Thursday, August 25, 2016

on the fringes of being

alexius meinong 

is it ever too late?
nay i say.
never too late to get my hands on alexius meinong.
why did i never read him in graduate school?
why did i repeatedly passed over his name on countless footnotes of lesser authors than he?

now i see that to understand being we have to look on the fringes of being:
the "incomplete," the "alter," the "quasi," the "non,"

"the completing is never quite completed" is a phrase in novalis, but his was bold romantic enthusiasm.

meinong walked the walk. objects exist, subsist, merely exist...

for example: i remember entertaining a "rounded square" in my metaphysics class. i'd "feel" my own cerebration, the square fighting to become "round," mutating its squareness to quasi-roundness, kind of squircle (though clearly this is not the end-form, which is impossible). once the squareness is left behind one is in nowhereland, sosein, kind of homeless.

the mind gets it! the nichtsein entertained as impossible superimposition.

in meinongian, the rounded-square "subsists."


(a brief intro for meinong would be fans here)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

the idea of a consolidated erotetic completeness shipwrecks on the infeasibility of finding a meaningful way to monitor its attainment


The nuanced nugget above is from Rescher's "The Unrealizability of Perfected Science."*

The idea is not new. Rescher is after the so called completeness of science. Say Physics, could it —at some point in the future— become upper bounded, or as some put it Q-complete

I've dealt very with this problem here, and here.

Rescher presents four points: 1- Erotetic completeness, 2- Predictive completeness, 3- Pragmatic completeness, 4- Temporal finality.

In my opinion, Rescher better points are 1, and 4.

You may think what's the value of all this. See it as probing questions that pertain to problems as diverse as scientific realism, instrumentalism, the systematicity of nature, the cognitive limits, etc. 

But what I'm after here is style, the Rescherian unique manner of clothing ideas, which needs a whole post about stylistics in writing philosophy, but I don't have the time now.

When I read Rescher, I read a whole epoch: Strawson, Quine, Putnam, even a bit of Goodman. And yet his language has a unique old school elegance. There's always a secret interlocutor behind Rescher's thoughts, an echo of heedfulness.

Again:

the idea of a consolidated erotetic completeness shipwrecks on the infeasibility of finding a meaningful way to monitor its attainment 

Imagine this bloated erotetic cerebration crashing against its own nullness.

Pure poetry!

(I'm onto Rescher)

_______________________
*Reason Method and Value, A Reader on the Philosophy of Nicholas Rescher (Ontos Verlag, 2009) p. 335.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Deflating Modernity (Part 5) Against hyper-objects

Modernity posturing as bundle of (bundles)

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Modernity's (M) mounting troubles tell a persistent problem with the methodologies used by M-theorists. These theories are propagated and legitimized without proper immanent critiques appealing to standards of reference, explanatory power and future predictability. In the last four posts we've presented theoretical conclusions that are simply not viable, such as M-normativity, Hegel's axiomatics, presentism, etc. We confront the same problem with M's main methodology: hermeneutics. The basic tenet of the discipline is that of interpretation, understanding, etc. And here is the problem: interpretation, understanding, etc, are not enough to anchor truth. Theorists overlook that many of these inherited constructs are structurally epiphenomenal, which redundantly relate back to its material base. Heidegger has no choice but to recognize hermeneutics' raison d' être and re-frame it as structural:
The "circle" in understanding belongs to the structure of meaning, and the latter phenomenon is rooted in the existential constitution of Dasein—that is, in the understanding which interprets. An entity for which, as Being-in-the-world, its Being is itself an issue, has, ontologically, a circular structure.1
We get it: Dasein has the ability to understand, and this ability is already —as it were— wired into Dasein. So, any understanding is bound to be Daseins' own! That Heidegger accepts that understanding is structural shows that circularity is insurmountable for Hermeneutics, there's no way to validate one's understanding of the world beyond one's (own) understanding of the world.

Nothing against redundancy per se. Once we pass hermeneutics' structural redundancy, we find that it's possible to build hermeneutic validity if we keep close attention to immanent standards of critique to rule out poor, or substandard interpretations. Admittedly, Heidegger's thesis in Being and Time opened up new avenues in the field of phenomenological research.

Here is a text by Umberto Eco, an expert in the history of hermeneutics. While in his early years Eco defended "open ended" interpretations, late Eco become more suspicious of what he saw as eroding standards of interpretation:  
One can object that in order to define a bad interpretation one needs the criteria for defining a good interpretation. I think on the contrary that we can accept a sort of Popper-like principle according to which if there are no rules that help to ascertain which interpretations are the "best" ones, there is at least a rule for ascertaining which ones are "bad." (169)
How to spot over-interpretation? Eco conceives of a model reader who would be able to discard some over-interpretations as ridiculous. We come back to the hermeneutic circle: understanding is a part-to-whole-to-part exercise. The model reader is capable to ask the right questions about the parts vs-a-vs the whole based on what she determines are the intentions of the text.

Hyper-objects

In our previous posts, we've hinted at hyper-objects as extremely large metaphysical entities, feeding on other entities.

Let's come back to M's paradigmatic definition:
... a bundle of processes that are cumulative and mutually reinforcing: to the (a) formation of capital and the mobilization of resources, to the (b) development of forces of production and the increase in the productivity of labor, to the establishment of (c) centralized political power and the formation of national identities, to the proliferation of rights of political participation, (e) of urban forms of life and of formal schooling, to the secularization of norms and so on (letters are mine).2
A bundle of processes which makes for a ((bigger)) process.

See, not just a process but a bundle of processes.


the hyper-object as if justifies itself

Some persistent questions

* If a "bundle of processes," why not a bundleofabundleofabundle, and so on? (let's call this the infinite regress problem) 

* How does bundleofabundleofabundle remain the same through its changes? (let's call this change-over-persistence question)

* If a bundleofabundleofabundle is a sort of process activity, how does it supervenes over its parts? (let's call this the activity-over-substance question).

(A hyper-object can give one the creeps)

* How can M define itself as a "bundle of processes," while ultimately referring back to the processes constituting the processes? (let's call this the constitution paradox)

We're not being difficult. No question is of little value:

Categories relate to questions, not to answers!

The individuality of bundleofabundleofabundle cannot be explained out by invoking the very thing one needs to explain. We need to understand why all these bundles coalesce together through time, when they change.

