Assuming that you have money in some bank account, how do you know that next time you want to withdraw any of it, the bank won’t pretend that you’ve never paid anything into the account? The answer, I suppose, is that the bank is forced by the laws of the state you live in to document all its incoming and outgoing transfers in a difficult-to-forge manner, that this state can ask them to report those documents upon request, that this state is allowed to fine the bank in case of fraud, that further this state has sufficient credible executive power to enforce the above rights and that, finally, the prospect of being fined appears worse to the bank than simply being honest. Continue reading
In every society there exist a lot of rituals that form a big part of what would be called the “culture” of this society. Some of those involve body actions, while others don’t. Examples of the former are holding open a door for someone or clapping your hands to applaud somebody, raising your fist to signal intense joy or anger. Examples of the latter are the “hi,hi,how are you,good”-exchange at the beginning of conversations and other speaking protocols. Even though there is no tight boundary between these two kinds of ritual, I think we are certainly in the regime of the first whenever in messages we’re using things like *clap*, *facepalm*, and other memes imitating a physical action. Now, there are special cases of the first kind, rituals involving some form of magic – acts of superstition such as “knocking on wood” or gonging a gong as part of a prayer. Translating these rituals into messages involving bits like *gong* or #knockonwood seems question-begging both to me and everybody that I talked to about this. Why is that? What underlies this difficulty of translating “magical rituals” into the digital realm?
It’s been a while. The reasons are the usual so let me not do go into lengthy explanations and apologies. I won’t pursue the megalomanic project that I started the blog for, at least not for now. An essay on something related that I wrote on Kant’s Mathematical Antinomies in Oxford, and a couple of conversations with clever people, showed me that my basic position concerning these things is even more problematic than I had foreseen (again, the usual…), so I’ll pause that one to think a bit longer. For now, I have some other, more miscellaneous stuff lined up, and I’ll start with a little quirky idea, nothing with much force, but, I find, interesting.
Let me put on my Cartesian ruff and do some armchair musing about the physiology of abstraction, that is, lets look at whether we can go say anything, by way of introspection, about what happens in the brain when we abstract (I know, it’s 2016, I’m neither a philosopher of mind, nor a neuroscientist, this is just ridiculous…but then, from the little researching I did, there seems to exist no scientific theory on this at the moment and also it’s a gloomy Sunday, so take it more as a form of hang over brain jogging…).
Here we are with the second entry. I’ve been through some tough times with it, producing some ten thousand words of crap and changing topic several times on the go. Obvious problem: Being too ambitious, easy solution: Being less ambitious. So I guess I will chop up the message for this final topic in easy bits and post them as I go. This also makes sense in terms of getting feedback while producing the follow-up posts.
Today’s menu: First of all, give you a glimpse of the larger idea about to be presented in the next couple of posts, and then serve the first chunk.
I hold a number of beliefs about the world that seem inconsistent and these beliefs do not concern the world of my everyday life, where concepts and principles are (and should be) vague, things are in a constant state of tension and the term “inconsistency” is just as vaguely applicable. Instead, the beliefs I mean are those that lie at the conceptual and interpretative basis of our physical theories about the world, especially at the microscopic level. Here the possibility for inconsistency, logically defined as the impossibility of two propositions to be true at the same time, of two beliefs (or their statement) becomes more clear-cut as the beliefs grow sharper.