Two continents. Three countries. Mountains, archipelago, a little red dot & more to come. BERIT SOLI-HOLT (Editor): When I think of introductory material, I think of that Derrida documentary when he is asked about what he would like to know about other philosophers. He simply states: their love life. APRIL VANNINI (Editor): And as far as introductions go, I think Derrida brought forth a fruitful discussion on philosophy and thinking with this statement. First, he allows philosophy to open up the (...) personal and second, the ability to conjure the notion of thinking in relation. After all, love lives are spawned from relations, and such are philosophical encounters—the co-emergence of thought and affect. This brings us to discuss the concept of the special issue of continent. called drift . From the Statement of Intent : The discussion that has become drift , a special issue of continent. began in the glow of a bonfire beside a lake near the Thousand Islands of Ontario when co-founders April and Berit came across a conception of a journal that would decline to follow traditional models of invitation and editorship, instead following a generated discourse through relational means. Shedding preemptive articulation of expected outcome and cohesion, we hope to light a fuse of chain interactions with each contributor active in authorial, editorial, and curatorial roles. drift seeks to allow the framing mechanism to choose itself, to find where something can flow or emerge in relation to a series of participants. By setting out a thread of thought to work its own way through writers and artists of various locations, drift operates through links, breaks, pauses, new directions, unintended consequences, twists, holes, bridges. We are attempting to give the scene for an emergence and what can become conceivable when given the opportunity to create chains of thought—linking, welding, fusing, looping, stitching. We hope to explore what is attainable when scholarly/artistic relationships transverse on their own terms instead of articulated by an institutional environment. JEREMY FERNANDO (Guest Editor): I think he was actually more interested in their sex lives. Though at the same time completely refusing to discuss, disclose, his own: I found it rather touching that he blushes whenever speaking of his life with Marguerite. So perhaps in this sense it is very apt to speak of it in terms of love; and the secret that is in each love: that even though it is a relationality between, there are parts of it that remain hidden, not just from everyone else, but even those in that relation itself. What the editors intend to ^do^ to impart this conceptualization is to provide a framework through the choice of a theme and by minimal standardization of form and content guidelines. As initial instigator, each editor will send their contribution to the issue to a fellow colleague, thinker, artist, friend with the invitation to send (via post) the accruing materials to another possible contributor. In this, we hope to engage with many individuals on ideas surrounding a specific theme determined but not limited by the editors of the drift . The end result will take the form of whatever is at hand (as materials can only stay with each contributor for two weeks) and whomever is at hand (the availability of interested and capable parties) through a course of five months. We are curious. What are the ways in which thought can emerge between individuals and places? What occurs when our fundamental mode of inquiry is between each other? How are ethical, social, spacious, political, aesthetic practices created between a chain of contributors. BSH: To introduce what to look forward to in June with the publication of drift isn't quite possible yet. It is in the stages of preparation, barely started, but already begun. I have been thinking about drift as an insect that goes through life cycles, chrysalises, pupas, larva. Each moment of the production and publication of this issue of continent. is its own life. A bug under a pin is not as interesting as one in flight or crawling up your leg. JF: Though the one crawling up your leg is also more likely to bite you. There is always already a danger in letting be, thinking …. Then again, there is also a potential rupture in attempting to seize, pin down, capture. BSH: I think a word we haven't thought about enough yet is capture. I think we are perhaps trying to capture something, or to allow for the moments of this capture along the way, the resulting material being the ripples left in the sand when the water waves away. AV: This question comes to mind when speaking about captures, waves, ripples: How can we activate a ripple? What I find interesting about a wave is the difference in frequencies, movements, forms, style that are activated in between intervals. What is interesting about a wave is that it is activated in relation to what came before. What remains in the sand is a ripple that forms in relation between multiple intervals of stylistic waves. As Deleuze and Parnet have taught us, "We were only two, but what was important for us was less our working together than this strange fact of working between the two of us. We stopped being 'author'. And these 'between-the-twos' referred back to other people, who were different on one side from the other. The desert expanded, but in so doing became more populous." 1 Drift is activation for thinking-with and possibly much more—who knows? There is the intent to subvert the relational qualities between people in journal publishing, but also important to the editors is the subversion of materials. The editors do not shy away from use of contemporary technology and, in fact, have relied and will continue to rely on the wonders of internet connectivity to midwife the drift. The connective infrastructure chosen to relay the developing issue is simply one of bodies, of postal workers and the varying postal systems. Some may find it to be merely be a call of an already dying form, but the editors believe that the conversation exchanged from hand to hand is of explicit difference in quality of engagement due to the complexity of peripheral information transported by physical matter. Different hospitalities and responsibilities are at play in keeping hold of one-of-a-kind materials for a time and entrusting various postal systems to bear the message forward. To have work physically transported through space and time through this kind of infrastructure that is reliant on individuals to literally carry a message is crucial in incorporating traces of bodily presence. AV: Thought is contingent and emergent process that folds, twists, pulls, shifts in multiple directions and we are interested in these multiple directions. JF: And even as thought is contingent on, hinged around, its place, time, venue—on its continents, as it were (we still tend to speak of gestures of thinking as Continental, British, American, European, Asian, etc.)—we might also attempt to respond to the landscape within each thought: its folds, unfoldings, rolls, manoeuvres, geography. BSH: How different is this than Morelli's screw that Julio Cortazar or Horacio Oliveira recounts in Hopscotch? The fable recalls a man who regarded a screw everyday on his stoop. When he perishes, the screw disappears, perhaps into a fellow neighbor's pocket for secret contemplation. Whoever is writing the passage remarks that "Morelli thought that the screw must have been something else, a god or something like that. Too easy a solution. Perhaps the error was in accepting the fact that the object was a screw simply because it was shaped like a screw." JF: Perhaps even more intriguing is the notion that we do not quite know who is inscribing these remarks on Morelli. That even as someone says that it is a screw, perhaps because it is shaped like a screw, the one who names it “screw”—the one whom we are in a relation with in relation to the screw—remains veiled from us. But even as this is so, the notion of the object as “screw” is marked, etched, onto us. BSH: A periodical, marking a period of time, but where? An issue, a magazine, a storehouse of information. To show the remainders of thinkers connecting and surfing. With all this stated, we, as editors of the drift are aware of the active fault, quaking potential, and ethical catastrophe of such a proposed project — the inheritance or the gifting of a project without consent. We are certain that there may be possible oversight on the process of such a project. If such is the case, we hope that oversight and misdirection will not leave this project dormant but rather open up promising new directions, questions, and potential considerations. We are very excited about the accidental propositions that can occur in between. In sum, we'll see what happens. JF: Perhaps, all we can know of the screw is that we are screwed ... NOTE Gilles Deleuze & Claire Parnet. Dialogues II . Revised edition. (New York: Columbia University Press). 2007: 17. (shrink)
This piece, included in the drift special issue of continent. , was created as one step in a thread of inquiry. While each of the contributions to drift stand on their own, the project was an attempt to follow a line of theoretical inquiry as it passed through time and the postal service(s) from October 2012 until May 2013. This issue hosts two threads: between space & place and between intention & attention . The editors recommend that to experience the (...) drifiting thought that attention be paid to the contributions as they entered into conversation one after another. This particular piece is from the BETWEEN INTENTION & ATTENTION thread: Jeremy Fernando, Sitting in the Dock of the bay, watching... * R.H. Jackson, Reading Eyes * Gina Rae Foster, Nyctoleptic Nomadism: The Drift/Swerve of Knowing * Bronwyn Lay, Driftwood * Patricia Reed, Sentences on Drifitng * David Prater, drift: a way * * * * "… to sleep perchance to dream " 1 To dream: to be not quite asleep, yet not particularly awake. Or, rather: to be awake but not quite know it. For, it is only when we dream, when we are dreaming, that we know that we are not in that final sleep. But we can only know that we are dreaming, that we have dreamt, when we are awake, when we have awoken; after it is too late. When all we know is that the sleep beyond finitude, the sleep that is the step beyond, is not yet upon us, is only to come. To die to sleep … To dream: a sleep that refuses sleep. Perchance to dream: to drift—between sleep and sleep. Aye there's the rub For, can we even know if we have been sleeping? Or, if death has claimed us?