Here is a schematic story of the making of M: The theorist uses ad hoc methods with diverse  received theories to describe his (our) socioeconomic present; the assembled "bundle of processes" so presented as the explanation of his present condition. Then as part of the received theory, the postulated M will not submit to a critique outside M. 3  Is this a good start for a reliable methodology? Is this the best M-theory can do ?


the gradual decay of M-theory 

A brief history of M

a. At some point during early Nineteenth Century, German Romantics come up with the idea of "modern," b. Hegel brilliantly introduces his axiomatics! c. The effort to legitimize Hegel determines two opposing currents: Right and Young Hegelians struggle to give an account of M anchored in, what else, the present! d. Marx/Engels develop political economy and dialectical materialism as eminent presentist disciplines. e.  Due to the contributions of Weber, Durkheim, Mead, etc, M-theory comes of age during the first fifty years of the Twentieth Century.

At each step of a. through e. we have a real shuffling of ideas: Given the early M-theory, anchored in metaphysics, history, teleology and Romantic literature, M-theorists proceed now to justify socio-historic and economic patterns in terms of bigger socio-economic and political processes, and in so doing they use more generalizations to ground previous ones. But bigger isn't better. In the end M becomes a rundown Paper Tiger, paralyzed by its inner unexplored peripheries and contradictions.     

Revising M 

In PDM Habermas defends human rationality. What's interesting about his program is that it makes rationality an inherent capacity within language acquisition and expression. In other words, rationality expresses itself in our capacity for argumentation. And argumentation is grounded on validity claims which are vindicated by a process of inter-subjectivity.4 This communicative (argumentative) interaction of participants becomes a promising social cohesive force. Postmodernity appears and subverts these tenets with a discourse that is vitiated by self-contradiction. Reason has its flip side: the "other" of Reason, which, in the end, is actually, Reason. The problem is that Habermas makes M a cardboard model for rationality.

But M is, at bottom, a motley crew.

To make up for this aporia, theorists turn M into a hyper-object in the company of other hyper-objects, such as Capitalism, etc. (The hyper-object gang provides much needed esprit de corps).

Our approach is that hyper-objects should metaphysically answer to objects. An object, a thing, is a primitive. A required first step. Surely, objects get together with other objects to become big, sometimes very big. But the difference is that we start talking about stuff that is actually at our empirical (or conceptual) level, instead of up above at some epiphenomenal level. We suggest to come back to a simple differentiation between what the object (thing) "is" and what we "make" of it. Of course, this is not the place to go into such detailed discussion of object/metaphysics.

A deflated idea of M:

* Like with any other historic period, let's deflate M to finite future bound.

* M's self-imposed teleology is metaphysically redundant.4

* Self-normativity and M-normativity are goldbricks! From a normative standpoint, M has to be necessarily connected with previous historic periods. Normativity is trans-epochal.

* Instead of dwelling high and above at hyper-object level, the theorist should come down to earth and look at things. Don't ever rule by fiat.

* Make M less hyper-symptomatic and more predictive.5

* To avoid hyper-objects' recurrent redundancy, make them subordinate to objects (things).   

Indeed, the present is real but it can be presented as a counterfactual to hyper-objects' redundant influence. For instance, one can conceive of a world without Modernity in it.6



_____________________________
1 M. Heidegger's Being and Time (New York: Harper and Row, 1962) p.195. .  2 PDM, p. 2, Habermas enumerates the different influences of what we could call "the received theory of M": Baudelaire, Weber, Mead, Benjamin, Durkheim, Blumenberg,  Koselleck, etc. See Hegel's axiomatics.  3 Suppose a theorist comes up with a theory in defense of "aura analysis." Suppose furthermore that there are many people don't fit the predicted patterns of "aura analysis." Rather than accept this fact as refuting evidence of the theory, the theorist presents a new category of people: the non-aureatic. Now, whenever the theory does not seem to work, the contrary evidence is systematically discounted! 4 Grounding validity claims intersubjectively grounds truth as coherence. Again, theoretical coherence alone is not enough to ground truth claims (whether as pseudo science or social consensus, as in here, here and here). 5 True, the future is unpredictable, but we have this and this to entertain comparative forecasts. 6 As well as other well known socio-economic hyper-objects, such as Capitalism, Terrorism, Globalization, etc.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Deflating Modernity (Part 4) Nietzsche's futurity against Modernity's presentism

the blighted environs of M-normativity (Thomas Struth, Crosby Street, Soho,1982)


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In this post we examine the advent of postmodernity and what that means for M-normativity. Particularly, we analyze Nietzsche's idea of futurity and how it subverts Modernity's presentism.  

From an "oppositional" perspective emergent postmodernity presents questions that come back to hunt modernity. Questions are repressed under layers of theoretical hubris.1 The weight of a theory can be ponderous. Positions that have come to prominence become entrenched after years of back and forth between opposing sides. Discussions become compartmentalized and owned by specific tendencies. From entrenched positions very little can be negotiated and legitimate questions are often dismissed as derivative or spurious.

It's time to be frank about those repressed questions, no matter how naïve they may seem.

We start with M's bombastic presentism.
Because the new, the modern world is distinguished from the old by the fact that it opens itself to the future, the epochal new beginning is rendered constant with each moment that gives birth to the new. [...] Within the horizon of the modern age, the present enjoys a prominent position a contemporary history. (PDM p. 6)    
The term "epochal" is neutral. Things begin and end (except M). Recall that Habermas would prefer to argue for "oppositionality" rather than "chronology." But the truth is that M's use of "oppositionality" is a straw man. It announces "concept," when it really means "chronological time."

But opposing concepts don't presuppose anything "epochal." Concepts and time/space are independent metaphysical categories.

That M is a period within world history is a matter of consensus. But as we know, consensus doesn't necessarily anchor truth (think the consensus on slavery among southern landowners during early 19th Century America, or Arian Supremacy during the Nazi years in Germany).    

Modernity makes historical claims while metaphysics hides behind the curtains.

M is deliberate about turning history into a teleological theater. 

What are the methods of history? Like other disciplines in the Human Sciences, history is a big pottage of ideas, competing positions and methodologies. Generally, historians stay away from metahistory (a kind of independent auditor looking at the overall discipline). But being that metahistory is not so much about history but how history talks about itself, the talking is often hijacked by "foreign" interests (i.e., metaphysics).

Why is this relevant? Because Hegel's axiomatics.  

Hegel's Lectures on the Philosophy of History is the Romantic metahistoric manifesto that brings together two reluctant siblings: philosophy and history. Together they announce the Parousia of Protestant Eschatology. This is how M-normativity is born. 

