Category Archives for: Philosophy of Education

Book-shops and Learning

26 June 2016

[aka Re-visiting the Eslite Book-store]

Back to the place I began reading, for a day, before I leave Taipei, and leave reading again.

I now see why this book-store was so conducive before: the selection is amazing. A normal, rather large library in itself is of almost no organizational use. It’s good for the purpose of research, as it can provide written source sources, but that’s it. It doesn’t offer a general education in any way. It’s a mess of information, like the Internet, except more out-dated and disorganized (physical organization hits it’s limit compared to searchable digital organization). The book-store, though sufficiently large for any human, just provides a a few shelves for world history or Western philosophy. The selection top notch: top publishers, highly regarded, highly readable, organizations of knowledge: A Little History of the World, Sapiens, What is Cultural History?, Social Class in the 21st Century (Pelican) – that’s what I’ve got next to me at the moment.

This kind of organization, a well-selected library is quite a different experience from Wikipedia too. Wikipedia doesn’t organize information in the way that people can. People can organize the same information into infinite ways and mediums. For Wikipedia, though not restricted, the format is quite standard. If I look at the history of the world article, it’s likely chronologically and spatially ordered somewhat, leading to separate histories of each country. The small topics chosen by Harari in Sapiens to describe the history of the world through ideas like science and empire of the industrial-research-technology complex just doesn’t fit Wikipedia’s format. The mapping of knowledge, the gaining of wisdom, seems entirely dependent on the way information is organized. That is, after all, what artists do: manipulate information (via material [non-digital and digital]).

This better explains my first experience with books here. I found the Western Philosophy section and the readings must have organized my mind because the selection was so damn good. I [can only] imagine few people [in the world] that [may have] began reading with Bacon, Montaigne, Wittgenstein, Russell, in that order. Perhaps western philosophy initially lead me in the wrong directions; it being merely an intellectual history, but it was a start.

Now, I feel I can peruse the entire library, though I still choose to stick to culture (cultural theory and maybe cultural history) and those finer gems: highly readable, uniquely organized writings. But I don’t feel there’s much use. [Written] Organization is for the weak. Its detail will always be lossy and of low-quality. It’s best to stay skeptic: all written history is false and all philosophy is bullshit. Now, with only a map, go out and consume and alter the world!

Leave a comment | Categories: Applied Philosophy, Art, Communication, Epistemology, Experience, Humanities, Literature, Media, Philosophy, Philosophy of Education, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Literature, Uncategorized

The Kinds of Literature and the Extraction of Ideas

22 May 2016

[related writings: What is Worth Reading?, Notes on Translations of Ancient Literature, Lessons in Research of a Past Time, The Kinds of Literature and the Extraction of Ideas]

Why Read? To map words with ideas? To get ideas? To talk about a certain subject? To help me express myself? To argue against how reality works? To compare the theories of reality of others with mine? To understand others’ minds? To gain factual historical knowledge?

Whatever the reason, one enters the world of written word. It’s worse than the world of gossip, because it’s far less fun. But surely there must be an efficient way to get the texts one wants? Find ideas about the things one is interested in?

To begin, one must know the kinds of literature.

kinds of literature

(from basic to large)

– including Wikipedia!

dictionary/encyclopedia of selected words/concepts/ideas
– ex. Dino, Franco Felluga – Critical Theory_ The Key Concepts (Routledge, Key Guides, 2015)

a dictionary/encyclopedia of a history of selected words/concepts/ideas
to communicate in a human language, it sometimes helps to use the terms other people created, for mutual understanding. Though, of course, one can just make up words for ideas one desires to express. That’s way more creative.
– also quite cool to see how words have changed meaning over time
– ex. Williams, Raymond – Keywords_ A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (1985)
– ex. Nealon, Jeffrey T._ Giroux, Susan Searlsb – The theory toolbox _ critical concepts for the humanities, arts, and social sciences (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012)

selected text/reading
– a piece of writing/work
Penguin Great Ideas series

– usually has an annoying intro and preface and quote and thanks, can almost always skip them

selected works
– selected (multiple pieces of complete) writings of a single category, usually a single author
– ex. Benjamin, Walter, Peter Demetz – Reflections_ Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings (Schocken, 1986)

