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12:35 AM
30m to go! :)
1
Q: Philosophy Question Challenge: Ethics

Joseph WeissmanIt's time for the second in an ongoing series of question challenges! Please consider joining us for a midweek roundtable to share ideas. Background ethics, with 392 questions, is one of our community's strongest subject areas overall, although it remains a distant second to the behemoth logic ...

 
12:58 AM
A few minutes and change to go.
I don't really have much of an agenda or anything besides just opening the floor for discussion on the weekly theme
It will probably take some time to build interest in the challenges and especially these chats -- though there has been a lot of activity around , but it's kind of hard to separate the challenge out from such a popular subject
Anyway, I'll just leave the floor pretty open for the next hour or so. --But of course I would be curious if you have ideas for applied ethics questions...
So welcome to the first of hopefully a series of weekly discussions!
 
Hi... Just dropped in because I discovered your twitter account and realized you were interested in the connection between fractals and philosophy.
 
Hey there @ChrisSunami, I think you were the only other registrant :)
Oh nice! So it's you!
Yeah! Really just a general interest in complex systems, though of course fractals are beautiful...
 
I've been deeply into chaos for nearly 25 years now, and fractal geometry underlies a lot of my philosophical concepts
I used to run a site called Fractal Metaphysics, but it ended up being too fringe-y
 
Oh, interesting
Yes, it is difficult to separate the signal from the noise
 
I've always been surprised more people haven't drawn the connections.
Tell me a little more about Fractal Ontology and what that term means to you...
 
1:07 AM
It was difficult enough for Mandelbrot to convince mathematicians it was even maths... :)
 
the sign of being ahead of your times I suppose...
 
Well, Guattari uses the phrase somewhere, I think that's where I'd go trying to explain it point blank
> But he [Lacan] did not realize the consequences of his rupture with Freudian determinism, and didn’t appropriately situate “desiring machines” — whose theory he had iniated — within incorporeal fields of virtuality. This object-subject of desire, like strange attractors in chaos theory, serves as an anchorage point with a phase space (here, a universe of reference) without ever being identical to itself, in permanent flight on a fractal line.
> In this respect it is not only fractal geometry that must be invoked, but fractal ontology. It is the being itself which transforms, buds, and transfigures itself. The objects of art and desire are apprehended within the existential Territories which are at the same time the body proper, the self, the maternal body, lived space, refrains of the mother tongue, familiar faces, family lore, ethnicity… No existential approach has priority over another.
> Thus it’s not a question of a causal infrastructure and of a superstructure representative of the psyche, or of a world separated from sublimation. The flesh of sensation and the material of the sublime are inextricably interwoven. Relationship to the other does not proceed through identification with a preexisting icon, inherent to each individual. The image is carried by a becoming other, ramified in becoming animal, becoming plant, becoming machine and, on occasion, becoming human.
That's from Chaosmosis
 
Interesting... never heard of the author or the work, I
I'll have to try to obtain a copy
Is it recent?
 
70s! :)
 
I suppose that's recent, philosophically speaking
 
1:10 AM
I guess Chaosmosis might've been 80s already
Felix Guattari
Indiana University Press

Guattari's final book is a succinct summary of his socio-philosophical outlook. It includes critical reflections on Lacanian psychoanalysis, structuralism, information theory, postmodernism, and the thought of Heidegger, Bakhtin, Barthes, and others.
Yeah, it's the last book
At least singly-authored; I wonder if What is Philosophy? was finished later
So actually mid-nineties
 
I actually know very little about recent philosophy... the little I've read hasn't inspired me to read much more
 
Very recent, in the geological scales of philosophy :)
 
I will definitely try to find a copy
 
There's also some fractal material in A Thousand Plateaus
 
just wondered if it was around back when I was doing the site... I had tried to find what was around, but the web was much less extensive in those days.
same author?
 
1:12 AM
Well, Deleuze + Guattari
 
Very interesting. And what in the idea of fractal ontology speaks to you?
 
They're concerned with "smooth" spaces
 
yes?
 
