Adolf Hitler in private – a jolly good Fellow?

Experts are surrounded by their own aura. They know everything about a certain subject, which they have usually studied all their lives – this seems to make them unassailable. But why, then, does a popular German saying deny them a truly profound knowledge? There is often but a single step from specialism to professional blindness!

This blindness could be seen

with Germany’s greatest Hitler expert, Joachim Fest. In 1973, he managed to have the Jew Marcel Reich-Ranicki invited to a meeting with one of the greatest confidants and accomplices of Nazi crimes in the villa of his publisher Jobst Siedler. Obviously Fest saw Speer in a different light. The latter had succeeded in persuading him and parts of the German public that Hitler had hidden his crimes even from him, one of his closest confidants. This fairy tale could only be believed by an expert without psychological knowledge of human nature. A psychologically sharp-eyed layman like Sebastian Haffner would not be tempted to make such an obvious misjudgment. The less than two hundred pages of his Hitler book give a much deeper insight into the Führer’s nature than the more than thousand pages of Fest’s monograph.

Historians Heike Görtemaker and Ernst Piper,

must also be accused of psychological blindness. In a film by Michael Kloft (Zdf-info broadcast of February 23 of this year) dealing with the private circumstances of Hitler’s inner circle at the Berghof, Mrs. Görtemaker emphatically claims that Hitler was no more than a “primus inter pares” in the close circle of his confidants, that is, casually expressed, an equal friend among friends. In fact, films and photos from Eva Braun’s hand show us that manners were quite normal within this circle, which was strictly shielded from the outside world. A superficial observer of these testimonies may well get the impression that this was a cordial meeting of friends like any other (an impression Eva Braun certainly wanted to convey). Such pictures do, of course, not record that Eva Braun attempted suicide twice.

A similar psychological misinterpretation would never have occurred to a man like Sebastian Haffner, who had experienced and suffered the regime at close quarters. Nowhere, not even in the midst of the German people, Hitler had seen himself only as primus inter pares. He explicitly declared that the Germans had no right to exist if they were not up to the great historical task that he, Hitler, had assigned to them (namely, to subjugate all other peoples).

Hitler never thought of

considering any of the people around him as his peers and equals. Even his best friends had to reckon with being taken out of the way in cold blood – let us bluntly say, murdered – if they dared to claim equal status. Hitler had his long-time companion and good friend Ernst Röhm executed on the spot and under a false pretext the very moment when he recognized him as his rival. Hitler accepted nothing and no one but himself. This uneducated but fanatically ambitious man from a small provincial Austrian town managed to replace a jurisprudence that had grown over centuries, an educational tradition of splendid thinkers and poets and, in addition, the previous self-evident principles of morality with a single fixed star, namely himself. It was he alone, who managed to make a nation of seventy million people raise their arms steeply in the air at the sight of him, and to him alone, to Hitler, people had to wish salvation (heil!) whenever they met. It therefore seems truly grotesque when Mrs. Görtemaker, the supposed expert, wants to make us believe: “The real Hitler is a poor little sausage”. Attributing such false humanness to a man like Hitler is just as wrong as stylizing him as a demon supposed to have nothing in common with us, the ordinary people.

Yes, it is true that in political terms there are

two Hitlers: one who remained completely unsuccessful until towards the end of the 1920s and was derided as a political clown by almost all German intelligentsia, and the other who became a feared dictator right after seizing power. But the reason for this transformation does not lie where Mrs. Görtemaker is looking for it, namely in a presumed psychological dependence of the first Hitler on his inner circle or “entourage”. The true reason is clearly rooted in objective outward facts. Between 1925 and 29, the so-called golden twenties, the Germans were doing economically better with each passing year. That is why Hitler’s star was in rapid decline. It only rose – but then in a flash – when the masses, suddenly impoverished by the Great Depression after 1929, saw in him their savior from unbearable need. In exact correspondence to the skyrocketing unemployment they gave him their votes. Eric Hobsbawm, the highly respected British historian of Jewish origin, who certainly could have no reason to relativize, let alone gloss over, German guilt in World War II, nevertheless sees a clear connection between the Great Depression and the terrifying history that began with the demagogue Hitler and reached its terrible climax in World War II. “Without it /the world economic crisis/, there would have been no Hitler…. Would fascism have been significant to world history even without the Great Depression? Probably not. Italy was too small a platform from which to shake the world… Obviously, it was the Great Depression that helped Hitler rise from a marginal political phenomenon to a potential and eventually actual master of his country.”

