Fermi Society of Philosophy

Marxian System & Mythos, II: The Manifesto

by alexeyburov

At the second talk I quoted and commented the most extensively published and widely read text in the history of political thought: The Communist Manifesto.

Slides for the 1st & 2nd talks are here.


Marxian System and Its Mythos; 1st talk: popularity

by alexeyburov

At my 1st talk, I demonstrated current popularity of Marxism and gave very short review of some of my favorite books. Many thanks for all who came.

The next meeting is Friday, March 16th, same place and time: WH4NW, 12:00. We’ll discuss the main ideas and the spirit of the most extensively published and widely read text in the history of political thought: The Communist Manifesto.

Everybody is welcome; feel free to come with your lunch.

Slides of the 1st talk are here.

Announcement: Marxian System and Its Mythos, 5 talks starting March 2nd.

by alexeyburov

The previous year was the 100th anniversary of the Russian Bolshevik revolution and 150th anniversary of “The Capital”, while this one is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx. The series of 5 talks I am going to give at our regular meetings is associated with the man, who, alas, turned the world upside down. During my first talk at March 2nd, I will demonstrate current popularity of Marx and briefly review the most interesting books and articles on his doctrine. The next talks will be devoted to two questions: first, the relation between the Marxian doctrine and Marxist dictatorships and, second, a reason to suspect that Marxism may be eternal. This series of talks mostly will be based on my article published in the Russian political and sociological journal “A Different View”, edited by an eminent historian and world religions scholar Andrei Zubov.

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“God and Randomness,” Feb. 2 & 16, 2018.

by abrunstingcomcastnet

Dear reader, Here are my slides. Please share your comments. I’d like to know what you think. Respectfully, — Al

Slides of part 1, Feb 2

Slides of part 2, Feb. 16

Towards optimal organization of large laboratories: the case of HEP and Fermilab

by pronskikh

Dear Colleagues,

on January 19, Prof. S. Perovic (Dept of Philosophy, U Belgrade), the leader of a collaboration between U Belgrade and U Bohum, will present collaboration’s research on optimal organization of large laboratories. During first half hour of the meeting, Prof. Perovic will be explaining the general idea of the research and its outcomes, and then Dr. V. Sikimic (Dept of Philosophy, U Belgrade) will be briefly introducing the use of quantitative techniques in their work. During the second half of the meeting, all participants will be invited to discuss the findings and the survey for large labs prepared by the collaboration, express opinions, and raise question. Large lab optimization is a highly topical issue nowadays, and all interested are welcome to discuss the approaches philosophers and social scientists use.

Meanwhile, please take a look at the papers. The collaboration would appreciate if you could take a look (especially, critical look) at the survey, try it out, and suggest possible improvements.


(intended for large labs to gather information necessary for their optimization (draft version for discussion)


Supplementary materials (papers by the collaboration):

Optimal research team composition: data envelopment analysis of Fermilab experiments

How Theories of Induction Can Streamline Measurements of Scientific Performance

Fermilab soc epist HEP edit revision

Coopetition model of knowledge sharing in science: an Eastern-European case study


Discussion on “Whence Evil?”

by alexeyburov

Dear colleagues,

Many thanks for each of you participated in this intense discussion ignited by the Matt’s talk. The slides are publicly available:

Matt’s summary

Al’s table

Alexey’s comments.

Happy new year for each of you, and see you next time Friday Jan 19, same place, same hour.


Whence Evil Slides

by matthewandorf

Dear all,
Please find the slides from our meeting on December 8. Our next meeting on January 5th will be for discussion. I hope you found my presentation interesting and look forward to the discussion. Whence Evil

Matt Andorf, “Whence Evil?”, Dec 8

by alexeyburov

Dear all,

The speaker at our meeting of Friday Dec 8 will be Matt Andorf, whose talk is entitled as

Whence Evil?


Is the idea of a perfectly good, omnipotent and omniscient god inconsistent with a world that contains evil? I will examine attempts made by philosophers and theologians to show the compatibility with a good god and the all too common presents of evil found in our world. We will examine the so called “free will defense” as well as an alternative theodicy advanced by John Hick.

