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    keyhole surgery is awesome.
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    (Original post by KwungSun)
    Can any pure mathematics achievement really be considered the greatest? It has absolutely no impact whatsoever on those outside of the field..
    Intellectual achievement has nothing to do with practical implications. It's more a case of scaling a very high mental mountain.

    Besides, it's foolhardy to make statements about the impact of pure maths. Often the result itelf has no practical applications but the techniques devbeloped to reach those results are very fruitful in other areas. Case in point: the struggle to settle the P/NP question has opened up entire new fields impacting everything from network design, to information security, through artificial intelligence and quantum computation.
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    (Original post by Worzo)
    When you come up with the next radical theory about life or the universe, and are proven right, then maybe I will listen to you. 99% of coming up with one of these theories is that you have to be looking in the right area. "Somebody" could have reasonably deduced it, I'm sure, but the fact is that their mind was not taking them to that area of study. Intellects should be lauded not only for their advanced brainpower, but also for making popular areas of study that people previously didn't care about.
    Since when did we have to come up with similar theories to state our positions on those that already exist? I'm not denigrating Darwin's work. I just don't think it's as big deal intellectually or practically as many other intellectual achievements. I'm sure those with finer minds than most could have, with similar evidence, reached not altogether different conclusions. It wasn't even new in principle - since ancient times, there have been variations on the same thought. Now, while of course I was clearly facetious in my earlier posts, I still don't consider something like Evolution to be has radical as, say, the Principia, or Realtivity, or Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. These things were not "obvious" in any sense at all, and required such spectacular feats of abstract thinking, and daring acts of inductive reasoning that continue to work with success. My point is that Evolution, or some form of the idea, is something that could be reached entirely by deductive means, without any great "specialist" knowledge or abstract thinking. Wise and clever though Darwin was, in the end I have other intellectual heroes.
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    (Original post by Dirac Delta Function)
    Intellectual achievement has nothing to do with practical implications. It's more a case of scaling a very high mental mountain.

    Besides, it's foolhardy to make statements about the impact of pure maths. Often the result itelf has no practical applications but the techniques devbeloped to reach those results are very fruitful in other areas. Case in point: the struggle to settle the P/NP question has opened up entire new fields impacting everything from network design, to information security, through artificial intelligence and quantum computation.
    Sure, but proving Fermat's Last Theorem, for instance, has not changed the way we think or act or view ourselves or anything...it's just jerk-off material for a few mathematicians...
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    Intellectual achievement has nothing to do with practical implications. It's more a case of scaling a very high mental mountain.
    Wouldnt agree with that. Its fine to think for thinkings sake if other people are thinking toward practical ends, but if everyone is around thinking for no practical reason then its a waste of time. Its also impossible to think of things that have absolutely no pracitcal application anyway (as you point out), you can apply/innovate anything to make it more practical to a certain situation. Ive heard some people say how good it would be for there to be a sort of utopia where we just sit round working out amazingly hard mental problems and spend life learning. Not only do i not dig that, its also totally impractical, and impossible - if people can think well enough to work out a totally theoretical problem, then they can certainly think up a way to apply it to something practically.
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    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    Surely a pretty impressive achievement is the invention of either atheism or God, depending which way you swing.
    I would say this is the least impressive invention that requires the least skill and imagination. You see something you don't understand so you invent something you think you understand a little bit better to explain it.
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    (Original post by KwungSun)
    I would say this is the least impressive invention that requires the least skill and imagination. You see something you don't understand so you invent something you think you understand a little bit better to explain it.
    This is true - if God does not exist, then the concept of God as an explanation for the world is an unbelievably lazy form of intellectual cheating. But it still requires a pretty big logical leap, doesn't it? Whoever first formulated and consolidated the concept of things existing that we can't see must have been highly intelligent. And then to place those things, or some of them, in charge of the world wasn't exactly an obvious step, either.

