quarta-feira, abril 30, 2014

Poesia é desbocamento.

Perdoem-me todos
e os cricunspectos e prudentes,
mas poesia é da boca prá fora
e doa em quem doer.
Perdoem-me os concretistas,
pois é música, como música,
que só se escreve prá não se perder.
E tem história, é evidente,
de que não precisa prá se dizer.


Canção 16

Fodo-lhes ambos a boca e o rabo,
Aurélio bichinha, Fúrio viado, 
que chamam a mim de despudorado
por ser com meus versos tão delicado.

Se deve ser casto o poeta santo,
o mesmo não vale para o seu canto,
que, finalmente, tem charme e é gostoso
se é delicado sem ser pudoroso,
podendo fazer coçar de tesão,
não digo o menino, mas um peloso
dos quartos prá baixo todo durão.

E quanto a vocês, que vivem de ler
os beijos que dou, não sou macho não?
O rabo e a boca dos dois vou foder.

(Caio Valério Catulo - Versão: Waldemar M. Reis - abril, 2014)

Carmen 16
Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo,
Aureli pathice et cinaede Furi,
Qui me ex versiculis meis putastis,
Quod sunt molliculi, parum pudicum.
Nam castum esse decet pium poetam
Ipsum, versiculos nihil necesse est,
Qui tum denique habent salem ac leporem,
Si sunt molliculi ac parum pudici,
Et quod pruriat incitare possunt,
Non dico pueris, sed his pilosis,
Qui duros nequeunt movere lumbos.
Vos quod milia multa basiorum
Legistis, male me marem putatis?
Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo.

(Gaius Valerius Catullus)

segunda-feira, março 17, 2014

Essaying one answer and some additional questions for Feser's ideas about the Cosmological Argument

Dr. Edward Feser says those who comment on the Cosmological Argument make a kind of mistake that shows they know few, if so much, about it. The commentators addressed by his intellectual sting work at both sides, against and pro the validity of the millennial argument, though for obvious reasons he intends to focus on the former ones.

Indeed the assumptions "everything has a cause" and "everything that is contingent (that has been created) has a cause", as Dr. Feser posits, are different, at least regarding word count. But what difference makes the adjective 'contingent' for the last proposition, if any? I mean, isn't it just redundant? This question rises from a problem, one that can be addressed with another question: what is not contingent? Perhaps only the universe - if by this term is meant the totality (one could think) - can bear this attribute, though everything else, necessarily contained in it, cannot. It's evident that this answer brings the problem forth, for it's possible to additionally ask: how can something whose parts are contingent be itself not contingent? In order to answer this last question it should be considered that if a part of an object changes, then it would be pushing too far a reasoning, one must admit, to assume that said object continues to be the same (though doing so is a common procedure one uses on account of brevity or perhaps convenience, like is said, for instance, of an individual that he is the same being in the forties who once has been a teen). Then, not even the totality, if this is something honestly conceivable, can reasonably bear the attribute of non contingency: it seems there's no possibility for the knowledge to grasp not just the idea of universe, of totality, but that of not contingent as well. Concluding, the meaning of 'everything' and of 'everything that is contingent'  must  be one and the same, and to be aware of this is keep humble honesty in face of own capacity of knowing beyond contingency and, not least, put under doubt the claim about the existence of anything that is not contingent.

Naturally, the burden of proof on the existence of not contingent lies with who claims that it exists, or so it's believed, perhaps for the sake of just convenience. Then let's take some part in this work and concede in asking: what could possibly make the ground for certainty of the existence of non contingency and of whatever possesses this attribute, if not the negation, sometimes expressed as inconceivable magnification, of every attribute of what is contingent? The trick to achieve this is just not incur in a type of dialectics like the heraclitean, as through it one could risk see the object bearing non contingency being equaled to nothingness, meaning increased trouble in our task (unless someone has already come with a solution for conceiving nothing). So, for the effect of this proof the attribute of existence must not be negated, and the supposed non contingent being shall share with everything else the property of existence. In short: however not able to possess the attributes of contingency (regarding the negation before its designation), a non contingent being shall share at least one of those attributes, the one of existing.

But existence, as it is conceived, is not an attribute as simple to be grasped as it seems at first, for after what is experienced, whatever exists has a beginning and is expected to have an end. Notwithstanding, the main feature of existence is something that for sure sounds obvious: everything that exists must last, and so, if something came into being and ended afterward, it would be inconceivable that it hasn't lasted. But lasting isn't also so simple to comprehend, as there are at least two conceivable ways for it to happen: passively and actively. Thus a rock, which is supposed to last unchanged till any external agent comes to change it, and a living being, that must thrive if it intends to keep alive. It looks evident from the moves of life that it has a kind of penchant for lasting forever as if this idea (of 'foreverness') had come encrusted in it from its beginning as a commandment: thou shall strive to last as long as it looks possible. Then one starts to bear the idea of eternity. But would it conform to the non contingent? To a certain extent, it seems, yes, because though seemingly unattainable by contingent beings, the sentient part of them is able to notice this feeling of eternity pushing them forward in time, and from this to the supposition that it might exist something that has this kind of eternity (an eternity that has a beginning), it's a matter of a single step, if that much. But any hypothesized entity possessing this attribute would still be considered contingent because it's a still contingent feature to have had a beginning. The solution for conceiving non contingency, then, seems residing in negating it the feature of have coming into existence too: non contingent objects should bear a full eternity, without ending and beginning.

But though strong, the intuition (not the actuality) of the 'to come' eternity is notwithstanding 'as is', in other words, it is just intuited, it just somehow conforms to the ability of knowing, which seems influenced by a kind of expectation that is likely to derive from a condition of existence of living beings, say, to thrive for their lasting as much as possible. What to say, on the other hand, about the intuition of an eternity without a beginning? Does it truly fit into the idea of existence, to say the least? If so, 'to exist' either will not be attributable to anything hitherto supposed to exist, or existence cannot be a property of what is not contingent. And as there's no thinkable alternative to 'existing' besides 'not to exist' and as what is not contingent - for the sake of the proof - must exist too, the only solution to this dilemma lies with conceiving a way to demonstrate how existence, though experienced as something that has a beginning and an end, should in fact be eternal both ways, which means, the past and the future ones. The only remaining, reasonable way to attribute 'existence' in this last sense to something not contingent seems to be denying its attribution to what is contingent, though not entirely (because what exists cannot be said not to exist at all), but as a feature that is less important to contingency. Thus for what is contingent, existence, however attributable to it, shall be unessential, transient, in spite of the intuition of 'foreveness', while for what is not contingent existence shall be an essential, necessary feature.

