The “Why is there something rather than nothing?” question from another perspective.

I guess it all depends on what “is” is? Doesn’t it?

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Notes from The Blue Book.

And so, Wittgenstein said:

” […] The question what kind of activity thinking is is analogous to this: ‘Where does thinking take place?’ […] by misunderstanding the grammar of our expressions, we are led to think of one in particular of these statements as giving the real seat of the activity of thinking. […] Thinking, one wants to say, is part of our ‘private experience’. It is not material, but an event in private consciousness. This objection is expressed in the question: ‘Could a machine think?’ I shall talk about this at a later point, and now only refer you to an analogous question: ‘Can a machine have tootache?’ […] The question is What is the relation between thinking (or toothache) and the subject which thinks, has toothache, etc.? […] I shall in the future again and again draw your attention to what I shall call language games. These are ways of using signs simpler than those in which we use the signs of our highly complicated everyday language.”

And after good ol’ Ludwig said these words, Language Games were discovered, and the whole world would never be the same.

To be continued…

Taken from: Major Works, Selected Philosophical Writings published by HarperCollins.

the tale of the late adoption of a smart phone

The previous week was my first with a smart phone. I had never given much thought, to be quite honest, to how it could really affect my life, or anybody else’s for that matter, but I am convinced now that it really does.

The first thing that I noticed is how unused to the post-pc world I am. My own silly example: I still tell my wife that I need to check something on my Mac before going out for dinner. The idea that the content is actually available for me at any time, regardless of where I am, is totally new. When I think about this in the big picture context it actually helps me realize how life changing such a technology might be. As it keeps growing, your own world keeps growing, ie. your context expands, creating new possibilities of life on the go, not just for communication purposes but also for pretty much anything that you can think of. 

Now, I admit, this is pretty old news for 99% of people out there in the US, but it has given me a truly great discovery-like experience that actually feels brand new. I do not feel like I am taking my computer with me everywhere, I used to do that before, that just felt like I could connect anywhere. Now I actually feel like I am connected, because… well, I am connected.  

It might appear totally trivial – and maybe it is – but just think about it for a second. The possibility of being able to connect to the web, it’s services, it’s tools, depends on the availability of certain conditions, each dependent to the physical space. The subway might not be an ideal place to take out your laptop and start typing away, at a really fancy restaurant you might be cast away and frowned upon, at school… cemetery… dinner… &c. The possibility of being able to connect gets reduced by the physical and cultural context. 

This does not happen with a smart phone. In this case, you are already connected; as we know, the difference – although possible to represent in a context of on/off, 0/1 – is abysmal, in the same way that you would rather take a free cheap chocolate instead of buying a really fancy one for $0.50. 

So now I ponder upon the other hidden faces of what it really means…

Connected vs To Connect…

What happens when it reaches the state where to connect is no longer a word/possibility, what happens when connected becomes the new state of affairs?

It makes me think of Wittgenstein’s words: “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” What happens when those limits are expanded in this way? 

(Special thanks to Kevin Kelly for writing the book What Technology Wants, which made me reconsider what it was that I actually knew about technology, and helped me see it in a brand new light.)

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