There is something that graduate school does to you that isn't right. You spend a lot of your time wishing that you were somewhere else. And lo! You find out that you get to go to a scientific conference, a meeting, and what could be better than an international meeting? An international meeting during Oktoberfest. <\p>

Alas, you have to attend with others, and this is where things go wrong, horribly wrong. <\p>

I have had the fortunate experience of being able to travel as part of my graduate school tenure. I don't knock it. I don't think I would have ever had the chance to go to these places had I not a rather unique boss. That is where the story gets interesting. <\p>

My boss is a strange man. We will call him Dr. Atkinson (cause he looks like Mr. Bean). He could be the most socially awkward man that I know. He is an eternal pessimist. He, I don't think, actually has any interest in the science that his lab does. He does not work well with women, more out of being uncomfortable than being a jackass. He blatantly ignores rules, never is on time, and is unbelievably forgetful.

We (me, labmate and Dr. A) show up to the airport, only to find out 15 minutes before we are about to board, that our flight is cancelled. Dr. A immediatly goes into a tailspin:

"We shouldn't get on this plane. We should go home. I don't want to go to Germany." <\p>

Labmate and I decide that he is just being his eternal pessimist self. He, our leader, won't do anything about going to find out about the next flight that we have to get on. I go stand in a line that doesn't go anywhere. Finally, USAirways decides to put on us another flight to get to Philly that may or may not allow us to catch the connecting flight to Munich. However, these people won't let us get on the flight that is going to Frankfurt. Somehow, I can't see how it is better to let us stagnate in Philly for a night than to actually let us get to the country we are trying to get to. <\p>

We end up missing our connecting flight. At this point, I realize that my whole raison d'etre for the past 2 month was for naught. I was scheduled to present my data a mere 2 hours into the first of the meeting days. I was now going to be somewhere over an ocean while some german guy is going to be calling my name. I need a shower, some bourbon, and to get away from the positive thought sink that is my boss. <\p>

Our bags are on the way to the Fatherland. The hotel restaurant is closed. There is bar food, but only one bartender (who was the most amusing thing that I had seen all day). We have almost 24 hours to kill in Philly. At this point, I just want to be either home or our final destination. Perhaps the most annoying thing is this: Dr. A, who is the first person to complain about anything, ceases making decisions. <\p>

Dr. A has become moody, like a woman. His two female graduate students, one slightly more disappointed than the other, are trying to make the best of it. We know that we are all in the same boat, and yet he is acting like a spoiled child. He is vocal about 2 decisions during our stay in Philly:
1. That we had to go to the Franklin Museum.
2. That we didn't need to call the hotel in Germany, because they would hold it for us, because we were international customers. <\p>

I, of course, know better. I demand coffee. I demand Starbucks. I demand this for several reasons: I know that they have internet access at Starbucks. I know that I can email the meeting organizers to tell them that we missed our flight. I can email my husband and make him call the hotel. I also know, that with all the one on one time with me and the boss, I need a rather substantial amount of caffeine. <\p> Why make my husband call the hotel? Because he can do it without my boss watching. Dr. A was adamant that we didn't need to call.<\p>

In the next few hours, llittle goes wrong. Some airport restaurant won't take the airline vouchers cause USAir is going under. We are all getting sick of each other. We get on the plane. We sleep. We wake up. We land. All of a sudden I am in charge and we are in Munich.<\p>

Well, I am not really in charge, only sort of. Mostly because I can speak some German. I can get some directions. I can read the U-bahn schedule. I can translate menus. <\p>

My temper starts to go at this point. We have missed our direct bus shuttle from the airport to the little hamlet that the meeting is in. So it is my job to get us there by train. No problem. Dr. A doesn't understand why we don't need to take a 45 minute train into the center of Munich. I keep trying to make him understand that there is an auxillary station much closer to the airport. Finally, I have to appeal to his sense of wanting to take a shower and a nap. I explain that this is going to add 2 hours to the trip. He finally lets me lead. I take off to the subway station. I have been here before. I am in my element. If he wants to slack, I am not going to have anything to deal with him. <\p>

Time goes on. We take naps on the train. We listen to music. We don't talk to each other.<\p>

The boss is not well prepared for this trip. He has done no investigation about the city we are going to. He gets annoyed because I have to go to the bathroom and we make him watch our luggage. Finally we realize that we are close to the hotel. Sleep...at last.

They didn't hold our hotel rooms.<\P>

The city's hotels are booked. After all there is an international scientific conference going on.
There is one room for us.
In another hotel.
That we have to share.

By now, gentle reader, you have noticed several things. My male boss has to share a hotel room in another country with 2 female students. That the students are sick of him. And lastly, he is unprepared for this trip.

I make a last ditch effort to ask the hotel matron if there is another room; there isn't. I turn to our boss and try to explain that:
"We are all adults. It is only for one night. We don't have any options. We will get over it.
We take turns taking showers. We take a short nap. We go to the first day of the meeting. We have a cafeteria dinner. We adjorn back to the hotel.

At this point, we all have to get some sleep. Labmate and I have to share a bed. Dr. A's cot was a mere 6 inches from my right foot. We all get ready to sleep. Sure, it is a little strange that my boss gets to see me in my sleepware, which is just a long sleeve t-shirt and sweatpants, but I am dealing with it. Hell, I am fully covered. He takes this time to announce:
Girls, I don't sleep in these pants.
To which I snap:
Well, we don't have our glasses on, so it isn't like we are going to see anything.
<\p>

We all start reading, or working on the computer, or listening to music until we drop off to sleep. Wake up was going to be at some ungodly hour chimed by labmate's watch.<\p>

beep.....beep.....beep

Labmate and I wake up. We get ready. Dr. A is still sleeping, complete with a breathy snore. Labmate and I look at each other. Neither of us wants to touch him to wake him. Most of all, we don't want to disorient him so that he gets out of bed sans pants.<\p>

I have a brilliant idea. I have a piece of music on my mac that is perfect for this occasion. I boot it up. He sleeps thought the inital sound. All of a sudden, the room is filled with swelling music and: < br> Good mornin', good mornin'!
We've danced the whole night through,
good mornin', good mornin' to you.

Good mornin', good mornin'!
It's great to stay up late,
good mornin', good mornin' to you.
<\p>

Dr. A sits up in bed. Looks at me, cause he knows that it was my idea to do something like this, and I am a morning person, and says:
Shut that annoying music off. <\p>

Now this isn't the final hell that was our trip to Germany. It doesn't get worse, but it never really gets better.<\p>

As for the rest of the time, there wasn't enough beer in the breweries or tents at Oktoberfest that could make it better.

Lyrics from Singin' in the Rain from memory

So this is the first node I've e2'd for a while. Not that 'e2' is a verb, then again 'node' wasn't truly a verb until e2 came along.

I'm rambling.

This is not good.

I should focus.

The reasons I have been away are many, and quite boring to listen to so I shall skim over them. They are part of a list of memories which I'm sorting into 'evoke' or 'repress' piles, and include, but are not limited to: bouncing around europe, being thought of as God by a terminally ill lady in Dublin Conolly train station (temporarily!), Scandanavian girls, Long long distance relationships, the sacred art of thinking while phding etc etc etc etcetcetcetcetcetcetcetc...

plus a rather disturbing lack of intensity and a propensity for introspection.

As Red Forman would say in 'that 70s show' I am acting like a Dumass.

This has to change...

The composition of my first node interrupted by my father's dire need to google porn, I turned my attentions from one bright and shiny idol (the Mac) to another (the television). After 30 minutes of channel surfing my wave crashes down on the shores of Showtime's original series Street Time.

In this episode Rob Morrow's character (Kevin I think, this is only my second time) makes a visit to his parents despite his anger that they never visited him during his 5 year prison stint for marijuana trafficking. He discovers that his little brother and former business partner has been taking his place as number one son. This inevitably leads to the Family Meltdown Dinner Scene. Meanwhile, his parole officer ( I don't know the actor. Note to self: Check IMDB for a man that looks like the lovechild of Mandy Patinkin and that guy from Law and Order: Special Victims Unit) must deal with a new rich bitch parolee played by Swoosie Kurtz. If nothing else, this episode was worth my time to hear Ms. Kurtz, in a role obviously inspired by Martha Stewart, demanding "marble the color of my twat".

Well enough of that. Back to work!

Triumph, the insult comic dog inspired me to vote in the coming presidential election.

I wasn't going to vote this year, for two reasons. First, I believe George W. Bush will be re-elected. Second, I don't believe I could help or hinder this in any way.

I feel disenfranchised. Oh, we are all allowed the delusion that we have a say in the whole thing. They send me a ballot and I send it back, but I don't kid myself. As long as I've been alive my State has always voted for the Democratic candidate. Though most of Washington is inhabited by conservatives, the concentration of liberals in the Puget Sound area constitutes the majority. Voters outside King, Pierce and Thurston counties may as well stay home on Election Day. Pugetopolis will decide it for us and with all probability Washington will be clad in blue on CNN's Map 'o Electoral votes come this November. Regardless of any coin toss I might subject myself to, my one vote doesn't matter.

Even if I felt my vote mattered, this choice leaves much to be desired. Who will protect us from the Terrible Secret of Space? Bush, Kerry or Nader: it's sort of like choosing which Golden Girl you'd like to fuck. I'm not happy with the George and the last four years. John is pretty shady and I can't say I'm happy with his last 20 years. And Ralph will never be able to submit that change of address form for 1600 Pennsylvania. Good men never have a chance. I believe one must corrupt oneself beyond any point of redemption in order to obtain this office. One must have the tenacity to do whatever it takes to win.

This is painfully obvious when vote fraud starts to rear its ugly head. Do you remember the mess in Florida? Get ready for round two in Ohio. But the real bitch is the stuff you don't see. All those stuffed ballots; Vote early, Vote often is what the Chicago Democrats would always say. Think of all the cows that will vote in Texas this year. Think of the dead who will vote. Think of the mentally ill and senile. How despicable is this, that the dead and the retarded are used to serve this purpose; they are used to elect the president of the united states.

But I'm ranting. I basically became completely fed up with the whole thing.

That is, until this silly hand puppet changed my mind. During some clip on voter registration Triumph, the insult comic dog blurted something to the effect of, "Come on, the least you can do is cancel Ben Affleck's vote". This floored me. I couldn't stop laughing. The next day I went to the auditor's office and registered to vote. I decided to do just that.

Thanks Triumph for helping me with my dilemma.

89249

"I'm out to get cash money for my team"
Applying oneself.
That never works.

So this week has been spent really getting down to business on this grant application. Everything is currently in motion and I have very little to do at this point, some small revisions here and there. I realized last night that I really have no opinion about whether or not I'll get it. It isn't that I don't know my chances (which I don't) but I literally have no opinion. I'm just doing it and that's all I'm putting into the bargain. A rather strange non-committttal feeling.5

Like: Who the fuck are you?

What are other graduates doing?

  • Andrew is currently a functionary in a family-owned real estate firm
  • Brian is a graduate student at an Ontario university
  • Lyndall is busy drinking at hockey games and learning line-drawing
  • Matt #1 is still a drunken lout with deep philosophical difficulties
  • Matt #2 is taking on all comers and going for his
  • Kant

    Kant is coming along. The more I read Kant (and subsequently write about Kant...) the more I feel like the structural character of the Critique of Pure Reason is the only way he could possibly get out this luminous and terrifying thought out of his mind and into the world. It's really quite an impressive thing to be able to read. Of course, there are abstruse and incoherent passages throughout, but I really think there is some essentially human thought that breathes life into the whole endeavour. Today I'm going to write you something about Kant, and something detailed. And I'm going to put it right here.1

    Academics need to.......get academically direct

    Endeavour

    I fucking hate the spell check in Microsoft word. I've added so many obviously correct words to its dictionary it's mind boggling. I've even started questioning my own ability to spell; I have it turned onto Canadian/American spelling and it wouldn't accept the word endeavour but it would accept the word endeavor. I started thinking that maybe I was wrong and I actually looked it up in the dictionary. Don't trust a machine. I am a robot.

