Abhinav Marwaha

Ramblings on the world.

09 January 2022

Canonical Texts

This is above my paygrade.

There are so many books being written and have been written all over the globe, so many papers being published by Ph.D. students and so many so-called news articles being published. We are literally being drowned in the sea of data and we can't even differentiate between information and you know raw good old good old data.

It seems as if there is something fundamental going on like it seems to be an information theory issue. Like there will always be more noise in the system than there can be signal. Feels like entropy is being a pain in the ass again.

But we are children of order, our mere existence is evidence that order can persist in this sea of chaos. So is there something fundamental that we can use to sort this pile of data that we can consume and hope we are following signals, not noise? Well, there seems to be. I think the number of citations of a book in history sort of makes it a more reliable source of signal. This idea is taken by the scientific community's research paper popularity and google's algorithm as backlinks so I think the number of citations of this idea seems okay.

Kindly note that they are not the truth in any sense they are just chatter of relevant ideas in humanity's history. I will try to support this list with some data if I can find it or my lazy ass allows it so pray for it I guess.

  1. Ancient Texts

These were pretty awesome not because they contained multitudes of truth but they may Idk. It's just that it guided humanity through generations of chaos where there was no alternative to order.

  1. Bible
  2. Gita
  3. Quran
  4. Buddhist Philosophy
  5. ...

These are just the titles that I am familiar with but of course, there are plenty of others. don't tag me on this, please.

  1. Aristotle

The Organon is the standard collection of Aristotle's six works on logic.

It influenced all the writers of the renaissance, all the Islamic scholars of the 10th century and it is kinda the basis of the beautiful beautiful scientific method which has its drawbacks of course.

So I think this is relevant. But of course, the real question is how to read it I mean it was in a language that people say it's greek but I will take that with a grain of salt because the English of the 16th century isn't exactly the English of today eh? but that's something you can decide.

So what translation should we read? should we read some condensed secondary source or something. So I found these you probably should do your own research but that's what I will read if I read it.

Complete works of Aristotle vol. 1

Complete works of Aristotle vol. 2

  1. Plato

Well, there were whole schools of thought dedicated to this guy and Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's subdomain is Plato so that is enough for me. here is a link for you guys, enjoy.

  1. Francis Bacon

He was kinda a dropper from Cambridge university that's it that's all I want to know but for your sanity, he was a pioneer of something called "eliminative induction" hell I don't understand it yet. (but maybe using it without realizing)

This text seems to be good enough for his ideas

  1. Galileo Galilei

My man my man he literally gave his life for science.. skin in the game much?? here is an excerpt from wiki

During the period of religious conservatism brought about by the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, Galileo Galilei unveiled his new science of motion. Neither the contents of Galileo's science nor the methods of study he selected were in keeping with Aristotelian teachings. Whereas Aristotle thought that science should be demonstrated from first principles, Galileo had used experiments as a research tool. Galileo nevertheless presented his treatise in the form of mathematical demonstrations without reference to experimental results. It is important to understand that this in itself was a bold and innovative step in terms of the scientific method. The usefulness of mathematics in obtaining scientific results was far from obvious. This is because mathematics did not lend itself to the primary pursuit of Aristotelian science: the discovery of causes.

Wet enough for you?

  1. Isaac Newton

Ahhh the prodigy. He had his share of demons I won't lie but he is kinda the person that started it all or one of the people. His ideas of how to look at the world and reality as a whole were pretty interesting if not amazing.

After him, it was a hell lot of people you should consult for all things wisdom not that there were fewer intellectual people before, its just that during this time, the texts tended to survive because of the tech available at this point.

  1. Philosophical Legends

There was seriously something wrong with these guys, to be honest, but there is some degree of truth in their writings if you can see past the weirdness.

To name a few -> Immanuel Kant, Nietzsche, Freud, ...

  1. Karl Marx

His ideas were pretty interesting, you should check out Das Kapital and Communist Manifesto.

  1. Karl Popper

Ahh, the modern guru of the scientific method.

  1. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Oh man, this is the first text I will read If I ever get the energy to read such a dense piece of literature. this guy pretty much wrote how science comes about and how revolutions of ideas happen so I think it's pretty important is an understatement.

  1. Shakespeare

The literary genius, you probably should consult him for all matters that do not have scientific footing so to speak. "Love" seems to be one such bizarre phenomenon.

There are plenty of books that are considered classic in the sense that they are essential for everyone to read. You can find hundreds of them and hundreds of lists of them all over the internet. Here is one and here is another.

  1. Richard Feynman

He is the best teacher I never had.

  1. Mathematics

Alex’s Adventures in Numberland: Dispatches from the Wonderful World of Mathematics

  1. Ludwig Wittgenstein

You should consult him on how we communicate and the general sense of philosophy of language. This talk may be relevant.

  1. Stoics

There is a quote by nntaleb that I like :

A Stoic is a Buddhist with attitude, one who says “fuck you” to fate.

  1. Comics

The world of comics is pretty intense, it has influenced a lot of people in deeper ways than you can think.

  1. Anime / Light Novels

The trending ones are okay. But find the most enlightening and difficult to consume animes and you will find some worthwhile wisdom.

  1. Games

Interactivity and tight feedback loops teach way more than a mere text can.

  1. Music

I think there should be some canonical list of music. Experiences make us as much as our reasoning makes us.

It would be pretty fun drawing the graph of which genre affected which, which artist influenced which.

  1. Movies

Watch the slow ones, the weird ones, and the least trendy ones.

  1. Science Fiction

Historically, historians' prophecies were less accurate than science fiction writers.

  1. blogs

Paul Graham's essays come to mind.

  1. The modern era

podcasts, youtube channels, and blogs increases the conductivity of ideas.

  1. News

I like NewsLaundry, but you should do your own reasearch.

We stand on the shoulders of giants no doubt about that but if we don't understand what they were trying to say, we will slip away.

And I will leave you with this quote which I attribute to Gregory House.

Truth begins in lies.

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