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Showing posts from October, 2014

comments on "virtual environments and the emergence of synthetic reason"

Thus, while some of the uses of virtual environments presuppose that old and entrenched ideas (about essences or optimality) have been superseded, these abstract worlds can also be used to synthesize the intuitions needed to dislodge other ideas blocking the way to a better understanding of the dynamics of reality. -- DeLandaThis is a good one-sentence summary of DeLanda's realism.  He gives examples as follow:
Population thinking seems to have vanished "essences" from the world of philosophy once and for all. Nonlinear dynamics, and more specifically, the notion of an "emergent property" would seem to signal the death of the philosophical position known as "reductionism" (basically, that all phenomena can in principle be reduced to those of physics).A relationship to phatics has to do with the nature of virtual environments, which themselves need to be synthesized.  So, here we have a connection between the theme of realism -- the idea that we…

Comments on "Gilligan-Kohlberg Controversy and Preliminary Conclusion"

Thinking about the previous post on "Open-Source", I'm intrigued by the possibility that the simple, harmonious, and convenient narrative described on Lawrence Kohlberg's Wikipedia page might be true, at least as regards a "philosophy of open source":
The sequence of stages of moral development thus corresponds to a sequence of progressively more inclusive social circles (family, peers, community, etc.), within which humans seek to operate competently. When those groups function well, oriented by reciprocity and mutual care and respect, growing humans adapt to larger and larger circles of justice, care, and respect. Each stage of moral cognitive development is the realization in conscious thought of the relations of justice, care, and respect exhibited in a wider circle of social relations, including narrower circles within the wider. -- But Kohlberg's philosophical thinking, if not totally discred…

DeLanda: "Open-Source"

As for beginnings: DeLanda's (2001) title, "Open-Source: A Movement in Search of a Philosophy" reminds me of Six Characters in Search of an Author, which is said to have premiered to shouts of "Manicomio!" [Madhouse!] and "Incommensurabile!" [Incommensurable!].  Let's hope this association is not too inauspicious.  On to the paper's first sentence:
The hacker movement referred to by the term "open-source" has burst into public consciousness in the last few years due to its spectacular success in the production of reliable and robust software. -- DeLanda, 2001. I fear that, these days, anyone who hasn't previously been steeped in "open source" for a decade would more likely think of Heartbleed. For example, in "How I Explained Heartbleed To My Therapist: Riding Open Source’s Race to the Bottom", Meredith L. Patterson put it this way:
These bugs that happen, these mistakes in software that lead to vulnerabiliti…

a new realism

I initally wrote to Rasmus thinking about this call for proposals:
Both in the Continental and in the analytic world, philosophical realism is becoming ever more fashionable. On the Continental side, the experience of the post-9/11 wars and of recent economic crises has led to a harsh denial of two central tenets of postmodernism, both held, for example, by Foucault, Vattimo, and Rorty: (1) that reality is socially constructed and infinitely malleable, and (2) that ‘truth’ and ‘objectivity’ represent useless notions. Facts cannot be reduced to interpretations, as even Derrida (in his final years) and more recently Latour, have recognized. On the analytic side, too, the situation is very different from what it was in the heyday of Feyerabend, Goodman, Davidson, Kuhn, Dummett, van Fraassen, and Hacking – as is shown by the growth of analytical metaphysics and of alternatives to anti-realism in semantics and philosophy of science. Now, however, philosophy is polarized between the (mostl…

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Hamlet, as described in De la sérendipité dans la science, la technique, l'art et le droit : Leçons de l'inattendu:
«un expérimentateur qui met en une situation en abyme (une pièce dans la pièce) dans laquelle il pourra observer les réactions de son oncle pour trouver la preuve de son innocence ou de sa culpabilité. Comme le signale Merton, cette reconstruction n’est pas loin de la méthod de l’exérimentateur dans le domaine scientifique.» This reminds me again of scattering theory, and the other flavors of the i → S → o model that we've been talking about.  An experimental situation is mise en abyme and typically also in medias res, that is to say: it's a small-scale situation that is bounded by events that are already in progress. When we talk about "phatics" it seems that we are not only talking about the scatterer S or even an experiment i → S → o that takes place in the abstract, but rather, a relationship between S and S′, where S′ is the "frame sto…

Phatic duplex structures

So I realized only after the fact that what Joe called "phatic-x layers" have a precedent in Roman Jakobson's writings. Namely, he calls these duplex structures and in one instance dedicates a full chapter to four intersections between code and message. In Jakobson's view these are: "reported speech (M/M), the autonymous form of speech (M/C), a proper name (C/C), and shifters (C/M)" (Jakobson 1971[1957c]: 133). This part of Jakobson's work excited me greatly, because it was written in 1957 and in the next year, 1958, he first formulated his scheme of language functions, which suggests that even if his scheme isn't directly based on these duplex structures, he did think along the same lines when he formulated his famous scheme.

I am most excited over the fact that (M/M) and (M/C) can be reinterpreted as metacommunication (message about message) and metalingual operations (message about code). It would be nice to assign specific letters to all the co…

Phatic verbal art

Aside from searching "phatic" on youtube for the fun of it, I have searched "phatic" on deviantart and used some of the search results as heading images on the "soul searching" blog. But aside from a few seemingly random photos and drawings there are several texts among the search results (and one random poem by a user named Phatic which I didn't include because the poem itself was not about phatics). These are just some random examples of how the term "phatic" lives a cultural existence in the margins of the interwebs.

