Sunday, 6 January 2013

Happy Epiphany!

Find out more here ----->
Haha! Obscure linguistic jokes. To be fair, Y is pretty hard to find jokes for. See this website for more ---->
Now this one is my favourite of today's comics. Being doesn't realise that slow and steady really does win the race. Especially when Zeno makes the rules. See more here ---->'s_paradoxes
So here are the last installments of the Being & Tim advent calendar, just in time for Epiphany and the total end of the festive season. TAKE YOUR CARDS DOWN TODAY OR BAD LUCK WILL FOREVER FOLLOW YOU. Thems the rules folks.

If you've enjoyed the advent calendar I'll be self-publishing a limited edition hand-bound, all colour, BOOK, as well as individual prints, at my etsy shop, which is here:

If a cartoon from the site isn't there but you'd like to buy it then just send me a message and I'll sort it out for you.

Otherwise, thank you very much for following the blog, and I hope to get some more cartoons up here soon!

Becca x

Thursday, 3 January 2013

W is for Windowless Monad

Pre-established harmony

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gottfried Leibniz's theory of pre-established harmony (French: harmonie préétablie) is a philosophical
theory about causation under which every "substance" only affects itself, but all the substances 
(both bodies and minds) in the world nevertheless seem to causally interact with each other because
they have been programmed by God in advance to "harmonize" with each other. Leibniz's term for 
these substances was "monads" which he described in a popular work (Monadology §7) as 

An example:An apple falls on Alice's head, apparently causing the experience of pain in her mind.
In fact, the apple does not cause the pain - the pain is caused by some previous state of Alice's mind.
If Alice then seems to shake her hand in anger, it is not actually her mind that causes this, but 
some previous state of her hand.

Leibniz's theory is best known as a solution to the mind-body problem of how mind can interact with
the body. However, Leibniz also rejected the idea of physical bodies affecting each other, and 
explained all physical causation in this way.

Under pre-established harmony, the preprogramming of each mind must be extremely complex, since
 only it itself causes its own thoughts or movements, for as long as it exists. In order to appear to
 interact, each substance's "program" must contain a description of either the entire universe, or of 
how the object is to behave at all times, during all "interactions" which will appear to occur.

It can also be noted that if a mind behaves as a windowless monad, there is no need for any other
 object to exist in order to create that mind's sense perceptions, leading to a solipsistic universe 
consisting only of that mind. Leibniz seems to admit this in his Discourse on Metaphysics section 14.
However, he claims that his Principle of Harmony, according to which God creates the best and
 most harmonious world possible, dictates that the perceptions (internal states) of each monad 
"expresses" the world in its entirety, and the world expressed by the monad actually exists.
 Although Leibniz says that each monad is "windowless," he also claims that it functions as a
 "mirror" of the entire created universe.

(I really had no idea how to describe monads, so had to rely on Wikipedia today!)

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

V is for.....!

Hi everyone! Happy New...ton's third law of physics! (as a friend of mine said the other day....)!
I hope your Festive seasons have been going well, look what I found down the back of the sofa.....

yes, it's that old advent calendar that I forgot to open all the windows to! Let's have a look!

V is for....Visual Trickery!

Is it obvious that the shape Tim is holding is an impossible figure? I'm not sure if I drew it affectively enough, but it took awhile to get the hang of it so in the end I just settled with this...

I like the idea that Being is truly disturbed by the shape anyway, it reminds me of the old debate between the Kantian Transcendental Aesthetic on the one hand and the people who say 'ah but we can make a mobius strip therefore we can really conceive of infinity' or 'ah, but we can imagine 4 dimensions so we are not mentally restrained by 3 Dimensional space.....' (I wish I could remember the reference but there's an article I read in my second year that basically does this...anyone know who it is?)

I have to say that I have never, ever, been able to imagine 4 spatial dimensions. If someone would like to enlighten me then I would be very interested to know more, but I still think, that in the same way the impossible figure in this cartoon is, despite appearances, represented in the 2 dimensions of the page, that all the thought experiments that people throw up as attempts to critique the Transcendental Aesthetic do remain constrained within space and time. It's been a long time since I studied Kant, but I do generally think that representation requires certain things just to make sense. (Kant talks about the boat going down the river: we couldn't make sense of that happening without a presupposed notion of causality, of one event following the other, otherwise we'd just have crazy mad hallucinationary sensations) Of course have we then just pre-defined representation as 3-dimensional and causal? I think that's where some of the confusion of these thought experiments comes in, what would it mean to imagine 4 spatial dimensions? What would be the criteria of testing that we had successfully done it? The words stop making sense in the way we want them to I think, which reminds me of the famous Kant quote:

'The light dove, cleaving the air in her free flight, and feeling its resistance, might imagine that its flight would be still easier in empty space' (erm, in the critique somewhere)

Kant's not talking about a semantic issue here but I think the point can be transferred. There comes a point where the lack of empirical facts/criteria of meaning (resistance) makes the concept affectively empty, so thought can no longer proceed clearly. How this manifests in these thought experiments is critics saying 'well Kant is wrong because we just can imagine in 4 dimensions...just try this....[enter thought experiment of choice]' I never knew what they meant when they said that.....
In my head this has parallels with the problematic nature of the relationship between the infamous noumenal realm and the phenomenal realm. (Questions like 'how does the thing in itself actually relate to the appearance?' This is particularly problematic when you think that the Transcendental Self is really supposed to be noumenal, which begs the question - do i have 2 selves?! What does that mean?!) At what point do you decide that the concept has become empty?! Is it when you get to 4 D shapes, or do we then just end up with a sort of consensus view, rather than the sort of truth Kant himself was keen to establish? (At this point I remember reading the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and my exasperated tutor trying to explain that building one's moral thought on the pre-suppositions of rationality was not the same as building it on consensus. Still there's room for exploration I think....)

I'm sure I'm running some terms together here (as I'm basically just typing off the top of my head) and  with Kant it's important not to do that, especially when it comes to the Pure Concepts of Space and Time.  Someone was good enough to point out how easy it is to run terms together in our discussion of the apriori/aposteriori (See this earlier post) But the reason it's so important to be conceptually precise when it comes to Kant, is I think, that it's very easy to simply say 'oh well that's just beyond our understanding' or 'noumenal' when perhaps the issue needs more interrogation. So despite the fact I once chuckled at the thought experiments I mentioned above, I now have more respect for what these authors were trying to achieve. But not to the point where I actually want to read the whole Critique ;-)

Anyway, I'm sure you lot could put me straight, care to share?


ps. Oh, and despite the fact I'm running late, I'm going to wait til later in the week for the rest of the alphabet, I just love building the suspense!