—even if a little death. α Ω α Ω α Ω To drift: but from, to, what? For, to drift implies a certain direction that one was headed from, heading to, headed for; without these indications, markers, points in relation with each other, one would just be moving. Can one know—intend—one's drift? Certainly a stunt driver would say so. But even as (s)he is starting her slide, all that (s)he can know is that she is setting the car, herself, the car with herself in it, in motion: after which the drift itself takes over. After which, all (s)he can do is attend to it. At the point of the drift: both (s)he and the car are drifting—here, one might not even be able to separate the movement from those involved in it. Without either of them, there would not be a drift; there is no drifting without the drifter. Both the drifter and the drifting are in a relationality; in which, all that they can know is that they are in relation with each other. Hence, the drift itself is a relationality. A non-essence. But, it is not as if we cannot speak of it. Perhaps though: we can only speak of it as if we can speak of it. Always already an imaginary gesture; where what is being imagined is the relationality between the drift and the ones drifting. Thus, we have a situation where the drifter and drifting are in a relationality; where relationality itself is what is being imagined. Perhaps then, what are we drifting from, to? , is a moot question. As is, what is drifting? Perhaps then, all we can say is drift? To speak of drift is an attempt to speak of the unspeakable. Not that what is speakable and what is unspeakable are antonyms: if that were so, speaking the unspeakable would make no sense, be a contradiction. But that in every act of speaking, something unspeakable is potentially said: something that opens, ruptures, wounds even. And not just that—at the point where it punctures, speaking itself moves out of the way for the unspeakable; speaking itself disappears. "… the whole art is to know how to disappear before dying, and instead of dying. " 2 To disappear; or, to drift out of sight. Where the words themselves slip away. After all: "in the Beginning was the Word. It was only afterwards that Silence came." Perhaps the wish, the hope, is that "the end itself has disappeared …" (Baudrillard, 70) Remaining hidden from us. Perhaps only glimpsed when we dream. Secret. α Ω α Ω α Ω " Bury all your secrets in my skin " (Corey Taylor) Which is the problem: words cling. And they remain. Perhaps not ontologically; but they certainly remain to haunt us. And here, we should not forget Lucretius' lesson that communication occurs in the skin between the parties in communion with each other. Which is not to say that the encounter is determined by atoms—and more precisely atoms that move in straight lines until they collide with each other—that communication is pre-determined. For, one must not forget that will is found, discovered, enacted even, at the moment the atoms swerve. Clinamen . Drift. But even in their movement—drifting—they trace themselves into the skin between; a tangential touching. Perhaps only briefly. But even then, enough … "… there's always texture that betrays the place." (May Ee Wong) Here though, one must not forget that betrayal cannot happen in the absence of love. In fact, betrayal is the very excess of love: where one loves the other so much that one can no longer bear to see the other drift from what (s)he could have been. Whether that idealised other exists or is only in one's head is another question altogether. Perhaps, a fetishised other: keeping in mind that "fetishes are hinged around simulation." After all, "when one is supposed to show up as an oil rig diver no one is expecting actual crude oil" (Amanda Sordes); in fact, actualisation is the perfect way to destroy the fantasy. Perhaps then, the only way to maintain love for another is to maintain a proper distance, as it were, from love: allow the love to constantly alter, change. And here, one must not forget that if love is a relationality between one and another who remains wholly other (otherwise just a mere manifestation of the self), love is a relationality that knows nothing except for the fact that it is in a relation. For, to love one has to attend to—without subsuming another, some other, under oneself. Which means that to love, one has to be willing to risk, to open oneself, to allow oneself to be wounded, torn apart. In new ways, ways that we have yet to understand, come across, ways we do not yet have a name for. Thus, this movement in love is one that occurs in utter blindness; to not only the other, but to what love is. This is love as pure drifting. Perhaps always searching for love itself, without ever knowing what it is that it is looking for. Love: only at the very moment when the word love itself disappears. Perhaps all we can do is sit, and attend: watching the tides flowing away—as if they were having their "last swim of the summer." (Hendrik Speck) Like a butterfly. α Ω α Ω α Ω Isn't it quite amazing how the appearance of a butterfly can inject a stutter or pause into any conversation? Words and words pour out of the animals in assembly, before they are all of a sudden arrested by the passing flight. Heads turn to trace a lilting poetics, attempting to close the distance with this seemingly awkward beauty. There are no straight lines here, only a relative arrival and departure to bracket a brilliant and bewildering trajectory, surging and lurching in a vibrating and nomadic line avant la lettre. (Sean Smith, 'I Seek You: Countdown to Stereoscopic Tear') Before the letter. Before the possibility of naming. Before being sayable. Quite possibly also before language. And yet, a "surging and lurching," a movement with an effect—"vibrating and nomadic"—tracing itself before there is even anything to trace. Leaving something, even if that thing remains unknowable, for us to attend to. Drifting into us. I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee..." (Carly Simon) NOTES William Shakespeare, Hamlet , Act 3 Scene 1. Jean Baudrillard, Why hasn't everything already disappeared? , 25.  . (shrink)
A survey was conducted to investigate the relationship of Australian consumers’ lived (experienced) spiritual well-being and materialism with the various dimensions of consumer ethics. Spiritual well-being is composed of four domains—personal, communal, transcendental and environmental well-being. All four domains were examined in relation to the various dimensions of consumers’ ethical beliefs (active/illegal dimension, passive dimension, active/legal dimension, ‘no harm, no foul’ dimension and ‘doing good’/recycling dimension). The results indicated that lived communal well-being was negatively related to perceptions of the active/illegal (...) dimension and the passive dimension and was positively related to perceptions of the ‘no harm, no foul’ dimension and the ‘doing good’/recycling dimension. Lived personal well-being was negatively related to perceptions of the active/illegal dimension and was positively related to perceptions of the ‘no harm, no foul’ dimension and the ‘doing good’/recycling dimension. Lived transcendental well-being was negatively related to perceptions of the passive dimension, the active/legal dimension and the ‘no harm, no foul’ dimension. Lived environmental well-being was negatively related to perceptions of the active/legal dimension and the ‘no harm, no foul’ dimension. The findings also indicated that materialism was positively associated with perceptions of actively benefiting from illegal actions, passively benefiting at the expense of the seller, actively benefiting from questionable but legal actions and benefiting from ‘no harm, no foul’ actions. Public policy implications of the findings and opportunities for future research are discussed. (shrink)
The relationship between spiritual wellbeing and ethical orientations in decision making is examined through a survey of executives in organizations listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. The four domains of spiritual well-being, personal, communal, environmental and transcendental (Fisher, Spiritual health: its nature and place in the school curriculum, PhD thesis, University of Melbourne, 1998; Gomez and Fisher, Pers Individ Differ 35:1975–1991, 2003) are examined in relation to idealism and relativism (Forsyth, J Pers Soc Psychol 39(1): 175–184, 1980). Results reveal that (...) spiritual well-being, in particular the communal domain of spiritual well-being, is correlated with and predictive of idealism. However, the relationship between spiritual well-being and relativism is weak. Implications of the study are discussed in terms of developing managerial programs that enhance communal well-being which should lead to greater idealism in decision making. Limitations of the study and future research opportunities are outlined. (shrink)
This study examines the relationships of empathy, moral identity and cynicism with the following dimensions of consumer ethics: the passive dimension (passively benefiting at the expense of the seller), the active/legal dimension (benefiting from questionable but legal actions), the ‘no harm, no foul’ dimension (actions that do not harm anyone directly but are considered unethical by some) and the ‘doing-good’/recycling dimension (pro-social actions). A survey of six hundred Australian consumers revealed that both empathy and moral identity were related to negative (...) beliefs regarding the passive and the active/legal dimensions of consumer ethics and were related to positive beliefs regarding the ‘doing-good’/recycling dimension. Cynicism was related to positive beliefs regarding the passive dimension of consumer ethics and was related to negative beliefs regarding the ‘doing-good’/recycling dimension. The role of moral disengagement in mediating these relationships was examined. Empathy and moral identity were only indirectly negatively related to the ‘no harm, no foul’ dimension of consumer ethics through moral disengagement, while cynicism was indirectly positively related to this dimension through moral disengagement. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed. (shrink)
Events employed in natural language semantics are characterized in terms of regular languages, each string in which can be regarded as a motion picture. The relevant ﬁnite automata then amount to movie cameras/projectors, or more formally, to ﬁnite Kripke structures with par- tial valuations. The usual regular constructs (concatena- tion, choice, etc) are supplemented with superposition of strings/automata/languages, realized model-theoretically as conjunction.
