the only easy day was yesterday

Thursday, January 31, 2008

engine, engine, number nine

I was just emailing my brother a passage that I find to be the modern, and probably largely ignored, basis for a philosophic concept of numbers. It's from Descartes' Meditations (he probably states it more solidly in the Principles of Philosophy):

"I perceive that I now exist and recall that I have previously existed for some time. And I have various thoughts and know how many of them there are. It is in doing these things that I acquire the ideas of duration and number, which I can apply to other things." (Meditation III, 45)

This is one of the more exciting moments in philosophy, and I just realized that people may not know just how huge this sentence is. Arguably Descartes may not even have noticed; he may have been concentrating on something else that would result from his saying this, or ever more, he may just have taken this for granted that everyone understands this - proof of how genius he was.

But have you ever been in a class and had the question asked to you: "what are numbers?" I have, and at that point I was equally clueless as to the answer, and it just struck me that almost everyone I've ever met probably hasn't had a clue either.

Well, Descartes did. Kant finished, but this is really the first place I've seen this concept so concretely asserted.

When most student think about this, it is a logical (or just good enough) conclusion to come to that there are many things that exist and when presented with a finite quantity of them we are able to distinguish each and every one separately in some sort of cognition that enables us to give the correct meaning to the symbols "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc." Of course, I am being generous; the most common problem people have when defining numbers, when asked "are numbers just out there?" is that they try to fit the symbol "3" into a basket filled with 3 apples. Once you get over the symbols, then the real fun begins.

As I mentioned Descartes has the answer, and though he took giant steps in philosophy, he couldn't make the jump from where intellectual history was to the Doctrine of Transcendental Idealism. But Kant had the history, the education...well, the mind at least, with which to accomplish that task:

So what are they saying? From whence come numbers? From a Succession of Thoughts. Kant's answer is that you have two a priori sense, and inner and an outer. The outer is that of spaciality, the inner of time. These two senses, in my analysis, must cooperate in order to for a coherent grounds for "the possibility of experience."

What? I'm not going to explain the Transcendental Aesthetic right now. We'll keep it to numbers:

So the inner sense of time is a priori, we have it 'hard wired' into us and we need it to experience anything (along with the outer sense). So in our mind we have these a priori cognitions prior to any experience, our minds must for a template, shall we say, on which experience becomes a possibility.

That being said, time is a sense which precedes experience, this is important enough that I say it so many times because it will get the objectivists to shut up. So before we can have experience, sayeth Kant, we develop a sense of time. And what comes of this sense of time? Exactly what Descartes says. 

The concept of number in your mind is due to your undergoing a succession of conscious thoughts, which you experience in a rational order.

So you derive numbers, to which you later ascribe symbols. You experience infinitesimally small moments - the smallest increment of time in which you can process the smallest increment of a thought - you experience these moments successively, one after the next, and you grow an idea of number because you can recall that are processing each thought and the past thoughts.

It took us a while to think up making symbols and our base ten system, etc, so avoid the fallacy that one person in one life could think up the whole system of symbolized numbers, this cognition I've attempted to describe simply gives you the basis, along with the outer sense, to form the judgment that there are many objects, many different things, however many are in your field of sensibility (sight, hearing, feeling, etc), that are being represented to you. There are seven pads of paper on the table, I know this because I have experienced an a priori succession of thoughts which enables me to judge that there are these differing objects being represented to me in space and time.

Consider this theoretical. A person who has both the senses of inner and outer, spaciality and temporality, but has of yet not experienced any sensible stimulus. If this person were to somehow be shown a picture in their abyss of consciousness, then they would see a single object presented in time. They would never have had the empirical experience to distinguish that this object is meant to represent other things within it. The person would not see the table and chairs and guitar, they would just see a colorful rectangle, some strange form of stimulus which she has never been privy to before, and which represents only one thing to her mind. 

I doubt I have explained this well enough. Note that I have used experience in terms of experiencing a sucession of thoughts which I also dubbed a priori; experience, as in the a priori a posteriori distinction, is empirical experience, sensible experience: we must experience these a priori elements of exstence to make empirical experience possible. The word experience doesn't have any adequate synonyms that I can think of.