The film does not go into these causes,

but they are crucial if the slogan “Never Again” is to be a serious commitment rather than a thoughtless mantra. When taking it seriously, we should ask ourselves whether in many parts of our contemporary world – even in the democratic West – the hatred that gave birth to Hitler could not arise again among those left behind by prosperity and education. Just have a look into the Internet. Enough fanaticism, delusion, and anger already exists – and not just among today’s Americans.

We may, nevertheless, give Mrs. Görtemaker the credit

for questioning the version of the unapproachable Hitler that Albert Speer had persuaded the Germans to accept. “In Hitler’s environment, there was never any difference between political and private life. There was no one in the court who had not been involved.” Indeed, there is every reason to believe that Hitler’s henchmen at the Berghof (first of all Albert Speer) were privy to Hitler’s plans down to the last detail. As Hitler’s instruments, they had to be, otherwise how could the execution of these plans be guaranteed? The only exceptions to this rule were, of course, Eva Braun and the wives of the Nazi greats, but in Hitler’s Reich women were only responsible for reproduction anyway or for beautiful society photos as to be seen in this film. 

Experts like Joachim Fest and Heike Görtemaker

have to fight against a danger against which knowledgeable laymen of the kind of Sebastian Haffner are far more resistant. Fest has written his monograph on Hitler in such a way that Hitler although a great criminal, can still be considered a great man. Haffner’s view is much more distinct, with him nothing remains of greatness. All that remains of these thirteen years of mischief is what this man did to his own people and to the world. This demonic master of fakes betrayed and desecrated the best traditions of his country, the heritage of its great thinkers and poets, the knowledge of truth and the self-confidence of future generations, and he decreed for the Jews what he intended for his own people should they not obey him to the last: extinction.

The false ambiguity of the professionally blinkered expert leads to one more danger. Almost everything that can be said about Hitler has been said in thousands and thousands of publications and commentaries. Therefore, scientists or authors are ready to come up with all sorts of new, fancy theses in order to be perceived at all. To this fancy news belongs Mrs. Görtemaker’s thesis of Adolf Hitler revealing to us his true humanness among fellow combatants on the Berghof, where allegedly he merely figured as a “Primus inter Pares”.

But does this mean that it would be completely wrong to see in Hitler not only the mass murderer and political criminal but a human being?

One of the all-time geniuses of literature,

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, gave an answer to this question that fascinates to this very day. As a convicted criminal, the Russian writer had searched with extreme passion for the spark of good in the criminals who surrounded him in the gulag. This search then determined his further life as the author of “The Idiot” or “Crime and Punishment.” With Dostoevsky in mind, we will naturally say that a Hitler also came into the world as a man. He was not born as Hitler, but only made a Hitler by external circumstances. These external circumstances are well known. A person with a big ego, who as a young man must take refuge in an asylum for the homeless and is being sneered at as an untalented postcard painter, ate hatred against authority and all those who blocked his way. Erich Fromm saw in Hitler a necrophiliac, i.e. a man addicted to everything dead, but hatred is certainly not born in a man’s cradle. Hatred slowly grows, fully developed it first appears in Hitler’s literary testimony “Mein Kampf”. It is significant that Hitler himself describes his own psychological state quite well. Words like “ice-cold” pass his lips with particular ease. Anyone reading this book with even a minimum of psychological perspicacity should have realized even then that Hitler would sacrifice not only his friends but the German people with icy ease if they failed to meet his expectations.