As time passes M-theory get more gluttonous. M-theorists turn M into a gargantuan hyperobject with which to explain all imaginable phenomena. To top it off, M should last forever.

Let's imagine a regular historian doing research, negotiating different methodologies available to her, whether voluntaristic, Marxist, sociological, interdisciplinary, Feminist, etc. Despite the differences, the common denominator is the gathering of past facts in order to build inferences to explain it. These historic inferences are always fallible approximations.2

How could History, a discipline whose raison d'etre is to analyze and theorize changes in the past, declare an "epochal state of permanence?" How could an epoch in history get as it were out of its time to dictate: "I'm here to stay"? That's metaphysical hooey.

Here is M's dogma:
... [M] opens itself to the future, the epochal new beginning rendered constant with each moment that gives birth to the new.
We have to find a way to expose the sham.

Let's take a look at the emergence of what M-theorists pejoratively describe as postmodernity. We should not even let the "post" prefix fool us. M-theorists don't mean "post" as posterior to M. They mean it as a mere (to bring a Hegelian shibboleth) "detour."3

But even granting the M-theorist that postmodernity is "oppositional" will be enough to show that M-normativity is a cheat, a Baron Munchausen pulling himself from his bootstraps.  

the collapse of M-normativity? (Pruit Igoe, 1968) 

Nietzsche, the first postmodern

Who's the bearer of postmodern iniquity? An eccentric, blasphemous, sickish professor of philology by the name of Friedrich Nietzsche. To double up the weird: a Schopenhauerian and a Wagnerian.

Nietzsche is said to have "broken away from the spell of M."

How did he do it?
Nietzsche renounces a renewed  revision of the concept of reason and bids farewell to the dialectic of enlightenment... [He] uses the ladder of historical reason in order to cast it away at the end and to gain a foothold in myth as the other of reason. (PDM, 86)
What myth?
...  an investigation that led him beyond the Alexandrian world and beyond the Roman Christian world back to the beginnings, back to the "ancient Greek world of the great, the natural and the human." (PDM, Idem)
The first postmodern is he who challenges M-normativity! Habermas is not shy to castigate dissension.
On this path the antiquarian-thinking "latecomers" of modernity are to be transformed into "firstlings" of a postmodern age. (PDM, Idem)
"Postmodern age?" Habermas' own rhetoric betrays him. Does "age" = "epoch"? No two contemporaneous epochs are allowed by M-normativity. The culprit of this early jumble is Nietzsche. He incarnates "modern time consciousness" in search for a mythical time that is to be found not in the past but in the future.
Only the future constitutes the horizon for the arousal of mythical pasts. "The past always speaks as an oracle: only a as masterbuilders of the future who know the present will you understand it." (PDM, 87)
Habermas reads Nietzsche's idea of the future as "utopian," directed to "the god who is coming, which makes Nietzsche less reactionary than say, a Romantic, who craves a "back to origins"call.

This god who is coming is Dionysus, a popular figure for German Romantics. Dionysus is favored by the romantics because he "preserves the cultic excess with archaic forms of social solidarity. (PDM, 96). Nietzsche is not original in his treatment of Dionysus. The fascination with the Greek god harks back to early Nineteenth Century, with the likes of Schlegel, Hölderlin, Novalis, Schelling, etc. The difference, Habermas points out, is that the Romantic Dionysus doesn't break with Western tradition. This mythology is a form of rejuvenation which seeks a Christian promise fulfilled with mythic Dionysian solidarity.4

The mature Nietzsche breaks with this Romantic Christian/Dionysian formula to embrace an openly aesthetic posture. For his discussion, Habermas cites from Nietzsche's On the Use and Abuse of History for Life.

We intend to mine this relevant text a little more.   

How Nietzsche's futurity subverts M-normativity

Nietzsche is a futurist before Futurism.
It is appropriate now to understand that only the man who builds the future has a right to judge the past. (UAH, 26)
The future is not merely "there" like chronological time. The future is a projection. Nietzsche in on the right path. That's why he's so influential for Existentialist theory: Dasein, or l'être depend of this futural projection.
Create in yourselves a picture to which the future is to correspond ... you have enough to plan and to invent when you imagine that future for yourselves. If you live your life in the history of great men, then you will learn from history the highest command: to ...  flee away from that paralyzing and prohibiting upbringing of the age. (Idem)
Nietzsche's "history of great men" refers to the ancient pre-socratics. A past that could happen again unless one flies "away from that paralyzing and prohibiting upbringing of the age." One has to respect a postmodern who can speak in such a "modern" manner.
When the historical sense reigns unchecked and drags with it all its consequences, it uproots the future, because it destroys illusions and takes from existing things the atmosphere in which they alone can live. (Idem)
see how Nietzsche describes M-normativity:
As he sets down on the top of it the final stone of his knowledge, he appears to call out to nature listening all around, "We are at the goal, we are the goal, we are the perfection of nature." (UAH, IX)
Nietzsche's futurity leaves M's trumpeted presentism lagging behind.
Nietzsche undertakes a conspicuous leveling. Modernity loses its singular status, it constitutes only a last epoch in the far reaching history of rationalization initiated by the dissolution of archaic life and the collapse of myth. (UAH, 35)
To which extent can Nietzsche's critique of his present undermine M's singular status? Unless M is a Paper Tiger, its "epochal new" just a shibboleth defended by an out-of-synch status quo. Interestingly, Habermas' list of Nietzsche's postmodern buddies in PDM extend forward into the future to 1980s! That's a hundred years of postmodern trans-fat clogging M's arteries! 4

Let's introduce Nietzsche as the first modern postmodern.

(Picture the M-theorist, standing at the door of a small room filled with a postmodern coterie, holding a placard that reads: Long live the present!)

To top if off comes Baudelaire's contradictory declaration: Modernity can happen before modernity!

The poet is mixing up things. He has a right. For Baudelaire (a proto-Surrealist) time "is a greedy player."

"Time to get drunk!
Don't be martyred slaves of Time,
Get drunk!
Stay drunk!
On wine, virtue, poetry, whatever!"5

Baudelaire's "get drunk" means dare to imagine! 

What conceptual or epochal "warning" can prevent a critic disgusted with her present to look forward to a better future? Is theory a prerequisite for human imagination?5

To the preceding Baudelairean, let's double with this Nietzschean:  

Postmodernity is possible before any modernity!

Now the distraught M-theorist throws up his hands and screams: "Stop, you're mixing everything up!"

But this is time! And time is elastic, it can be brought back and forth through memories. And memories are tools of superimposition. As we learn from Freud our psyche is in the business of mixing up events.