    Weekend

    A strange weekend, some denizens of Ottawa came for a visit, the weekend included much painting, and me trying to get my school work done at the same time. I don't know what it was but there was an eerie feeling of emptiness in the house this weekend, I think it might have been the weather and the expectation of frenetic activity due to guests.

    Special Lady Friend

    We're both busy with our respective endeavoUrs...making it easier to not notice being apart. But not that easy.

    "Make yourself move, life is moving faster now"
    Run wit de ting.
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    

    "Fuck man, Iris just got three phone calls in rapid succession."

    Things:

    1. http://www.theage.com.au/ffxImage/urlpicture_id_1062268474015_2003/09/01/wail.jpg
    2. http://hauszeitung.eb-wolfbach.ch/wandeln/8/arturo/bilder/sleepwalking.jpg
    3. http://www.writepower.sk
    i can't stomach poetry
    it doesn't suit my constitution
    and i can't wrap my shallowness around it.
    

    writing sentences in courier new makes them poetry.

    it gust a scruggle mister

    On not dying before you live: The difficulty of living up to one's expectations..... the further difficulty of having expectations in the primary spot yo.

    "It's just a struggle mister..." -The Grouch

    (Life's unbearable but we bear it...)

    1Transcendental Logic

    Division I. Transcendental Analytic
    Book I. Analytic of Concepts
    Deduction of the Pure Concepts of Understanding

    In this section of the Transcendental Analytic, Kant will elucidate the role of the understanding in cognition, and attempt to provide that understanding with firm a priori (necessary and certain) bases. In addition, he will connect more elaborately the understanding with the other subjective sources of cognition (e.g., sensibility and apperception). The bulk of this section will be devoted to a very detailed elucidation of the processes and bases of synthesis through which we arrive at cognition.

    Kant begins by enumerating three elements of the mind: sense, imagination and apperception. He then describes, very briefly, their individual functions in cognition. Sense (intuition) is what gives us the a priori ‘synopsis’ of the manifold. In other words, sense is what originally gives us our presentations of the manifold. Imagination then performs a synthesis on these presentations, allowing us to individuate, form, and conceptualize the manifold. Finally, apperception is what provides us with the unity of this synthesis through the unity of our consciousness (our ‘I’). Each of these aspects of cognition has an empirical and a transcendental use. The empirical use obviously deals with the actual deliverances of sensation (our presentations of the world). The transcendental use “deals solely with form and is possible a priori” (A95). In other words, the transcendental use deals with the conditions under which the empirical is made possible; with the necessary formal conditions of the empirical.

    Section II First Edition

    On the A Priori Bases for the Possibility of Experience

    Here, as elsewhere, Kant is interested in clarifying further the a priori bases which make experience possible. He begins this section by discussing the nature of concepts and their role in cognizing experience. He writes:

    It is wholly contradictory and impossible that a concept should be produced completely a priori and yet refer to an object, if that concept neither were itself included in the concept of possible experience nor consisted of elements of a possible experience (A95).

    In other words, we can never have an a priori concept with content (i.e., a concept which refers to some object) which is outside either the elements of possible experience or possible experience itself. If such a concept were to exist it would not truly deserve the name concept, because it would not be a concept of anything but merely an empty form. Concepts, thinks Kant, must necessarily refer to possible experience in order to have content; thus, they must refer to some intuition (which ‘gives’ us the manifold to be conceptualized). Kant writes, “An a priori concept that did not refer to experience would be only the logical form for a concept, but would not be the concept itself through which something is thought” (A95).

    So, in order to find out how pure concepts are possible we have to first be clear about the conditions for possible experience because concepts are necessarily dependent upon possible experience. Kant writes, “A concept expressing, universally and sufficiently, this formal and objective condition of experience would be called a pure concept of understanding” (A96). In other words, a pure concept is a concept whose content is not an empirical intuition, but one whose content is a formal constraint on possible experience.

    Kant notes that we can think things that “are in themselves possible but cannot be given in any experience” (A96) and that pure concepts of the understanding are like this. Rather than referring to our possible experience, they refer to the conditions which ‘frame’ this possible experience. These ‘elements’ of our a priori cognition (i.e., those elements which make cognition and experience possible) cannot themselves be taken from experience: they are already present in the very possibility of experience. Instead, “they must always contain the pure a priori conditions of a possible experience and of an object of possible experience” (A96). If these elements do not refer to these conditions then they remain, of necessity, empty and therefore can never be thought or cognized at all.

    Kant writes: “these concepts, which contain a priori the pure thought in every experience, we find to be the categories” (A97). In other words, the categories which Kant has described in some detail in earlier sections are found to be precisely those ‘pure concepts’ which make possible the synthesis of the manifold via concepts.

    In order to fit this suggestion into his larger system, Kant has show not only that these categories are the concepts which make the synthesis of the manifold possible, but also that they are the only way that this synthesis (and thus cognition in general) is possible. “Hence we must first examine, in terms not of their empirical, but of their transcendental character, the subjective sources that make up the a priori foundation for the possibility of experience” (A97). In other words, we must engage (as Kant has been doing somewhat informally) in an elucidation of the transcendental character and relationship of the elements of the mind which make cognition possible (i.e., sense, imagination, and apperception).

    Kant here proceeds to briefly reiterate how these elements are related and how they function in the process of cognition. He notes that “cognition is a whole consisting of compared and connected presentations” (A97) and not simply of separate and individualized presentations. Thus, the unifying element of apperception is necessary in order to present ourselves with the synthesis of the manifold given to us by the imagination. He notes, again, that the receptivity of intuition cannot by itself give us cognition, but can do so “only when combined with spontaneity” (A97), that is, the spontaneity of the imagination.

    Again Kant reiterates, from a somewhat different angle, the nature of the synthesis required for cognition. He writes:

    Now, this spontaneity is the basis of the threefold synthesis that necessarily occurs in all cognition: viz., the synthesis of the apprehension of presentations that are modifications of the mind in intuition; the synthesis of the reproduction of these presentation in imagination; and the synthesis of their recognition in the concept (A97).