I believe that hatred

was the most decisive factor in Hitler’s life since his early defeats and that it explains the “ice-cold” cruelty of this man better than his supposed necrophilia. To understand this, we need only compare him with another glorifier of cruelty. In Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche too preaches a kind of cruelty that the strong-willed need not be afraid of. But Nietzsche was never a hater, he was a deeply sensitive man who tried to overcome the nihilism of his age by idealizing the man of power who, like Zarathustra, overcomes this tormenting nothingness by praising the great man who for his deeds needs no justification. Personally, Nietzsche was not only physically but above all psychologically an extremely vulnerable person – so morbidly excitable that he embraced a horse in Turin just because he saw a coachman ruthlessly beating it. This most thin-skinned, most sensitive of all thinkers wanted to put on a skin of leather with the false pathos of Zarathustra, that’s why the Nazis believed to see in him a comrade-in-arms. But Hitler was an altogether different man. He did not need a leather skin; hatred hardened him early to icy coldness.

In intellectual terms Hitler was lucid,

as lucid as distrust tends to make people humiliated at an early stage of their life. Not without reason he and his henchmen managed to launch the largest propaganda apparatus of the 20th century. They knew perfectly well that there were a great many Germans who did not believe their lies and that most of them would abhor a second world war. Likewise, Hitler was well aware that he would damage his memory if he left written testimonies of executions and mass murders that would prove his direct responsibility for these crimes. And, of course, Hitler was well aware too of the values and morals of the population – this awareness is what made his propaganda so effective. He knew and analyzed current values and morals quite exactly, but in a purely intellectual way. This knowledge did not touch him emotionally – it left him “ice cold”.

This is what distinguishes him from the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche

and from the great criminals in Dostoevsky’s works. The Russian writer puts all his skill into making us understand that even in a Rogozin or Raskolnikov the feeling for injustice is never completely extinguished. But it is different when hatred plays the dominant role in the decisive phase of a person’s life. Hatred may increase intelligence, as it creates distrust and constant vigilance, but it can completely suffocate feelings. In the end, Hitler murdered himself and Eva Braun with the same coldness as his real or imagined enemies and as he wanted to condemn the whole German people “icily” to extinction. In Hitler’s own words: “I am ice-cold here too. If the German people are no longer strong enough or unwilling to sacrifice their blood for their existence, then they shall perish and be destroyed by another, stronger power… I will not shed a tear for the German people.” This was Hitler’s attitude when, after the catastrophe of the winter of 1941/42, Germany’s fortunes in the war began to turn.

Are we still in control of our Brave New Artificial World? (Decomplexation I)

All countries that have the means to do so regard the digitization of information and its transmission as one of the most important technical tasks. In this way, growing volumes of data can be utilized in ever shorter time intervals. Nuclear power plants, ballistic missiles, drones, driverless cars, and surgical procedures can be controlled remotely. State surveillance of entire populations is just as possible as influencing the voting behavior of perfectly screened citizens.

It has, of course, been a trivial truth for thousands of years that knives can be used to cut open pumpkins or murder people. It should therefore not come as a surprise that Google may help us to gain an insight into thousands of facts on the one hand, while at the same time it subjects us to constant observation. SoIn other words, I do not want to criticize digitization for the mere fact that like all other technological breakthroughs, it may be used and misused at the same time. Instead, I would like to focus on a completely different aspect – one hardly ever taken into account: the increasing complexity of the new artificial world we have ourselves created.

Such complexity means first of all

that an overwhelming majority of contemporaries no longer understand the things they routinely use every day. While a car still belongs to the analog world, so that most of us can explain how and why it moves at all, more than ninety-nine out of a hundred people have no idea what happens in everyday gadgets like a cell phone. At first glance, this fact need not cause concern. Our body and brain provide us with the most amazing services every day, but even the greatest luminaries of medicine and neurology have only just unraveled some of the processes that take place within them at any given moment.

