Monday, feeling real real sick.
Tuesday, computer dies, “logic board needs to be replaced.”
Wednesday, power outage for a nice chunk of the work day.
Please Thursday, please.
Yet it seems to me that there is more in the “religious but not spiritual” lifestyle than simple hipsterism — or more precisely, less. It is perhaps the case that beneath the trappings of courtesy there really is no “sincere” core other than self-seeking and beneath the empty ritual of religion there is no “deep” spiritual experience other than groundless speculation or pleasure-seeking. Yet it may be possible to repurpose those empty gestures as something other than a weapon in the self-seeking arsenal — a way of leaving people alone, of making space for them, of refusing to make use of them.
Let each atom-removal sorites step be a Bernoulli random variable. <Points to some stuff> “Is there a pumpkin?” Yes = 1, No/not sure = 0.
With enough survey data, it would be possible to plot the probability density function for any term.
You could pay people to sit in front of a 3D subtractor (a 3D printer that takes bits away) and press a button once the answer is No/not sure.
1. Frank P. Ramsey
2. Thomas Bayes (?)
More to come, possibly.
Friends have pointed me to the North American Institute for Advanced Study & Graduate School in Critical Theory and the Humanities, the homepage for the project discussed here. [Edit: The name and URL of the organization changed.]
Congratulate the managers and faculty on their business savvy. For far too long, the state-sponsored university system has prevented eager consumers of celebrity-based cultural theory services from using their capital to take them where admissions committees would not.
By creating such schools, the organizers are tearing down the walls of old institutions, repeating within “radical” academia the process by which capitalism has already transformed and created the modern state, the church, and the rest of civil society. By participating, the faculty are circumventing the tired tenure-based system in favor of an open, unrestrained, and potentially more profitable intellectual life (though just for a few of them, surely) based on fame and brand management. In a sentence that immediately precedes a Wikipedia reference to “the rigor … of EGS as an academic institution,” Zizek explains: “I can bring my wife, do a 90-minute lecture each morning and am free afterwards.” It’s just like Tim Ferris’s 4-Hour Workweek, but for communism!
Total PhD tuition at the unaccredited European Graduate School, to which this new project is being compared, is $24,450.00. That does not include the cost of living in Switzerland during the summer sessions. The FAQ has some revealing comments about the practical aspects of undertaking such a degree, including the perennial favorite:
And if you think education is expensive, try ignorance!
Our Ph.D. graduates (60 until 2008) and even ABD’s have been hired by American, Canadian, Mexican, European, Australian and Asian universities. Still, to my mind, nothing of this is really important. You will benefit from this program by growing as a creative person beyond your imagination (the only thing I’ll guarantee, and the only “safety net” of any value).
I wonder what percentage of those university-employed graduates are in adjunct positions.
We could stop and think about whether “growth as a creative person” is indeed the only safety net of any value or whether it is actually a form of luxury consumption. I suppose it could be both, as long as the risk against which the safety net insures is not actual, physical destitution. Clearly, these are not degrees for people who are concerned about making a living in a market economy.
But for the people who are, let’s just skip to the comparison between EGS and NAIASGSCTH (assuming it will be comparable) and traditional degree-granting accredited programs. Many of the latter will also leave many of their students with debt incurred to pay living expenses and skills that the job market recognizes as worth roughly $15-60k/year, depending on where the position is and whether it is tenure-track or not. These new graduate schools will offer the same poor job prospects available to any university humanities PhD-holder, but with some non-trivial handicap for being lesser-known and unaccredited and for having a strong whiff of the sycophantic, un-rigorous cognitive muddle that characterizes so much 20th/21st-century philosophy in the Continental style. Plus: the 24k or whatever in debt incurred for the privilege of being under the gaze of a Master at a high elevation.
And yet: the students will pay! This is the genius of the project. There is demand for “radical” humanities and social sciences content, and by mostly only accepting funded students, traditional universities are charging far less than the market clearing price. The founders and faculty of these schools are just good capitalists, okay?
In the recent literature on all things metaontological, discussion of a notorious Meinongian doctrine—the thesis that some objects have no kind of being at all—has been conspicuous by its absence. And this is despite the fact that this thesis is the central element of the noneist metaphysics of Richard Routley (1980) and Graham Priest (2005). In this paper, we therefore examine the metaontological foundations of noneism, with a view to seeing exactly how the noneist’s approach to ontological inquiry differs from the orthodox Quinean one. We proceed by arguing that the core anti-Quinean element in noneism has routinely been misidentified: rather than concerning Quine’s thesis that to be is to be the value of a variable, the real difference is that the noneist rejects what we identify as Quine’s “translate-and-deflate” methodology. In rejecting this aspect of Quinean orthodoxy, the noneist is in good company: many of those who think that questions of fundamentality should be the proper focus of ontological inquiry can be read as rejecting it too. Accordingly, we then examine the differences between the noneist’s conception of ontology and that offered by the fundamentalist. We argue that these two anti-Quinean approaches differ in terms of their respective conceptions of the theoretical role associated with the notion of being. And the contrast that emerges between them is, in the end, an explanatory one.
Sometimes I am confused by the way common English words are used in different programming languages to denote levels of organization. For example, think about the word “class”:
- In ordinary English: some group, of students in school or of people in an economy.
- In some set theory: it gets a more precise meaning - members of classes are sets that share some property. (Famously not all classes are themselves sets.)
- In R and Python: something else entirely. “The simplest use of classes is as simple Cartesian product types, e.g., the records of Pascal or the structs of C.”
We could draw similar contrasts for “object” and many other terms, I imagine.
Is there is a meta-language whose terms are general enough to organize the jargon of any first-order programming language? In my mind, a fastidious speaker of this meta-language could visit all the conferences and forums and persuade people to replace terms that already have a handy English meaning with the specific terms of this meta-language. This meta-language would cover not just entities but relations, too: mapping, assignment, coercion, key-value pairs, functions.
I guess I’m really asking about the metaphysics of computer science: what are its most basic entities, can they be grouped into some tractable kinds, and what are the most general relations among them?
- It seems to me that the most basic semantic units are numbers, character strings, and logical and sentential operators. Maybe we should divide strings into those with real semantic value, like “proletarian” and “fhqwhgads,” and those without. I guess phonemes are more basic still, and can you reduce relations among phonemes to some logical mapping? Anyway, this is not my area so: numbers, strings, and logic.
- "The fundamental building blocks of Q are atoms, lists and functions.” That’s promising. I can understand each of those.
- isomorphismes points me to this great snippet in which the lecturer goes from the physical world to basic empirical observation to abstraction into physical laws to higher levels of abstraction until you’re playing video games. Even a very abstract language has eventually to become instructions that will cause something to happen in the physical world, say on a microchip. Sometimes those attachments to physical technology show up even in high-level abstraction, like with floating point numbers. This seems less than ideal: it would be better if the semantic content were totally separate from the instructions that make electrons move, except for when it’s explicitly time to do so. Those old-timey punch cards would be the opposite of what I have in mind.
- "Ontology" as the term is used in information science sounds like it’s what I’m after, except: so many "ontology languages”! We just wanted the one.
I’m a total novice here and I’m sure there’s already lots of great work done on these problems, so references are welcome. Fingers crossed that the answer is not just “go understand category theory.”