Re: [unrev-II] "As We May Think", etc.

From: Peter Jones (
Date: Fri Jul 13 2001 - 11:39:25 PDT

  • Next message: Henry van Eyken: "Re: [unrev-II] "As We May Think", etc."

    Henry, Dennis,

    Thank you both.

    Very interesting point from Henry: Did Kant consider rationality to be free from culturally imbued mores?
    If I remember correctly (very hazy, too long ago, book not to-hand), Kant's Groundwork for a Metaphysic of Morals, the text that contains definition of the C.I., had to posit a being of ideal rationality that one should aspire to be like in order to motivate proper use of the C.I. itself. Since we're not ideal we should just try very hard (else God won't like us). Or something like that. Dennis seems to be more on the ball on that front so perhaps he can fill in the gaps more accurately.

    Just to complicate matters slightly, today I ran across a book:
    Kant on Freedom, Law and Happiness by Paul Guyer (distinguished Kant scholar, responsible for a series of the best translations going). The back cover blurb states that Guyer is arguing for a new interpretation of Kant's ethics implying that there is much more to Kant's ethics than just the C.I.. Wish I had the time/energy to read that one.

    Another one I spotted that I don't have time to read was:
    Metaphor in Context by Joseph Stern (distinguished Univ. of Chicago prof.)
    Blurb states that Prof. Stern has come up with an interpretation of metaphor that places it within existing semantic frameworks (contra the now apparently traditional view that metaphor didn't really fit in so it couldn't be handled).

    Here I would refer folks to another page on that site that Bernard Vatant pointed us to:
    Particularly interesting for me were the points about the use of metaphor in international debate as a means of facilitating universal understanding.

    There was also another book, containing scholarly discussion of professional ethics that looked interesting (but it was wrapped so I couldn't scan it there and then) called "Matters of Breath".

    All in the philosophy section, so not much handy code in those, I suspect.

    So, how does one build ethical augmentation into augmenting systems then? Or would that be a bad idea (unethical in itself, even?) ?
    And also, could there be ethical augmentation that uses metaphor to raise points of ethical controversy to common understanding, moving beyond cultural differences?
    And if I was augmented, what would become of the present relationship between intellect and morality?
    I'm really fired up by these questions.

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Dennis E. Hamilton
      Sent: Friday, July 13, 2001 4:44 PM
      Subject: RE: [unrev-II] "As We May Think", The Exploratories Project & a Tour of Mindmapping Links

      Kant gives several versions/consequences of the Categorical Imperative. One form is that human beings always be treated as ends, not means.

      Kant's principle can also be stated in a more limited way: In claiming moral/ethical justification for an act, application of the Categorical Imperative requires that the justification be something that one wills to be an ethical principle for everyone. It is not an ethical justification (relative to C.I.) if it fails that test.
        -----Original Message-----
        From: Henry van Eyken []
        Sent: Friday, July 13, 2001 05:49
        Subject: Re: [unrev-II] "As We May Think", The Exploratories Project & a Tour of Mindmapping Links

        Dennis, Peter.
        I had to look this up, Categorical Imperative. Found in my "The American Colege Dictionary":

        1. Ethics, the rule of Immanuel Kant that one must only do what he can will that all others should do under similar circumstances.
        2. The unconditional command of conscience.

        Those circumstances include all a person's mental makeup as developed from genes and the influences of home, family, playmates, schools, acquaintances, media.

        Ran into a striking example many years ago. Nepotism is frowned upon in western society, but in at least one other society it is considered highly unscrupulous not to offer a job to one's relatives first.

        This said, we can manage our way through life on a fairly common, operational understandings of what is right and wrong, what doesn't or does harm others.

        My wandering thoughts of last Monday's post in this thread were much the result of trying to come to terms of one of the books I bought about markup languages. Besides the author, the publisher (Que, a division of Macmillan) lists the names of 16 people on their staff, all involved in making the book. These include an acquisitions editor, a development editor, a managing editor, a project editor, a copy editor, two indexers, two proofreaders, three technical editors, a team cordinator, two designers, and a production person. Yet just about everything that can be wrong with a book is wrong with this one. Erroneous and contradictoray information, captions separated from the corresponding graphics by lines of text, poior typography, poor examples, badly written explanations, poor grammar (what are all those editors doing there, anyway?). A real drag.

        The cover quotes a member of the W3C: "... an excellent foundation for using this critical technology and also explains the advanced capabilities of XHTML that anyone can understand...." Well, anyone but me. (Assuming the author is an expert on the topic, I am still trying to learn from the book. Foolhardy?)

        The book invites readers, "Tell Us What You Think!" I emailed a couple of examples of what is seriously wrong with the book. The publisher did not bother to respond to them. What else is new?

        Aggravationssuch as these are commonplace. They use up time and energy. I consider it a form of theft. But then again, others may feel this is perfectly acceptable. Afterall, has it not been said from time immemorial: Let the buyer beware.


        "Dennis E. Hamilton" wrote

          Thanks for this. I am often too slow in being suspicious of theses that aren't based on recognition and ownership of (and compassion for) the prospect that we are all alike. The Categorical Imperative is a great place to stand in reviewing my own arguments! Etc.

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