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Re: Tolkien and technology

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  • disneylogic <disneylogic@yahoo.com>
    On Sat, 4 Jan 2003 13:04:24 -0000 David F. Porteous wrote in part: [snip] ... Yes, true enough, I guess. But apart from the
    Message 1 of 14 , Jan 6, 2003
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      On Sat, 4 Jan 2003 13:04:24 -0000 "David F. Porteous"
      <dporteous@...> wrote in part:


      >Well I would agree that mathematics is not dependant on
      >industrialisation or mechanics, but engineering, and thus
      >industrialisation and mechanics, is dependant on mathematics.

      Yes, true enough, I guess. But apart from the alchemist tendencies
      on the part of Sauruman in producing the gunpowder-like substance to
      use at Helm's Deep in LOTR, there isn't a lot of calculation
      apparent. Sauruman seems to empower things using his wizard's staff
      and the orcs appear to come already equipped with metallurgical
      skills. In the movie, in contrast with the book, the Uruk-hai appear
      to be formed whole. I don't recall the book detailing how they are

      <<Much of the gnostic tendency in early European science....>>

      >But in this instance the discussion is not about early science;
      >the argument which has been put is that elves are in possession of
      >some very advanced science. To duplicate the effects of the rings
      >of power using technology would require greater understanding than >
      >we currently have and it is my contention that while such is not
      >inconceivable, it would be necessary to move to such an
      >understanding systematically. Everything we know about the
      >development of technology tells us this is so.

      Well, while clearly there has been progress in technology, based upon
      the kinds of things we are capable of creating, there is always this
      sense, felt at the fringe, that superior technology was once in hand
      and has been lost. After all, isn't that part of the Atlantis myth?
      And isn't that part of the thing that moves people, including some
      folks who've recently grabbed the headlines, to believe our
      civilization and perhaps even we are intellectual descendents of
      'visitors from elsewhere'?

      That could be, too, another gloss on "For nothing is evil in the
      beginning. Even Sauron was not so." This might mean the skills and
      art of doing all these things were given and created by Iluvtar,
      along with the moral bounds and limits on their proper use, and this
      usage has decayed since then. Indeed, why not paint Melkor as the
      first vehicle who strayed beyond the proper use of these skills?
      This sentiment isn't limited to technology. Maimonedes, in one of
      his ego trips, wrote Judah ha-Nasi codified things in the Mishnah
      with a completed understanding of the philosophical principles
      underlying the Torah, common understanding had decayed since then,
      and he, Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, was going to set all right because he
      knew what was right again. Maybe all this is is an extended fall
      from grace? I've wondered, in fact, if the history of Middle-earth
      might not be interpreted as Man's fall from grace, albeit it takes
      thousands of years rather than the instant an apple is eaten.

      <<Having been grounded in much of it, I can't imagine anything closer
      to the
      spiritual than a view of our world based upon quantum mechanics,
      many of the purely rationalist opinion would disagree with me on

      >I think religious people would disagree that there is nothing closer
      >to the spiritual than maths, though I believe this Pope is very much
      >in favour of science being developed and doesn't feel it impinges on
      >the remit of religion. Personally, as an atheist, I believe in an
      >existentialist viewpoint.

      The viewpoint is not modern, for sure. But I bet that's a lot of
      what Scholasticism was about and how and why folks saw in Greek
      sources another way of establishing their religious convictions, if
      one accepts logic as being of the same stuff as mathematics, i.e.,

      -- Jan

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