on philo


note mentions

  • ego-simple-noframe

    this is a collection of notes that i've written over time, mostly for myself. in the spirit of working with garage doors open, i've published them and open sourced this website. works under writing are original, my notes a mix of thoughts with quotes from the artwork subject of the note.


    writing

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    notes

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    books

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    articles

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    film

    symbols

    • ∴ (therefore)
    • → (if then)
    • ↔ (if and only if)
    • (consequence of)
    • ≔ (definition)
    • ⫫ (independent from)
    • ∵ (because)
    • ∃, ∄ (there exists/does not exist)
    • ∈, ∉ (belongs to/does not belong to)


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    writing keeps ideas in space

    speech lets them travel in time

    we use paintings to decorate space

    and music to decorate time

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    find the way by moonlight

    see the dawn before

    the rest of the world

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    unconscious time, no peace of mind,

    falling in space but still alive.

    sketching the future in a single line,

    everything's spinning, cannot sit down.

    moments in space, places in time,

    thoughts penciled in, now come to life.

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    As of today, no one knows how to translate paintings, flowers or music into language. Their beauty is implicit and exclusive to their form, which is why it's so hard to explain how a particular piece of art makes us feel.

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    Eduardo Gonzalez

    ego-noframe

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  • how aristotle invented the computer


    aristotle → euclid → descartes → leibniz → boole → shannon → frege → hilbert → turing

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    • Aristotle's logic, found in the six-part book the Organon, had been a central part in philosophy for more than 2,000 years. Trying to improve on it was considered almost impossible.
    • Immanuel Kant once commented that since Aristotle, logic has been "unable to take a single step forward, and therefore seems to all appearance to be finished and complete."
      1. All men are mortal.
      2. Socrates is a man.
      3. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
    • The example above, "Socrates" can be replaced by any name and the argument remains valid. The logical structure and validity are ∴ determined by "all", "are", "is" and "therefore".
    • Aristotle's logic namely inspired Euclid's Elements (-300s), which described geometry as visual diagrams and became the default system until René Descartes showed how to represent geometry as formulas (1630s).
      • Around 30 years later, the shift from diagrams to formulas lead to the development of calculus, by Newton and Leibniz, independently.

    George Boole (1815-1864) is often considered a mathematician but he saw himself as a philosopher. He wanted to represent Aristotle's logic with formulas, like Descartes had done with Euclides's ideas.

    • His goal was to create a symbolical ideographic universal language representing all possible mathematical and scientific knowledge. He proposed his system in The Laws of Thought (1854), which eventually created the field of mathematical logic.
    • Claude Shannon realized that Boole's system of logic could be physically encoded in electrical circuits. He described the process in a 1937 electrical-engineering paper, which was inspired by Boole's 90-year-old philosophical ideas.
    • His work inspired vast amount of progress in combining electrical circuits, which eventually led to the invention of the transistor in 1947. Phones in 2016 had about 3.3bn transistors.

    Gottlob Frege (1848-1925)

    • Frege developed a much more advanced logical system in Bergriffsschrift (1879), the logic system taught in philosophy and computer science classes today.
    • Ferge's language of meaningless symbols manipulated by defined rules, concept-script, separated objects from predicates and used quantifies ( ∀, ∃ ) to develop some of computer science's fundamental concepts like recursive functions and variables.
    • Philosophy after Frege was about questions of language, not knowledge. Two of his disciples were Russell and Wittgensteinlinguistic turn
    • Unexpectedly, Ferge's work also exposed many logical mistakes in Euclid's Elements, which had been the standard in logical rigor (math bible) for ≈2000 years, and sparked a crisis in the foundation of mathematics: what about physics which is built on top of math?
      • The restructuring of mathematics' foundations was mostly led by David Hilbert, who specified a program to formalize all of mathematics' logic.
      • Until the 1930s, this program was the focus of a core group of logicians, notably Russell, Gödel, Von Neumann, Church and obvio, Turing.

    Turing's 1936 paper "On Computable Numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem" was a response to Hilbert's decision problem, which asked if there's an algorithm capable of determining if any arbitrary mathematical statement is true or false.

    • His insight came from creating a mathematical model of a computer to find that the computation could still be done correctly even if the computer is limited to few simple actions, but since the only was to find the result is to do the computations, ∄ an algorithm that fulfills Hilbert's decision problem.

