Log24

Monday, May 21, 2012

Child’s Play (continued*)

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:59 PM

You and I …

we are just like a couple of tots…

Sinatra

JOSEFINE LYCHE

Born 1973 in Bergen. Lives and works in Oslo.

Education

2000 – 2004 National Academy of Fine Arts, Oslo
1998 – 2000 Strykejernet Art School, Oslo, NO
1995 – 1998 Philosophy, University of Bergen

University of Bergen—

 It might therefore seem that the idea of digital and analogical systems as rival fundaments to human experience is a new suggestion and, like digital technology, very modern. In fact, however, the idea is as old as philosophy itself (and may be much older). In his Sophist, Plato sets out the following ‘battle’ over the question of ‘true reality’:

What we shall see is something like a battle of gods and giants going on between them over their quarrel about reality [γιγαντομαχία περì της ουσίας] ….One party is trying to drag everything down to earth out of heaven and the unseen, literally grasping rocks and trees in their hands, for they lay hold upon every stock and stone and strenuously affirm that real existence belongs only to that which can be handled and offers resistance to the touch. They define reality as the same thing as body, and as soon as one of the opposite party asserts that anything without a body is real, they are utterly contemptuous and will not listen to another word. (…) Their adversaries are very wary in defending their position somewhere in the heights of the unseen, maintaining with all their force that true reality [την αληθινήν ουσίαν] consists in certain intelligible and bodiless forms. In the clash of argument they shatter and pulverize those bodies which their opponents wield, and what those others allege to be true reality they call, not real being, but a sort of moving process of becoming. On this issue an interminable battle is always going on between the two camps [εν μέσω δε περι ταυτα απλετος αμφοτέρων μάχη τις (…) αει συνέστηκεν]. (…) It seems that only one course is open to the philosopher who values knowledge and truth above all else. He must refuse to accept from the champions of the forms the doctrine that all reality is changeless [and exclusively immaterial], and he must turn a deaf ear to the other party who represent reality as everywhere changing [and as only material]. Like a child begging for 'both', he must declare that reality or the sum of things is both at once [το όν τε και το παν συναμφότερα] (Sophist 246a-249d).

The gods and the giants in Plato’s battle present two varieties of the analog position. Each believes that ‘true reality’ is singular, that "real existence belongs only to" one side or other of competing possibilities. For them, difference and complexity are secondary and, as secondary, deficient in respect to truth, reality and being (την αληθινήν ουσίαν, το όν τε και το παν). Difference and complexity are therefore matters of "interminable battle" whose intended end for each is, and must be (given their shared analogical logic), only to eradicate the other. The philosophical child, by contrast, holds to ‘both’ and therefore represents the digital position where the differentiated two yet belong originally together. Here difference, complexity and systematicity are primary and exemplary.

It is an unfailing mark of the greatest thinkers of the tradition, like Plato, that they recognize the digital possibility and therefore recognize the principal difference of it from analog possibilities.

— Cameron McEwen, "The Digital Wittgenstein,"
    The Wittgenstein Archives at the University of Bergen

* See that phrase in this journal.

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