Re: Tolkien and technology
- 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 onYes, true enough, I guess. But apart from the alchemist tendencies
>industrialisation or mechanics, but engineering, and thus
>industrialisation and mechanics, is dependant on mathematics.
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;Well, while clearly there has been progress in technology, based upon
>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.
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
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 closerThe viewpoint is not modern, for sure. But I bet that's a lot of
>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
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.,