Wednesday, August 12, 2009

[Yasmin_discussions] Fwd: creating through networked groups

Simon Paul et yasminers

I guess I find myself somewhere between the "continental school' and
the Analytic Tradition on consciousness/mind/creativity

I am again going to bring in network theory as i think we dont yet
understand how profound the new understanding to complex systems
that network theory is bringing to these discussion= for networks ranging
for how genes function in the cell, to ecological systems , to society,
to linguistic structures

I have quoted a couple of articles from the July 24 issue of Science magazine
which has a special section on complex systems and netowrks including
an article also by Vespiagnani on "predicting the behavior of techno-social

albert laszlo barabasi has an article on new research trends where he
boldly predicts that the first complex system that we are most likely
to tackle first in a quantitative manner is not the cell or the internet
but society itself= basically he argues that we are accumulating so much
data on how networked individuals work and make decisions that we
can start building predictive models of future societal behaviour as a networked

somewhere earlier in this thread someone asked where does thinking
or creativity occur ? in the mind of the individual ? in the extended self
in interaction in the group= i suspect that the network theorist would
argue that thinking and creativity is located diffusely in the network-
and that behaviours are strongly conditioned by the structure and rules
of network interactin in a formal/logic sense

these topic connect to the large discussion going on about
the 'super organism"

The Superorganism  The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies
 By Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson 522 pages. W.W. Norton & Company. $55.

where there is a hot debate as to whether insect societies can exhibit
group intelligence
and group decision making

within the art/science/technology community one of our prototypical
examples is of course the Experiments in Art and Technology- which
which was a collective of artists and engineers which produced a number
of works, in the nine evenings, that none could have done invididually-
although we credit a few of the ringleaders=the achievement was clearly
a collective one - in a different way than an opera or film is.the creativity
was in the network of the group.

further back of course in the art/science/technology cannon we have the
Bauhaus example- which existed for a very few years but creative
a group situation that had long repercussions after bauhaus was closed

i agree with simon that we should move the discussion away from the
genius issue ( maybe nothing new to say on the topic) but how do
we get good at building groups that can exhibit radical innovation=
and in particular how this is done in the art/science/technology field
where breaking out of disciplinary silos is the precondition for creativity

it would be great to have yasminers give us more examples of active
collective creativity and production in the art science technology community
today-its always good to ground theory in praxis !!


From: Paul Brown <>>

Simon - a predictable response :)  [so here's one from me]

As you know I'm happier with the British Analytical tradition and more
sympathetic to Andy's work rather than what I see as the platitudinous
imponderables of the Continental School.

However I agree it is interesting that these two strands become
adjacent as they develop.  I'm interested in discovering links that
bridge what we have become used to calling Modernist and Postmodern
thought like this.  Another good one is Varela & Kauffman's
application of Spencer Brown's calculus of indications (essentially a
boundary grammar) to self-reference and autopoiesis.  (Form Dynamics,
J. Social Biol. Struct. 1980 3, 171-206).


On 12 Aug 2009, at 00:59, Simon Biggs wrote:

> Andy is Professor of Logic and Metaphysics here at Edinburgh and he has
> close links with the art college so I am very familiar with his work. To
> some extent it is relevant to what I am arguing but our points of departure
> are profoundly different. Andy is coming out of the Anglo-American
> rationalist tradition of philosophy and very much involved in debates around
> the neurophysiology of mind. I am taking my references from people like
> Foucault, Ortiz and Latour whose concerns are more with socially situated
> ontologies of mind. However, what is interesting is that whilst these
> perspectives have such differrent sources they do connect up further down
> the road. The arguments would tend to strengthen one another whilst putting
> the sources for each under a critical microscope.
> Best
> Simon
> Simon Biggs
> Research Professor
> edinburgh college of art
> AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk
> From: Paul Brown <>
> Date: Tue, 11 Aug 2009 21:29:44 +0100
> Subject: Re: [Yasmin_discussions] Creativity as social mind
> I think Andy Clark's name has come up in this discussion before but
> Simon's
> comments remind me of his concept of the extended mind:
> Paul
> On 11 Aug 2009, at 17:51, Simon Biggs wrote:
>> Wittgenstein wrote:
>>   It is misleading then to talk of thinking as of a 'mental
>>   activity'. We may say that thinking is essentially the activity
>>   of operating with signs. This activity is performed by the hand,
>>   when we think by writing; by the mouth and larynx, when we think
>>   by speaking; and if we think by imagining signs or pictures, I
>>   can give you no agent that thinks. If then you say that in such
>>   cases the mind thinks, I would only draw attention to the fact
>>   you are using a metaphor, that here the mind is an agent in a
>>   different sense from that in which the hand can be said to be
>>   the agent in writing.
>>   If again we talk about the locality where thinking takes place
>>   we have a right to say that this locality is the paper on which
>>   we write or the mouth which speaks. And if we talk of the head
>>   or the brain as the locality of thought, this is using the
>>   'locality of thinking' in a different sense.[1]
>>            -- Ludwig Wittgenstein, Preliminary studies for the
>>               "Philosophical investigations".
>> The argument Wittgenstein is proposing here is that thinking is an
>> activity
>> that might be located in all sorts of places other than the mind. He
>> suggests that mind itself might be little more than a metaphor, a
>> conceptual
>> receptacle we can use so as to be able to identify where we
>> subjectively do
>> things like thinking, talking, perceiving and feeling. Wittgenstein
>> suggests
>> that the mind might not exist as anything more than metaphor or,
>> that if it
>> does exist, it might exist in place(s) we do not expect.

Roger Malina is in California at this time


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