Finite-state methods are applied to the Russell-Wiener notion of time (based on events) and developed into an account of interval relations and temporal propositions. Strings are formed and collected in regular languages and regular relations that are argued to embody temporal relations in their various underspecified guises. The regular relations include retractions that reduce computations by projecting strings down to an appropriate level of granularity, and non-deterministic relations defining notions of partiality within and across such levels.
The paper explains the application of a Social Innovation Based Transformative Learning pedagogical approach in an undergraduate, final year business ethics course taught at an Australian university. Using social innovation as an enabling process to extend students’ cognitive, behavioural and managerial competencies in an integrated manner, the paper describes how the SIBTL approach helps ethics teachers to promote students’ ethical action.
Conservativity in generalized quantifiers is linked to presupposition filtering, under a propositions-as-types analysis extended with dependent quantifiers. That analysis is underpinned by modeltheoretically interpretable proofs which inhabit propositions they prove, thereby providing objects for quantification and hooks for anaphora.
The idea that temporal propositions are vague predicates is examined with attention to the nature of the objects over which the predicates range. These objects should not, it is argued, be identified once and for all with points or intervals in the real line (or any fixed linear order). Context has an important role to play not only in sidestepping the Sorites paradox (Gaifman 2002) but also in shaping temporal moments/extent (Landman 1991). The Russell-Wiener construction of time from events (Kamp (...) 1979) is related to a notion of context given by a string of observations, the vagueness in which is brought out by grounding the observations in the real line. With this notion of context, the context dependency functions in Gaifman 2002 are adapted to interpret temporal propositions. (shrink)
In [HKL00] (henceforth HKL), Hamm, Kamp and van Lambalgen declare ‘‘there is no opposition between formal and cognitive semantics,’’ notwithstanding the realist/mentalist divide. That divide separates two sides Jackendo¤ has (in [Jac96], following Chomsky) labeled E(xternalized)-semantics, relating language to a reality independent of speakers, and I(nternalized)-semantics, revolving around mental representations and thought. Although formal semanticists have (following David Lewis) traditionally leaned towards E-semantics, it is reasonable to apply formal methods also to I-semantics. This point is made clear in HKL via (...) two computational approaches to natural language semantics, Discourse Representation Theory (DRT, [KR93]) and the Event Calculus (EC) presented in [LH05]. In this short note, I wish to raise certain questions about EC that can be traced to the applicability of formal methods to E-semantics and I-semantics alike. These opposing orientations suggest di¤erent notions of time, event and representation. (shrink)
Finite-state methods are applied to determine the consequences of events, represented as strings of sets of fluents. Developed to flesh out events used in natural language semantics, the approach supports reasoning about action in AI, including the frame problem and inertia. Representational and inferential aspects of the approach are explored, centering on conciseness of language, context update and constraint application with bias.
with the meaning function [[·]] appearing on both sides. (1) is commonly construed as a prescription for computing the meaning of a based on the parts of a and their mode of combination. As equality is symmetric, however, we can also read (1) from right to left, as a constraint on the meaning [[b]] of a term b that brings in the wider context where b may occur, in accordance with what Dag Westerst˚ahl has recently described as “one version of (...) Frege’s famous Context Principle”. (shrink)
Temporal propositions are mapped to sets of strings that witness (in a precise sense) the propositions over discrete linear Kripke frames. The strings are collected into regular languages to ensure the decidability of entailments given by inclusions between languages. (Various notions of bounded entailment are shown to be expressible as language inclusions.) The languages unwind computations implicit in the logical (and temporal) connectives via a system of finite-state constraints adapted from finite-state morphology. Applications to Hybrid Logic and non-monotonic inertial reasoning (...) are briefly considered. (shrink)
Situations serving as partial worlds as well as events in natural language semantics are constructed from a type-theoretic interpretation of firstorder formulae and (after a type reduction) temporal formulae. Limitations of the Russell-Wiener-Kamp derivation of time from events are discussed and overcome to give a more widely applicable account of temporal granularity. Finite situations are formulated as strings of observations, conceptualized to persist inertially (in the absence of forces).
Inertia is enshrined in Newton’s ﬁrst law of motion, a body at rest or in uniform motion remains in that state unless a force is applied to it. Now, consider (1). (1) Pat stopped the car before it hit the tree. Can we conclude from (1) that the car struck the tree? Not without further information such as that supplied in (2). (2) But the bus behind kept going. A post-condition for Pat stopping the car is that the car be (...) at rest. To satisfy a pre-condition for the car hitting the tree (namely, that the car not be at rest), inertia requires that some intervening force act on the car (as hinted, for example, by (2)). In the absence of such a force, (1) would appear to suggest that Pat prevented a collision between car and tree. Exactly what bit of physics are we importing into natural language interpretation here? Oversimpliﬁed, Newton’s ﬁrst law of motion says: no change without force. Identifying force with cause, we come to the slogan no temporality without cause, capturing in a phrase the proposal from Steedman 2000 that.. (shrink)
Anankastic conditionals are analyzed in terms of events conceived as sequences of snapshots – roughly, comics. Quantiﬁcation is applied not to worlds (sets of which are customarily identiﬁed with propositions) but to strings that record observations of actions. The account generalizes to other types of conditionals, sidestepping certain well-known problems that beset possible worlds treatments, such as logical omniscience and irrelevance. A reﬁnement for anankastic conditionals is considered, incorporating action relations.
A distinction is drawn between situations as indices required for semantically evaluating sentences and situations as denotations resulting from such evaluation. For atomic sentences, possible worlds may serve as indices, and events as denotations. The distinction is extended beyond atomic sentences according to formulae-as-types and applied to implicit quantifier domain restrictions, intensionality and conditionals.
Notions of disambiguation supporting a compositional interpretation ofvambiguous expressions and reflecting intuitions about how sentences combinevin discourse are investigated. Expressions are analyzed both inductively byvbreaking them apart, and co-inductively by embedding them within larger contexts.
The notion of inertia is explicated in terms of forces recorded in snapshots that are strung together to represent events. The role inertia worlds were conceived to serve in the semantics of the progressive is assumed by a branching construct that specifies what may follow, apart from what follows.
Intervals and the events that occur in them are encoded as strings, elaborating on a conception of events as “intervals cum description.” Notions of satisfaction in interval temporal logics are formulated in terms of strings, and the possibility of computing these via ﬁnite-state machines/transducers is investigated. This opens up temporal semantics to ﬁnite-state methods, with entailments that are decidable insofar as these can be reduced to inclusions between regular languages.
String representations of events are applied to Robin Cooper’s proposal that propositions in natural language semantics are types of situations. Links with the higher types of prooftheoretic semantics are forged, deepening type-theoretic interpretations of Discourse Representation Structures to encompass event structures.