– selected writings of a single category, the category could be a single author, literature from a period of time, or a category of knowledge. Of them, [selected writings of] a category (could be vague) of knowledge is the most important kind [of reader].
– ideally a reader contains all of the source texts needed for a class. Otherwise, it’s usually up to the teacher to grab a pieces of text from all sorts of places and give out copies. This may be the most efficient way to read, as one doesn’t waste time to fetch and gather several source materials, neither physically nor digitally
– ex. Leach, Neil – Rethinking Architecture_ A Reader in Cultural Theory (Routledge, 1997)
– (the Viking Readers, such as The Portable Beat Reader, mentioned under anthology fit here too)

anthology/sourcebook/source book

– selected writings of a single period of time?
this may be the most efficient way to understand a period of time, or the social development of minds of the time
there seems to be two kinds: fiction (poetry, [fiction] prose, drama, etc.) and non-fiction (history, biography, philosophy, essay, jouurnal/diary, travelogue, speeches, dialogues, letters, communicative action: verbal utterances that matter). Of the two, the second kind is superior, because it tells of real communicative actions. To simply understand: People in the past may have read Homer, Epic of Gilgamesh, and Journey to the West, but that clearly doesn’t represent the social reality of the world, and often, doesn’t affect the social reality at all, just as media (entertainment) in contemporary society doesn’t. The main use of literature to a historian is for the information, and it’s up to the historian to decipher what is fictional and what isn’t. Even then, it is better to read a history or biography [than fiction] written in or around that time to obtain more information [about that time].


– ex. the Viking Portable Library series, the ones that have “Reader” in the title
— I have a bunch of these at home. Although an experience to read, it was probably a one-time experience: to see how language change over time, how minds change over time, what people write, what people were thinking about, history of literature aesthetic, etc. Although the format of the books are wonderfully basic, they are best left in in random locations in one’s dwelling. I don’t desire to read any fiction, just as I didn’t desire to when I first began to read.
– ex. Mair, Victor H. – The Columbia History of Chinese Literature (Columbia, 2001)
– ex. many editors – The Norton Anthology of World Literature (W. W. Norton & Company, 2012)
this seems like quite the feat, check out the contents
— alternative: Longman Anthology of World Literature
a Goodreads list of anthologies
— see the eurocentrism yet?


– the terms sourcebook and the less commonly “source book” seem to be used for anthologies that mainly have translated writings (fiction and non-fiction), usually of ancient writings (as in probably written on stone or bamboo). “Source book” seems to be more commonly used for odd things like mysticism, table-top role-playing games, and science writings (because they are rarely read, except for a history of science).
– ex. Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli, Charles A. Moore – A Source Book in Indian Philosophy (Princeton, 1957)
– ex. Chan, Wing-Tsit (Chen, Rongjie) – A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (Princeton, 1969)
ex. Internet History Sourcebooks Project
— this is a wildly ambitious project covering ancient, medieval, modern, and even, though comprehensively covered, African, East Asian, Global, Indian, Islamic, Jewish, and some special things, like history of science, women’s history, LGBT history


– As I mention in Lessons in Research of a Past Time, there are many kinds of history books, mainly, political (traditional), social (modern), and specific social (modern). Similarly, there are many kinds of sourcebooks, thankfully, they can be divided into the same categories: social (modern) and social topic (modern, specific). A source political history book is the political (traditional) sourcebook.

social sourcebook

these kinds of anthologies of sources of social/everday/daily life may be one of the best ways to understand the society/culture of the past time. This is documentation of reality. This is the equivalent of watching a documentary film. There’s real knowledge to be had here. This is more important than philosophy. This was reality.
– ex. Bagnall, Roger S., Peter Derow – The Hellenistic Period_ Historical Sources in Translation (Blackwell, Sourcebooks in Ancient History, 2003)
— “This book presents in translation 175 of the most revealing documents that have survived on stone and papyrus from the Hellenistic period.”, ex. chapter: Social Relations and Private Life
– ex. Parkin, Tim and Arthur Pomeroy – Roman Social History_ A Sourcebook (Routledge, Sourcebooks for the Ancient World, 2007)
— “this excellent resource covers original translations from sources such as inscriptions, papyri, and legal texts. Topics include: social inequality and class; games, gladiators and attitudes to violence; the role of slaves in Roman society; economy and taxation; the Roman legal system; the Roman family and gender roles.”
– ex. Shelton, Jo-Ann – As the Romans Did: A Sourcebook in Roman Social History (Oxford, 1998)
– ex. Dillon, Matthew, Lynda Garland – Ancient Greece: Social and Historical Documents… (Routledge, Sourcebooks for the Ancient World, 2010)
– ex. Dillon, Matthew, Lynda Garland – Ancient Rome (Routledge, Sourcebooks for the Ancient World, 2010)
— an observed trend: it seems critical theory publishers such as Routledge and Blackwell are on to publishing social sourcebooks, social topic sourcebooks, social histories, and social topic histories