In other words, the natural world has always been a mystery to man, but this lack of understanding has not prevented even Stone Age people from subjecting it to their needs. Indeed, the complexity of the natural world stretching from atoms to cosmic galaxies never affected human survival. But what about the artificial world of computers, robots, nuclear-powered intercontinental rockets and the like, which we created ourselves? Is their growing complexity just as insignificant with regard to the individual and social existence of humans? Apparently not. The artificial world confronts us with existential problems that never existed in the past.

Here we come across a first Basic Law

The number of those who, due to their mental abilities and training, are able to develop, maintain and monitor the hardware and software of this artificial world is decreasing to the same extent as the latter’s complexity is increasing.

This is an inevitable consequence resulting from the fact that the Gaussian normal distribution of technical intelligence does not depend on our needs but is a constant (in every population there are only so and so many percent of people whose technical IQ exceeds a certain value). From the outset, therefore, only a fraction of the population can be considered as pioneers and waiting personnel for this need. Even if this potential is up to now far from being exhausted in countries with large populations such as India or China, the first Basic Law nevertheless indicates that it is bound to be constantly reduced in the future because increasing complexity will steeply raise the demands on technical intelligence. Not only today’s 99 percent of people will no longer understand the cell phones of the n-th generation, but the remaining one percent will also melt down to a residual value.

Complexity will be increased in two ways

In the analog age, no special technical skills were required to run a private institute like for instance a bank. This situation has changed fundamentally today. Every financial institution in our time must expect to become inoperative from one moment to the next unless highly paid specialists set up, maintain and update the programs that electronically manage and control the flow of money around the clock. Since national boundaries have long been crossed, international networking is further increasing complexity.

And this is only part of the story. Specialists – on the one hand brilliant amateurs, on the other hand equally highly paid experts from competing countries – do their utmost to gain unauthorized access to their systems. These ongoing attacks are another driving force behind the spiral of complexity in existing systems. Not only banks are affected by this compulsion, but also all manufacturing companies, which are becoming larger and larger for this very reason, because otherwise they would not be able to afford the required number of such specialists.

This results in a second Basic Law

The compulsion for size also results from the costs of increasing complexity. The consequences for society are already beginning to emerge. They are anything but harmless. I can still remember the fun I had as a child using the square beer coasters on the table of a pub to build a tower that could grow up to five stories high, but usually collapsed after the third. What will our future look like when the artificial world around us grows more complex with each passing year? The danger of a system collapse increases with every floor we add to the tower. To prevent this from happening, the demands on maintenance and monitoring must be increased at least to the same extent.

At this point a third Basic Law comes into effect

namely, the compulsion to massively expand technical education, especially in computer science, so that the potential of technical intelligence available in a given population is exploited to the greatest extent possible. From elementary school (perhaps even kindergarten) to universities, technical education will take up an ever greater share of the curriculum, pushing the traditional subjects, first and foremost, of course, the humanities, more and more into the background – a process that we are already witnessing all over the world. However, this tendency, forced by the growing complexity of systems, is in strange contrast to the intentions to which it owes its origins. We once believed that technology would simplify life, relieve people of the tiresome everyday material worries in order to free their minds for higher purposes.

These expectations came true in many respects. For a mother in Vienna, it is undoubtedly a tremendous relief to be able to call her son in New York at any time or transfer money electronically. At least in its initial phase, technical progress was really what it was meant to be: a breathtaking advance into a fantastic world previously imagined only by storytellers.

In the meantime, this fairytale time lies behind us. Not only revolutions, but complexity too devours its children. We know, for example, that fast breeders may significantly stretch the uranium reserves. That is the reason why China, in particular, is sticking with this technology. Other countries such as Germany have turned away from it because the extraordinarily high complexity of such plants extremely increases the risk of wholesale nuclear contamination.