    The significance of Turing's paper lies not in its answer but in the blueprint for computer design Turing provided along the way.

    • Shannon showed how to map logic onto the physical world, Turing showed how to design the computer in the language of mathematical logic.

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    aristotle invented the computer

    • Aristotle's logic, found in the six-part book the Organon, had been a central part in philosophy for more than 2,000 years. Trying to improve on it was considered almost impossible.
    • Frege developed a much more advanced logical system in Bergriffsschrift (1879), the logic system taught in philosophy and computer science classes today.
  • the beginning of infinity

    notes on david deutsch's (fascinating) the beginning of infinity (2011), about infinity & universality, memetics and philosophy of science.

    beg-of-infinity

    Sep 22, 2021 → Jan 16, 2022

    • "we do not know why the laws of physics seem fine-tuned, why various forms of universality exist, or why the world is explicable. but eventually we shall. And when we do, there will be infinitely more left to explain."
    • "if the question is interesting, the problem is soluble."

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    knowledge

    curiosity: thinking existing explanations don't fully capture the ideas behind them, being unsatisfied with current stories.

    • guessing is ∴ the single process thought which all knowledge originates: wonder → guessing → conjecture → speculation, which is vital for discovery.
    • when stories/explanations can't be changed anymore, we have understood objective truth, and, like magic, what we understand we then control.
    • the only path for knowledge creation is then error-correcting → finding good explanations (conjecture+criticism+experiment) = progress.
    • there can ∴ be no aspects of reality beyond our brain's capacity: if (brain capacity==computational speed + memory) we can use the computer, just like we have used pen and paper to understand the world for centuries.

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    creativity: ability to create and replicate ideas to increase the amount of usable knowledge.

    • parrots copy sounds, apes copy movements, but humans create: it's (conjecture+criticism+experiment) to form good explanations of other's behaviour and the world → this is creativity.
    • must be an evolutionary process within brains since it depends on conjecture (variation) and criticism (selection).
    • human brains are physical objects that evolved to replicate ideas (Blackmore). thoughts are computations permitted under the laws of nature.

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    ideas: information that can be stored in human brains and affects behaviour.

    • knowledge is created by human thought, preserved and transmitted by human culture (not genetically, which is why some humans are able to survive in jungle and others in the arctic)
    • abstract language, explanations, wealth above subsistence and long-range trade gave power to ideas. by the time history began to be recorded, it was the history of ideas.

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    culture: set of ideas that cause holders to behave alike.

    • ideas are rarely expressed with the same words and can vary in both written and spoken language. yet, they stay the same idea.
    • if a parrot repeats Aristotle, sound is there but knowledge (replicator) isn't → replicators of ideas are abstract, they're the knowledge itself.
    • reach of ideas in world of abstraction is a property of knowledge they contain. theory can have infinite reach even if person is unaware.
    • for centuries, people have tried to explain the mind in mechanical terms, using metaphors based on the most complex machines of the day (complicated set of gears, hydraulic pipes, steam engines, telephone exchanges, and now, the computer.)
    • but "brain=engine" ≠ "brain=computer": computers are universal simulators. expecting them to behave like neurones is not a metaphor, it's a known proven property of physics and computers

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    beauty

    some aspects of nature (night sky, waterfalls, sunsets) seem to be beautiful to humans but show no signs of being designed with this intention. However, flowers do seem to have an apparent design for beauty.

    • flowers need insects to bring them pollen and insects need flowers to get. how these 2 wildly distinct species evolve to communicate this?
    • flower evolved genes to make their shape attractive to insects, which bring pollen. insects evolved genes that attract them to flowers with the best nectar (most beautiful ones)
    • nature seems to have used beauty to allow these 2 wildly distinct species to communicate.

    humans recognizing that flowers are beautiful even though they evolved this way for unrelated purposes is evidence that some beauty is objective: it can be found in all places from the flower's genome to human minds.

    • flowers have to create objective beauty and insects have to recognize objective beauty.
    • beauty then must exist in 2 kinds: subjective(local to species/culture/individuals, parochial) and objective(universal).
    • ⤷ local and subjective/parochial criteria of beauty evolved within a species to produce something that looks beautiful to us.

    • if beauty can be objective like the laws of nature and mathematical theorems, then new works of art must add new knowledge to the world just like scientific theories do.

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    philo

    optimism: all failures are due to insufficient knowledge.

    • optimism in civilizations has led to mini-enlightenments, traditions of criticisms that lead to patterns of human progress: art, philosophy, science, technology and open institutions.
    • Athen's Golden Age (V. bc): one of firsts democracies. home to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the playwrights Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides and Sophocles, and the historians Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon.
    • democratic tradition dated back to Thales (6th C. BCE) and Xenophanes (570-480 BCE). Pericles argued (Funeral Oration, 431 BCE) it existed not because people should rule but because it promotes wise action (continual discussion, necessary condition for discovery and progress)
    • Florentine's believe of improving ancient knowledge. began in art, then philosophy, science and technology. led to humanism (knowledge > dogma, intellectual independence, curiosity, taste)
    • progress implies discoveries are inconceivable. dynamic societies are those that expect their knowledge to grow unpredictably.
    • Popper's criterion is met by societies that expect their knowledge to grow unpredictably ∴ he's an optimist, progress implies discoveries are inconceivable.

    enlightenment: 1688 (English Enlightenment), inconceivable a century earlier.

    • success at making scientific discoveries implies commitment to values of progress: truth, good explanations, open to ideas and change, tolerance, integrity, openness of debate.
    • necessary condition for progress: change meant new authorities replaced old ones, so tradition of criticism was needed to sustain rapid growth of knowledge.
    • Universal theories of justices, legitimacy and morality began to take place alongside universal theories of matter and motion as philosophers set out to free institutions from arbitrary rules. (Locke→political) universality was now a desirable feature.
    • emergence of methodical rule that scientific theories must be testable, rebellion against authority of knowledge. "problems as soluble and inevitable, progress is attainable and desirable."

    static societies: people could expect to die under the same values, lifestyles, technology and patterns of economic production.

    • universality needs appreciation of abstract knowledge for its own/to yield unforeseeable benefits. unnatural in static societies.
    • small populations + parochial knowledge → big ideas are set millennia apart.
    • if way of life leads to more efficient methods of living (farming, medicine...) it is not sustainable → population grows, fewer workers are needed ∴ live the solution and set about solving the new problems it creates. only progress is sustainable.

    humans alone are authors of explanatory knowledge, the human behaviour called history.

    • Knowledge alone converts landscapes into resources or prevents improvements (≠Marx, Engels). ideas and not biogeographical explanations account for events: can't explain the fall of the USSR with climate, minerals or flora/fauna.
    • Marx's theory of history was evolutionary and described a progression though historical stages, determined by economic "laws of motion". He used Darwin's theory as a basis for the historical class struggle (biological species ≈ socio-economic classes). Facsist groups use this and other misinterpretations of evolution to justify violence.
    • (presence of gene is always explained as being caused by more replications than rival genes. competition in biological evolution is between variant of genes within a species: can produce violence or cooperation.)

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    science

    nature of science can be understood with theories=misconceptions

    • Einstein doesn't correct Newton but is radically different (gravitational force, uniform flow of time in respect to motion). same with Kepler and Newton. each ignores and denies its predecessors' basic means of explaining reality.
    • explanations were never true ∴ successive explanations ≠ growth of knowledge about reality.
    • Einstein's misconception of Gravity was an improvement on Newton's misconception, which was an improvement on Kepler's. neo-Darwinian evolution is an improvement on Darwin's misconception, and his on Lamarck's. No infallibility nor finality.

    scientific method: increasingly difficult to ignore philosophical implications of the fact that nature had been understood in unprecedented depth, and of the methods of science and reason by which it was done.

    • perhaps it started with Galileo and became irreversible with newton. (his laws replicated themselves as rational ideas and fidelity was very high as they were so useful)
    • no way of missing rapid that progress was underway after newton. (some like Rousseau tried by arguing reason as harmful, civilization as bad and primitive live as happy).
    • No process can reveal the content and consequences of a discovery before it is made. scientific discovery is ∴ unpredictable but determined by the laws of physics

    evolution: optimizes neither good of species or individual, but the relative ability of surviving variants to spread through population. it favours only genes that spread best.

    • peacock's colourful tail: diminishes viability and harder to evade predators but prominent mating ∴ offspring has more prominent tails, ↻.

    genetic code as language for organisms has shown phenomenal reach.

    • genes replicate themselves by an indirect chemical route, being templates for similar molecules. evolved to specify organisms without having a nervous system, organs, senses, ability to exert force or move.
    • knowledge embodied in genes describes how to get replicated and functionality is achieved by encoding regularities in environments. complexity ≠ evolutionary adaptation. Darwin crystallized this: random mutations are discarded by natural selection.
    • might not be universal since it relies on specific chemicals (proteins) but could be universal constructor (created from inorganic materials like calcium phosphate in bones, programs organisms to construct outside their bodies: nests, dams, houses...)
    • RNA acts as the program which directs the synthesis of enzymes (catalysts, promotes change to other chemicals while remaining unchanged itself) catalysts control all chemical production and regulatory functions of an organism ∴ ≔ organism itself.

    evolution of biological adaptations and creation of human knowledge are similar (ideas and genes are replicators, knowledge and adaptation hard to vary) yet distinct (human knowledge as explanatory and with reach, contrary to adaptations.)

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    quantum physics

    quantum theory discovered independently by Heisenberg and Schrödinger between 1935 and 1927.

    • Heisenberg: physical variables of a particle are matrices, not values. we now know multiplicity of information is due because a variable has different values for different instances of the object in the multiverse.
    • Heisenberg uncertainty principle: for any fungible collection of instances of a physical object, some of their attributes must be diverse.
    • Schrödinger: mathematical equations that describes a single wave moving in a higher-dimensional space, when applied to an individual particle.
    • Bohr: Copenhagen interpretation, quantum theory as the complete description of reality and only outcomes of observations count as phenomena, they can't exist objectively.
      • proposed the principle of complementarity: phenomena can only be stated in classical language, anthropocentric language, meaning that the transition is caused by human consciousness ∴ acting at a fundamental level in physics.
      • Nothing is ever derived from observation: Mach (positivist), influenced Einstein to eliminate untested assumption from physics, including Newton's idea the time flows at the same rate for all observers.
      • Einstein soon rejected positivism in favour of realism, which explains why he never accepted the Copenhagen interpretation.

    issue: not consistent when applied to the case of an observer performing quantum measurements on another observer.

    • classical physics measures change in quantifiable quantities, quantum physics measures change in discrete variables and their proportions.
    • new type of motion, information flow and structure of the physical world: all objects contain information about which instances of it can interact with instances of other objects and different times are special cases of different universes → time is an entanglement phenomenon which places all equal clock readings into the same history.

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    history of computers

    • → calculations used to be done by clerks called "computers".

    computational universality should have happened with Babbage's Difference Engine (1820s), which had rules of arithmetic built into hardware to to automate log, cos, sin (used in navigation and engineering).

    • Lovelace argued that The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform. can follow analysis but no power of anticipating any analytical truths. Alan Turing called this mistake ‘Lady Lovelace’s objection’. Lovelace failed to appreciate not computational universality, but the universality of the laws of physics.
    • addition of memory and control over which cards to read next (Analytical Engine) → jump to universality.

    193# electrical relays for the analytical engine were just being used for the first applications of electromagnetism and were about to be mass produced for the telegraphy revolution.

    Turing Test: The general-purpose sense of Intelligence that Turing meant (constellation of attributes of the human mind) puzzled philosophers for a millennia. (others are consciousness, free will and meaning).

    • requiring a program to pretend to be human is biased and not relevant to know whether it can think, but it is easy to identify it as a computer if it doesn't.
    • if it can be programmed, it has nothing to do with intelligence –in Turing's sense (can't program it → haven't understood it.)
    • 1936: Turing develops his definitive theory of universal classical computer. His intention is to use the theory to study the nature of mathematical proof, not universality. The development of the first universal computers was for wartime applications.
    • Colossus (🇬🇧, Turing): code breaking → dismantled.
    • ENIAC (🇺🇸): equations -> universality (weather, h-bomb forecast)
    • the early telegraph system, even before the computer, did create an internet-like phenomenon among the operators, with ‘hackers, on-line romances and weddings, chat-rooms, flame wars... and so on’. fft
    • 1970s: Electronic technology has been miniaturized since WW2, this led to a jump to universality with silicon chips.
    • From then on, designers start with a microprocessor and program it to do specific tasks: washing machines are controlled by a computer that could be programmed to do astrophysics or word processing with enough memory.

    Quantum computation: Computation in which the flow of information is not confined to a single history.

    beginning of infinity

    • optimism in civilizations has led to mini-enlightenments, traditions of criticisms that lead to patterns of human progress: art, philosophy, science, technology and open institutions.
    • Florentine's believe of improving ancient knowledge. began in art, then philosophy, science and technology. led to humanism (knowledge > dogma, intellectual independence, curiosity, taste)
  • the discrete image


    stiegler agrees with derrida's critique of the opposition of the signifier and the signified, which proposes that language is always already writing, and in order for language to be written, it must already be a writing, a system of traces, a grammatic of discrete elements.

    image mental ∄ → image mental ≔ image object

    • ∄ image-object sans image mental,
    • ∄ image-mental sans image object.
    • image-object lasts, image-mental ephemeral.
    • ∄ image → ∄ imagination sans memoire ∴ question de l'image porte sur traces et inscriptions, ≈ écriture.

    discretization

    • barthes proposes that photography is ēpokhē to time, memory and death.
    • manipulation is the rule of the digital photo, contrary to the essence
    • one cannot confirm if what I see in a digital photo exists or not ∴ analogico-digital breaks with bazin's objectivité de l'objectif, l'intentionalité (phenomenology)
    • distinguish true and falls is harder, exploited and generalized w/mass media, dangerous panic decomposing social bond.
    • digital technology allows us to manipulate and transform information unlike analog technology.
    • infinitively manipulable but still a photo, it keeps something from the this was.
      • This was but there is something that isn't quite right. this is because analog photo is a technical synthesis.

    3 main types of reproducibility have constituted and overdetermined great epochs of memory and the relations to time in the west. (letter, analog, digital)

    • reproducibility of the letter (written → printed)
    • analog reproducibility (cine, photo → walter benjamin)
    • digital reproducibility
    • analogico-digital image combines 2 reproducibilities (digital, analog) ∴ shows they are not opposed and need to be overcome.
    • the analog image is ∴ always discrete since its reality effects are determined by the photographic (framing, dof) and literal context in which it is inserted. seems continuous but is discrete.

    director/editor's job is to hide the discontinuity by playing with it (analysis), continuity then comes from spectatorial synthesis (done by good artists)

    • animated image ≔ plurality of discontinuous images sequentially connected
    • spectatorial synthesis: the belief that this was is. made by audience (retinal) persistance and expectations of sequential connections
    • discontinuity dissolves all the more effectively the more cleverly it is orchestrated
    • production/realization.

    discretization opens new artistic, theoretical and scientific knowledges of the image.

    • digitization allows the this was to be decomposed analytically by discretizatizing the continuous.
    • barthes's photographic reality effect has now been integrated into all techniques of digital treatment simulation.
    • spectator's relation to the image is ∴ an analytic relation as well.
      • ⤷ the question is the relation between synthesis and analysis.

    3 kinds of images (analog, digital, analogico-digital) → 3 kinds of intuitive technical knowledges (conditions of image production) → 3 different kinds of belief.

    • the visual image is synthetic in 2 ways: synthesis as belief, the this was effect, is a combination of 2 syntheses (spectator and camera). spectator is affected in the way he synthesizes the image.
      • This requires an image-object ∴ technology.
      • synthesis from the subject comes from its knowledge of the technical conditions of an image-object's production.
    • each image, either analog or digital, contains both knowledge and gaps in knowledge. This new awareness leads to a different form of understanding and knowledge.
      • analogico-digital technology of images opens an epoch of analytic apprehension of the image-object.
        • since synthesis is double, new analytic capacities → new synthetic capacities.
        • this discretization breaks up a continuity ∴ changes the way the observer's viewing. (discretization concernant regard est transformé)
    • since greece we live in an era of the relation to language, shaped by the generalization of alphabetic writing on numbers that gave rise to logic, philosophy and science. the analogico-digital is of the same order.
    • the adoption of alphabetic writing made analysis and synthesis of language much easier. generalization → discretization.
    • relation to the analog image is going to be very discretized as digitazion techniques of animated images become widespread. this will open a critical access to the image and a chance to develop a culture of reception.

    now there's two syntheses (spectator + camera): evolution of technical synthesis → evolution of spectatorial synthesis.

    • new image-objects will create new mental images and another intelligence of movement (not knowledge of the image but a new techno-intuitive knowledge). this will be influenced by other knowledges which opens up "la chance"
    • technology gives us the chance to look at cinema in a different way. analysis (production) and synthesis (consumption) are more connected, making cinema similar to literature.
      • alphabetic writing reveals the discrete characters of language
      • reading and writing (can't do one without the other)
      • implies the rethink of hollywood's schema of analysis/production - synthesis/consumption.
    • technology will make it possible to watch a movie analytically, making text and tv closer than now.
      • we will be able to navigate though the flow of images in a nonlinear way, with toc and indexes (like books), true hypermedia?
    • technological synthesis is not a replica nor double, like writing is not a replication of speech.
    • life (anima, mental image) is always already cinema (animation, image object).

    discrete image

    • since greece we live in an era of the relation to language, shaped by the generalization of alphabetic writing on numbers that gave rise to logic, philosophy and science. the analogico-digital is of the same order.
  • how the enlightenment ends


    • "the enlightenment started with philosophical insights spread by a new technology. our period has generated a novel technology in search of a guiding philosophy."
    • Heretofore, the technological advance that most altered the course of modern history was the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, which allowed the search for empirical knowledge to supplant liturgical doctrine, and the Age of Reason to gradually supersede the Age of Religion. Individual insight and scientific knowledge replaced faith as the principal criterion of human consciousness. Information was stored and systematized in expanding libraries. The Age of Reason originated the thoughts and actions that shaped the contemporary world order.
    • Users of the internet emphasize retrieving and manipulating information over contextualizing or conceptualizing its meaning. They rarely interrogate history or philosophy; as a rule, they demand information relevant to their immediate practical needs.
      • In the process, search-engine algorithms acquire the capacity to predict the preferences of individual clients, enabling the algorithms to personalize results and make them available to other parties for political or commercial purposes. Truth becomes relative. Information threatens to overwhelm wisdom.
    • in truth many technophiles use the internet to avoid the solitude they dread. All of these pressures weaken the fortitude required to develop and sustain convictions that can be implemented only by traveling a lonely road, which is the essence of creativity.
      • The digital world's emphasis on speed inhibits reflection; its incentive empowers the radical over the thoughtful; its values are shaped by subgroup consensus, not by introspection.
      • A growing percentage of human activity will, within a measurable time period, be driven by AI algorithms. But these algorithms, being mathematical interpretations of observed data, do not explain the underlying reality that produces them.
    • will AI, left to its own devices, inevitably develop slight deviations that could, over time, cascade into catastrophic departures?
    • that in achieving intended goals, AI may change human thought processes and human values.
      • A player sought not only to win, but also to learn new strategies potentially applicable to other of life's dimensions. For its part, by contrast, AI knows only one purpose: to win. It "learns" not conceptually but mathematically, by marginal adjustments to its algorithms. So in learning to win Go by playing it differently than humans do, AI has changed both the game's nature and its impact.
    • Through all human history, civilizations have created ways to explain the world around them--in the Middle Ages, religion; in the Enlightenment, reason; in the 19th century, history; in the 20th century, ideology. The most difficult yet important question about the world into which we are headed is this: What will become of human consciousness if its own explanatory power is surpassed by AI, and societies are no longer able to interpret the world they inhabit in terms that are meaningful to them?
    • How is consciousness to be defined in a world of machines that reduce human experience to mathematical data, interpreted by their own memories these questions are left to technologists and to the intelligentsia of related scientific fields.
      • Philosophers and others in the field of the humanities who helped shape previous concepts of world order tend to be disadvantaged, lacking knowledge of AI's mechanisms or being overawed by its capacities.
      • In contrast, the scientific world is impelled to explore the technical possibilities of its achievements, and the technological world is preoccupied with commercial vistas of fabulous scale. The incentive of both these worlds is to push the limits of discoveries rather than to comprehend them.
      • And governance, insofar as it deals with the subject, is more likely to investigate AI's applications for security and intelligence than to explore the transformation of the human condition that it has begun to produce.
    • The Enlightenment started with essentially philosophical insights spread by a new technology. Our period is moving in the opposite direction. It has generated a potentially dominating technology in search of a guiding philosophy.

