So I think I was right on Saturday, in my little conversation with the editor. Just for a bit of context, he was wearing these painfully hip glasses and an all black ensemble complete with trimmed goatee and black leather jacket.
He is going places, definitely.
But it was clear, at least to me, that he hadn't struggled much with the hard issues at the heart of the journalists' decision and the editorial process. I mean, he was young, just about to graduate college and go on to journalism school for a masters, and was excited about an assignment in India he had coming up in a few months. And it was clear that he was enjoying the sort of grandiose philosophical conversations that we were having, and he respected the philosopher in the way all academics sort of do, in the back of their head knowing that good philosophy takes a lot of work and careful thought, even if they can't make heads or tails of what the contents of those thoughts actually are.
In any case, he seemed glad to be having an actualy conversation
, as opposed to just mindless chatter. And he was nice, and intelligent, if a bit pretentious, though granted he was in Rome.
So but this conversation moved back and forth between the couch, the kitchen, and the porch for cigarettes. And in the course of it, it was clear he had a principle, and that principle was captured by his idealizing of the 'marketplace of ideas'. He leaves this, though, as an unexamined ideal- no one had any right to say what belonged or did not belong in the market place, and as a newpaper editor, it was his responsibility to encourage the plurality of voices that make up his audience be heard. Sometimes this means letting an unpopular voice be heard- but who was he to decide which voices get heard, and which do not?
Well, the journalists, I said, or the philosopher kings- the people who know which views are actually worth promoting, and which views are worth ignoring. My preferred example of this is Creationism as a viable lesson in a science class. Creationism has no place in a science class whatsoever. Not because it is right or wrong, but because it isn't science- it isn't how science is practiced by anyone anywhere. It would be like teaching children about weather and weather forcasting by including calls to psychic hotlines.
Not to say that creationism doesn't belong in the market place of ideas. If you absolutely insist our children are exposed to creationism in schools, then have it be part of a philosophy or 'meaning of life' class or somesuch. Besides making my job opportuinities just a bit brighter, that would give opportunity to have many different creation stories be heard, which could in fact be a good thing.
But we can say, definitively, that creationism simply does not belong in any scientific discourse. And we have good reasons for saying this. And thus we have good reasons for excluding certain voices and opinions from this discourse. Because we are in a position to decide what views deserve to be discussed and which do not.
Again, there is a big fuzzy middle ground here that is far from clear cut. Do Nader supporters deserve newspaper space comparable to Bush and Kerry? How about Badnarik supporters? These require tough choices.
Voluntarily publishing racist, hatemongering material is a much clearer case.
I asked him: what do you think about the Confederate flag flying over the capital of certain southern states? He said they shouldnt, as part of the 'equal protection clause' of the constitution. Ie, they shouldn't put the flag up because there is a law saying they shouldnt.
I was attempting to argue that perhaps they shouldn't because it is wrong. It is wrong because it promotes a certain view that does not need promoting, that we should take every opportunity to discourage.
The same with racist literature. There is absolutely some space in the market place of ideas where racism is encouraged, and it is called the internet. However, perhaps those of us who know better should try not to help those people out as much as we can.
Slacking, definitely slacking
I had a conversation last night with the editor of the school newspaper
, about the state of journalism and journalistic integrity. Apparently a few years ago there was some really just tragic racial shootings by a white supremacist who was driving through the midwest just letting minorities have it, and passed only a few miles from campus on his crusade. Tragic, heartbreaking stuff, and the DI, which has been known for running ads of an anti-semetic nature, decides to publish a series of letters on the issues involved and such. They published around 40 of these letters to the editor, running the gambit all up and down the spectrum.
The last letter they ran was a particularly gruesome example of racism and zionist conspiracy theory.
So I am at this party last night, and I am drunk and high, and I run into the editor who decided to run this article, and he was cornered talking to one of the more obnoxious of the grad students, talking about like marxism and the failures of capitalism, you know, like the kind of conversations subversives would have had a good 40 years ago but is just passe nowdays. And so anyway, I try to butt in on the conversation, because my extent of knowledge about journalism comes from Hunter S. Thompson, which isn't exactly hard hitting stuff, so I ask him about what kind of journalism theory he gets in his classes, and he says 'well theory is practiced in the newsroom', which is a good, practical answer, but I decided to press on and see if he had anything to show for it.
