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TSE  August 2001

TSE August 2001

Subject:

Re: Definition of art

From:

Tom Gray <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 15 Aug 2001 12:57:13 -0700 (PDT)

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (250 lines)

I should have added an example of this from my field
of engineering. 

One robust area that affects me is the development of
autonomous agents which are devices or programs take
independent action to achieve goals in the real world.
One example of this is the 'Deep Space' system
developed by NASA which was used to guide the Sojurner
robot as it explored Mars. Being so far away it could
not rely on human intervention but had to use judgment
to deal with unexpected events.

It may seem contradictory but autonomous agents are in
general social. They can cooperate together to achieve
goals. Many scholars have produced logics by which
these agents can do this. many very influential groups
produced such logic and among their results was the
idea of 'Joint Intention.' Agents would cooperate
together in this scheme only if they somehow developed
a joint intention to do something. This was seen as a
form of argumentation that would convince an agent to
cooperate. The argumentation would go on until all the
agents concurred in a revised set of goals that
reflected their interest in cooperating.

All this is very well and the work that went into was
done by first rate people form first rate
universities.

However consider an example of where this would be
applied. Someone walks into his/her boss' office to
ask for a raise. The boss says no - end of argument.
Where is the argumentation for 'joint intention'
there. In reality most interactions that agents will
be involved in will use the principles discovered in
organization theory. There is an authority strcuture
and the purpose of that structurw is to detect and
resolve conflicts among other things.

There was a robust problem of how people and devices
can collaborate to achieve goals they cannot achieve
individually. Organization theorists devised a robust
answer. Logicians developing these intention logics
were undoubtedly doing something very difficult.
However whether their work deserves the title
scholarship depends on whether the essence of
scholarship is in the difficulty of the end product
rather than in its importance. I would generally favor
the latter.

--- Tom Gray <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I'm not a scholar so I hope this message is not
> amiss.
> However I have just recently read for the first time
> C. W. Mills 'Socioogical Imagination' in which he
> argues that the task of the scholar is to tackle the
> significant problems of his/her time with the aim to
> produce real answers. He decried the practice of
> sociology in that time (the 1950s) to dwell either
> in
> the specific and mundane or the theoretical and
> grand
> to the extent that the real issues that affect human
> beings is obscured.
> 
> I can also recall Jacob Bronowski's television
> series
> 'The Ascent of Man' in which he presented similar
> ideas about what he called 'robust problems.' These
> are problems that define an entire area of endeavour
> because they deal with critical issues. He used as
> one
> example the discovery of bronze as a replacement for
> copper in the creation of tools and weapons. The
> impetus for this could be viewed in many ways but
> Bronowski observed that the robust problem was that
> copper is soft and could not take an edge. He used
> as
> an illustration for this the moving image of a
> copper
> helmet being struck by a bronze sword. A copper
> arrowhead or knife would be effective as a bronze in
> the hunt but if one wanted to keep the product of
> his
> work or to take the production of others than he/she
> needed a harder metal than copper or he/she would
> either be enslaved or dead.
> 
> Bronowski was a brilliant thinker but he was a
> colleague of one of the great minds of all time John
> Von Neumann. he used Von Neumann as an example of
> someone who could identify and solve these robust
> problems.
> 
> So in this conception it is not the state of
> disinterestedness that describes a true scholar but
> it
> the ability to identify real problems for study and
> to
> avoid impenetrable theory and mundane exactness that
> hide rather than reveal reality.
> 
> 
> --- Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > The question about "scholar" is not whether it
> means
> > "disinterested" but 
> > whether that was in fact true at the time--so long
> > ago--that you learned it.  
> > Is an advocacy of a European, Western "tradition"
> > that excludes others 
> > truly "disinterested"?  And let's forget whether
> we
> > take that position or not; 
> > is it "disinterested"?  [And of course you know I
> > will say any theory that 
> > cannot find a place for most of human beings is
> > actually pretty 
> > "interested."] And Eliot said many things, but a
> > Harvard philosopy Ph.D 
> > (even if he did not go back to Harvard to accept
> it
> > but did all the work and 
> > had his dissertation accepted) who spends his life
> > writing critical and 
> > theoretical articles [really very "interested"
> ones]
> > is pretty much anyone's 
> > definition of a scholar, whatever else he did.  I
> do
> > not understand the need 
> > to denigrate all current research and thought in
> > universities.  As if Eliot and 
> > Pound were greeted in 1922 with enthusiastic
> > acclaim.  In fact, they were 
> > mocked in comparable sweeping ways.  Nor is there
> > anything 
> > "disinterested" in sweeping mockery of scholars
> who
> > write anything now; it 
> > is, I think, shamelessly "interested."  You are,
> it
> > seems, under impressions 
> > not won by a labor of intelligence but picked up
> > whole from a specific  
> > group in the media and in academia as well. 
> Unless
> > one is prepared to 
> > know and argue from within that knowledge what is
> > being debated by 
> > scholars,  adopting wholesale myths about them
> will
> > not lead to any 
> > understanding nor will it in any way refute
> > them--not that there is any single 
> > "they." 
> > Nancy
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > Date sent:      	Wed, 15 Aug 2001 13:11:09 -0400
> > Send reply to:  	[log in to unmask]
> > From:           	Ken Armstrong
> <[log in to unmask]>
> > To:             	[log in to unmask]
> > Subject:        	Re: Definition of art
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > --On Wednesday, August 15, 2001 12:02 PM +0000
> > [log in to unmask] 
> > wrote:
> > 
> > >> What is the current thinking about the
> > >> question of "what is art?".
> > 
> > > Whose "current thinking" are you asking about?
> > 
> >  Pat 'n all,
> >  Only judging by the question posed in his
> sentence
> > preceding the one
> > displayed above, I think Steve means the current
> > scholarly thinking on
> > "what is art."  At first I thought asking these
> > questions is like standing
> > at the base of Niagra Falls to find out how nature
> > feels about falling
> > water; the volume of the response might exceed the
> > inquirer's ability to
> > absorb the answer. But then I thought that a prior
> > question might be:
> > should "scholarly" and "thinking" be so conjoined
> in
> > relation to the
> > specific question. This I ask not to scandalize
> > anyone but in light of the
> > common phrase "scholar thinker," meaning one is
> > both, and in that the two
> > don't necessarily require one another, at least up
> > to a certain stage of
> > development. Eliot often noted that he was not a
> > scholar. But that in
> > order to write poetry (to think poetry?) one must
> > have, after a certain
> > age, a sense of history which is won by a labor of
> > intelligence. And it is
> > Eliot the thinker-about-poetry that prompts the
> > question, or at least the
> > assertion from Perl. Hasn't being a scholar
> changed?
> > When I was in school,
> > admittedly not recently, the standard for the
> > scholar, maybe then
> > beginning to change, was to be "disinterested." I
> am
> > under the impression
> > that that is not the standard currently, or that
> > being disinterested is a
> > pose or strategy that is considered inauthentic,
> and
> > that someone today
> > who has an answer to Steve's question will
> probably
> > be expected to couch
> > it in terms of some sort of advocacy. My
> > modification of Steve's question
> > would be "can advocacy criticism authentically ask
> > 'what is  art.'" I
> > don't have a scholarly answer.
> > 
> >  Just a couple three thoughts.
> >  Ken
> 
> 
> __________________________________________________
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