Does one have to be modern —or postmodern— to think like this:
The glance into the past pushes them into the future, fires their spirit to take up life for a longer time yet, kindles the hope that justice may still come and that happiness may sit behind the mountain towards which they are walking. These historical people believe that the meaning of existence will come increasingly to light in the course of its process. Therefore they look backwards only to understand the present considering previous process and to learn to desire the future more keenly. (UAH, 5)
Nietzsche, the first modern/postmodern, has the freedom to go back and forth, shopping around for standards, evaluating past and/or future (even if as we know, it turns to be illusory).
Fill your souls with Plutarch, and dare to believe in yourselves when you have faith in his heroes. With a hundred people raised in such an unmodern way, that is, people who have become mature and familiar with the heroic, one could permanently silence the entire noisy pseudo-education of this age. (my italics, UAH, 5)
Let's welcome this new Nietzschean relatum: "unmodern." How near of farther away is that from "modern"?

To make the M-theorist more miserable, Nietzsche —reluctantly— considers himself a modern.
For we modern people have nothing at all which comes from us.
It's time for a second introduction: Nietzsche is the first unmodern modern.


Next: Against hyper-objects.
________________________________
1 Our discussion takes Habermas' PDM as its main source, but the truth is that Habermas' own position is close to other high profiled M-theorists, such as Hans Blumenberg, Reinhart Koselleck, etc.  2 Induction is never certain. But M makes it look deductive. Which brings us to the difference between the "natural" and "social" sciences. In spite of the obvious differences, here I try to play a neutral game, i.e., in spite of their differences, both history and biology have to build a body of knowledge from explanations and predictions. 3 I'm thinking of Hegel's maxim: Der Weg des Geistes ist der Umweg. 4 This interpretation is challenged in a recent essay by Peter Sloterdijk. Obviously Nietzsche doesn't see his present as this idea of M defended by Habermas a hundred years later. This is all metaphysical legerdemain. 5  Baudelaire's Paris Spleen. 6"The same evidence follows us in our second principle, of the liberty of the imagination to transpose and change its ideas." Hume's Treatise on Human Nature (III).

Monday, July 18, 2016

Deflating Modernity (Part 3): The hubris of self-normativity



How is an a priori history possible? When the soothsayer causes and contrives the events that he proclaims in advance. Hans Blumenberg, The Legitimacy of the Modern Age

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We open with a high-flown assertion:
Modernity no longer will borrow the criteria by which it takes orientation from the models supplied by another epoch: is has to create its normativity out of itself. Modernity sees itself cast back upon itself without any possibility of escape. (PDM, p.7)
Let's call it M-normativity (Habermas' normative fiat).

M-normativity = self-normativity. 

How could M-normativity happen in vacuo?

Norms are standards, i.e., measures (whether quantitative or qualitative) of comparison. And a comparison presupposes differences.

But when it comes to M what are we comparing? Certainly not what comes before M, which is prohibited by M-normativity!

Obviously redundant.

((As the M-theorist seeks for evidence, he only finds more incongruity))

In Chapter 1 of PDM, Habermas provides two prominent examples of self-normativity: Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin.

Baudelaire, in his The Painter of Modern Life:
By "modernity" I mean the ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art whose other half is the eternal and immutable…This transitory, fugitive element, whose metamorphoses are so rapid, must on no account be despised or dispensed with.
Habermas interprets the paragraph above as the ephemeral: "... the authentic work is radically bound to the moment of its emergence, precisely because it consumes itself in actuality." (PDM, p. 9).

Agree, but that doesn't mean that Baudelaire has M-normativity in mind –when in the following paragraph of his famous essay he adds:
There was a form of modernity for every painter of the past; the majority of the fine portraits that remain to us from former times arc clothed in the dress of their own day. They are perfectly harmonious works because the dress, the hairstyle, and even the gesture, the expression and the smile (each age has its carriage, its expression and its smile) form a whole, full of vitality.
This is clearly the kind of negotiation between epochal standards that M-normativity prohibits. Baudelaire is saying that "modern" is trans-historic. It can apply to Baudelaire's present (circa 1863), as much as it applies to Greek painter Phidias (circa 440 BC)!

Next, Benjamin, in his On the Concept of History (XVII):
A historical materialist approaches a historical subject only where he encounters it as a monad. In this structure he recognizes the sign of a Messianic cessation of happening, or, put differently, a revolutionary chance in the fight for the oppressed past. He takes cognizance of it in order to blast a specific era out of the homogeneous course of history—blasting a specific life out of the era or a specific work out of the lifework. As a result of this method the lifework is preserved in this work and at the same time canceled; in the lifework, the era; and in the era, the entire course of history. The nourishing fruit of what is historically understood contains time in its interior as a precious but tasteless seed.
Habermas' opinion:
The consciousness of time expressed in Benjamin is not easy to classify. A singular mixture of surrealist experiences and motifs from Jewish mysticism enter unmistakably into his notion of now-time. 
Benjamin use of "Messianic" is not exactly the kind of future Habermas has in mind, since it goes against the grain of M-normativity. "Messianic" is –epochally speaking– ancient/medieval. How could Benjamin, a M-theorist, use chronological "non-oppositional" terms to define M standards?

Habermas aligns himself with another prominent M-theorist, Hans Blumenberg. According to Blumenberg each epoch is given by a particular criteria, until a new vision of the world becomes necessary. The transition from "ancient" to "medieval" is defined by the idea of "creation ex-nihilo." The preamble to the modern age is the nominalist God of Okham. The Enlightenment is (within Modernity) the attempt to hide the historicity of Being. Blumenberg calls this period "false Modernity."

Each of these moments represent an epochal change (Gegenständigkeit, translated as "oppositionality") as opposed to (Inständigkeit or "extrapositionality"). Blumenberg presents two axes: "the world" and "human action in the world." Gegenständigkeit is grounded in the Cartesian method and Husserl's Phenomenology where "world" and "action in the world" are within a continuum. Inständigkeit, on the other hand, is a rejection of the former, exemplified by Heidegger's anti-humanism, i.e., the rejection of reason, religion and tradition.

Habermas is more radical in his defense of self-normativity than Koselleck or Blumenberg.
Koselleck has characterized modern-time consciousness among other ways in terms of the increasing difference between "the sense of experience" and the "horizon of expectations": My thesis is that in modern times the difference between experience and expectation has increasingly expanded, more precisely that modernity is first understood as a new age from the time that expectations have distanced themselves evermore from all previous experience. (PDM, p. 12)
Could the M-theorist really explain why there is no "historic consciousness" before M?