So I push the idea of the philosopher king, with reference to the fact that perhaps it isn't journalist's responsibility to publish the various view points, or take opinion polls or whatever, in order to let the public make their own decision, because the public really isn't in any position to deliberate on the matter; but instead to actually figure out who is right and who is wrong and tell us, because after all they (the journalists) are the ones who are elbow deep in facts and whatever, and it seems like they are in a much better position to decide which is actually better.
I mean, you know, make no bones about it. State very clearly 'this is my criteria for judging, these are the facts, this is how my criteria would evaluate these facts, therefore this is what I think is right for the people'. Which is exactly what bad journalism doesn't do nowdays- instead you have "here is an out of context fact, here is what this known liberal said, here is what this known conservative said, here is this piece of dirty laundry that might be tangentially relevant. YOU DECIDE"
So apparently this journalist guy is used to fending off attacks that 'journalists aren't objective', so he starts off saying 'of course we aren't objective, we never claimed to be'. Which of course misses my criticism, because I am accusing him of not even trying to be objective. I am accusing him of trying to simply give a pluralism of view points and meaningless facts and expecting an ill-equiped public to do something with it. So I am suggesting, instead of saying 'we aren't objective' and taking that as a free pass to do whatever biased thing you want, perhaps you should actually strive towards objectivity in some meaningful sense. And sometimes that invoves telling people what is the truth and what is a lie, and sometimes it involves not letting certain views have equal play simply because they are opposing and you think that 'objectivity' means letting both sides complain.
So then he starts talking about the market place of ideas, and gives me this sob story about being crucified by a bunch of jews for running that anti-semetic letter during a panel discussion on 'free speech' that he had to give a lecture on. And he says that, in the interest of being objective, it is not for him to decide what is right and what is wrong, so he must publish all views.
I say, sure, figuring out what is right and wrong is hard in the average case, but in the case of crying zionist conspiracy and saying jews are inferior (or whatever) is a pretty open and shut case of 'bad'.
I have to go study, I'll be back.
Pirates and Emperors
Its the political season. You can tell because everyone is jumpy and tired and constantly checking their calandars to see when it will all be over. Except the talking heads on TV, they look bright eyed and bloodthirsty still. The way tweakers look on the last day of a rave at 5 in the morning, dancing like ABBA would sing about while everyone else is the walking dead.
Ok, that analogy didn't work at all, which shows you how little I care about politics and the presidency and government in general. I wont even put in the effort to come up with a decent analogy, and I sure as hell wont be voting. I personally think it is morally wrong to vote in the presidential election, since it only encourages a bunch of evil people to continue doing evil thing. On either side of the red-blue divide.
But why should you listen to me, when someone already put this sentiment into catchy cartoon-and-song form in the school house rock style? Look out for St. Augustine in a toga and Uncle Sam in a wife beater.
Here's what I did today instead of preparing my psych presentation on Thursday. CE is the awful forums to which I contribute (see the links over there-->)
Reasons for philosophy
Quick post before I lay me down...
One of my good ol homefries from back at UCR got ahold of me today, and asked me why I got into philosophy. I answered nicely and succiently as follows:
because I am more interested in learning than actually doing anything, and I am more interested in learning about learning than actually learning anything.
That sounds about right.
Team America and Roger Ebert
Let me first say that I rarly disagree with Ebert's reviews, and often I find his own insights and takes on movies very interesting. Every once in a while he makes a grave mistake, however. He did it before by giving thumbs down to Fight Club
. He did it again this time with Team America
"I wasn't offended by the movie's content so much as by its nihilism. At a time when the world is in crisis and the country faces an important election, the response of Parker, Stone and company is to sneer at both sides -- indeed, at anyone who takes the current world situation seriously. They may be right that some of us are puppets, but they're wrong that all of us are fools, and dead wrong that it doesn't matter."
I dont want to say he missed the point, because Ebert is a smart man with a decent sense of humor. What I think he misses, though, is the ability to see it from the point of view of the nihilists. They sneer at those who take a situation seriously in times of crisis because taking things seriously is what causes crises.
This movie was filled with people who took themselves too seriously- the actors, the fearless leader, Team America, and the terrorists. And they were the ones causing the panic and crisis that they also felt responsible to stop (or continue, depending on which side they were on). But there were plenty of other characters in the movie- for instance, in Cairo or Paris or the Panama Canal, there were all the people, the citizens, who stood their stupidly with their jaws hanging open as these heroes (or bad guys) destroyed their world.
