Posts Tagged ‘knowledge


Levy’s Becoming Virtual

Pierre Levy

Becoming Virtual: Reality in the Digital Age

Area: Digital Media


·        Virtuality is the process of humanity’s ‘becoming other’—it is heterogenesis

à      Analyze the process of transformation from one more of being to another

Chapter One: The Nature of Virtualization

·        Reality: “I’ve got it”

·        Virtuality: “You’ll get it”

·        Possible v. Virtual

à      Possible: Already fully constituted, but exists in limbo

·        Virtualization is the movement of actualization in reverse

28: “However, the fact of not being associated with any ‘there,’ of clinging to an unassignable space (the one in which telephone conversations take place?), of occurring only between things that are clearly situated, or of not being only ‘there’ (like any thinking being)—none of this prevents us from existing.”

Chapter Three: The Virtualization of the Text

·        Relationship between writing (intellectual technology) and memory (cognitive function)

à      Memory—virtualization: the partial detachment of a living body, sharing, heterogenesis

·        Writing desynchronizes and delocalizes

·        When reading on a screen, the extensive presence that precedes the act of reading has disappeared

à      Digital media doesn’t contain text that can be read by a human being

·        Digital Storage = potentialization

·        Display =  realization

·        The computer is a means for potentializing information

50: “Yet, having enabled us to conceive of memory as a kind of record, it has transformed the face of Mnemosyne.  The semi-objectivation of memory in the text has helped promote the development of a critical tradition.  In effect, writing creates distance between knowledge and its subject.  It is most likely because I am no longer that which I know that I am able to question my knowledge.”

Chapter Four: The Virtualization of the Economy

·        Knowledge has an increasingly shorter lifespan

·        Why is the consumption of information not destructive, and why is the possession of information not exclusive?

75: “Actualization is not an act of destruction but, on the contrary, an inventive act of production, and act of creation. When I use information, when I interpret it, connect it with other information to create meaning or help make a decision, I actualize it.  In doing so I accomplish a creative act, a productive act.  Knowledge is the product of apprenticeship, the result of a virtualization of immediate experience.”

78: “There are two possible methods of increasing the efficiency of labor: (1) reification of labor power through automation; or (2) virtualization of skills using means that augment collective intelligence.”


Bergson’s Creative Evolution

Henri Bergson
Creative Evolution
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory

•    Hence should result this consequence that our intellect, in the narrow sense of the word, is intended to secure the perfect fitting of our body to its environment, to represent the relations of external things among themselves— in short, to think matter. Such will indeed be one of the conclusions of the present essay.
•    In fact, we do indeed feel that not one of the categories of our thought— unity, multiplicity, mechanical causality, intelligent finality, etc.—applies exactly to the things of life: who can say where individuality begins and ends, whether the living being is one or many, whether it is the cells which associate themselves into the organism or the organism which dissociates itself into cells? In vain we force the living into this or that one of our moulds. All the moulds crack. They are too narrow, above all too rigid, for what we try to put into them.
•    True, it hurtles in its course against such formidable difficulties, it sees its logic end in such strange contradictions, that it very speedily renounces its first ambition. “It is no longer reality itself,” it says, “that it will reconstruct, but only an imitation of the real, or rather a symbolical image; the essence of things escapes us, and will escape us always; we move among relations; the absolute is not in our province; we are brought to a stand before the Unknowable.”—But for the human intellect, after too much pride, this is really an excess of humility.
•    Intellectual knowledge, in so far as it relates to a certain aspect of inert matter, ought, on the contrary, to give us a faithful imprint of it, having been stereotyped on this particular object. It becomes relative only if it claims, such as it is, to present to us life— that is to say, the maker of the stereotype-plate.
•    On other paths, divergent from it, other forms of consciousness have been developed, which have not been able to free themselves from external constraints or to regain control over themselves, as the human intellect has done, but which, none the less, also express something that is immanent and essential in the evolutionary movement.
•    This amounts to saying that theory of knowledge and theory of life seem to us inseparable. A theory of life that is not accompanied by a criticism of knowledge is obliged to accept, as they stand, the concepts which the understanding puts at its disposal: it can but enclose the facts, willing or not, in pre-existing frames which it regards as ultimate.
•    a theory of knowledge which does not replace the intellect in the general evolution of life will teach us neither how the frames of knowledge have been constructed nor how we can enlarge or go beyond them. It is necessary that these two inquiries, theory of knowledge and theory of life, should join each other, and, by a circular process, push each other on unceasingly.
•    In the first chapter, we try on the evolutionary progress the two ready-made garments that our understanding puts at our disposal, mechanism and finality; 1 we show that they do not fit, neither the one nor the other, but that one of them might be recut and resewn, and in this new form fit less badly than the other.
•    In order to transcend the point of view of the understanding, we try, in our second chapter, to reconstruct the main lines of evolution along which life has travelled by the side of that which has led to the human intellect.
•    The intellect is thus brought back to its generating cause, which we then have to grasp in itself and follow in its movement. It is an effort of this kind that we attempt— incompletely indeed— in our third chapter.
•    A fourth and last part is meant to show how our understanding itself, by submitting to a certain discipline, might prepare a philosophy which transcends it.


Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding

John Locke
Essay Concerning Human Understanding
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies

•    Abstract General Ideas→ general terms
o    AGIs rather than anything in the world
o    Form AGIs by noticing similarities between ideas
•    Cartesians calls AGIs essence
•    Corpuscular Hypothesis: “new mechanistic science”
o    All events and states in the natural world can be explained with reference to the size, shape, and motion of corpuscules (reality)
•    Boyle
•    Demonstration is reasoning out a proof
o    Each step must be an intuition—depends on intuitive knowledge
•    Essence: quality of something that made is so (knife’s essence = ability to cut)
o    Descartes: 2 essences in the world: thought (essence of mind) and extension (essence of body)
•    Intuition is the highest form of knowledge: mind perceives connections
•    New Mechanistic Science: all explanation can be given in terms of matter and motion
•    Sensitive knowledge: lowest form of knowledge—doesn’t even count
•    Transparency of the Mental: nothing can be in our mind without our being aware of it
•    Veil of Perception: out perception of the world is indirect, filtered through a medium of ideas
•    Essay responds to two schools of thought
o    Aristotelian-influences Scholasticism (“nothing in the intellect, not first in the senses)
o    Cartesian Rationalism (“no trusting the senses until they have been verified by the intellect”)
•    “Of innate ideas” = against he possibility of innate propositional knowledge (whatever is, is) and argues against the possibility of innate ideas (idea of God)
•    Origins of Knowledge are from experience
•    Everything in our mind is an idea that takes one of two routes:
o    Come through senses
o    Come through the mind’s reflection on its own operation
•    Ideas: simple or complex (simple → complex)
•    Knowledge is the perception of strong internal relations that hold among the ideas themselves, without any reference to the external world
•    Four sorts of relations between ideas that would count as knowledge:
o    Identity/diversity
o    Relation
o    Coexistence
o    Actual existence
•    Warns: as good as our opinions becomes, never going to reach the level of knowledge
•    Primary Qualities: ideas which resemble their causes
o    Texture, number, size, shape, motion
•    Secondary Qualities: Ideas which don’t resemble their causes
o    Color, sound, taste, odor
•    Regarding memory: which ideas are best remembered—names the defects of memory
o    Since all mental items must be conscious, there isn’t much room allowed for memory
o    For Locke, memory isn’t literally a place where ideas are stored, but refers ot a power of the mind to revive perceptions it once had
•    Contrary to popular belief, we don’t know bodies better than we know the mind—we only know the observable qualities
•    Knowledge is “the perception by reason of the connection and agreement or repulsion and disagreement between any two or more ideas.”
o    To count as knowledge, connection between ideas must be very strong
•    Knowledge of existence in three parts:
o    Ourselves by intuition
o    God by demonstration
o    External world by resembling the world as we think it is
•    Judgment is a faculty concerned with identifying the truth/falsehoods of propositions
o    Based on probability (≠ knowledge based on intuition and demonstration)

(Thanks to Spark Notes for some invaluable assistance!)

July 2017
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