Bits

Wed 12 May, 2010 04:48 pm
Bit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bits as logical atoms. The bit as the smallest conceivable piece of information. I'm amused by bits. So was Leibniz. So is formal logic. I feel that the bit is quite human, after all.

I guess I'm just sharing a fascination, seeing what others make of it.

Quote:

A binary number can be represented by any sequence of bits (binary digits), which in turn may be represented by any mechanism capable of being in two mutually exclusive states.

Quote:

The modern binary number system was fully documented by Gottfried Leibniz in the 17th century in his article . Leibniz's system uses 0 and 1, like the modern binary numeral system. As a Sinophile, Leibniz was aware of the I Ching and noted with fascination how its hexagrams correspond to the binary numbers from 0 to 111111, and concluded that this mapping was evidence of major Chinese accomplishments in the sort of philosophical mathematics he admired.[6]

Binary numeral system - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Logic gate - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

here's something that's new to me, but fascinating.
Qubit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

qualia

Wed 12 May, 2010 06:21 pm
@Reconstructo,
Thanks for the post, Reconstructo. I don't really have a lot I can add, having scant knowledge or much interest in the study of formal logic or math. But what I have found fascinating in your post is this idea of the binary dichotomy. This paradigmatic opposition at the root of thought. Need we go into details? Us/them, up/down, good/bad, 1/0, I/You, subject/object, and so on.

These types of oppositions appear to be a fundamental requisite in human thought, for whilst no such oppositions can be identified in nature, as far as humans are concerned, they seem to be a necessary condition to ground knowledge on and to give order to our worlds of complexity.

The dichotomy code no doubt stems from some essential principle common to all species of a type. The need to identify friend or foe; that which you can mate with, or eat, or not. And because we have developed a larger range of codes to draw upon - such as those stemming from spoken language - we can surrender upon the world a greater range of fabricated oppositions.

At this junction, we could speculate that it is only when absorbed in the code of language, say, that humans are able to conceive of such bizarre (using the adjective in a very rhetorical manner) oppositions like God/Mankind, Natural/Unnatural, Mind/Body, Heaven/Hell, and so on. That we as a race come to believe in such oppositions, not just as a theoretical device we use, a tool which aids the ordering of our experiences, but as actually existing out-there, perhaps demonstrates less their truth and more the force and bewitchment our language codes cast upon us. Again, rhetorically, did not men and women believe for almost two-thousand years that the ancient Greek split-up opposition of fire and water, earth and air was the underlying nature to all reality?

The / (bar) placed between the oppositions should not always indicate any clear and fixed dichotomy. As if there were a clearly defined division between the concepts we have mindfully projected onto the world. As if there is The Good and The Bad, The Truth and The Untruth. If we start unpacking many of our binaries, I imagine we will realise that the subtle / is itself an essential feature to our oppositions, giving sense to them, acting as the silent guardian to the bounds, preventing too much trespassing or straying from the opposition.

Then, again, maybe that little / acts in the fashion those clever Zen dudes conceived their world. The / is Mu, that essential space indicating that the entire opposition system as stemming from our language codes and then projected onto the world, is intrinsically incoherent, or worse, meaningless.

As Pirsig wrote some years ago when reflecting on the standard binary code of 1/0, "...it's stated over and over again that computer circuits exhibit only two states, a voltage for "one" and a voltage for "zero." That's silly! Any computer-electronics technician knows otherwise. Try to find a voltage representing one or zero when the power is off! The circuits are in a mu state."

Perhaps all our oppositions, by virtue of that /, have this state of offness, containing the promise to reside forever in the world of Mu.

Thanks for a great post.

Reconstructo

Wed 12 May, 2010 06:34 pm
@qualia,
qualia;163629 wrote:
This paradigmatic opposition at the root of thought. Need we go into details? Us/them, up/down, good/bad, 1/0, I/You, subject/object, and so on.

---------- Post added 05-12-2010 at 07:36 PM ----------

qualia;163629 wrote:

These types of oppositions appear to be a fundamental requisite in human thought, for whilst no such oppositions can be identified in nature, as far as humans are concerned, they seem to be a necessary condition to ground knowledge on and to give order to our worlds of complexity.

I love Zeno's paradoxes because they demonstrate the clash of our sense of the continuous and the discrete nature of our thought. I've also been quite taken by mathematics, and it was this aspect of philosophy that lead me there. I think we divide the world into objects, into singularities, into ones. And yet we can imagine perfect circles somehow, a curve which cannot be quantified. Pi is an interesting number as it shows the clash of our ways of looking at things. ..

---------- Post added 05-12-2010 at 07:40 PM ----------

qualia;163629 wrote:

The dichotomy code no doubt stems from some essential principle common to all species of a type. The need to identify friend or foe; that which you can mate with, or eat, or not. And because we have developed a larger range of codes to draw upon - such as those stemming from spoken language - we can surrender upon the world a greater range of fabricated oppositions.

