This tag is associated with 22 posts

The hermeneutical intractability of Asimov’s three laws of robotics

In his sci-fi detective mystery, I, Robot, Isaac Asimov writes: “Powell’s radio voice was tense in Donovan’s ear: ‘Now, look, let’s start with the three fundamental Rules of Robotics — the three rules that are built most deeply into a robot’s positronic brain.’ The rules follow. A robot may not injure a human being or, … Continue reading

Introducing hermeneutics to an architectural audience

Hermeneutics is of course simply the study of interpretation — what interpretation is, and how it works. But to study hermeneutics requires you to come to terms with the philosophies of Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Paul Ricoeur. To gain entry into hermeneutical discourse the scholar needs to come to terms with a particular collection of books and essays (a … Continue reading

Design hermeneutics revisited

What’s the difference between an artwork and a design? The worst insult you can give to a work of art is to ignore it. The worse thing you can do to a design is to treat it as a work of art — i.e. not to use it. This is an argument advanced by philosopher Nicholas … Continue reading

The big book of hermeneutics

“[U]nderstanding is always a standing somewhere, and it is this standing somewhere that underlies understanding itself” (355).That’s a clever statement by philosopher Jeff Malpas describing the circumstances of interpretation. We always interpret a book, painting, play or a building from some position or other — within a horizon; and so Malpas links hermeneutics (the study of interpretation) to … Continue reading

Even more radical pedagogy

This week Beatriz Colomina spoke at the Andrew Carnegie Lecture Series at the University of Edinburgh on radical pedagogy. That prompted me to rush to Jacques Rancière’s book The Ignorant Schoolmaster, which she referenced. The book is a satirical quasi-historical account of an actual nineteenth century French schoolteacher who practiced liberal teaching methods, and sought to emancipate … Continue reading

What’s wrong with the digital humanities

I’ve just read the online Digital Humanities Manifesto (2011). I wouldn’t have, were it not that Stanley Fish, the doyen and defender of the humanities, references it in his guest Opinionator blog post (2012). The Digital Humanities Manifesto appears with anonymous authorship on a dormant Wordpress blog site attached to the UCLA Digital Humanities research and teaching centre. … Continue reading

Why experts are better than algorithms

Why are experts inferior to algorithms? This is the question posed by Daniel Kahneman in his influential book Thinking Fast and Slow. Kahneman argues that in many cases mechanical procedures provide better decisions than human experts, a view that ostensibly challenges the tenets of philosophical hermeneutics. The hermeneutical thesis is that expert judgement involves taking a … Continue reading

What I really meant to say

The lyrics of Crossfade’s song Cold (2004) declare “What I really meant to say, Is I’m sorry for the way I am.” Annoyingly, the song keeps cropping up when I do a web search on idioms ascribing meanings to writers. But it kind of fits. Do we really know what we mean to say? Does the … Continue reading

Accentuate the negative

Protesters are demonstrating against plans to build on Gezi Park in Istanbul (Financial Times). Commentators say the park issue is just a trigger for the expression of widespread discontent. But people do have passionate views about open outdoor space. A recent article on the BBC Science website says, “Being physically active can bolster good mental health … Continue reading

Shallow reading

The Internet is changing the way our brains work, according to Nicholas Carr in his book The Shallows: “what the net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation” (p.6). For all its benefits, he thinks the web habituates us to browsing, clicking, skimming and jumping around information. So it’s … Continue reading