Second order con-science

Weathermen of knowledge

November 11th, 2006

I have just attended a mini-conference on truth and knowledge, organized by Manfred Füllsack. Well, you know, it doesn’t take a bunch of acknowledged experts to make you know what you do not know, but then it certainly helps in some way or other.

You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows
— Bob Dylan

In fact, I am still pondering over what I have actually been listening to. When someone articulates the need to distinguish tacit and articulated knowledge is this distinction nevertheless articulated, or is it meant to provoke the question which particular tacit knowledge it takes to draw the distinction?

Or, have I simply missed the speakers blink their Epimenidic eyes?

When Herbert Hrachovec compared the truth of knowledge with the expiry date of food might it be that the truth of his comparison had already expired at the time it has reached the audience? Thomas Auinger said this is not an issue of relativism. Quoting him: “Hier gibt es kein Relativierungsproblem.” Besides me wondering about what he was relating to, he might have been right about it if we consider the fact that the word “Relativierungsproblem” pretty much only came into existence when he used it. Or, was Herbert Hrachovec right when Thomas Auinger’s truth expired?

Of course, it’s all a question of definitions, isn’t it? (I love it!)
We have covered disfinism earlier here: The pure disfinism (of no definitions) and the eclectic disfinism (of a great many definitions). I should further extend the concept of disfinism by implicit disfinism.

Implicit disfinism is the science (or art — if you want — unless you define it) of discussing theories which try to explain the nature and scope of specific notions by use of the notions themselves without ever defining them. The little conference serves as a particularly nice example where several theories of epistemology (that’s theories of theories of knowledge) have been debated including plenty of references to truth and knowledge, shamelessly avoiding their definitions.

Thanks, guys!

Claiming responsibility

November 4th, 2006

The following took place in the context of a lecture series on human ecology. One evening, after talks a speaker and friend of mine asked me how I perceive the lectures. I answered that I am thinking about responsibility. Next she wanted to know what were the results of my thinkings. I said: Responsibility.

By then we had reached the building’s exit door. She said bye, and off she was.


Everything you know is wrong

October 11th, 2006

If you have ever doubted the usability of a liar’s typical statement “everything you know is wrong” apparently suits well as catchline for a book about disinformation. And You are being lied to is of course the truth of another book, isn’t it?

Even when the title becomes more specific like in Everything you know about sex is wrong it’s no less of a truth as any self-contradictory statement.

Don’t forget:
Everything you know about blogging and me is wrong. This in particular.

“I am not absolutely sure of anything”

September 24th, 2006

You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here… I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell. It doesn’t frighten me.

Richard P. Feynman, from a transcript of BBC television program Horizon in 1981. To be found in Jeffrey Robbins (ed.): The Pleasure of Finding things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman. Allen Lane 2000. Also in: James Gleick: Genius: Life & Science of Richard Feynman. Pantheon 1992.

Dropping Knowledge

September 7th, 2006

Can a single question make change? Ask yourself!
dropping knowledge, 2006-09-07

On 2006-09-09, dropping knowledge shall bring together some 100 people from all over the world to “engage in the most pressing questions of our age”. Their answers shall be recorded, and they may become seeds of a new “knowledge portal and dialog platform” starting 2006-09-10.

Here are some of the questions which have been submitted and which are likely to be discussed:

  • Is resistance a new form of revolution? Between non-violent resistance and armed struggle where do we go? What is effective? What is the right thing to do? Or do we need a biodiversity of resistance? Is change possible without violence?
  • What is worse, death or everlasting silence and solitude?
  • Is sustainability a luxury of the developed world?
  • What is the most important unreported story?
  • Can the world ever agree on the meaning and implementation of democracy?
  • Are we ready to change anything in case we get answers to our questions?
  • Do you think anything will change by donating questions here?
  • Why do human beings agree to evil?
  • What is God’s religion?
  • Permaculture has solved sustainability, Moshé Feldenkrais has solved the physical problems of the human body, Krishnamurti has solved wisdom, what problems doesn’t the planet know how to solve?
  • What does every human being on this planet agree on?
  • What is the global definition of freedom?
  • Why am I me and not you?
  • Is there at least one basic truth, we all can agree on?
  • What is consciousness and how do we observe the observer?
  • Do you trust your government?
  • Why don’t you do something?
  • How can consciousness be increased in the world?
  • How can we discuss global problems even when we are not able to solve our local ones?
  • How does any of this affect me?
  • Why do we believe mankind is something apart from nature, and therefore, not bound by its laws?

Hugh MacLeod provides us with a first pretty ingenious answer: The untitled pyramid.

Hope for sustainability

August 31st, 2006

Sustainability is everywhere. Like viability it is a static concept of concepts, ever changing views, values, and notions. No living system, that is no autopoietic system, has ever been or is unsustainable unless one calls the living dead.

Why am I adding my skeptical bits? Asking why is the quest for criteria, and vice versa, whenever one is applied we cannot but take sides. For then being asked to justify our appropriation, reason and cause shall even up the actual impudence, or exorbitance. Choose yourself.

What makes me hope are the many paradoxical aspects of Sustainable Development. And some researchers are well aware of them. What are we missing? Might the paradoxes seen in Sustainable Development blind out the paradoxes of life itself? Please, sustain paradoxes.

Speaking of autopoietic systems the code of sustainability, this ultimate criterion, is sustainability itself. In order for sustainability to sustain it needs to incorporate change (contrary to its ongoing externalization). Indicators indicate, criteria of sustainability decide. Each and everything considered unsustainable shall be cut off. The price of precious diversity.

Oh, the pleasures of ethical concepts.
Pregnancy of a fucked up mind.
Bound to sustain.


August 10th, 2006

I am afraid people engaged in sustainable development are seriously endeavored to sustain sustainability; sustainability of themselves.

A liar who knows nothing

August 6th, 2006

Truth and knowledge often enter the arena hand in hand. Knowledge being honored if true, truth being more valued if known.

Imagine Socrates were living in Crete. Say, being Epimenides‘ brother. A liar saying he knows nothing but the fact of his ignorance. The Honorable Chief Judge Aristotle, as yesterday so today, might have had him burn at the stake much earlier.

In some languages a double negative resolves to a negative, while in others it resolves to a positive. (Wikipedia, as of 2006-08-06)

Let’s try this. Do the following resolve to a negative or to a positive?

  • I can’t get no satisfaction.
  • But never do what you are not told.
  • He doesn’t know nothing ’bout no knowin.
  • Though, she does not know her ignorance.
  • Anyway, no words ought not to be trusted.

It’s a weird thing.

I am glad I am a liar who knows nothing save that there is more to know than knowledge. Now, go ahead, sue me!