Montag, 27. Februar 2017

Beobachten als Befragen:

"Am fruchtbarsten ist alles Wahrnehmen und Beobachten dann, wenn man mit ganz bestimmten Interessen und Fragestellungen an die Welt herantritt. Der gute Beobachter lässt die Welt nicht bloß auf sich wirken, er befragt sie."

Richard Müller-Freienfels (1951)

[Siehe auch - Immanuel Kant: >Reason must approach nature with the view, indeed, of receiving information from it, not, however, in the character of a pupil, who listens to all that his master chooses to tell him, but in that of a judge, who compels the witnesses to reply to those questions which he himself thinks fit to propose.<]

Donnerstag, 23. Februar 2017

William James on Conversion:

>... If you open the chapter on Association, of any treatise on Psychology, you will read that a man's ideas, aims, and objects form diverse internal groups and systems, relatively independent of one another. Each 'aim' which he follows awakens a certain specific kind of interested excitement, and gathers a certain group of ideas together in subordination to it as its associates; and if the aims and excitements are distinct in kind, their groups of ideas may have little in common. When one group is present and engrosses the interest, all the ideas connected with other groups may be excluded from the mental field. The President of the United States when, with paddle, gun, and fishing-rod, he goes camping in the wilderness for a vacation, changes his system of ideas from top to bottom. The presidential anxieties have lapsed into the background entirely; the official habits are replaced by the habits of a son of nature, and those who knew the man only as the strenuous magistrate would not "know him for the same person" if they saw him as the camper.

If now he should never go back, and never again suffer political interests to gain dominion over him, he would be for practical intents and purposes a permanently transformed being. Our ordinary alterations of character, as we pass from one of our aims to another, are not commonly called transformations, because each of them is so rapidly succeeded by another in the reverse direction; but whenever one aim grows so stable as to expel definitively its previous rivals from the individual's life, we tend to speak of the phenomenon, and perhaps to wonder at it, as a "transformation."

These alternations are the completest of the ways in which a self may be divided. A less complete way is the simultaneous coexistence of two or more different groups of aims, of which one practically holds the right of way and instigates activity, whilst the others are only pious wishes, and never practically come to anything. Saint Augustine's aspirations to a purer life, in our last lecture, were for a while an example. Another would be the President in his full pride of office, wondering whether it were not all vanity, and whether the life of a wood-chopper were not the wholesomer destiny. Such fleeting aspirations are mere velleitates, whimsies. They exist on the remoter outskirts of the mind, and the real self of the man, the centre of his energies, is occupied with an entirely different system. As life goes on, there is a constant change of our interests, and a consequent change of place in our systems of ideas, from more central to more peripheral, and from more peripheral to more central parts of consciousness. I remember, for instance, that one evening when I was a youth, my father read aloud from a Boston newspaper that part of Lord Gifford's will which founded these four lectureships. At that time I did not think of being a teacher of philosophy, and what I listened to was as remote from my own life as if it related to the planet Mars. Yet here I am, with the Gifford system part and parcel of my very self, and all my energies, for the time being, devoted to successfully identifying myself with it. My soul stands now planted in what once was for it a practically unreal object, and speaks from it as from its proper habitat and centre.

When I say "Soul," you need not take me in the ontological sense unless you prefer to; for although ontological language is instinctive in such matters, yet Buddhists or Humians can perfectly well describe the facts in the phenomenal terms which are their favorites. For them the soul is only a succession of fields of consciousness: yet there is found in each field a part, or sub-field, which figures as focal and contains the excitement, and from which, as from a centre, the aim seems to be taken. Talking of this part, we involuntarily apply words of perspective to distinguish it from the rest, words like "here," "this," "now," "mine," or "me"; and we ascribe to the other parts the positions "there," "then," "that," "his" or "thine," "it," "not me." But a "here" can change to a "there," and a "there" become a "here," and what was "mine" and what was "not mine" change their places.

What brings such changes about is the way in which emotional excitement alters. Things hot and vital to us to-day are cold to-morrow. It is as if seen from the hot parts of the field that the other parts appear to us, and from these hot parts personal desire and volition make their sallies. They are in short the centres of our dynamic energy, whereas the cold parts leave us indifferent and passive in proportion to their coldness.

