Cyrano De Bergerac – A Hero in the Romantic Tradition

Naturalism is probably the most prominent literary style today. I find it dull.
I like romanticism far better, for it is concerned with things as they might be and ought to be.

Cyrano is a hero in the romantic (the style) tradition. Another one is Howard Roark.

This is the splendid “No thank you” speech, from Edmund Rostand’s “Cyrano de Bergerac” (the Brian Hooker translation).

Cast:
Cyrano de Bergerac, a poet, swordsman, and man made ugly by a very large nose
De Guiche, a rich dandy, enemy of Cyrano
Le Bret: fellow soldier and close friend of CYRANOS.

DE GUICHE: (recovering his self-control after being insulted by CYRANO)
Have you read Don Quixote?

CYRANO:
I have ~ and found myself the hero.

DE GUICHE:
Be so good as to read once more
The chapter of the windmills.

CYRANO:
Chapter Thirteen.

DE GUICHE:
Windmills, remember, if you fight with them ~

CYRANO:
My enemies change, then, with every wind?

DE GUICHE:
~ may swing round their huge arms and cast you
Down into the mire!

CYRANO:
Or up ~ among the stars!

DE GUICHE goes out. We see him get into his sedan chair. LE BRET joins CYRANO.

Cyrano: (saluting with burlesque politeness those who go out)
Gentlemen. Gentlemen.

LE BRET:
You have done it now! You have made
Your fortune! Hah! A bad enemy, that one.
You made him look a fool!

CYRANO:
There you go again, growling!

LE BRET:
At least this latest pose of yours ~ ruining every chance
That comes your way ~ becomes exaggerated ~

CYRANO:
Very well, then. I exaggerate!
Yes. I exaggerate! On principle. There are things
In this world a man does well to carry to extremes.

LE BRET:
Stop trying to be Three Musketeers in one!
Fortune and glory ~

CYRANO:
What would you have me do?
Seek for the patronage of some great man,
And like a creeping vine on a tall tree
Crawl upward, where I cannot stand alone?
No thank you! Dedicate, as others do,
Poems to pawnbrokers? Be a buffoon
In the vile hope of teasing out a smile
On some cold face? No thank you! East a toad
For breakfast every morning? Make my knees
Callous, and cultivate a supple spine, ~
Wear out my belly groveling in the dust?
No thank you! Scratch the back of any swine
That roots up gold for me? Tickle the horns
Of Mammon with my left hand, while my right
Too proud to know his partners business,
Takes in the fee? No thank you! Use the fire
God gave me to burn incense all day long
No thank you! Publish verses at my own
Expense? No thank you! Be the patron saint
Of a small group of literary souls
Who dine together every Tuesday? No,
I thank you! Shall I labor night and day
To build a reputation on one song,
And never write another? Shall I find
True genius only among Geniuses,
Palpitate over little paragraphs,
And struggle to insinuate my name
In the columns of the Mercury:?
No thank you! Calculate, scheme, be afraid,
Love more to make a visit than a poem,
Seek introductions, favors, influences? ~
No thank you! No, I thank you! And again
I thank you! But
To sing, to laugh, to dream,
To walk in my own way, and be alone,
Free, with an eye to see things as they are,
A voice that means manhood ~ to cock my hat
Where I choose ~ At a word, at a Yes, a No,
To fight ~ or write. To travel any road
Under the sun, under the stars, nor doubt
If fame or fortune lie beyond the bourne ~
Never to make a line I have not heard
In my own heart; yet, with all modesty
To say: My soul, be satisfied with flowers,
With fruit, with weeds even; but gather them
In the one garden you may call your own.
So, when I win some triumph, by some chance,
Render no share to Caesar ~ in a word,
I am too proud to be a parasite,
And if my nature wants the germ that grows
Towering to heaven like the mountain pine,
Or, like the oak, sheltering multitudes ~
I stand, not high it may be ~
But, I stand alone!

LE BRET:
Alone! Yes! But why stand against the world?
What devil has possessed you now, to go
Everywhere making yourself enemies?

CYRANO:
Watching you other people making friends
Everywhere ~ as a dog makes friends! I mark
The manner of these canine courtesies
And think: My friends are of a cleaner breed;
Here comes ~ thank God! ~ another enemy!

When you do see something wrong with an expert view, but not with your own view, it’s irrational to do something you expect not to work, over something you expect to work. Of course if [you] use double standards for criticism of your own ideas, and other people’s, you will go wrong. But the solution to that isn’t deferring to experts, it’s improving your mind.

– Elliot Temple, [comment] “Bayesian Epistemology vs Popper”

Elevator Pitch of Critical Rationalism – Elliot Temple

This is an elevator pitch of Critical Rationalism (CR) by Elliot Temple that I like.

I did not use the blog’s quote funktion. Instead I put the entire quote in quotation marks, because the quotation funktion removes italics and messes with the original quote.

