Navigation in Vancouver
19 Feb 2014

I will be giving a number of presentations in Vancouver surrounding the navigational paradigm (as related to the ramifying structure of commitments, the non-classical portrait of the concept and the space of knowledge). Abstracts below:

Where the Concept Takes You
From a formalist perspective, the concept is introduced as a space over which man has no hold. It is an epistemic cue in an otherwise qualitatively homogenous information space – a desert – for which no map and no compass is given. The gesture that constitutes the concept is a response to the question of localization (where to begin and how to proceed) in an environment where there is neither an a-priori determination of the initial place nor a given survey of the general landscape. In this situation, building extensive maps capable of holding the semantic load across different patches of the landscape leads to various epistemic complications. In order to avoid such complications, the concept is reformulated as a mobile frame, a transitory epistemic cue which procedurally informs its construction, extension and revision. But this reformulation amounts to a drastic shift in the ontology of the concept. The concept is addressed no longer by what it is, but by where it is situated (Leibniz) or where it subsists (Lawvere) – from ‘what is a concept’ to ‘where is a concept’. This presentation attempts to unpack the consequences of understanding the concept as a specific navigational abstraction of the local site or the place in terms of how such an abstraction brings into focus hidden cracks and defects in the classical portrait of concepts.
Joan Carlisle-Irving Lecture Series,
University of British Columbia
Wednesday March 5, 2014, 5:30pm
Room 104 Lasserre Building, UBC
6333 Memorial Road
Risk and Time
What does it mean to adapt to the reality of time? The aim of this discussion is to offer a preliminary analysis of risk as an adaptive encounter with time. This is a concept of risk intrinsically related to the practical will and making a commitment. Risk in this sense registers itself as a practice-mediated contemplation into the innermost workings of time as expressed by the radical asymmetry and the excess of the destiny over the origin. This is not destiny as a terminal goal but rather the lack thereof. In taking risk to practically elaborate ramifications of an initial commitment, one moves along an arrow of time, from multiple destinations in the future toward the past, establishing a new link in history through which the future travels back in order to interfere with its origin. By annulling the possibility of a terminal goal in history while activating the revisionary force of the future, risk as embedded in practical elaboration intercepts resignation from its source, namely, an account of history anchored in and overdetermined by the origin as the foundation of thinking and action in the present. In doing so, risk engages one of the most consequential problems concerning action: that in order to act upon history, it is imperative to first grasp – that is, cognitively and practically, structurally and functionally adapt to – the reality of time.
Thursday, March 6, 4:30pm
SFU Gallery, Academic Quadrangle 3004
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive, Burnaby
At the crossroads between descriptions*
A system can be assigned two sets of descriptions, physical descriptions and computational descriptions. Models corresponding to these descriptions differ in various fundamental ways. Conflating these two asymmetrical sets of descriptions results in an inflated metaphysics of computation, ultimately leading to different forms of pancomputationalism, or a view according to which everything can be furnished with a computational description, or can be viewed as a system naturally entitled to an algorithmic decomposability and capable of implementing every computation. Tacit endorsement of pancomputationalism by disregarding conditions required for computational descriptions is an ideological foundation for reinventing the universe at the level of myth yet this time myths entirely populated by machines. By giving ‘universe as a warehouse of machinery’ a new meaning, pancomputationalist ideology vacillates between what Mark Wilson calls tropospheric complacency and semantic mimicry, over-extended local circumstances and imaginary ubiquitous behaviors associated with flat universes. Reinforced by our intuitive tendency to evenly distribute descriptions and properties across different incommensurable domains, the world of omnipresent machines is in fact a global semantic simulation of our local niche phenomena. When this new semantic picture of the world does not directly influence our concepts and perspectives, it serves as an alibi for our choices of method. But, on the other hand and at the other extreme, I would argue that eliminating the possibility of mediation between these two descriptive sets by privileging the physical description leads to unsound ontological and epistemic claims about the limits of constructibility and knowledge, eventually reinscribing ineffability in new guises.
* This talk is part of a two-day conference organized by Mohammad Salemy, Incredible Machines: Digitality and the Modern System of Knowledge at the Threshold of the 21st Century.
Saturday March 8, Time: 2:30pm
Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
149 W Hastings St. Vancouver, BC