Whether such language be rigorously exact is for the present of no importance. It is exact enough, if you recognize from your own experience the facts which I seek to designate by it.

Now there may be great oscillation in the emotional interest, and the hot places may shift before one almost as rapidly as the sparks that run through burnt-up paper. Then we have the wavering and divided self we heard so much of in the previous lecture. Or the focus of excitement and heat, the point of view from which the aim is taken, may come to lie permanently within a certain system; and then, if the change be a religious one, we call it a CONVERSION, especially if it be by crisis, or sudden.

Let us hereafter, in speaking of the hot place in a man's consciousness, the group of ideas to which he devotes himself, and from which he works, call it THE HABITUAL CENTRE OF HIS PERSONAL ENERGY. It makes a great difference to a man whether one set of his ideas, or another, be the centre of his energy; and it makes a great difference, as regards any set of ideas which he may possess, whether they become central or remain peripheral in him. To say that a man is "converted" means, in these terms, that religious ideas, previously peripheral in his consciousness, now take a central place, and that religious aims form the habitual centre of his energy.

Now if you ask of psychology just HOW the excitement shifts in a man's mental system, and WHY aims that were peripheral become at a certain moment central, psychology has to reply that although she can give a general description of what happens, she is unable in a given case to account accurately for all the single forces at work. Neither an outside observer nor the Subject who undergoes the process can explain fully how particular experiences are able to change one's centre of energy so decisively, or why they so often have to bide their hour to do so. We have a thought, or we perform an act, repeatedly, but on a certain day the real meaning of the thought peals through us for the first time, or the act has suddenly turned into a moral impossibility. All we know is that there are dead feelings, dead ideas, and cold beliefs, and there are hot and live ones; and when one grows hot and alive within us, everything has to re-crystallize about it. We may say that the heat and liveliness mean only the "motor efficacy," long deferred but now operative, of the idea; but such talk itself is only circumlocution, for whence the sudden motor efficacy? And our explanations then get so vague and general that one realizes all the more the intense individuality of the whole phenomenon.

In the end we fall back on the hackneyed symbolism of a mechanical equilibrium. A mind is a system of ideas, each with the excitement it arouses, and with tendencies impulsive and inhibitive, which mutually check or reinforce one another. The collection of ideas alters by subtraction or by addition in the course of experience, and the tendencies alter as the organism gets more aged. A mental system may be undermined or weakened by this interstitial alteration just as a building is, and yet for a time keep upright by dead habit. But a new perception, a sudden emotional shock, or an occasion which lays bare the organic alteration, will make the whole fabric fall together; and then the centre of gravity sinks into an attitude more stable, for the new ideas that reach the centre in the rearrangement seem now to be locked there, and the new structure remains permanent.

Formed associations of ideas and habits are usually factors of retardation in such changes of equilibrium. New information, however acquired, plays an accelerating part in the changes; and the slow mutation of our instincts and propensities, under the "unimaginable touch of time" has an enormous influence. Moreover, all these influences may work subconsciously or half unconsciously. And when you get a Subject in whom the subconscious life--of which I must speak more fully soon--is largely developed, and in whom motives habitually ripen in silence, you get a case of which you can never give a full account, and in which, both to the Subject and the onlookers, there may appear an element of marvel. Emotional occasions, especially violent ones, are extremely potent in precipitating mental rearrangements. The sudden and explosive ways in which love, jealousy, guilt, fear, remorse, or anger can seize upon one are known to everybody. Hope, happiness, security, resolve, emotions characteristic of conversion, can be equally explosive. And emotions that come in this explosive way seldom leave things as they found them. ...<

[Source: The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) -  Lecture IX - Conversion]

Mittwoch, 22. Februar 2017

Self-Control & Empathy:

"Self-Control Is Just Empathy With Your Future Self"

"Science Says When Self-Control Is Hard, Try Empathizing With Your Future Self"

"Why don't people save for the future? According to a future self-continuity account, if one views the future self as a stranger, she should be no more motivated to save for her future self than to give money to a stranger (Parfit, 1971 , 1987)."