    By elucidating and analyzing the three elements of this greater synthesis Kant believes we will be led to the subjective sources of all cognition. He also foreshadows the results of this analysis when he writes that these sources are what “make possible the understanding itself and, through it, all experience, which is an empirical product of the understanding” (A97).

    Preliminary Notice

    This ‘preliminary notice’ consists of four parts. Three of which will analyses of the individual aspects of the larger synthesis which makes cognition possible (apprehension, reproduction and recognition). The fourth and final part is an explanation of the connection between the categories and this synthesis. This section is ‘preliminary’ because it treats the elements of the synthesis separately and not as a coherent whole. In the following section (Section III of the Deduction of the Pure Concepts of Understanding) the same synthesis will again be explicated, but this time coherently and holistically.

    1. On the Synthesis of Apprehension in Intuition

    Kant begins by reminding us that “No matter from where our presentations arise, as modifications of the mind they yet belong to inner sense” (A99). In other words, even though we are actually experiencing the external world, we can only ever do so through the medium of inner sense. Thus, all cognitions are ultimately subject to time as the inner sense’s formal condition. “In time they must one and all be ordered, connected, and brought into relations” (A99). So, though “Every intuition contains a manifold” (A99), we can never present the manifold ‘as it is in itself’ without the formalizing constraint of time. This is because “any presentation as contained in one instant can never be anything but absolute unity” (A99), in other words: we can’t experience the manifold as such but only as a particular moment of our inner sense.

    “Now in order for this manifold to become unity of intuition (as, e.g., in the presentation of space) it must first be gone through and gathered together” (A99). In other words, intuition itself can never contain the manifold as such unless there is already a synthesis of apprehension in place. Such a synthesis must be a priori (and not merely empirical) because we could never even have the a priori pure intuitions (time and space) without this synthesis. We have to ‘gather together’ the manifold already before it can be presented to us. Though it is only a preliminary formulation, Kant gives an excellent description of this synthesis of apprehension when he writes, “For these presentations can be produced only through the synthesis of the manifold that sensibility offers in its original receptivity” (A100).

    2. On the Synthesis of Reproduction in Imagination
    "(I don't need you so don't need me)"

    In order to be able to connect and associate presentations there must be a connection between those presentations. The synthesis of reproduction in imagination is what provides that connection.

    Kant surmises that if the world of objects were totally chaotic and irregular, there would be nothing to connect insofar as there would be no regularities to cognize (the sky wouldn’t remain blue, so associating ‘sky’ with ‘blue’ would be done without any basis).

    But things are not like that, Kant argues. Hence there must be something that makes possible this reproduction of appearances by being the a priori basis of a necessary synthetic unity of those appearances. Kant clarifies the role of this synthesis:

    ((I think life is worth more than drugs or money)) (..but I'm not sure)

    Now, obviously, if I want to draw a line of thought, or to think the time from one noon to the next, or even just to present a certain number, then I must, first of all, necessarily apprehend in thought one of these manifold presentations after the other. But if I always lost from my thoughts the preceding presentations (the first parts of the line, the preceding parts of the time, or the sequentially presented units) and did not reproduce them as I proceeded to the following ones, then there could never arise a whole presentation (A102).

    In other words, if I want to associate the presentation of ‘instant one’ with the presentation of ‘instant two’ I must be able, somehow, to hold or reproduce the first presentation in my mind while I associate it with the following presentation. This is the case even for a priori presentations. The imagination is that part of the mind which allows us to perform this synthesis; this synthesis is the transcendental power of the imagination. (It is transcendental insofar as it must necessarily be in place before any possible presentation can take place).

    At the end of this section Kant points out that the synthesis of apprehension and the synthesis of reproduction are (as may be obvious) inseparably linked. Without the gathered presentation of the manifold via apprehension, we would have nothing to reproduce in imagination. And, without the reproduction of presentations via the imagination, whatever we had gathered in apprehension would be lost the second it was gathered, thus making cognition impossible.

    3. On the Synthesis of Recognition in the Concept

    But even the combination of these two syntheses is not enough to give us cognition. Kant notes “Without the consciousness that what we are thinking is the same as what we thought an instant before, all reproduction in the series of presentations would be futile” (A103). In other words, if the reproductions of imagination are not themselves brought together in front of us, in consciousness, then they, again, will be lost to cognition; they will be thought as different presentations and not a continuation of the original act of cognition from whence they have arisen. “Hence the manifold of the presentation would never make up a whole ((((and Kant has remarked above that cognition is always a unity))), because it would lack the unity that only consciousness can impart to it” (A103). This is a difficult thought, and one which Kant will spend considerably more space elaborating than he has the other two syntheses.

    ....most use crime as a way to pay the bills..........

    Roughly, what he suggests is that even if we have successfully arrived at a reproduction of presentations (his example is counting), this reproduction won’t make sense as a reproduction (as a ‘sum’ for instance) unless we are conscious of having reproduced it for ourselves. He notes that this consciousness needn’t be the sort of straightforward ‘noticing’ that we normally think of when we think of conscious thought; he argues that “even if it lacks striking clarity” (A103) some sort of consciousness is necessary.

    Here Kant begins a rather difficult clarification of what he means “by the expression an object of presentations” (A104). To quote Kant extensively here may prove helpful:

    We said above that appearances themselves are nothing but sensible presentations. But presentations in themselves must not in the same way be regarded as objects (outside the power of presentation). What, then, do we mean when we talk about an object corresponding to, and hence also distinct from, cognition? We can easily see that this object must be thought only as something as such = x. For, after all, outside our cognition we have nothing that we could contrast with this cognition as something corresponding to it (A104).