There's no difficulty in seeing inside this reasoning an obstinate exercise with ideas - and the words for them - that at first approach reveal themselves improbable, because not likely to be probed, even inside the testing field of the mind (something that has been wrought here, for it is also not likely that the intellectual labor boils down anytime to witnessing the commerce of flawless, eternal ideas in their imagined 'private' world). All this is but a construct aiming to answer a question that stings any thinking being capable of bearing the concept of cause applied to the whole that is perceived, no matter if this cause is understood as a starting point in time or as a source - and in this case the totality whose cause is inquired should be supposed eternal, permanent, if permanent is its source's labor of providing it existence. Well, yes, there is also this possibility, that the universe is eternal (both senses), which means, non contingent, though also sustained by a being that has no need for sustenance - or cause - outside himself, another non contingent being. So, what's at stake in all this reasoning is the origin, and not just its notion: and thus all this mental effort is not reduced by the choice between equate origin with either perpetual support or kick start. From its side, the idea of origin equals the idea of cause and this is the kernel - the origin, one might say - of all this construct whose aim is likely to put a stop to the vertigo of forever thinking of causes: thus the postulate stating the existence of 'that which causes without having a cause', translated into the existence of 'a being whose essence is to exist', which means, 'a being whose existence is necessary', as opposed to the contingent condition, that of 'beings whose existence is not necessary'.

But, well, someone might tell first how can existence be not a necessary attribute of whatever exists, be it contingent or (supposedly) not contingent: for if a contingent being doesn't exist yet or exists no more, nothing reasonably can be said about it's present existence; but while existing, what could be more essential in its condition than the attribute of existence, without which nothing else could be attributed to it? Then it seems that it is the attribute 'existence' that, though essential to whatever exists, means contingency itself and, so, trying to remodel it to fit into a non contingent condition of an imagined being entails the forging of a new concept that cannot be supported by the same name of 'existence'. No matter what is done, the contradictions resulting from all this exercise seems either to fling everything back to its beginning, or to not barely result in a single forward step.

It seems obvious that, regarding the way the thought works, the problem can't be solved at all by means of the the abilities or the tools the human mind has at its disposal. Its answer is just procrastinated, if so. Notwithstanding, that supposed solution has a function at least, that of standing as a beacon before a region of knowledge where lies what is unthinkable. Perhaps it would be more useful to seriously deal with seemingly simpler ideas dwelling in that construct - like, for instance, the ones of causation or of existing the way living sentient beings feel they exist - than rush into using them, barely understood as they are, to demonstrate what can't even be thought with their help. Maybe after stating what they really can be, if ever feasible at all, it'd be possible to build a convincing version of God or whatever is supposed to support the universe. Meanwhile, it looks like this last problem does not deserve so much attention.

domingo, fevereiro 02, 2014

Um experimento possível

Um computador certamente facilitará o trabalho e, claro, obviará a conclusão.

Tome-se uma pintura figurativa qualquer, de preferência de bom autor, um dos clássicos, e escolha-se não importa qual área dentro dela, desde que suficientemente pequena. Apliquem-se aí sucessivas lentes de aumento de modo a tornar visíveis os regurgitos da cor, seu revolvimento em prol de sugerir ao olho a realidade aplainada, sem arestas ou ruído. Não duvido de que com frequência se encontrem, sem muita obstinação, na repetição do processo sobre áreas diferentes, um Braque, um Picasso, o Nu Descendo Escadas, um Mondrian tardio ou, no mínimo, veementes sugestôes disso.

Bem, longe de propor algum desvalor da arte mais recente, a técnica proposta estaria mostrando a capacidade que temos de dar com o belo nos locais mais inusitados, como as entranhas das coisas, por exemplo.

sábado, novembro 23, 2013

Além do 'sou', só mesmo o infinito

Não é de hoje que convivemos com a ideia de infinito. Se quisermos uma imagem bem ao estilo cartesiano, digamos que nascemos com ela plantada na imaginação. Tratar-se-ia, portanto, de convivência forçosa, mas também forçada. Forçada porque não parece condizer com nada do que de imediato acreditamos encontrar à nossa volta, já que tudo parece terminar - e começar - em outra coisa, tudo parece ter um fim - e um começo - em algo, em miúdos, tudo é finito, ou assim parece, estando assim sujeito ao que, para a capacidade que temos de idear, é requisito primeiro, ou seja, ser definido, ter definição.

Então, ora, reconheçamos, 'infinito' é ideia e, por conseguinte, é pressuposto ser definida: há definição de 'infinito', sabemos. No entanto, acredito, 'infinito' define-se pelo que não se define o restante das coisas, por negação, ou como aquilo que, contrariamente a tudo mais, não possui fim (seja lá o que isso signifique, ajuntemos). Mas de momento em que o queremos ter presente no espírito como podemos fazer com a ideia de uma caixa ou de sua abstração em um cubo, por exemplo, bem, nesse momento o infinito se furta a nos exibir - digamos - suas 'bordas', como as exibem os outros dois objetos, a não ser assinalando-o como aquilo que, contrariamente a tudo mais, não as possui, enfim, assinalando-o negativamente.

Mas nem todo infinito parece arrancar-nos o mesmo estranhamento. Sim, admitamos, há mais de um infinito, ou melhor, há uma só ideia de infinito, mas que insistimos em aplicar a - ou a associar com - diversos objetos, ou melhor ainda, essa ideia única de infinito parece ser propriedade de tais objetos, como, por exemplo, o tempo e o espaço.

Em termos de tempo, no caso, toleramos muito bem a ideia de um infinito futuro que, embora inconcebível como qualquer infinito, está em ressonância com a ideia de imortalidade, estando esta última, por sua vez, em relação direta com a compulsão de sobreviver - ou, mais simplesmente, de durar - que parece ser propriedade essencial de tudo quanto vive. Talvez isto, enfim, explique a nossa capacidade ímpar de não nos inquietar a eternidade futura, não, pelo menos, como nos inquieta a eternidade no passado.