social topic sourcebook

– Again, just as there are histories of social topics, there are sourcebooks of social topics. But as one can see, as the information becomes more and more organized, it becomes more and more insular, showing the ugly insular choice of elite schools’ publications of solely Western civilizations. As one proceeds toward the particular in the order of the organization of sources (primary, sourcebook, social topic sourcebook), the world becomes smaller. There are many primary sources that haven’t been translated. There are even more primary sources that haven’t been compiled into a handy sourcebook. And there can be an infinite amount of social topic sourcebooks.
– ex. Yardley J.C., Iain Mcdougall, Mark Joyal – Greek and Roman Education: A Sourcebook (Routledge Sourcebooks for the Ancient World)
– ex. Wiedemann, Thomas – Greek and Roman Slavery (Routledge, Sourcebooks for the Ancient World, 1980)
– ex. Asmonti, Luca – Athenian Democracy: A Sourcebook (Bloomsbury Sources in Ancient History)
– let’s just use one social topic: women’s history:
by using one example, women in history, one can already the amount that has been and can be written, and one can see what people choosing to focus on / be socially aware about. People still read eurocentric sources, then write social histories about them! What a crazy insular world the world of physically printed material is. And most are published very recently! It seems, historians, stuck in the printed world, have perpetuated insulation as opposed to doing their sole job: to write new histories.
– ex. MacLachlan, Bonnie – Women in Ancient Greece: A Sourcebook (Bloomsbury Sources in Ancient History, 2012)
– ex. MacLachlan, Bonnie – Women in Ancient Rome: A Sourcebook (Bloomsbury Sources in Ancient History, 2013)
– ex. Rowlandson, Jane – Women and Society in Greek and Roman Egypt: A Sourcebook (Cambridge, 1998)
– ex. Johnson, Marguerite, Terry Ryan – Sexuality in Greek and Roman Literature and Society: A Sourcebook (Routledge, Sourcebooks for the Ancient World, 2005)
and so the social problem of media [todo: link] continues. All other societies in any other space or time are ignored [excluded].

history of literature (or a kind of literature)
– selected writings of a period of time with writings to introduce the works
– in case one doesn’t feel like using Wikipedia while reading an anthology, this can be more or less efficient as reading an anthology, depending on the supplemental writing and formatting of the book
– ex. Lin, Yutang, many others – The Wisdom of China and India (arhive.org, 030122mbp)
– ex. Russell, Bertrand – History of Western Philosophy (Routledge, 1945)

other weird things:
history books written during the time one is investigating is a source, usually, the best source

school textbook, or simply, textbook
– some strange attempt at throwing a history of ideas within a category? Intellectual history?

academic/scientific paper
– forced writings?

academic journal

extraction of ideas

Now, that we have the kinds of literature, how to get the ideas? If one simply wants words, then a quick Google of an ideas with “Wikipedia” in the search will likely lead to it. That’s how I got most of my vocabulary/ideas. I’ll try Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society and The Theory Toolbox book soon. Otherwise, ideas can come from any experience. After Wikipedia, my first book was a History of Philosophy (by Bertrand Russell, then Anthony Kenny to fill in gaps). That probably wasn’t necessary, as it consists of the Western canon, but neither was it the worst place to begin in the written world. At my home I have a bunch of books from the Viking Portable Library series; Just finding that series in a bookstore could be heaven, as it consists solely of primary source texts from periods of time; Flipping through several Viking Readers was an experience. From my experience, essays or selected text (usually selected from an essay) seem to be the most concise formulation of the extracting and understanding of an idea via written communication. Essays or selected texts are usually given to students to read, as part of the syllabus. Without a syllabus, essays or selected works that contain ideas can be found in the excellent Penguin Great Ideas series; but it has no direction. Similarly, a reader, such as The Place, People, and Space Reader (by the CUNY environmental psychology department), is also excellent at transmitting ideas, and it has direction. The problem with readers, and all books, is that is it is not a real experience.