To prove M-normativity Habermas needs a radical cut, but so far, he hasn't produced it.


Slowly we begin to find the cracks in the M-normativity frame.


Next: How the overlap of Modernity/Post-Modernity shatters M-normativity.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Deflating Modernity (Part 2): The failure of Hegel's axiomatics

Hegelian axiomatics makes its case in the trial of history 

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After defining the "economic" side of M, Habermas proceeds to tackle M's superstructure. The preeminent figure of this post is G. F. Hegel:
Hegel was the first philosopher to develop a clear concept of modernity (p. 4). Hegel used the concept of modernity first of all in historical contexts, as an epochal concept: The new age is the modern age. (PDM p. 5)
What's Hegel's secret? He has the audacity to call his time "new" (circa 1807). That's it.

I- Hegel is axiomatizing his present!

How do you prove that's sunny when it's (in fact) sunny? Just point to the sunny realm around you with your index finger. Facts don't need proof.

Hegel is brilliant enough to make his epoch look as a historic necessity (with the help of good ol metaphysics).

In this post I try to show that both justifications are redundant. First, since any epoch is "new" in comparison with the previous epoch and "old" when compared with the subsequent one, Hegel's own epoch is at best trivially different than any previous epoch. So, his historic argument of "new" as unique fails. Second, since history is basically and ultimately about real events, Hegel's hijacking of history by metaphysics to justify history's march to self-discovery is, from the start, a redundant project.    

As a paradigmatic German Romantic, Hegel presents his epoch as inevitable, the incarnation of the  "will of the spirit" (Geist).

Two generations later, when Marx shook off his Hegelian influences, he castigated Hegel and the Young Hegelians in The German Ideology (with this caustic paragraph).
The Hegelian philosophy of history is the last consequence, reduced to its "finest expression," of all this German historiography, for which it is not a question of real, nor even of political, interests, but ... as a series of "thoughts" that devour one another and are finally swallowed up in "self-consciousness."
I do not dispute that Hegel sees his present as a new epoch. In fact, his inclination to see it that way is generational (for example, the so called Jena Circle).1 For Paul Redding this inclination harks back to the beginning of German Idealism:
Idealists from Leibniz to Hegel sought to accommodate and incorporate the modern life together with the distinctive role given to  individual subjectivity within it. This German Idealismus might be better described in terms of a increasing attempt to locate general phenomena with the modern subjective conception of consciousness. (p.4)
II- Hegel's historic argument 

Let's look at the Hegelian "new" as simply and factually as possible:

For something to be new, it has to be different from the old.

Imagine a moment X0 which precedes a moment X1,
Necessarily, X0 ≠ X1 (since they are different),
Therefore we can call X1 "new" and X0 "old."

Relatively, Xis "new," compared to X0, but it's also "old" compared to X2. And the same will happen for each Xi.

In conclusion,

Θ There is nothing unique about X1 other than being trivially "before" of "after" any Xi.

Of course, Hegel would disagree.
It is surely not difficult to see that our time is a birth and transition to a new period. The Spirit has broken with what was hitherto the world of its existence and imagination and is about to submerge all this in the past. (PDM p. 6).
The reason Hegel rejects Θ is that he needs more than just a "new" epoch.

He needs this "new" epoch to last for ever! (more of this later).

M can be as oracular as Greek mythology and prophetic as the Pentateuch!



III- Habermas defense of the "new" as "oppositional"

I'd like to continue Habermas train of thought in PDM:
In his Lectures on the Philosophy of History, Hegel used these expressions to classify the German Christian world... the division still usual today (e.g, for the designation of chairs in history departments) into Modern Period, Middle Ages and Antiquity could take shape only after the expression "new" or "modern" age lost its chronological meaning and took the oppositional significance of an emphatically "new" age. (PDM p. 5)
Habermas borrows this idea of "oppositional" as opposed to "chronological" from respected German historian Reinhart Koselleck, who coined the term Sattelzeit to denote a conceptual transformation which takes place between 1750-1850. We cannot go deep into Koselleck's monumental theory of Begriffsgeschichte in his Futures Past On the Semantics of Historic Time.

(take a look at this essay by Jan Werner Müller as an intro).

Even as Koselleck builds his idea of "conceptual history" (or Begriffsgeschichte) he brings back  chronological aspects —as he anchors these conceptual transformations. Koselleck's point is that the historical experience of time and its meanings during the 1750-1850 period shifts from "timeless" (before M) towards "forward looking-anticipatory" during M. (Coincidence, Hegel belongs to this time).

There is a problem with Koselleck idea of Sattelzeit, though. How could "new" be oppositional without being implicitly chronological? Put differently: How could one address "opposition" (Entgegensetzung) in Hegel, between concepts referring to historic events without implicitly acknowledging change? And how can one acknowledge change without chronological time?

Hegelian dialectics is about "moments." For example, in his famous definition of Being & Nothing resolving in Becoming in his Wissenschaft der Logik, Hegel uses the term Übergehen, traslated by Wallace as "passage" (in German Gehen implies the idea of motion).

Let's take a look at Koselleck's idea of "opposition":
From the concept of the one party follows the definition of the alien other ... This involves asymmetrically opposed concepts. The opposite is not equally antithetical. The linguistic usage of politics, like that of everyday life, is permanently based on this fundamental figure of asymmetric opposition. (FP p. 158)
Koselleck goes in detail over a number of binaries (Helenes vs. Barbarians, Christian vs. Heathens, Mensch & Unmensch vs. Übermensch & Untermensch, etc). At one point he seems to imply that these conceptual oppositions are independent of history:
The following reflections will not be concerned with historical process or the emergence and articulation of dualistic counter concepts, their change, and the history of their likely effects ...  the structure of argument within once historically extant, dualistic, linguistic figures will be examined for the way in which the given counterpositions were negated. (FP p. 158)
This conclusion is not unlike the structuralist preference of synchronic over diachronic. A few paragraphs later, Koselleck dithers to acknowledges that structure,
 ... implies the historical, and vice versa. In this way, the sources can be read in two ways at once: as the historical utterance of agencies, and as the linguistic articulation of specific semantic structures. (FP p. 181)
This admission by Koselleck subverts Habermas' much needed oppositional side of M. The reason Habermas discounts the chronological (diachronic?) is that he wants M to be and not be in time. Not unlike Hegel, though for different reasons, Habermas still finds a return value in defending M's excess of presence.