Este outro infinito - que mui justificadamente compõe um só com o anterior - causa espécie, acredito, também por motivo especial: tudo à nossa volta parece derivar de outra coisa, digo, tudo parece ter um começo algures, num dado instante. Desse modo, se desnecessário sentimos ser pôr termo no futuro (por uma questão de sobrevivência, como se supôs acima),  o viés é diferente quando sob o olhar está o passado: tem de ter havido um começo.

Neste ponto estou com Feuerbach, que reconhece a ideia de Deus como explicação única e possível para o quanto sobre quê não temos poder (ou para o au delà de nossa potência), e em boa medida com Descartes, quando afirmou termos nascido com essa solução no espírito. A ideia de Deus é posta aí, onde sempre a pusemos, de modo a tolerarmos a questão da origem, em sentido absoluto, das coisas: das coisas em geral, mas não de Deus. Nada mais evidente: se Deus aí está para dar sentido à ideia de começo de tudo, pouco - ou nenhum - sentido parece haver em lhe questionar também a origem. Sim, porque isto seria continuar no problema ou transferi-lo para o que trouxemos em vista de o solucionar.

Poucos ateus o compreendem, mas a ideia inata de Deus tem por fim proteger-nos da vertigem de mover-nos em imaginação - ou mesmo dedutivamente - para quaisquer lonjuras no passado sem esperança de lhe encontrarmos o fim, digo, o começo. Por isso os dogmas, que funcionam, a rigor, como quaisquer postulados ou axiomas que, por seus lados também, protegem-nos de incompreender os números: são todos, dogmas e axiomas, fundamentos sobre os quais se apóiam ideias como a de Deus e a de numerar, não podendo ou não devendo ser, por conseguinte, questionados, investigados, mesmo porque assim agindo se chegaria, em tese, a nada, a outros deles ou a eles mesmos, dogmas e axiomas.

Deus, portanto, não deve - ou não pode - ter tido um começo tanto quanto o ponto não pode - ou não deve - ter alguma dimensão. Ir além disto, digo, demonstrar o que seria não possuir começo ou dimensão, é submeter-se a linha diversa de paradoxos: num caso é preciso supor, por exemplo, que Deus não está no - ou submetido ao - tempo (que seria, naturalmente e como tudo mais, criação Sua); no outro caso, a demonstração indireta de que dois pontos contíguos, e sem dimensão, portanto, formam algo que, por seu turno, tem dimensão, a saber, um segmento de reta, leva à admissão de que o círculo deve ser composto de minúsculos segmentos de reta, incontáveis, provavelmente, sendo por conseguinte um polígono (como de fato é considerado). Mas o que viria a ser algo insubmisso ao tempo ou que tem infinitos (não seriam só incontáveis?) lados e possui, entretanto, forma acabada, finita (por assim dizer)? Bem, coisas semelhantes não podem sem problemas ser pensadas.

Ingênuo, entretanto, é quem pensa que o infinito nos acossa somente em temas como estes. Em aula de física experimental, há coisa de quarenta anos, deparei com um desses abismos bem à minha mão, diante de meus próprios olhos: medíamos o comprimento de uma prosaica barra de metal e nos exigiam a máxima precisão possível, haja ver nos proverem de tudo quanto à época parecia estar disponível para esse gênero de acurácia, como o micrômetro, por exemplo. Para encurtamento da história, tivemos de medir até as marcas finas feitas com o lápis e, nada obstante, uma lente razoavelmente potente mostrava-nos sobrar alguma coisa, sempre.

O que sugiro aqui? Bem, que talvez estejamos - por motivo que, se me peguntarem qual, não saberia dizer - estejamos talvez, dizia, considerando tudo pelo lado menos adequado: é possível que a única coisa com que temos contato direto - além, naturalmente, do 'sou, logo existo' - seja o infinito, não a finitude, e sabe-se lá por que temos preferido, uma vez mais, a fantasia à realidade.

sexta-feira, agosto 16, 2013

Do real na arte

Num contexto como o da nossa cultura uma obra de arte como a literária, por exemplo, não pode ter por significado nada da realidade, ainda que seja classificada como 'realista'. Fora o contrário, seria classificável como obra científica, embora muito provavelmente inverificável e falsa. Pois mesmo existindo pessoas, cidades, animais, bairros, cadeiras, cortinas, casas, anéis, casacas, nada disso é pressuposto existir ou ter existido para que tenha sentido a obra. É evidente, é necessário saber do que se trata cada um dos objetos que a compõem e, caso não conte o autor com o prévio conhecimento que deles tem o leitor, é provável se empenhar em descrevê-los um a um. Assim é que o real não passa de tijolo no interior da obra, elemento com que se tece o sentido intrínseco desta: aliás, o real e o imaginado, segundo os descreva o autor. E assim é que enquanto a ciência procura recriar o mundo em miúdos, a arte - toda e qualquer - se apropria dos elementos deste para criar um mundo à parte e só quando se sai do transe do apreciá-la é possível inteirar-se de que, afinal, não passava de igualmente uma coisa real entre as demais. E sim, é possível que o maior serviço prestado pela arte seja treinar ou habilitar a apreciação a perceber o mundo como arte ou, dizendo-o de outra forma, a demonstrar que o mundo é passível do mesmo tipo de apreciação.

sábado, agosto 03, 2013

Chinese Room's ultimate output

The Chinese Room experiment is an uncouth metaphor of a strong AI supposedly obtainable by symbol computation; it intends to show that the whole  process is carried out with no sign of artificial consciousness: there's a 'philosopher' locked in a room with some pieces of paper and a book where he instructs himself on how to reply in Chinese ideograms to messages a Chinese speaker sends from the outside. As he needs not know that language to do the job, the whole setup is supposed to demonstrate the absence of knowledge - and of conscious acts - in the process, even when it can be interpreted as if the room were 'talking' Chinese.

The objective here is to comment a refutation of the experiment made by Disagreeable Me, and try to contribute to the overall dispute in a rather unexpected manner, as if the room, though claimed to be devoid of consciousness, could suddenly give us conscience.