The “surge in use of finite-state methods” () in computational linguistics has largely, if not completely, left semantics untouched. The present paper is directed towards correcting this situation. Techniques explained in  are applied to a fragment of temporal semantics through an approach we call finite-state temporality. This proceeds from the intuition of an event as “a series of snapshots” (; see also ), equating snapshots with symbols that collectively form our alphabet. A sequence of snapshots then becomes a string (...) over that alphabet, evoking comic/film strips. Jackendoff has, among others, objected to conceptualizing events in terms of snapshots (). To counter these objections, we step up from events-as-strings to event-typesas-regular languages ([5, 6]), recognizing the need for variable granularity. Beyond the introduction of disjunction implicit in the step from a single string up to a set of strings, we obtain a useful logic from the regular operations and a careful choice of the snapshots (constituting our alphabet). (shrink)
are considered with a view toward analyzing operational semantics from the perspective of predicate logic. The notion of a bisimulation is employed in two distinct ways: (i) as an extensional notion of equivalence on programs (or processes) generalizing input/output equivalence (at a cost exceeding II' ,over certain transition predicates computable in log space). and (ii) as a tool for analyzing the dependence of transitions on data (which can be shown to be elementary or nonelementary. depending on the formulation of the (...) transitions). (shrink)
Events and situations are represented by strings of temporally ordered observations, on the basis of which the events and situations are recognized. Allen’s basic interval relations are derived from superposing strings that mark interval boundaries, and Kamp’s event structures are constructed as projective limits of strings. Observations are generalized to temporal propositions, leading to event-types that classify event-instances. Working with sets of strings built from temporal propositions, we obtain natural notions of bounded entailment from set inclusions. These inclusions are decidable (...) if the sets are accepted by finite automata. (shrink)
The processing of sequences of (English) sentences is analyzed compositionally through transitions that merge sentences, rather than decomposing them. Transitions that are in a precise sense inertial are related to disjunctive and non-deterministic approaches to ambiguity. Modal interpretations are investigated, inducing various equivalences on sequences.
Relations computed by ﬁnite-state transducers are applied to interpret temporal propositions in terms of strings representing ﬁnite contexts or situations. Carnap–Montague intensions mapping indices to extensions are reformulated as relations between strings that can serve as indices and extensions alike. Strings are related according to information content, temporal span and granularity, the bounds on which reﬂect the partiality of natural language statements. That partiality shapes not only strings-as-extensions (indicating what statements are about) but also strings-as-indices (underlying truth conditions).
Finite-state methods are applied to the Russell-Wiener-Kamp notion of time (based on events) and developed into an account of interval relations and semi-intervals. Strings are formed and collected in regular languages and regular relations that are argued to embody temporal relations in their various underspeciﬁed guises. The regular relations include retractions that reduce computations by projecting strings down to an appropriate level of granularity, and notions of containment for partiality within and across such levels.
Notions of context for natural language interpretation are factored in terms of three processes: translation, entailment and attunement. The processes are linked by accessibility relations of the kind studied in many-dimensional modal logic, modulo complications from constraints between translation and entailment (violations in which may trigger re-attunement) and from reﬁnement and underspeciﬁcation.
Reichenbach's event, reference and speech times are interpreted semantically by stringing and superposing sets of temporal formulae, structured within regular languages. Notions of continuation branches and of inertia, bound (in a precise sense) by reference time, are developed and applied to the progressive and the perfect.
To address complications involving ambiguity, presupposition and implicature, three processes underlying natural language interpretation are isolated: translation, entailment and attunement. A meta- language integrating these processes is outlined, elaborating on a proof-theoretic approach to presupposition.
Dynamic and proof-conditional approaches to discourse (exemplified by Discourse Representation Theory and Type-Theoretical Grammar, respectively) are related through translations and transitions labeled by first-order formulas with anaphoric twists. Type-theoretic contexts are defined relative to a signature and instantiated modeltheoretically, subject to change.
‘The proper treatment of events’ is the title of a recent book [LH04] by M. van Lambalgen and F. Hamm, applying the event calculus from [Sha97] to natural language semantics. Some basic ideas behind that treatment are presented in a technically diﬀerent form below, shaped by a concrete formulation of events as strings of sets of ﬂuents ([Fer04]). These strings can be read as comic strips that are (I think) easy to grasp and work with, providing a friendly (if not (...) altogether proper) approach to events. (shrink)
Finite-state descriptions for temporal semantics are outlined through which to distinguish soft inferences reflecting manners of conceptualization from more robust semantic entailments defined over models. Just what descriptions are built (before being interpreted model-theoretically) and how they are grounded in models of reality explain (upon examination) why some inferences are soft.
En un polémico y curioso diálogo que Carl Schmitt escribió para un programa radiofónico en 1954, y que fue emitido primeramente bajo el título “Principios del poder”,  el influyente pensador político alemán sostiene, en uno de sus pasajes centrales, que Hobbes es el más moderno de los filósofos políticos. En su argumentación señala que Hobbes fue capaz de exponer el poder en términos exclusivamente humanos, esto es, desde la perspectiva de su infinita peligrosidad. Según Schmitt, el estado moderno plenamente (...) organizado en la teoría hobbesiana es un producto técnico artificial, una gran máquina moderna creada por hombres a través del consenso pero, una vez constituida, capaz de superar todo consenso situándose sobre el hombre e independiente del hombre mismo. Desde hace ya algunas décadas venimos asistiendo a un renacer del interés por Hobbes que se ha hecho manifiesto en una multiplicación de sugerentes relecturas y reinterpretaciones de su pensamiento que llenan los índices de las editoriales en el área de la filosofía y la ciencia política. La lectura de Schmitt podríamos considerarla particularmente señera de esta tendencia actual, al advertirnos sobre la cercanía que las teorías del pensador inglés guardan con la desnuda realidad con que hoy en día los dispositivos de poder operan en nuestra sociedad post capitalista. Dentro de esta atmósfera de actualidad de Hobbes en la que se comienza a respirar, quizás de forma algo inconsciente, una serie de tesis supuestamente sabidas sobre las teorías del pensador inglés, eso que se suele denominar lugares comunes, es de agradecer la iniciativa que han tenido los editores Guillermo Escolar y Alejandro Mayo de acercarnos, en una edición bilingüe extremadamente cuidada, esta obra de Thomas Hobbes conocida como “Tratado sobre la libertad y la necesidad” y que su autor escribió, sin la intención de publicar, hacia 1645. Reencontrarnos con la prosa fina, inteligente y polémica del pensador inglés, en uno de sus momentos más lúcidos y en medio de la ardua y encendida controversia que mantuvo con el obispo de Derry, John Bramhall, nos permite reconocer la verdadera modernidad de las tesis de Hobbes, al tiempo que nos devuelve a la claridad sobre el alcance e incidencia que su pensamiento ha tenido en las reflexiones posteriores sobre la naturaleza del poder y de la libertad y sobre las ilusiones que tantas veces hemos edificado sobre estos conceptos. (shrink)
continent. 1.1 (2011): 27-32. “My”—what does this word designate? Not what belongs to me, but what I belong to,what contains my whole being, which is mine insofar as I belong to it. Søren Kierkegaard. The Seducer’s Diary . I can’t sleep till I devour you / And I’ll love you, if you let me… Marilyn Manson “Devour” The role of poetry in the relationalities between people has a long history—from epic poetry recounting tales of yore; to emotive lyric poetry; to (...) rude, irreverent limericks; to Hallmark cards which have ditties that allow one to cringe, and somehow fall in love at the same moment. Without going into a notion of aesthetics, or attempting to choose which form of poetry is superior, we might want to consider why the form of poetry itself has long been a part of relationality. And whilst doing so, we might always keep in mind that poetry—especially poetry that moves, transports us—is the form that Plato has been warning us about, particularly if we want to become good citizens.As Avital Ronell teaches us in Stupidity : the poet, irremediably split between exaltation and vulgarity, between the autonomy that produces the concept within intuition and the foolish earthly being, functions as a contaminant for philosophy—a being who at least since Plato, has been trying to read and master an eviction notice served by philosophy. The poet as genius continues to threaten and fascinate, menacing the philosopher with the beyond of knowledge. Philosophy cringes (287). And considering that the philosopher is the lover of wisdom, we might begin to ask ourselves why one lover is warning against another—if the philosopher is in love with wisdom, then is