Elevator pitch:

CR solves the fundamental problems of epistemology, like how knowledge can be created, which induction failed to solve. It’s a very hard problem: the only solution ever devised is evolution (literally, not analogously – evolution is about replicators, not just genes). In terms of ideas, evolution takes the form of guesses and criticism. CR develops much better criticisms of induction than came before, which are decisive. CR challenges the conventional, infallibilist conception of knowledge – justified, true belief – and replaces it with a non-skeptical, non-authoritarian conception of knowledge: problem-solving information (information adapted to a purpose). Although we expect to learn better ideas in the future, that doesn’t prevent our knoweldge from having value and solving problems in the current context. This epistemology is fully general purpose – it works with e.g. moral philosophy, aesthetics and explanations, not just science/observation/prediction. The underlying reason CR works to create knowledge is the same reason evolution works – it’s a process of error correction. Rather than trying to positively justify ideas, we must accept they are tentative guesses and work to correct errors to improve them.

This position should not be judged by how nice or strong it sounds; it logically works OK unlike every rival. Decisive issues for why something can’t work at all, like induction faces, have priority over how intuitive you find something or whether it does everything you’d like it to do (for example, CR is difficult to translate into computer code or math, which you may not like, but that doesn’t matter if no rival epistemology works at all).

I expect someone to bring up Solomonoff Induction so I’ll speak briefly to that. It attempts to answer the “infinite general patterns fit the data set” problem of induction (in other words, which idea should you induce from the many contradictory possibilities?) problem with a form of Occam’s Razor: favor the ideas with shorter computer code in some language. This doesn’t solve the problem of figuring out which ideas are good, it just gives an arbitrary answer (shorter doesn’t mean truer). Shorter ideas are often worse because you can get shortness by omitting explanation, reasoning, background knowledge, answers to critics, generality that isn’t necessary to the current issue, etc. This approach also, as with induction in general, ignores critical argument. And it’s focused on prediction and doesn’t address explanation. And, perhaps worst of all: how do you know Occam’s Razor is any good? With epistemology we’re trying to start at the beginning and address the foundations of thinking, so you can’t just assume common sense intuitions in our culture. If we learn by induction, then we have to learn and argue for Occam’s Razor itself by induction. But inductivists never argue with me by induction, they always write standard English explanatory arguments on philosophical topics like induction. So they need some prior epistemology to govern the use of the arguments for their epistemology, and then need to very carefully analyze what the prior epistemology is and how much of the work it’s doing. (Perhaps the prior epistemology is CR and is doing 100% of the work? Or perhaps not, but that needs to be specified instead of ignored.) CR, by contrast, is an epistemology suitable for discussing epistemology, and doesn’t need something else to get off the ground.”

 

Purpose of Laws

Laws are designed to protect the weak, not the strong“, Tucker says at 9:14. I disagree. Laws are designed to protect individual rights (or at least that’s how it should be in a moral society).

Weekly Goal Summary 2020-06-13

Period: 2020-06-06 – 2020-06-13
(“Goal weeks” starts on Saturdays and ends on Fridays.)

I met 0 out of 2 main goals for this week.
I met 0 out of 2 secondary goals this week.


Main Goals

  • Programming / Simply Scheme (minimum 1 chapter / week)
    Not met.
  • Overreaching & learning (Write down what I know. Work on it and update it once every week.*)
    Not met.

Secondary Goals

  • Typing (minimum 30 min / day on average)
    Not met..
  • Blog (minimum 1 non-goal related posts / week)
    Not met.

Temporary Goals

Shorter term goals. About one week. Mainly focused on working on a particular skill.

  • None this week.

Thoughts

I took a break form active learning. Just did some passive stuff last week.

I did some reading / audiobook listening outside of my goals. Mainly listened to “The Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution” by Rand and “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” by Feynman – and read some Oist stuff on the web.


I will post weekly summaries of my goals weekly until I have meet all my goals for three weeks in a row. After that I will most likely only post summaries of my goals on a monthly basis.

Weekly Goal Summary 2020-06-05

Period: 2020-05-30 – 2020-06-05
(“Goal weeks” starts on Saturdays and ends on Fridays.)

I met 0 out of 2 main goals for this week.
I met 2 out of 2 secondary goals this week.


Main Goals

  • Programming / Simply Scheme (minimum 1 chapter / week)
    Not met.
  • Overreaching & learning (Write down what I know. Work on it and update it once every week.*)
    Not met. Did not write down anything.

Secondary Goals

  • Typing (minimum 30 min / day on average)
    Met. Did average more than 30 min per day.
  • Blog (minimum 1 non-goal related posts / week)
    Met. Posted 2 non-goal related posts.

Temporary Goals

Shorter term goals. About one week. Mainly focused on working on a particular skill.

  • None this week.

Thoughts

I missed two of my goals last week.

I had some motivational issues last week. I could not concentrate when trying to work on my main goals. Non-thinking activities went well – such as typing.
I did not push on the main goals nor look into why I had motivational issues. I just let it be.

Instead of working on my main goals I did listen to some some Objectivist stuff. Primarily “The Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution” by Ayn Rand.


