Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Illogical Thought

Option #1

“It describes a thought that proceeds analogically and only analogically – not logically. A thought in which therefore procedures of this type – ‘just as … so likewise…’ or ‘as if…then’ or again ‘as p is to q, so r is to s’ are privileged compared to digital procedures of the type ‘if … then …’ and ‘p is not non-p.’”

It’s interesting to pose that ordinary thoughts can be illogical. At first glance it was surprising to see how simple phrases like ‘just as’ or ‘likewise’ are used so often and yet they always relate to or lead back to experiences in the past. Initially this passage felt difficult to understand because his argument didn’t make sense to me. I understood the logic but it was difficult to apply it to human thought. In order to try to understand this better, I used a quote to see the application of this logic.

"Some have little power to do good, and have likewise little strength to resist evil" (Samuel Johnson).

Even after reading this, I still had trouble applying it until I broke it down to how I would explain this for a robot to understand. Eventually I realized it would have to become conditional understanding. By conditional I mean, as used in the quote, it’s stated that little power leads to little strength. However, it’s the opinion of the reader to decide if he or she accepts this or not.

At this point, it felt like an epiphany because it introduced the idea of free will. We don’t program our computers to function with free will. For example, if we clicked Start on our computers, we wouldn’t want it to randomly open a random folder, only the Start menu.

However, human thought doesn’t seem to have such restrictions to logic. Anyone can think any thought. Our thoughts are bound by no logic rules.

I can only speculate that he explained how some thought cannot be understood by logic in such a way to demonstrate how a reader can begin to interpret this and see logic being used to describe something so integral as human thought to show how it is illogical. It also demonstrates the inability to program freewill.


Adam Johns said...

The inevitable first comment is that this is very short, which much of it taking up by a single quote. There simply isn't enough writing here to develop your thoughts.

Now, on to the actual content. Is this really a difficult section in Lyotard? To me it seems relatively straightforward - and you certainly don't seem to have much difficulty explaining it.

There's no transition at all between your discussion of Lyotard and the Samuel Johnson quote. My copy of Lyotard is out on loan, so I can't verify - but I certainly don't remember this quote from the essay. What are you doing with it? This didn't follow at all to me.

Your discussion of free will might possibly work if you explained what you're doing at much greater length, with far more context (within Lyotard, that is). Why do you think he's talking about free will? Where does that topic come up? It seems like a tangent, but maybe you have an idea here.

Short version: you aren't really doing the assignment as written; that's the source of your difficulties. You are explaining the passage, rather than its difficulty - and even your explanation of the passage, which moves into one seeming tangent after another, makes little sense to me.

Adam Johns said...

Since you haven't posted a revised version, I'm grading the original version.