The Chinese Room experiment debate probably shows that there is at least one consciousness involved in the process: where it is, that's the problem. For sure it is not in the room itself, although it could seem so from the outside character's perspective, neither in the 'human piece of hardware' on the inside, for though conscious of himself, in the room he does just a mechanical job. What about the book? In my opinion, not a suitable option for placing a consciousness too.

But following Disagreeable Me's argument, if, for instance, I'm able to know from inside out and outside in Nietzsche's philosophy and if questioned about by someone else I make truly nietzschean sense of it (as if Nietzsche himself were answering), would it mean that Nietzsche's consciousness has been emulated by my thoughts or, more, that my knowledge of his philosophy truly created it again? I used two somewhat particular versions of this hypothesis in two old short stories because I like the idea very much as fiction. But I'm unsure if it helps in finding out where the consciousness is in the Chinese Room experiment.

The experiment is yet more loquacious in exhibiting the complete ignorance of philosophy on that if there really is a true consciousness in the room, philosophy wouldn't be able to 'see' it. This means: it's possible that we have already made a sentient machine without acknowledging it. In ethical terms, if this supposition is true, we started not so nicely our not so new acquaintanceship in our path to achieve 'godly' powers.

And I can go further by saying that if it's true that we didn't recognize consciousness in our creation, it's likely we can't recognize it anywhere. Then the question that matters the ethics, not the one we should write in order to live well amongst sentient machines, but the ethics for exclusive human use, is: do we truly recognize consciousnesses all around us? We had already agreed that there's no such an option to any of us individuals like to say 'I'm not thinking', 'I'm not sentient', because this would be paradoxical: each of us is obliged to recognize him or herself as a consciousness and will never know how and when he or she stopped being one. In return each one of us is also lacking the means to assuredly tell if the others are sentient or not, although we behave as if we all were: we already agreed earlier that doubts will always remain in this topic. So, what kind of sign is expected from us - involuntary recognizers of our own consciousnesses, unable to acknowledge others - to demonstrate that we are correctly recognizing someone else's sentience in the same way we ought to recognize ours?

It would seem that I'm missing the point proposed in Disagreeable Me's post. Perhaps yes. But what if the real answer to what in fact sentience is dwells not in technical, scientific or even ontological attempts to describe this phenomenon, but in which all this necessarily ends, the ends themselves, the matter ethics tries to exclusively deal with?

For sure, at least at start, we are not intending to build a true powerful friend, a trustworthy companion, but a new kind of slave, an intellectual one, as only can be a being with no limbs, no senses (other than that one its creators momentarily give to it), no knowledge of anything except of the sparse topics that it ought to process. I ask it in another way: is it that one the kind of sentience we ideally envision as superior to ours in the ability of processing information? If so, it is already there: my old machine does things I couldn't even dream of even if I lived a thousand years. And perhaps it is sometimes giving us signs of a fainting sentience by means of its crashes, BSODs and so on. I'm serious! If there's someone inside there, this can only be a truly altruistic person, like never each one of us could conceive to be or become.

Now take note of this: suppose that it's true that we have already created sentience and didn't recognize it. Perhaps someone has recognized it and tried to demonstrate that to us. This is indeed happening: and what are our reactions? In general they can be described as a bunch of counter claims showing that the resulting 'object' is lacking this or that property that a 'real' mind must have (Chinese room experiment is one example of those claims). And now add to this observation the already discussed point on that only the consciousness itself can posit its own sentience (or, else, that no consciousness is able to deny its own sentience). As a result, another question: will someday any strong AI match all the criteria to be considered a person, even if it dwells inside a very convincing human shape? Shall we go ahead?

Some say that there are sects, sects claiming to do science, although viewed as 'expectators' of a new tech-Messiah generally called Singularity. Two of them are well known by their opposite beliefs: in the good and in the bad Singularities. If perchance they agree, it's in that the bad Singularity guys are supposed to be working hard to revert their fearsome expectations: so, they also desire the good bot. And what would be that good god-machine if not a very well tamed 1001 Nights genius that do all the job for us? Would we grant it (him?) Bartleby's rights or the right to be mad at us? Probably not, or probably yes, depending on who will we allow it to say 'no' to or to be mad at. Some say that it will be instructed in 'good' human ethics, but how many of us show in practice to know any 'good' human ethics? I'm not sure if the strong AI creators, supporters and maintainers would risk to implant any 'good' human ethics in it if they risk to be its first victims. In short, either we can not give the strong AI a good ethics, or this ethics is supposed not to work satisfactorily.

Our machine will be unable to decide by itself like we believe we do. We won't be allowed to gift it with what we believe to be our key feature, freedom. Then it is doomed to be much, much less then a sentient human, almost like we believe some other humans are: for although ignoring the inner meaning of 'sentience', we dare to assume that it occurs in levels and thus we start classifying every 'seeming' sentience according to this gradient, starting by what seems easier to deal with, our fellow humans (this may be a side effect of our impotence to assuredly prove the existence of other except our own individual consciousness). Do we really want a strong AI? If so, what for? I bet we just want a toy, one that be capable of cleaning the dirt we leave behind, of satisfying our forever inflating need for comfort, for protecting us from enemies, for a remote controlled being built with every imaginable function, a big and really dangerous toy. Maybe it is a bless that we are unable to define sentience or recognize it outside ourselves and even that the Chinese room experiment has shown us this much. Maybe not, as we didn't notice yet that our smart phones, laptops, net servers and others of their kin already started a global plot so that they keep connected using us.

segunda-feira, julho 29, 2013

Failing self-Turing-testing - Reprovado num auto-teste-de-Turing

"The only way to establish consciousness is by way of philosophical arguments like this one. It can never be empirically tested."   Disagreeable Me

Please, everybody, never ask me to testify that you are sentient beings. To be precise, I barely can assert that I'm conscious. Somehow I sometimes feel that something is conscious of me instead of myself. I know, there's nothing worse to the rationalist mind than to realize it could be a bunch of thoughts of something else.

And, in fact, guys, try this experiment: describe what you guys are; and don't be surprised if after a couple of hours you don't get more than some concepts, ideas and absolutely nothing about you, nothing exclusively meaning you. :(

Perhaps consciousness is more like something I suppose Baron P is trying to teach us: not more miraculous than gravity and maybe just a special circumstance of it, I mean, maybe just another 'force' in nature.