"impulsivity is often just acting unkindly toward your future self."

"self-control may be more aptly described as behaving altruistically toward your future self."

[According to this perspective, a smoking person doesn't really care if his future self will suffer from lung cancer. Due to this lack of empathy he neglects to protect his future self from severe pain and suffering.]

Dienstag, 21. Februar 2017

On Planning:

"A decision is a choice of action - of what to do or not to do."

"Planning is decision making, except that it does not result in immediate action."

"Many of our decisions require us to choose between satisfying our goals for the immediate present and our goals for our futures ..." "We can think of [such conflicts as analogous to social dilemmas:] Instead of a conflict between self and other, the conflict is between a >present self< and a >future self<. A basic problem we have in such conflicts is that we are biased in favor of our present self. Our future self, like >others< in social dilemmas, is distant and has less claim on our attention. We begin to be aware of this problem in childhood, and we develop methods of self-control."

"We can think of decisions about the future as plans or policies. A plan is a decision to do something at a future time. When we cook a meal, we usually have some plan in mind. We do certain things at one time and put off other things for the future. The crucial step here is that we decide now to do something at a later time. There would be no point in planning if we were unable to hold ourselves to this decision. The study of planning, therefore, is intimately tied up with the study of self-control. A policy is a plan that binds us to perform a certain action regularly or under certain conditions. We might establish a policy of practicing the violin for half an hour every day, for example, or a policy of never picking up hitchhikers. A plan is not a policy when it involves only a single, isolated decision, such as planning to go to the movies on a certain day. A policy applies to a whole class of behavior that recur regularly in our lives."

Thinking and deciding
Jonathan Baron (1988)

Samstag, 18. Februar 2017

Über den Nutzen von Entwürfen:

>Bewusstsein ist anscheinend unverzichtbar, um die Elemente eines Problems zu identifizieren und grob zu skizzieren, wie eine Lösung aussehen könnte. Der für den New Yorker tätige Autor John McPhee hat gesagt, er müsse einen - egal wie lausigen - Entwurf erstellen, bevor die eigentliche Arbeit an einem Artikel beginnen könne. "Ohne einen existierenden Entwurf würde man offenkundig nicht darüber nachdenken, wie er zu verbessern wäre. Genau genommen schreibt man vielleicht nur zwei bis drei Stunden am Tag, aber im Geiste ist man auf die eine oder andere Weise rund um die Uhr, ja, auch im Schlaf, damit beschäftigt - allerdings nur, wenn bereits ein Entwurf oder eine frühere Version existiert. Vorher hat der Schreibprozess nicht wirklich begonnen." <

Richard Nisbett

Freitag, 17. Februar 2017

"Human language differs from other animal communication systems, even those where animals speak or sign their intentions, by the degree to which humans use rules to combine a few discrete, arbitrary sounds into a nearly limitless and readily understood group of novel and complex words, phrases and sentences."

John Marzluff

Sonntag, 12. Februar 2017

Thinking, Speaking, and Writing:

"Writing, after all, is nothing but speaking on paper, speaking is nothing but thinking out loud, and thinking is nothing but silent speech."

Rudolf Flesch

I disagree with Rudolf Flesch. From personal observations I would say that inner thoughts, even verbal inner thoughts, are in general less structured than spoken language or the written word. Since we think for ourselves and not primarily for communication with other individuals, our thoughts are less constrained in form and have higher degrees of freedom. The spoken or written language should be understandable for other persons. For that reason the spoken and written word has to be highly structured and constrained in form. On average, thoughts are less structured than spoken words, and spoken words are less structured than written words.

Freitag, 10. Februar 2017

"When a man thinks he has enough of evidence for some notion of his he sometimes refuses to listen to any additional evidence pro or con, saying, “It is a settled question, probatis probata; it needs no evidence; it is certain.” This is knowledge as distinguished from faith. He says, “I do not believe; I know.” “ If any man thinketh that he knoweth, he knoweth yet nothing as he ought to know.'' This knowledge is a shutting of one's ears to all arguments, and is the same as “Implicit faith” in one of its meanings."