    how the enlightment ends

    • "the enlightenment started with philosophical insights spread by a new technology. our period has generated a novel technology in search of a guiding philosophy."
    • Users of the internet emphasize retrieving and manipulating information over contextualizing or conceptualizing its meaning. They rarely interrogate history or philosophy; as a rule, they demand information relevant to their immediate practical needs.
  • how to do philosophy


    Words break if you push them too hard.

    • philosophy is just knowledge of what various philosophers have said over different things over the years. In many cases, people have forgotten who discovered what they discovered.
    • Western philosophy begins with Socrates, Platon and Aristotle. Works from their predecessors is referenced in fragments of their later works. Their fields were speculative cosmology that occasionally dives into analysis.

    This changed particularly with Aristotle. There started to be a lot more analysis. Platón and Aristotle might have been influenced by progress in math after mathematicians showed that analysis led to more conclusive results than making up stories. Aristotle is credited to a huge percentage of newly discovered territory in one lifetime, proving how new this kind of thinking was.

    • But then Aristotle proposes that there are two kinds of theoretical knowledge: practically useful and not. Since people interested in theoretical knowledge are interested in it for its own sake rather than for practical need, it must be more noble. He sets as his goal in Metaphysics to explore knowledge that has no use. No one really notices when he takes on vaguely understood questions and ends up getting lost in words.

    His mistake was to confuse motive and result. People who seek a deep understanding of a subject are often driven by curiosity rather than need, but that ⇏ that their findings are useless. It is very valuable in practice to have deep understanding of what you're doing. Being able to solve complex mathematical problems by deducing shortcuts from simpler one is better than relying on formulas you don't understand.

    • ⤷ An ordinary builder builds out of habit; a craftsman can do more because he grasps the underlying principles. The more general the knowledge, the more admirable it is.

    This makes theoretical knowledge prestigious and is the root of specific curiousness in smart people. Aristotle had contradictory aims with Metaphysics: exploring abstract ideas guided by the assumption that they were useless.

    Platon and Aristotle were impressive and naive. Ancient philosophers were similarly naive. In particular, they didn't understand that concepts we use in everyday life are fragile. "I" is an example of this (you = bunch of cells). Words work well enough in everyday life, but they start to break if you push them too hard. This resulted in most philosophical debates being driven by confusion over words. Do you have free will? Define "free."

    When something is hard to understand, it's hard to distinguish if it's because the writer was unclear in his mind or because the ideas represented are too complex, and writing about big ideas in an unclear way only produces what seems to be good writing.

    Proof is how little effect some words can have: no one is a different person or does anything different as a result of reading Aristotle's Metaphysics.

    • Wittgenstein is credited with the idea that most philosophical controversies are due to confusions over language. The field of philosophy is still recovering from his linguistic turn and almost all his late philosophical works are on language.

    Since their work became the map of future generations, they were off the wrong path too and things remained the same for ≈2000 years until philosophers in Europe became confident enough to (sometimes) treat Aristotle's work as a catalog of mistakes.

    • But Aristotle's explanation of the ultimate goal of philosophy in Book A of the Metaphysics –to aim to find the most general of general principles– implies that philosophy should have a goal.

    Perhaps truly pursuing Aristotle's original goal of discovering the most general truths, is still worth pursuing today. But unlike in Metaphysics, we should do it because general truths are useful.

    • The idea of evolution is an example of an idea that has turned out to be widely applicable –for example, in genetic algorithms and even product design.
    • Ideas like this seem to be ideal for philosophy: general observations that cause people who understand them to behave differently.

    Civilization always seems old, because it's always the oldest it's ever been.

