Sunday, 4 September 2011

This and that and a bit on Hegel.

Not much happening really, ended up with a severe cold  on Thursday so brain hasn't been entirely in gear.

Finished TMA06 for M208 and safely posted it away had a wake up call when trying to the revision TMA blind ie with just the handbook in exam conditions. Only managed about 1/2 still this is usual when revision starts should do enough to finish it this week then revision starts.

Bit bogged down on unit D of M337, after the joys of residue calculus, this is rather tedious stuff on conformal transformations and Mobius transformations. Have finally finished the TMA question but had my head scratching quite a while. Doesn't help that key points are buried in the Audio Visual units. Looks like I'll be winging it for the last two units one on fluid dynamics and the other on the Mandelbrot set. A pity really as I was looking forward to the fluid mechanics part.

Other maths projects on hold until end of next week whislt I crack on with the TMA's which have to be submitted.

As a preparation for my projected MA in Contintental philosophy, and to complement my reading of Hume have started to read Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind or Spirit as some translators have it. Must admit to being deeply biased against it as one of my first books I read on Philosophy was Karl Popper's Open society and it's enemies. This remarkable book makes a link between Plato, Hegel and Marx and the rise of totalitarianism Hegel being one of the main targets of Popper. Popper's line if I recall it was that any attempt to see an underlying pattern in history is doomed to failure as it isn't scientific as it can't be falsified. However given Hegel's importance in 19th Century German philosophy he influenced Marx and it is claimed existentialism, it is important to have an understanding of his ideas. Also Popper's idea of science as essentially that of physics narrows the scope of a wide range of19th century  philosophical texts for them science is more like systematic knowledge rather than something which can be quantified. I can't believe it's all to be dismissed simply because it doesn't conform to the standards of physics. Even Hume's main works despite his dictum to consign any thing that didn't contain 'abstract reasoning concering quantitiy and number or experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence' to the flames doesn't conform to the standards he set himself.  

I'll post more later indeed I want to provide a section by section summary of the main philosophical works on this blog however this is just first impressions.  Having skimmed through the preface, it's quite interesting. Hegel thinks he has found a method of breaking the dualisms associated with philosophy up to Kant namely the dualism between subject and object. he seems to want to go back to an Aristotlean notion of substance which he calls Nous and is translated as Notion but this is now a dynamic thing instead of the static thing of the meadival times. A naive interpretation would say that this is similar to the existentialist idea of being indeed Hegel uses terms like being in itself and being for itself which play a part in Sartre's philosophy

For Hegel science and mathematical truths only describe the appearance of things and provides a static view of the world. Nous however is always changing only presenting part of itself to us. The dynamic of history is driven by Nous's attempt to reconcile it's multifarious appearances with it's underlying being. At different times in something aking to a collective conscious Nous manifests itself. However it is never content to reconcile itself with one particular era or epoch. Or at least that was Hegel's view at the time he wrote the Phenomenology. Of course as is well known Hegel 15 years later was to claim (just as Fukyama claimed in the 1990's) that History had reached it's final destiny in the establisment of the Prussian State. He was wrong then and Fukyama has been shown to be wrong now. So I must confess to some ambivalence about Hegel. We'll see.

As a break from maths and philosophy going to watch Richard II tonight with a bottle of wine I'll let you know what I think Derek Jacobi is in the title role so should be worth watching. I hope also to do Henry IV part I and part II
during the rest of September.   


  1. Hi Chris

    Thanks for the message. I've been so out of touch with the blogs recently. Got married last month, and what with that and all the work I've had to do since to make up for the time off, I've managed to get behind with pretty much everything, as the piles of washing up and laundry would attest.

    I'm in the same boat as you with block D. Finished the first unit at the end of last week, which I guess went okay. It was rushed a bit, due to having one week for the last two units, and well, basically a whole block of M381 to get through.

    I actually settled, this morning, on a decision to cut my losses and work through the TMA questions with the books. It's worked before, though I'm not holding out too much hope this time. It should be okay for M337 as the substitution rule should get me through, but I've yet to hear about my last M381 TMA; the tutor gave me an extension but never actually said when to get it to him by, and since it coincided almost perfectly with my M337 one and then the wedding, it was fairly late. I've been eagerly checking the post each day in the hopes of a marked, 85+ TMA waiting for me to take the pressure off, but no dice yet.

    Unit D1 was, well, much as you said, a bit of a mystery. I managed to get to the point that I was getting the answers right, to an extent (though, one look at the final question and I'd had enough; I just thought sod it, and hoped I won't need to know that). Mobius transformations were entirely less interesting than I'd expected for what it's worth. I had a flick through D2 this morning, and realised there was no way I could get through that in a week and manage to be on top of everything else as well. Here's to a week of little sleep and lots of head-scratching. It was D3 that I was most looking forward to. Maybe I'll have a look at it on the plane to our honeymoon, but with the free drinks, I do wonder if I'm not aiming my sights a little high.

    I wonder how you've found the course overall. Probably if I read back through your blog I'd find out. I haven't learnt as much as I thought I would, and unfortunately have had quite a few 'so what' moments. I've probably taken in more than I expected, but the fact that most of the time has been spend chasing deadlines certainly hasn't helped. Perhaps I'm just being pessimistic. It's been better than doing nothing at least.

    More than a month left until the exams at least, so plenty of time, hopefully, to fill in the gaping gaps in my knowledge. Best of luck for the remaining TMA, and the revision!

    Neil H

  2. Congratulations on your marriage mate I'm like you feel have to cut the losses to meet deadlines and also don't feel I've learnt as much as I thought I would. I think however the elegance of Cauchy's theorem is absolutely amazing and I really enjoyed applying it to solve integrals and complicated series. A real high and I hope to understand the background and theory a little better when I embark on revision.
    I would enjoy your honeymoon forget about maths for a week or two and then get stuck in

    All the best mate to you and your beautiful wife.

  3. I can't remember a thing about the conformal transformations I did at Uni.

    Except that they took a special way of thinking,were easy to get wrong, and there had to be an extra session to explain them.

    This session was very popular, as lots of people were struggling.

    Mind you, they did seem indistinguishable from magic.

    The questions were step 1) look, see it was very hard ,step 2) do a conformal transformation, step 3) see that the problem was much easier.

    The first and third steps were easy.

    It was only that middle one which took the work...

  4. Cauchy's Theorem is amazing. I loved finding residues at poles.

    But I have totally forgotten it....

  5. Chris,
    When you do your Dept. Conted, Oxford course next presentation; will you be coming to Oxford or via distance learning? They run some fantastic looking residentials on some wonderful arts, classics and philosophy topics. Might do one of their weekend art history courses, myself.


  6. It'll be by distance learning a good supplement to the rather meagre philosophy courses that the OU supply.