Phatic ManYou sat by me
Having never met before
And you burst with details
You drag me from my public peace
I hope this train derails

I count every word
That passes your lips
Then each one with meaning
I’d never reach the double digits
Partly because I’m leaving

Phatic Man
Keep on preaching
Sell me every word
To be blunt you just repeat
Everything you’ve heard
Phatic Man
Keep on preaching
Sell me every tale
As long as people …


I would argue that reputation, information and emotion constitute only half the story. Combining the phatic function in Jakobson's scheme with other functions we get: (1) phatic-emotive - meaning shared emotions or attitudes; (2) phatic-referential - shared frame of reference, cognition and information; (3) phatic-conative - shared acquaintances and reputation of those acquaintances; (4) phatic-metalingual - shared code, force unifiante or equalization in terms of language; and (5) phatic-poetic - shared messages like mass media, books, music, etc.  I'm not quite sure about the last two combinations and god only knows what would be phatic-phatic, but at least the first three seem concrete enough (perhaps these are the only ones necessary, as affect, cognition and conation were the original triad).--soul searching: phatic labor post (Just for the record there it is, but we can discuss further.)

creativity commons

A few of articles related to this topic are:
"Ethnographies of Co-Creation and Collaboration as Models of Creativity" by Penny Travlou"Distributed Authorship and Creative Communities" by Simon Biggs and Penny Travlou"Rizomatic Ethnographies", by Penny Travlou, in Remediating the Social"Towards a Creativity Commons", by me I will just briefly comment on what I think the ideas in the 3rd paper on the list above have to do with phatics.  Penny Travlou writes here about "processes of social formation" which I think speaks to our interests here while also restoring a "process" perspective; more on that below.  The research focuses on communities "assembling between physical and online spaces", or "in-between (and across) virtual and physical space."  To think about this in a Meadian way, the very idea of sociality is something that is always in between.  And to think in a Deleuze/Bergson way, maybe this virtual …

Metacommunicative cues

In the previous post on Extra channels I finished with a distinction between diachronic and synchronic metacommunication. In this post I'd like to respond to some comments by the co-author of this blog, Joe, in some of his previous posts, by invoking Jurgen Ruesch's concept of metacommunication.

Gregory Bateson was interested in thinking about cybernetics, but didn't seem to feel constrained to think about it using a strictly computational or information-theoretic paradigm, while still being informed by the ideas. This gave him the freedom to talk about ideas like "context", "relationship", "learning", and "communication" without needing to define them in precise computational terms. Nevertheless, he handles the ideas fairly rigorously. (Joe, Phatic Workshop: towards a μ-calculus) Gregory Bateson and Jurgen Ruesch, among many other notable thinkers, were part of the Palo Alto Group of researchers tasked to apply new methods (anthrop…


You can make me an admin now.

If you're okay with it, I'd like to add a favicon to this blog:

Edit: Our writing styles are different, but that shouldn't be an obstacle. I notice that your blockquotes are more exotic and complex. Mine are currently so modest because I'm trying to "hammer out" passages that I could use in my paper or thesis. I had two passages written on parachannel and metachannel, so I expanded them into a post. Now I'm trying to drain ideas or structure from your comments for an exposition on metacommunicative cues. But I'd also like to post fun random stuff, so I'll use this (apparently quite meta) post for that purpose. I wrote the following two paragraphs after I tried to search "phatic" on youtube. The results were quite interesting (for me).

"Super 'Phatic" is a brand of strong but slow glue by Delux Materials used for connecting thin strips of material as in constructing model airplanes. The name o…

Extra channels

In the following, I would like to clarify the connection between channel and context and concomitantly the difference between metachannel and parachannel.

Paul Kockelman urges us "to notice the fundamental similarity between codes and channels" (2011: 725) but instead of that purported fundamental similarity points out the contrast between them. I argue that context, or objects and states of affairs (Bühler 2011[1934]: 35), demonstrate a closer relationship to channel than to code.

This is largely because the first three fundamental relations, sender or subject, context or object, and receiver or addressee, belong to Bühler's original organon model while code, contact and message, which were previously implicit in the organon model, are made explicit as additions to the model by Jakobson (1985[1976c]). Thus the most productive approach would be to pair a component from the original organon model with an additional component in the language functions model. When you add …

towards a 無-calculus

As you have said, there is no essence of seeing with an independent nature apart from phenomena. -- Surangama sutra This relates to our discussion of a phatic turn.  The Surangama sutra talks about how perception arises: seeing is not in the eyes, nor the brain, nor the lamp, but in the total situation.  On the face of it, this is a sort of "macro-reductionism".  But it's a start, and I think we can back up the claim by referring to the quantum mechanical ideas from the previous post.  Perception really does arise in relationship.  Actually, not just in relationship -- but in the development of further inter-relatedness.

From this idea we will move quickly on to the idea that "practice" and "enlightenment" -- hopefully ideas that will become clearer as we go -- also arise together:
Inasmuch as practice now is based on enlightenment, the practice of a beginner is itself the whole of original enlightenment.  Therefore, in giving the instruction for …

towards a μ-calculus

The λ-calculus was designed to deal with swapping variables into functional expressions.  Thus λx.x is the lambda expression for "right back at you" and λx.xy is the lambda expression for "right back at you times y."   You can encode numbers this way, so λf.λx.x means "take in a function f and a symbol x, and apply f to the symbol precisely zero times."  Similarly, λf.λx.fx means "take in a function f and a symbol x and apply f to it one time."   If we adopt the notation nf to mean "apply the function fn times", then the rather clever expression λm.λn.λf.λ nf x  means "take in n, m, and a function f and a symbol x, then apply f to xn times, and subsequently apply f to the result m times."

So, it's possible to define a function for "n+1" by λn.λf.λx.f nf x -- and so on and so forth.  In fact, any computation you can do you can express this way, which is the Church-Turing thesis.

I like the λ-calculus particul…