James Clerk Maxwell (1850)

Cattell on Intelligence:

"Intelligence, or rather “g”, may perhaps be best defined as the ability to perceive relations between things (especially, of course, the ability to appreciate, grasp, and apply the most complicated relationships). It manifests itself in adaptability to new situations (not emotional adaptability), in originality of thought, in the power to reason abstractly, in rapidity of learning, and indeed in almost all the activities of man which are not purely habitual."

Raymond B. Cattell

Germany - Number of Marriages and Divorces by Year

Dienstag, 7. Februar 2017

Maxwell on Logic:

The actual science of logic is conversant at present only with things either certain, impossible, or entirely doubtful, none of which (fortunately) we have to reason on. Therefore the true logic for this world is the calculus of Probabilities, which takes account of the magnitude of the probability which is, or ought to be, in a reasonable man's mind.

James Clerk Maxwell (1850)

Pleasure and pain as a biological feedback mechanism:

A third concept of liberty
Samuel Fleischacker (1999)

"...(a) My pleasure in succeeding, if I succeed, is likely to encourage me both to take on housecleaning again and to pursue that end in the same or a very similar way. The pleasure here is thus part of what psychologists call a “feedback mechanism”: the pleasure at the end feeds back into the habits of my behavior as a means encouraging me to act in a similar way again; which action, if I once more succeed, results once more in pleasure as an end; that pleasure then becomes a means once more to further action of the same kind. As long as I keep getting rewarded by success, the motivation to behave similarly in future should become greater and greater, such that the pleasure does not merely maintain the habit but strengthen it. The frustrating pain I talked about in each of three ways I might fail will similarly feed back into a motivation not to behave similarly in the future, and indeed a series of successes can be badly stymied by one or two striking failures.
(b) The feedback mechanism can equally well be regarded as a cognitive tool. The pleasures and pains I feel on succeeding and failing in my tasks teach me something. It is not merely natural to abandon the putting away of toys if one’s children continually defeat every attempt one makes in this direction: taking the task as unachievable is a rational response to such failure. Of course, one could learn something more subtle—clean up when the children are in bed, perhaps—and the natural reaction does not always track the most intelligent reaction. The natural reaction to striking failure may well be to give up on a task altogether; a more intelligent one is to do the task differently. But pleasures and pains do generally track something we ought to take note of in our proceedings, some feature of the world with which we are successfully or unsuccessfully negotiating. So this particular kind of pleasure and pain is a cognitive one, something from which we can learn. That is not as true of the “brute” pleasures that come with the satisfaction of bodily needs: the pleasures of ingestion, excretion, rest, and copulation. Not that one cannot learn from the latter as well. Pleasure can indicate that a food is healthy for us, the pain of nausea often indicates that a food is unhealthy, pain in excretion can signal illness, ecstasy or boredom in copulation can signal the appropriateness or inappropriateness of a love partner. But these are blunt and broad mechanisms, perhaps for good biological reasons, and are notoriously unreliable indicators in particular cases. They are also, perhaps again for biological reasons, pleasures and pains that sweep over us mostly without our conscious control. We cannot easily choose to enjoy a particular meal or act of copulation by attending to its objectively advantageous features. Only attention to such objectively advantageous features, by contrast, can give us pleasure in housecleaning—the task itself hardly conduces to bodily delight. Hence the pleasure achieved or missed is more likely to index some real success or failure than a pleasure tripped off by a biological mechanism. Biological pleasures can be so sweeping, moreover, that they leave little room for thought at all. They overcome us at the expense of thinking, and this is indeed part of the relief they bring: satisfying bodily needs, we are relieved from the strain and responsibility of thought.
Finally, there is a category of pleasures that distract us from thinking without satisfying any bodily need, that work directly on brain centers for the activation of positive sensations, or the dulling of negative ones, without going via the completion of either a task-based or a biologically necessary process. Such are the pleasures of alcohol, of narcotics, and, probably, of much TV watching and “light” reading. The mind is directly stimulated to pleasure, or directly dulled to pain, or distracted from all thoughts, including the worrying ones about whether one’s tasks are completed and bodily health in order. Very ill and very unsuccessful people notoriously devote much of their lives to pleasures like these, a fact which I take as empirical evidence both that the pleasures in question require little effort, and that they are satisfying precisely because they allow one to set aside one’s objective situation. ..."