Well, fractals present mathematics with a new theory of "roughness" of curves or planes
It's something that proved very difficult to speak about, very alien to our way of thinking about geometries -- the fractional number of dimensions which defines them
 
yes very non Euclidian
so what does that mean to you vis a vis your philosophy
 
1:16 AM
In ATP they emphasize that fractals are also "real" forms -- Brownian motion and turbulence, the sky
Not merely these abstract spaces or curves, punctured pure volumes and monstrous snowflakes
 
yes, far from being hypothetical fantasies, they are the very stuff of life itself
lungs, veins, riverbeds
ferns, trees, the patterns on a mollusk shell
 
Exactly! D+G say it provides a "general determination" for smooth space
 
hmmm, I might have to see that in context to get more of a sense of what they mean by that...
 
Well, a determination of smooth space in terms of its relationships to 'striated' or metric space
But yes, it is a bit out of context, it's p. 486-8 of this edition
At any rate. Chaos is definitely interesting.
Hey there, @ArtemKaznatcheev :)
 
So setting up a dialectic between the natural and the man made geometries perhaps?
 
1:22 AM
I didn't know you guys had an active third space @JosephWeissman
 
@ArtemKaznatcheev sometimes! :)
 
@JosephWeissman That's interesting. I will try to drop by more often. I am used to the third space being dead on most SEs
 
@ChrisSunami Yes, perhaps; but I think it's just an interesting "metamodel" for them; it motivates a theory of fuzzy aggregates and smooth, amorphous spaces "constituted by an accumulation of proximities"
 
Hello @ArtemKaznatcheev this is my first time in the phil chat
 
@ChrisSunami me too. Unfortunately I am not a very active participant on Phil.SE in general :(.
 
1:25 AM
my interest has tended more to the practical applications of fractal geometry in the philosophical realm
 
@ChrisSunami what does that entail?
 
consider the fractal nature of Plato's Republic --the soul of each republican is constituted as is the city as a whole
the whole is contained in the part, just as in Sierpinski's gasket
 
sure, the golden ratio is important conceptually here too
(the lesser is to the greater, as the greater is to the whole)
 
Or consider the iterated fractal method of generating fractal images.
 
@ChrisSunami the microcosm is fractal on at least three planes, I was thinking about this earlier in chat -- the soul, the household, the city
 
1:28 AM
Given a consistent set of rules, even when one randomly chooses among them, the same overall shape inevitably emerges
 
Yes, exactly. For Plato everything good is constituted in the same way at every level of scale.
As far as the IFS system, I see implications for ethics
 
Really?
 
If you consistently ask the right moral questions, it may not matter, over the long term, what the answers are.... IFS
 
I'm not sure I follow? --Do you mean that decisions involve micro-decisions or something...?
 
1:31 AM
Sorry, I can get a little elliptical...
first, are you familiar with IFS? It's the technique where the fractal shape emerges from a cloud of randomly selected points
 
@JosephWeissman where does the household come in for Plato? Also, you forgot the universe for a level. The soul is structured in similar way to the universe as a whole for Plato and many of the pre-Socratics.
 
@ArtemKaznatcheev that's right
I was going to mention that, that all the planes are "cosmoses" or orderly systems in their own right, and that the Universe was also such a system...
Well, the basic division is something like -- psyche, oikos, polis (soul, household, city)
 
@ArtemKaznatcheev exactly. In fact the relationship of the soul to the city is really there as a model for understanding that the universe is composed the same way
 
Oikos has the same root that we get economics, etc., from; to my mind this points to the role that importance that discussion of different roles in the city plays in the Socratic dialogues (the tradesmen and politicians and artisans, etc., etc)
 
@JosephWeissman I was checking out your blog. Can you recommend a representative post to look at to see if it is of interest to me? I am having a hard time navigating from your front-page of just images.
 
1:35 AM
Hmm, the topmost post might be interesting? --It's one of my most structured pieces recently (text of a paper given at a conf.)
 
I like the picture of the broccoflower --one of the most striking natural fractals...
 
Yeah! About revolution and technology.
@ChrisSunami I still want to understand this point about fractal ethics
@ChrisSunami I do know about iterated fractal systems :)
 
OK good that helps a lot
 
So -- the point being that moral truths are something like strange attractors in the field of actions?
Maybe that's uncharitable
 
1:41 AM
no, that's a reasonable first pass
However not moral truths per se but ethical questions
A limited set of well-selected ethical questions can guide the moral development of a community, regardless of how the questions are answered
 
Hmmm, I wonder about these "ethical questions" :)
Aren't the "solutions" arrived at just pale doubles of these questions, in that case; if they are so determinative?
 
