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I was about to read Tom Slee‘s book review about Akerlof and Kranton’s Identity Economics and in the very introduction there was this summary of the individualism X collectivism issue (so i felt compelled to type down some of my own thoughts about this before i allowed the review’s ideas to contaminate my thinking. Maybe after i read it, i’ll make a second post):

For the fifty years since Gary Becker first applied economic techniques to social issues such as dysfunctional families and crime, the social sciences have been inhabited by two solitudes, seemingly incapable of communication. Sociologists and cultural theorists talk of ideology, identity, hegemony and discourse; economists deal in rational choice, individual tastes, incentives and the mathematics of game theory. Sociologists suggest that society shapes the individual; economists that individual traits shape society. Many economists come from a right-wing and market-friendly outlook; mainstream sociology has a more left-wing perspective.

My first reaction is: BOTH! Individuals shape collectives at the same time that they are being shaped by other collectives. Nowadays we are almost always involved in games consisting of so much more than one individual and one collective: Not feedback loops, but feedback mazes. And still, there is asymmetry between individual and society and we can ask: How does this difference work? My answer is context-setting. Read More »

The so called Mind-Body Problem is an older than dust problem in Philosophy, so old in fact that to really understand it we should talk about it in very different terms than originally proposed. It is also a problem which tends to sound trivial at first mention, but becomes harder and harder as we think further about it. Let’s put it like: how can an immaterial thing be produced from something material? There are things we know are “of the mind”: an idea, an information, an equation or even an opinion. And there are things we know are “of the material world”: a brain cell or a processor chip. But how can the later create the former? This is our circumstance:

World and Mind as two intersecting circles (or sets) Read More »

The (misguided) comparisons between brain and computer usually begin by stating that the brain is massively parallel, working into multiple threads of thought at the same time.

But it just isn’t.

The brain is not a massively parallel processor. It does not process more than one symbol-chain at the same time. The brain deals with only one thing at a time, and it can’t even vary this one thing: the brain is always dealing with the person’s immediate circumstance. Read More »

They had (or are having, those things are hard to pinpoint except for the actual molotovs) over back in Greece “um princípio de quiprocó, um pequeno quebra-quebra entre eles” beginning with the death of a student. If you haven’t checked out BigPicture’s page on that one, you should.

a protester trowing a stone in the Greek Riots of Dec2009 (REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis)

a protester wearing a Nike jacket throwing a stone during the Greek Riots of Dec2009 (REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis)

Now that is the world where this new POTUS is coming up, this one guy who has the hubris of saying himself the harbinger of hope, the herald of change. And you gotta give him at least that: he is smart. Usually, i will prefer the dumbest candidate available for the US, seen that i do think this country has a hand that is too heavy, but not this time. I have heard (read) him called something like a wolf in a lamb’s clothing, and i kind of think he is more like a wolf period, i do not think he stands for “good” politics, nor do i think he will refrain from politics as usual, but i was really hoping he would step up to the so-called most powerful job on earth.

And the reason is just one: i think things are getting hairy. Read More »

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