At this junction, we could speculate that it is only when absorbed in the code of language, say, that humans are able to conceive of such bizarre (using the adjective in a very rhetorical manner) oppositions like God/Mankind, Natural/Unnatural, Mind/Body, Heaven/Hell, and so on. That we as a race come to believe in such oppositions, not just as a theoretical device we use, a tool which aids the ordering of our experiences, but as actually existing out-there, perhaps demonstrates less their truth and more the force and bewitchment our language codes cast upon us. Again, rhetorically, did not men and women believe for almost two-thousand years that the ancient Greek split-up opposition of fire and water, earth and air was the underlying nature to all reality?

The / (bar) placed between the oppositions should not always indicate any clear and fixed dichotomy. As if there were a clearly defined division between the concepts we have mindfully projected onto the world. As if there is The Good and The Bad, The Truth and The Untruth. If we start unpacking many of our binaries, I imagine we will realise that the subtle / is itself an essential feature to our oppositions, giving sense to them, acting as the silent guardian to the bounds, preventing too much trespassing or straying from the opposition.

It does seem to help us survive. It also makes sense that our brain would cut perception into objects automatically. And of course we transform visual data in the experience of 3 dimensions. And ovals into circles, etc.

What's fascinating to me is that this binary tendency is so strong in us that even if we think about the opposite of the binary tendency, we are still within the binary framework. Binary versus Fuzzy, for instance. I sincerely wonder if can avoid thinking in these terms. Obviously we can become self-conscious about it, and dodge some of the negative consequences. But perhaps the human form of life will always experience reality in such terms, and one might add that the notion of a reality outside human experience still resides within human experience. We are crawling on the inner surface of a hollow sphere. The limits of our language/self are the limits of our reality?? I do generally feel this way, but I don't want to come off too strong or maniacal on the point.

---------- Post added 05-12-2010 at 07:47 PM ----------

qualia;163629 wrote:

Then, again, maybe that little / acts in the fashion those clever Zen dudes conceived their world. The / is Mu, that essential space indicating that the entire opposition system as stemming from our language codes and then projected onto the world, is intrinsically incoherent, or worse, meaningless.

As Pirsig wrote some years ago when reflecting on the standard binary code of 1/0, "...it's stated over and over again that computer circuits exhibit only two states, a voltage for "one" and a voltage for "zero." That's silly! Any computer-electronics technician knows otherwise. Try to find a voltage representing one or zero when the power is off! The circuits are in a mu state."

Perhaps all our oppositions, by virtue of that /, have this state of offness, containing the promise to reside forever in the world of Mu.

Thanks for a great post.

Pirsig is technically right, I think, about the voltage, but binary is used because it's more easily corrected than any other number system. (Pirsig would probably like quantum computers, which have some sort of simultaneous 1 and 0 state, or at least that's the plan. Computers definitely process in binary rather than mu, but Pirsig does point out that same collision between the continuous and the discrete. I read Zen long ago, and enjoyed it, but was probably too young. I do currently divide experience into quantity and quality. But quantity has a special meaning for me.

The "/" is a beautiful symbol for mu. I love that sort of thing. I get excited when I see the sign for an integral. It's a nice choice. I can't help but find poetry in philosophy.

---------- Post added 05-12-2010 at 07:50 PM ----------

qualia;163629 wrote:
Perhaps all our oppositions, by virtue of that /, have this state of offness, containing the promise to reside forever in the world of Mu.
.

For me, life is largely made of this "/" material, but we can't speak it, not really. For instance, the concept of qualia, which you are probably also fond of, for obvious reasons. What is redness? As soon as we name it, we have entangled it in our system of differences, our quantified language. (I think that math and language have a common core, which is unity, the essence of the discrete.) We can live quite often in the mu, but as soon as we think, we are digital, discrete, etc.

These are opinions kindly offered. Thanks for your kind response! I look forward to our conversation.

qualia

Thu 13 May, 2010 07:25 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo wrote:
What's fascinating to me is that this binary tendency is so strong in us that even if we think about the opposite of the binary tendency, we are still within the binary framework. Binary versus Fuzzy, for instance. I sincerely wonder if can avoid thinking in these terms. Obviously we can become self-conscious about it, and dodge some of the negative consequences. But perhaps the human form of life will always experience reality in such terms, and one might add that the notion of a reality outside human experience still resides within human experience. We are crawling on the inner surface of a hollow sphere. The limits of our language/self are the limits of our reality?? I do generally feel this way, but I don't want to come off too strong or maniacal on the point.