How?

Since M is still here, (though going through a detour) M's true project still has a future. The strategy is make M last as much a possible while keep deferring it, legitimizing it within the knowledge communities. Derrida has called this practice "Hauntology."
Because the new, the modern world is distinguished from the old by the fact that it opens itself to the future, the epochal new beginning is rendered constant with each moment that gives birth to the new. [...] Within the horizon of the modern age, the present enjoys a prominent position a contemporary history. (PDM p. 6)
Strange that Habermas makes this assertion about Hegel's epoch. Is his pivotal study Lectures on The Philosophy Of History Hegel doesn't talk much about the future. His main concern is the present:
Nothing in the past is lost for it, for the Idea is ever present; Spirit is immortal; with it there is no past, no future, but an essential now. This necessarily implies that the present form of Spirit comprehends within it all earlier steps. (LPH p. 96)
Or here:
In regard to Philosophy, on the other hand, we have to do with that which (strictly speaking) is neither past nor future, but with that which is, which has an eternal existence —with Reason; and this is quite sufficient to occupy us. (LPH p. 104)
IV- Hegel's metaphysical argument for History

We need to come back to Hegel's axiomatization of history. Hegel's metaphysical maneuver has three parts:

1. History is teleological (it exhibits a purpose), 2. History is a process (of progress), 3. History culminates with the Spirit's self-discovery of its own freedom. For the sake of brevity I'm presenting the core of these arguments:

1. teleology,
...and the whole process of History (as already observed), is directed to rendering this unconscious impulse a conscious one (LPH p. 39).
2. process,
Freedom has found the means of realizing its Ideal — its true existence. This is the ultimate result which the process of History is intended to accomplish. (LPH p. 127)
3. self-discovery, 
The destiny of the spiritual World, and — since this is the substantial World, while the physical remains subordinate to it, or, in the language of speculation, has no truth as against the spiritual —the final cause of the World at large, we allege to be the consciousness of its own freedom on the part of Spirit, and ipso facto, the reality of that freedom. (LPH p. 33)
None of these points have any anchor in reality whatsoever.

A candid question: What got Hegel in such a mess?

I'll present Hegel's metaphysical legerdemain in schematic form.

In developing his phenomenological argument, Hegel's project becomes a model of mounting contradictions. He betrays his phenomenological method of gradually allow metaphysics emerge from a careful analysis. Instead Hegel hijacks history for the sake of metaphysics. Here are the redundancies of Hegel's axiomatics:

1. Presentism: "Progress" redundantly points to Hegel's epoch.2
2. Eurocentrism: World history travels from East to West, ending with, obviously, Europe.
3. Christianocentrism: The Christian world is the world of completion (thereby the end of days is fully come).

M's doubtful endurance, its raison d'etre, has been exposed. M's clever buildup from both its "economic" and "oppositional" sides have been uncovered as a patchwork of ad hoc procedures. M presents plenty of abstractions with dubious particulars, conceptual invocations devoid of factual evidence and questionable inferences with poor premises. 

Next post: M's redundant normativity.

___________________
1 The Jena circle becomes the center of German Romanticism through its main publication: The Athenaeum. Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy describe the circle aptly: "Nor is it simply a circle of friends ... or a "coterie" of intellectuals. It is, rather, a sort of "cell," marginal (if not altogether clandestine), like the core of an organization destined to develop into a "network" and serve as the model for a new style of life. In fact, and without any exaggeration, it is the first "avant-garde" group in history." (The Literary Absolute, p. 8). As Hegel had defined it, "progress" is not an indeterminate advance ad infinitum. "It has a definite aim, that is to say, spirit’s achievement of self-consciousness."

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Deflating Modernity (Part 1) Looking at conditions of possibility

boooo: the lurking ghost of Modernity 

Modernity ... an accepted, codified convention.-- Octavio Paz  

aLfRedO tRifF (to GR)

Modernity (from here on) is a peculiar, unfathomable, entity.

When did M really start? Is it still enduring? Is it abstract, concrete? If abstract, what are its properties? If concrete, how is it bounded?

Furthermore, does M exist independently of people's opinions of it?

What I'd like to do here is explore M's necessary and sufficient conditions (what theorists in the continental tradition call "conditions of possibility"), and particularly from within critical theory. A respected theorist who has made a career writing about M is Jurgen Habermas.

In the mid 1980s Habermas published a series of 12 lectures titled The Philosophical Discourse of ModernityBorrowing from Weber, Durkheim and Herbert Mead's theories Habermas delivers this definition:
The concept of modernization* is a bundle of processes that are cumulative and mutually reinforcing: to the (a) formation of capital and the mobilization of resources, to the (b) development of forces of production and the increase in the productivity of labor, to the establishment of (c) centralized political power and the formation of national identities, to the proliferation of rights of political participation, (e) of urban forms of life and of formal schooling, to the secularization of norms and so on (added letters are mine). 
For Habermas, this "bundle of processes" (let's call it Prefers to something concrete, out there in the world.

The definition takes this form:

Modernity = def A bundle of processes that are cumulative and mutually reinforcing: to the (a) formation of capital and the mobilization of resources to the (b) development of forces, etc...

The relation definiendum = definiens is a strong one. It means that the left hand side and the right hand side of the "______ = def ______" are exchangeable, i.e., P is both a necessary and a sufficient condition for M.

I- Let's address sufficiency.

To show that P is not sufficient for M we would need to prove that P can refer to moments other than M.

Θ  P is not a sufficient condition for M.
__________________________________

(a) Formation of capital

"Formation of capital" cannot refer exclusively to modern capital, if "capital" means wealth, whether physical assets or currency. So, the formation of capital is not unique to modernization.

(b) Development of forces of production

Is "development of forces of production" unique to M? Marx uses forces of production to refer to the means of labor (physical such as machinery, land, etc) + labor power (a normalized category to describe the production of goods and services). Unless the category is redundant to describe its own present, it can refer to instances other than M.

(c) Centralized political power

Centralized political power is not a phenomenon unique to M. Does not Menes, the ancient Egyptian pharaoh credited by classical tradition with having united Upper and Lower Egypt (and founder of the first dynasty) counts as an example of (c)? I don't see why not.

(d) Formation of national identities

With (d) we have a looping problem. The received idea (in Modern History) is that "nation" is already a modern development. Can we find an example of "nation" before M? Professor Anthony D. Smith thinks so.**

(e) Urban forms of life and of formal schooling... secularization of norms and so on.

