19 March 2010

Don't Cite Works You Haven't Read, II

As previously mentioned, the philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy made a ridiculous blunder giving a citation to a non-existent philosophical work: he had not read his references. This is not a serious scientific approach.

But is Bernard-Henri Lévy serious? No, according to a Greek philosopher who says (personal comments):
You suspected well: Bernard-Henri Lévy is not serious. He belongs to a generation of philosophers promoted by the media in the 80s as "new philosophers". In trying to critique the soviet totalitarianism, they developed a right-wing approach; behind their pompous rhetoric there was no philosophical substance.
Further information on Lévy from wikipedia:
  • Some of his professors there included prominent French intellectuals and philosophers Jacques Derrida [remember the Sokal hoax?] and Louis Althusser.
  • Returning to Paris, Lévy became famous as the young founder of the New Philosophers (Nouveaux Philosophes) school. This was a group of young intellectuals who were disenchanted with communist and socialist responses to the near-revolutionary upheavals in France of May 1968, and who articulated a fierce and uncompromising moral critique of Marxist and socialist dogmas.
  • Lévy was one of the first French intellectuals to call for intervention in the Bosnian War in the 1990s.
  • When his father died in 1995, Lévy became the manager of the Becob company, until it was sold in 1997 for 750 million francs to the French entrepreneur François Pinault.
  • He drew controversy due to his support of the Iraq War, in 2003.
  • Le Testament de Dieu or L'Idéologie française faced strong rebuttals, from noted intellectuals such as historian Pierre Vidal-Naquet, philosophers Cornelius Castoriadis, Raymond Aron and Gilles Deleuze, who called Lévy's methods "vile".
  • Lévy's writing and speaking style is regularly lambasted as grandiloquent and smug by fringe essayists and popular satirical TV puppet show Les Guignols de l'info, in which Lévy has his own puppet.
  • Lévy is, with his third wife, a regular fixture in Paris Match magazine, wearing his trademark unbuttoned white shirts and designer suits. Some have attributed to Lévy a reputation for narcissism. One article about him coined the dictum, "God is dead but my hair is perfect.
  • He once said that the discovery of a new shade of grey left him "ecstatic."
  • He is a regular victim of the "pie thrower" Noël Godin, who describes Lévy as "a vain, pontificating dandy".
  • Lévy is proudly Jewish, and he has said that Jews ought to provide a unique Jewish moral voice in world society and world politics.
  • Lévy was one of six prominent European public figures of Jewish ancestry that were targeted for assassination by a Belgium-based Islamist militant group in 2008.

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What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant