This blogs contain a unique understanding of the inherently purposive nature of the human mind, and of what that means for philosophy. He developed a distinctive pragmatic philosophy that carries with it an individualist understanding of the human past and a hopeful glance at the human future.
What is connectionism? is it something of the past or of the future?
Connectionism, in the words of the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, is "an approach to the study of human cognition that utilizes mathematical models, known as connectionist networks or artificial neural networks. Often, these come in the form of highly interconnected, neuron-like processing units."
I have mentioned it before in this blog, but only in passing.
The point is to abstract from the actual functioning of the human brain to study a hypothetical brain that humans can model, in the way that a planetarium may suffice when the night sky is obscure.
The IEP suggests that connectionism had a "heyday," in the late 20th century, but that the heyday is now past.
This doesn't mean the approach turned out to be a dead end. Quite the contrary, IEP says that the idea has passed its heyday (few scientists call themselves by the label anymore) because its central insights have been widely accepted and integrated into other research programs.
One significance of connectionism is that in the study of artificial intelligence, the Turing model of digital computing, had come up against a dead end by the 1980s. Turing's system contained two germane elements: the separation of the central processor from the read/write memory; and the computation over discrete configurations of digits. Neither of those has a lot to do with that which humans regard as intelligence. Those features created a dead end, and connectionism has allowed for a work-around. If HAL does start killing us, we'll know who to blame.
Gloria Vanderbilt passed away on June 17, of stomach cancer.
She was of course one of THE Vanderbilts, a direct descendant of Cornelius (aka The Commodore) Vanderbilt, a man who built a business empire out of the new steam technologies -- he was one of the first to make effective use of the Fulton steamships, and later the first of the great Railroad barons.
What was Gloria's connection? She was the Commodore's great-great-granddaughter: the daughter of Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt who was the son of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, who (though his name might be misleading in this connection) was the son of William Henry Vanderbilt, who in turn was the son of Cornelius Vanderbilt the one and only.
Moving forward in time rather than back, Gloria was the mother of Anderson Cooper (by her fourth husband, Wyatt Emory Cooper). And Anderson is now a prominent news anchor with CNN.
Aside from the genealogy in either direction, Gloria will be remembered as a woman who created a new category of clothing, the "designer jeans," and as the inspiration for a Paul McCartney song, "Mrs Vanderbilt" (WINGS, 1974).
GV was one of the first designers to make public appearances. This has become a common event in the fashion world now I take it, the designers are celebrities of the same level as the highest earners among the models. But it was new in the late 70s and 80s, when GV was doing it.
So here's to Mrs Vanderbilt. "Up there is heaven living in a tent/ It's made of clouds and you don't pay rent." (My apologies to Wings.) Cheers!
"Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) on Monday began his new job as acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a controversial appointment that could set up a showdown between the White House and Senate Republicans."
I saw that recently and wondered at the name. It looked a bit familiar Cuccinelli is Madonna's birth name? [Note -- no, that turns out to be Ciccone.]
Cuccinelli made a bit of a splash when he was state Attorney General for Virginia in the period 2010-14 under Governor Bob McDonnell.
In that capacity, he investigated climate scientists, stating that they were arguably engaged in fraud by peddling this notion that CO2 emissions affect the planet in ways that might prove harmful to humans.
I am happy to note that, at the very least, he did not misuse his position to bring any charges. My guess is that announcing an investigation was sufficient to get him what he wanted from it -- a blast of narcissistically satisfying publicity.
I am also happy to think that putting him at USCIS, a pencil-pusher's post, is more-or-less harmless.
I think if the Democratic Party nominates Biden, they are looking at a loss.
This election would end up looking like 1984. Biden has a lot in common with Walter Mondale, who of course defeated a large field of other primary candidates in the period 1983–84 and then lost in the fall as Reagan cruised to re-election.
The Democratic Party’s best chance is for this cycle to end up looking NOT so much like ‘84, but more like ‘76. Remember, the Dems also had a large field in ’75 - ‘76. The candidate who emerged from that field was NOT an old familiar figure (not Muskie or Humphrey), but someone who had been utterly unknown to most of the country until the campaigning had gotten underway — Jimmy Carter. Who then defeated Gerald Ford in the general election.
The Democrats need a fresh face to emerge from their large field, and then they need to come together behind that fresh face.
Tulsi Gabbard (portrayed above) might pull off the Carter role.
I'm thinking today about the HGTV program, "Love it or list it." In each episode, a designer (Hilary) and a real estate expert (David) offer competing solutions to the move-or-stay issue of a couple with gripes about their abode.
The couple (and sometimes children) is presumably out, and staying at a hotel while Hilary and her team gut their house and re-work it to spec so the owners will 'love it' again and want to stay. If they don't want to stay after all ... well, at the worst Hilary's work will have improved its value, so they can list the property, get more money from it than they otherwise would have, and buy the nice new home that David has found for them.
I find the economics of Hilary's work intriguing. David's search for a new dream home is a distraction at best.