And there is only two responses to this sort of situation. The first is to keep standing there, with your jaw hanging open, trying to even make sense of what is going on; which is ultimately hopeless and results in nothing more than the sphynx falling on your head. Or you can sneer and laugh at those who are causing the terror and crises, hoping that they'll develop a sense of humor so that they stop taking things seriously and stop destroying their world.
at last night's happy hour, after giving a shoddy run through of part of my dissertation (see thesis posts 1
) , it was challenged that I am simply a behaviorist. I woke up this morning with a hangover and wrote the following:
to accuse me of behaviorism is to imply that thinking is not a behavior. I dont even know how to make sense of that.
It is one thing to say that the only (scientifically) relevant stuff is the input to our sensory system, and the output in the form of behavior and language. I wouldn't agree with this kind of classical behaviorism. Thats not enough, just like it is not enough to look at what food you eat and what you shit out a few hours later. It is important to look inside the body at the GI tract to get a real sense of what is going on, and it is important to look at the brain and the internal cognitive states.
But to say thinking isn't a behavior is again going to fall into the computational model, that thinking is manipulation of symbols according to rules, and that this processing occurs independent of behavior- in the 'thinking realm', say. When the processing is done the output gets turned into behavior somehow.
Thats just absurd. To extend the GI metaphor, in a certain sense the stomch is processing food (though not symbolically, and not according to rules). But this is just the way the stomach -behaves-. And there is nothing apart from the behavior of the stomach that goes into the processing of food- thats just what processing is.
I think thought (of the internal stream of consciousness monologue type thought, that the classical behaviorists would deny) is just the brain giving itself more input. It is just a recursive feedback loop. Some of the output of the brain goes into spoken language, some into action and behavior, and some comes out as thought- its a way for the brain to talk to itself (and convienently enough, this harmonizes nicely with the idea of the brain storing things not as 'representations' but in the world. Thought doesn't take place in the 'thinking realm', but in the world). Sometimes this thought takes the form of language, since language provides a fairly high bandwidth for information; but sometimes thought takes the form of other modes of input- 'images' for instance will take the structure of visual or auditory input. But this structure can't be understood in terms of a 'representation', anymore than the keyboard or ethernet card of my computer can be represented in terms of 1's and 0's.
by the jokers in my philosophy department
When you confuse all your friends… that’s philosophy.
When you know your means from ends… that’s philosophy.
When you know just when to p,
And you know when to not-p,
When you think, therefore, you be… that’s philosophy!
When you’ve found the essence of a thing… that’s philosophy.
When you hang out with Turing Machines… that’s philosophy.
When it all could be a dream,
And a swamp-man makes you scream,
When ‘sixty-eight plus fifty-seven’ is ‘one-fifteen’… that’s philosophy!
When you know you’ve got two hands… that’s philosophy.
When Twin Earth’s in high demand… that’s philosophy.
When predicates are hurled,
And you’ve found the noumenal world,
When the ladies have all been Searled… that’s philosophy!
When you know your ducks from rabbits… that’s philosophy.
When your morality’s just habit… that’s philosophy.
When what Humpty Dumpty means
Turns out to be quite obscene,
When you can distinguish grue from bleen… that’s philosophy!
When your brain is in a vat… that’s philosophy.
When you know what it’s like to be a bat… that’s philosophy.
When you’re smarter than the rest,
And don’t remember when you last saw breasts,
When your sex life fails the test… that’s philosophy!
The future of blogging
So I have given my friend the following ultimatium: For exactly one month, starting today, he post on his blog at least once a day. To get used to the routine, etc. At the end of the month, we start up a new combined site (while of course not forgetting our own personal blogs, faithful readers). It will be a general humor/ cultural commentary site, as we attempt to refine our own writing styles. He originally wanted to do a paper magazine, since he has the publication equpment, but that is much larger endevor that we will probably be better able to undertake after we get used to writing on a regular basis. Perhaps in the future it can become a dual internet/paper publication, but I think blogging is a good intermediate step.
In any case, I have been thinking about the format of such a shared blog. The following are my first thoughts on the matter.
1) We each commit ourselves to two articles a week, on whatever topic we want. I am thinking the articles should be around 1000 words- not long, but enough to actually force us to write something substantive without just phoning it in. It would be nice to get the articles to be slightly multi-media (ie, pics and whatnot). perhaps it might be better to only commit ourselves to 1 article a week each, and work our way up to two if time permits. But 2000 words a week aint much.
2) We should have a weekend special, where we both tackle one issue- either a particular subject, or something like a movie/music review or some such. My concern is that I want the page to be funny and interesting; I think Toliver is a bit too certain of his own sense of humor to even really try to make it accessible to an audience of anyone other than himself. He just needs practice writing, hence the ultimatium.