the poet perhaps his rival, his challenger, for that very love? For, one must also remember that Plato—through Socrates—mentions constantly that Homer is his favourite. Moreover, by adopting both his own voice, whilst mixing it with Socrates’, Plato is adopting the form of poetry that he warns most about—the warning almost serves more as a homage to poetry than anything else. Here, we might open the register that one of the main reasons that he ejects a particular kind of poet is on the grounds of effecting effeminacy on the populace—good poetry moves you, affects you, transports you, shifts you beyond reason, puts you “out of your mind.” However, Plato also teaches us that rhetoric in its highest form requires divine inspiration by way of the daemon, or the muse. This moment of divine intervention is one that seizes—perhaps even ceases—you; putting you “beyond yourself.” In other words, a good rhetorician must always already be open to the possibility of otherness—the same otherness that possibly resides in the feminine. One could also trace this back to the poet that he both loved, and feared, most—Homer. Perhaps the effect of effeminacy that Homer's poetry opened is precisely the source of its power: through listening to Homer, one's body, one’s habitus is opened to the possibility of the feminine. And here, one must remember that the source of all learning—and all teaching—also lies in mimesis, in repetition, in habit. Once the habitus is opened to the possibility of invasion, of intervention, of otherness, there is quite possibly no possibility of distinguishing whether the mimesis is that of reproduction, or if there is always already a productive aspect to it. And by extension, if learning cannot be controlled, the very notion of teaching itself is shifted from a master-student relationality to one where the master is potentially changed as well—the relationality between the master and the student is not only inter-changing, but one cannot even know who is teaching, or learning, at any point. All that can be said is that they are in a relationality; which means that one is ultimately unable to locate the locus of knowledge, of wisdom—the site of which Plato is attempting to convince us is the sole domain of the philosopher. And it is this that philosophy is cringing from. To compound matters, philosophy is striving for wisdom; which can only come from the Gods. In other words, this is a gift that has to be bestowed on them—and more than that, wisdom is always already exterior to one’s control and knowledge. At best, it is the role of one to recognise the gift, to answer the call as it were. Here, if we listen carefully, we can hear the echo of Alexander Graham Bell, and the telephone. And as we are attempting to respond to the call of wisdom—the call that both poetry and philosophy are listening out for—it might be helpful to recall the agreement between Alexander Graham Bell and his brother Melville. In the biography, Alexander Graham Bell and the Conquest of Solitude , Robert V. Bruce notes that Aleck and Melly made a “solemn compact that whichever of us should die first would endeavour to communication with the other if it were possible to do so” (63). Since Melville was the one who passed on first, this pact put the onus on Aleck to receive the call of his brother. If you take into consideration the fact that until Melville’s death, both brothers had been working on an early prototype of the telephone, the instrument of distant sound can be read as an attempt by Aleck to maintain the possibility of keeping in touch with Melly, of hearing the voice from beyond. However, this was a connection that was not premised on any knowing, reason, or rationality; it was rather, one that was based on hope, and born out of love. And here, if we eves-drop on a cross-line with The Telephone Book , we can pick up the voice of Avital Ronell once again and hear, “the connection to the other is a reading—not an interpretation, assimilation, or even a hermeneutic understanding, but a reading” (380). In other words, the telephone can be read as the openness to the possibility of responding to the other; one that might always remain unknown. Even in this day of caller-identification, we can never know for sure who the other person on the line is until we pick up: hence, the only decision we can make—the effects of which we remain blind to until it affects us—is to either pick up or not, to either respond or not. And it is not as if the decision to pick up comes without risks: each time we answer a call, we run the risk of it ruining our day. Even when we don’t know who the caller is, perhaps especially when we don’t know who the person on the other end of the line is—and here one only has to think of prank calls—we are leaving ourselves completely open to being affected by another. Thus, philosophy finds itself in the position of Vladimir and Estragon. Since they have no idea who Godot is, they can never know if or when he shows up—thus, if he (and we are taking his gender on the word of the boy, some boy—we don’t even know if it is the same boy—who comes round in the evening) has already come, they would not be in the position to know it. And even if someone comes to them and announces that “I am Godot,” the wait would not be over—without referentiality to the name, they would have to take on faith that that person is indeed Godot. Hence, all they can know is that they are waiting for Godot; and Godot is the name of that waiting itself. All philosophy can know is that it is waiting; and wisdom is the name of that waiting itself. Which brings us to Tina Turner’s eternal question, “what’s love got to do, got to do with it?” In order to begin to consider that, we have to first attempt to examine the notion of love itself. Perhaps we might begin to consider what the difficulty of the statement “I love you.” For, if love is a relationality between two persons—both of whom remain singular, and are attempting to respond to each other—this suggests that neither of them subsume the other under themselves. In other words, the other remains wholly other. If this is so, then the “you” in the statement always remains shrouded in mystery. And even if the “you” was replaced with the name of the person, the veiling remains: for, names refer both to the singularity that is the person, and also every other person bearing that name, at exactly the same time. To compound matters, the only time one has to utter a persons name is in their absence—thus, the correspondence of a name to that particular person is at best an affect of memory. And if we consider the notion of memory, we have to also open the register of forgetting—bringing along with it the problem that there is no object to forgetting. For instance, when one utters “I forgot,” all one is uttering is the fact that one has forgotten, and nothing more—the moment there is an object to the statement, one has strictly speaking remembered what one has forgotten. Moreover, we have no control over when forgetting happens to us. And since it is always already exterior to us, affects us, and has no necessary object, there is no reason to believe that every moment of memory might not bring with it a moment of forgetting. Hence, whenever we utter a name—even if we accept the correspondence between the utterance and the person in front of us—all we are doing is uttering the fact that we are naming. Thus, it is not so much that ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ but more appropriately, ‘a rose is a rose is a rose’—the relationality between its name and the phenomenon of its sweet smell can only be established after that moment of naming, that instance of catachresis. So, whenever one utters “I love you,” not only is it a performative statement, it is the very naming of that love—all you are doing is establishing a relationality between you and the other. And since there is no necessary referent—one is naming that referentiality as one utters it—this suggests that it is always already a symbolic statement; without which the mystery of the other cannot me maintained. In other words, one cannot love the other without maintaining this symbolic distance—through a ritual; in this case the utterance “I love you.” This might be why Valentine’s Day seems to provoke such a massive reaction: the most common one from people (besides florists) being, Valentine’s Day is mere commercialism. Those among the nay-sayers who maintain a soft spot for Karl Marx would proceed to call it the commodification of relationships; those who prefer the Gods would claim that the sanctity of relationships has been profaned; the gender theorists would note how the fact that males buy the gifts only serves to highlight the unequal power-relation between the genders. Whichever side and variation of the arguments they choose boils down to this: the discomfort lies in the fact that they are confronted with the notion of relationships moving into a mediated sphere. The underlying logic is that love is between two persons only; it should not only remain between them, but more pertinently, be an unmediated experience between two persons. Which of course completely misses the point. For, if we reopen the register that relationships are the result of a negotiation between two persons, there must then be a space between them for this very negotiation to occur. Otherwise, all that is happening is, one person is subsuming the other within their own sphere of understanding; effectively effacing the other. If that were the case, there would no longer be any relationality; all negotiation is gone and the other person is a mere extension of the self—one is in a masturbatory relationality with one’s imaginary. Hence, any relationship must always already carry with it the unknown, and possibly always unknowable. The other person is an enigma, remains—must remain—enigmatic to you. This is the only way in which the proclamation “I love you” remains singular, remains a love that is about the person as a singular person—and not merely about the qualities of the person, what the person is. For, if the mystery of the other is unveiled, then the love for the