Near the end of each show, the hosts present four numbers. The fascinating one, the one NOT on the list, is what I think of as "value added," and one gets it by subtracting the fourth from the second.
Here are sample numbers:
Original listed value: $100,000
Renovations budget: $20,000.
Post renovations value: $150,000.
Additional Value: $50,000.
After Hilary's reno work, that is, someone does a market based assessment and that value is invariably higher than the original listed value. How much higher varies from episode to episode.
What the show calls the "additional value"is simply the difference between the first and third lines. This is misleading. Obviously, if a couple gives Hilary a reno budget of $20K to work on their $100,000 house, they would expect the value of the house after those renovations to be greater than $120,000. You can make a $100K home worth $120K simply by leaving a sack of $20K worth of cash inside it. No design genius is required.
The intriguing figure to me, then, is the one they don't give. I think of it as "True Added Value." The number that tells us how much better off the homeowners are than they would have been had they simply kept the home and cash. One gets that number by subtracting the first and second number above from the third number. In the hypothetical I've presented, the couple is $30,000 better off.
I recently came across the following abstract of a paper on the notorious Liar paradox:
The Liar sentence is a singularly important piece of philosophical evidence. It is an instrument for investigating the metaphysics of expressing truths and falsehoods. And an instrument too for investigating the varieties of conflict that can give rise to paradox. It shall serve as perhaps the most important clue to the shape of human judgment, as well as to the nature of the dependence of judgment upon language use. I don't know what the author of the paper is saying about the sentence "This is a lie," but I am struck by the phrase "piece of philosophical evidence." At law, an utterance is often evidence. Or a text. But the say that a "sentence" is "evidence" is, fittingly, more abstract.
What does "evidence" mean in that sentence? And is it the same as the usage of "evidence" in the following sentence: "The DNA evidence showed clearly that Jon Paul had been in the room at some time." ?
Parnassos Press has brought out this book, LOOKING AT BEAUTY, about the ideas of beauty that were prevalent especially in the western part of the ancient Greek world, southern Italy and Sicily. The book arose from the 2018 symposium on the heritage of Western Greece.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrived in the AG's office in February 2017 amidst a good deal of talk that he presented a danger to the state-legal marijuana industry. Sessions had built up quite a reputation in the US Senate as a "hawk" on the War on Drugs in general and pot in particular.
His tenure in that office, of one year and three quarters, was consumed with other controversies, and with the odd spectacle of the man who appointed him continually ridiculing him.
But he did make one significant MJ-related gesture. He rescinded the Cole Memorandum. That is, he rescinded an Obama-era instruction that the D of J had issued to the district attorneys around the country to the effect that they should NOT bring charges against state legal marijuana use. But 'double negative,' one can infer that he was saying it was okay for prosecutors to bring such charges.
But he was not pressing them to do so, and in general they did not. The habit associated with the Cole Memorandum survived rescission.of benign neglect of the state systems persisted.
Now that we have months of hindsight on Sessions, we can conclude this about his pot hawkishness. Its chief effect was to catalyze the doves on Capitol Hill.
The catalyzing effect in turn helped legalize hemp.
If this is what is meant by the "deep state," then thank God for the deep state. If it is the "deep state" that decided NOT to continue a war on pot smokers and sellers, and not to resume a war despite what a political appointee desired, then the Deep State sometimes sides with liberty.
Okay, that doesn't sound very anarchistic of me. But in tough times one finds one's allies where they are.
The Socrates of the early and presumably more historical Platonic documents is sometimes portrayed as naive.
The thinking is this: Socrates identified knowledge with virtue, and thus inferred that people only do wrong things because they are insufficiently well informed. With that naive view of human nature Plato also began, so the early dialogs are faithful to it. But as Plato grew older and wiser, he modified this view and allowed for untamed passions in the human soul that cause trouble not attributable to ignorance. [See the angry fellow portrayed above.]
And the "Socrates" who continued to serve as Plato's mouthpiece represented this chastened view.
But the story is not faithful to the texts. Socrates, even the Socrates portrayed in the dialogues often used to tell this story, was never that naive.
That's the review, in the Los Angeles Review of Books, of Rachana Kamtekar's PLATO'S MORAL PSYCHOLOGY.
I discovered that review at around the same time that I discovered another review, of a very different book with which Kamtekar's may deserve to be bracketed.
Colin Marshall has written COMPASSIONATE MORAL REALISM, published by Oxford University Press. Marshall contends that virtue and knowledge are intimately connected. People who are insufficiently moral are not connected with the world -- the world around them consisting of vulnerable and suffering creatures -- and, not being connected with it, they don't know it.
SO it isn't, "we should know in order to be good" but "we should be good in order to know."
Lerner, the reviewer, thinks there are some holes in Marshall's case. But they are holes one would expect to be able to find in a view both novel and sweeping. It may be a worthwhile project for some PhD candidates to get to work patching the holes.