Goethe had quite an important influence on Otto Maier. Goethe, a poet and at the same time a scholar, who seemed to offer the model of an approach to nature that was both scientific and aesthetic. Let’s take a look at a peculiar dedicatory page in a published book of Humboldt and Bonpland. From July 16, 1799, to March 7, 1804, the German scholar Alexander von Humboldt, together with the french botanist Bonpland, had embarked...
Gelegentlich ergreifen wir die Feder and schreiben Zeichen auf ein weisses Blatt, Die sagen dies and das, es kennt sie jeder, Es ist ein Spiel, das seine Regeln hat. —Hermann Hesse. Das Glasperlenspiel From time to time we take our pen in hand and scribble symbols on a blank white sheet. Their meaning is at everyone’s command; It is a game whose rules are nice and neat. —Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game, When Hermann...
Epictetus and how to be free!? Is it a question or an exclamation, a political manifesto or a longing to go native, an aspiration for autonomy or the route to emancipation from bondage? This book presents an ancient Greek philosopher’s take on freedom— freedom construed as living in agreement with nature, owning and ruling oneself, becoming a world citizen, desiring always and only what you are assured of getting— and much more. Epictetus (c. AD...
Here is a subconscious double standard: Infinities of time seem a little different from infinities of space. It is natural to think that space extends out in all directions forever (or is this a culturally instilled belief?). Time is supposed to be infinite only in the future direction. We ask when time began but rarely where space began. The infinity of past time The infinity of past time is an unpopular belief. Yet it would...
Otto Maier
Before the eighteenth century, people crudely measured time. Galileo used his own pulse as a measure. Today, our atomic clocks can measure a time interval as small as one-millionth of a second. (Though we have a word for one-trillionth of a second— pico second —we still have no way of accurately measuring it.) But no matter how finely calibrated our clocks are, they are always measuring something discrete—an interval, a repeating signal, a duration between...
Faust
The secret teachings of Goethe. That Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), Germany’s greatest poet, had an interest in the occult and alchemy is clear from Faust. Based on an historical character, the original Faust legend goes back to medieval times and prior to Goethe‘s there were earlier dramatic renditions of the tale, notably Christopher Marlowe’s. Yet it is to Goethe’s Faust (Part I 1808; Part II 1833) that most of us turn when we think...
Sophists
TIDBITS The sophists were skeptics who doubted the possibility of attaining true knowledge of anything. They emphasized the practical application of rhetoric in civic and political life. Some claimed that they could teach both a thing and its opposite, simultaneously arguing both thesis and antithesis. One of the founders of sophism was Gorgias a Sicilian philosopher, orator, and rhetorician who settled in Athens where over his long life of 108 years he made large sums...
this is not fair
The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General. So began...
Maier files books