other person is also a completely transparent love: one that you can know thoroughly, calculate; a check-list. And if they are knowable, this suggests that they can also be negated, and hence, the love can also go away. Only when the love for the other person is an enigmatic one, one that cannot be understood, can that love potentially be an event—and if it is an event, then strictly speaking, it cannot be known before it happens; at best, it can be glimpsed as it is happening, or perhaps even only realised retrospectively. At the point in which it happens, it is a love that comes from elsewhere: this strange phenomenon is best captured in the colloquial phrase, I was struck by love;” or even more so by, “I was blinded by love.” This is a blinding to not only the subject of the encounter—the self—but also of the very object of that encounter, the “you”—all that can be said is that there is an encounter. And it is for this reason Cupid is blind: not just because love is random (and can happen to anyone at any time), but more importantly because even after it happens, both the reason you are in love, and the person you are in love with, remain blind to you. Since there is an unknowable relationality with the other person, the only way you can approach it is through a ritual. This is the lesson that religions have taught us: since one is never able to phenomenally experience the God(s), one has no choice but to approach them symbolically. These rituals are strictly speaking meaningless—the actual content is interchangeable—as it is the form that is important. Rituals allow us momentary glimpses at secrets; and secrets are never about their content(s). Rather, secrets entail the recognition that they are secrets; the secret lies in their form as secret. This can be seen when we consider how group secrets work: since the entire group knows the secret, clearly the content of the secret is not as important as the fact that only members within the group are privy to this secret. Occasionally the actual content can be so trivial that even other people outside the group might know the information; they just do not realize its significance. For instance, if I used my date of birth as my bank-account password, merely knowing when I was born would not instantly give you the key to my life savings. In order for that to happen, you would have had to recognise the significance of the knowledge of my birthday. This means that you have to know that you know something. Since the God(s) are, strictly speaking, unknowable, this suggests that rituals put one in a position to potentially experience the God(s). The meaningless gestures on Valentine’s Day play precisely this ritualised role. It is not so much what you give the other person, but the fact that you give it to them. The gift in this sense is very much akin to an offering; the gift opens the possibility of an exchange. Gift-giving does not guarantee that you will like what is returned; there is always a reciprocation of the gift, but what is returned to you is never known in advance, until the moment it is received. This means that the worst thing that one can do is not give the gift: that would be akin to a cutting off of all possibilities, a complete closing of all communication with the other person. This at the same time also means that you cannot wait for the other person to give you something before you get them their gift: if that were the scenario, the reciprocal gift would be nothing more than a calculated return. The only manner in which both persons can give true gifts is to offer them independently of the other person, whilst keeping them in mind. In this way, the two gifts are always already both uncalculated (in the sense of not knowing what the return is) and also a reciprocation for the other (without knowing whether the other person actually has a gift in the first place). Naturally, this would seem like an irrational, even stupid, way of buying gifts. But it is precisely the stupidity involved that saves the relationship from being banal—more importantly, stupidity prevents it from entering the mere profane. This is not to say that an enigmatic love cannot end—of course it can. However, the difference lies in the fact that if the relationality is wholly transparent, it is subsumed under reason—completely predictable, within the self, and thus never open to the possibility of otherness, exteriority, musing. A love that is an event is one that is also open to the possibility of the divine, the sacred—always already closer to the possibility of wisdom. If we establish that both love and wisdom are exterior, to our knowledge, and the finitude to our selves, this suggests that both are names for the possibility of openness to otherness. In other words, and what choice do we have here but to use the words of the other, the philosopher—the lover of wisdom—is a name for one who is waiting, and nothing more. But that still leaves us with the question of this uncomfortable relationality between philosophy and poetry. But before we address that question, we have to take a momentary detour, and consider the whether it is possible to call one a poet. For, if we take the notion of a poet to be one who reaches the highest levels of rhetoric (beyond the lawyer, and the orator, who only aim to either please the crowds, or convince by way of sophistry), then we must also acknowledge that one can only become a poet at the moment of seizing, the point of inspiration, by the muses. Without this divine moment, all (s)he can do is practice her craft. As no one can control when the muses make their appearance, one could always be practising in vain—in some way, one is always already practising to be least in the way when the muse whispers into one’s ear; one is practising so as not to be vain. And since one cannot know when the muse will appear, there is no time frame to the practising—unlike the lawyer who speaks against a clock, poetry knows no time; the only time that matters is the time appropriate to poetry itself. Thus, all the poet (if one can use this term) is practising for the possibility of effacing her/him self—and waiting. Thus, in order for poetry to occur, in order to be seized, the poet—along with all her concerns—must cease. In other words, there is no poet; there is only the possibility of poetry. However, even as there is no time frame to this waiting, even as all we can say is that poetry is a name for waiting, the one who is practising is always already also in time. And since (s)he is in a symbolic relationality with the possibility of poetry, this suggests that the practising is her sacrifice, and time is precisely what she is sacrificing. Here, it might be helpful to turn to a strange source when it comes to poetry—Georges Bataille—and consider his teachings in the first volume of The Accursed Share where he reminds us that, the “essence [of sacrifice] is to consume profitlessly .” This is where each exchange is beyond rationality, beyond calculability, beyond reason itself, “unsubordinated to the ‘real’ order and occupied only with the present.” He continues: Sacrifice destroys that which it consecrates. It does not have to destroy as fire does; only the tie that connected the offering to the world of profitable activity is severed, but this separation has the sense of a definitive consumption; the consecrated offering cannot be restored to the real order.” (58) Since there is no need for a physical change in the object of sacrifice—“it does not have to destroy as fire does”—this suggests that the tie is severed symbolically. Hence, there is an aspect of trans-substantiation in this sacrifice: the form remains the same; in fact there is no perceivable change—this is the point at which all phenomenology fails—but there is always already a difference, an absolute separation from the “real order,” from logic, calculability, reason. The object of sacrifice, the victim [,] is a surplus taken from the mass of useful wealth…Once chosen, he is the accursed share , destined for violent consumption. But the curse tears him away from the order of things…” (59). And it is this tearing away from the order of things—the order of rationality—that “restores to the sacred world that which servile use has degraded, rendered profane” (55). For, only when it is no longer useful, when it is no longer abstracted—subjected, subsumed under—merely a use-value, can the object be an object as such, can a subject be a subject as such; be a singularity. Thus, it is never so much who or what is sacrificed, but the fact that there is a sacrifice. So even as (s)he is sacrificing her time to poetry, it is always already beyond her knowledge whether what (s)he is doing is actually preparing her for poetry or not—all (s)he can know is that she is sacrificing and nothing more. Hence, all (s)he can do is to open her self to the possibility of this relationality—all (s)he can do is be in love with poetry. At the moment the muse whispers into her ear, (s)he ceases to be, and becomes a medium for poetry—and since this possession is always already beyond our cognitive knowledge, this is also a moment of divine wisdom. In other words, there is no difference between poetry and wisdom—the moment of poetry is the moment of wisdom. And this might be the very reason for the philosopher’s aversion to poets. Not so much because they may corrupt the youth (this is after all the aim of all thinking, all philosophy), but precisely because in order to do so, the philosopher must wait for a moment of possession, for divine musing, for poetry. Hence, all thought, all thinking, all philosophy, is nothing but the waiting for the possibility of poetry itself. (shrink)
El presente trabajo muestra la imposibilidad de separar el ideal de la igualdad revelado por la crítica de Rousseau, y que constituye la base moral de un nuevo estado de derecho poblado de individuos, de la constitución de la idea de libertad como valor político y del individualismo que se erige sobre ésta- En otras palabras, quizás, el ideal de sociedad pensado por Rousseau no era realizable, pero lo que efectivamente se realizó no habría sido posible sin sus ideales.
