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves? How does the universe behave? What is the nature of reality? Where did all this come from? Did the universe need a creator? Most of us do not spend most of our time worrying about these questions, but almost all of us worry about them some of the time. Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.

I hesitate to speculate why Hawking considers philosophy to be “dead” – but perhaps this view partly arises from frustration at the non-reality-oriented teachings of many postmodernist philosophers who still prevail in many academic and journalistic circles. Surely, those who deny the comprehensibility of reality and allege that it is entirely a societal construction do not aid in the quest for discovery and understanding of what really exists. Likewise, our knowledge cannot be enhanced by those who deny that there exist systematic and specific methods that are graspable by human reason and that can be harnessed for the purposes of discovery. It is saddening indeed that prominent philosophical figures have embraced anti-realist positions in metaphysics and anti-rational, anti-empirical positions in epistemology. Physicists, in their everyday practice, necessarily rely on external observational evidence and on logical deductions from the empirical data. In this way, and to the extent that they provide valid explanations of natural phenomena, they are surely more reality-oriented than most postmodernist philosophers. Yet philosophy does not need to be this way – and, indeed, philosophical schools of thought throughout history and in the present day are not only compatible with the scientific approach to reality, but indispensable to it.

Contrary to the pronouncements of prominent postmodernists, a venerable strain of thought – dating back to at least Aristotle and extending all the way to today’s transhumanists, Objectivists, and natural-law thinkers – holds that an objective reality exists, that it can be understood through systematic observation and reason, and that its understanding should be pursued by all of us. This is the philosophical strain responsible for the accomplishments of Classical Antiquity and the progress made during the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the Information Revolution. While such philosophy is not the same as the physical sciences, the physical sciences rely on it to the extent that they embrace the approach known as the scientific method, which itself rests on philosophical premises. These premises include the existence of an external reality independent of the wishes and imagination of any observer, the existence of a definite identity of any given entity at any given time, the reliance on identical conditions producing identical outcomes, the principles of causation and non-contradiction, and the ability of human beings to systematically alter outcomes in the physical world by understanding its workings and modifying physical systems accordingly. This latter principle – that, in Francis Bacon’s words, “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” – was the starting point for the Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century, which inaugurated subsequent massive advances in technology, standards of living, and human understanding of the universe.  Even those scientists who do not acknowledge or explicitly reject the importance of philosophy nonetheless implicitly rely on these premises in the very conduct of their scientific work – to the extent that such work accurately describes reality. These premises are not the only ones possible – but they are the only ones that are fully right. Alternatives – including reliance on alleged supernatural revelation, wishful thinking, and unconditional deference to authority – have been tried time and again, only to result in stagnation and mental traps that prevented substantive improvements to the human condition.

But there is more. Not only are the physical sciences without a foundation if philosophy is to be ignored, but the very reason for pursuing them remains unaddressed without the branch of philosophy that focuses on what we ought to do: ethics. Contrary to those who would posit an insurmountable “is-ought” gap, ethics can indeed be derived from the facts of reality, but not solely by the tools of physics, chemistry, biology, or any others of the “hard” physical sciences. An additional element is required: the fact that we ourselves exist as rational, conscious beings, who are capable of introspection and of analysis of external data. From the physical sciences we can derive ways to sustain and improve our material well-being – sometimes our very survival. But only ethics can tell us that we ought to pursue such survival – a conclusion we reach through introspection and logical reasoning. No experiment, no test is needed to tell us that we ought to keep living. This conclusion arises as antecedent to a consistent pursuit of any action at all; to achieve any goal, we must be alive. To pursue death, the opposite of life, contradicts the very notion of acting, which has life as a prerequisite.  Once we have accepted that premise, an entire system of logical deductions follows with regard to how we ought to approach the external world – the pursuit of knowledge, interactions with others, improvement of living conditions, protection against danger. The physical sciences can provide many of the empirical data and regularities needed to assess alternative ways of living and to develop optimal solutions to human challenges. But ethics is needed to keep the goals of scientific study in mind. The goals should ultimately relate to ways to enhance human well-being. If the pursuit of human well-being – consistent with the imperative of each individual to continue living – is abandoned, then the physical sciences alone cannot provide adequate guidance. Indeed, they can be utilized to produce horrors – as the development of nuclear weapons in the 20th century exemplified. Geopolitical considerations of coercive power and nationalism were permitted to overshadow humanistic considerations of life and peace, and hundreds of thousands of innocents perished due to a massive government-sponsored science project, while the fate of human civilization hung in the balance for over four decades.