    What Kant wants us to be absolutely clear about here is that objects as such (objects ‘in themselves’) are “never at issue in experience” (B45). Which is to say, even ‘appearances’ (the direct deliverances of intuition) never directly point to the object as such. Rather, what is at issue in experience is only something distinct from cognition, some x which is not a distinct thing in itself but only a sort of placeholder to which our cognitions must necessarily refer. This ‘object’ occupies a strange place: it makes all cognition possible but it is nevertheless merely ‘something’ about which we can say very little indeed! Roughly, this x is not itself an object but the concept of an object as such; this x gives our cognitions the ability to refer to objects by presenting us with the unity of the concept of an object as such.

    Kant now ends his digression by stating that: “We are, however, dealing only with the manifold of our presentations. And since that x (the object) which corresponds to them is to be something distinct from all of our presentations, this object is nothing for us” (A105). In other words, it can never be thought or presented even though it provides the necessary concept of the object at such which grounds the ability of our consciousness to synthesize the reproductions of imagination. Kant further suggests that, in fact, the unity provided by this object is precisely that synthesis he has been looking for: it is “the formal unity of consciousness in the synthesis of the manifold of presentations” (A105).

    Kant’s example is illustrative:

    …when we think of a triangle as an object, we do so by being conscious of the assembly of three straight lines according to a rule whereby such an intuition can always be exhibited. Now this unity of the rule determines all that is manifold, and limits it to conditions that make possible the unity of apperception. And the concept of this unity is the presentation of the object = x, i.e., the object that I think through the mentioned predicates of a triangle (A105).

    So Kant has described this x from another angle. Here it is not thought of as the formal unity of consciousness but as that which is thought when we think ‘through’ a concept. In other words: what we think (i.e., the ‘content’ of the thought) when we think of something as an object (via a ‘rule’ or a concept) is precisely this x! It is the formal conscious unity supplied to concepts which makes concepts possible in the first place. It is the ‘unity of a rule’ which makes the concept triangle (for example) consistently the ‘same’ concept.

    Kant returns from his diversion (which has, of course proved both necessary and instructive) to a description of the synthesis itself. He reminds us that “All cognition requires a concept” (A106) and that “a concept, in terms of its form, is always something that is universal and that serves as a rule” (A106). But concepts serve as rules only by showing us the necessity of synthesis of reproduction through the unity provided by consciousness. So, Kant points out, there must be some non-empirical (necessity can never be empirical) basis for the regulatory nature of concepts, “and hence a transcendental basis also of the concept of objects as such” (A107). This transcendental basis will, of course, be the final form of the synthesis of recognition in the concept.

    Kant writes, “This original and transcendental condition of referring our cognitions to ‘x’ is none other than transcendental apperception” (A107). This cannot just be the unity of ‘empirical’ apperception (i.e., the feeling that we are a unified ‘I’). Rather it must be the basis for what is necessarily presented as a unity (as we necessarily require the unifying aspect of consciousness in order to utilize the concepts which make experience possible in the first place). Such a unity can only be transcendental, and this “pure, original, and immutable consciousness I shall call transcendental apperception” (A107). Kant further justifies the appellation: “That this apperception deserves this name is evident already from the fact that even the purest objective unity, viz., that of the a priori concepts (space and time), is possible only by referring the intuitions to this apperception” (A107).

    Peru: "Go sing to your mama, bitch"

    The rest of this section is, in the main, a recapitulation and rephrasing of much the same point: consciousness of one’s identity is also consciousness of the necessary unity of all appearances according to concepts. Presentations themselves are appearances, and we cannot intuit the object to which they refer, but they nevertheless lead us to the object = x, which is the concept of an object ‘as such’ and not itself a determinate object. The pure concept of this object x “is what is able to provide all our empirical concepts in general with reference to an object, i.e., with objective reality” (A109); in other words, this pure concept is a condition for all possible experience. At the end of the section Kant gives us the ‘transcendental law’ which tells us that “just as appearances must in mere intuition be subject to the formal conditions of space and time, so must appearances in experience be subject to conditions of the necessary unity of apperception—indeed, this law says that through these conditions alone does any cognition first become possible” (A110).

    4. Preliminary Explanation of the Possibility of the Categories as A Priori Cognitions

    As the title so clearly tells us, this section deals with the first explanation of the role of the categories in cognition. (Much of what Kant says here has been said or implied above).

    He begins by reiterating precisely what form experience must take for us; that is, he points out how our experience must necessarily conform to the syntheses given above and, importantly, he says that it must have a unified character. He writes: “when we speak of different experiences, then these are merely so many perceptions—all such perception belonging to one and the same general experience” (A110). This follows directly from the necessary unity of apperception, of course.

    Kant now suggests that there has to be more than an empirical basis for the unity of experience insofar as this unity is necessary. He then abruptly suggests that “the categories set forth above are nothing but the conditions of thought in a possible experience, just as space and time embody the conditions of intuition for that same experience” (A111). In other words, the categories have a priori, non-empirical validity insofar as they are conditions of possibility for experience itself. Kant then suggests that the necessity of these categories for experience is shown by and relies upon the reference of all possible appearances to the unity of original apperception. In other words, the necessary character of our consciousness provides the basis for these categories as a priori and necessary for any possible experience.

    Kant then recapitulates the relationship between concepts and original apperception (as elucidated in the section above). He writes that in original apperception everything “must be subject to the universal functions of synthesis, viz., of that synthesis according to concepts in which alone apperception can prove a priori its thoroughgoing and necessary identity” (A112). In other words, apperception requires the synthesizing function of concepts in order to illustrate its own necessity and unity. And, again, Kant notes that without this unity and necessity we can never have experience but merely the empty play of presentations with no reference to objects whatsoever.

    Kant now begins to illustrate why we can never derive pure concepts of the understanding (the categories) from the empirical. He tells us, again, that “No experience whatever can give us necessity” (A112). (And, since the categories are made necessary by the entire apparatus outlined above, they cannot be given through the empirical).

    Kant now shows us that empirical affinity (the character of presentations which allows us to associate and reproduce them) must itself be based in a transcendental affinity which is necessary and a priori. He writes, “all appearances stand in a thoroughgoing connection according to necessary laws, and hence stand in a transcendental affinity of which the empirical affinity is the mere consequence” (A113).