Fourth Basic Law

Extreme risks lead to just as extreme measures of control and thus further the more or less apparent transition to the surveillance state – a trend to be noticed not only in China. Even among sociologists, it is common practice to interpret such surveillance by the state primarily in political terms, as if it were based primarily on evil intentions and lust for power. Undoubtedly, this is often enough the case, but an increasingly large part of central supervision is due to modern technology, that is to the growing complexity of our modern artificial world. As the consequences of sabotage become more and more devastating and costly, states strive to prevent them from happening in the first place by means of complete surveillance, which of course increasingly restricts human freedom. The fourth Basic Law says:

Not only sabotage but technical progress as such is to blame

For example, just consider the quantum computer, a product of outstanding technical intelligence. The moment it will be marketable, so that every private individual can buy it, it will be just as elementary a threat to society as the many nuclear arsenals that meanwhile even small countries can afford to develop and own. From one day to the next, banks will lose their protection against hackers because the new technology will be able to crack all existing codes in a matter of seconds. All money is then on the plate for all the world to take away, so to speak.

In the end, technicians will, of course, develop counter-strategies. As of now, the largest banks are already looking for these in the field of quantum encryption. But the necessary consequence will be a further increase in complexity and much higher costs. In other words, we are rapidly approaching the point where the tower collapses, because constant increases in complexity will no longer be either manageable or affordable.

In the arms industry this point has already been reached

Our “Brave New Artificial World” has now reached a point where with every passing day, there is a growing likelihood that something might “happen” because of mere chance or human failure. This is the inevitable result of nuclear missiles becoming faster and faster so that the advance warning time for their impact likewise becomes smaller and smaller. In the case of a first strike on the part of the opponent, both Russians and Americans will no longer dispose of about half an hour after its discovery as was still the case a couple of decades ago. Now that a few days ago Russia successfully demonstrated to the world the test flight of “Zircon”, a rocket of nine times supersonic speed, this already minimal period has shrunk to a few minutes (depending on where the nuclear missiles are fired from).

Fortunately, the danger of an arbitrary first strike by a superpower is so small that an optimist may completely neglect it. No president is so powerful that he would not have to consult with his military beforehand – and the military knows the consequences quite well. The situation is quite different with the second strike, which may be triggered by sheer misinformation. That is exactly what happened in the Soviet Union in 1983. At the very last moment the apocalyptic counter strike was prevented by the great Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov. As for the US after Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis, an auxiliary (currently female) has to follow an American president wherever he goes with a special black suitcase, so that he is able to give the final order for a nuclear second strike in case an inimical first strike has been spotted. Since a first strike only makes sense if it destroys the enemy’s entire nuclear arsenal, the second strike must likewise be of maximum strength. Due to the minimal time window of meanwhile five minutes, a serious consultation with the military has, of course, become all but impossible. The president of a superpower must either rely on computers or on his guts to decide whether or not he will reduce the globe to rubble.

Whether we like it or not, we must acknowledge a fifth Basic Law

The growing complexity of the artificial world we have ourselves created has increased our freedom only in specific cases, but has radically restricted it as a whole, since the self-extinction of the human species – the maximum loss of freedom – hovers over our heads for the first time in history as a real danger and perspective. Even if – for reasons of mental health – we suppress this sinister possibility from our consciousness, we cannot overlook the prospect that growing complexity is pushing humanity towards a systemic collapse and therefore towards a total negation of freedom.

In the field of armament, where each superpower forces the other to respond to growing speed and deadliness with ever faster and more lethal systems, the state of unstable complexity has already been reached. The banking system will soon reach that point when all codes can be deciphered effortlessly. The technical progress in genetics is also heading in the direction of a complexity that threatens to elude the control even of experts, since we will probably never know for sure what long term effects selective interventions in the genetic material will have on the organism as a whole.

