Monthly Archives: 7月 2013

Body is our temple

A skill develops as one keeps fragmenting his motion towards terminals, hierarchically, even to the cell level. This hierarchical fragmentation in return leads him to restructuring the whole body. That is, the work on micro motions trigers the realignment of the whole body, i.e., every tiny little part of it. This is the way the man transcends himself.

The fragmentation increases our sensitivity to the environment, your neigbours, and to yourself. Our mind touches the body, the environment, and the world to penetrate into them. The materials are transcended themselves by being penetrated by the mind, or by engaging in the process led by the mind.

Every small part may change the whole if it changes itself. The change transforms the raw material into the lived one. It also makes live ones more complex, informationally rich entities. (I admit the vision is neo-Platonic.) Body is our temple, the place for transformation. So is our neigbours, our environent, and our world.

I thank you, everyone whom I met in Malta for these three months. I thank you, the sun of Malta, the sea of Malta, and the land of Malta, for having supported my life. You are now part of my body and mind.






Science of practice and production

「知識科学」について今回考えたことを総括しました。Malta大学のthe Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciencesにお世話になったので、返礼の意味も込めて。


Title: Science of practice and production
Author: Tsutomu Fujinami

1. Introduction

My stay at Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences has been fruitful both in that I have known activities in the faculty and that I could examine the concept of knowledge science(s) from various perspectives, which I may have not taken if I were in Japan. I write a short note to conclude my expedition with a hope that it may enhance our mutual understanding and facilitate our collaboration in future.

2. Our position in Science

Knowledge Science is not a hard science such as physics. It is certainly difficult to establish a simple, but powerful theory as is often found in hard sciences when we deal with phenomena of our interest. The reason can be sought in the complexity we face. Our targets of study are either social phenomena or creative activities.

Social phenomena are complex due to the large number of people involved and historical influences on them. Creative activities are complex because they are result of dynamics between explicit and implicit knowledge. Aristotle concluded no theory could be formed of these phenomena or activities because they are too complex to reduce them into small number of elements to be conceivable by our rational mind.

What happened in the middle of previous century was an invention of computers, which practically removed the limitation of information processing. Our poor memory suddenly became not a issue. The invention enabled us to study decision making process and creative activities.

Any disciplines of science after the invention of computer are different from traditional hard sciences in that they take it for granted that the large amount of data and information processing power applicable on them are available.

Those relatively new disciplines enabled by computational power can also be seen as applications of different types of logic, namely, induction and abduction. Both are concerned with discovery, but things discovered are different. The former finds hidden regularities while the latter proposes possible alteration to the theory with new terminology or concepts.

Induction and abduction are roughly related to practice and production in our life, but some exceptions can be found. Politicians can be innovative in proposing a new scheme and artists can be empirical in building their works. Generally speaking, however, decision-makers are keen to knowing general opinions and artists are interested to find a unique concept.

To sum up briefly this section, knowledge sciences are different from traditional hard sciences and deal with complex phenomena such as social interactions or creative activities. The new disciplines are theoretically rooted in induction or abduction and are enabled by computational power.

3. Values sought after in knowledge sciences

Different sciences lead to investigating different values. Traditional hard sciences are concerned with truth. Disciplines belonging to knowledge science look after two values, either goodness or beauty.

We first divide knowledge sciences into two groups, i.e., one about decision making and the other about production. The former concerns goodness, i.e., what is the right decision. The goodness or rightness are different from truth in that the absolute answer is not available due to the incompleteness of data. We cannot say something is absolutely true when counter examples can be obtained in future. Thus, the judgment of rightness has to come from some other place than the pure reason. Tentatively we turn to the reason of practice in resolving the matter.

The latter group of knowledge sciences concerns the beauty, i.e., what makes things beautiful. Again, the answer can only be tentative as we may encounter more beautiful things in future. What consists the faculty handling the beauty, I do not know. I am only sure that we inherit the sensitivity to the beauty naturally. I simply call it the reason of production for convenience.

