Lacan, Leibniz, and English as a Programming Language
“All sorts of things in this world behave like mirrors.” —Lacan
In today’s issue of Other Life:
On the untapped wealth of the world’s untranslated writings
On Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic Catholicism
The first hackathon for wordcels
News and Events
The video version of The Independent Scholar is now shipped.
We are currently reading a selection of Montaigne’s most important essays. You’re warmly invited to join us for a discussion seminar on November 21. All seminars are free for members.
Members are also welcome to join Joel’s group writing sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday at 9am-11am Central. Great way to get back into writing if you’ve fallen off! If you’re not already a member, become one today.
On Jacques Lacan’s Psychoanalytic Catholicism
The famous French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) is often assumed to be just another purveyor of postmodern gobbledegook.
On the contrary he was, and remained all his life, a kind of crypto-Catholic.
Lacan brought French philosophical pomposity to an absurd level, I will admit, but I’ve always found his lectures to be fascinating and generative. There are real ideas there, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Reading is better than listening because he spoke so slowly, but the insane pomposity is fun to watch.
Anyway, Lacan believed the Roman Catholic Church was destined to triumph because it "knows where belief resides.” This is not widely known. See M.G. Murphy below.
Source/inspiration: The Return to the Mystical: Jacques Lacan, John of the Cross, and the Christian Tradition by Mark Gerard Murphy
The home of architect Peter Cohen, in the coastal forests of Maine.
On the Untapped Value of Untranslated Writings
Leibniz left behind about 15,000 letters to more than 1,000 correspondents, as well as about 40,000 other unpublished items relating to his work on politics, history, law, linguistics, philosophy, mathematics, and the natural sciences.
Why do we only have a few books and articles by Leibniz translated into English?
Recall that the Middle Ages never translated Plato. Had they translated Plato a few hundred years earlier, they might have pulled forward the Renaissance by a few hundred years, perhaps thereby pulling up the Industrial Revolution by a few hundred years. Highly conjectural, but not completely implausible!
The reason we don't translate all the work of great thinkers is that it's boring.
A 1904 project by the Royal Society to publish the complete works of Isaac Newton was eventually aborted. Here is what the leader of that project, Astronomer R. A. Sampson, had to say:
The present discounted value of all the great work we've never bothered to translate must be at least in the billions, if the Plato-Renaissance model is even 10% true.
Obviously, we need to go translate and publish all of this old work using AI. Some scholars will cry about this, insisting they need huge grants to do it properly, but ignore them. Go get it!
The First Hackathon for Wordcels
English is now a programming language.
Learn to use it like one.
Build something cool. Make some friends. In one weekend. For free.
December 9-10. An experiment from the Other Life community.