That may be as far as I’ve got in my experience of reading, and trying to extract ideas. Those are the best sources I know of: They are the best because the editors select the text [from a primary source] which best forms an idea in the mind. No extra garbage text is added. Furthermore, Secondary texts are usually unnecessary, and generally do not provide nearly as much thought as the primary, because when reading primary sources the mind tries to grasp the author’s mind. It’s comparable to watching a Hollywood film as opposed to a documentary.

Perhaps just reading a few Penguin Great Ideas books and a few readings (selected text) from a reader is enough. It’s 2016. It’s time to play some games, watch films, take the train, meetup, live it up. The ideas come tacitly, there’s not need to explicate them. Perhaps Wikipedia was enough after all. No need to read.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Communication, Essays, History, Humanities, Literature, Organization, Personal, Philosophy, Philosophy of Education, Philosophy of Literature

The Choices in Taiwan and Initiating a Cooperative from Nothing

14 May 2016

[self-note: this was published using markdown, and is a really good example post using it]

the choices in Taiwan

Nor can it be said truly that a pure­blooded Chinese could ever quite disagree with Chuangtse’s ideas. Taoism is not a school of thought in China, it is a deep, fundamental trait of Chinese thinking, and of the Chinese attitude toward life and toward society. It has depth, while Confucianism has only a practical sense of proportions; it enriches Chinese poetry and imagination in an immeasurable manner, and it gives a philosophic sanction to whatever is in the idle, freedom­loving, poetic, vagabond Chinese soul. It provides the only safe, romantic release from the severe Confucian classic restraint, and humanizes the very humanists themselves; therefore when a Chinese succeeds, he is always a Confucianist, and when he fails, he is always a Taoist.
Yutang Lin (林語堂), Zhuangzi (莊子), Introduction

I recently felt that in Taiwan, and this may apply to any single-cultured country, that the choice of cultures is ultimately limited to two: with the society or without.

Taiwan lacks communities with diversity and ideal values. Of my time here, I have only found two places with ideal values but without diversity (of mind), and several with a little more diversity but without ideal values. Furthermore, I felt unable to find or even create a place-based community within Taiwan’s society.

That feeling contrasts with the feeling in multiple-cultured societies, where I felt I’m able to manipulate a space to create a place-based community within the existing dense settlement, or simply join one of the existing diverse, ideal-valued communities.

Taiwan has one culture [not including aboriginal cultures], therefore there is only one choice within it. America has several cultures, therefore several choices exist through its cultures: other countries’ cultures, capitalism, art life, consumerism, religions, non-culture, media-oriented culture (suburbanism), technological optimism, hippies, small towns, The South, etc.

In Taiwan, the only partially-inclusive spaces I have found with such diverse cultures are places where international people meet: hostels, Chinese class, post-graduate school. I have not found other spaces [within the society] that escape the cultural values of Taiwanese society.

Hostels are where I lived and what I mostly called a home, so the experience was phenomenal: I had a well-valued home, surrounded by a ethically-good culture and infinite nature. Without such places, one finds one’s self in a scary singular society, and without willingness to participate in that scary society, one is left with only one choice: to leave it.

It is by far the society I’ve spent the longest time in, excluding the suburbs where I grew up. But, I can’t say I lived in it the entire time. I was in my own world [todo: link a post which exemplifies this], while my body was in Taiwan’s world. Perhaps the public spaces were the only Taiwanese places I’ve spent a lot of time in: the streets, day markets, neighborhoods, parks, nature: you know, the spaces where passion is satisfied capital-free. I’m unsure if that counts as living in it.

Alas, it is time to find that little place next to the mountain, not far from a city, with the best climate (and microclimate!) of the country. Somewhere east of Tainan I believe. And so, like the Trascendentalists who probably had to escape Puritanism, and the Taoists who probably had to escape Confucianism, I must escape Taiwanese culture, or whatever words one uses to describe the values of contemporary Taiwan.