Montag, 6. Februar 2017

Ronald Fisher on scientific discoveries :

Ronald Fisher (1947):

Ronald Fisher on Sexual Preferences:

"The success of an organism in leaving a numerous posterity is not measured only by the number of its surviving offspring, but also by the quality or probable success of these offspring. It is therefore a matter of importance which particular individual of those available to be their other parent. With the higher animals means of discrimination exist in the inspection of the possible mate, for in large groups the sense organs are certainly sufficiently well developed to discriminate individual differences. It is possible therefore that the emotional reactions aroused by different individuals of the opposite sex will, as in man, be not all alike, and at the least that individuals of either sex will be less easily induced to pair with some partners than with others."

The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection
Ronald Fisher (1930)

Sonntag, 5. Februar 2017

The theory of samples:

"The theory of samples - their probable errors and legitimate use is the chief topic of modern scientific statistics[.]"

Karl Pearson (1911)

Sicherheit und Gewissheit:

>Sicherheit< sowohl als >Gewissheit< bedeutet ... - im allgemeinen Sinn - einen relativ hohen Grad der Wahrscheinlichkeit für den Eintritt eines Ereignisses ...

Peter R. Hofstätter

Philosophie und Wahrscheinlichkeitstheorie:

"... von Spinoza bis Heidegger [verstand es] kein einziger unserer großen Philosophen - nicht einmal Leibniz! - auch nur annähernd in dem Maße wie Pascal mit Wahrscheinlichkeitskategorien zu operieren ..."

Peter R. Hofstätter

The cultural-mediation hypothesis:

"... situational factors might play a significant role in mediating the direction of the correlation between IQ and political attitudes. This is the basis of the cultural-mediation hypothesis (Woodley 2010), which is based on the dual processing theory of culture (MacDonald,2009, 2010). The hypothesis is predicated upon the idea that humans possess explicit processing mechanisms such as general intelligence and effortful control — the Conscientious-ness associated capacity to regulate emotional states and action tendencies (MacDonald 2008), which gives them the ability to rationally and creatively imagine possible worlds in conformity with a moral ideal and to override spontaneous implicit orientations (MacDonald 2010) — such as the moral intuition mechanisms which are likely at the root of heritable individual differences in political orientation (Haidt 2001). High-IQ aids individuals in the identification of the normative center of gravity of a group or society, furthermore it permits individuals to realize the benefits associated with acquiescing to a set of culturally constructed norms (i.e. adopting a particular set of political attitudes or embracing/rejecting religious values),such as acquiring social status. Effortful control permits individuals to overcome the cognitive dissonance that arises from explicating attitudes that are at variance to implicit moral intuitions at an emotional level, through the use of mechanisms such as self-deception (MacDonald 2008).
The cultural-mediation hypothesis therefore predicts that where the normative center of gravity of a culture could be described as rightist (such as in the case of South Africa in the 1980s, Australia in the 1960s or certain contemporary US States), intelligent and flexible individuals will explicitly process rightist ideologies and attitudes. Where the normative center of gravity is leftist (such as in the case of modern day post-materialist Australia and the UK), such individuals will come to explicitly process leftist ideologies and attitudes."

Problematic constructs and cultural-mediation
Michael A. Woodley (2011)

Freitag, 3. Februar 2017

Induction and Analogy in Mathematics

Induction and Analogy in Mathematics
George Polya (1954)
"Mit zunehmender Größe des Vokabulariums stehen jedem einzelnen Namensgebrauch mehr und mehr Alternativen zu Gebote. Der Sprecher einerseits und der Hörer andererseits müssen andauernd Entscheidungen treffen, deren Schwierigkeit mit der Größe des Vokabulariums zunimmt."

Peter R. Hofstätter