A vulgar-empiricist walks into a bar and insists that her narratives, discourses, twists and turns of phrases are not narratives at all. "No." She claims. "My narratives relate to truth and reality and what really happens, or happened. And I oppose what I am doing with myth and fiction, and that dodgy continental stuff and the tripe spilling from eastern philosophy. Indeed, what I come up with is sharp, critical, so much ever more true and real."

So, ontologically speaking, we've got two grand narratives going on, the binary of discourse: those which claim to be true and those which are not true. And perhaps on another level, those which relate to humans - as in a more existential leaning - and those which have no need to relate to the reader for they refer to events, causal properties, brute facts.

But for me and you, in either case, whether we're doing Baudrillard or Hume, Tao or micro-economics, all we've got in front of us is a narrative, a discourse, a text.

At any given moment, it is reasonable for us to suppose that there is an infinite, or almost infinite number of things happening and all this from an infinite, or almost infinite number of perspectives and interpretations. Sure, some interpretations are better than others - we ought to read a red traffic light as 'stop' before some grave error could occur - but to focus on certain happenings or events, say in history, economics, philosophy, sociology, politics, put them in a certain order, impute somekind of intentionality onto them and then claim "this narrative is true, this is what really happens", is just weird when you think about it.

Saussure seemed to understand all this - probably influenced a little by Nietzsche - and took it to another level of critical reflection. He argued that language is a system whose linguistic elements have no independent reality, know nothing more, than their order within that given system (the language). It is therefore necessary to consider language a structure in which everything depends on relations in its actual state, present or past, within the system.

When Saussure argued that a language or code is one based on differentiality, something Derrida jumped on, he meant that a language's elements are not defined by their content, but by contrast - our binary conversation - with other elements within the same system. Simply put, the linguistic element cat is precisely that because it is not dog, red, or history, the letter b is that within the system, because it is not x, y or z. For Saussure, the entire structure of our language, our way of thinking about things, is based upon oppositions of this type and upon the phonic and conceptual differences they involve.

The Saussurean sign is not some link between a thing and a name, but between a signifier - an acoustic image, or sound - and a signified - a mental concept, or thought - which together form the sign, the meaning. Note the essential binary opposition in linguistic thinking. A sign is immaterial, in talking about things, for example, we have conceptions of things, but not the things themselves. Or again the word 'tree' isn't a tree. To this extent, a word or sentence or entire narrative does not stand for some object or event in reality, but as a system or code of immaterial signs literally lies parallel to that object, there's a relative autonomy between the sign and the thing in reality itself. Going further, there are signs which don't even suggest they refer to anything out-there. Where is 'history', 'however', 'culture', 'what', 'construction', 'mind', 'only', etc?

For Saussure the language we happen to use is an inheritance from the past, it is an always-already given. The relationship between signifier and signified is not a matter for the individual to decide, and to this extent, the individual has no power to alter the sign or code in any respect once it has been firmly established within the linguistic community.

Another important design feature in Saussure's linguistic critique is language's essential arbitrariness. The letter S, for example, has no connection with the sound it happens to denote, or again, there is nothing legish about the word leg. In principle, then, although a sign may be motivated or determined to a certain extent, such as needing a given combination of sounds which conform to the existing system, any signifier could have represented any signified. No doubt Saussure would have agreed with Plato's Cratylus when he claimed that "no one is able to persuade me that the correctness of names is determined by anything besides convention and agreement."

If language is essentially arbitrary, then according to the argument, the categories the sign-system happens to depict are also arbitrary and thus, our linguistic categories are not the consequence of some predefined structure of reality, some big T truth, The Truth of Reality, but actually constructed by the sign system, the code itself. In other words, the Saussurean understanding of language, our fundamental way of intelligibly cognisising the world, not only lies parallel to reality, but actively constructs the categories of that reality :shocked:

Reconstructo

Sat 15 May, 2010 06:37 pm
@qualia,
qualia;164044 wrote:
A vulgar-empiricist walks into a bar and insists that her narratives, discourses, twists and turns of phrases are not narratives at all. "No." She claims. "My narratives relate to truth and reality and what really happens, or happened. And I oppose what I am doing with myth and fiction, and that dodgy continental stuff and the tripe spilling from eastern philosophy. Indeed, what I come up with is sharp, critical, so much ever more true and real."

Nice. That gets the point across. That's how some see the game. The thing is, some of the continental stuff is tripe. (An opinion of course.) But some of it has the same goal as this lady you described, although she does not recognize this. Because she does not see that human reality is largely made of narratives. Also an opinion. Objective science is so successful at giving us gadget, that it has made some of us blind to its limitations. Philosophy aping science is like a spoon aping a knife. An opinion.

---------- Post added 05-15-2010 at 07:38 PM ----------

qualia;164044 wrote:
and those which have no need to relate to the reader for they refer to events, causal properties, brute facts.