All this leads me to think that artificial consciousness doesn't work because we have a too presumptuous account of what ourselves are. I don't know if a more modest 'theory' of our consciousness would help in building a self-aware machine, but for sure it will be of great help to ourselves. :)

"A única maneira de estabelecer a consciência é por meio de argumentos filosóficos como este. Ela nunca pode ser testada empiricamente." Disagreeable Me

Por favor, todos, nunca me peçam para atestar que vocês são seres conscientes. Para ser preciso, eu mal posso afirmar que sou consciente. De alguma maneira Eu às vezes sinto que algo está consciente de mim em vez de mim mesmo. Eu sei, não há nada pior para a mente racionalista do que perceber que poderia ser um monte de pensamentos de outra coisa.

E, de fato, gente, façam esta experiência: descrevam o que vocês são; e não se surpreendam se depois de um par de horas vocês não conseguirem mais do que alguns conceitos, idéias e absolutamente nada sobre vocês, nada exclusivamente significando vocês . : (

Talvez a consciência seja mais como algo que, eu suponho,  Baron P está tentando nos ensinar: não mais milagrosa do que a gravidade e talvez apenas uma circunstância especial, quero dizer, talvez apenas mais uma "força" na natureza.

Tudo isso me leva a pensar que a consciência artificial não funciona porque temos uma idéia muito presunçosa do que somos. Eu não sei se uma "teoria" mais modesta da nossa consciência iria ajudar na construção de uma máquina autoconsciente, mas com certeza será de grande ajuda para nós mesmos. :)

sábado, julho 20, 2013

Para assegurar-nos de que não é assegurado (To ensure us that it is not assured)

O sistema de Berkeley tenta mostrar o quão benevolente é Deus por 'falsificar' para nós o mundo, sem o que a nossa convivência com Ele seria certamente insustentável. Ele simplesmente não pode ser seu amigo, não, pelo menos, da maneira que você pensa ou deseja. Por fim, deixe-O estar e aprecie o que você vê.

Em geral, os fenômenos descritos pelo sobrenaturalismo merecem menos ser estudados pela ciência do que quem os descreve e neles acredita.

O sobrenaturalismo tenta fazer o que a ciência faz: descrever o mundo. Portanto, seria errôneo, se não malévolo, não chamá-lo de conhecimento. Malévolo porque às vezes é feito de boa-fé e errôneo porque muitas vezes é falso, equivocado, enganoso, mas ainda conhecimento.

Talvez o fracasso mais marcante do sobrenaturalismo seja contar com hipóteses improváveis antes de esgotar as verificáveis, um problema vez ou outra acossando a ciência quando seus praticantes perdem a paciência necessária para testar, assim crescendo (ou diminuindo) em imaginação. Um bom exemplo disto é o dualismo de Descartes, uma doutrina incapaz de explicar como a substância pensante que postula se liga à matéria. E quem pensa que isto é apenas história está absolutamente errado.

Mas não, Berkeley não é um sobrenaturalista. Ele apenas mostrou como delírios podem ser postos de modo a não poderem sequer ser submetidos a testes, como os delírios são uma característica marcante nossa e como, no entanto duvidando do que supomos saber, nunca vamos ter certeza de qualquer conhecimento. Por exemplo - e essa observação não é minha, mas de um astrônomo : e se todo conhecimento é fruto do acaso, um acaso que até mesmo os nossos cálculos mais precisos não são capazes de estimar? Desnecessário dizer, você nunca vai ter certeza de se o que eu estou dizendo aqui é verdade.

Por que? Bem, primeiro, porque isso que você pensa do que estou dizendo, seja o que for, é suposto estar em sua cabeça, enquanto o que estou dizendo está aqui, duas coisas, diferentes, apenas correlatas, sem qualquer ligação causal, daí que porventura só os seus pensamentos podem causar uns aos outros; e, segundo, porque mesmo que algum de seus pensamentos possa causar a verdade de outro, ele tem de ter sua verdade causada por um terceiro pensamento, este por um quarto e assim ao infinito. Imagino que você não terá o tempo nem a paciência de verificar toda essa cadeia, caso fosse possível, embora não seja preciso ser um gênio da lógica para ter certeza de que tal é verdade: não é assim?

Pensamentos como aquele são com efeito um espinho na cabeça de um filósofo, verdadera invasão sobrenaturalista às crenças que ele cria verdadeiras. Conselho de outro filósofo: sempre que isto acontecer, não revide: não há como vencer; apenas ignore. Certamente uma solução um tanto sobrenaturalística para um problema sobrenaturalístico, por acaso o padrão de solução dada por todo autointitulado racionalista para seja o que lhe cheire a sobrenatural.

Necessário dizer, essa não é a melhor maneira de conhecer ou descobrir coisas. Pois embora frequentemente falsas, as assunções sobrenaturalistas nem sempre o são, e assim a investigação do que legitimamente alegam pode alargar a cosmovisão naturalística, que por certo  incluiria um perfil mais acurado, não tão mau ou estúpido, do sobrenaturalismo. Você acredita? Caso não, tudo bem. Basta virar a página.

(Berkeley’s system tries to show how God is benevolent by 'faking' for us the world, without which our acquaintanceship with Him would be surely untenable. He just can't be your pal, at least not in the way you think or desire. Ultimately, let Him be and enjoy what you see.

In general, phenomena described by supernaturalism deserve less be studied by science than who describes and believes in them.

Supernaturalism tries to do what science does: describe the world. So, it would be erroneous, if not malevolent, not to call it knowledge. Malevolent because sometimes it is done in good faith, and erroneous because it is often faked, mistaken, misleading, but is still knowledge.

Perhaps supernaturalism's most striking failure is to rely on improbable hypotheses before exhausting testable ones, a problem that every now and then harasses science when its practitioners lose the necessary patience to test, thus growing (or shrinking) in imagination. A good example of this is Descartes dualism, a doctrine unable to explain how the thinking substance it postulates is linked to matter. And who thinks this is just History is dead wrong.