At least, for the moment; Before I re-attempt to create an ideal community within the city[?] again; Or before I re-attempt to cooperate with Taiwanese society again [No! Create your own. Do not join others. Let them join you!].

progeniting an ideal cooperative from nothing, with special guest: Aristotle

[I] Also might need a place in the city too, but hopefully with good weather and easy access to nature to keep me sane [Noooo].

The next twelve years Aristotle devoted with extraordinary industry to the establishment of a school, the Lyceum, to the institution and pursuit of a program of investigation, speculation, and teaching in almost every branch of knowledge, and to the composition of all, or most, or at least the more scientific portions, of those of his writings which are now extant.
Richard McKeon, The Basic Works of Aristotle, Biographical Note

This, except for my directions: critical theory, social and urban interventions, civic technology, games, etc.

Aristotle began teaching regularly in the morning in the Lyceum and founded an official school called “The Lyceum”. After morning lessons, Aristotle would frequently lecture on the grounds for the public and manuscripts of his compiled lectures were eventually circulated. The group of scholars who followed the Aristotelian doctrine came to be known as the Peripatetics due to Aristotle’s tendency to walk as he taught.

So, I should begin by creating meet-ups in public places: ask a well-located temple; or can alternate places based on weather: hot springs, cold springs, day markets. Whoever comes frequently, may become a friend or associate, but the goal is not to create an organization:

Unlike Plato, Aristotle was not a citizen of Athens and so could not own property; he and his colleagues therefore used the grounds of the Lyceum as a gathering place, just as it had been used by earlier philosophers such as Socrates. Aristotle and his colleagues first began to use the Lyceum in this way in about 335 BCE., after which Aristotle left Plato’s Academy and Athens, and then returned to Athens from his travels about a dozen years later. Because of the school’s association with the gymnasium, the school also came to be referred to simply as the Lyceum. Some modern scholars argue that the school did not become formally institutionalized until Theophrastus took it over, at which time there was private property associated with the school.
Wikipedia, Peripatetic school

If Aristotle was a citizen and was able to own property, would he have tried to get space? Did he have the money (surely Alexander paid him well. Maybe I’m reading this wrong?)? When such a good space exists, why spend money on another space? Use the public space!

Aristotle’s main focus as a teacher was cooperative research, an idea which he founded through his natural history work and systematic collection of philosophical works to contribute to his library. His students were assigned historical or scientific research projects as part of their studies. The school was also student run. The students elected a new student administrator to work with the school leadership every ten days, allowing all the students to become involved in turn.
Richard McKoen

Yes, the program is entirely cooperative, and molded by the people within it. Though, projects shouldn’t be assigned by one person, rather, people should assign it to themselves, and be responsible for it, out of intrinsic desire, which is precisely what a good social meet-up conceives in the minds of its participants.

Administration is a pain: setting up meetings, inventory management, etc. The dirty work must be shared, just as cleaning a bathroom in a shared apartment is.

Media can be shared within a physical space. It must be convenient to access to by participants that use it the most. Because one doesn’t have a space, one will have to negotiate, in the case of a temple, with the temple’s staff. [problem: access limited by time; not 24 hours]

The aim of the school, at least in Aristotle’s time, was not to further a specific doctrine, but rather to explore philosophical and scientific theories; those who ran the school worked rather as equal partners.

Everyone has an equal say in the whole of the organization.

The meet-ups (“school”) do not have a direction. The direction depends on its constituents, on what’s in the mind of the participants at that time. The participants and the directions may change frequently: Directions are temporal as the wandering mind’s thoughts. Participants are temporal too, as long as they are wandering too.

re-joining society

[todo: ???
I just had a daydream about restarting Humans of Taiwan, in Tainan, but with a critical theory emphasis. It’s still a similar format, but I select topics, questions, to be more critical. Pictures too can be critical, of urban and social problems. With it, people commented, and sometimes it would be civically helpful, and I would be able to solve small problems with the help of commenters. Doing this everyday would provide me organizing experience, networking with organizations, civic discussion through Facebook, and I would provide a model to solve civic problems. It is entirely bottom-up, because I begin with the individual’s problem; that is, what the individual thinks is a problem in their mind. By limiting subjects to I individuals’ problems, larger solutions, projects, implementations, may develop.