    The section ends with some further remarks upon the subjective character of this system. He reminds us, again, that there is no reference to the actual object in itself in any of this scheme, but merely to the formal characteristics of our minds.

    Section III (First Edition)

    On Understanding’s Relation to Objects as such and the possibility of cognizing them a priori

    This section begins to relate in a more coherent fashion those syntheses which Kant treated separately above. As such, it is mainly (though not entirely) a recapitulation and rewording of those sections discussed above. I will, accordingly, highlight only those aspects of this ‘unified’ treatment which are instructive or illustrate in a markedly different way Kant’s aim.

    Kant discusses more directly the relationship between the various syntheses. One of the most important points he makes concerns the relationship between apperception and imagination. He writes “The unity of apperception considered in reference to the synthesis of imagination is the understanding; and the same unity as referred to the transcendental synthesis of imagination is pure understanding” (A119). In other words, the understanding is the unified consciousness which treats the synthesized manifold given to us by the imagination; and pure understanding is the unified consciousness which treats only the transcendental aspect of that synthesis. So the pure understanding deals exclusively with the formal character of the synthesis and not its empirical results.

    Kant then suggests that the understanding contains “pure a priori cognitions that contain the necessary unity of the pure synthesis of imagination in regard to all possible appearances” (A119); these are, of course, the categories.

    The conclusion drawn from all this is that our cognition must have an understanding and that this understanding can be thought of as the original apperception (a unified consciousness) which necessarily refers to the synthesis of imagination (which in turn refers to the products of the synthesis of apprehension. And the upshot of this ‘conclusion’ is that all appearances are subject to the understanding, and, further, that pure understanding (as defined above) is, like space and time, a formal condition for all possible experience.

    What follows is a lengthy illustration of “how the understanding by means of the categories coheres necessarily with appearances, and let us do so by starting from the bottom upward” (A119). Basically, Kant goes through a step-by-step recapitulation of everything he has said in the above sections.

    He illustrates how each individual step requires the next necessarily: perceptions cannot be combined by the faculty (sense) which gives us perceptions to begin with. Thus, we require imagination to combine and then to reproduce perceptions. But these empirical reproductions require a rule for associating presentations: an empirical and subjective basis. But, further, this empirical basis must itself have an objective basis if it is to avoid reliance on sheer luck to accurately present objects: “For even if we had the power to associate perceptions, whether indeed these perceptions would be associable would yet remain intrinsically quite undetermined and contingent” (A122). So there must be something about perceptions themselves which allows us to associate them. In other words

    there must be an objective basis… in which rests the possibility—indeed the necessity—of a law extending through all appearances: a law whereby appearances are throughout to be regarded as data of the senses that are intrinsically associable and subject, in reproduction to universal rules of a thoroughgoing connection” (A122).

    Kant calls this intrinsic associability the ‘affinity’ of appearances. And the basis for this affinity cannot be found, he suggests, “except in the principle of the unity of apperception in regard to all cognitions that are to belong to us” (A122). In other words, the unity of apperception (the unity of our consciousness) is what ‘grounds’ the affinity and thus the associability of appearances in general.

    Kant phrases this differently (moving back a step from the unity of apperception): “the affinity of all appearances (whether near or remote) is a necessary consequence of a synthesis in imagination that is based on rules” (A123). (Of course, this synthesis itself is necessarily predicated on the unifying aspect of original apperception).

    So imagination is a “power of an a priori synthesis” (A123) and is thus “productive” (A123), it also performs a transcendental function insofar as synthesizing appearances is necessary for any experience.

    Kant moves on to illustrate how the transcendental function of imagination itself rests on the unity of apperception. It is necessary because the imagination, while performing a transcendental function, must always necessarily refer (even in that function) to the sensible insofar as it deals only with appearances as given to us by intuition. The original unity of apperception, as we have seen above, is based on the unifying concept of objects as such (through its reference to the object = x), a concept which itself makes the appearance of objects possible in the first place.

    So, Kant summarizes, “Actual experience consists in apprehension of appearances, their association (reproduction), and thirdly their recognition” (A125). Apprehension is made possible by the transcendental function of intuition (i.e., the formalization of appearances via space and time). Reproduction is made possible through the transcendental function of the imagination (i.e., the conceptualization of appearances). Recognition is made possible by the transcendental function of apperception (i.e., the unification in consciousness of conceptualized appearances).

    Kant now returns to his previous insistence that what he has been talking about has nothing whatsoever to do with things in themselves, but that he has merely been elucidating the subjective conditions of possibility for our cognition. He takes a different line here: “the order and regularity in the appearances that we call nature are brought into them by ourselves; nor indeed could such order and regularity be found in appearances, had not we, or the nature of our mind, put them into appearances originally” (A125). He then illustrates, again, that we have necessarily to ‘put’ this order and regularity in appearances in order for them to ‘appear’ to us at all.

    After this admonition, Kant returns again to a definition of the understanding. He writes that:

    We have earlier explicated the understanding in various ways: as a spontaneity of cognition…; as a power to think; or as a power of concepts, or again of judgments. These explications, when inspected closely, all come to the same. We may now characterize the understanding as our power of rules. This criterion of an understanding is more fruitful and comes closer to its nature. Sensibility gives us forms…, but the understanding gives us rules (A126).

    So, while sensibility is primarily a formative faculty, the understanding is primarily legislative and creative: it creates laws both for ourselves and for nature as presented to ourselves. “Hence all appearances, insofar as they are possible experiences, lie a priori in the understanding and obtain from it their formal possibility” (A127). Kant notes how absurd it sounds to say that our understanding is legislative of nature itself, but he is also quick to point out (as he always is!) that when we say ‘nature’ we can only ever be referring to appearances and never things in themselves. Thus, it isn’t that our understanding regulates things as such; rather, our understanding regulates only appearances! So, contrary to the seeming absurdity of the claim, appearances and ‘nature’ both are possible only by way of space, time, and the understanding. (He also highlights here the relationship between empirical laws—which cannot directly be derived from the understanding—and the pure laws which found all empirical laws. Basically, though we cannot derive empirical laws directly from the understanding, they all find their objective validity only in the pure laws stemming directly from the understanding: no empirical law can contradict these pure laws).