While discussed this topic with Matt, I was pleased to see seriousness, persistence and versatility of his attempts to clarify that. This talk will consist of two parts; the second one will be two weeks later, Dec. 22.

The place and time are usual: Req Room (WH4NW), 12:00

Everybody is welcome; feel free to come with your lunch.

Discussion Minutes for Is My Will Essentially Free?

by Lev Burov

Having listened to Alexey’s recap of his talk on freedom and the active mind, our small society has engaged into an unusually productive discussion. Thus, the organizers thought that taking some “minutes” would be a tremendous idea.

The first question went to Matt, who expressed the dissatisfaction with an apparent arbitrariness of the idea of free will. Even quantum indeterminacy obeys laws of probability, how can there be something that follows no rules at all? Alexey’s response was to point out that the implication of the existence of freedom is its irreducibility. He also stressed that QM does nothing but remove the old contradiction between the free will and determinism of physics. When the future is not fully determined, a window for the free will opens.

To intensify the problem, though, Lev stated that quantum indeterminacy is already difficult to accept because indeterminacy implies a certain independence from the logical structure of the universe, which in turn implies a postulation of a different substance altogether, something like chaos. Irreducible liberty, however, adds another level of difficulty: if it exists, then not only it is an independent substance but it is capable of producing fundamentally new entities. It is fundamentally creative.

In this new light, Swapan suggested to consider the old question of whether mathematics is discovered or invented. Since we’re already allowing creativity through the visitation of the powerful Active Mind, would it not have the power to create mathematics upon visiting a mathematician?

Alexey reminded of his talk from last year, Mathematical Platonism as a Necessity of Reason. He suggested to account for the opinion of those people that have been most familiar with the world of mathematics. In the vast majority of cases, mathematicians insist on discovery, Alexey remarked, citing Andrew Wiles. He also pointed out the cultural universality of mathematical theories: Euclid’s theorems are as convincing today as they were everywhere during the 24 centuries since their discovery.

If that is unacceptable, asked Lev, then what new things can there be that cannot be described by mathematical forms? Music was considered as consisting of more than just its written representation.

The next question proved to be quite difficult, and its discussion took up the rest of the hour. Someone asked whether by the Active Mind we mean God or a state of mind?

Swapan explored the idea that the active mind could exist at all places at once, thereby being both. He, then, added the question of why would a perfect being create imperfect wills. As one possible answer, he told of a perfect being, complete in itself, to whom a doubt occurred, whether it truly is perfect. As this doubt grew, the completeness fractured more and more, until it eroded into pure disorder. As an alternative, he brought up the idea of play, that the perfect being felt lonely and incomplete without others, so he had to create others to enjoy the world with. Alexey met the idea with enthusiasm, and added that these new creatures couldn’t be boring, and therefore too predictable, otherwise this perfect being would just “close shop” for the lack of interest. Perhaps creative people save the world, pondered Alexey.

Swapan talked of sitarists who claim that they do not make up their music but take it from somewhere. Is it really us that are creative, or is it this playful divinity? He stated an inclination to believe that “freedom happens but I don’t have it.”

Lev reframed that statement. If the Active Mind is indeed a perfect and divine being, then perhaps on its own it has not freedom either. There is no time needed to contemplate a thought to perfection, nor to realize it. All that a perfect being could create on its own is instantly real. Therefore freedom “happens” when the passive mind is visited by the active one.

Already on the way home, Lev thought of the old theological distinction between absolute liberty and true freedom, in this regard. It occurred to him, that the former can be termed irreducibility of will, while the latter its creative realization. He also thought of an ontological difference between beings like reason and beings like life, but the meeting was long over, and so these ideas had to be saved for another time.


Meeting November 10

by alexeyburov

Dear all, our next meeting is Friday, November 10, 12:00, Req Room (WH4NW). We’ll discuss a talk on the free will problem I gave a month ago. Everybody is welcome. Feel free to come with your lunch.