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  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 20:46:50 on 2016/12/30 Permalink
    Tags: binary logic, , , , don't know, , , , , , linguistics, , modal logic, modal verb, modal verbs, mode, modes, , natural science, , philosophy, , , , , , , , , three state logic, , , , ,   

    The Rationality of Uncertainty 

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    When I was learning science in high school, I was mesmerized by the notion that scientific facts were true, myths were false, and there were still things that needed to be „figured out“. I was very impressed by the way computers were all about 1’s and 0’s (it wasn’t until much later that I learned computers didn’t actually divide truth and falsehood quite that neatly). Several years ago, I made a graphic image that shows the difference between the way it appears that humans think vs. the way it appears that computers think.

    Note that I didn’t label which side represents human thinking vs. computer thinking. What we usually experience when we use computers is either TRUE or FALSE – we are not normally aware that there is actually a „DON’T KNOW“ state in between those two extremes. About a decade ago, I was very adamant about three-state logics.

    Several decades ago, when I was just embarking on dissertation research (which was never finished, but that story is beyond the scope of this article), I was very adamant about something called „modal logic“ – a field in philosophy (and linguistics) which focuses on human modes of thought (such as „knowing“ vs. „believing“). Since humans often make references to such modes, I was hoping to unlock a hidden treasure behind such concepts. Yet they remain elusive to me to this day, even though I may quite often be heard to utter something like „I think…“ or „I believe…“ or indeed many such modes (usually using so-called „modal verbs“).

    I think the less room we allow for such modalities – the smaller the amount of space we make for cases in which we acknowledge that we really don’t know, the more likely we are to make mistakes / errors.

    Statisticians might be very cool to acknowledge „type 1“ and „type 2“ errors without even batting an eyelash, but for most regular folks it makes a world of difference whether we want X, whether we fear Y, whether we hope or wish or whatever.

    Such very human modes of thought are rampant in our everyday lives and thinking, yet they are not given very much (or even any) room in the computer world. When there is no room whatsoever for „maybe“, then I predict the algorithms processing the data will probably be wrong.

  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 18:43:59 on 2015/05/09 Permalink
    Tags: agree, agreement, , , , contract, , , , , , , , , , , philosophy, , , , , , ,   

    The individualist manifesto vs. The anti-revolutionary social contract 

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    To think or not to think — no. To write or not to write… — no. To create or not to create… — that’s wrong, too. I can come up with many ideas, but where do they come from — out of thin air?

    There are some who often say: “You should live your own life, you should create your own narrative.” They are also wrong — it is not possible to invent myself or my story as being independent of the world around me. To do so would require me to step outside of any language community, to speak in something we might hypothetically call “my own language”. Yet the sun, the moon and stars, all plants and animals, the air we breathe, the water we drink, our entire lives are a matter of co-existence… we share a space with other objects and beings, and they are not only a part of our lives, they are a part of our being, and they also co-create the language we speak. We really cannot speak of anything which doesn’t exist (note that our imagination does exist), the existence of things leads us to observe them, think about them, interact with them, and also express our ideas about them using different kinds of language. We are no more free in our use of language than we are free to squint or not to squint when we look at a bright light — our squinting expresses something meaningful.

    Yet there are nonetheless people who will preach individualism, self-discovery, self-actualization, self-fulfillment,… — a whole self-centered philosophy. A philosophy that is bogus and that simply denies obvious laws of nature.

    Luckily, you are reading these words. You are trying to understand what I am trying to say — we are in this together. Night and day, the sun and the stars, all of life and death are also with us. We are all here together. The notion that we could be apart and isolated is also here, but it is ridiculous. 😉

    That said, you do not need to agree with me. Neither do the Sun or other stars. Nor does William Shakespeare. They need not speak the same language, but they might.

    I can try to convince you that my ideas are reasonable, but you are nonetheless free to think about different ideas. Perhaps you might like to think of ideas you would rather call “clouds”. I might not understand what you mean, precisely. Whatever you call “clouds” might not care at all what you think of them. Everyone is free to think as they like, but at the same time there is this curious feeling that we might be able to understand each other every now and then.

    Mutual understanding feels good. It feels a whole lot better than any notion of individualism. It feels so great, that we spend most of our days expressing ideas to each other that we hope will increase this understanding.

    We make agreements on a daily basis. We will call some things blue, other things green. We will restrict our use of terms like “ow” or “ouch” to mutually agreed upon contexts… — and likewise with almost everything else. We won’t smile when we’re unhappy (unless, perhaps, we are “acting” or “pretending”).

    Why would anyone suggest that you might be happy if you would write your “own” narrative? They would be suggesting that you should try to do something which is impossible. 😐

  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 16:51:32 on 2015/04/12 Permalink
    Tags: approach, approaches, consistence, consistence movement, , , , philosophies, philosophy, , view, views   

    A Consistence Movement [First Essay] 

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    I discovered several things today, each of which surprised me a little. Taken together, they surprised me a lot. Let me explain.

    What started me down this path was considering how people want to make or create or build or maybe even simply buy things. People are often very goal oriented — along the lines of: “I will do this, this will result in that, that is good, I want that, if I have that, I will be happy, so I will do this to get that.” In part, we have been trained to think this way in order to function as consumers and producers of things… things that can be traded in the market economy. Objects — whether virtual or real. Often, our reality revolves around a sort of fetish… to procure objects. Whether a product or a service, we are all too easily overly focused on the procurement of objects… to the detriment of being happy, satisfied, in harmony with society or nature.