Let's take the former: Urban forms of life are not necessarily modern. 

The latter: Schooling harks back to the Hellenistic Period.

Coming back to Θ above: Is P a sufficient condition for M?

No, it's not. 
__________________________________

II- Let's address necessity.

If P a necessary condition for M, M cannot exist without P

Is it possible to conceive the existence of M without P? See that all we need is to find is one instance! where M happens without P.

Pretty easy: Let's imagine a different bundle of processes P,' which brings forth M. If this is possible then,

Ω  P is not a necessary condition for M.

Now the Habermasian is visibly annoyed. She will not conceive of Ω.

But she could: There is P' (a different set of processes than the one Habermas mentions) which brings about M. That proves that M can exist without P

P' is possible, that 's it.


What the Habermasian is really doing is begging the question on her initial point: "M cannot exist without P" because that's the way it is.

Let's ask a different question: Is P true? The Habermasian swears on it!

But the Habermasian has to accept that (as any student of Logic 101 knows) P doesn't have to be true to imply M. Actually any "bundle of processes" whether true or false, unproblematically implies M

Is the Habermasian still smiling?

Imagine P to be a discrete set of phenomena and M a cluster event. The theorist now tries to connect P and M, but he merely presents P as causing M without a detailed analysis of such purported connection. The fallacy lies in assuming that a "bundle of processes" described as "cummulative and mutually reinforcing" automatically renders M.     

Here are three inferential errors: 

1- the ad hoc reduction of to P, without a serious counterfactual analysis,*** 2- assuming that P explains M and 3- assuming that P causes M.**** 

Next post: Hegel's axiomatics and the metaphysical grounding of M.

_________________________________
* For Habermas M and "modernization" are isomorphic to each other, with "modernization" becoming the economic side of the coin. From Habermas' neo-Marxist perspective, M plays the superstructure part of the two.** In his well-known Antiquity of Nations Professor Anthony Smith critiques the received modern idea of nation as a modern development: "A nation is a type of community that is based on the idea that people perceive a given territory as belonging to them, rightly or wrongly." The second characteristic is that it's a community of myth, memory, and symbol. "This is what the members of a nation share in common, to a greater or lesser degree: myths, memories, symbols, traditions, which differ from those of other nations." Thirdly, the members of those nations have forged a distinctive public culture, "which includes rituals and ceremonies and public codes of conduct; a political culture of symbols, flags, anthems, stamps, coins, and so on, that mark out this nation from another nation." Finally, members tend to observe common customs and laws. ***To establish definite causation we need to counterfactualize particulars in order to distinguish whether a given event does not occur at all from ones at which it occurs but is somewhat unlike (the way it actually was). ****Is not Habermas begging the whole question of M?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

contemporary art has no future


alFreDo tRifF

introduction
when we speak of future we mean a reserve of time.  

contemporary art (CA from here on) by defintion happens in the everlasting now.

CA is pure presence.

CA is (to use a music metaphor) always "on the beat." what gives the beat of CA? modernity! (a five-headed hydra monster defined by opportunistic theorists).

"modernity" is not properly "in time" either. "modernity" occupies a time-interval with open ended, un-referable limits, as diverse, as the trending theorist defending it. for many, modernity phased into post-modernity (a more pluralistic, less imperialistic phase). others, pulling modernity's rubber-band back to the present called it "late" modernity. meanwhile an entrenched few solemnly proclaimed that modernity is still perduring.


what you see is a folding of a thing onto oneself: a klein-bottle.

pure presence means that no "now" will be different from the previous moment. modernity and CA's substance are always (like the message in a bottle) inside the bottle:


without this temporal ecstasy, there is no currency to afford the past-future axis which provides modernity with its "presentness."

axiom I: CA is neither concrete nor abstract (?)

analysis: by definition, CA cannot be a concrete substance, since a substance could only have an instance through an interval of time, but CA transcends time! CA plays the part of of a res cogitans überobject, a Cartesian God outside time.

on the other hand CA cannot be abstracta: abstract entities don't happen in time!

are we dealing with a conceptual mystery?

axiom II: CA is not original

analysis:
"original" means different tropes vis-a-vis what comes before, i.e., change. but CA being pure presence doesn't change. better, CA doesn't have time left to change!

this non-originality needs to be problematized with CA's delivery. the moment a certain art object is presented as CA, we necessarily have a presentation (of (a presentation)).

(about an art object) one can only prove originality when comparing it with past instances. but CA de facto presents itself  always  as original, with no proof ever seeming de rigeur.

and yet, originality means more than present-past comparisons. there exists a present-future mark as well, that is to say, the present sets the tempo (to bring music back) of what's coming in the immediate future. CA however, doesn't deliver. CA is wrung out!

axiom III: CA has no future 

analysis: 
1- in virtue of axiom II, any residue of so called "originality" vanishes the moment CA becomes pure presence.
2- consider the prospect that, as pure presence, CA goes on forever. the future, as we know it, is kidnapped by the present.
in other words,
3- CA has no future (let's refer to this essential property of CA as non-futurity). there is one more consequence:

4- non-futurity makes CA automatically self-identical.

which brings me to the following pleonasm:

CA is necessarily redundant.

(to be continued)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

for infinity lovers! a levinasian definition


Emmanuel Levinas has a difficult language, in a way as oracular as Heidegger, as obscurely atavistic as Rosenzweig (both important influences on his thought).
... in the trace of illeity, in the enigma, the synchronism falls out of tune, the totality transcended in another time. This extravagant movement of going beyond being toward an immemorial antiquity we call infinity.
the quote resonates with music counterpoint, history, ontology, ethics, and poesy. there's more:

"the trace of illeity" (in late Levinas, illeity is a kind of purveyor of being's alterity)
"synchronism falls out of tune" (interesting musical comparison: Levinas favors diachrony over synchronicity, i.e., present-bounded time is limited)
"totality transcended in another time" (before chronological time. This is not a  prehistory, i.e., before the written record), on the other hand, "totality in another time," seems redundant, unless one knows that Levinas refers to diachronic time as irrecuperable.
"going beyond being" (jab at the early Heidegger of Being and Time)
"immemorial antiquity" (unrepresentable in chronological egological memory?)
"infinity" for levinas is dense, a cipher for open-ended super set.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Heidegger's Dasein lingo pales when compared to L.E.J. Brower's mystic cipherings

 L.E.J. Brower in action: blackboard, chalk, Lizst hair, Nehru jacket
 ... the intuition of two-oneness, the basal intuition of mathematics, creates not only the numbers one and two, but also all infinite ordinal numbers, inasmuch as one of the elements of the two-oneness may be thought of as a new two-oneness, which process may be repeated indefinitely...*
this comes from L.E.J. Brower, one of the most important mathematicians of the 20th century and defender of contructivism in mathematics. Reading Brower is like tripping on set theory.


