31 May 2007
29 May 2007
28 May 2007
26 May 2007
A friend of mine was in a city in one of the European countries (could be any one of them) and he was in his car at a traffic light with his window open. There was a traffic jam so he was there for a while. At some stage an old lady (in her late seventies) come up to him and said, "Tell me my boy, is there poverty in this world?" He replied saying, that yes there is, there are many people that are poor. Then she pointed at the huge number of people with shopping bags and the traffic jam with the numerous automobiles stuck their and asked, "Then what is all this?" My friend had no answer to this and said "I don't know." She then continued on her way. This is a true story.
Exista doua variante de replici: Varainta standard este ca nevoile nu sunt decat niste cazuri particulare de dorinte. Exista o ierarhie a preferintelor si ni le satifacem mai intai pe primele (nevoile), iar apoi, pe masura ce avem tot mai multi bani, devine posibil sa le satisfacem si pe cele mai putin importante.
It may well be true that we often spend money on things that aren't "needs" but are just "wants". However, this appears to me to be simply a matter of declining marginal utility of wealth as our wealth increases... hardly a groundbreaking conclusion.
As we have gotten richer, the relative cost of the things we need to stay alive, such as food, shelter, and warm clothing, has fallen dramatically as a percentage of our income. Naturally, we spend more money on things that do more than simply keep us breathing.
Thus this lament that we waste our time and money is not new; the phenomenon of falling relative prices has been accelerating since sometime in the late neolithic, and people have been complaining about the loss of our primordial consumer innocence for nearly as long. By the time of the industrial revolution, we got an entire literary movement, the Romantics, devoted to it. Not long after that, the idea wormed its way into its proper home, economics, and the genre has flourished ever since.
Unul dintre participantii la Free Exchange a venit insa acum si cu o alta varianta:
Linguistically, "need" and "want" serve different functions.
"Want" is a simple statement of preference. "I want an apple" means that I would prefer to have an apple than not to have an apple.
"Need" is always (correct me if I'm wrong here) followed explicitly or implicitly by a qualifying phrase. "I need the remote control to turn on the fan while I am bedridden." If you didn't "want" to turn on the fan while you were bedridden you wouldn't "need" the remote control.
It is not the needs that are changing over time but the qualifying circumstances that we come to want. Often we only come to want circumstances when we know that they're available to have.
Cu alte cuvinte dorintele se refera la scopuri, in timp ce nevoile la mijloace: Am dorinta de a obtine ceva, si am nevoide de cutare lucru pentru a putea sa-mi ating scopul ales.
Din perspectiva asta, odata ce putem sa ne satisfacem tot mai multe dorinte automat creste si numarul de nevoi pe care le avem. Nici nevoile nu sunt ceva fix, predefinit, sau dat de biologie (ar fi numai daca dorintele noastre ar fi fixe).
24 May 2007
22 May 2007
"People are experience rich and theory poor. People who are busy doing things — as opposed to people who are busy sitting around, like me, reading and having coffee in coffee shops — don't have opportunities to kind of collect and organize their experiences and make sense of them."
In all cultures, certain rhythmic sounds give listners intense pleasure and heartfelt emotions. What benefit could there be to diverting time and energy to the making of plinking noises, or to feeling sad when no one has died? Many suggestions have been made - music bonds the social group, coordinates action, enhances ritual, releases tension - but they just pass the enigma along rather than explaining it. Why do rhythmic sounds bound up the group, dissipate tension and so on? As far as biological cause and effect are concerned, music is useless. It shows no sign of design for attaining a goal such as long life, grandchildren, or accurate perception and prediction of the world. Compared with language, vision, social reasoning and physical know-how, music could vanish from our species and the rest of our lifestyle would be virtually unchanged. Music appears to be a pure pleasure technology, a cocktail of recreational drugs that we ingest through the ear to stimulate a mass of pleasure circuits at once. (How the Mind Works, pagina 528)
When the frequencies of the fundamental frequency element (Fo) in the vocalizations were recorded from more than 50 individuals varying in age from 6 months to 18 years, small but significant differences were consistently noted between the groups of animals older than 1 year. Such differences were not found in younger individuals, suggesting that they arise from learning.
Sugiura [un coleg al lui Matasaka] reported in free-ranging Japanese macaques that a coo sound with a rising pitch contour is likely to be responded to by another coo with a rising contour, and vice versa. This sort of vocal interaction was shown to occur between individuals affiliated although unrelated to one another, hence functioning to maintain and even strengthen the relationship between them.
20 May 2007
Le Cosmorama IV, 1970 Jardin d'hiver
Epoxy resin with polyurethane paints,5 x 10 x 6 m,realized in 1969-1970 after a 1968 model. The first important enlargement made by Jean Dubuffet (for his own use) was conserved by the artist under an inflatable structure close to his studios in Périgny-sur-Yerres before being acquired by the state in 1973 with the view to install it definitively in the future George Pompidou Centre. Groupe de quatre arbres Epoxy resin with polyurethane paints, H.12 mètres realized in 1972 after a 1970 model.Chase Manhattan Plaza, New York (USA). This monumental group was an order from the banker David Rockefeller who wanted to erect one of the artist's sculptures in front of the Chase Manhattan Bank's new offices, New York (architect: Gordon Bunshaft). It was the first order for a monumental sculpture made by Jean Dubuffet which he carried out in his Périgny-sur-Yerres studios recently put into usage. Antichambre de la villa Falbala
(porte ouverte sur le cabinet logologique)
époxy peint au polyuréthane - 572x152x610cm, 1974
Cabinet logologique, 1967-1969
Epoxy resin and concrete with polyurethane paints, Surface area 1610 m2, highest point 8 m, built between 1971 and 1973 (and altered in 1976), Jean Dubuffet Foundation, Périgny-sur-Yerres, Val-de-Marne (France).
