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Which clippings match 'Plato' keyword pg.1 of 3
15 SEPTEMBER 2014

Paul Pangaro: What is cybernetics?

"Cybernetics as a process operating in nature has been around for a long time ... as a concept in society has been around at least since Plato used it to refer to government.

In modern times, the term became widespread because Norbert Wiener wrote a book called 'Cybernetics' in 1948. His sub–title was 'control and communication in the animal and machine'. This was important because it connects control (a.k.a., actions taken in hope of achieving goals) with communication (a.k.a., connection and information flow between the actor and the environment). So, Wiener is pointing out that effective action requires communication.

Wiener's sub–title also states that both animals (biological systems) and machines (non–biological or 'artificial' systems) can operate according to cybernetic principles. This was an explicit recognition that both living and non–living systems can have purpose. A scary idea in 1948."

(Paul Pangaro)

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TAGS

1948 • achieving goals • animal and machine • biological systems • complex human goals • control and communication • cybernetic principles • cybernetics • effective action • goal-directed systems • goals • Heinz von Foerster • human perception • living systems • man machine • navigator • non-biological artificial systems • non-biological systems • non-living systems • Norbert Wiener • Paul Pangaro • Plato • steering • systems that embody goals • taking action

CONTRIBUTOR

Liam Birtles
23 DECEMBER 2013

Engagement with the world

"To be human is to be engaged with other people in the world. Yet, there has been a dominant strain of thought, at least in the West, which directs attention primarily to the isolated individual as naked mind. From classical Greece to modern times, engagement in the daily activities of human existence has been denigrated. Plato (340 BC/1941) banished worldly engagement to a realm of shadows, removed from the bright light of ideas, and Descartes (1633/1999) even divorced our minds from our own bodies. It can be suggested that this is a particularly Western tendency, supportive of the emphasis on the individual agent in Christianity and capitalism. But the view of people as originally unengaged has spread around the globe to the point where it is now necessary everywhere to take steps to reinstate engagement through explicit efforts."

(Gerry Stahl, p.12)

Stahl, G. (2011). "Essays in Computer–Supported Collaborative Learning". Lulu.com, Gerry Stahl.

TAGS

being-in-the-worldcapitalism • classical Greece • Computer Supported Collaborative Learningengagement • human existence • individual agent • individual experienceindividualisationindividualismisolated individualliving in a shared worldlone geniusminds divorced of bodies • naked mind • objective realityobjectivismobjectivist epistemologyPlatorational self-interest • realm of shadows • Rene Descartessocial construction of knowledgesocial interaction • to be human • Western philosophy • Western tendency • worldly engagement

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
11 AUGUST 2011

The Republic: justice is a necessity and a requirement for civil society (in spite of the selfish potential of individual gain)

"Now that those who practise justice do so involuntarily and because they have not the power to be unjust will best appear if we imagine something of this kind: having given both to the just and the unjust power to do what they will, let us watch and see whither desire will lead them; then we shall discover in the very act the just and unjust man to be proceeding along the same road, following their interest, which all natures deem to be their good, and are only diverted into the path of justice by the force of law. The liberty which we are supposing may be most completely given to them in the form of such a power as is said to have been possessed by Gyges the ancestor of Croesus the Lydian. According to the tradition, Gyges was a shepherd in the service of the king of Lydia; there was a great storm, and an earthquake made an opening in the earth at the place where he was feeding his flock. Amazed at the sight, he descended into the opening, where, among other marvels, he beheld a hollow brazen horse, having doors, at which he stooping and looking in saw a dead body of stature, as appeared to him, more than human, and having nothing on but a gold ring; this he took from the finger of the dead and reascended. Now the shepherds met together, according to custom, that they might send their monthly report about the flocks to the king; into their assembly he came having the ring on his finger, and as he was sitting among them he chanced to turn the collet of the ring inside his hand, when instantly he became invisible to the rest of the company and they began to speak of him as if he were no longer present. He was astonished at this, and again touching the ring he turned the collet outwards and reappeared; he made several trials of the ring, and always with the same result–when he turned the collet inwards he became invisible, when outwards he reappeared. Whereupon he contrived to be chosen one of the messengers who were sent to the court; where as soon as he arrived he seduced the queen, and with her help conspired against the king and slew him, and took the kingdom. Suppose now that there were two such magic rings, and the just put on one of them and the unjust the other;,no man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice. No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with any one at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a God among men. Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both come at last to the same point. And this we may truly affirm to be a great proof that a man is just, not willingly or because he thinks that justice is any good to him individually, but of necessity, for wherever any one thinks that he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust. For all men believe in their hearts that injustice is far more profitable to the individual than justice, and he who argues as I have been supposing, will say that they are right. If you could imagine any one obtaining this power of becoming invisible, and never doing any wrong or touching what was another's, he would be thought by the lookers–on to be a most wretched idiot, although they would praise him to one another's faces, and keep up appearances with one another from a fear that they too might suffer injustice."