But the now classic example of potentially fatal effects

of growing complexity is the fossil-industrial revolution itself, whose main feature is the increasing hunger for resources on the one hand and their transformation into waste products largely consisting of non-biodegradable toxins, on the other. We know that the removal of CO2 from the air, of plastics from the seas and of electronic, industrial and radiating nuclear waste from the ground represent the great unresolved problems of our time.  While initially only raw materials such as coal were mined, thousands of other substances up to the rare earth elements have now been added. However, the waste materials and potential toxins are already in the hundreds of thousands. We thus exponentially increased the complexity of our interventions in nature – with consequences that can no longer be ignored. Climate change is only the most visible sign that the artificial tower could very well collapse.

Failure of ethical control

Technology is a subsystem within social realms while technical intelligence constitutes a subsystem within the mental abilities of human beings. As long as technology serves man, that is, human society as a whole, we have reason to call its achievements “progress”. But as soon as the technical subsystem becomes independent and – due to its growing complexity – turns into a danger for the social system as a whole (and that of nature), we are forced to speak of its achievements as “technical regression”. With the large-scale destruction of the natural foundations of life, the fossil-industrial epoch has reached a stage where this “technical regression” is visible to everyone and (at least in the field of armaments) even questions man’s very survival.

With regard to the human body, we speak of cancer when a subsystem gets out of control. Then we say that the immune system is failing, i.e. the body’s defenses. If, on the other hand, technology gets out of control, then the immune system of a society is damaged. Its ethical controls no longer work – those controls, which examine and evaluate all human activities according to whether they are beneficial or harmful to the common good.

The ethical control of the whole

over its parts – its diverse subsystems – should be a matter of course. In the case of technology, it has failed because a taboo stands in the way, which has by now been hardened into dogma. The dogma looks somewhat like this: Every new discovery in the field of natural sciences represents an expansion of our knowledge – which is undoubtedly correct – and is therefore a blessing for mankind – which is undoubtedly incorrect.

The historical roots of this dogma are rooted in the fact that the beneficial effects of technical progress were long felt to be so overwhelming that the doubt about it could be dismissed as mere backwardness and stupidity. This explains why every time a Nobel Prize is awarded to the luminaries of science, humanity falls into a kind of euphoria, even though it is precisely this newly acquired knowledge that tends to increase complexity in our artificial world and heightens its instability. We are on the way to hopelessly damaging the natural world with its artificial counterpart, but it is still considered the worst heresy to doubt technology itself, even though it has brought about this process in the first place.

Decomplexation – the new Basic Law

If we do not want to fail because of the self-created complexity of the new artificial world, only decomplexation, i.e. the conscious reduction of complexity, can save us. Of course, this does not mean a revolt against technology, as if we had to regress back to the early Stone Age, where only a few thousand people in small hordes passed through Europe. Technical intelligence has long been our destiny and the artificial world is a subsystem that we can no longer do without. But this system needs strict control in order not to become completely uncontrollable.

Once society regains control over its technical subsystem, it will not only prohibit further research on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons but will also ensure that no more money is made available for research that promotes the development of a surveillance state and thus the suppression of freedom. Knowledge in itself, for example knowledge about how we may kill people en masse, has no value at all, but only knowledge that promotes life and freedom. Society therefore has not only the right but an obligation to distinguish between ethically valuable and ethically dangerous knowledge – to promote the one and to bring research on the other under its control. Because knowledge and truth are by no means neutral seen from the ethical perspective. We owe to a philanthropic science that service of truth which, in the 17. and 18. centuries, the times of Enlightenment, had successfully eliminated so many dogmatic lies. But knowledge and truth, which serve the development of weapons of mass destruction or increase complexity to the point of uncontrollability, retrospectively call into question all previous achievements that science and technology conferred on man.

Ye shall know them by their Fruits!

This classic saying from the New Testament (Matthew 7:16) confronts effect and cause. A bad effect is not likely to have a good cause, and vice versa. Thorns do not bear grapes, and we find no figs on thistles. We should therefore not rely on fine words and theories. What counts are the effects that arise from them.