3) We should constantly be on the look out for more contributors to the site, especially if we can start attracting readers.
For the next month I will be working dilligently on the technical details of the web page (setting it up in an interesting way, etc.) So look forward to the upcoming launch of the site. It is tentatively named "Churn" (and we will be the churn monkeys), but as there is already an art magazine that bears this title, we may have to rethink it.
So my mad blogging fever has inspired a friend half way across the country to start up his own. I imagine his will be as general and chaotic as this.
Thesis II: The possibility of a computer language
The initial motivation for this line of inquiry came from a comment made on one of my in-class questions from the rule-following course. I was talking about a computer hard drive light flickering on and off as it reads data, as an example of rule-governed behavior designed to communicate the internal state of the machine- a form of rudimentary language use. However, what I took as an innocuous example was in fact deeply contentious: “Computer are not normally understood as language users”
Why not? I had (naively) taken my undergraduate training in computer science as learning ways of using computer languages to get machines to behave in certain ways. ‘Programming’ seemed to require an understanding of computers as users of a very precise, formal language. The theme of the rule following course, however, indicated that this (syntactic) understanding of language was not enough to get computers to speak natural (human) languages. What was missing was a way to build semantics into the computer’s language. However, this wasn’t as simple as merely positing the meanings of the terms. What was required, in fact, was to have these computers enter into human shared linguistic practices.
There is a long history in CS and Psychology of attempting to get computers to speak human languages. These attempts stem from an understanding of the brain as itself a computer, which contains certain symbolic representations that it manipulates computationally (syntactically) in certain ways. This manipulation is supposed to account for the entirety of though- both how we think about things, and how we generate the language we use to describe these thoughts. The idea is that, if we can find the set of mental representations and the rules that govern their manipulation then we will have a complete theory of the mind. The hope, which for the most part has since been abandoned, was that once these mental structures and rules were found, it would be a simple exercise to import them into a universal computer, and we would instantly have artificial intelligence. The reason these attempts have largely been abandoned stem directly from the inadequacies of a representational view of the mind. However, this general theory has largely remained in tact, and the faults in AI have mostly been attributed to the particular representations used. The representational view itself is rarely attacked. When it is, the attacks are usually simply dismissed or ignored.
I see, at this early stage, three parts of a research project in this area. The first stage will involve an analysis of the representational view of the mind, and whether this can give an adequate understanding of both the process of thought and the meaning of language. My intent is to read these theories as plausibly as possible; however, my intuitions are far from optimistic. The second part will by an analysis of the different attempts to get beyond the representational paradigm. These views, referred to generally as ‘embodied cognition’, attempt to locate thought not within a representational structure, but within a larger context- that is, within a world. It seems to me that these views make the possibility of entering computers into our linguistic practices plausible in a way the representational theories do not. The third part is more speculative, and I one I have admittedly not thought much about. If the most plausible theory of the mind requires locating thought not in isolation but within a world, then in order to understand computers as part of our linguistic community requires a new understanding of the nature of a computer’s computation as itself within a world. This section would analyze out relationship with computers, which in some ways is already more robust and intimate than our relationship with any other living creature. This new understanding would attempt to break some of the theoretical barriers to understanding computers and humans as part of a single community, and to allow linguistic interaction between the two to become a real possibility.
UCRAP re: History Professor
These are a series of lists my friend Bill and I did whilst bored in our History class. These are just my half of the list; I doubt Bill still has his, though they were a good deal funnier than these.
Proofs she is a box-eater:
- # of "Rosie" magazine covers- 18
- all the hemp
- So much luberjack gear
- can do tongue push-ups
- every fucking word that comes out of her mouth
- her constant referring to Jefferson as 'fucker'
- "I use Super Blue Stuff when my jaw hurts from eating too much box"
- Favorite movie: Thelma and Louise (that fucking dyke)
- Cast member on MTV's "The Real World"
- Frequents 'punany poetry" gatherings
- invites Ellen to her extravagant Oscar parties
- Indigo Girls feel left out
- hasn't touched a razor in a decade
- hot flashes while watching Janet Reno
- frequently stops lecturing to pick hair balls out of her mouth.
Proofs she is a zombie:
- Analogy- Richard Prior : "Mother Fucker" :: her : "Brains"
- the decaying flesh she tries so hard to cover up with too much makeup
- "Nothing feels better than a crotch full of worms"
- DJ Invader, a well known necrophiliac, has been seen publicly with her
- Laughs at the inaccuracies and stereotypes in "Night of the Living Dead"
- Her real gripe with Jefferson- his soft policy on Zombie civil liberties
- When talking to lepers, often brags "You think YOU have it bad?"