I will post weekly summaries of my goals weekly until I have meet all my goals for three weeks in a row. After that I will most likely only post summaries of my goals on a monthly basis.

Rationality is about methods of thinking which allow for the correction of mistakes. It’s wise because irrational attitudes, if they are mistaken, stay mistaken. Mistakes in rational attitudes can be fixed. Can someone reject the premises of my argument, or refuse to listen to it if they don’t want to, or misunderstand it? Yes. And for all I know they can understand it and reject it — maybe I’m wrong. But none of this is a problem or bad thing. Progress doesn’t come from airtight arguments that force people to accept reason or anything else. It comes from voluntary action, people choosing to think and wanting to gain values by thinking, people having problems they want to improve on, people recognizing their mistakes and wanting a better life. Life presents problems which can inspire people to take some initiative in improving, we don’t have to worry about forcing passive people to live the way we deem correct (and we must not do that, because we might be mistaken; a tolerant society is the only rational society).

– Elliot Temple, [comment on] The Myth of the Closed Mind, 3

Weekly Goal Summary 2020-05-29

Period: 2020-05-23 – 2020-05-29
(“Goal weeks” starts on Saturdays and ends on Fridays.)

I met 1 out of 2 main goals for this week.
I met 2 out of 2 secondary goals this week.


Main Goals

  • Programming / Simply Scheme (minimum 1 chapter / week)
    Met. Finished ch 7.
  • Overreaching & learning (Write down what I know. Work on it and update it once every week.*)
    Not met. Did not write down anything.

Secondary Goals

  • Typing (minimum 30 min / day on average)
    Met. Did average more than 30 min per day.
  • Blog (minimum 1 non-goal related posts / week)
    Met. Posted 3 non-goal related posts.

Temporary Goals

Shorter term goals. About one week. Mainly focused on working on a particular skill.

  • None this week.

Thoughts

I missed one of my goals last week.

Other than Scheme I put most of the time on a passive approach (listening, reading). I think this is less effective than writing down things, putting more thought into the ideas, and discussing / asking questions on the content. I will work on changing this during this week.

Update 2020-06-02:
I don’t have an elaborate plan on how to do a shift from the less effective method to the more effective method. I will just dedicate some time each day from today to do some actual writing on my other main goal (“overreaching & learning“) – even if it is only a couple of minutes per day. That might work on getting me started.


I will post weekly summaries of my goals weekly until I have meet all my goals for three weeks in a row. After that I will most likely only post summaries of my goals on a monthly basis.

[…] no rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude.

Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies

Fizz Buzz in Scheme

I learned about a children’s game called Fizz Buzz today. It turns out that Fizz Buzz is a fairly common programming task that comes up during programming interviews.

Since I am learning to program, I decided to give it a shot.

Here is one way to code a Fizz Buzz procedure in Scheme.
It took me about 5 minutes to think out the solution to this and write the code.

(define (fizzbuzz x)
    (cond ((and (equal? (remainder x 3) 0) (equal? (remainder x 5) 0)) 'fizzbuzz)
          ((equal? (remainder x 3) 0) 'fizz)
          ((equal? (remainder x 5) 0) 'buzz)
          (else se x)))

Update 2020-05-28:

I learned about a new notation called “let” today.

I figured I could improve my Fizz Buzz code by adding “let” to the previous code. This way it becomes easier to alter the “fizz”, “buzz”, and “fizzbuzz” values since they would only have to be altered in one place instead of changing the number in all places in the code.

This was my first solution with “let“:

(define (fizzbuzz x)
    (let ((fizz 3)
          (buzz 5))
      (cond ((and (equal? (remainder x fizz) 0) (equal? (remainder x buzz) 0)) 'fizzbuzz)
          ((equal? (remainder x fizz) 0) 'fizz)
          ((equal? (remainder x buzz) 0) 'buzz)
          (else se x))))

I thought some more about it and figured I could improve on the code even more – rid it of the redundant parts.

Result:

(define (fizzbuzz x)
    (let ((fizz 3)
          (buzz 5))
      (let ((fizzname (equal? (remainder x fizz) 0))
            (buzzname (equal? (remainder x buzz) 0)))
      (cond ((and fizzname buzzname) 'fizzbuzz)
          (fizzname 'fizz)
          (buzzname 'buzz)
          (else se x)))))

Update 2020-05-29:

Adding some explanation to the evolution of above code.

The first code did what it was supposed to do. It gave the right answers to Fizz Buzz for numbers divisible with 3 and 5.

In the next step I added the “let” notation. Adding “let” made the code better because it made it easier to change the numbers from 3 and 5 to any other numbers.
By adding “let” one only needs to change the numbers in one single place of the code. Without “let” one would have to change every singel “3” and “5” that appears in the entire code. Thus there is less room for error after adding “let“. An error would be to eg miss to change one “3” in the code.

In the final step I added “let” to recurring parts of the code as well. By doing this, recurring parts of the code only need to be evaluated once instead of multiple times. This makes the code more efficient.