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Charles Darwin, Chance and the good Lord – a Philosophical Excursion

In 1970 Jacques Monod’s seminal book “Le Hasard et la Nécessité” (Chance and Necessity) was published, on the cover of which the renowned biochemist summed up in a single and concise formula the world view that had dominated first Europe and then the entire world since the 17th century. For the objective scientist, so Monod’s message, the world is nothing but chance and necessity. For there is nothing in the world but these two principles alone: on the one hand, necessity representing that order, which the natural sciences explore in the shape of laws, and on the other hand, chance, which denotes the void within this order – in other words, a meaningless nothing with which science does not know what to do. Since Monod established this formula, neurology has made tremendous progress, his book is certainly no longer “up-to-date”, but the view that reality has nothing else to offer but these two dimensions has become even more entrenched. According to a now prevalent view, our world is made of calculable mechanisms of the physical and neuronal world, and the yawning emptiness of meaningless chance.

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Logical refutation of Noam Chomsky’s famous trees – the essence of his theory of language

The fascination of Chomsky’s theory of language is due to the fact that it seems to derive linguistic diversity and complexity from a simple starting point. After Chomsky, a whole generation of linguists was busy with drawing all these elusive inverted trees. Let us stick to a simple example:

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Politics, Science and – yes! – Linguistics

Until the twenties of the last century, German was still the most common language of science. By 1933 Germany had won more Nobel Prizes than any other nation, more than England and the United States combined. Then came Hitler and his policy of systematic lies (and crimes). After the Second World War, German was just one language among others, and German science lost much of its former significance.

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Justice – Why is it so hard to achieve?

For a serious thinker it is not advisable to talk about “the nature” of man, because such statements almost always turn out to be speculative, mostly they only reveal the nature of the daring author. I will, nevertheless, begin with two sentences that aim at doing just that: to say something about basic human aspirations. I expect that the following statements will support my statement.

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Brave New Corona World – A heated Debate between Steven Pinker and Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley: Did I not make sufficiently clear what I think about principled optimists and ideological perfectionism when I wrote a masterpiece of world literature on the subject? Don’t believe that a man of the mind ever takes leave of thinking and simply retires. Instead I’m anxiously following what you’re doing down there – and certainly that gives me no rest. Coronavirus is only one among many threatening forebodings. Homo sapiens insapientissimus seems to do everything in his power in order to put himself on the red list of species without a future. And you don’t even know what you are doing! *0*

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Jenner on Jenner: Outline of a mind-related biography

As human beings we are controlled by emotions and by our intellect – at any time both are invariably involved, even if it sometimes seems as if we are dealing with either purely emotional people or pure intellectuals. A mathematic formula, for example, which to an average person may seem as cold, lifeless and repellent as a prison wall, may produce enchantment and ecstasy in a mathematician who perceives it something extremely beautiful and elegant. In other words, he experiences much the same feelings as a musician who is playing Mozart or Bach. Feelings and the intellect don’t present themselves to us with an either-or, but we may definitely speak of prevailing tendencies.

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Socrates versus Minsky – can Artificial Intelligence replace the Human Brain?

Socrates

Let’s get away from the disturbing problems of the present, in order to turn back to those much more basic and lasting ones which concern the nature of man. Mr. Marvin Minsky, you were the leading authority on Artificial Intelligence, glad to meet you in paradise!

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De gustibus EST disputandum!

An important, perhaps the most important, task of a good teacher is to dissuade students from making hasty judgments, for it is with this craving that we come into the world, while on the contrary reason only develops very slowly. Infants immediately start crying when they feel unwell and they smile when being treated kindly. But the vocabulary of pubescent young people still contains mainly expressions like super, cool, great or negative ones like poo, disgusting, evil etc. The aversion to independent thinking and the tendency to replace arguments with hasty values and judgments remains in later life – for many people throughout their lives.

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The Technician and the Poet – ferocious arguments, half-hearted reconciliation

Technician are used to thinking, poets also give free reign to feelings, sometimes they only express their feelings without caring much about thinking. Continue reading The Technician and the Poet – ferocious arguments, half-hearted reconciliation