Hacking Philosophy or Philosophy for Media Arts & Sciences
Philosophy for Media Arts & Sciences
"The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as to seem not worth stating, and
to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it." - Bertrand Russell
(The Philosophy of Logical Atomism)
Goals: Introduce basic branches of philosophy, give lots of examples, look at
current issues and practical guides.
Motivation: Aaron suggested it?
Form the argument: Rambling Survey
Q:What is Philosophy?
Actually almost any deﬁnition of philosophy is controversial.
Still, there are some accepted disciplines within philosophy
Metaphysics - What is there to know?
Epistemology - How do we know that we know?
Logic - How do we reason about what we know?
Ethics - How do we live with what we know?
There is a cat on the table.
Is it right or wrong to keep cats on tables? What moral consequences are there
to the way we treat cats?
How do we represent logically, that a cat is on the table?
How do we know a cat is on the table?
What is a cat, how do we know cats exist? Are they like humans? What is a
Philosophy is an Argument
Goals (Desired Properties)
Form of argument
A Brief History of Western Philosophy
“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates
“Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily” – William
of Ockham (1285 - 1349?)
“The life of man [is] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
– Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679)
“I think therefore I am” – René Descartes (1596 – 1650)
“To be is to be perceived (Esse est percipi).” Or, “If a tree
falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it
make a sound?” – Bishop George Berkeley (1685 – 1753)
“We live in the best of all possible worlds.” – Gottfried
Wilhelm Leibniz (1646 – 1716)
“The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling
of the dusk.” G.W.F. Hegel (1770 – 1831)
“Who is also aware of the tremendous risk involved in faith
– when he nevertheless makes the leap of faith – this [is]
subjectivity … at its height.” – Søren Kierkegaard (1813 –
“God is dead.” – Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900)
“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and
that is suicide.” – Albert Camus (1913 – 1960)
“One cannot step twice in the same river.” – Heraclitus (ca.
540 – ca. 480 BCE)
A Brief History of Western Philosophy The Crime of Athens
A Brief History of Western Philosophy The School of Athens
A Brief History of Western Philosophy The essential dichotomy
The Boat Problem (and the superman problem)
The Human Purpose.
A Brief History of Western Philosophy Descartes Meditations
Young Man’s Lament
How did I get into the world? Why was I not asked about it, why was I not
informed of the rules and regulations but just thrust into the ranks as if I had
been bought by a peddling shanghaier of human beings? How did I get involved
in this big enterprise called actuality? Why should I be involved? Isn't it a matter
of choice? And if I am compelled to be involved, where is the manager—I have
something to say about this. Is there no manager? To whom shall I make my
The Raven Problem
Imagine you see one raven
everyday (like Elijah here).
It might seem reasonable to
conclude that all ravens are black.
But can we prove that all ravens
Epistemology, Knowledge, Belief, and Truth
What does it meant to ‘know something’
I have a belief, that belief is a truth belief, that belief is rational - even more,
there is even some justiﬁcation for that belief. Do I know something?
The Baryshnikov Problem (and other formulations of Gettier Problems)
The Regress Argument (The problem of the criterion)
The skeptic answer: there is never any justiﬁcation for true belief that is
sufﬁcient at the bottom of the chain.
Aristotle’s success is his failure
Based on his ideas certain
branches of philosophy
(particularly logic) stagnate for the
next thousand years or so.
History of Logic
Aristotle invested logic.
And all was good.
Major premise: All men are mortal.
Minor premise: Some philosophers are men.
Conclusion: Some philosophers are mortal.
Frege reinvented logic.
And all was good.
The Predicate Calculus and the Propositional Calculus
Until it wasn't
Methods of Proof and Non-proof
Direct (Axiomatic) Proof
Proof by Contradiction (reductio ad absurdum)
Proof by Construction
Other kinds of proof and nonproof
Charles Babbage (1834) - Analytic Engine (ﬁrst -general purpose- concept of a
Gottlieb Frege (1879) - Publishes Begriffschrift - Logic is reborn
Richard Dedekind (1888) - Was sind und was solllen die Zahlen - Deﬁnes
functions by induction
Giuseppe Peano (1889) - Aximatizes arithmetic for natural numbers
Early work and Problems
Russel ﬁnds a ﬂaw in Frege's work (and Russel's paradox)
Hilbert's problems and his program
All of math follows from a correctly-chosen ﬁnite system of axioms; and
that some such axiom system is provably consistent.
Principia Mathematica (1910)
Emil post - Truth table and decision procedure for prop logic
Russel’s Paradox (Formulated
as the Barber Problem)
We have a barber who shaves
all men who do not shave
If a man shaves himself, the
barber does not shave him, if he
doesn’t the barber does.
Who shaves the barber?
The ﬁrst statement actually
deﬁnes a set, the problem is
about sets that contain
themselves as members.
A Brief Aside
Validity: in logic, the form of an argument is valid precisely if it cannot lead from
true premises to a false conclusion
Decidability: there exists an algorithm such that for every formula in the
system the algorithm is capable of deciding in ﬁnitely many steps whether
the formula is valid in the system or not. (computable, recursive, or Turing
Contradiction: the proposition that a formal theory or a physical theory
contains no contradictions. See consistency proof.