Monday, January 28, 2008

what is philosophy

a dauting question. i think it best starts from how it arises. in all people who i have ever experienced as being interested in philosophy i have noticed that it comes from dissatisfaction. when youre unhappy with the way your life is going you look for ways and reasons by which to make things right. then you find philosophy. it gets complicated here because we see that it does arise out of despondence about ones life, but when we discover philosophy it turns into a different beast. i operate under the presupposition that philosophy is the most base study of being a human being, yet when i look at the things which i study daily, they are far more concerned with the unsolvable mysteries of metaphysics and epistemology. is tryin to understand the way of being of a human being unphilosophic, or do many philosophers have it wrong. its just become too small of a scope. somehow the study turned into schools of thought and this and that. humanity was sucked from it because the entire history and influence of philosophy was sort of built around objectivists which i think misconstrues the nature of the study. certainly they have an argument but it narrows the nature of the study down too far. i think it better studied within the scope of understanding what it is and what the nature is of our being. all studies evolved from philosophy, general interest in the basis of how we operate and inquirys into life in itself.

so really im not going to lay claim that what i believe within it is correct, but rather that it is an extremely expansive study which needs no definition, just people who are interested in any area or inquiry into life. rather what i think its important to say is that philosophy rises out of being disengaged with life. philosophy arose as a study in a society that gave its citizens the leisure with which these people could use to sit and think and get bored enough with life and manipulate their thoughts such that it created the ideas that first formed philosophy. it arises out of being out of yourself; man as a hunter-gatherer had no philosophy because they had no time for language or thoughts that frivolous; they were involved in staying alive. once we cease to live within our experiences and have the time to take the proverbial step back, then we come to these questions.

so i suppose the question arises: can philosophy logically be a study of life if in order to participate it we must stop living as fully as we could be? are we really taking a step back when we think we are, or are we just being as subjective to our own view of the utility of the world?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Props 94-97

if you dont know, that site will tell you. i dont have time to read all of it, but there are two minds to have about this:

1. Social Darwinism, etc. First of all, the less powerful tribes must be less powerful for a reason, the big ones know how to handle their bidness. Also, people are going to gamble, and we should at least be getting revenues for gambling-addict programs, and for other things (although the other uses for revenues in the state of california consist of park improvements so that pissy locals dont step in dog shit). So thats for it.

2. Against it is really just the opposite, i dont want more opportunities for my fellow people to ruin themselves with gambling, and moreover for the greedy tribes to be taking advatage of the weaknesses of these people to the thrill of gambling to advance their own good(since when do native americans just want to be rich? fuck them if they try to play the heritage card. if the want to play heritage i better be seeing loin cloths and teepees or else they aint getting shit from me because theyre tryina play me for a fool)

overall i have to go with position one because it is a more american position. that is, it is a formalist position. in two aspects: one, they should be allowed to do what they want (and the government will impose tariffs when they think necessary and good for the state), and two: people will gamble and people will be greedy, and despite my steadfast belief that these things are detremental to those peoples humanity, i cannot possibly find it within my rights to prevent them from participating in consentual activity; the N.A's are just making the casino's, it is the gamblers sole choice to do so and i have no right to prevent either of them from parrticipating in their respective activities. so i suppose i would vote yes, but not actively, just in principle.

now this last thing i find remiiscent of an argument for guns. unfortunately it is quite analagous. i cannot prevent someone from selling guns because they are simply selling something, and a person who will buy one has every right to buy a weapon buying something is not a violation ofanyone else's human dignity. but lo and behold people are killed by weapons, people are injured by the cooperation of two seemingly harmless acts:

this is wehre it is analagous; making a building with machines that take your money isnt a violation of anyones rights, nor is putting your money into a machine freely, but the addiction that results is certainly harmful to the individual who participates (not to mention the skewed justifications that must take place in the greedy NA's head).

such are gun purchases, fine in their own respects, but the cooperation of these eforts can often end in murder, which 1 ends a life, 2 destroys the life, if not the morality and mental stability of the murderer, and 3 plays a heavy psychological role in the complicit gun shop attendant.

