Theory

"It is the theory that decides what we can observe." (Einstein)

"It is more important that a theory be beautiful than it be true." (Paul Dirac)

In Greek, theoria originally meant a looking at or viewing and theoreo, a spectator. In this sense, theory and Visuality are metaphors of each other.

Is the theoretical attitude is that of the disengaged observer? Does theory require a distinction between the illusionless observer and the gullible participant, or to put it more mildly, between theory and observation? Does theory always entail what John Dewey derided as the "spectator theory of knowledge"? Perhaps to theorize is to create the impression of something that existed already (or, even better, always already) (see metaphor) In the Pragmatic tradition, theory is the critical reflection on "belief." William James calls it "an appetite of the mind," what Frank Lentricchia calls "the need to generalize" and "to obliterate differences." (quoted in Cary Wolfe, Postmodern Theory and the Pragmatics of the "Outside" )

But according to the Greek conception, theory is not a knowledge but touching (thigein ).

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A-Life

"The question, at which point we draw the line between living and non-living is not a scientific question.The line between living and non-living at the beginning of evolution is arbitrary, just as the line between human and non-human primates at the end of evolution is arbitrary.The task of science is not to define the exact position of the line but to understand how it came to be crossed."

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abstract/concrete

The etymological origins of "abstract" are the latin abs trahere , to draw away from. Thus the abstract is separated from body, object, or application. It can describe qualities apart from any object or thing. In Archaic Greek art, the genre of particular things outweighed their specific, individual qualities in artistic representation. Hence abstraction, expressed through the geometricization of natural forms, dominated Archaic art. A Greek polis , when understood as a particular pattern of life and not just a geographical grouping of people and their belongings, was essentially an abstract conception, just as a nation "is today. (see J.J. Pollitt, Art and Experience in Classical Greece.) When we describe a culture in terms of categories such as "religious," "economic," etc. we are not describing real subdivisions, but are making abstractions for our convenience. In the study of "structures" the practice of analysis consists in constructing "models" that replace the study of concrete phenomena by that of an object shaped through its definition. 

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allegory

"The only pleasure the melancholic permits himself, and it is a powerful one, is allegory." (Walter Benjamin, Origins, p. 185) 

For Northrop Frye, "a writer is being allegorical whenever it is clear that he is saying 'by this I also (allos ) mean that.' If this seems to be done continuously, we may say, cautiously, that what he is writing 'is' an allegory." (Anatomy of Criticism, p. 90) Frye points out that all commentary is allegorical interpretation, an attaching of ideas to poetic structure. It thus should come as no surprise that the commenting critic is often prejudiced against allegory without knowing the real reason, which is that continuous allegory prescribes the direction of his commentary, and so restricts its freedom.

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aleatory

The word "aleatory" is derived from the Latin word for a die. What is aleatory depends on "the throw of a die," upon 'uncertain contingencies." --it is a matter of chance.

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alterity / other

"The negative construction of ....others is finally what founds and sustains European identity itself." (Hardt and Negri) For Hegel, the effort to overcome the Other is simultaneously an effort to overcome self- consciousness' own otherness to itself. Hegelian negativity simultaneously restored and systematized, unleashed and bound the power of the Other, against and within the consciousness of the Same. In the work of self-consciousness, which is desire in general, the subject finds ways to integrate what at first seems to lie outside itself. But during the ongoing course of this process, the subject changes, to the point that the subject can be considered only a term for the process that it accomplishes. 

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Analogy/Homology

Analogy/Homology

The concept of homology, or morphological correspondence, was the central tenet of philosophical anatomy. It was used to define structural similarity. Homologies, which are now defined in terms of evolution, were formerly interpreted in a transcendental sense. Whereas homologous parts are now considered to have descended from a common ancestor, in the pre-Darwinian era they were usually looked upon as evidence of an ideal pattern imposed on nature, or a blueprint in the mind of the creator.

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analytic/synthetic

For Logical Positivists, such as A.J.Ayer, the only statements that can be verified are those that are analytic. According to Ayer, they cannot be confirmed or refuted by facts of experience, and "do not make any assertion about the empirical world, but simply record our determination to use symbols in a certain way."

