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Sep
29th
Sun
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Eventually we’ll lose the pixel, as it fades beyond our bulky vision. And that will be a tremendous shame.
—  Cennydd Bowles, Columnist for A List Apart, at Twitter, February 1, 2012.
Jul
2nd
Tue
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David Deutsch on Fallibilism


“The fact is, there’s nothing infallible about “direct experience” (…). Indeed, experience is never direct. It is a sort of virtual reality, created by our brains using sketchy and flawed sensory clues, given substance only by fallible expectations, explanations, and interpretations. Those can easily be more mistaken than the testimony of the passing hobo. (…)

This logic of fallibility, discovered and rediscovered from time to time, has had profound salutary effects in the history of ideas. Whenever anything demands blind obedience, its ideology contains a claim of infallibility somewhere; but wherever someone believes seriously enough in that infallibility, they rediscover the need for reason to identify and correctly interpret the infallible source. (…)

[Popper]: [A]ll ‘sources’ are liable to lead us into error at times. And I propose to replace, therefore, the question of the sources of our knowledge by the entirely different question: ‘How can we hope to detect and eliminate error?’ (…)

Popper’s answer is: We can hope to detect and eliminate error if we set up traditions of criticism—substantive criticism, directed at the content of ideas, not their sources, and directed at whether they solve the problems that they purport to solve. Here is another apparent paradox, for a tradition is a set of ideas that stay the same, while criticism is an attempt to change ideas. But there is no contradiction. Our systems of checks and balances are steeped in traditions—such as freedom of speech and of the press, elections, and parliamentary procedures, the values behind concepts of contract and of tort—that survive not because they are deferred to but precisely because they are not: They themselves are continually criticized, and either survive criticism (which allows them to be adopted without deference) or are improved (for example, when the franchise is extended, or slavery abolished). Democracy, in this conception, is not a system for enforcing obedience to the authority of the majority. In the bigger picture, it is a mechanism for promoting the creation of consent, by creating objectively better ideas, by eliminating errors from existing ones.

“Our whole problem,” said the physicist John Wheeler, “is to make the mistakes as fast as possible.” (…) [T]hat only means that whenever possible we should make the mistakes in theory, or in the laboratory; we should “let our theories die in our place,” as Popper put it. (…)

[L]essons can be learned to prevent them from happening again. “We are all alike,” as Popper remarked, “in our infinite ignorance.” And this is a good and hopeful thing, for it allows for a future of unbounded improvement.

Fallibilism, correctly understood, implies the possibility, not the impossibility, of knowledge, because the very concept of error, if taken seriously, implies that truth exists and can be found. The inherent limitation on human reason, that it can never find solid foundations for ideas, does not constitute any sort of limit on the creation of objective knowledge nor, therefore, on progress. The absence of foundation, whether infallible or probable, is no loss to anyone except tyrants and charlatans, because what the rest of us want from ideas is their content, not their provenance. (…)

Indeed, infallibilism and nihilism are twins. Both fail to understand that mistakes are not only inevitable, they are correctable (fallibly). Which is why they both abhor institutions of substantive criticism and error correction, and denigrate rational thought as useless or fraudulent. They both justify the same tyrannies. They both justify each other.” “
May
2nd
Thu
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There are some oddities in the perspective with which we see the world. The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.
Douglas Adams, English writer and dramatist (1952-2001), in a Speech at Digital Biota 2, Cambridge, UK, (1998)
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For Children: You will need to know the difference between Friday and a fried egg. It’s quite a simple difference, but an important one. Friday comes at the end of the week, whereas a fried egg comes out of a chicken. Like most things, of course, it isn’t quite that simple. The fried egg isn’t properly a fried egg until it’s been put in a frying pan and fried. This is something you wouldn’t do to a Friday, of course, though you might do it on a Friday. You can also fry eggs on a Thursday, if you like, or on a cooker. It’s all rather complicated, but it makes a kind of sense if you think about it for a while.
Douglas Adams, English writer and dramatist (1952-2001), The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time (2002)
Apr
7th
Sun
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Colored Plates - Synergetics - R. Buckminster Fuller. Written by Robert W. Gray, Summer 1997

"Up to the Twentieth Century, reality was everything humans could touch, smell, see, and hear. Since the initial publication of the chart of the electromagnetic spectrum, humans have learned that what they can touch, smell, see, and hear is less than one-millionth of reality. Ninety-nine percent of all that is going to affect our tomorrows is being developed by humans using instruments and working in ranges of reality that are nonhumanly sensible." "
Buckminster Fuller, an American engineer, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist (1895-1983), R. Buckminster Fuller on Education, University of Massachusetts Press, 1979, p. 130.
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“Relativity is inherently convergent, though convergent toward a plurality of centers of abstract truths. Degrees of accuracy are only degrees of refinement and magnitude in no way affects the fundamental reliability, which refers, as directional or angular sense, toward centralized truths. Truth is a relationship.” “
Buckminster Fuller, an American engineer, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist (1895-1983), “The Designers and the Politicians” (1962), later published in Ideas and Integrities : A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure (1969), p. 233, and The The Buckminster Fuller Reader (1970), p. 305.
Apr
4th
Thu
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That’s what the world is, after all: an endless battle of contrasting memories.
Haruki Murakami, Japanese writer and translator, 1Q84, Alfred A. Knopf, 2011
Jan
1st
Tue
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Realer Than Real: The Simulacrum According to Deleuze and Guattari