On 22 July, 2011, we were confronted with the horror of the actions of Anders Behring Breivik. The instant reaction, as we have seen with similar incidents in the past—such as the Oklahoma City bombings—was to attempt to explain the incident. Whether the reasons given were true or not were irrelevant: the fact that there was a reason was better than if there were none. We should not dismiss those that continue to cling on to the initial claims of a (...) wider Jihadist plot behind the actions of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols as Islamophobes (or merely lacking common sense): for, it is often easier to rely on reason—no matter how fictional—than not to have anything to cling on at all. In many ways, it is even better if the reason is fictional: for, if grounded in a certain fact, or reality, it can then go away. However, if it is in the realm of the imaginary, it is then always already metaphorical: thus, can be applied to any and every situation. And it is this, if we echo Friedrich Nietzsche, that gives us our “metaphysical comfort”; that we can know what is going on. This is why conspiracy theories are so popular: underlying them is the logic that someone—no matter how implausible—is in control of the situation. One would rather believe that all acts of terror stemmed from Osama bin Laden (and the narrative worked even better when he was in a ‘cave in Afghanistan’) than if they were the actions, and decisions, of singular individuals. For, if there is a head organizing everything, it can be cut off; there is no controlling a mass of singularities. As Jean Baudrillard continues to teach us, the term ‘mass’ is not a concept. It is a leitmotif of political demagogy, a soft, sticky, lumpen-analytical notion. A good sociology would attempt to surpass it with ‘more subtle’ categories: socio-professional ones, categories of class, cultural status, etc. This is wrong: it is by prowling around these soft and acritical notions (like ‘mana’ once was) that one can go further than intelligent critical sociology. Besides, it will be noticed retrospectively that the concepts ‘class’, ‘social relations’, ‘power’, ‘status’, ‘institution’, and ‘social’ itself—all these too-explicit concepts which are the glory of the legitimate sciences—but also only ever been muddled notions themselves, but notions upon which agreement has nevertheless been reached for mysterious ends: those of preserving a certain code of analysis. To want to specify the term ‘mass’ is a mistake—it is to provide meaning for that which has none.1 And it is this lack of meaning—this nothingness of not only the mass, but our inability to know in general—that truly scares us. For, if we are never able to legitimately make a generalizing statement, this suggests that we can never actually posit beyond a singular, situational, moment. Hence, we can never claim to know anyone: at best, we can only catch momentary glimpses. It is for this very reason that the insanity plea Breivik’s lawyer will attempt is the one that horrifies us the most. For, if Breivik is insane, this foregrounds our inability to understand, know. And as Aristotle has taught us, it is more important that something is plausible than if something were probable—in this context, we would rather have Breivik as a calculating mass murderer than someone who was completely out of his mind. This is especially ironic in the light of the fact that none of us would say that we have any similarity with Breivik. If that were so, the declaration that he was mad should be no more than a logical consequence. However, we also want Breivik to be accountable for his actions. And in order for that to be so, we need him to be of sound mind. But if that were true, we can then no longer distinguish ourselves from him. And it is precisely this that scares us. For, we are horrified not when there are abnormalities to our way of life. There are usually two different reactions to this—either oppose and destroy it; or subsume it under the dominant logic. We see this most clearly in reactions to immigration: there are either calls for immigrants to ‘pack up and leave’ or pseudo-liberal notions of ‘we are all alike’. Both of which are merely version of “all men are brothers”—the brutal translation of which is that you are my brother if you live the same way as me; otherwise not only are you not my brother, you are also potentially not part of mankind (you might as well be, to echo Giorgio Agamben, bare life ). This is played out in our age of what is commonly termed post-political bio-politics —an instance of horribly awkward theoretical jargon that Slavoj Žižek channeling Agamben unpacks rather elegantly: “ post-politics is a politics which claims to leave behind old ideological struggles and, instead, focus[es] on expert management and administration, while bio-politics designates the regulation of the security and welfare of human lives as its primary goal.”2 Žižek continues: Post-political bio-politics also has two aspects which cannot but appear to belong to two opposite ideological spaces: that of the reduction of humans to ‘bare life,’ to Homo sacer , that so-called sacred being who is the object of expert caretaking knowledge, but is excluded, like prisoners at Guantanamo or Holocaust victims, from all rights; and that of respect for the vulnerable Other brought to an extreme through an attitude of narcissistic subjectivity which experiences the self as vulnerable, constantly exposed to a multitude of potential harassments [….] What these two poles share is precisely the underlying refusal of any higher causes, the notion that the ultimate goal of our lives is life itself. That is why there is no contradiction between the respect for the vulnerable Other and […] the extreme expression of treating individuals as Homini sacer .3 This is why the ones that are harshest towards new immigrants are the recently naturalized citizens of any country. For, if there is no longer any “ideological struggle” and all life is reduced to mere automaton-living, there is the realization that we are all the same—not in a tree-hugging hippie sense—but that the immigrant is the same as us precisely because we are all immigrants. And since all nations, and by extension peoples in a nation (especially those who believe in the notion of nationality, and national identity), have to find some manner, no matter from where or what it is, to distinguish themselves from those around them, the other (in spite, and especially in the light, of its absence) is the most crucial aspect of the discourse of nationality. More precisely, in the interests of what Baudrillard calls “preserving a certain code of analysis” (nationality in this case), what has to be maintained is the absolute otherness of the other. Very rarely is Boris Johnson right: “it is not enough to say he is mad. Anders Breivik is patently mad.”4 However, much like Breivik in his manifesto, he should have stopped whilst he was ahead. By attempting to diagnose Breivik—“the fundamental reasons for their callous behavior lie deep in their own sense of rejection and alienation. It is the ideology that gives them the ostensible cause … that gives them an excuse to dramatize the resentment … and to kill.”—Johnson falls into the same trap that he accuses others of: “to try to advance any other explanation for their actions … is simply to play their self-important game.” More crucially, and this is the point that Johnson completely misses, attempting to rationalize Breivik’s actions—to rehabilitate reason—is a desperate attempt at maintaining his otherness. In fact, we’ll end up going one step further, insist on Breivik’s sanity, put him on the stand, and hope that he will display such a difference from all of us that we can rest safe that we are unlike him and his kind. That, in itself, is a dangerous game to play. One should not forget that the turning point in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is in the central part of her novel where she lets the monster speak. At that moment, the monster moves from an ‘it’ to a fully subjectivized person; with his own stories, historicities, emotions, and so on. In Slavoj Žižek’s reading of Frankenstein , this is the moment where “the ultimate criminal is thus allowed to present himself as the ultimate victim. The monstrous murderer reveals himself to be a deeply hurt and desperate individual, yearning for company and love.”5 But, in the case of Breivik, this goes beyond just a risk of us feeling for him: for, no right-minded person should ever deny another the opportunity to put forth her or his own case. The problem lies with us trying to deny the madness of Breivik’s act by putting him back under reason. The problem is in our inability to differentiate the act from the person; the singular from the universal.6 In our desperation to preserve the notion that we are rational beings incapable of becoming monsters, we’ve had to deny the meaninglessness—in the strict sense of it lying outside of reason—of Breivik’ act; we’ve had to “provide meaning where there is none.” For, if this act were a moment of madness—a moment that comes from elsewhere—we cannot say that it will not descend upon us one day. If Breivik’s actions were that of a sane person, one who is in control of his being, his self, we can then locate the otherness in his being. More importantly, this would allow us to distinguish ourselves from that said being. Breivik’s sanity is the only thing that allows us to say that ‘this act of terror is borne out of one with an ultra-right ideology’; and ‘since I am not of that ideology, I would never do such a thing’. By doing that, we attempt to protect ourselves by claiming that people who share Breivik’s ideology are foreign to us, other to us. However, if Breivik’s act was a moment of insanity, his otherness is no longer locatable: and the notion of ‘us and them’ shifts from a geographical, physical, religious, or cultural notion, to one in the realm of ideas. And this is what truly scares us. For, if what is foreign is not phenomenological, then it cannot be seen, detected, sensed. Anders Behring Breivik, Timothy McVeigh, and Terry Nichols, terrify us not merely for the fact that they were white in a white society, but more pertinently that their skin color did not matter: we would not be able to spot them even if they were blue, even if they were right next to us, even if we had known them all our