- Can dance like them zombie in "Thriller"
- Card carrying member of U.D.D.E.R: UnDead Demand for Equal Rights
Proofs she has had sex with animals:
- stench of kibble
- she sheds
- sympathizes with the Arabs
- every Halloween she goes as Little Bo Peep
- her pet snake is extra slimy
- her gerbil has night vision
- Has worn down her Dr. Dolittle VHS tape from so much rewinding and playing, rewinding and playing...
- up to 3 rabies shots per week
- well-known throughout Tijuana
- "Turn offs: Missionary position. Turn Ons: Sea World"
- the "I fuck animals for fun and profit" t-shirt
- Squats over gopher holes and just waits
- "Nothing feels better than a crotch full of worms"
- knows the errogenous zones of chickens
- masturbated with salami, considered it necrophilia
- calls The Planet of the Apes "heaven"
- says "I wish I was the croc hunter" but really just wants to fuck crocodiles
- favorite position: "viscious wolverine"
- favorite sex toy: prehensile tail
- smells like fish BECAUSE OF REAL FISH
- can tell the breed of the dog by the taste, consistency, and viscosity of their semen
BONUS: Alternative AC song titles
- Vaginas dont talk you stupid cunt
- You drive a minivan
- Cellulite makes you ugly
- I raped your mom so I am your father
- (unplugged) I want to experience childbirth
- I moved to Iraq to oppress women
- You are a man and you enjoy mansex with men (you're gay)
- I tampered with Dale Earnhardt's brakes
- I am good friends with Milosevic
- (unplugged) Lets just cuddle
- You drive and ice cream truck
- You wear a goatee
- Phil Collins sucks and so does Sting
- You play board games
- You drive a New Beetle
- (unplugged) Baking brings us together
- Timothy McVeigh still owes me the deposit for the Ryder truck
- I deflowered your daughter without her consent
- I became a mailman to steal your porn
- You are really looking forward to the upcomng Westminster Dog Show
- You care about your heritage
- (unplugged) Of course I will massage you
- I made your kid cry by telling him he has no future
- You have a low sperm count (you're gay)
- Larry Flint is a humanitarian
Throwin up a mad burner
The wacky philosophy crew is up to some hijinx once again. This time their madcap adventures take the form of Graffiti art. You can check out my homedog K-Bleen's first piece at
I be tha nigga known as skeptiq, homes
The end of the end of the era
Derrida died today. With him goes the postmodern tradition.
We are left watching as our collective thoughts boomerang backwards from the parabolic peak of postmodernism. We are left tentatively grasping to whatever stable pieces of rationalism we can hold on to, like shipwreck survivors hoping for planks of wood.
We are left wondering if the human spirit, caught up in its ever increasing tasks, has the energy still to yell loudly and defiantly into the wind.
The gift of cable
I just found out I have cable.
See you in a few months.
I just had a great zombie dream last night, most likely from watching Shaun of the Dead
It started off really cool, with me and my whole family being hearded into this giant underground shelter that was specially designed to keep zombies out. The windows, which were near the ceiling and could be reached at the top of the bleachers that surrounded the bunker, could be pushed out (supposedly to get fresh air), but could not be pushed in- perfect for keeping out zombies.
There was a bit in the dream that didn't make much sense, but for some reason the zombies couldn't attack you while you were on some wooden structure- like the bleachers, for instance, or like the wooden pews set up around the bunker, arranged facing a center podium much like a big, underground wooden church. So every once in a while a zombie would infiltrate the defenses (or someone who was hiding a bite would die and turn into a zombie- you know, standard zombie lore),, but as long as I was on my bench in the bleachers I was fine. Eventually, however, the military came through and told us to move to a better location, so we left the bunker.
I'm not sure how the next bit happened, but something went dramatically wrong in the move, and we ended up getting caught in this out door, San Diego style mall that was impossible to barricade. Somehow I escaped, weilding this little wooden mallet that was a bit shorter than I'd like, meaning I was getting splattered a lot having to fend off these zombies. At some point, however, a zombie bit into my shoe, and I could feel its teeth sinking into my toe, ripping off a piece of flesh- I knew I was going to change soon.
