theory

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 ).

Read More

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. 

Read More

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. 

Read More

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."

Read More

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. 

Read More

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. 

Read More

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

Read More

assemblage

The French terms of both agencement and dispositif used by Deleuze and Guattari are usually translated as assemblage. An assemblage is a "site at which a discursive formation intersects with material practices" (Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the Observor, p. 31) It is "simultaneously a machinic assemblage and an assemblage of enunciation" (D+G, Thousand Plateaus, p. 504)

Read More

avant-garde

For Poggioli, futurism defines one central aspect of the avant-garde, which in Ortega Y Gasset's words, is that the historical task of the contemporary artist is to "work in the present for the future". In this "historical mythology of contemporary art" the work of the avant-garde presents the shape of things to come. Poggioli differentiates between the actual artistic movement of Futurism and that movement's claim to the concept of the avant-garde. For Poggioli,Futurism "possessed in its name the most successful and suggestive formula thought up by the avant-garde" but the movement "was one of the lowliest and vulgar manifestations of avant-garde culture" (p.143) If real futurism is dead forever, ideal futurism is still living, precisely because it renews itself in the consciousness of each successive avant-garde. (p.223). Reyner Banham also enthusiastically described the Futurist example and its exaltation of speed while distancing himself from its politics. 

Read More

bachelor machine

bachelor machine

The term "bachelor machine" was first used by Marcel Duchamp around 1913 in connection with pieces of work that would later be assembled in the Large Glass of 1915-1923. (Also known as the bride stripped bare by her bachelors, even) For Duchamp, the term refers specifically to the lower portion of the glass, the realm of the bachelors, which contains, among other things, the chocolate grinder, the cemetary for uniforms and liveries -- Priest, Delivery Man, Gendarme, Cuirassier, Policeman, Pallbearer, Footman, Stationmaster and Page Boy -- and the témoins oculistes. The Large glass consists of two distinct realms, the realm of the bride above, and the realm of the bachelors below, both desiring and imagining one another without any possibility of mutual comprehension. (one is here reminded of the real / imaginary distinction and the discussion of cyberspace)

Read More

body

body

Aristotle distinguished between the body and the soul. The latter referred not only to the principle of life, but to the form of a particular living body. Thus the soul is the organization of the body. (cf. organism) Aristotle rejected the doctrine of the Pythogoreans, according to which the soul can clothe itself in different bodies. (see clothing/garment ) Instead, a particular soul is the entelechy, or formative force of a particular body, and the individuality of a particular man. Thus every particular soul requires a connection to a particular organic whole. At the same time, he upheld a division between matter and form which describes, for example, the relation between the eye and sight. When the power of sight is absent, the eye is no longer an eye in the proper sense. After taking the position that "..there seems to be no case in which the soul can act or be acted on without involving the body," Aristotle goes on to suggest that thinking is the one specific activity of the human soul which is capable of separate and independent existence from any connection to the body. (see also subject )

Read More