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Thread: The Library of Babel by Borges

  1. #1 The Library of Babel by Borges 
    Moderator Moderator AlexP's Avatar
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    I feel it's my duty to introduce you all to the works of Jorge Luis Borges. I think the story contained in the following link, The Library of Babel, is amazing. Read it if you'd like and post your comments and opinions on it.

    http://jubal.westnet.com/hyperdiscor..._of_babel.html


    "There is a kind of lazy pleasure in useless and out-of-the-way erudition." -Jorge Luis Borges
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    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    I haven't read it, but one of these days I will. Daniel Dennett used it to illustrate one of his ideas about something or other. Perhaps it was the anthropic principle, but now I can only remember the vivid images, not what he was trying to explain. Darn it. Infinite possibilities but only certain ones realized because, um, because, er...


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    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    I haven't read it, but one of these days I will. Daniel Dennett used it to illustrate one of his ideas about something or other. Perhaps it was the anthropic principle, but now I can only remember the vivid images, not what he was trying to explain. Darn it. Infinite possibilities but only certain ones realized because, um, because, er...
    I have a copy of Borges' Ficciones that contains this, amongst other stories (Funes the Memorious and other such lovely fantasies). The Library of Babel idea was used by Dennett to illustrate his points of 'vastly large' (number of books in the liubrary, without being infinite) and 'vanishingly small' (possibility of finding a book that makes sense in all the nonsense).

    Genetically, or evolutionarily, this equates to Dawkins' famous quote that there are vastly more ways of being dead than there are of being alive. What they are showing is that, if one chooses a point, randomly, in the multi-dimensional space of genetic possibilities, it is hugely more likely that the genotype will not, and cannot, refer to a viable organism: the threads of evolutionary change are 'vanishingly' slim and small by comparison.

    The Library of Babel, like a lot of Borges' stories, tends to be more about promoting philosophical ideas, IMO. There is little or no 'human element' to it, and connections to the human condition are ones we might make by analogy dependent, I suspect, upon our own perspective on the matter.

    Anyway, that's my take. Might re-read it when I get home!
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