"A common definition of the simulacrum is a copy of a copy whose relation to the model has become so attenuated that it can no longer properly be said to be a copy. It stands on its own as a copy without a model. (…)

As Eric Alliez and Michel Feher observe, the best weapon against the simulacrum is not to unmask it as a false copy, but to force it to be a true copy, thereby resubmitting it to representation and the mastery of the model: the corporation that built the rebellious replicants introduces a new version complete with second-hand human memories. (…)

Simulation,” Deleuze and Guattari write, “does not replace reality (…) but rather it appropriates reality in the operation of despotic overcoding, it produces reality on the new full body that replaces the earth. It expresses the appropriation and production of the real by a quasi-cause.” (…)

Reality is nothing but a well-tempered harmony of simulation. The world is a complex circuit of interconnected simulations, in which Feuillade's own film takes its place. (…) So what we are left with is a distinction not primarily between the model and the copy, or the real and the imaginary, but between two modes of simulation. (…)

Artists are replicants who have found the secret of their obsolescence. (…)

What Deleuze and Guattari offer, particularly in A Thousand Plateaus, is a logic capable of grasping Baudrillard’s failing world of representation as an effective illusion the demise of which opens a glimmer of possibility. Against cynicism, a thin but fabulous hope—of ourselves becoming realer than real in a monstrous contagion of our own making.” “
Brian Massumi, Canadian social theorist, Ph.D in French Literature from Yale University, Realer Than Real: The Simulacrum According to Deleuze and Guattari (1987) (pdf)
Dec
7th
Fri
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“Through this demonstration we learn that neither light, nor eye, nor brain, alone or in association, can see. But rather, we see only through the total coordination of human experiences; and even then, it is our own conceived image, and not really the actual object which we perceive. We learn, therefore, that we see by creative ability and not by mechanical reproduction.” “
Frederick Kiesler, Austrian-American sculptor, theater designer, artist, theoretician and architect (1890-1965), Vision Machine,  ”…seeing the act of looking “ (tnx the-rx)
Nov
19th
Mon
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The universe is the mirror in which we can contemplate only what we have learned to know in ourselves.
Nov
2nd
Fri
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People who are right a lot of the time are people who often changed their minds

“[Jeff Bezos] doesn’t think consistency of thought is a particularly positive trait. It’s perfectly healthy — encouraged, even — to have an idea tomorrow that contradicted your idea today.

He’s observed that the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a well formed point of view, but it means you should consider your point of view as temporary.

What trait signified someone who was wrong a lot of the time? Someone obsessed with details that only support one point of view. If someone can’t climb out of the details, and see the bigger picture from multiple angles, they’re often wrong most of the time.” “
— Jason Fried, Some advice from Jeff Bezos, 37signals, Oct 19, 2012.
Oct
28th
Sun
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The moment one thinks of the matter, one sees how false a notion of experience that is which would make it tantamount to the mere presence to the senses of an outward order. Millions of items of the outward order are present to my senses which never properly enter into my experience. Why? Because they have no interest for me. My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind—without selective interest, experience is an utter chaos. Interest alone gives accent and emphasis, light and shade, background and foreground —intelligible perspective, in a word.
William James, American philosopher and psychologist who had trained as a physician. He was the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States (1842-1910), The Principles of Psychology, Volume 1, (1890), Cosimo, Inc., Apr 30, 2007, p.402.
Sep
9th
Sun
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Often there are two different reasons given for this natural desire to simplify. First is that we as humans have a very limited imagination and whichever medium we use to understand the world - be it science, religion, philosophy, or art - we will end up exploting the same limited set of ideas available to us.
Vlatko Vedral, Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford and CQT (Centre for Quantum Technologies) at the National University of Singapore, Decoding Reality: the universe as quantum information, Oxford University Press, 2010 
See also: ☞ Vlatko Vedral: Decoding RealityLapidarium notes
Aug
20th
Mon
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I have found a new potential inherent in things — their ability to gradually become something else. This seems to me to be something quite different from a composite object, since there is no break between the two substances.
René Magritte, Belgian surrealist artist (1890-1967), cited in Art History. About.com
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“If one looks at a thing with the intention of trying to discover what it means, one ends up no longer seeing the thing itself, but thinking of the question that has been raised. The mind sees in two different senses: (1) sees, as with the eyes; and (2) sees a question (no eyes).” “
René Magritte, Belgian surrealist artist (1890-1967), cited in Humanist, Volume 84, Issues 1-6, Rationalist Press Association Ltd., Jan 1, 1969, p.176.
See also: ☞ The Human Condition by René Magritte (1933), Lapidarium notes