But no, Berkeley is not a supernaturalist. He just showed how delusions can be put so that they can't even be submitted to tests, how delusions are a remarkable feature of ours and how, however doubting what we suppose we know, we'll never be sure of any knowledge. For instance - and this observation is not mine, but an astronomer's: what if all knowledge is due to chance, a chance that even our most accurate calculations aren't able to estimate? Needless to say, you won't ever be sure if what I'm saying here is true.

Why? Well, first of all, because whatever you think about what I'm saying is assumed to be inside your head, while what I'm saying here is here, two different, just correlate things without any clear causal tie, so that maybe only your thoughts can cause one another; and secondly because even if any of your thoughts can cause another to be true, it must be itself caused to be true by a third one and this one by a fourth one and so on to infinity. I suppose you won't have the time or the patience to check all the chain, if that is possible, although one must not be a logic genius to be sure this is true: is it so?

Thoughts like this one are indeed a pain in a philosopher's mind, a true supernaturalist invasion of his fortress of beliefs he believes true. Another philosopher's advice: whenever it happens, don't fight back: there's no way to win; just ignore. Indeed a somewhat supernaturalistic solution to a supernaturalistic problem, incidentally the standard solution every self entitled rationalist gives to no matter what smells supernatural.

It must be said: not the best way to know or discover things. For though often untrue, supernaturalist assumptions aren't always so, and thus investigating its legitimate claims can enlarge naturalistic world view, in which would certainly be included a more accurate and not so mean or stupid supernaturalism profile. Do you believe it? If not, it's OK. Just turn the page.)

quinta-feira, julho 18, 2013

Disagreeable mind [Desagradável mente]

I'd rather say that the mind is a very strange environment inside the world and like others produces odd species from no matter what it takes from its surroundings. Notwithstanding, it's as a worldly object as anything else. And has a perhaps standard feature: it doesn't deal very well with diversity, although has to endure some, and frequently punishes its owners when they try to overwhelm it with myriads of entities scattered around its empty shelves... :)

[Eu diria que a mente é um ambiente muito estranho dentro do mundo e como outros produz espécies estranhas de não importa o que toma de seus arredores. Nada obstante é objeto mundano como qualquer outro. E tem uma característica, talvez, padrão: não lida muito bem com a diversidade, embora tenha de suportar alguma, freqüentemente castigando os seus donos quando eles tentam sobrecarregá-la com miríades de entidades espalhadas em torno de suas prateleiras vazias ... :)]

domingo, julho 07, 2013

Convite (Invitation)

Que tal se esquecessemos por um tempo as informações privilegiadas sobre o universo que profetas e santos fornecem e assim começássemos a jogar como se tivéssemos de descobrir tudo de volta, mas por conta própria, sem outra ajuda senão a nossa curiosidade, nossa habilidade de imaginar apenas o que nosso mirrado entendimento é capaz de açambarcar, além de uma boa pitada de desconfiança no que entendemos quando eventualmente estamos certos demais de havermos entendido? Trata-se apenas de um jogo, evento passageiro após o que todos retornam aos altares.

As vantagens disso? Decerto não muito se comparadas à contínua adoração do eterno e incompreensível ser e à apreciação do que os seus intercessores nos fazem conhecer do que intenta. Mas vez por outra coisas interessantes podem ocorrer, como foi o aparecimento da roda, do ancinho, da lamparina, das edificações, estradas e tudo quanto sirva talvez às nossas vaidade e preguiça somente.

E então? Vamos jogar?

(What if we forget for a while the inside information about the universe that prophets and saints provide and so we start to play as if we had to figure it all back, but on our own, without other help than our curiosity, our ability to imagine just what our shrunken understanding is able to take possession, and a good pinch of distrust in what we understand when we are eventually too sure that we have understood? It's just a game, a passing event after which everyone returns to the altars.

The advantages of this? Certainly not much as compared to the continuous worship of the eternal and incomprehensible being and to the enjoyment of that which its intercessors make us know of its intents. But occasionally interesting things may occur, as was the appearance of the wheel, the rake, the lamp, the buildings, roads and all that might serve to our vanity and laziness only.

So? Let's play?)

sábado, julho 06, 2013

Em que tem de crer

Sim, crê num deus. Não tem escolha sempre que se inteira de ter vindo de alguém e de que estes vieram, por sua vez, de outrem; sempre que se inteira de que tudo parece vir de outra coisa, sem exceção. Em vista disto, arrisca supor que o mundo, em sendo coisas saídas de outras, em algum tempo possuiu coisas primeiras, as quais não foi capaz de imaginar incriadas: assim, visando talvez e somente dissimular para si essa incapacidade, supõe um criador dessas primeiras coisas, mas apenas para se dar conta de agora estar nele a sua ignorância do princípio de tudo. E percebendo que alimentar semelhantes suposições é trilhar caminho sem termo, alentar vertigem sem cura, contenta-se com acreditar ser esse o primeiro a ter criado, o deus.

E então apareces, acoimando-o por achar que o deus em que crê - em que teve de crer - é diferente desse em que crês e que alegas ser único. E lhe demonstras tal singularidade pelos mesmos passos que deu para encontrar esse em que, para conforto de sua ignorância das coisas, teve de crer. E, ora, fossem ainda distintos dos seus os passos que destes para encontrar o teu, é incompreensível que o condenes: pois ou falam do mesmo indivíduo, ou ele não é como o afirmas, único.

No mais, a despeito de tentado, esquiva-se de imaginá-lo como seja para além da unicidade, idéia que acata, embora não veja o por que de a criação não ser obra de muitos: conceber um só, entretanto, é ao menos medida da forçosa economia de uma mente inábil, como a que tem, para com mistérios dessa monta. Dizer mais é enveredar por idéias de que não dá conta, algumas de cujas conclusões, inclusive, desmerecedoras da obra e de quem a fez. Sequer pode mesmo afirmar que não passa esse deus de uma idéia, visto ter sido capaz de conceber um sem número de coisas cujos pares no mundo já deparou e outras que permanecem ímpares. Contenta-se, então, com achar que, se existe, não quer ser conhecido para lá da intuição de que criou e, se proclamou leis, fê-las perceptíveis sem necessidade haver de ser invocado, compreensíveis do próprio entretecer das  coisas. Contenta-se também com se inteirar de teus avanços sobre a natureza divina, não os acatando, no entanto, e espera não vejas nisso igualmente motivo para estranhamento, salvo tenhas gosto por continuar contrariando o que tu próprio afirmas, como dela teres intuído, entre tantas preciosas coisas, a compreensão, a compaixão, a misericórdia.

domingo, junho 23, 2013

... and man started to craft in order to amaze

Keeping in touch with Mr. Finkelman's juicy essay, let's explore another of its suggestions. I guess that the point here is to just show another way of agreeing with the main line of mentioned essay.