In the centre of the Closerie Falbala, a simulacrum of a walled garden, stands the Villa Falbala built by Jean Dubuffet to protect the Cabinet Logologique (1967-1969).
epoxy resin with polyurethane paints, H. 9 m
Made in 1988 after a 1969 model.
19 May 2007
The two images of the Leaning Tower of Pisa are identical, yet one has the impression that the tower on the right leans more, as if photographed from different angle. The reason for this is because the visual system treats the two images as if part of a single scene. Normally, if two adjacent towers rise at the same angle, their image outlines converge as they recedefrom view due to perspective, and this is taken into account by the visual system. So when confronted with two towers whose corresponding outlines are parallel, the visual system assumes they must be diverging as they rise from view, and this is what we see. The illusion is not restricted to towers photographed from below, but works well with other scenes, such as railway tracks receding into the distance. What this illusion reveals is less to do with perspective, but how the visual system tends to treat two side-by-side images as if part of the same scene. However hard we try to think of the two photographs of the Leaning Tower as separate, albeit identical images of the same object, our visual system regards them as the ‘Twin Towers of Pisa’, whose perspective can only be interpreted in terms of one tower leaning more than the other.
Lecture 1: The Intentional Communication of Great Apes
Apes communicate with conspecifics most flexibly in the gestural domain, including adapting to the attentional state of the recipient. They use both intention movements (abbreviations of social actions that become communicative within a specific interactive context) and attention getters (actions that gain the attention of others to the self in a wide variety of contexts). All of these are basically dyadic - aimed at regulating the social interaction directly - not triadic in the sense of referring to external entities. They are also all basically "competitive" - aimed at getting the signaler what she wants - not co-operative in the sense of sharing psychological states. Interestingly, when interacting with humans many apes do learn to "point" to things they want triadically. But these "points" are action imperatives only; they are not co-operative in the human sense (and may not even be truly referential), as evidenced by the fact that these pointing apes still do not understand when humans point for them informatively. [handout] Lecture 2: The Co-operative Communication of Human Beings In contrast to our nearest primate relatives, human beings communicate with one another co-operatively. This co-operative structure pervades all aspects of the communicative exchange. Thus, human communication depends fundamentally on: (1) a joint attentional (or intersubjective) frame that provides the common ground necessary for reference; (2) the mutual manifestness of the communicative act itself, which generates both relevance inferences and interpersonal obligations; (3) the co-operative motives to help and to share experience with others (even if embedded within a selfish, deceptive motive); and (4) the ability to collaborate with others in joint activities, specifically to ensure that the receiver comprehends the sender's message as intended. The communicative activities of other animal species have little resembling this same co-operative structure. Human co-operative communication emanates evolutionarily from an adaptation for shared intentionality in general, as manifest in many other human cultural activities. Linguistic communication has this same co-operative structure, but adds, in addition, the perspective-taking inherent in contrastive linguistic symbols. [handout] Lecture 3: The Ontogenetic Emergence of Shared Intentionality The human adaptation for shared intentionality emerges ontogenetically at around the first birthday as two developmental pathways come together: (1) the general primate social-cognitive ability to understanding the goals and perceptions of others (and perhaps the intentions and attention of others); and (2) the uniquely human skills and motivations for sharing psychological states with others. As these two strands come together, human infants become able to create shared goals and intentions with others in joint action, and also to engage in various kinds of joint attentional activities, which create the ability to understand multiple perspectives on a common entity. The difference between humans and apes can be most clearly seen when their behavior is compared in situations involving helping (which do not involve full-blown shared intentionality, and in which they differ only a little) and situations involving true co-operation and shared intentions (in which they differ more profoundly). This same basic difference emerges when humans and apes are compared in the comprehension of communicative intentions (e.g., as expressed in both deictic and iconic gestures): human infants understand co-operative communicative intentions prelinguistically, whereas apes do not understand these at all - but rather understand the (social) intentions of others most readily in competition. [handout] Lecture 4: The Ontogenetic emergence of Co-operative Communication
Infants begin expressing their communicative intentions also at around the first birthday. In addition to co-operative requests (expressions of desire that helpful others are supposed to respond to helpfully), infants also communicate prelinguistically for two other basic motives: (1) to help others by providing them with needed information (informing); and (2) to simply share interest and attention with others to outside events and activities declaratively. They also, on occasion, gesture for others iconically [deictic gestures being triadic analogues of ape attention-getters and iconic gestures being triadic analogues of ape intention movements]. A series of experiments suggests that these early communicative acts involve full-blown shared intentionality, including participation in joint attentional (intersubjective) frames with distinct perspectives, participation in joint activities with shared goals and intentions, and the comprehension of co-operative communicative intentions. Less certain is how infants acquire these skills (imitation?ritualization?), and whether infants' comprehension of communicative intentions is fully Gricean (she intends that I know that she intends that we share attention to X). Studies of how infants acquire their earliest skills of linguistic communication in discourse help to resolve some of these outstanding issues. [handout]