Had another one of those interesting watercooler conversations the other day about perfection.  It centered on the idea of perfection. Here are a couple of interesting points that came from the discussion:

Is it possible to be “perfect” for one second?

If the answer is yes, then it is possible to be perfect for two, and three and so on.  Thus acheiving perfection in life is possible (albeit very difficult.)

This of course raises the question of what perfection is.  My co-worker posited that perhaps there is “perfection in imperfection” siting examples of robotic representations of art that somehow are less beautiful because they are “too perfect”.

I was quick to point out that this intepretation actually means that her idea of “perfect” simply means 90% strait lines and 10% crooked ones.  Perfection is thus redefined.

So does that lead us down a slippery slope of moral relativism?  Hardly.  Because there are certain levels of perfection that are socially normative.

Im not exactly sure where I was going with this, but they were thoughts I figured were worth writing down, and the ABCphil blog seemed the appropriate place to document the ideas.

There are a couple of the abc’s that I was never really 100% happy with.  One of those was V.  I thought that lumping a bunch of people together was kind of cheating.  But I don’t have many options.  I considered making V for Wittegenstein, but it doesnt really solve any problems it just complicates more.  The obvious choice would be Voltaire, but ultimately I dont really like the guy, and felt like I had left out some others and couldnt justify giving him his own letter.  But the other day I thought of a compromise, and will probably go in the next time I make a new addition af ABC Philosophy:

V’s for Voltaire, who authored Candide,

Which, I admit, I just didn’t read.

I have been doing a lot of reading on symbols and symbol systems lately.  Here is a snipet of a recent paper I wrote about how symbol systems apply to virtual worlds, more specifically, to video games. 

Each video game has its own set of symbols and graphic elements that communicate information to the user.  The Super Mario franchise, for example uses an elaborate system of mushrooms, flowers, blocks, and many more elements that have evolved over many games and are specific to that world.  However there are many conventions and schemes that cross-over to many different games of differing genres.  A first aid kit (a white box with a red cross), is a very common symbol that indicates health, or life, and can be found in many games.  It usually has a positive effect on a health status bar, another common convention.  Despite the similarities there are still major differences from game to game on just how the concept of “health” works.  However, while there is no uniform way of communicating a concept across all games, gamers don’t have a problem easily adapting from one set of game symbols to another.  This adaptability can be explained by Knowlton’s analysis of sign vehicles and referents.  Because the interpretation of signs requires a three-part character of signs, gamers are able to infer meaning even when the sign vehicle is different in different games.  Seasoned gamers have a common conception of health and expect some sort of symbol to correspond to the referent (as abstract a concept it may be).  Thus, just as with schema theory, gamers can make connections from sign to referent based on their understanding of how games work, regardless of the sign vehicle.        

But icons are not the only symbolic elements of games and virtual worlds.  In many adventure games, users control some sort of avatar that that gives feedback on what the user is doing.  Often, there is a two or three dimensional world that can be traversed by the avatar, and a map that conveys the relative virtual distance between objects in that world.  It is interesting to note how these maps differ from convention maps with regard to Goodman’s characterizations of symbol and notational systems.  In maps of the real world there is a density of replete information that prevents them from being notational, that is, “it provides for an infinite number of characters with compliance-classes so ordered that between each two there is a third.”  In virtual maps, because they are digitally created, all points are ultimately broken down into discrete chunks.  Thus virtual maps can be considered by Goodman and Solomon as notational.  Health bars can also be considered notational systems because every discrete percentage of a health spectrum corresponds to a predefined condition, digitally prescribed by the game designers.  It is particularly interesting because these elements are a notational reflection of a non-notational real-world corollary.     

Other types of games (from Tetris to Madden) likely have their own issues and require further discussion.  Nevertheless, it is likely that the iconography and symbol schemata will only provide rich and complicated examples of Knowlton and Solomon’s work.

I have the following de-motivational poster on my wall:

I always thought it was funny, but hadn’t realized the subtle paradox that lies within it.  A friend pointed out that the thought that the poster invokes is first denial (“It takes more than that to motivate me”)  Followed by pride (“I must not have an easy job”)  Which in a wierd way is a little motivating.  Thus, the cute saying did indeed motivate you and you are thereby a fullfillment of the poster;s premise.  

This week I have heard at least five people comment on how slow this week is going.  And that yesterday (Wednesday) felt like Friday.  The stange part is that I agreed.  Isn’t it interesting that despite the fact Einstien and others have proven that time is not an absolute linear constant that marches forward with perfect uniformity for everyone, most of us still behave as though it is.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to discover somehow that those days that just seemed to drag, seconds were actually longer in duration, but since everything is experiencing the time the same, there is no way to obseerve it, and hence no way to know that time is speeding up and slowing down.  So the next time you think “Man, that went by fast” maybe it really did.

For those anxiously awaiting  the release of ABC Logic, be excited.  Did some playtesting at Uncle’s Games last weekend and it was a hit.  Only minor changes might be adopted, but over all, the game played as it should have.  I am hoping to have published copies by Christmas.

Aristotle was the Macedonian Pie Eating contest winner 6 years in a row.

Liebniz had a pet tarantula named Gus.

Rene Descartes grew world famous watermelons in his garden.

Immanuel Kant once wrote an opera called “Critique of Pure Rhythm”

Bertrand Russell  flunked out of math.

Friedrich Nietchze’s mustache was a fake.

Karl Marx is the great uncle of Groucho, Zeppo and Harpo.

David Hume was afraid of the dark.

George Berkeley had terrible BO.

Before naming Socrates, the Oracle at Delphi considered Ken Jennings.

 



http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/06/education/06philosophy.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

I feel like it is worth pointing out the various philosophers that didnt make the cut. 

Originally, I had John Stuart Mill as J.  And David Hume as U.  A couple of my budies thought that that pronouncing Hume as Ume wase fitting and amusing.  That left D to Descartes, and C open.  (Which is where Confucious was).  But other than Confucious, I struggled to come up with a good C philosopher.  Chomsky?  Cicero?  I wasn’t really satisfied.  When I went wih Cartesian, I had a couple of Ds to work with Derrida, Donaldson, De, but I never really studied any of them.  I had liked William James, but hadnt considered him seriously until I saw him on some list of influential philosophers somewhere.  With James as J and Mill as U, and D as Hume, it all kind of came together.

I also debated puting in Einstien and Newton.  But there wasn’t really room.  I felt like Spinoza was more important than Eistein(philosophically speaking that is).  At one point I didnt have Liebniz and I did have Newton, and that just felt wrong.

I am also sad I couldnt work in Popper, Satre, Rousseau and Schopenhauer.  Though I do not lament bumping Voltaire by the Vienna Circle.