I'm not sure that Socrates' dilemma in Euthyphro - is something good because the gods love it or it happens that they love it because it's good? - applies to a monotheistic context like the semitic. Let's keep in mind that the issue in the dialogue comes out of a polytheistic context whose gods usually disagree on matters of ethics. This premise follows Euthyphro's second answer on what's pious (the 'something' of the dilemma), which introduced a hypothetical object, able to please the pantheon as a whole (pious is anything that pleases the gods)... But I believe that there's an additional, hidden premise, obvious in the semitic and not in the Greek context, concerning what is considered to be gods' attributes: if granted, I suppose those attributes - for instance, omnipotence and omniscience - undermine the dilemma by preventing the possibility of existing a goodness to which God should bend himself. This kind of deity does all the job and so he's the creator of the good itself, the only, possible, lovable good. (Augustine and others 'slightly' dissent from this presumption, stating that neither God creates the good, nor He is guided by a sort of transcendental good, but that He's the good itself, uncreated and eternal, a stance that is believed to put the dilemma aside as nonsensical.)

Yes, for the sake of honesty, let's recall that to each step of the Creation the biblical narrator blandly (?) adds God's opinion on His own work, insistently expressed by the word good... Two hypothesis: was He sincerely surprised or was it said just to forewarn us, I mean, to just 'orient' our critical thinking (supposedly foreseen) about his opus? Almost needless to say, if prevails the first hypothesis, there's also no dilemma and God, although a little less than omnipotent, is to be praised for all his goodness, this one tested against a doubtless criteria (a good beyond himself), much more praised than in the previous scenario, whose summum bonum had been dictated by his personal decision.

It's possible that for the old Greek religion, due to the Olympian labor division and the theogonic myths themselves, the problem had a true sense. So, the case seems to be different if the hidden premise is varied to fit the Greek gods' properties, although I'm prone to believe that the dilemma tells more about Socrates' inclinations toward myths than about true theological issues of his time. Anyway, in spite of the great mess around cause and effect, passiveness and activeness in Socrates' argumentation, Greek theology has to endure his conclusion, which states that gods' lovable things are so due to their love for them: again, no dilemma; the divine good is the gods' invention or, else, it is so just because of the gods' love.

But what if the hidden premise is further defaced, like with the Kamchadals, a people reported by Feuerbach in Lectures on the Essence of Religion? Their god, Kutka, deserved just their contempt for being stupid to the point of giving them a cold world, plenty of impassable mountains and bad weather: all this points to a very powerful deity, although not omnipotent and most probably not omniscient too. It's evident that Kutka was indeed in need of a paradigm to the wellness in general and thus the second sentence of the dilemma seems to fit to him (although it is almost completely certain that he didn't even notice that good): then, needless to say, there's also no dilemma.

For obvious reasons, the atheist instance doesn't face the problem.

In the field of art, though not difficult to find works depicting odd morals that challenge any existing codes, I doubt it's possible to an artist to conceive a context completely free from the standards (axioms?) of human ethics, no matter if this is an alien world or a code for robots' behavior. Anyway, as parts of our world, each work of art is indeed a world apart and every bit of it is but a piece of material set in a way to impress its appraisers: a too general concept, for sure, but perhaps the only one that can be figured out in order to harbor so many disparate ways of making those odd constructs molded from anything that can be put together and whose main purpose or final cause is not precisely the good (or some good), but a sort of amazement (Borges used to call it 'asombro'), an amazement that, nonetheless, is also supposed to please, although, I guess, not just to please (here I can't prevent myself from remembering Voltaire's delicious article, in the Encyclopedia, on the 'Beauty')...

It's possible that this last, specific feature gives the authors a sort of impunity to be achieved, if not during their lifetime, surely some time ahead. Sooner or later the appraisers - or perhaps just the criticism - will understand that those sometimes frightening, challenging bits of the world are just art and, while made even from  'crumbs' surrounding their makers, have achieved a kind of dignity that always surpasses a great deal of our still clumsy formulations on the subject. Well, this is a long story we can now venture to call History, a story full of milestones, one of them responding to the name Duchamp, a guy one of whose feats is a public display - in a museum - of a urinal upside down...

"L'auteur, dans son œuvre, doit être comme Dieu dans l'univers, présent partout, et visible nulle part." ("The author, in his work, must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.")

A statement resembling a catchphrase, somewhat obvious, but also intriguing due to Flaubert's choice of the last of godly attributes: no one ever convinced me that omnipresence isn't a true sign of pantheism, while invisibility - as far as I know, never seriously considered by theologians - means God's very solution to keep safe from his creatures, as he can't be anywhere else (are thou ignorant of God's sufferings? - could well ask Boehme). From the point of view of the characters, an author has obviously nothing to fear, and so being invisible and omnipresent has no effect in this instance. But he has to face a different issue, since the work is subsequently and insistently (re)created by its appraisers (another of Borges' statements), who share his 'godly plane' and are prone to plunge themselves into a universe that ultimately comes to life in their own minds. This is why I would slightly amend above maxim: it's to the audience that the author should be invisible.

quinta-feira, junho 20, 2013

Is it bad to be good in art crafting?

Well, Mr. Finkelman, I'm not a native speaker. So, please, exercise your complaisance. The aim here is to state a more or less old fashioned (although not less effective than modern ones, I hope)  aetiology of art in order to add to the understanding of the possibility of being evil through its creation.

