Mon, May 21, 2012 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTERS ]

Illogical opinions

The opinion piece by Huang Tien-lin (黃天麟) contains glaring logical fallacies (“Punishing the wealth creators not helpful,” May 18, page 8).

Huang suggests that because both the capital gains tax and Marxism both appeal to fairness and justice, and Marxism has been disastrous for millions, therefore the capital gains tax must also be doomed to disaster. This is a post hoc fallacy. In addition, Huang implies that because Beijing does not levy a capital gains tax, neither should Taiwan. This is a tu quoque fallacy.

An opinion piece can be expected to contain opinion, but it must also follow the common practice of reasoned discussion.

Stu Chuang Matthews

Taipei

Taiwan-SKorea science link

Jean Cocteau’s 1929 novel Les Enfants Terribles was more than a work of succinct and elegant prose. The talented author managed that rare gift of creating a phrase that has not only transcended translation, but has also passed into English loaded with a pejorative message aimed at the sophomoric and epicurean. However, the two siblings at the heart of the story are in essence products of a broken and fractured upbringing who must struggle for their own existence.

Whilst the stereotyped view of this phrase is a long way from the relationship between South Korea and Taiwan or their relations with the wider world (they are more magnifiques than terribles) there is nevertheless more than just a declamatory sense in this literary comparison. Both Taiwan and South Korea, born as they were out of the ashes of colonialism and war, have had to fight tough over the past half-century.

On Thursday, the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) in Daejeon, South Korea, was formally opened by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, IBS president Oh Se-jung and a host of dignitaries, including former Academic Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲). It is hoped this new institute will serve as the bridgehead for major scientific investigation in the country.

Nobel Prize-winning Lee was an appropriate emissary for his country as the former head of Academic Sinica. While such an institute is a great example to the IBS, it also is a great advocate for what Ben Martin of the University of Sussex argues is the importance of establishing and utilizing links between actors and institutes in the scientific fraternity.

Physical relations and locations should not be seen as some kind of historical penumbra, shadowing the uplands of a 24-hour society and the world of Web 2.0. The connections that arise between actors and institutes have been shown to be a success, as in the misappropriated phrase “think global, act local.”

The president of Academia Sinica, Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠), intimates that the relationship between universities, students and academics at the institute is growing stronger and that far from practicing some kind of inward-looking recursive and inchoate didacticism, the institute is ever closer to becoming what Leibniz termed an entelechy in his Monadology — the full realization of being.

Akin to a fledgling flying the nest for the first time, so the IBS, while full of confidence, will also need guidance and a little help from its friends. With its history, record of achievement and a vision for the future, the Academia Sinica, it is hoped, will be one such friend.

It is also to be hoped that unlike the siblings in Cocteau’s novel, the two countries can work together to utilize the networks that exist between them to establish their respective places as lighthouses of scientific discovery.

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