_____________________
*Benacerraf P. and Putnam H. (eds) (1983) Philosophy of Mathematics, 2nd edition, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). p. 80

Friday, June 3, 2016

irreversible tripping



consider the factors influencing the likelihood that someone will trip --or the likelihood that, having tripped, that such person will then fall.

let's call it "irreversible tripping," as when one is doomed to fall once tripping has begun.

if that conditional probability is high, then one should avoid tripping at all costs though perhaps unsuccessfully.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

chaos wins!


1. Rig Veda (India): There was neither nonexistence nor existence; darkness was hidden by darkness; all this was water.
2. Upanishad (India): In the beginning the cosmos was self alone, in the shape of a person. This self (atman) split in two, husband and wife.
3. Pangu story (China): In the beginning only dark chaos prevailed in the universe.
4. Taoist story (China): There was confusion: primal simplicity, commencement, beginnings, material. Things were not yet separated.
5. New Zealand Maoris: The universe was in darkness; water was everywhere; there was no light.
7. Hawaiian story: There was deep darkness; gods came out of the night.
8. Mayan story Popol Vuh: The universe was resting, motionless and silent; the heavenly expanse was empty. There was only the resting water, the silent sea.
9. North American Indian story: The initial being awoke, wondered what to do, and finally began to cry. His tears formed the waters.
11. Greek Hesiod poem: At the beginning of everything was chaos, out of which came amid much violence earth, gods, and humans.
12. Icelandic Edda story: There was an initial chaos, the great void, from which various gods arose.
13. Babylonian creation story Enuma Elish: There was a chaos without heaven and earth; only water existed, from which the gods arose.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Is oxygen a relation?


Keeping pace with some readings, I find the following paragraph in an essay by professor Levi R. Bryant:1
Far from being epiphenomena of effects of relational networks, objects are instead the prior condition of relations. And this in two respects: first, relations are not simply "there" but must be made. Insofar as relations must be made, it follows that objects must act to form these relations.
What "objects"?

In the same page, discussing how objects are attracted to each other, which he labels as "affects," Bryant talks about oxygen and hydrogen as objects and water as an "assemblage" of these.2  Are "objects" not sort of "assemblages"?
 
The question I propose: Has oxygen any "parts"?3 We know it has atomic No.8 (for 8 electrons and 8 protons), its mass = 16 (8 protons + 8 neutrons).

Unless "8" is a magic number, it has to be a particular relation of these smaller, more basic constituents. If "____" had #7, with mass = 14, it would be nitrogen!

In keeping with professor Bryant's argument above, if electrons, protons and neutrons are prior to oxygen,4 then oxygen cannot be the prior condition of them.

_____________________
1 From "The Ontic Principle: Outline of an Object-Oriented Ontology," in The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism (re.press: 2011), p. 274. 2 "Combine a few H2O molecules together and you get into gaseous or liquid state. Remarkably, the objects out of which H2O is composed themselves possess very different affects." 3 For the sake of simplicity, we've left behind other structural atomic issues, such as isotopes, orbitals, etc, etc. To the best of our knowledge, hydrogen and helium appear before oxygen in the early universe. Why? I dunno, but the answer has to be relational.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

starbust of relinquishment

helen frankenthaler hommage à ml.(1962)

cloth is existent in its threads,
the threads again in something else,
how can these threads, unreal themselves,
produce reality in something else?Chandrakirti

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"... finally I'm becoming stupider no more."-- Paul Edős

Erdos in the mentorship role (the constant coffee cup in foreground) with ten-year-old Terence Tao, a math genius (photo taken in 1985)


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hilary Putnam RIP


The great philosopher Hilary Putnam died on March 16.

With professors of the caliber of Quine, Reichenbach and Carnap, one would end up either a fusty analytic philosopher or smart as a whip. Putnam was the latter. I'd like to just talk here about Putnam's direct contribution to a subject dear to me: Mathematics.

Putman's point?

Math is as real and essential as physical entities. 

His argument opens with a simple fact: math remains the indispensable language of science (judging by its growth, this indispensability of math will not stop any time soon).

If mathematical entities are indispensable for some of our best scientific theories, we should have ontological commitment to mathematical entities.

Putnam is not alone here. Quine, another important logician and math inclined philosopher, referred to this general dependence of science to math as math's "ontological rights" to science. 

Why is π real? 

π qua number is both transcendent and irrational (a badge of honor in number theory). π 's randomness is actually useful for mathematical analysis and computational theory. π is a good friend of number series, circles, spheres, ellipses, tori, waves (in nature). The pervasiveness of π is no accident and pretending otherwise is unfair to math's foundationality.

Take a look at this marvel of simplicity and richness:

e^{i \pi} + 1 = 0.

Euler's equation connects fundamental numbers like i π, e, 1, and 0.  Follow the sinewy development of the formula here, which takes steps of mathematical audacity on behalf of Euler (end of page 4).

Are we to unproblematically accept that 
Euler's identity doesn't express something "out there" in the world?

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Zaha Hadid, the Grande Dame of contemporary achitecture, is dead


I'm deeply saddened by Zaha's passing. She dies in Miami, a city she really loved & apologetically referred to as "the Venice of the Caribbean."

Lucky we are to have a Zaha in construction: Miami's One Thousand Museum!

Here's my 2004 interview with Zaha for the Miami New Times (years before she got her One Thousand Museum commission). 

Miami has a very interesting topography -- all these islands, the beach -- I love cities that are metropolises and also resorts. They offer people the possibility of getting out of their daily chores of life and enjoying themselves for a couple of hours. I've driven through the downtown and I see it needs to be rejuvenated. It could in fact be reinvented. There are interesting possibilities for reinvention in that area next to downtown, where all these museums will be. Or in Brickell, where they could create a different approach to that urban strip. Miami has so many facets.

Monday, March 14, 2016

the new generation of zombies are the civilians under 24/7 bombing in Syria!


This "zombie" walks through the streets of a doomsday Syrian city. He owes his undead fortune to:

1- Crumbling of Middle-East autopilot monocracies,
2- Sunni/Shia/Alawite implosion,
3- Post-Cold-War proxy interventionism,
4- Iraq War,
5- Jihad Inc.,