The ones I use are more like frames of reference -- Universal, personal, social
Is this right universally? Is this right for me? Is this right for society?
 
Well, I mean, the ordering of the questions is almost half the point :)
It's the difference between left and right, I mean to say
 
Yes, if you always take them in the same order you get more of a Platonic system which is self similar, but doesn't have a complex structure
 
The ordering of scales is the question I mean to say
Whether you write your address starting from the universe or yourself
If that makes sense :)
 
1:46 AM
I think that's the difference between a classical model and a fractal one. In the classical model, it's the order that is important
the direction
from the universal to the personal or vice versa
 
The fractal ethics seems to point to something scale-free about ethical decisions, but I wonder if we can avoid this directionality, this turbulent flow...
Or rather what it means to stand beyond, above it; according to some "higher" politics
 
I think that's a good point. In the fractal model, something does not transition from wrong to right just by shifting the scale
I often think that was Marx's key mistake
to think that the large scale violence of a revolution was nobler than the small scale violence of one person against another
 
Well, I mean -- in passing, I guess -- I think it makes sense to separate revolutionary openings and their consequences (that is: the way established powers shut it back down...)
There's kind of interesting philosophy of history question about this, revolutionary enthusiasm, the effect on spectators to see revolutionary outbursts
 
Well, in the classical model, you expect to see different behaviors at different levels of scale. But in the fractal model, if it doesn't work on the person to person level, it won't work on the society to society level either
obviously neither viewpoint is completely correct
 
I mean, I'm not sure how much it makes sense to conflate them
Unless we can demonstrate something scale-free, I guess
 
1:54 AM
yes. that's been my project for the last several years
 
(Always interesting to me that Plato had a kind of mathematical cosmogony -- everything is tiny triangles...)
@ChrisSunami Geometry of morals? :)
 
originally it was a hypothetical, but it seemed that it might be easier to do it than explain it
yes, exactly. I've been looking at ways to actualize it
The current attempt is an art contest focused around groups with a commitment to the community
 
the theory is that if it can work on the local scale, it can be scaled progressively up to the international scale without losing its base characteristics
it's a little early yet to know if it will pan out... we did the first change of scale this year and it wasn't without some big challenges
 
Tomorrow, the World! is a 1944 black-and-white motion picture starring Fredric March, Betty Field, and Agnes Moorehead, about a young German boy who had been active in the Hitler youth who comes to live with his uncle in the United States, who tries to teach him to reject Nazism. The film, directed by Leslie Fenton, was based on the successful 1943 Broadway play of the same name. The title comes from Hitler's famous threat: "Today, Germany; tomorrow, the world." == Background == The play Tomorrow, the World opened on Broadway in New York City, New York, USA on 14 April 1943 and closed 17 June 1944...
 
1:58 AM
:)
 
Sorry, that was a little darker than intended :)
It is always interesting to see how systems adapt to step changes
 
Yes. I'm more of a theoretician than a practitioner by nature, but one does what one must
at least if you have a existential outlook you do
 
Fail again, fail better? :)
 
I should probably go offline soon but I'd like to stay in touch. I've run across almost no other people who share a background in both philosophy and chaos theory
 
Definitely! Sounds great, good luck with your work
 
2:02 AM
I thought my email was listed on my profile here, but I think it only displays to me... unless you can see it as a moderator?
 
@ChrisSunami he can't use what he sees as a moderator for personal contact.
@ChrisSunami you will have to email him directly
 
ah. Well it's chris with the domain being kitoba.com
the blog is popculturephilosopher.com although that's a recent relaunch, with very little of my older material
none of the fractal stuff --the explicitly fractal stuff, that is
 
I'll take a look! (My public email should not be too hard to find)
 
I didn't see it on your website, but maybe I didn't look hard enough
at any rate, if you want to contact me, you now know how
I enjoyed the conversation tonight
 
Likewise!!
 
2:07 AM
and I'm now following you on twitter
by the next time we speak, I hope to have read the Guattari
is this chat weekly?
 

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