    • Although philosophy is considered to be a 2500 year-old field, for much of that time philosophers weren't doing much more that commenting on Plato or Aristotle while the next invading army arrived.
    • Original ideas were hopelessly tangled with religion, meaning philosophy didn't free itself until only a couple hundred years ago. In a sense, the field is still at the first step.

    how to do philosophy

    • philosophy is just knowledge of what various philosophers have said over different things over the years. In many cases, people have forgotten who discovered what they discovered.
    • Western philosophy begins with Socrates, Platon and Aristotle. Works from their predecessors is referenced in fragments of their later works. Their fields were speculative cosmology that occasionally dives into analysis.
    • Wittgenstein is credited with the idea that most philosophical controversies are due to confusions over language. The field of philosophy is still recovering from his linguistic turn and almost all his late philosophical works are on language.
    • But Aristotle's explanation of the ultimate goal of philosophy in Book A of the Metaphysics –to aim to find the most general of general principles– implies that philosophy should have a goal.
    • Ideas like this seem to be ideal for philosophy: general observations that cause people who understand them to behave differently.
    • Although philosophy is considered to be a 2500 year-old field, for much of that time philosophers weren't doing much more that commenting on Plato or Aristotle while the next invading army arrived.
    • Original ideas were hopelessly tangled with religion, meaning philosophy didn't free itself until only a couple hundred years ago. In a sense, the field is still at the first step.
  • paragraphs on conceptual art


    Conceptual art is good only when the idea is good.

    conceptual art: idea or concept as the most important aspect of the work.

    • not theoretical or illustrative of theories but intuitive, involved with all types of mental processes and purposeless.
    • all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair.
    • It is usually free from the dependence on the skill of the artist as a craftsman.
    • The ideas need not be complex. Most ideas that are successful are ludicrously simple.
    • Conceptual art doesn’t really have much to do with mathematics, philosophy, or nay other mental discipline. The mathematics used by most artists is simple arithmetic or simple number systems. The philosophy of the work is implicit in the work and it is not an illustration of any system of philosophy.
    • conceptual art is not necessarily logical. it doesn’t really matter if the viewer understands the concepts of the artist by seeing the art.
      • Once it is out of his hand the artist has no control over the way a viewer will perceive the work. Different people will understand the same thing in a different way.
    • Conceptual art is made to engage the mind of the viewer rather than his eye or emotions.

    on ideas

    the idea becomes a machine that makes the art.

    • some ideas are logical in conception and illogical perceptually. successful ideas generally have the appearance of simplicity because they seem inevitable.
    • if the artist carries through his idea and makes it into visible form, then all the steps in the process are of importance.
    • the idea itself, even if not made visual, is as much a work of art as any finished product.

    on form

    The form itself is of very limited importance; it becomes the grammar for the total work. arrangement becomes the end while the form becomes the means.

    • What the work of art looks like isn’t too important. It has to look like something if it has physical form. No matter what form it may finally have it must begin with an idea.
    • Color, surface, texture, and shape only emphasize the physical aspects of the work. Anything that calls attention to and interests the viewer in this physicality is a deterrent to our understanding of the idea.
      • Any idea that is better stated in two dimensions should not be in three dimensions. Ideas may also be stated with numbers, photographs, or words or any way the artist chooses, the form being unimportant.
      • Using complex basic forms only disrupts the unity of the whole. Using a simple form repeatedly narrows the field of the work and concentrates the intensity to the arrangement of the form.
    • This kind of art, then, should be stated with the greatest economy of means.

    Space can be thought of as the area occupied by volume, where the question would be what size is best. If artwork is gigantic its size alone would be impressive and the idea may be lost. if it's too small, it may become inconsequential.

    • this dynamic emphasizes the physical and emotive power of the form at the expense of losing the idea of the piece.
    • architecture is concerned with making an area with a specific function. whether it is a work of art or not, must be utilitarian or else fail completely. art is not utilitarian. when three-dimensional art starts to take on some of architecture's characteristics, such as forming utilitarian areas, it weakens its function as art.

    • These paragraphs are not intended as categorical imperatives, but the ideas stated are as close as possible to my thinking at this time. It is one way of making art; other ways suit other artists. Nor do I think all conceptual art merits the viewer’s attention. Conceptual art is good only when the idea is good.

    paragraphs on conceptual art

    • Conceptual art doesn’t really have much to do with mathematics, philosophy, or nay other mental discipline. The mathematics used by most artists is simple arithmetic or simple number systems. The philosophy of the work is implicit in the work and it is not an illustration of any system of philosophy.