Both the reason of practice and that of production work behind our human activities. Through practice and production, we look for the justice and beauty. (I replace the term, justice, for rightness.)

If science is only about the truth, knowledge sciences cannot be science because they are concerned with justice and beauty. It is probably safer to say that knowledge sciences investigate the justice in decision making and the beauty in arts to avoid a confusion among general public and a confrontation with people in traditional, hard sciences.

4. Faculty of decision making and arts?

Looking for different values than have been sought by traditional hard sciences put us in an odd place among other sciences. We are not the one confronting a hostility of that kind. Some physicists, for example, doubt that computer science is science. Sociologists used to discuss how sociology can be science. Such difficulties or doubts partly originate from our narrow conception of truth.

We have a choice. We can rename ourselves with a safer, acceptable name such as Faculty of decision making and arts, Research centre for practice and production, etc., avoiding any use of the terminology, science. That may settle the issue, but are disciplines of knowledge sciences so far away from truth?

I do not think so. Practice can lead us to the truth. Production can reach the truth, too. The truth we may find through practice is a belief that endures through generations. The truth we may find in production is a revelation of the world we live in. These are based on our culture and nature, or rather on our faith on them.

Societies have slowly evolved by finding and updating principles acceptable to all. These principles live on for relatively long and are only replaced by better ones. Individuals may catch a glimpse of truth in exploration. It may spread to all over the world eventually even if it is only conceivable initially to the person who discovered it.

If our world is identical, it just shows different faces to researchers from different directions. What we know in the end is essentially the same no matter how you approach to it, i.e., through reasoning, through practice, or through production. What we get vary, of course, depending on the approach taken, but there should be a consistency between items of knowledge obtained through different courses of investigation. That is what the objectivism teaches us, I believe.

5. Conclusion: how to relate ourselves with each other?

We have to fight our way through the world if we are brave enough to reject old labels such as Faculty of decision making and arts. We have already made the choice. Both of us include the terminology, knowledge science(s), to our name. Who is, then, our imaginary enemy and how can we unite ourselves?

We have to dispel the idea that only hard sciences are science. Most people seem not to be so narrow-minded and are open enough to think computer science is science. Such an attitude is, however, not so firm and can easily be degenerated to keep only the narrow definition of truth when questioned.

We need to argue that a revelation is a door to truth and collective updates of beliefs is a way to truth. We can broaden the view to science accordingly. Anyone involved in knowledge science(s) are invited to state what an insight their work may cast and/or how their findings may be shared and used in society. With these statements, people may locate us to an appropriate place among other disciplines.
(end of text)











An Analysis of Sanddornbalance as performed by Ms. Miyoko Shida

Some of my friends recently pointed me to a video clip, which shows Ms. Miyoko Shida performing a balance performance called Sanddornbalance.
(ここ最近、数人の知人から以下の映像を教えてもらいました。Ms. Miyoko ShidaがSanddornbalanceというバランス芸を披露している映像です。)

They notified me of the clip because I am involved in a research of human skills. They expected me, as a sort of specialist, to tell why her performance impresses us so deeply. To respond to their curiosity, I describe below how I analyze her work.
(知人らがこの映像について教えてくれたのは、私が人間の技能を研究しているからです。そして技能研究の専門家として、映像に捉えられている技について何らかの説明を与えることが期待されました。その期待に応えて、Ms. Miyoko Shidaの技能を分析してみます。)

My explanation is largely based on the pioneering work by V.S. Ramachandran and William Hirstein, who explained neurologically how we find the beauty in the work of art:
V.S. Ramachandran and William Hirstein, The Science of Art: A Neurological Theory of Aesthetic Experience. Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 6, Numbers 6-7, 1999, pp. 15-51(37).

I list up ten reasons why her performance looks beautiful. In what follows, I take the performer’s point of view, not observer’s one, for the sake of clarity and simiplicity.

