15.363 Great Books and their origins

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: Mon Nov 12 2001 - 02:30:05 EST

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 363.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001 07:23:29 +0000
             From: Victoria Chadbourne <victoria.chadbourne@wright.edu>
             Subject: Re: 15.361 Western Canon? ideas on a draft?

    I didn't find the list, but I did find a citation of a newspaper that is
    suppose to have one of the versions of the list.

    "The Best Hundred Books," by the Best Judges. Pall Mall Gazette "Extra,"
    no. 24. London (1886) 23

    It was cited in an article in the Stanford Humanities Review, Vol. 6.1
    (1998) at the following URL:


    This article has quite a lot of information on the "Great Books" and their
    origins. I hope this can be of some help.

    Victoria Chadbourne
    Wright State University

    "Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty )" wrote:
    > Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 361.
    > Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

    > <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/>
    > [1] From: Haradda@aol.com (6)
    > >
    > [2] From: Arun-Kumar Tripathi (124)
    > <tripathi@amadeus.statistik.uni-dortmund.de>
    > Subject: Assessment of Human Brain, Intelligent Machines,
    > Computers and Global Inequalities -First Draft
    > Date: Wed, 07 Nov 2001 17:57:52 +0000
    > From: Haradda@aol.com
    > Subject: Re: Western Canon
    >I came across a reference to Sir John Lubbock's list of the 100 best books.
    >But I have been unable to get a copy of this list of books. Does anyone have
    >this list available or is able to point me in the direction where I can
    >locate one.
    >Thank you
    >David Reed
    > Date: Wed, 07 Nov 2001 18:02:04 +0000
    > From: Arun-Kumar Tripathi
    > Subject: Assessment of Human Brain, Intelligent Machines,
    >Computers and Global Inequalities -First Draft
    >Dear Dr. Willard McCarty,
    >Could any of humanist scholars please provide any references to the below
    >draft/notes? Comments are appreciated!! Thank you in advance.
    >Assessment of Human Brain, Intelligent Machines, Computers and Global
    >inequalities, etc.
    > By
    > Arun Kumar Tripathi, Research Scholar,
    > Technical University Darmstadt, Germany
    >I would like to begin this essay by thought-provoking ideas on intelligent
    >machines, which may be somewhat ridiculous As the year 2001 starts rushing
    >headlong towards us, we all are thinking about many changes. But how many
    >of us are thinking along the radical lines of several recent books (e.g.
    >Ray Kurzweils gospel of intelligent machines and the vision of Hans
    >Moravec) all of which, all of which written by highly reputed authorities
    >and scientists they argue that because of the relentless accelerating
    >march of technology, desktop-computer power will, within just a few
    >decades, far exceed that of the human brain, and shortly thereafter will
    >even exceed the collective thinking power of all humanity. They further
    >argue that such thinking entities will merge with nanotechnology and
    >virtual reality, and the products that will emerge from this convergence
    >will be intelligences of an inconceivably powerful short, leaving and
    >sweeping (humanity) humans behind the dust. To some extent is true, but
    >there is much exaggerations.
    >The human brain remains unfathomably more complex than and electronic
    >device yet developed, and likely to be developed for generations to come.
    >What all this computing power does is to provide new and expanded
    >capacities for the exercise of the human imagination. And, regarding
    >computing power and human imagination further ideas Computers and networks
    >allow us to store, manipulate, access, and use vast quantities of
    >information. Such techniques as data warehousing for example, allow
    >managers to explore information in previously impossible ways, searching
    >for and examining relationships. Further, computers enable people to
    >design new and better products (including products that allow even more
    >power to design new and better products) through their capacity to
    >calculate at lightening speed. Computer data management, storage, and
    >communications have also improved the ability of business to make, manage,
    >and market their products. It appears that great efficiencies are now
    >being realized through these means. (Now if those benefits can only be
    >expanded to encompass the less developed nations..) Even school children
    >can now easily create presentations using graphics, sound, motion, and
    >text, which both sparks their interest and enables them to organize their
    >information and ideas in new ways. Hyperstudio and Powerpoint are among
    >the products used for that purpose.
    >Herewith I would like to add one more thought-provoking idea The brain is
    >presumably some kind of information processor. Why cant the cerebral
    >engineers measure how well the neurons are manipulating data in much the
    >same way computer engineers benchmark the blazing speed of an Apple G3
    >ship against that of an Intel Pentium?
