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Book: HandbookNotes

See: Handbook

Values and Questions

I'm collecting from people their deepest values, but especially their questions, so that I could teach them how to investigate them:

The purpose of this handbook is to show that you can discover the answer to any question you may ever have.

You have to do the work yourself if you are to answer your question to your own satisfaction. This is in part because the question that you formulate can change as you investigate it. It can also give rise to new questions.

But the ways of figuring things out are basically the same. You may be familiar with many or all of them. But I wish to survey them for you so that you can see how they work together. Indeed, I hope that we might develop them as a science.

Answers have us choose one from among several perspectives. Questions have us step back and consider the bigger picture, the overall perspective. In the divisions of everything, one of the perspectives happens to be identified with this bigger picture and is considered to express it. Although that may be subject to change, perhaps as dictated by the six transformations.

There are four levels by which the questions have us step ever further back and the answers have us delve ever further in. And the six transformations take us from one level to another level.

Midterm on 5th week. Report due on 10th week. Those who attend consistently can turn it in later.

Philosophy consists of unsolved riddles. So nobody has solved them. So you have to think for yourself. So that is what I will teach you. Whereas technology is not having to think for yourself.

If you already know how to think for yourself, then you can still read this book. But why? :)

If you don't want to think for yourself, then destroy this book. Do it now!

If you find yourself thinking, and quite enjoy that, then I believe you will find this book quite enjoyable, indeed.

If you are an architecture student at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University who signed up for "Philosophy of Technology", and you are wondering why I am having you read this book, then I will tell you my wider purpose.

When I was six years old... know everything and apply that usefully...

Now I am 51 years old. Wanting to write a book... Creative writing... Philosophy of technology... Christopher Alexander... Dean said I couldn't teach creative writing... teach my own philosophy... independent thinkers... ask investigatory questions...

If you are the daughter of the President of Kazakhstan and you came here to be his master architect, then you still may find this book useful.

But your father may ask you what is Philosophy of Technology. So let me explain to you and then you will see why it's best...


Thank you so much for your encouragement! Yes, I will try to make as much of the course available as I can.

Terrence Tao's lecture on the Cosmic Distance Ladder is the best video lecture that I've ever seen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ne0GArfeMs He goes through all of the creative reasoning that allowed people to figure out since ancient days the size of the Earth, the Moon, the distance to the Sun, to the nearest stars, to the edge of the galaxy. It's such a great story that I want to watch it with my students and stop it briefly after each segment to note how it relates to the history of thought and to the "ways of figuring things out" that we'll be collecting and to note the principles that the arguments depend on.

A few more thinkers I may likely devote a class to, relating them to my own discoveries:

None of the reading will be required. But I will try to select the best short pieces or excerpts.

The "No More Secondhand God and Other Writings" book is a very nice introduction to Buckminster Fuller, I imagine. I found this copy online: http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/bucky-fuller-writings.pdf I will have to explore the "Omnidirectional Halo". My own philosophy, the "divisions of everything", are for me much more directly basic and useful. And I'm writing up my investigations of the simplex, etc., and will be giving a talk this Saturday at an aesthetics conference, analyzing how Christopher Alexander's principles of life apply both to the Mandelbrot set (superficial beauty) and more purely to the simplex (deep beauty). So I expect to give my own lecture on the distinctions between tetrahedral and cubic and other kinds of thinking (as given by the 4 classical Lie groups/algebras).

But I want to illustrate a very curious "way of figuring things out" which is the precarious capstone of the whole system. I call it "context" for lack of a better word. And here is my example. I ask the students, what is 10 + 4? And they say "14". And I say no. Why? The answer is 2. Why? Because I'm refering to the hours of the clock: 10 o'clock + 4 hours = 2 o'clock. And here is an example where everything they new was wrong. Because they didn't have the right context. But we can never be sure that we have the right context. We can't explain all of the context, there's just too much of it. OK, but that's just one example. But Buckminster Fuller's whole life is an example. One way (perhaps the standard "academic" way) to look at him is that practically all of his work is nonsensical. But another way to look at him is that he's a prophet, and most particularly, a prophet in an age of technology. So it's very nice to read what God means to him in such an age. And it's inspiring to hear him go on about "electronic voting" as the solution for humanity's problems in 1940 and to realize that he's actually somebody from today who has gone back in time and is trying to explain the world-wide-web. So the point is that one way to figure things out is to be the poet-prophet-visionary. Another poem, perhaps more directly relevant to "figuring things out" is his "A Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science." I'm trying to explain that at any point it may be that everything we know is wrong. That's why the sum of all my thinking is "God doesn't have to be good." (Life doesn't have to be fair.) And so we can figure things out by being ever ready to unlearn everything we know. And then relearn it, along with others, if it happens to be true. There is a deepest unity in that.

