This article presents the main features of the work of Domenico Vandelli (1735-1816), an Italian-born man of science who lived a large part of his life in Portugal. Vandelli's scientific interests as a naturalist paved the way to his activities as a reformer and adviser on economic and financial issues. The topics covered in his writings are similar to those discussed by Linnaeus, with whom Vandelli corresponded. They clearly reveal that the scientific preparation indispensable for a better knowledge of (...) natural resources was also a fundamental condition for correctly addressing problems of efficiency in their economic allocation. The key argument put forward in this article is that the relationship between natural history and the agenda for economic reform and development deserves to be further analysed. It is indeed a central element in the emergence of political economy as an autonomous scientific discourse during the last decades of the eighteenth century. (shrink)
In this essay, Domenico Jervolino summarizes twenty years of Ricoeur’s reading of Patočka’s work, up to the Neapolitan conference of 1997. Nowhere is Ricoeur closer to Patočka’s a-subjective phenomenology. Both thinkers belong, together with authors like Merleau-Ponty and Levinas, to a third phase of the phenomenological movement, marked by the search for a new approach to the relation between human beings and world, beyond Husserl and Heidegger. In the search for this approach, Patočka strongly underlines the relation between body, (...) temporality and sociality. Central to this new encounter of Patočka and Ricoeur is the discovery of an idea of inter-human community based on a a-subjective conception of existence. (shrink)
In statistical thermodynamics the 2nd law is properly spelled out in terms of conditioned probabilities. As such it makes the statement, that `entropy increases with time' without preferring a time direction. In this paper we try to explain this statement---which is well known since the time of the Ehrenfests---in some detail within a systematic Bayesian approach.
General Relativity offers the possibility to model attributes of matter, like mass, momentum, angular momentum, spin, chirality etc. from pure space, endowed only with a single field that represents its Riemannian geometry. I review this picture of `Geometrodynamics' and comment on various developments after Einstein.
"Symmetry" was one of the most important methodological themes in 20th-century physics and is probably going to play no lesser role in physics of the 21st century. As used today, there are a variety of interpretations of this term, which differ in meaning as well as their mathematical consequences. Symmetries of crystals, for example, generally express a different kind of invariance than gauge symmetries, though in specific situations the distinctions may become quite subtle. I will review some of the various (...) notions of "symmetry" and highlight some of their uses in specific examples taken from Pauli's scientific oevre. This paper is based on a talk given at the conference "Wolfgang Pauli's Philosophical Ideas and Contemporary Science", May 20.-25. 2007, at Monte Verita, Ascona, Switzerland. (shrink)
The Anderson-Friedman absolute objects program has been a favorite analysis of the substantive general covariance that supposedly characterizes Einstein's General Theory of Relativity (GTR). Absolute objects are the same locally in all models (modulo gauge freedom). Substantive general covariance is the lack of absolute objects. Several counterexamples have been proposed, however, including the Jones-Geroch dust and Torretti constant curvature spaces counterexamples. The Jones-Geroch dust case, ostensibly a false positive, is resolved by noting that holes in the dust in some models (...) ensure that no physically relevant nonvanishing timelike vector field exists there, so no absolute object exists. The Torretti constant curvature spaces case, allegedly a false negative, is resolved by testing an irreducible piece of the metric, the conformal metric density of weight -2/3, for absoluteness; this geometric object is absolute. A new counterexample is proposed involving the orthonormal tetrad said to be necessary to couple spinors to a curved metric. The threat of finding an absolute object in GTR + spinors is overcome by the use of an alternative spinor formalism that takes a symmetric square root of the metric (with the help of the matrix diag(-1,1,1,1)), eliminating 6 of the 16 tetrad components as irrelevant. The importance of eliminating irrelevant structures, as Anderson emphasized, is clear. The importance of the choice of physical fields is also evident. A new counterexample due to Robert Geroch and Domenico Giulini, however, finds an absolute object in vacuum GTR itself, namely the scalar density $g$ given by the metric components' determinant. Thus either the definition of absoluteness or its use to analyze GTR's substantive general covariance is flawed. Anderson's belief that all absolute objects are nonvariational (that is, not varied in a suitable action principle) and vice versa is also falsified by the Geroch-Giulini counterexample. However, it remains plausible that all nonvariational fields are absolute, so adding nonvariationality as a necessary condition for absoluteness, as Hiskes once suggested, would likely leave no useful work to the Anderson-Friedman condition of sameness in all models. Simply having only variational fields in an action principle (suitably free of irrelevant fields) might be a satisfactory analysis of substantive general covariance, if one exists. This proposal also resembles the suggestion that GTR is "already parameterized," if one decides to parameterize theories by defining the nonvariational fields in terms of preferred coordinates called clock fields. More questions need to be addressed. Which fields should be tested for absoluteness: only primitive fields (which ones?), or all or some (which?) of their concomitants also? Geroch observes that some kinds of geometric objects, such as tangent vectors, scalar densities, and tangent vector densities of non-unit weight, satisfy the condition of sameness in all models if they merely fail to vanish. If these "susceptible" geometric objects can hardly help being absolute, to what degree are they, or the theories harboring them, responsible for this absoluteness? The answer to this question helps to determine the significance of the Geroch-Giulini counterexample. (shrink)