Leave a comment | Categories: Applied Philosophy, Autonomy, Community, Humanities, Life, Personal, Philosophy, Philosophy of Education, Political Philosophy, Public Sphere, Social Philosophy, Thoughts

バケモノの子 (The Boy and the Beast)

03 May 2016

After The Boy and The Beast (Japanese: バケモノの子, Hepburn: Bakemono no Ko, literal: monster and child, English: The Boy and the Best), second half:

This film is much simpler and less thought-provoking than the director’s previous film Wolf Children, of which I wrote a lot about, and Takohata’s thematically similar last film The Tale of the Princess Kaguya because a lot of time spent on tropes: all of the characters are tropes, the first half is a huge training montage trope. All of Hosoda’s films contain many tropes, especially when compared to Miyazaki or Takahata, but this film may have spent the most time with plot tropes.

Though, there were good bits: learn by doing first, then learn to teach, then learn from media; Be raised in the wild first, then naturally go toward organized knowledge, intrinsically motivated; gaining wisdom socially is more motivating; the time spent together learning will always be remembered (in both cases: with the beast and with the girl).

[other thoughts: surveillance state or feeling of Tokyo, the closeness between the two worlds, Moby Dick?, live frames from Tokyo’s subway]

[todo: after reading wiki:

Torn by his double life, he is unable to reconcile the resentment he had as Ren and the lack of connections he has as Kyûta. When he rejects both his father and Kumatetsu, he discovers a powerful void within himself that nearly overwhelms him until Kaede calms him down and gives him a bracelet that has helped her when she becomes anxious.

Ichirôhiko wakes up surrounded by his adoptive family, understanding that he is, like Ren, a human raised by beasts, and accepts it as well.
Wikipedia, The Boy and the Beast


Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Film Reviews, Films, Humanities, Philosophy of Education

School vs City

10 March 2016

This is a very naive thought written yesterday, transcribed today, about a topic I wanted to write about a month ago, while I was crashing at a friend’s friend’s place in the computer lab of a technology school, and now, while bumming at Taiwan’s top university:

The school is a conglomerate of old buildings, linked by social relations, with an urban planning department that fails to renovate itself to create spaces to increase the frequency of social interaction between departments and people. None are as chaotic as the city, as reality. One can derive, create so much with reality, experience as input. No one thinks as I have during my travels with my experience with fine art, media, technology, films, essayists, and so on.

So then what is the point of school? Can it direct me toward progress? No, it would re-route my direction away from my own — that’s why I’m afraid of schools — the directions, ideals, and methods of the school and of mine differ greatly. It doesn’t fit. I need an open-ended school, to continue my own freedom of self-exploration and travel as those contemporary essayists have. Also, to create technology with local materials, for local development. I just don’t feel school allows this; I have to force myself to live in reality, then communicate with the school to make them understand.

Schools are only useful as a place of communication, not experience — but why not use technology to communicate over a distance of space? Why place oneself in the same space? It is not needed. The place is excessive. Only the city is needed — social networks exist digitally. Schools, like the library, are outdated urban forms, before communication technologies.

Social networks within the city are contemporary schools. Schools are merely exclusive institutions where the bourgeoisie can [exclusively] communicate and maintain hegemony. When people use digital mediums to communicate, they maintain their own culture, yet are able to communicate to others, without sacrificing culture. This is why I dislike institutions — they have a bourgeoisie culture, and I desire to stick to my own, which depends on the are I live in. I appreciate the culture I live in, yet, I also appreciate being able to communicate to those who may be a part of such an institution.

Should I ignore anyone from such an institution? Isn’t an institution created merely as a way to maintain certain directions under capitalism? Maybe I’m being too ideal, and forgetting that people close to the cultural norm use participate in institutions as a way to live; That is, a way to receive wealth.

[todo: to be continued, as the original title of the though was school organizations vs city, to think about, perhaps compare how the school is organized compared to how a city is organized, and the processes between the two, favoring the natural process of the city]

Leave a comment | Categories: Applied Philosophy, Communication, Humanities, Philosophy, Philosophy of Education

Time and Space in Anthropology

19 December 2015

[todo: kind of messy, but I think I got out the main ideas: comp lit / phil, the impossibility of mirror of reality, emphasis on time instead of space, should look at past pictures that I took to understand the world {mmmm, this is a good idea that I didn’t mention. Should look at pictures to remember one’s personal past as opposed to reading history one hasn’t experienced, or even experiencing more things. There’s much to understand from past experiences.}, should live in a city, or, take a scooter around.]