    So, Kant’s objective (to connect sensibility with the understanding/the categories) has been achieved by way of an exhaustive illustration of the necessity of the syntheses which are themselves necessarily linked together to create the larger synthesis of cognition.

    Summary Presentation: That This Deduction of the Pure Categories of Understanding is Correct and is the Only One Possible

    This final segment of the third section of the deduction of the pure categories of the understanding is, as titled, a summary of what has preceded it. The main point of this summary is to illustrate that cognition must have subjective (and not objective) bases and that these bases must be as they are necessarily and not merely contingently.

    5On Travel

    There is a certain restlessness in my personality which I find both disgusting and ungrateful. Not to see what you are is the worst thing you can do. Being able to travel for reasons I can respect is something I'm not really able to do yet. Travel is still some kind of escape. Which isn't to say that my reasons for everything I do have to be admirable and respectable (I rarely even have reasons), but it's certainly something to think about.

    Unrelated: Isn't it surprising that Charles Taylor (philosopher, not Liberian revolutionary) hasn't been noded? It seems surprising to me. Someone better versed in his philosophy than I might want to do something about that.



    (my team is running the scene)

    Things to do:

    Learn how to write.

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The Voting/Experience System: Uncertainty and Reputation

A thought occurred to me a while back: E2 reputations should not just take into account the net number of votes for a WU but also some sense of uncertainty in that number, similar to the way you estimate uncertainty in a poll or a measurement of a physical quantity.

When you make a measurement, you must assess the uncertainty in that measurement. When you make a claim like, "My measurement is consistent with X," usually the salient question is how far the measurement is from X compared to the size of the error bars. When it comes to nodes, if a node has 20 upvotes and no downvotes, odds are that most people on E2 would say it's a quality node. On the other hand, if a node has stats like (+250/-200), then even though it has a rep of 50 it's clear that the E2 audience has a more mixed opinion of the quality. I thought perhaps this should be taken into account in the reputation. Now I'm not sure it's good to take the XP system too seriously, but I thought it might be interesting to consider such an improvement.

The first idea I had in this vein was not a good one. Suppose a WU has U upvotes and D downvotes. The reputation is

R = U - D.

I thought one might define an uncertainty

S = (U + D),

which would just be the total number of votes. The measure of quality would them be something like Q = R/S, or how many error bars away it is from zero, and we could define Q =0 when no one has yet voted on the node. Now, of course this is a number between -1 and 1, and would be the same for a node with 2 votes or 20. That's not quite right for a reputation. But if you wanted something that goes up when a node gets more votes, you could just take the rep and rate it by the quality, to come up with a new "corrected" rep

R' = Q*R = R^2/S.

If a node gets all upvotes or all downvotes, it's rep is the same as under the original system, but in the mixed case from the first paragraph of (+250/-200) it would go from R = 50 to R' = 5.5. If you think that's too much of a reduction, you could really use any function f(Q) to get R' = f(Q)*R. As long as f monotonically increases with Q, has a maximum of 1, and is non-negative, it would have all the same qualitative features. Still, the system is based off of a rather arbitrary definition of uncertainty.

Then I thought of whether one could ascribe a more meaningful uncertainty. Well, that all depends on what the reputation is supposed to "measure". I suggested before that we might be interested in whether the E2 usership would judge it to be "quality" (i.e. something we want on E2). The easiest way to do with would be to have everyone on the site vote on it, but that doesn't work for myriad reasons (the time involved, coercing the users to actually do it, infrequent or fled users, etc.). However, by looking at the vote totals, we can get some sense of how E2 feels about a WU. This brings up another point. Not only does a big split in votes (between up and down) show uncertainty, but we are probably a lot less certain of the quality of a node with (+4/-0) than one with (+20/-0).

So, we could estimate the uncertainty in the reputation by assuming the users that voted on a node are a random sampling of noders and asking either, "If this is representative of all noders and if we chose another random sampling of users and had them vote, how different of a rep would the node be likely to get?" or, "How different could the actual feelings of noders be (the distribution of how they would vote if they read the node) and still be likely to lead to this result?" And of course, one would have to choose some appropriate confidence level to use in those assessments. Unfortunately, the math there gets kind of messy. If we take the case where the number of upvoted U is small compared to the total number of noders who would hypothetically upvote the WU and the same for the downvotes, then we can say that if the total proportion of users who would upvote the WU is p, the probability of a random small sample giving U upvotes and D downvoted is

Prob(U,D) = p^U * (1-p)^D

which is just the binomial distribution. The math is a bit more complicated if those assumptions are not valid, namely if a significant portion of those who would upvote (or downvote) a WU have already voted.

With the simple formula above, one would try to assign uncertainties. Take the example of the node with (+20/-0). If we supposed that in reality only 80% of noders would upvote it (so p = 0.8), then the probability that it would happen to get the score (+20/-0) by random chance is Prob(20,0) = (0.8)^20 = 0.01 or 1%. Let's say we want to give the range of possible values of p with 95% confidence, then we want to find the range of p values that give Prob(U,D) ≥ 0.05. For a score of (+20/-0), we can then say that p ≥ (0.05)^(1/20) = 0.86. So from the votes that have be cast, we can say with 95% confidence that the actual p falls between 0.86 and 1. Unfortunately, if there is a mixture of votes, solving for p will involve finding the root of a polynomial. Likewise, we could use Prob(U,D) to figure out if we took different sample where the rep is likely to fall. If we did these more complicated statistical things, then we'd have to figure out how we were going to use this uncertainty to give a corrected rep. Before we were talking about how many error bars away from zero rep a WU was. One could do something similar to that or ask questions like how far it is from being perfect (p = 1).

The problem with this more detailed statistical approach is that it's too complicated and rests on faulty assumptions. It's too complicated because we'd like a relatively simple and computationally inexpensive way to assign reputation to a WU, and it's probably unjustified because the samples of those who vote on WUs are not at all random. Furthermore, sometimes people make a deliberate choice not to vote at all. There are also questions like "what do you mean by 'all' noders". Ultimately, going through all that business for an answer that's probably wrong is kinda silly, so perhaps the naive idea at the beginning (or something like it) is better.