I can only add that even brute facts can only exist as sentences. What these facts refer to is something else.

---------- Post added 05-15-2010 at 07:41 PM ----------

qualia;164044 wrote:

When Saussure argued that a language or code is one based on differentiality, something Derrida jumped on, he meant that a language's elements are not defined by their content, but by contrast - our binary conversation - with other elements within the same system.

I think he is righter in some cases than others, personally. Words that are directly associated with images do, in my opinion, have a positive content. On the other hands, words like "infinite" or "absolute" are prefixed by negation, and this is where he is right, I think. "The White Mythology" in Margins is great on this. Anatole France apparently wrote a great book that points out the metaphoricity of metaphysics. And also at the great role that negation plays, quietly, in philosophy.

---------- Post added 05-15-2010 at 07:42 PM ----------

qualia;164044 wrote:

For Saussure the language we happen to use is an inheritance from the past, it is an always-already given. The relationship between signifier and signified is not a matter for the individual to decide, and to this extent, the individual has no power to alter the sign or code in any respect once it has been firmly established within the linguistic community.

I would say he was 95% right here. Occasionally someone will use an old word in such a satisfying new way that the new meaning catches on. A successful metaphor becomes literal eventually.

---------- Post added 05-15-2010 at 07:45 PM ----------

qualia;164044 wrote:

Another important design feature in Saussure's linguistic critique is language's essential arbitrariness. The letter S, for example, has no connection with the sound it happens to denote, or again, there is nothing legish about the word leg. In principle, then, although a sign may be motivated or determined to a certain extent, such as needing a given combination of sounds which conform to the existing system, any signifier could have represented any signified. No doubt Saussure would have agreed with Plato's Cratylus when he claimed that "no one is able to persuade me that the correctness of names is determined by anything besides convention and agreement."

It's a great issue. I can't help but speculate that if certain glyphs succeeded where others failed, there may indeed be subtle reasons for this. Of course I agree that glyphs are mostly arbitrary, and not essential.

Have you looked at 1 and 0? A straight line and a circle. The two basic numbers feature the two basic geometrical ideas. Also the male female associations, etc. I think certain glyphs have a resonance.

---------- Post added 05-15-2010 at 07:50 PM ----------

qualia;164044 wrote:

If language is essentially arbitrary, then according to the argument, the categories the sign-system happens to depict are also arbitrary and thus, our linguistic categories are not the consequence of some predefined structure of reality, some big T truth, The Truth of Reality, but actually constructed by the sign system, the code itself. In other words, the Saussurean understanding of language, our fundamental way of intelligibly cognisising the world, not only lies parallel to reality, but actively constructs the categories of that reality :shocked:

I personally don't think that language as a whole is essentially arbitrary, but I agree that language constructs/is the intelligible aspect of experience. I think there are reasons, if you will, for the metaphors we prefer. I don't see it as random, for the most part. Of course I'm skeptical regarding Truth, with the exception of a tiny core of "Truth" which would just be whatever logical structure does not change, as far as perception and intuition go. Does A = A ? I think the identity concept, for instance, will always be with us. And I think this is the foundation of number and of thought in general. A word must hold a meaning, hold together properties in a unity.

Only my opinions. THanks for your post!

Reconstructo

Tue 25 May, 2010 01:09 am
@Reconstructo,
Anyone else want a byte?

Kielicious

Tue 25 May, 2010 03:33 am
@Reconstructo,
I think you'd enjoy this Reconstructo

YouTube - The Diagonal Argument Against Reductive Materialism

Reconstructo

Tue 25 May, 2010 02:21 pm
@Kielicious,
Kielicious;168480 wrote:
I think you'd enjoy this Reconstructo

I did. Thanks! Good stuff.

---------- Post added 05-25-2010 at 03:28 PM ----------

Quote:

5.471
The general propositional form is the essence of a proposition.
A bit that equals 1 or true? And negation as an inverter?
Quote:

from 5.47
One could say that the sole logical constant was what all propositions, by their very nature, had in common with one another.

from 5.4541
The solutions to the problems of logic must be simple, since they set the standards for simplicity...a realm subject to law: Simplex sigillum veri.

from 5.44
..The proposition '~~p' is not about negation, as if negation were an object: on the other hand, the possibility of negation is already written into affirmation. (emphasis mine)
The bit seems like the logical atom to me. And surely not only to me.

---------- Post added 05-25-2010 at 03:35 PM ----------

Quote:

from 5.2341
(Negation reverses the sense of a proposition)
Which is just a not-gate, of course. In mathematics and in logic, inversion is a crucial theme. I still cannot conceive a simpler piece of information than a bit. We have found bedrock here, I think.

Reconstructo

Mon 7 Jun, 2010 04:10 pm
@Reconstructo,
Bits and symbolic logic. Anyone else see the relationship?