unfortunately our system of governing does not account for these unforseen outcomes of any given seemingly legal activity. can we? surely i could tell you if someones selling guns, someone else is bying them, and something will be killed by it sooner or later, thats not hard to deduce. what about casinos? people get addicted to gambling and ruin their own lives. we can see this. the problem is legal action. from where can we draw the necessary means to clear our lives of such obviously detremental (to society and the individual) practices?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

iTunes U

the nature of creativity, irving singer. in MIT linguistics & philosophy section (just like MIT to put them together)...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Considering our conversation on creativity, I was checking the itunes u shit for the new semster, and theres a lecture/event that stuck out. go to the itunes store and search "david lynch creativity"
im doing work, but i dont want to forget this. hollywoods getting close to this, but you know what might be a cool film, or story, something about primarily a haunting spirit, we always just get scared of them but it might be able to work the scariness in with telling the story from the creppy little kids pov...

abduction 2

Monday, January 21, 2008

theres a problem. ill call it individuality versus creativity.

at first they seem inextricable from one another. they seem to come hand in hand.

the problem is that i have becomed opposed to the idea of individuality. but not creativity. let me explain. it is because so much strife comes of individuality. the entirety of american youth is built on the idea of individuality. i cant find it in me that individuality is possible in a culture; language, art, music, all of culture define the wayt people think and act. a person from russia is independant from a person in ethiopia, but not from another in russia. essentially, individuality is impossible to express between poeples who use the same word for individual. the world is more universal in some respects now, as well. clothes; pants, shirts, skirts,etc. for someone to dress individually, they would have to dress in something they made that is not wnything like what other people wear.

now; individuality isnt exaxtly impossible. it's like an idea which extends beyond the possibilities of our representations of the world: like perfection, perfection can certainly be seen at times in things, but not in full, as in a common concept of God being the perfection.

so, i dont reject that individuality is possible in some sort of useful degree, but the way we see things as absolutes, it is not.

so where does creativity come in? the dilemma comes in with my struggle with philosophy being so void of humanity. but i dont think it is, it just seems to be so removed from it because people think its more important to worry about the ideas and forget about the people. this presupposes some sort of objective and non-esoteric quality of thought, which i doubt.

the thought came to me when i was readin about nietzsche and his struggle to break away from everything and be himself as an individual. it seems that kant underwent a similar struggle, though he did so much more reservedly and systematically in tune with his philosophy, whereas nietzsche let his humanity play a large part in shaping his philosophy.

so creativity. it is certainly a more feasibly possible to be creative than individual. but if we are not individuals, if we arent seeking self-autonomy, then what is creativity for? entertainment? for the sake of taking a stand on our beings?

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I was readin' up on my boy Nietzsche, when it was stated that he identified his break with Richard Wagner (some german dude) in his philosophy as a big moment in his life. So, I've never read or heard of a prominent philosopher who so embraced humanity that he wrote of his philosophical thoughts in context of his own life. I don't believe that Nietzsche does this either, but this particular description sparked this tohught:

Would a philosopher who defines whatever philosophical endeavors he participates in (imagine they are prominent and relevant), in some sort of biographical-ish work, be taken seriously?

Initially i would say i take a liking to the idea. Philosophy seems so very removed from what it is to be human; we cannot be objective, so how is it that we continue to try and talk about life outside of the context of life?

This is Why I Don't Care Anymore

the world wrestling e_____ in cooperation with comcast, is holding an essay contest about contributions to the community, which will send two winners to "wrestlemania."

Friday, January 18, 2008

Now A Cartesian

This is written on an excerpt from the first Meditation. If you don't have it get it.

1. Central Point: In this passage Descartes aims to establish the grounds for what will eventually be called the Transcendental nature of human perception. What is important to note in his efforts is that he seamlessly incorporates his foundationalism as an unspoken rule for thought; he assumes it with his language and does not open it to question by attempting to justify it. What Descartes tries to do in this passage is instill doubt in the reader about how reliable the senses are as a source of truth and knowledge.