The next bit didn't have a good transition, but somehow I was in a big green field, and this tribe of indians on horseback rode up to give me and the remaining members of my posse these old wooden roman chariots to attach to the horses, so we could ride safely away. It worked for a while, but we ended up getting caught in a barn in the middle of nowhere, near an old abandoned house (much like from NotLD). I snuck away from the crew to change into a zombie in peace; I could feel it coming on... I hid in the basement of this kitchen in an empty house- or so I thought. Eventually the owner realized someone was inside, and came down with his rifle to stop whoever it was. I was still alive enough to protest, and somehow I was able to shoot the guy before he shot me (i dunno how that happened). Then I ended up checking my toe, and the bit hadn't actually penetrated the flesh, but just too off an annoying callous. I ran back to join my cohorts in the fight against the living dead.
The dream ended with me in some New Orleans style hotel thing, that was connected to many other house, as I was trying to heard the remaining survivors indoors.
I woke up this morning, remembering Ebert's critique of SotD, saying that there wasn't much more to do with zombies on film. I wondered if it would be too much of a genre change to make zombies intelligent, or if that is just too much like vampires.
bad weed and more UCRAP
I am seriously biffed. All the major dealers in the greater champaign-urbana area got busted last month, and so after resorting to my second tier connections and finally finding some, it turns out to be total trash and a complete waste of money. Biffed is an understatement.
To celebrate my sobriety, here is a UCRAP poem entitled 'frustration'
I breath in deeply
no, the way I had planned was completely wrong
abandon ship. start over.
something witty, please
not saying enough, but far more than I needed to
Why did I plan? Wasn't planning the problem in the first place?
something witty, please
my mouth takes over, my eyes roll in my head
filling the air, the void
remembering the plan as it falls apart
I am not here, this isn't happening
these words arent mine
they aren't even words
She looks as confused as I feel
Should I have kept the plan?
"I should go," I say, though I can feel the dirt being patted over my freshly dug grave, the badly paid groundskeepers finishing a long days work.
I hear them say:
"We pat it down, to settle the dirt
to fill the holes, to close the gaps.
Wouldn't want anyone breathing down there, now would we?"
UCR archive project (UCRAP)
continuing the radio show to no one, here is a poem from my UCR days.
In the future
when I will learn to fly
I wonder what
I will think of myself now
Angsty college student
yawning at the ocean
vast and wide
and largely, against his
unexplored. Or worse:
Will I even
remember this young, brave warrior
who writes in pencil
temporarily filling this piece
of wasted scratch paper
hoping, even still, that when I
learn to fly
I will find this faded page and wonder what to think.
(dated 4-24, without a year)
Thesis I: Mental Representations
After psychologists and philosophers abandoned behaviorism in mass, taking the 'linguistic turn' or 'going cognitive' or however else we would like to sound-bitize one of the biggest overhauls of the higher sciences of the last century, they came to two conclusions:
(1) there is something 'in the brain' that is unavailable in a purely external (behavioristic) report
(2) whatever counts as (1) must be structured in such a way as to account for the complexity of language, behavior, and thought.
They pretty much unanimously decided to term whatever counts as (1) a 'Mental Representation' (MR). However, there was almost no agreement on the structure or format of a MR, or what processes governed their creation/manipulation/storage/recall. The result was that MRs were treated as an empty container of indefinite form and substance that everyone agreed must exist but no one was in a position to say anything more about.
This is not to say that no one tried- research even to this day comes out of cognitive science and psychology labs (and the occasional philosophy department) arguing for one form of mental representation or the other, with supposedly conclusive experimental data that settles the matter entirely. This of course soon gets a response from some other MR camp that shows how the data can in fact be interpreted to support their own MR theory, and can better explain some further experimental data. This back and forth continues for years or sometimes decades at a time, often ending in one side getting fed up and abandoning the field entirely, and the other declaring de facto victory until the next opponent steps up to the plate. The examples of this kind of exchange are numerous, and some of the more high-profile cases (Katz vs Fodor, Pylyshyn vs Kosslyn) contain devastating arguments against their opponent while simultaneously leaving themselves open for obvious devastating returns.