Then there's the question of whether this whole idea of "error bars" makes any sense to begin with. The motivation at the beginning was the idea that the rep of 50 for a (+250/-200) WU is less meaningful than for (+50/-0) WU, but maybe that's bullshit. After all, noders might be less decided about the quality of the first WU, but at least it probably sparked a lot of thought and discussion. WUs with very few downvotes are often dry factuals, which are good but not necessarily the "be all, end all" of noding. Would a system of corrected reps like the ones I mentioned just lead to a lot of bland, inoffensive factuals? Is that really what we want for E2, or is that better left for the likes of Wikipedia?

It has been one month since the start of school. I'm attending Western Washington University, an NCAA Div III school in Bellingham, WA. Now, I'm not a social butterfly, but my schedule is pleasantly filled with responsibilities to a couple clubs and my classes. I'm very happy with the way things have been going.

My math class is the low point of every weekday. I walk in not knowing whether or not I'll learn something. I walked out halfway through the class yesterday because I didn't care enough to sit through the bullshit. My Engineering Design class is exactly the opposite. I know nothing about engineering, so everything is new and interesting. The drawing portion is especially cool. The older prof, Raudebaugh, wrote a book based on the idea that one doesn't have to have the inborn artistic talent, that many schools seem to agree is necessary, to draw. It has been going incredibly well. No, I'm not an artist or anything of the sort, but I can generally get better shapes down than I could have before I started. I picked up a full graphite pencil today, along with some sketch paper. I might actually take it up as a hobby, it's getting so fun.

Probably one of the nicest things about Washington's Universities is that they seem to have an incredible amount of clubs. Western has more than 100 and allows clubs for nearly anything. In fact, we have a Slurpee-lovers club. There will soon be a talk show lovers club. According to a friend's father, there was, at one point, an S&M club. If there was, there was, and it does not exist anymore. I've personally joined the anime club (Aiya!), the Formula SAE team (for which I will create a node at the end of the competition), and the Kulshan Aikikai Aikido club.

As often as I can fit it in, I go to the Vehicle Research Institute's shop and work with the other Formula SAE guys. It really depends on what is going on for me, because my schedule is very spotty. I think that I should explain the process, since there is no node on here about the FSAE: We, a group of 20 or so college students, design, fund, build and present to a fictitious company a car that will be a weekend racer. We also take them out to the track and weed out the weak. Western has possibly the most comprehensive of any program, building as much as we possibly can while still breaking even. They even designed, machined, assembled and ran a ~800CC V8 a few years back. Completely machined in the shop, the piece was a beaut. We're now restricted to a 610CC engine with a 19mm intake restrictor. (The restrictor is different per fuel type; 19mm for the ethanol mixture we're going to run. The engine needn't be a custom job; we're using a Honda CBR600F3 four-pot.) I've been trying to help wherever possible, but I know very little. So far, I cut Carbon Fiber kit for the tubes, doing a CATIA model of the ECU (so they don't put it in such an idiotic location again), and helping acquire materials.

Tuesday nights is the anime club. Standard geekiness here. We're watching a bunch of series that I don't remember by name, Full Metal Alchemist, Bleach and Kyou Kara Maou. The people are great and nice. And total geeks. After last Tuesday's meeting, they drew a transmutation circle/hexagram around the fountain in Red Square with sidewalk chalk.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are all Aikido nights. We practice for an hour and a half each night. Ukemi and throws have made this possibly the most enjoyable exercise I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. I'm so used to high school P.E. that I forgot one could have fun and get a workout at the same time. I've learned how to take a fall, how to roll, how to generally not have my ass handed to me without putting up a defense. No, I won't win any awards for fastest learner, but I'm learning it as quick as I can. Tonight was the bi-annual dojo cleaning night. The judo club wanted to take the mats for their competition, for which we obliged to help with the removal. The Judo club here at Western is the reason we have mats and there are links between Judo and Aikido/Aikijitsu, so much respect was had for the Judo club's request. This is really nice because the dogi will probably be distributed Monday night. Clean dojo and a brand new dogi, there's a nice idea. Of course, only a dozen of us have any need for a dogi, the rest already have them.

Since I have arrived here, I haven't been able to get my hands on any red meat. I mean, nothing worth eating. It's either food service hamburgers or in such small amounts that it isn't worth it. So I took good advantage of the fact the Aikido club was going to the Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro after cleaning. I took down three rootbeers (not being of legal age to drink, after all), part of a small caeser salad and one hell of a delicious steak. A medium-well 10 ounce New York steak, cooked in a demi-glaze over real mashed potatoes. Absolutely amazing. Not tough, not burned, not too much fat (and less wasted meat as a result), very juicy, tender enough and a good taste. The potatoes were just a great extra (I'm Irish, after all). BBB&B gets my recommendation to anyone going through Bellingham. Good service, quite a different selection of food, and tasty rootbeer. I think I can go back to being a dining hall vegetarian now that I have been satisfied. Or maybe not. We're going to have a FSAE party tomorrow night, after all. Maybe I can convince someone to let me cook some teriyaki hamburgers.

The thing that surprises me the most is the sheer number of people that I meet every day. I continue to meet at least three people a day, which is down from the some-odd-dozen. Mind you, I tend to keep to myself, like most geeks do. But just three clubs and three classes and I am meeting all kinds of people. I find irony in people, which is just plain amusing: The Japanese transfer student woman who is studying American culture is taking Japanese Humanities in America. The vegetarian pass-a-fist who can sing upbeat tunes while wrenching your arm into exquisite pain. (One word: kodegaishi.) I love the people watching, the natural feeling of the Fairhaven dorm stacks and everything else.

I've finally found home, but I still feel like this may or may not be a place to take root. It's not decided. I'll remain this way till I move away and realize I love it here, probably. So I guess I'll take it easy, get to know the people and go to classes. Yeah, sounds like a great plan.

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