2. Reasons: Descartes uses the simple and often ignored instances of sensible deception to expose the unreliable nature of the senses as sources for truth. He cites the sun as an example; it always appears to us to be much smaller than it indeed is; as with other things that are distant. It is quite often that a situation arises when ‘knowledge’ gathered via the senses is exposed as false. Thus, says Descartes, we cannot trust anything fully which has deceived us once. He does slightly delve into the distinction between sensible deductions and mathematical investigations as empirical and a priori (he doesn’t use this term), respectively, but he end’s up not dealing with it completely correctly, and it isn’t directly pertinent to the immediate concern of the passage. The main reasoning he employs is basically as such: I) To gain real knowledge I must break down every thing I’ve ever known and start from scratch; the most base thing(s) I can know, and build from there myself. This is a subtle and easy to miss explication of his strict foundationalism. II) It is more timely to break down the whole of my own knowledge from the foundations, rather than each belief at a time; thus I will begin with the mechanism from which I derive a majority, if not all, of my beliefs: my sensibility. Simple enough. If you need to start from the beginning start from the beginning, sensibility is where we derive most of our knowledge. But not all, right Rene? III) It is clearly true that I am deceived by my senses (the sun example, et al), thus my senses are not reliable sources of truths or knowledge. This is a very important leap, one I quite disagree with, but one that seems to make sense under his conditions. IV) Then what can we believe is true, what that I know do I have clear and distinct reason to believe that I do indeed know? Sensible things can be called into doubt, but what about geometry and other mathematical operations; these things seem harder to doubt. With this Descartes starts down a long and complicated road, with many forks, two particularly prominent ones. One of which breaks off into a very important conception of number stemming from the a priori intuition of time as a succession of thought, and the other of which breaks off into what Kant will eventually establish in his Transcendental doctrines. But that’s way off topic, and I don’t fully understand Kant (surprise!), so I’ll try to leave him out now. (It’s just hard to talk about Descartes in retrospect without thinking of how much better Kant did pretty much everything Descartes tried.

3. Discussion: I have two problems with Descartes argument. One is the Continental in me that wants to ask ‘what the hell is the point in you doubting the sensible world, you even admit that you’re going to be living in it anyway whether you make some monumental discovery or not, think about something less pedantic!’ Really that objection is a hard one to follow up on, which is why many people write continental philosophy off, but being as I am still new to most of this, I have a hopeful view of it all, and I see more humanity, in a broad sense, in the continental philosophers. Descartes and Kant (and I do enjoy them) make me want to sit and think about time and space and numbers and crap; Heidegger makes me want to experience life in a more full sense; and though if I enjoy both the difference may not appear much, but I see more realization of the full scope of humanity in the continentals, which leads me to keep them relevant in my mind and get pissed at Descartes sometimes for even bringing this all up. That was a waste of time and space [zing]. My real objection is thus: Descartes contradicts himself. To simplify this we will read A as “it is true that my sensibility is not trustworthy” (Not Trustworthy will mean ‘not a reliable source of knowledge’) and B as “it is true that I can be deceived by my sensibility.” And we will remember that the crux of Descartes’ doubts about the reliability of sensibility as a source of knowledge can be summarized as “A on the condition that B.” Considering these things, my objection is thus:

(I) If A on the condition that B and (II) on that condition that B I determine that A,
then (III) I can no longer trust that B, because I have determined that A.

His argument is circular and contradictory. I put it in the best logical form I could. He essentially contends that his senses are not trustworthy because he knows that they have deceived him, but by the very assertion that the senses are untrustworthy (as sources of knowledge) he contradicts himself because he destroys the qualification that he made: the senses cannot both be an untrustworthy source of all knowledge and thus written off, but at the same time be used as a trustworthy source of knowledge to observe themselves… to know that an empirical piece of knowledge is false, one must consult another contradicting piece of knowledge: how does Descartes know that he has been deceived when he sees the Eiffel Tower (humor me; it’s French, at least.) from a mile away and it seems to him the size of his pinky finger? Because he has been close to it and seen that it is indeed large


Thursday, January 17, 2008


We've all heard of Zeno's paradox. It's a sophism that plays on mathematics. Achilles is running to catch a tortoise, his path is describe by a straight line. Before he gets to the turtle he must travel half the distance to the turtle, and then from there he must travel half of that distance, ad infinitum. Aside from the obvious fact that we can catch up to things in the useful world in which we live, this problem, to the best of my knowledge remains unsolved. I propose that it can be solved through the study of science as the mind. The question arose when i was in calculus thismorning and the graph of the sine of pie divided by x yeilded an infinite oscilation between x=1 through -1. this presents the same problem, the function aproaches 0, but never gets to zero, it just keeps oscillating.