At this early stage, I believe the first part of my thesis will concentrate on concatenating what all MR theories find plausible about the notion of a mental representation in the first place. Instead of attempting an analysis of any particular theory for virtues and weaknesses, I would like to step back from the peculiarities of any one debate to isolate the points of agreement on both sides, to see if resolution is even possible. While I am admittedly skeptical of the very notion of a MR, it is my intent to read the theories as generously as possible- which means, in essence, taking (1) above for granted and understanding MRs as an empty class waiting to be filled in. The two most interesting attempts to fill this in involve the debate over the structure of represented language and the structure of mental images. There is considerable overlap between these two debates, but it will take some digging to bring these similarities to the surface
waiting for a fishwich
the big presentation for my psych class today went as well as could be expected. the class, aside from one or two people including myself, on the whole couldn't care less about any issue I talked about, or really (by extension) any issue that falls within the broad scope of the course title, "Knowledge Representation". Luckily the prof felt it was necessary to repeat just about every point I made in a way that was, quite frankly, much more obscure and esoteric than what I had said or the description in my notes, which I generously handed out to the class.
On the other hand, I felt like I knew my shit, and presented it well, I think; so if anything, I am happy with my work.
Fishwich is done.
My philosophy homeboys
I feel compelled to post this with no introduction apart from saying that it is a trailer for the soon to be released smash hit involving my very own philosophy department. enjoy.
eripsa's amazing influence spreads like wildfire
I have notified exactly two people of this blog. If my pyramid scheme calculations are correct, I will soon be in the homes of countless millions of people.
If and when that happens, I'd like to pass on the following message: Be excellent to each other.
uses for a blog
so I wake up this morning and the first thing that pops into my head are a series of thoughts about what I can and should post on this blog. However, I also realize that I am far too busy to actually make any new content, and so this sudden excitement was tempered by a fear that the whole thing would whither and die before it actually gets off the ground; two posts in the span of an hour and a half and then dead- thats a record even for me.
cut to 5 seconds later, as I am digging through my boxes of shit looking for my winter gloves (because it is fucking cold already. fuck the midwest), and I stumble on a stack of papers from my undergrad days back at UCR, when I was stoned most of the time and had a limitless supply of creative energy. Of course I was entirely unaware of it at the time, but I was just aware enough to save all the shit I committed to paper.
and indeed, most of it is shit, but there are a few gems. this made me laugh: a scene entitled "Sweet Potato Pie" that in fact was part of a larger series of scenes of two mobsters, J and S, who spend most of their time honing their use of the word 'fuck'. It starts out slow, but picks up towards the end; I copied it pretty much directly from the paper. I freely admit that this was me trying to rip off QT, but imitation and flattery and all that jazz. Watch out for the reference to a particular turn-of-the-century UPN reality tv show.
i will haphazardly continue what will hereby be called the 'UCR archive project' by typing up most of the stuff in this stack of paper when I dont have anything new and interesting to say for this blog.
Scene 3: Sweet Potato Pie
two mobsters at a bar
J: Son of a bitch.
J: Did you see what Smith did yesterday?
S: No, I was away... at that thing
J: Shit, man, you wouldn't have believed it
S: What happened?
J: Well, you know Johnny the Neck, right?
S: The big fella, right?
J: Yeah, huge motherfucker. Motherfucker drowns out the sun, motherfucker makes the fucking Locksmith look like Betty fucking Boop.
S: Yeah, I know him.
J: The motherfucker cut.
J: He cut. In line.
J: And our old pal Mr. Smith didn't like it none too much.
S: What the hell are you talking about?
J: You know Mr. Smith, right?
S: Yeah, that short prick.
S: yeah, that fucking miniature motherfucker with the ego problem.
J: I hadn't noticed
S:Hadn't noticed? Fucker has a short man's complex extraordinare. Fucker makes Napoleon look like a sedated Brawny Man.
S: The fucker has screwed me over too many times to count. 'member that job I had up in Vermont? I was all set up, ready to work, and that fucking shitzu decides to have a parade and the cops get spooked and I am stuck, plucked and fucked in Nowhere, New England.
J: D'ya do anything?
S: What the fuck could I do? Motherfucker is untouchable, you know that.
J: Fucker could have an accident.
S: Yeah, well... but anyway, continue.
J: Where was I?
S: Betty fucking Boop
J: Oh yeah. So our Mr. Smith, as you have so delicately pointed out, has a bit of an attitude problem, right?
J: Well, last night, some fucking bigshot had some sort of gala event at some fucking place or other, but, well, the place wasn't 'equpped', let's say, to handle the number of guests.
S: I dont follow
J: 250 people, 1 fucking toilet
J: Well, Johnny the neck decided this would be a nice night to come down with the runs.
J: Yeah. Huge fucking line outside the toilet...
S: And he cut.
J: No, it gets worse.
S: Go on.
J: Now Mr. Smith, he's waiting in line, right? But fucking Johnny has fucking gastrointestinal problems. This guys' a fucking bear, he shits fucking mountains. He's a fucking volcano, entire fucking cities get lost under...
