Sunday, January 8, 2012

The computational society

The best way to fly across the Atlantic: with a good book that keeps you occupied from beginning to end. Having two flights, I had two books. The first one had nothing to do with computer science. The second one, "The empire of the lesser evil" by Michea, contains the following footnote (my translation).

"It is probably this obsessive fear of civil war that explains why 17th and 18th century philosophers […] almost always describe the "state of nature" as a state of inevitable […] war of all against all. This obviously consists of a transposition into philosophy of the situation of civil wars of that period, pushed by assumption - as in all thought experiments - to their imaginary limit […]. This is a hyperbolic formulation […]. Similarly, at a metaphysical level, the cartesian doubt takes a hyperbolic form to create the possibility of cogito. Note that modern solutions must always be deduced of philosophical situations that are not merely negative or even hopeless (absolute doubt, absolute violence) but also fictive (the hypothesis of the dream and the genie with Descartes, the state of nature with Hobbes, the fable of original trade of goods with economists). That is not the least paradox of a society […] claiming to be entirely "realist" and procedural - that is, founded on the purely mechanical protocols of Law and of Market - that it thus generates its own foundational myths."

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