Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Heidegger on Instrumentalism

In a short but influential essay titled "The Question Concerning Technology", Martin Heidegger defined the instrumental attitude as a threat to the world and to the human spirit:

The essence of technology lies in Enframing. Its holding sway belongs within destining. Since destining at any given time starts man on a way of revealing, man, thus under way, is continually approaching the brink of the possibility of pursuing and pushing forward nothing but what is revealed in ordering, and of deriving all his standards on this basis. Through this the other possibility is blocked, that man might be admitted more and sooner and ever more primally to the essence of that which is unconcealed and to its unconcealment, in order that he might experience as his essence his needed belonging to revealing.

Yet when destining reigns in the mode of Enframing, it is the supreme danger. This danger attests itself to us in two ways. As soon as what is unconcealed no longer concerns man even as object, but does so, rather, exclusively as standing-reserve, and man in the midst of objectlessness is nothing but the orderer of the standing-reserve, then he comes to the very brink of a precipitous fall; that is, he comes to the point where he himself will have to be taken as standing-reserve. Meanwhile man, precisely as the one so threatened, exalts himself to the posture of lord of the earth. In this way the impression comes to prevail that everything man encounters exists only insofar as it is his construct. This illusion gives rise in turn to one final delusion: It seems as though man everywhere and always encounters only himself.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Think or Else...

Either you think, or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.
F. Scott Fitzgerald 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Individual Liberty is Absolute?

Insofar as they can be coherently summarized, Sade’s monstrous antiheroes’ ideas—constantly restated—are of a piece with such horrific broadsides. If one laid them side by side, their message would amount to this: individual liberty and autonomy are absolute; anything that interferes with the use of an object (including another human being) to satisfy one’s caprices, whatever they might be, is immoral; human impulses of all kinds, including theft, rape, and murder are the dictates of “nature,” and hence no law should forbid them; private property is an intolerable evil as it deprives others of that property’s use, thwarting their “natural inclinations”; religions, especially Christianity, are monstrous evils designed to justify the repression of individuals’ “natural rights”; atheism of the most iconoclastic variety is, therefore, the only defensible religious attitude; and the accumulation of power by elites should be constantly and violently resisted by bloodthirsty and “immoral” citizens eager to defend their individual prerogatives by smashing any social or political institution that might restrain them.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I couldn't stop laughing at this...

“Writing long books is a laborious and impoverishing act of foolishness: expanding in five hundred pages an idea that could be perfectly explained in a few minutes. A better procedure is to pretend that those books already exist and to offer a summary, a commentary.”
― Jorge Luis Borges

Monday, May 13, 2013

Camus on Realism....

“Realism should only be the means of expression of religious genius... or, at the other extreme, the artistic expressions of monkeys which are quite satisfied with mere imitation. In fact, art is never realistic though sometimes it is tempted to be. To be really realistic a description would have to be endless.”
Albert Camus quotes (French Novelist, Essayist and Playwright, 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature, 1913-1960)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The "Black Swan Robust" Society

Taleb advocates what he calls a "black swan robust" society, meaning a society that can withstand difficult-to-predict events.

He proposes "antifragility" in systems, that is, an ability to benefit and grow from random events, errors, and volatility as well as "convex tinkering" as a method of scientific discovery, by which he means option-like experimentation outperforms directed research.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Are They Deformed?

“And they are deformed though it does not show on the outside. I live only my dwarf life. I never go around tall and smooth-featured. I am ever myself, always the same, I live one life alone. I have no other being inside me. And I recognize everything within me, nothing ever comes up from my inner depths, nothing there is shrouded in mystery. Therefore I do not fear the things which frighten them, the incoherent, the unknown, the mysterious. Such things do not exist for me. There is nothing "different" about me.”
― Pär Lagerkvist, The Dwarf