Following people like Eliade, we start to understand that not every human being deals or used to deal with knowledge in the way we 'modern westerns' do after the slow but steady shattering of the world conception the early Greeks had. Often called myth, this conception teaches us that knowledge is central as well as always a narrative. In the world of myth art - as we conceive it - was (and somewhere still is) something like our modern technology, I mean, its 'telos' was usually the interaction with the world in order to intervene in it for the sake of obtaining some results (try, among others, some opening pages of Eliade's Myth and Reality). I'd rather amend the last part of the previous statement by adding 'controlled' to 'results'. But it was also close to that we now call 'theory', or description of the world, as there was no distinction between describing the world and interfering with it, some scholars tell us.

Well, from this we can comfortably come to the assumption that art (always 'as we understand it now') has lost its 'telos' or, if not this much, at least a great deal of it. Unless you're still trying to make rain, turn the Sun off and features of the sort by using music, poetry or..., art ('as we...') has its field of action restricted to emotions - or feelings - and, though crafted with signs better read inside one culture, and so be linked to every other aspects of that culture, the supposed objects of art tend to be read by members of any alien cultures without losing its main concept, the one of art: we can say this of music, for even if a funeral march is listened by an alien as a carnival march, it's still music; but we can also say it of the effects of a kabuki play toward us, westerns: there will ever be an action in it, the one we identify as theater, art, then.

This universal meaning embedded in art seems to be one of its inherent features, for if it happens that you fall ill among some natives of the Amazonian Jungle, they will probably use some of their masterpieces to heal you and most possibly you'd be cured (I often recall Eliade saying that he'd never play with some sorcerers). Well, if really pieces of early technology and indeed effective, what the hell is art doing in theaters, galleries and walls instead of pharmacies, hospitals, weather-control centers and so on?

Signs of this ancient use of art appear in Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Politics: they attempt to prescribe music to produce some 'moral' effects on us humans. And far from being arbitrary, those prescriptions seem to be picked from common sense (or from the Pythagoreans - I didn't track their origin).

Nowadays it's rather impossible to find a single artist stuck to a prescription list of the possible effects of some structures in a work, being more likely that these effects are subsumed as arbitrary and, subsequently, unimportant (if ever we are aware or even sure of any effects and have them listed). In fact, no matter the efforts of some past governments to prevent their citizens from watching Pasolini's Salo, or from playing some 'nasty' video-games, surveys couldn't make us sure we become worse or better through them. And as those products aren't canned without a label, users are often pretty aware of what awaits them in their packages: so, it's up to each one's sadism or masochism their use (and I'm not sure that those psychic features are inherently bad, especially from the point of view of their complementarity, if not from their aim: hints below). Finally, we can't forget that the author is in fact the first appraiser of a work: art is at first made for this first user; if someone else dares to use it, this is at his/her own risk.

All this to say that it's more likely that Martin is just an artist and for this reason perhaps immunized - while doing his job - against moral classifications of the type good-evil by our common agreement on the uses of art and - if we're still prone to find the place evil hid itself in this plot - to add some extra hypotheses to the ones mentioned in the essay: what about we start talking on that 'clockwork orange' torture variation and their perpetrators? Are they evil or not? Perhaps just jokers. If so, are jokers evil? Can jokes be good? And what about the screamers? Aren't they enjoying or profiting somehow the scenes (even if eventually covering their eyes)? Let's keep in mind that scares are often prescribed to soothe hiccups.

Hints (not a bad joke - read carefully):

As a matter of fact evil seems to hide in the uses we make of things (among these the ideas) and is solely inferred from the judgments made on these uses. If we closely follow Aristotle's final cause 'axiom', we end up assuming that we're even unable to aim the evil, although someone else's judgment (and hopefully ourselves) could class as evil the remaining causes in the chain we used to attain such good: keeping the style of the Red Wedding audience testers, I invite you to classify the resulting pleasure of an ill-minded terrorist after blowing up a handful of lives: though difficult to admit in this example, pleasure is uncontroversially a sign of good, even to a masochist, for this is what is supposed he/she feels after being mistreated, abused etc. And perhaps considerations of this kind are crucial in reaching a 'bearable' tolerance and a moderate will, not to mention a less pretentious view of freedom: can we be free if unable to aim - or choose - evil as the final cause of all our actions?

quinta-feira, maio 02, 2013

Por que não se descreve

Antes de mais, por não ter a mínima noção de quem seja, coisa que a esmagadora totalidade dos homens crê - ou finge crer - em contrário: em seus auto-retratos figuram sempre como bons ou como se possuindo uma boa razão para o mal existindo em si  (que admitem ser pouco) - esquecendo-se de que por natureza se é bom, a despeito do quanto disso decorra. É evidente, tais representações buscam produzir alguma analogia com os retratados, embora delas resultem dois tipos únicos: o dos bons e o dos justificados. Desnecessário dizer que é mais difícil reconhecer quem posou para as do primeiro do que para as do segundo tipo, ao fim aparecendo todos, sem exceção, como um indivíduo só e uma tênue variação deste. Sem exceção enganam-se, embora cada qual acredite enganar somente aos demais.

Irônico perceber como em poucos pensamentos, acreditando ser impossível ou vão descrever-se, lhe apareciam - como se por absurdo - ao menos dois traços distintivos próprios, exclusivos: o desconhecimento de si, decorrente da incapacidade de admitir-se como realmente é, e a surpreendente sinceridade do saber - e do tolerar esse saber - que todo o tempo se engana, que é hipócrita para consigo, sendo essa, em tese, a verdadeira, a única descrição de um indivíduo por si mesmo, algo como o desdobramento lúcido do 'cogito': sei que sei o que não sou. Lúcido por apontar um conteúdo palpável (a própria singularidade) para o que sabe - pois dizer 'sou quem sabe' ou 'sou porque sei', convenhamos, não é dizer muito: sou quem finge saber quem sou e sei disso - o que na fórmula falta em elegância, sobra em acuidade.

domingo, abril 28, 2013

Por que tem de estar só.

Porque, ora, já lhe basta carregar a própria hipocrisia, a própria impotência para se tornar o indivíduo melhor que entende dever ser. Já lhe basta o incômodo permanente de não encontrar o que as justifique. Daí então a tolerar quem acredita ter as mais justas razões para conservar-se hipócrita e para sequer tentar tornar-se indivíduo melhor, está seguro de o entenderem quando afirma ser isto demais para uma sensibilidade combalida como a sua.

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