    Conversely, if God does exist (and has, as Aristotle said, his nature imprinted on the minds of all by Nature) then it must have taken a formidable intellect to go against that and contemplate the possibility that He does not.
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    Also, on the physics tack, a Theory of Everything would be a strong contender - that is to say, a unification of Quantum Theory and Relativity.
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    (Original post by lulus)
    i think these should be in the top 3:
    Analytical philosophy.
    All the super complecated mathmatics which underpins our understanding of the world.
    the computer.
    Why do you think that Analytic Philosophy is the world's greatest intellectual achievement?
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    (Original post by phawkins1988)
    Why do you think that Analytic Philosophy is the world's greatest intellectual achievement?
    I don't know about him, but my reason is that the Analytic agenda was the first time that philosophy was pinned to something "concrete" - the use of our words. Philosophy could thus be used to credibly attempt at giving 'objective' (I know that word is open to dispute, but I think you appreciate my use of it here) meaning to our language and words. It went a long way to narrowing and defining the role of philosophy within the same sort of purposive confines that science up to that point and after, had enjoyed. Social sciences have benefitted most from Analytic philosophy, if only because the "problem" of God and metaphysics has now been removed from explaining such institutions as law, political activity and I if I might be so bold, ethics. The method of thinking that analytic philosophy prescribes remains to me the most robust method of general analysis that there yet is. But that's what I think.
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    The discovery of electricity. Modern civilsiation relies on electricity. Without it, productivity would plummet and we'd all be back in the 17th century farming for a living.
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    (Original post by ......?)
    Capitalism formed naturally though
    So did the enlightenment, but that doesn't stop it from being a great intellectual achievement.
    trading is an idea that everyone would have probably thought of beyond a certain evolutionary level.
    Debatable. You could say the same about secularism; however it's still a great achievement.
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    (Original post by Gilliwoo)
    Since when did we have to come up with similar theories to state our positions on those that already exist? I'm not denigrating Darwin's work. I just don't think it's as big deal intellectually or practically as many other intellectual achievements. I'm sure those with finer minds than most could have, with similar evidence, reached not altogether different conclusions. It wasn't even new in principle - since ancient times, there have been variations on the same thought. Now, while of course I was clearly facetious in my earlier posts, I still don't consider something like Evolution to be has radical as, say, the Principia, or Realtivity, or Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. These things were not "obvious" in any sense at all, and required such spectacular feats of abstract thinking, and daring acts of inductive reasoning that continue to work with success. My point is that Evolution, or some form of the idea, is something that could be reached entirely by deductive means, without any great "specialist" knowledge or abstract thinking. Wise and clever though Darwin was, in the end I have other intellectual heroes.
    Right. But that doesn't allow you to compare yourself to him. Forgive me for paraphrasing, but I got the impression that you said, "I could have done what he did". And that was what I took exception to.
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    (Original post by Worzo)
    Right. But that doesn't allow you to compare yourself to him. Forgive me for paraphrasing, but I got the impression that you said, "I could have done what he did". And that was what I took exception to.
    Anyone could - or at least, many people. Darwin wasn't some scientific demi-god, endowed with superhuman intelligence. He was just the right guy in the right place at the right time. And besides, he needed a good poking from a colleague to actually spot the implications of his studies on the Beagle, and he drew on several other people's work in formulating The Origin of Species. Your talk of "allowing to compare" gives me the impression that he is somehow to be regarded as sacrosanct. Not so.
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    This is increadibly relative, and would be based entirely on bad maths and conjecture. How would you even begin to form a framework to suggest the greatness of a particular achievement? It could be something quite straight forward and obvious, such as the wheel (but this was an invention which was only useful for societies with domesticated animals, thus explaining why it was never applied in pre-Colombian America, although it was used on toys).

    To judge the relative greatness of a factor, you would have to form a framework which would have to analyse various variables as measures of 'greatness' (difficulty of coming up with the idea, benefit to society, benefit to well being). It is an entire debate in itself what constitutes the variables by which to judge 'greatness'.

    But not to spoil the debate, I'd either hazard that it would be something obvious, or some generally unknown and abstract mathmatical theory which ensures that, I don't know, the world doesn't explode.

    Personally I'll plump for language (not the alphabets, because these are not universals) but it's a bit of an obvious one I suppose...
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    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    Anyone could - or at least, many people.
    You're probably right. Anyone could, given Darwin's huge interest, intelligence, enthusiasm and curiosity. Yeah, anyone! All they needed was the access to research papers, the time to devote to scientific endeavour, the resources to launch expeditions. Yes, this certainly sounds like 'many people' in Darwin's day to me. That's why they were all doing it....

    I apologise for the faecetious tone, and the fact that this has gone slightly off topic, but I'm just taking exception to Gilliwoo's implication that he could have done Darwin's work: it's an arrogant assertion, as far as I'm concerned, when it's made by someone with far less scientific prowess than Darwin himself. That's what I meant by him not being allowed to compare himself.

    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    He was just the right guy in the right place at the right time.
    I'm not claiming he was an intellectual great, but this statement does a disservice to the man in implying that he was just lucky. The fact he was the right guy meant he was in the right place at the right time: it wasn't like he just stumbled across a dinosaur fossil on a beach in the Mary Anning style.
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    the whole point is things seem incredibly simple once you discover how they work.
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    (Original post by Worzo)
    You're probably right. Anyone could, given Darwin's huge interest, intelligence, enthusiasm and curiosity. Yeah, anyone! All they needed was the access to research papers, the time to devote to scientific endeavour, the resources to launch expeditions. Yes, this certainly sounds like 'many people' in Darwin's day to me. That's why they were all doing it....

    I apologise for the faecetious tone, but and the fact that this has gone slightly off topic, but I'm just taking exception to Gilliwoo's implication that he could have done Darwin's work: it's an arrogant assertion, as far as I'm concerned, when it's made by someone with far less scientific prowess than Darwin himself.
    I could respond in kind, but it wouldn't get us anywhere. We'll just have to agree to disagree.
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    I'd probably opt for the invention of sliced bread.
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    (Original post by Worzo)
    You're probably right. Anyone could, given Darwin's huge interest, intelligence, enthusiasm and curiosity. Yeah, anyone! All they needed was the access to research papers, the time to devote to scientific endeavour, the resources to launch expeditions. Yes, this certainly sounds like 'many people' in Darwin's day to me. That's why they were all doing it....

    I apologise for the faecetious tone, and the fact that this has gone slightly off topic, but I'm just taking exception to Gilliwoo's implication that he could have done Darwin's work: it's an arrogant assertion, as far as I'm concerned, when it's made by someone with far less scientific prowess than Darwin himself. That's what I meant by him not being allowed to compare himself.


    I'm not claiming he was an intellectual great, but this statement does a disservice to the man in implying that he was just lucky. The fact he was the right guy meant he was in the right place at the right time: it wasn't like he just stumbled across a dinosaur fossil on a beach in the Mary Anning style.
    Oh for ****'s sake, get over yourself.
 
 
 
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