I just want to say that one reason I'm adding thinkers is to be sure to have at least a few women. So far I have Natalie d'Arbeloff, Sunni Brown (of the Gamestorming trio) and I'm also adding Sarah Susanka, who has popularized Christopher Alexander's work for the masses through her series "The Not So Big House", which I think should be interesting to architecture students, how these ideas make their way. I thus appreciate more suggestions...

And Parisa Tabriz's keynote speech is quite intriguing - thanks!

I also found Grunch of Giants online: http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/bucky-giants.pdf and somewhere - perhaps at the beginning and throughout the course - I want to reference his personal endeavor: "I set about fifty five years ago (1927) to see what a penniless, unknown human individual with a dependent wife and newborn child might be able to do effectively on behalf of all humanity in realistically developing such an alternative program [of livingry rather than killingry=weaponry]."

I have a similar endeavor, more or less. But I'm not allowed to talk about examples from my own life or talk about God. I'm suppose to use examples from other people's lives. So Buckminster Fuller might be a great life to talk about throughout the course.

Another issue is the ethics of getting and using copies of all these texts. And in general, of Public Domain vs. copyright forms (including Creative Commons and copyleft). It's relevant when your doing investigations that depend so much on analyzing and reanalyzing content, chopping it up and reorganizing it.

I want to share the news that I'm getting hired (5% full-time) to teach "Philosophy of Technology" to architecture students at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University this Fall. It seems that I'll be able to redefine the course so as to teach my own philosophy. My main ideas are that it should be called (but won't be called) "Philosophy and Technology" where Philosophy is the collection of unsolved riddles, Technology is the collection of solved riddles, and Science is what takes us back and forth between the two. I want each student to choose one personally meaningful question, design and pursue an investigation of it, and share the conclusion and subsequent questions. So students will write a report about that, and take an exam where they have to write how they personally would approach 5 other students' questions, and also help each other out with the investigations. Class will be 30 minutes lecture, 30 minutes discussion, 30 minutes working together on their investigations.

I'll be introducing them to a great variety of ways of figuring things out. I have a large collection here http://www.selflearners.net/ways/ and I appreciate ideas on extending it.

I want especially to introduce:

I will organize all of the many methods into my own "House of Knowledge".

So the overall thread is that if we want to see the interplay between philosophy and technology it makes sense to draw inspiration from philosophically thinking people who succesfully engaged their technological environments.

Klausimas = nepasimetęs. Žmonės pasimetę. Aš randu ką veikti - aš nepasimetęs. Klausimas - tai yra nepasimetimo ženklas. Nes tai rodo, kad tu daug žinai - tu žinai papildinį, būklę, lieka laisva kryptis.

Kaip gvildenti savo kiečiausią klausimą?

Pradėti nuo pavyzdžio: Alexander.

Savo pavyzdį, Platono pavyzdį - vėliau.

Pabėgiojimu atsipalaiduoju, tad kyla mintys. Taip pat mintys kyla susitelkiant, įsijaučiant.

Melstis Dievui, klausytis Dievo. Pakrauti pasąmonę.

Noriu pamokyti. Kodėl mokytis šito, klausimus gvildenti? Teigiamai užsiimti (ne neigiamai). Ir amžinai bręsti čia ir dabar.

Rašau knygą mokiniams, paskiriems šviesuoliams, šviesuolių tautai, ir sau apžvelgti.

Skyrius: ko mokytis? Apžvelgti įvairiausius mokslus iš kurių galima pasisemti. Tame pačiame skyriuje paaiškinti santykį tarp filosofijos ir technologijos. Paaiškinti kodėl svarbūs ryškūs filosofai, kaip gilinimąsi į jų sąvokų pasaulius.

Kritiškai vertinti (kitus mąstytojus) tačiau semtis iš jų. Atskirti jų prasmingas mintis ir neprasmingas mintis. Tad naujai pažvelgti, naujai pritaikyti jų mintis, jas perkurti:

Vaikai klausia daugybę klausimų, (tarsi būtų Dievo vaikai), bet jų nepuoselėja.

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Puslapis paskutinį kartą pakeistas 2020 sausio 25 d., 22:59