I invesigate the question of existence and uniqueness of simultaneity structures in spacetimes whose automorphism group, Aut, is either the inhomogeneous proper orthochronous Galilei or Lorentz group. An absolute simultaneity structure is defined as Aut-invariant equivalence relation whose equivalence classes are acausal sets. It is unique for Galilean and non-existent for Lorentzian spacetimes. Simultaneity relative to some additional structure X on spacetime is defined analogously, where Aut is now replaced with the stabilizer subgroup of X in Aut. It turns out (...) that Einsteinian simultaneity is unique if X is an inertial frame (foliation by timelike straight lines). Finally I discuss the relation to work of others. (shrink)
The standard view of classical cognitive science stated that cognition consists in the manipulation of language-like structures according to formal rules. Since cognition is ‘linguistic’ in itself, according to this view language is just a complex communication system and does not influence cognitive processes in any substantial way. This view has been criticized from several perspectives and a new framework (Embodied Cognition) has emerged that considers cognitive processes as non-symbolic and heavily dependent on the dynamical interactions between the cognitive system (...) and its environment. But notwithstanding the successes of the embodied cognitive science in explaining low-level cognitive behaviors, it is still not clear whether and how it can scale up for explaining high-level cognition. In this paper we argue that this can be done by considering the role of language as a cognitive tool: i.e. how language transforms basic cognitive functions in the high-level functions that are characteristic of human cognition. In order to do that, we review some computational models that substantiate this view with respect to categorization and memory. Since these models are based on a very rudimentary form of non-syntactic ‘language’ we argue that the use of language as a cognitive tool might have been an early discovery in hominid evolution, and might have played a substantial role in the evolution of language itself. (shrink)
This paper dialogues with the contributions included in Francesco Fiorentino and Domenico Firomonte’s edited volumes and Massimo Riva’s book from the point of view of feminist literary criticism. This diverse positioning in relation to the work of women writers has allowed feminist criticism to develop a path that has deconstructed the Italian literary canon and the promotion of critical stances that are no longer abstract or monologic, but rather situated in the point of view of the subject and its (...) relational component. Works by Italian women writers present themselves as a body of texts of high material density that transfer questions of textual mobility both within digital and print culture onto the subject and its style of enunciation. L’intervento dialoga con i contributi dei volumi a cura di Francesco Fiorentino e Domenico Fiormonte e con il libro di Massimo Riva a partire dall’esperienza della critica letteraria femminista italiana. Il suo diverso posizionamento rispetto alle opere delle scrittrici ha permesso l’articolarsi di un percorso che ha decostruito il canone della tradizione letteraria italiana e l’affermarsi di posizioni critiche non più astratte e monologiche, ma situate a partire dal soggetto e dalla sua componente relazionale. Le opere delle scrittrici italiane si rappresentano infatti come un corpo testuale dall’alta densità materica, che sposta sul soggetto e sul suo stile dell’enunciazione le questioni di mobilità del testo, sia esso virtuale o cartaceo. (shrink)
We characterize the collapse of Buss' bounded arithmetic in terms of the provable collapse of the polynomial time hierarchy. We include also some general model-theoretical investigations on fragments of bounded arithmetic.
: Numerical tables are important objects of study in a range of fields, yet they have been largely ignored by historians of science. This paper contrasts and compares ways in which numerical tables were used by Galileo and Mersenne, especially in the Dialogo and Harmonie Universelle. I argue that Galileo and Mersenne used tables in radically different ways, though rarely to present experimental data. Galileo relied on tables in his work on error theory in day three of the Dialogo and (...) also used them in a very different setting in the last day of the Discorsi. In Mersenne's case they represent an important but so far unrecognized feature of his notion of universal harmony. I conclude by presenting a classification of different ways in which tables were used within the well-defined disciplinary and temporal boundaries of my research. In doing so, however, I provide a useful tool for extending similar investigations to broader domains. (shrink)
Highlights of this volume from the 2004 Annual European Meeting of the Association for Symbolic Logic (ASL) include a tutorial survey of the recent highpoints of universal algebra, written by a leading expert; explorations of foundational questions; a quartet of model theory papers giving an excellent reflection of current work in model theory, from the most abstract aspect "abstract elementary classes" to issues around p-adic integration.