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anosognosia

The tendency to ignore or sometimes even to deny that one's left arm or leg is paralyzed was termed anosognosia, ("unaware of illness") by the French neurologist Francois Babinski, who first observed it clinically in 1908. In anosognosia, the patient is unaware of or denies a paralyzed limb, and in hemianosognosia, the patient behaves as if half the body were nonexistent. The "counterfeit" limb is a milder version of anosognosia, where the limb seems less than real. Oliver Sachs describes how his paralyzed leg had "vanished, taking its place with it...The leg had vanished taking its 'past' away with it. I could no longer remember having a leg." (See Oliver Sachs, A Leg to Stand On, New York, 1984,) 

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Anthropic Principle:

The Anthropic Principle: explains the existence of cosmological facts by noting that only certain conditions could have evolved life in the universe: It is doubtedlessly correct that the universe in which we live is the kind of universe whose laws allow, at least in certain of its neighborhoods, for the emergence of creatures like us. 

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antibodies

An Antibody is a large protein molecule which latches on to and neutralizes foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Each antibody acts only on a very specific target molecule, known as an antigen. (It can also coat microbes in a way to make them palatable to scavenger cells such as microphages.) 

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anxiety

For Kurt Goldstein, anxiety has no "object," and is qualitatively different from fear. In fact, for Goldstein, fear is the anticipation of anxiety. For Kierkegaard and Heidegger, anxiety deals with "nothingness." It is a breakdown of both world and self. For Goldstein, the drive to overcome anxiety by the conquest of a piece of the world is expressed in the tendency towards order, norms, continuity, and homogeneity. Deleuze and Guattari echo this diagnosis when they claim that striation is negatively motivated by anxiety in the face of all that passes, flows, or varies and erects the constancy and eternity of an in-itelf. 

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aphasia

Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Aphasia is always due to injury to the brain. People with aphasia have difficulty with language, but they are not intellectually impaired.

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aporia

For the Athenians, the nomadic Scythians were aporoi. While the Athenians valued authochthonous birth, the Scythians had absolutely no attachment to any place and were always somewhere else. For the imagination of urban Greeks, nomadism was the indelible mark of the Scythians' distance from civility, the sign and substance of an alien existence, the quintessence of otherness. (see also war machine

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art historical

In the late nineteenth century, with the rise of a philosophically oriented art history, the philosophical issues of how we perceive space gave way to the psychological problem of how we come to take delight in the characteristics of formand space. The philosophical art historians sought the "basic principles," (Grundbegriffe ) underlying the creation and appreciation of art, and their historical transformations. 

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art/science

The French zoosystéician Louis Bec argues that "With the advent of the sciences of the "artificial" and of communication, as well as the explosion of the technosciences and the sciences of the living a "lieu" (site or place) has emerged in which the total integration of arts, sciences, and technology can be achieved. There are now two different "epistemological poles" that encompass this integration. The first strives to link "poetic", "symbolic" descriptions of nature's mechanisms to scientific ones, producing " metaphorical expressions". (cf Gaia) The second involves activities ( cybernetics, artificial intelligence,...) which, among other ends, ultimately aim to simulate and act on the world, to better understand it by transforming it. (See Artificial Life II

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artifacts

According to Leroi-Gourhan: the technological object is nothing outside of the technological ensemble to which it belongs. "As one encounters a new device or system,...it is crucial to ask what the form of this thing presupposes about the people who will use it." (Langdon Winner)

Artifact/ideas: The ideas embodied in material things: the increased crystallization of knowledge and practice in the physical structure of artifacts, in addition to mental structures. Through the combination and superimposition of task-relevant structure, artifacts came to embody kinds of knowledge that would be exceedingly difficult to represent mentally. (see Bruno Latour, "Visualization and Cognition: Thinking with eyes and hands." Knowledge and Society 6: 1-40, 1986.) (see tech philosophy for "the fabrication of scientific facts and technical artifacts." )

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