clearly to our useful lives we can touch and manipulate things. To this i am imagining that there is a discrepancy with how our minds operate; we have the capacity to observe, etc, but this capacity leads us awry; there is a reason that we see this paradox as being unsolvable, but it is clearly not useful. this is somewhat of a cartesian thing: it is not that our faculties of reason are wrong, but rather that they outstretch our other faculties of experiencing life, making it so that a thorough enogh concept of mathematics with over shoot what the actual concept of mathematics that we operate on is.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Im watching the new Conan tonight. Its the first in a while because of the writers strike (which is still happening). Despite returning to the air, which could be considered scabby from a solidarity point of view, i think hes doing an interesting job. how you ask? by doing a kinda shitty show. without writters hes doing a lot of random stuff like spinning his wedding ring and drinking water. hes even got bob saget as his guest to make bad jokes (to point out that if there were writers the jokes would be better). i wonder if he'll keep it up.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


This is a more serious meditation on my homeless idea. Clearly I don't have the funds, nor likely will I ever, to start such a large-scale project. I am still of two heads on the issue of homeless people, but this idea intends to side step those problems, but there are many logistical issues which I would appreciate input on.

So seeing the unaccomplishable nature of setting up an entire housing thing with legal crap which I don't feel like going into because it is useless, I was thinking rather about talking to my school about setting up some sort of free resource center for educating mainly the homeless population of San Francisco towards getting GED's. Logically the next step after GED is City College, which costs money. Here I would have to have an intricate knowledge of the city government and ways to work out some sort of way to get funding for this program such that the homeless in question could be paid through city college. There are so many problems, though: they still dont have food or money, no houses, and largely no motivation to participate in such a program.

Ideally, and I will talk to someone more knowledgeable about this sort of thing, I would like to have some system of law set up such that if a man was caught loitering too many times (something more specific, though) then they would be arrested or forced into the program. I don't know because there's problems with the law.

But that's all pipe dreaming, what I'd like to do, because my goal is to be a teacher of some sort, is involve myself in educating people. Another point in my favor is that we are arguably in or nearing a recession and educating people and providing more jobs out of the garbage floating through our streets (I use this imagery from the standpoint of the government in itself); making something, more domestic jobs, and maybe even a larger market for apartment renting, or even house buying, depending on what sort of little domino effect it could have.

There are many homeless people in San Francisco, but it's simple to concede that most of them are likely crazy or unwilling to participate in such a program. This is why legal involvement would be necessary to effect any participation.

So my current state of the idea is a room which is supplied with the appropriate text books, a few computers, and one or two people who are qualified or willing and knowledgeable about all that is needed to pass a GED exam.

Clearly the problem is that no one is going to fund an empty room, pay for books, not to mention the people (though feasibly the people could be volunteers), in hope that maybe some homeless people would show some initiative.

So give me new perspective, is my idea entirely off, is there a better way of going about such an initiative?... 

Guaranteed to Make You Grin

I been looking for this forever.

On Science as a Study of the Mind

Late last night I stumbled upon the History Channel series 'The Universe,' which was just embarking on a discussion of Einstein's relativity. I know little about Einstein and his relativities, but my interest was piqued.

Over the past few days I've been pondering the inabilities of science to be objective, sighting various reasons, the most prominent of which is the inability of language (which is borne of experience only of the world in which we participate) to describe anything except that world itself, which is subject to prejudice and experience.

I've also just read a paper by a professor of my brother's, Hubert Dreyfus, on the possibilities and arguments surrounding science from a Heideggerian point of view. I am not convinced on this point yet, and I must read again.

The important point here is not this, though. It is not important for my proposition that we understand the possibilities of science in itself, rather i propose another way of looking at science.

I have yet to determine whether I need to adopt a stance from which to argue, I would have it that it is one void of needing this, thereby avoiding the delve into all the possibilities of science.

The proposition is as such: I will attempt to convince my audience of the value of negative-space evaluation of science, as one may view a painting in terms of it's negative space. By this I mean that I will propose that science is a study which (though feasibly looked at the way it is) is also useful in that it coaxes out of us the calculated way that we experience the world; if we are uncertain about if it can be objective, at least we can see that it is a very useful tool in examining our own nature-of-experience.

I will utilize Immanuel Kant's ideas of the a priori "inner" sense of time, and a posteriori "outer" sense of space, in contrast with Einstein's interwoven fabric of space-time continuum. Kant's idea presents an inner and outer essenced world that we experience, which forms the fabric of experience, while remaining removed from the Heideggerian being-in-world (which i will equate Einstein's 'fabric' with) for whatever personally preffered reasons he had, i would say this is just his fault of his time that he did not see what his theories created.