Lecture: Human Reasoning and the End of Certainty in Economics
Standard economics reduces the problems that concern us in the economy to well-defined mathematical ones that can be "solved" by deductive logic. But often in actual fact our economic actions depend on our beliefs about others' future actions and beliefs, and these depend in turn on their beliefs about our actions and beliefs, so that deductive logic -the theorist's standby - becomes self-referential and breaks down.
In reality humans use little deductive logic in the economy. Instead they form subjective beliefs about future economic conditions and "test" these later against conditions created in large part by other's subjective beliefs and expectations; and these compete, co-evolve, form patterns, appear, and decay over time. Our economy is therefore a "Magritte Economy": one that is inherently complex, subjective, ever-changing, and to an unavoidable degree ill-defined.
Lecture: Postmodern adventures of Immortality.
Consciousness of mortality, and the dream of the transcendence of death, comprise the constantly moving force of cultural creation. The postmodern era, however, has modified the cultural perception of time in a significant way. Strategies of collective and individual immortality have shifted from modern deconstruction of death to a postmodern deconstruction of immortality. Bio-technology engenders individualization of collective immortality, whereas electronic technology brings about collectivization of individual immortality. The possible consequences of this process need to be taken into consideration.
Lecture: What Creativity in Science and Art Tell Us about How the Brain Must Work
The Romans had a slogan: Ex nihilo nihil fit ("You can't make something out of nothing"). Creativity on the forefronts of both science and art consist of trying new combinations of old things in the hope of discovering a good fit -- though doing a great deal of the groping offline, thinking before acting. Such is at the heart of intelligence (to paraphrase Piaget, intelligence is what you use when you don't know what to do, when there is no tried-and-true routine to fall back on). But mechanistically, random combinations of old things have always seemed improbable, as most random combinations are nonsense (and sometimes dangerous). We know, however, that the darwinian process shapes up quality from random recombinations: new species in millennia and new antibodies during the days and weeks of an immune response. I will discuss the prospects for a mental darwinism that operates on the milliseconds to minutes time scale, shaping up novel ideas and sentences never before spoken.
Rosas will perform an Anna Teresa De Keersmaeker choreography on Friday 2 June 1995. The film Achterland and video productions will be screened throughout the conference.
Lecture: Human Conception in Today's Society
A rapidly advancing science has introduced several novel techniques to assist human reproduction. The promise of these methods must be balanced against their ethical and societal issues, a fascinating combination that has led to ferment and debate. This situation will be assessed together with a brief glance at possible future developments.
Night performances of the work of Jan Fabre will be scheduled throughout the conference.
Lecture: The Hermeneutic versus the Scientific Conception of Psychoanalysis. An Unsuccessful Effort to Chart a Prototype for the Human Sciences.
The construction of bridges between the natural and social sciences is a laudable aim. But bridges that do not hold up should not be built. This paper argues that the socalled "hermeneutic" reconstruction of psychoanalytic theory & therapy proposed by Karl Jaspers, Paul Ricoeur and Jürgen Habermas fails multiply as a viaduct and alleged prototype for the study of human nature. One key to the failure is the misconstrual of so-called "meaning connections" between mental states in their bearing on causal connections between such states.
Lecture: Einstein's narratives.
It is not always easy to see whether an important theory in physics is about the world or a way of expressing the rules for talking about the world. This difference is important in interpreting relativity theory, particularly with respect to the question of the real existence of Minkowski space. A look at the history of relativity, from Nicolas of Cusa to Galileo to Einstein shows that special relativity is best interpreted as a grammar for coordinating narratives told by different observers. this viewpoint has consequences for other problems in physics, such as the EPR experiment.
Lecture: The Microdynamics of Incommensurability: The Example of Philip Kitcher's 'Advancement of Science'.
This lecture examines the bemusing but instructive logical, rhetorical and cognitive dynamics of contemporary theoretical controversy. It focusses on the recurrent non-engagements and mutually frustrating impass between, on the one hand, those who -like philosopher of science Philip Kitcher in his recent The Advancement of Science- defend or attempt to rehabilitate traditional ideas of knowledge, truth, proof, objectivity, reason and reality and, on the other hand, theorists in fields such as the history and sociology of science whose research and analyses have issued in more or less radical critiques of those ideas and also more or less radical reconceptions of the operations of science itself.
Lecture: Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind.
The problem of consciousness and its corollary the mind body problem have been with us at least since Descartes. An approach to a solution to both may be begun by carefully analyzing consciousness into its component features and modes. It will then be seen that consciousness is based on language, in particular its ability to form metaphors and analogies. The result is that consciousness is not a biological genetic giver, but a linguistic skill learned in human history. Previous to that transitional period, human volition consisted of hearing voices called gods, a relationship I am calling the bicameral mind.
Lecture: Quanta and Relativity: Two Failed Revolutions.