(The Republic, Plato, Internet Classics Archive)

[Plato describes a situation which I think is best understood in terms of the choice between individual and collective benefit. Where it serves our individual interests (as members and custodians of our society) to strive towards a collective ambition. In this way the recent mugging in London shows what happens when this ambition is inverted.]

TAGS

2011becoming invisiblechaoschoicecivil disobediencecivil societycivilisation • collet • fearforce of lawfree will • gold ring • Gyges • human actionhuman naturehuman willindividual gainindividualityinjusticeinvisibilityinvisible • involuntary acts • justice • keeping up appearances • lawlegallibertymagic • magic ring • moral dilemmamoralityopportunityownershipparablephilosophypiracyPlatopowerpower corrupts • ring • self-controlselfishness • shepherd • social responsibilitysuffering injusticeThe Republictheftunjustunjust power • virtue

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
22 MARCH 2011

The Conformist: dramatic interplay of light and shadow, gestures and movements and room space and sound

"The Conformist is a difficult film, not because its themes are heavy or its form too radical, but because the statement it proposes is a tad indigestible. Once you get over its slight simplification of ideas and reasons, it is a sweeping masterwork that you are looking at. I probably haven't seen any film that as clearly reveal how we have all confused sexuality with morality, morality with religion, religion with politics and politics with security. The tension is palpable in almost every shot of the film. Consider the central scene of sheer cinematic awesomeness where Quadri and Clerici recollect what actually went wrong. Using staggering interplay of light and shadow, gestures and movements and room space and sound, Bertolucci develops the central motif of the film in pure film language, without ever betraying the diegesis of the film. Bertolucci's script takes up Plato's Allegory of the Cave, which suggests that humans are all prisoners inside a dark cave unable to differentiate between real objects and the shadows that they cast on the walls, and adapts it so as to examine the dark history of the country. It is after this point that every element of the film cries out for attention and the ambivalence of the central character brought to light. Especially remarkable is the final shot of the film where, after Italo is swept away by a Rossellinian crowd, Clerici sits on a low platform near the fire, looking towards a homosexual street dweller through prison–like iron bars, still unsure of his political, sexual and moral footing."

(Just Another Film Buff @ The Seventh Art)

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TAGS

1970aestheticsallegory of the caveBernardo Bertoluccichiaroscurocinematiccinematographydesign formalismdiegesisfigures in spacefilmfilm languagefootinghomosexuality • Il Conformista • insecurity • Italy • light and shadow • masterworkmise-en-scenemoralitymotifmovementpatternPlatopoliticsprisonerrealityreligion • Roberto Rossellini • sexuality • shadows • shotspace • The Conformist • visual communicationvisual designvisual languagevisual literacyvisual spectacle

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
02 DECEMBER 2009

Ceci n'est pas une pipe: undercutting our expectation about representation

"Doesn't a picture that declares, 'This is not a pipe,' undercut our expectation that representation will give us the thing – in this case, the pipe – itself? The difficulty it presents is no accident. Magritte was perhaps unique among the visual artists of this century in the depth of his philosophical lore. Another of his pipe dreams contains a depiction of a pipe on a blackboard under which 'This is not a pipe' is inscribed in a schoolmasterly hand. Floating above the blackboard Magritte depicts a kind of Platonic pipe. By virtue of its disproportionate size and free–floating dislocation, this utopian pipe is made to seem a mirage, while the depiction of a pipe, comfortably ensconced in its frame, enjoys a higher ontological dignity. The superficial contrast between the flat, two–dimensional blackboard pipe and the Platonic or transcendental overpipe is subverted, and it dawns on us that it is the picture of the pipe that we know, not the pipe in itself."

(Flint Schier, 23 January 1983, The New York Times)

Fig.1 La Trahison des images (Ceci n'est pas une pipe), 1929; Fig.2 René Magritte – Die zwei Mysterien, 1966, "Die Pfeife ist keine Pfeife", (Ceci n'est pas une Pipe)

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19291983artartistBelgian • ceci nest pas une pipe • idealismmeta-paintingMichel FoucaultmimesispipePlatoRene Magritterepresentationrepresentational strategiessignificationsignifiedsignifier • this is not a pipe • truthvisual arts

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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