    >In time, above motive can be achieved perhaps the brain is far too complex
    >(an operating at too many levels) to permit that sort of analysis now.
    >About all that can be done is to analyze in the light of output.
    >Intelligent is demonstrated by action. As the late Dr. Laurence J. Peter
    >said, The best intelligence test is what we do with our leisure time.
    >There is some developments, that have taken place that studying the
    >precursors to the signals that control muscles. Human brain is a computer,
    >an overdone analogy. I am not at all sure, that it is very helpful in
    >reality. The human brain has existed for millions of years and has been
    >undergoing evolution from its origins for billions of years. Computers
    >have existed for only a few decades. Again, it is too complex to discuss
    >here, that the various actions to be performed by a computer are all
    >decided by the human brains, not by computer itself. Though, inarguable, I
    >suppose in the sense that only a specified repertoire of actions of
    >actions are available to a computer. (But how and when to take actions,
    >and in what degree and combination is a more difficult matter) Computers
    >can only follow instructions, they dont read mind. Feedback and remote
    >sensing systems can indeed let a computer change its course of actions
    >done all the time. To add more -- -- It finally dawned on me that what is
    >so problematic about the comparison (of human brain and computers) is that
    >the analogy is backwards. People refer as the brain as being like a
    >computer. No. Computers are a human attempt to electromechanically
    >reproduce a very limited subset of what the brain can (with the aid of
    >such devices as paper and pencil!) do. In other words, computers are like
    >(limited aspects of ) the brain. Very fast and reliable for some purposes
    >(some very important and valuable ones!), but still only a pale shadow of
    >the brain. In short we could say, Comparison between computers and brains
    >is misguided except at the most basic hardware level. Computers are not
    >intended to be anything like brains, and their design is fundamentally
    >unrelated to anything that goes on in brains. This is true at every level
    >from synpases to culture.
    >One of the challenges, that the brain does not work at all like a
    >computer, also provides us with an opportunity: the possibility of new
    >modes of interaction that allow us to take advantage of the complementary
    >talents of humans and machines.
    >Human brain is a computer this is a hypothesis rather an objective fact.
    >It is one way to look at the brain: one says we can think of it as a
    >computer. I think it is a productive one, if understand properly; but many
    >people disagree and emphasize the differences between brains and
    >computers, and suggest that it is better to think of the brain
    >differently, e.g. in terms of cybernetics or biology or dynamics.
    >Now to the global inequalities:
    >First of course, I recognize that there is an inequality of access to
    >information and that it is largely drawn along economic lines. Second, I
    >think we all must remember that this inequality has always existed there
    >has always been such an inequality since the dawn of history. Some people
    >have better access have the best economic means, that does not mean we
    >should abandon efforts to make internet as accessible and affordable as
    >possible, but I dont think the inequality is substantively different from
    >that which has existed forever, therefore we have survived it in the past
    >and can survive it now. May only real complaint about the frequent
    >have/have-not arguments is that they seem to ignore that past history as
    >if the internet situation is somehow unique and different from books
    >(which once were reserved only for the church and the rich and noble),
    >telephones, television and so on. And, pertaining to these ideas,
    >communication technologies offer (1) a chance at reasonable cost to
    >greatly improve access to information and (2) incentive for businesses to
    >further increase equality of access, as doing so ultimately increases
    >their own markets. This is a case of economic self interest (quickly, I
    >think) toward enhanced opportunity worldwide. The cost of distributing
    >information via the Internet is a fraction of the cost of distributing it
    >by way of paper. The cost of promoting business via the Internet is
    >likewise a fraction of the cost of previous methods. Although many costs
    >of delivery remain, the overall cost of doing business should decline
    >sharply for may kinds of business. In sum, I think the opportunities are
    >excellent, even if now without the difficulties and challenges that result
    >from worldwide competition.
    >Best Regards
    >Arun Kumar Tripathi
    >ECP Ring Leader

    >Der Leib ist die Natur; die wir selbst sind. Wir duerfen uns deshalb fuer
    >die Frage, was natur ist, nicht auf die Aussagen der Naturwissenschaft
    >beschraenken, sondern muessen einbeziehen, was wir als Natur an uns selbst
    >erfahren. [-Gernot Boehme, Beruehmte Darmstaedter Philosoph-]

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