I’ve been moving around since I received a bicycle at age 4, and since at least then it seems, compared to others, I’ve always emphasized space over time. Contrary to me, people who write books don’t seem to travel much (probably reading and writing so much) and emphasize time, looking back in history. As a person who enjoys traveling and doesn’t enjoy reading, I’ve tended to disregard writers, many of whom maybe be classified as academics, and time.

As travel is more natural to me, so is comparing societies and the areas they exist in.

Academics seem to tend to look at societies historically, to gain ideas that worked in the past and reuse them for the future, or see compare the trajectories of societies in the past, but isn’t it easier to simply walk around one’s own country — from rural to urban, variously sized settlements, ethnic enclaves, and perhaps, to neighboring countries — to not just gain ideas, but a better understanding of the world?

One of the simplest and greatest learning experiences is simply going to the most developed city one can. One will immediately experience good urban planning, good neighborhoods, good creative and innovative environments, and good communities.

The next great experience is to travel from a good creative area to nature, experiencing all of the steps in the development of societies in-between — the entire spectrum of urban development. Though, I wouldn’t say the spectrum of human development. This experience is especially useful in a society under a capitalistic system, because capitalistic cities are so corrupt, and better values can be found outside of it, often, just outside of it.

What next? Travel more societies? Live in one of the past societies? [todo]

I always feel that one is able to have infinite experiences with the many societies that exist right now, at this time. Instead of looking at history, one could simply find some aboriginal tribes. Even just outside of the cities in Virginia, USA, where I’m from, one can probably find people living on a similar standard to aboriginals. The difference here is only the import of manufactured products, though, it’s quite difficult to evade global capitalism even in the most remote regions.

Hmm, I guess what I was getting at is that reading histories of societies cannot replace experience in contemporary societies, for the same reasons a book cannot replace an experience — it’s not holistic; It’s missing the ecology.

There is no way to mirror reality into the medium, though, film comes close. So reading histories will always be missing much information. The mind cannot form the precision that reality offers from media.

[todo: was trying to get to the point where the mind thinks with recent audio-visual experiences best, because the detail of it only constrained by the mind]

It seems higher order academic disciplines compare academic disciplines and hopefully by now more modern medias, titling it “comparative [subject]”, i.e. comparative literature, comparative history, etc. This discipline also seems to somehow overlap with my favorite direction: critical theory. The people who compare medias sometimes find light in their comparisons of societies at different times in history, i.e. Foucault’s findings of how institutions have developed over time.

That’s not how I think, and maybe, it’s not natural to think that way. I think about my personal experiences in societies, travel or living. How do the suburbs in Virginia compare to the city of San Francisco, San Francisco to New York, New York to other cities in the world, Singapore to Hong Kong, the culture of Korea to Japan, the culture of Taiwan to Nepal, the culture of Taiwan aborigines to the culture of Zomia, Taipei to Japan, the other cities in Taiwan to other huge cities, the slums in India to the Myanmar refugee camps in Thailand, the railway and railway towns of Asia, and so on. I just don’t think any amount of media can overcome the natural tendency to compare real experiences to real experiences. Certainly not in reading. Film has a chance, but it would have to be done in the form of lengthy documentaries.

So here again, I grind against academia and their use of a mirror of reality, as opposed to reality, to excavate knowledge and ideas. History is one way to compare societies, but it should be far less privileged than travel. I’d conjecture that academia’s tradition of privileging classics and privileging writing a medium has lead to academia privileging time over space. It’s true that global capitalism is eating away at all culture, but it hasn’t come to the point where one must look to the past through mediums for insight. The insight is in existing societies, in reality, and always will be, well, until the world loses to global capitalism.

Leave a comment | Categories: Anthropology, Experience, Humanities, Media, Personal, Philosophy, Philosophy of Education, Philosophy of History, Philosophy of Social Science, Social Philosophy, Thoughts, Travel

Why are arts segregated?

08 September 2015

[note: this thought with the topic on 2/12/2014 (d/m/y), but written on 8/9/2015]

The same could be said for any educational department, knowledge, people, but perhaps art is a good place to start.

No wait, let’s start with education.