The questions cited by Hawking are indeed philosophical questions, at least in part. Aspects of these questions, while they are broadly reliant on the existence of an objective reality, do not require specific experiments to answer. Rather, like many of the everyday questions of our existence, they rely only on the ubiquitous inputs of our day-to-day experience, generalized within our minds and formulated as starting premises for a logical deductive process. The question “How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves? has different answers based on the realm of focus and endeavor. Are we looking to understand the function of a mechanism, or the origin of a star? Different tools are required for each, but systematic experimentation and observation would be required in each case. This is an opening for the physical sciences and the scientific method. There are, however, ubiquitous observations about our everyday world that can be used as inputs into our decision-making – a process we engage in regularly as we navigate a room, eat a meal, engage in conversation or deliberation, or transport any object whatsoever. Simply as a byproduct of routine living, these observations provide us with ample data for a series of logical deductions and inferences which do not strictly belong to any scientific branch, even though specific parts of our world could be better understood from closer scientific observation.

The questionHow does the universe behave?actually arises in part from a philosophical presupposition that “the universe” is a single entity with any sort of coordinated behavior whatsoever. An alternative view – which I hold – is that the word “universe” is simply convenient mental shorthand for describing the totality of every single entity that exists, in lieu of actually enumerating them all. Thus, while each entity has its own definite nature, “the universe” may not have a single nature or behavior. Perhaps a more accurate framing of that question would be, “What attributes or behaviors are common to all entities that exist?” To answer that question, a combination of ubiquitous observation and scientific experimentation is required. Ubiquitous observation tells us that all entities are material, but only scientific experimentation can tell us what the “building blocks” of matter are. Philosophy alone cannot recommend any model of the atom or of subatomic particles, among multiple competing non-contradictory models. Philosophy can, however, rightly serve to check the logical coherence of any particular model and to reject erroneous interpretations of data which produce internally contradictory answers. Such rejection does not mean that the data are inaccurate, or even that a particular scientific theory cannot predict the behavior of entities – but rather that any verbal understanding of the accurate data and predictive models should also be consistent with logic, causation, and everyday human experience. At the very least, if a coherent verbal understanding is beyond our best efforts at present, philosophy should be vigilant against the promulgation of incoherent verbal understandings. It is better to leave certain scientific models as systems of mathematical equations, uncommented on, than to posit evidently false interpretations that undermine laypeople’s view of the validity of our very existence and reasoning.

After all – to return to the ethical purpose of science – one major goal of scientific inquiry is to understand and explain the world we live in and experience on a daily basis. If any scientific model is said to result in the conclusion that our world does not ‘really’ exist or that our entire experience is illusory (rather than just occasional quirks in our biology, such as those which produce optical illusions, misleading us, in an avoidable manner, under specific unusual circumstances), then it is the philosophical articulation of that model that is flawed. The model itself may be retained in another form – such as mathematical notation – that can be used to predict and study phenomena which continue to defy verbal understanding, with the hope that someday a satisfactory verbal understanding will be attained. Without this philosophic vigilance, scientific breakthroughs may be abused by charlatans for the purpose of misleading people into ruining their lives. As a prominent example of this, multiple strains of mysticism have arisen out of bad philosophical interpretations of quantum mechanics – for instance, the belief, articulated in such pseudo-self-help books as The Secret, that people can mold reality with their thoughts alone and that, instead of working hard and thinking rationally, they can become immensely wealthy and cure themselves of cancer just by wanting it enough. Without a rigorous philosophical defense of reason and objective reality, either by scientists themselves or by their philosopher allies, this mystical nonsense will render scientific enterprises increasingly misunderstood by and isolated from large segments of the public, who will become increasingly superstitious, anti-intellectual, and reliant on wishful thinking.

The question “What is the nature of reality?” is a partly philosophical and partly scientific one. The philosophical dimension – metaphysics – is needed to posit that an objective, understandable reality exists at all. The scientific dimension comes into play in comprehending specific real entities, from stars to biological organisms – relying on the axioms and derivations of metaphysics for the experimental study of such entities to even make sense or promise to produce reliable results. Philosophy cannot tell you what the biological structure of a given organism is like, but it can tell you that there is one, and that praying or wishing really hard to understand it will not reveal its identity to you. Philosophy can also tell you that, in the absence of external conditions that would dramatically affect that biological structure, it will not magically change into a dramatically different structure.

The questions “Where did all this come from? Did the universe need a creator?” are scientific only to a point. When exploring the origin of a particular planet or star – or of life on Earth – they are perfectly amenable to experimentation and to extrapolation from historical evidence. Hence, the birth of the solar system, abiogenesis, and biological evolution are all appropriate subjects of study for the hard sciences. Moreover, scientific study can address the question of whether a particular object needed to have a creator and can, for instance, conclude that a mechanical watch needed to have a watchmaker, but no analogous maker needed to exist to bring about the structure of a complex biological organism. However, if the question arises as to whether existence itself had an origin or needed a creator, this is a matter for philosophy. Indeed, rational philosophy can point out the contradiction in the view that existence itself could ever not have existed, or that a creator outside of existence (and, by definition, non-existent at that time) could have brought existence into being.