1. Peak shifting (輪郭の強調)
The lighting outlines the branches she picks up and holds up, helping us to perceive the construction instantaneously. Her costume, the well-fitted to her, emphasizes her body and catches our eyes to track her motions for every inch.

2. Isolation (集中あるいは焦点化)
By inducing observers’ attentions to a particular point, the scene becomes dramatic. The color ‘white’ as shown of the feather is so distinct on the stage. Other elements including her costume are assigned quiet colors and made simple not to catch attentions.

3. Perceptual Grouping ゲシュタルト知覚
The form constructed by those branches looks like a leaf. (Some say it looks like a fish-bone, but it seems to be a leaf to me.) The whole construction looks botanical, in which she looks like a stem when she puts it on her head, a stem leading to the leaf. It is also amazing that what she constructed, i.e., the leaf, consists of branches, the things which normally have leafs as their parts. The reversed relation between the whole and the part somehow stimulates us intellectually.
(何本もの枝を組み合わせて葉の形のようなものができるところが面白さを感じさせます。しかも、枝を組み合わせて、「葉」というもともと枝についているもの — 部分 — を再構成するという「全体と部分の逆転」が見られ、それがまた幻惑的な効果をもたらします。)

4. Contrast 対照
There is a sharp contrast between the feather and the branches supporting it. The feather is light while those branches are heavy. The feather is also short while branches are long. Another contrast can be seen between the big construction and the small woman supporting it.

Let me remind you that the same performance is invented by a man. His performance shows less contrast in terms of the relation between the big and the small.
(SBを編み出したのは男性のようですが、彼のパフォーマンスをみると、「大きい vs. 小さい」といった後者のコントラストはいくらか弱まっているように思います。)

5. Perceptual Problem Solving (問題解決の様子が見えること)
She grabs our attention by forcing us to think what she does next all through her performance. We project ourselves onto her and feel the excitement together. Observers start thinking which one should be picked up next and how to take a balance. Pauses increase a tension and observers are released of it for a while when she has suceeded in picking up and putting it onto the construction while still keeping the balance. This cycle of tension and relax is repeated for a number of times, which excites observers.

6. Generic Viewpoints (観客が慣れ親しんだ角度で見せること)
Concerning the camera work, the TV crews do their job nicely. Each shot is taken from an appropriate angle and helps the viewers to continue looking at her motions without being distracted of the flow. (Well, they cannot eliminate those people in the studio watching her performance. I ignore that part, the idiomatic shots.) No strange angle is employed in depicting her. It is clear what one should perceive for each shot.

7. Visual Metaphors (視覚的メタファー)
What does the construction express? There is a visual metaphor there. The thing constructed with branches and the feather seems to be a leaf and is supported by a woman. The whole message is of nature. Leafs, branches, trees, etc., they are all indicate the nature or our environment. Those branches are however dead. The woman constructs a leaf using those dead branches. It seems to narrate an archetypal story of death and rebirth, where the femaleness plays an important role.

8. Symmetry (対称性)
Symmetry induces a sense of beauty within us. The construction is symmetric, needless to say.

9. balance & harmoney (バランスと調和)
These lie in the core of her performance. She embodies the concept of balance and harmony by showing us the performance. Those properties touche us. The final action, i.e., removing the feather, leads to the destruction of the whole construction. It is shocking, but reminds us of the importance of the balance and harmony.

10. Repetition, rhythm, and orderliness (繰り返し、リズム、秩序)
A sense of rhythm emerges by repeating the same action. Each cycle contains choosing a branch, picking it up, and putting it on the construction while keeping the balance. The exact motion punctuates the time, resulting in a rhythm. Its tempo is slow, but the slowness contributes to tranquility. Repeating the same action with a rhythm leads to an order as observed in the leaf-like form of the construction.

That is all. It is a good exercise to analyze her performance if you would like to deepen your understanding of the work done by Ramachandran and Hirstein. More amazing is how she controls her motions so well, which is of my interest. I hope we can look into that part in future.