lives. Even as we are grappling with holding Breivik accountable by declaring him of sound mind, what truly terrifies us is that deep down we know that Breivik’s act is a moment of madness; beyond all comprehensibility. And this means that we would not be able to spot the idea; even if it were in our heads at this very moment. We have gone to lengths to rehabilitate Breivik, McVeigh, Nichols, and such perpetrators of massive incomprehensible violence, in order to preserve our difference from them. What we have really been trying to deny is the fact that everyone, at any given moment, could have a moment of madness. And this is the true radicality of Mary Shelley: in allowing us to momentarily enter the head of the monster, she shows us not just the fact that he is like any one of us, but that any one of us could, in the right (or wrong) circumstance, be like him. Perhaps here, there is a lesson to be learned from Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street . The most dangerous thing that one could do on Elm Street was to mention Freddy’s name—once you had knowledge of him, you were open to the possibility of a visit during your dreams. This suggests that Freddy is a combination of externalities (after all, when you die, he survives) and your self (if you have never heard of him, he cannot come for you). In this sense, Freddy would be the manifestation par excellence of what Avital Ronell calls a “killer text”—it is one’s relationality with the text (and the ideas, notions, in the said text) that opens oneself to it, to the lessons of the text, to being changed, affected, even to the dangers of the text. After all, one should never forget Plato’s warning that ideas can corrupt, can be perilous. To compound matters, as Ronell reminds us, “the connection to the other is a reading—not an interpretation, assimilation, or even a hermeneutic understanding, but a reading.”7 Thus, in attempting to differentiate ourselves from Breivik by concocting some reason(s) why we are not like him, we have done nothing but read him, open a connection to him. *** Bang bang, he shot me down Bang bang, I hit the ground Bang bang, that awful sound Bang bang, my baby shot me down. “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” Sonny Bono, 1966. This is the part that we all know and remember. Whilst never quite remembering that this is a song that is not so much about violence, love, but about remembering. For, after the bridge comes the accusatory stanza: “Now he's gone, I don't know why/ And till this day, sometimes I cry/ He didn't even say goodbye/ He didn't take the time to lie.” Bang Bang is a game that the two lovers used to play; and all she has now is the memory of the game to remember him by. And the only reason she has to recall this game is: he never provided her a reason for his leaving, his death. Not that she will, can, ever get that satisfactory answer. This is precisely the game we are playing with Anders Behring Breivik. Even though he has left a 1500 page manifesto, even though we will allow him to use the court-room as his platform, we will continue screaming at him “tell me why …” For, what we want him to say is that we are not like him: what we really want him to do is, “take the time to lie …” Perhaps here, we should allow the echo of the infans to resound in baby . As Christopher Fynsk reminds us, the infans is one that is pre-language, pre-knowing, pre-understanding: it is the very finitude, and exteriority, of relationality itself.8 And thus, it is a position of openness to the fullness of possibility—and nothing else. This would be, in Ronell’s terms, a “connection to the other” that knows nothing other than the fact that it is a connection. The true horror of 22 July, 2011, is the fact that it is not Anders Behring Breivik who is mad, but the act itself that is. And this is precisely why only “my baby” that could have “shot me down.” For, it is an act that is from beyond, a sheer act of madness that—as Plato warns us—is whispered into our ears (and can so easily be mistaken for inspiration, and even wisdom), an act that can both seize, and cease, us at the same time. And what can this utter openness to an other, the other, be but a moment of love, a true ‘falling in love’. At the moment of whispering, nothing can be known as we are babies as our baby shoots us down …. Hence, all attempts at analyzing this event (including this one) are not only futile, but border on the farcical. The real tragedy is that we forget that all of us have the possibility of becoming Breivik. NOTES Jean Baudrillard. In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities . Trans. Paul Foss, John Johnston, Paul Patton, & Andrew Berardini. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2007. p. 37. Slavoj Žižek. Violence: Six Sideway Reflections . London: Profile Books, 2009. p. 34 Ibid: 35-36. Boris Johnson. “ Anders Breivik: There is nothing to study in the mind of Norway’s mass killer .” The Telegraph . (25 July, 2011): Slavoj Žižek. Violence: Six Sideway Reflections . London: Profile Books, 2009. p.39. What is killing us is the notion that Breivik’s act is beyond reason, beyond knowing, outside understanding itself. This is why Boris Johnson’s plea was for us to ignore Breivik as a madman. But to do so, Johnson conflates the notion of the act and the person; the singular and the universal. This is exactly the same gesture as insisting on his sanity: the ‘madman’ is merely the absolute other, one that we are not. Avital Ronell. The Telephone Book: Technology, Schizophrenia, Electric Speech . Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989: 380. Christopher Fynsk. Infant Figures: The Death of the Infans and Other Scenes of Origin . Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000.  . (shrink)
How do human infants learn the causal dependencies between events? Evidence suggests that this remarkable feat can be achieved by observation of only a handful of examples. Many computational models have been produced to explain how infants perform causal inference without explicit teaching about statistics or the scientific method. Here, we propose a spiking neuronal network implementation that can be entrained to form a dynamical model of the temporal and causal relationships between events that it observes. The network uses spike-time (...) dependent plasticity, long-term depression, and heterosynaptic competition rules to implement Rescorla–Wagner-like learning. Transmission delays between neurons allow the network to learn a forward model of the temporal relationships between events. Within this framework, biologically realistic synaptic plasticity rules account for well-known behavioral data regarding cognitive causal assumptions such as backwards blocking and screening-off. These models can then be run as emulators for state inference. Furthermore, this mechanism is capable of copying synaptic connectivity patterns between neuronal networks by observing the spontaneous spike activity from the neuronal circuit that is to be copied, and it thereby provides a powerful method for transmission of circuit functionality between brain regions. (shrink)
The processing of sequences of (English) sentences is analyzedcompositionally through transitions that merge sentences, rather thandecomposing them. Transitions that are in a precise senseinertial are related to disjunctive and non-deterministic approaches toambiguity. Modal interpretations are investigated, inducing variousequivalences on sequences.
The Yale Shooting Problem introduced by Steve Hanks & Drew McDermott (1987) is a well-known test case of non-monotonic temporal reasoning. There is a sequence of situations. In the initial situation a gun is not loaded and the target is alive. In the next situation the gun is loaded. Eventually, a shot is fired, perhaps with fatal consequences. In this scenario there are two "fluents", alive and loaded, and two actions, load and shoot. Being loaded and being alive are inert (...) propositions in the sense that if they are true at a given moment, they will be true at the next moment unless some action such as.. (shrink)
This course aims to assess the principle of compositionality (CP) and how it fits with recent developments in natural language interpretation, especially those that stress the role of context. We first try to lay down a suitable formal framework for CP, reviewing proposals by Montague, Janssen, Hendriks, Kracht and Hodges. Versions of CP of varying strength are formulated, and some recent results on the existence of compositional semantics and the (much debated) issue of the empirical import of CP discussed. Complementing (...) CP is the notion of context which, under modern (e.g. "dynamic") conceptions, not only conditions interpretation but also is transformed during interpretation. The tension between CP and context is examined relative to problems of anaphora, presupposition, idioms and ambiguity. A somewhat un-orthodox computational application of CP is suggested, emphasizing co-inductive aspects of interpretation that cut across the divide between model-theoretic and proof-theoretic approaches, and between procedural and declarative styles. (shrink)
A modal logic for translating a sequence of English sentences to a sequence of logical forms is presented, characterized by Kripke models with points formed from input/output sequences, and valuations determined by entailment relations. Previous approaches based (to one degree or another) on Quantified Dynamic Logic are embeddable within it. Applications to presupposition and ambiguity are described, and decision procedures and axiomatizations supplied.
A year ago the documents included in this piece were sent out from three locations to three threads of thinkers. Including a small description of the drift process, the Welcome Letter, Protocol & Guidelines, as well as the Statement of Intent are reproduced here in their entirety. This statement was previously published by continent. in-between a conversation of the drift guest editors in issue 2.3.
Schubert’s proposal ([Sch00]) that sentences not only describe but also characterize situations is worked out in the context of Linear Temporal Logic (LTL), a well-known propositional logic with linear future operators (e.g. [HR04]). The resulting formalism LTL∗∗ illustrates an approach that diverges from Schubert’s FOL∗∗ in technical details but shares many (if not all) its motivations.