Interestingly enough, Hawking comes to a similar conclusion – that cosmological history can be understood by a model that not include a sentient creator. I am glad that Hawking holds this view, but this specific conclusion does not require theoretical or experimental physics to validate; it simply requires a coherent understanding of terms such as “existence”, “universe”, and “creator”. Causation and non-contradiction both preclude the possibility of any ex nihilo creation. As for the question of whether there exist beings capable of vast cosmic manipulations and even the design of life forms – that is an empirical matter. Perhaps someday such beings will be discovered; perhaps someday humans will themselves become such beings through mastery of science and technology. The first steps have already been taken – for instance, with Craig Venter’s design of a synthetic living bacterium. Ethics suggests to me that this mastery of life is a worthwhile goal and that its proponents – transhumanists – should work to persuade those philosophers and laypeople who disagree.

More constructive dialogue between rational scientists and rational philosophers is in order, for the benefit of both disciplines. Philosophy can serve as a check on erroneous verbal interpretations of scientific discoveries, as well as an ethical guide for the beneficial application of those discoveries. Science can serve to provide observations and regularities which assist in the achievement of philosophically motivated goals. Furthermore, science can serve to disconfirm erroneous philosophical positions, in cases where philosophy ventures too far into specific empirical predictions which experimentation and targeted observation might falsify. To advance such fruitful interactions, it is certainly not productive to proclaim that one discipline or another is “dead”. I will be the first to admit that contemporary philosophy, especially of the kind that enjoys high academic prestige, is badly in need of reform. But such reform is only possible after widespread acknowledgment that philosophy does have a legitimate and significant role, and that it can do a much better job in fulfilling it.

ECM Distributed Computing Project and Mr. Stolyarov Discover Factor for 279-Digit Number (“9” Surrounded by 139 Instances of “7” Per Side)

ECM Distributed Computing Project and Mr. Stolyarov Discover Factor for 279-Digit Number (“9” Surrounded by 139 Instances of “7” Per Side)

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
November 21, 2012
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I am pleased to report that a large prime factor for (7·10279+18·10139-7)/9 (visualized as a “9” surrounded by 139 instances of “7” on each side – for a total of  279 digits) was discovered on November 19, 2012, through my participation in the ECM distributed computing project (organized via Yoyo@home). This is the fourth discovery made on my computer via the ECM project (see posts about previous discoveries here and here).

The prime factor is a 53-digit number: 42684752427275029312252733896207947190538122452468697. I am credited with the discovery here and here.

I continue to be impressed by the potential of individual hyper-empowerment through distributed computing, and I encourage my readers to also donate their idle computer time to projects that attract their interest.

Factors for (141^141 + 142^142) and (148^148 + 149^149) Discovered by Mr. Stolyarov and ECM Distributed Computing Project

Factors for (141^141 + 142^142) and (148^148 + 149^149) Discovered by Mr. Stolyarov and ECM Distributed Computing Project

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
August 28, 2012
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Since the discovery in April 2012 of a factor for (118^67 + 67^118), I have continued to donate extensive computing resources to the ECM distributed computing project (organized via Yoyo@home). Today I am pleased to announce that two more large factors of even larger numbers have been discovered as a result of this endeavor. I am credited with the discoveries here. The following is now known:

● The number (141^141 + 142^142) (see long form here) has a 33-digit factor: 168,853,190,844,095,597,109,245,277,698,729.

● The number (148^148 + 149^149) (see long form here) has a 28-digit factor: 9,055,497,748,306,357,299,810,062,467.

To date, my computer has examined 2729 project workunits (each involving an attempt to factor a large number). I have thus far accumulated 528,533.42 BOINC credits for the ECM project.

The magnitudes involved are astounding, considering that the factors discovered are several hundred orders of magnitude less than the original numbers. As an example, (148^148 + 149^149) is equal to approximately 6.39 * 10^323. And yet our advancing technology is enabling us already to explore these immense quantities and derive meaningful conclusions regarding them.

ECM Distributed Computing Project and Mr. Stolyarov Discover Factor for 118^67 + 67^118

ECM Distributed Computing Project and Mr. Stolyarov Discover Factor for 118^67 + 67^118

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
April 6, 2012
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I am pleased to announce that my participation in the ECM distributed computing project (organized via Yoyo@home) has resulted in the discovery of a hitherto unknown factor for a large number. I am credited with the discovery here.

Did you know that the number 118^67 + 67^118 (see its long form here) has a multiplicative factor of 2091937057168244837833711997693707725557784572281 – a formidable 49-digit number?

Well, now you know, because of all the computing power I have devoted to the ECM project since late 2011. Finding such large factors of even larger numbers is a rarity. My computer had to examine 1546 project workunits (each involving an attempt to factor a large number) before finding one that resulted in a new discovery. I have thus far accumulated 277,345.88 BOINC credits for the ECM project.

ECM is a free distributed computing project that anyone can participate in. Its goal is to find factors for large numbers using the method of Elliptic Curve Factorization. It is highly rewarding to be able to devote otherwise idle resources to an endeavor for the convenient discovery of previously unknown truth.