Bohr suggested the usual rules of mechanics be abandoned to explain the hydrogen atom spectrum, Louis de Broglie associated a wave to each particle, and Erwin Schrödinger provided a non-local equation for the de Broglie particle wave. The use of the name 'aether' was forbidden by Einstein after the discovery that the velocity of light was the same in every direction and independent of the chosen reference frame. Nevertheless recent literature is indicative of how the vast majority of physicists still cling to the idea of a non-existing void full of little particles in the spirit of Leibnitz or Descartes. This implies that quanta and relativity revolutions have yet to come.
Lecture: Subjects, Objects, Data and Values.
A rational integration of science and value is proposed here that does not do violence to either. In the past, rejection of "values" by scientific method has helped prevent corruption into religious dogma, social propaganda and other forms of wishful thinking, but it has also prevented scientific explanation of huge areas of human experience: art, morals and human purpose. This inexplicability undermines the universality and validity of scientific thought. It is argued here that values can exist as a part of scientific data, but outside of any subject or object. this argument opens te door to a "Metaphysics of Value" that provides a fundamentally different but not unscientific way of understanding the world.
Lecture: The End of Certitudes
One of the basic characteristics of Western science since Galileo and Newton is the formulation of the laws of nature which are both deterministic and time reversible. Today classical mechanics has been superseded by quantum theory and relativity. Sill, the basic characteristics of Newton's laws, namely determinism and time reversibility have survived. In contrast, on all levels of expenses be it in cosmology, geology, biology or human societies, we observe evolutionary patterns. How then are there patterns roted in the Laws of physics? It will be shown that once we oncorporate instabilities and chaos into their formulation, we can overcome this contradiction. The fundamental laws of nature take then a new meaning. Instead of expressing certitudes they express possibilities and this is appropriate in an evolutionary universe.
Lecture: Cosmos in Ancient Maya Symbolism.
The lecture will address the process of constructing world view as a human endeavor shared by all human groups. While it may differ in detail and in the instruments used by different human groups, its purpose is the same in all--to organize knowledge of the world and the place of human beings in it so that this understanding can be shared, replicated, and adapted to changing circumstance. The lecture will demonstrate how the Maya used metaphor to encode their knowledge of the world and how this encoding lay at the heart of their art, architecture, religion, and politics. Their representations of the Cosmos can be considered both as metaphor and as a process of symbolism and investigation analogous in kind, but not detail to modern cosmology.
Lecture: The Scientific Image and the Manifest Image.
There are striking differences between the scientific theoretical description of the world and the way it appears to us. The consequent task of relating science to 'the world we live in' has been a problem throughout the history of science. But have we made this problem impossible to resolve by how we formulate the problem? Some say that besides the successive world-pictures of science there is the world-picture that preceded all these and continues to exist by their side, elucidated by more humanistic philosophers. Wilfrid Sellars codified this conviction in his dichotomy of 'scientific image' and 'manifest image'. Others say that all our world-pictures are transient, evolve, conflict with and replace each other, undergo violent revolutions as well as periods of normal development, and may be incommensurable, allowing of no meaningful dialogue. All such formulations may themselves be tendentious metaphysics, full of false contrasts. Insistence on a radical separation between science and what we have apart from science, on the impossibility of accommodating science without surrender, may be a way of either idolizing or demonizing science rather than understanding it.
Lecture: Brain and Consciousness: The hard problems.
The relation between brain processes and lived human experience can be seen as the really hard problem of consciousness. The lecture will out some of the most important alternatives today in dealing with this problem. Its main proposal is that science needs to be complemented with a sustained, disciplined analysis of experience itself to move this major question beyond the sterile oppositions of dualism or reductionism.
Lecture: Ceci n'est pas Albert Einstein.
When Einstein meets again Magritte now here in Brussels, when did they meet before? The lecture argues that they met at an interdisciplinary conference organized by Alfred Korzybski on General Semantics. Most likely, it was Magritte's famous painting of a pipe containing its own self-negating caption that persuaded Korzybski to say "The Map is not the Territory". And it was most likely Einstein's statement that certain phenomena would occur "... if radiation were to consist of independently moving pointlike quanta..." that would move fundamental epistemological questions in physics into the semantic domain. Gregory Bateson's "Explanation" as the art of creating semantic links between different descriptions can be invoked to respond to this conference's theme that asks us to construct a bridge between the apparently paradoxical dichotomy of Relativism and Unitism.
Lecture: Basically, it's purely academic.
Einstein did "basic research" and to very good effect. Everybody nowadays says that basic science should be fostered. But what do they mean? The conventional responses to this important question are confused and contradictory. Historical accounts are out of date. Philosophical criteria are too reductionist. Sociologists deconstruct basic research entirely. Psychological interpretations are too self-indulgent. Populists deplore its elitism. Economic theory discounts it heavily. Industry merely wants to exploit it. Academia celebrates its pure irrelevance -and yet policy-makers imagine it can be planned. Magritte tells us that the nature of basic scientific research is a suitable theme for basic metascientific research. Let us explore it in that spirit.