Complete: ﬁrst-order predicate calculus are "complete" in the sense that no
additional inference rule is required to prove all the logically valid formulas
(Godel’s Completeness Theorem)
For any consistent formal, recursively enumerable or effectively generated
theory that proves basic arithmetical truths, an arithmetical statement that is
true but not provable in the theory can be constructed.
That is, any theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both
consistent and complete.
This sentence is not true - The liar paradox
This sentence is not provable - Godel's undecidable sentence
But Turing Machines can’t decide everything.
The halting problem is, in theory if not in practice,
The Halting Problem decidable for deterministic machines with ﬁnite
memory. A machine with ﬁnite memory has a ﬁnite
number of states, and thus any deterministic
program on it must eventually either halt or repeat a
If halt, don’t halt! Run forever. previous state:
Sounds kinda familiar. "...any ﬁnite-state machine, if left completely to
itself, will fall eventually into a perfectly periodic
repetitive pattern. The duration of this repeating
pattern cannot exceed the number internal states
There is a diagonalization proof of the machine..."(Minsky 1967)
of this too.
Minsky warns us, however, that machines such as
computers with e.g. a million small parts, each with
two states, will have on the order of 2^1,000,000
Application: Political Philosophy & Ethics
Dialogue at Melos and Ethical Relativism
The Euthyphro Question
“Is an action wrong because God forbids it or does God forbid it because it is wrong?”
The Two Possible Answers to the Euthyphro Question (the two "horns" of the dilemma):
“God forbids an action because it is wrong”
Consequence: there is some standard of right and wrong that is independent of God's will. wrong
actions were already wrong prior to God's forbidding them
“An action is wrong because God forbids it”
(i) Morality is Contingent. So any action that is actually wrong could have been morally right, including, say, acts
of torturing innocent children for fun.
(ii) God's Commands are Arbitrary. If things aren't right or wrong or good or bad independent of God's
commanding or forbidding them, then it seems God has no basis on which to choose what to command and
what to forbid. He has no good reasons for forbidding the things he forbids.
(iii) God's Goodness is Trivial and Therefore Not Praiseworthy. If whatever God prefers is thereby automatically
best, then the fact that God always prefers the best is a trivial fact, true merely by deﬁnition. But then His always
preferring the best does not make Him praiseworthy.
The categorical imperative is the central "A man reduced to despair by a series of
philosophical concept of the moral philosophy of misfortunes feels sick of life, but is still so far in
Immanuel Kant, and to modern deontological ethics. possession of his reason that he can ask himself
Kant introduced this concept in Groundwork of the whether taking his own life would not be contrary to
Metaphysic of Morals. his duty to himself. Now he asks the maxim of his
action could become a universal law of nature. But
his maxim is this: from self-love I make as my
principle to shorten my life when its continued
Moral theory as normative formation of maxims
duration threatens more evil than it promises
"Act only according to that maxim whereby you can
at the same time will that it should become a
There only remains the question as to whether this
principle founded on self-love can become a
universal law of nature. One sees at once that a
contradiction in a system of nature whose law
"Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether would destroy life by means of the very same feeling
in your own person or in the person of any other, that acts so as to stimulate the furtherance of life,
always at the same time as an end and never simply and hence there could be no existence as a system
as a means" of nature. Therefore, such a maxim cannot possibly
hold as a universal law of nature and is,
consequently, wholly opposed to the supreme
principle of all duty”
Therefore, every rational being must so act as if he
were through his maxim always a legislating
member in the universal kingdom of ends."
Modern Ethics & Foundations of Politics
Rawls and the Veil of Ignorance
Drawn heavily from the theory of choice (a maxi-min problem)
Democracy as solution, deliberative democracy
Follow St. Anselm's Ontological Proof for God’s Existence
1) God is deﬁned as the being in which none greater is possible.
2) It is true that the notion of God exists in the understanding (your mind.)
3) And that God may exist in reality (God is a possible being.)
4) If God only exists in the mind, and may have existed, then God might have been greater than He is.
5) Then, God might have been greater than He is (if He existed in reality.)
6) Therefore, God is a being which a greater is possible.
7) This is not possible, for God is a being in which a greater is impossible.
8) Therefore God exists in reality as well as the mind.
From Wagner to
Wagner - Outlines of the Artwork of
Gesamkunstwerk - idea of total art
What is art anyway, is forgery art?
(Van Meegeren’s case)
Realist rational notions and
Orality & Literacy
Walter Ong and a new Orality
Destabilized meaning, deconstruction, and Derrida (with help from
semiotics, Barthes & Foucault)
Intertextuality & Hyperlinks
Fight of the Century: Author v. Reader
Life in the tubes
Practical Instantiation of Philosophical Problems
Engelbart - Augmenting human intellect: a conceptual framework
Vannever Bush "As we may think"
Rationalism and Empiricism Revisited
This distinction is less clear (as is the realist nonrealist one)
The web as ‘reality’ is seemingly different from existence
Shout out to linguistics (Sapir–Whorf hypothesis)
Guide to Interacting with Philosophers
Philosophers come in two batches
Some are hopeful
Most are critical
But Philosophers are normal people too!
Philosophy is an Argument
Goals (Desired Properties)
Form of argument
Example: Proof that .99999999999 = 1
Motivations (in this case, to start an argument)
Form of argument
Here the most important parts are the assumptions, which in this case are
pretty much deﬁnitions