S: I get the idea, go on.
J: Yeah, so he don't give a fuck about the line, he fucking walks right up to the toilet.
J: So Mr. Smith goes ape shit. You seen those Leprochaun movies?
J: Well, so Mr. Smith gets his bodygaurd guys to hold the fucker down, on the floor like. Now Johnny, despite being such a mammoth motherfucker, he knows he can't touch Mr. Smith, so he tries to explain about his, you know, personal problem, but fucking Smith don't take none of it. He jumps right on to Johnny's big fucking gut and starts stomping him.
S: Oh fuck.
J: You dont know the half of it. Johnny the Neck is fucking laying there, full to choking with watery shit, being held down by a couple of big bodyguard types with a fucking wood nymph prancing on his stomach.
S: What happened?
J: What'ya think? Johnny fucking hemorraged and died right fucking there.
J: But not before practically exploding all over the fucking place
S: Oh shit.
J: Yeah, thats about right. Fucker couldn't hold it, and it fucking bolted outta him. I mean, like, supersonic. There was a good 10 foot blast radius, it was horrible.
S: Fuck, thats sick, man
J: Yeah, well, Mr. Smith got soaked, along with his girls, his guards, everyone. It was awful.
S: So what did Smith do?
J: Well, see, Johnny fucking died on him before he could take his revenge or whatever, so he left the party seriously pissed off.
S: So? Fuck him, he deserved it.
J: No, see, here's my problem- there's a reason Johnny got the runs.
S: Ah, thats why I'm here, huh?
J: Yeah. See, I, well, ya know, Johnny the Neck, he likes his sweets, you know...
S: Know? The guy was a fucking black hole- stuff goes in and it doesn't...
J: Well, it fucking came out this time. But see, Johnny had a sweet tooth the size of Switzerland, and ya know, the fucker was a workaholic, had no family or nothing else. He was a hell of a guy, you know...
S: Yeah, well...
J: And, ya know... aw, fuck it. I made him a sweet potato pie.
S: Aww, shit, you're breaking my heart here...
J: Fuck you. See, but Johnny the fucking Neck was seriously fucking allergic to sweet potato pie.
S: ... you're shitting me.
J: Fucking-a I am. He seriously got fucked up from that pie.
S: Then why'd he eat it?
J: How the fuck was he supposed to know better? Ain't nobody cared enough to bake him a fucking sweet potato pie before!
J: Who the fuck is going to make a fucker named Johnny the fucking Neck a sweet fucking potato pie?
S: You did, you fucking asshole!
J: Fuck you! So you see why I'm in such serious shit now?
S: Not yet, no...
J: Christ on a fucking moped, man, fucking Smith is a wrathful motherfucker, you know that. he is probably steaming fucking mad right now, and he is just looking for an outlet for his anger. If he finds out that the assload of shit that got sprayed all over him was on account of my fucking sweet potato pie, I'm a dead fucking donkey.
S: Shit, man, how are they gonna know that it was your sweet potato pie?
J: Cuz I'm the fucking baker, man, the family fucking baker! Jimmy the fucking Baker, that's my fucking name, man!
S: Jesus, calm down
J: Fuck you, calm down. You want a pie, you fucking come to me, goddamnit! Of course they know I made that pie!
S: Well, then, a fucking better question: how are they gonna know it was on account of sweet potato pie at all? I mean, fuck, man, it's all just shit, right?
J: Well... I dont fucking know...
S: For fucks sake, man, you aint got shit to worry about. You walked out a shit storm cleaner than a nun's sheets. Consider yourself lucky.
let me give, before I forget in the few minutes prior to falling asleep, my reason for creating this blog.
reading the archives in a fellow philosophy student's blog, namely fellow philosophy student Zwischenzug, I came across a post he made that was in fact taken from one of my delightfully witty Happy Hour emails. at first I thought that he had doctored up my original email into the hilarious version on his page. then I realized that in fact I had written that myself. Overcome with confidence and pride, I concluded that I was mature enough to handle the grown-up task of managing my own permanent internet presence, so I immediately registered this account. well, actually, I masturbated first, then I put my seed in the jar under my bed, and then registered this account.
edit: for those interested, coagulated semen makes a great low-carb homemade mayonaise. Just mix with equal parts oil and water and serve on Wonder bread.
welcome to the blogosphere, eripsa.
why thank you, eripsa, I'm glad to be here.
well, we're glad to have you here.