    For example: A consumer may wish to procure a widget; A business may wish to sell widgets; and neither may think much about the relationships involved in this transaction, or what role such a widget will perform in the future. If the widget gets “used up”, does it then somehow magically become trash?

    It’s quite easy to see that this is also somewhat of a philosophical question: Insofar as objects, relationships and such exist, it might not a very big leap to think about their existence and from that to develop some sort of existentialism… — but that would actually be a short-cut and would miss a very important point: Each of these things exist not only in and for themselves. They exist in an environment, they are each parts of the same universe, and in that respect they are also related. They do not really exist separately as much as they consist together. Indeed: Consistence coordinates many previous philosophical points of view (such as existentialism and also interdependence, relativism and environmentalism, sustainability and change, atomism and universalism, … and many more).

    Consistence thrives on complexity, and there seem to be many parallels between this way of thinking with Darwin’s theory of evolution. Just as the roof of a building may be carried by many pillars, so too do life forms continue to consist even if one of the pillars of life crumble, break or fall.

    This is a significant difference between the “consistence” and “consistency” — whereas consistency seems to be about the homogeneous constitution of a specific mass, consistence is more about the stratification of different parts across a larger whole, be that a community, a culture, a regional or global population, or across time and space in general.

    Literally, consistence means “standing strong together”. This does not mean that the individual parts are the same. On the contrary: They may be very different, complementing each other, sticking together much in the same way that opposites attract.

    Consistence does not build so much on promoting individual strengths as it succeeds by minimizing vulnerability to weaknesses. You might be reminded of the quote by Nietzsche which states: “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”. In this way, an infection, a virus or similar disease may be seen as promoting consistence.

    Since the contexts of consistence are so wide and far-reaching, it is difficult to summarize this philosophy in one brief essay. We should revisit this approach many times, from different angles, and keep testing the usefulness of this concept time and time again.

  • Profile photo of feedwordpress

    feedwordpress 07:09:13 on 2013/06/10 Permalink
    Tags: accommodate, accommodateion, assimilate, assimilation, cause, causes, devote, , direction, , , , , , , , , , philosophy, priority, , , , tradition,   

    In order to live a life of devotion, one must be able to successfully choose a top priority 

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    I have recently become acutely aware of this as I have been reflecting on the prospect of people entering into and exiting from “my life” — I’ve been sort of asking myself: what is my life in the context of such arrivals and departures?

    First and foremost, I think, one needs to choose whether life has any meaning, direction or goal whatsoever — and I am actually quite uncertain about that. I think living in the present without thinking about the future or the past (or, for that matter, without thinking about anything, really) can really be a very blissful experience… and there is nothing that leads me to believe that there might be anything “wrong” with it.

    Let me turn to devotion. The way I see it, devotion needs an object — it’s not really possible to devote yourself to nothing in particular (that would kind of destroy the meaning of “devote” in a sort of circular manner). In a very traditional “fairy tale” view, two lovers are viewed as devoting themselves to each other. The ending of this story is usually glossed over with “happily ever after”, but my hunch is that in reality what happens is that the one person who gets “left behind” can no longer cope with the world without the other person to devote themselves to, and therefore dies soon thereafter. Those two cases are in some sense the traditionally idealized notion of love, but I do not doubt there are also less devoted cases in which the survivor simply shrugs their shoulders and moves on to something new (maybe sort of “sad but true”, mixed up with a dash of “happy-go-lucky”?). ;)

    Yet there are also other kinds of “life of devotion” — I can think of two in particular, which at first glance seemed to be opposites, but under more scrutiny seem to actually be complements (yet again: I’m just guessing and not really sure of anything :P ).

    The relatively speaking more obvious case (to me) is that of devotion to a cause, and the other case I would call something like devotion to serving a community.

    Let me try explain how I view these by noting that (the way I see it) nature is in constant flux: Everything is constantly changing. Sort of following Piaget, we can see our role in this theater as being either one of accommodation or of assimilation (or sort of a mashup of both). Accommodation is sort of like “adapting to change, but not really being comfortable with it”; Assimilation embraces the change and makes it the “new norm” (until the next change comes along).

    In my view, the “devotion to a cause” and “devotion to a service” differ primarily in what part of this natural change should accommodate and/or assimilate to the other. In “devotion to a cause”, the person recognizes something like a natural law and devotes themselves to reaching a better understanding of this law of nature — both for themselves and for others, since all are living their lives within this “law of nature”. In “devotion to a service” the focus is not on the whole of nature, but rather on the special case of a particular species (or similar community) — such that the whole is viewed as needing to adapt (accommodate and assimilate) to the particular part that is the object of the service-oriented devotion. To give a rather simple example: Whereas in devotion to a cause, someone might seek to understand the natural processes that lead to different states (and thereby discover things like viruses, bacteria, etc.), in devotion to a service the focus of attention is on the well-being of a particular species (such as human beings) or more abstract things (such as “the environment”, “fairness”, “justice”, etc.).

    All of this lengthy meandering is only a long-winded preamble to the much simpler observation that it is really only possible for us to devote ourselves to something if we make that our top priority above all else.

    Do you have a top priority? What is it?

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