Segregation of Education

It’s baffling that education is so organized. At the time I was in New York, only two programs fit my interest at that time: ITP and Design and Technology. Those were perhaps the top two programs in design and new media, or more broadly, design and technology. Few programs elsewhere in America had it. As a person without a academic background that tends to live in public places — shared apartment, hostel, communes — and works in public places — hackerspaces, voluntary organizations –, I’ve always found this limiting, and one of the main reasons to not attend a university program. If the program itself is narrow, it will attract people with a narrow set of interests and perhaps even wisdom.

As broad as those two programs are, it misses out on much of the humanities — philosophy (especially of ideals), sociology, politics, cognition, human geography –, of design — urban planning, knowledge of materials –, and of other cultures and other people. Though that’s probably too much to fit in any single program, it sure does suck being unable to take classes from any of these interests, combining various fields to input a bunch of junk in the mind, with the hope of outputting something good.

I also find it amazing that people are able to decide a year in advance what they are going to do. Do people not have experiences which may change their interests? I applied for one program, but by the time it came, I was interested in another, and there way nothing I could do — unable to change programs nor add interested classes. If even the most progressive school won’t allow it, then I must conclude that self learning is currently the best option.

Okay, enough crying about fantastic ideals. Parson’s is great…if one could afford it. :P

Now then, let’s try the arts.

Segregation of Arts

As a person who grew up in suburban America in the 90’s, I think it’s normal to play games, watch films, and read comic books. But again, the arts are segregated, often into communities beyond academic departments, into city meetups and groups. When I was young, it never made sense why one couldn’t appreciate and be able to create all of these things. I liked Watchmen, neorealism films, and all games. In what department would Banksy fit? I was pressed to choose between pursuing games and film, when they are of the same. [Limiting art to my knowledge of it in high school, primarily mediums. It must be reminded I grew up in suburban America.]

New Media is not new. Media is just material put together that gives a sensory experience.

The more pragmatic, art as experience, fluxus, sort of things, seemed to be non-existant.

Instead of choosing an art, I chose the city.

The Paradoxical Desire of Diversity in Organization

Just as organizing knowledge leads to specialization, organization of people leads to narrow-mindedness, but without it, how does one ever effectively work, perhaps even honing their craft?

I prefer being with the most diverse (in all senses) people, but [beyond survival] how would they work together?

From my experience, it will work out, at least, for a short period. Perhaps they will fall into old habits and back into their shared interest social groups (knowledge, culture, kinship), but for the moment, they will force themselves to be pushed together to do something. That force is an active, conscious one. It is up to people to actively push themselves into each other to create new experiences. The result is a diverse new experience (including product), with a greater chance of going in a new direction. This process of pushing people together should be repeated. To stop is to become passive, unconscious.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Philosophy of Education

Tools for Autodidacts

16 August 2015

After writing an e-mail to the creator of Voice Dream, it triggered a thought about tools, which may be an extension of Tools for Organizing, probably not Tools for Disorganizing, but this time specifically for learning.

Organizing education? Organizing knowledge. Organizing people.

Organizing Knowledge

Though human languages are unnecessary to gain information, they do seem helpful in organizing information. And for that, we need tools to help this. And for the nomadic peoples, carrying bulky notebooks and pencils is a burden. For us privileged peoples, we likely have a smartphone, and I’ve been using it as a personal library, a public library, a notebook, and a public-facing notebook. My current set of digital tools to replace these physical entities are, in order, an eBooks folder in Dropbox, digital libraries (such as Project Gutenberg and Library Genesis), a notes folder in Dropbox full of text files used in conjunction with ByWord text editor, and WordPress. All of which have excellent iOS applications.

This covers written language, but what about other mediums to help organize information? Audio: There probably is no good way to record, playback, and re-edit audio. [todo: this tool is necessary for deaf and/or mute people***]. Pictures: One can take pictures with their phone and post it on WordPress quite easily. Illustrating: One perhaps could use a drawing application to create sketches (I personally feel iPhone is too small for this, and I don’t like carrying an iPad, though the iPad mini is a possibility. Maybe Google Glass will have something to illustrate with arm movement?) and also post them on WordPress. Video: can be taken on the phone and posted on WordPress. Touch: ? (todo: I think MIT Media lab’s tangible media [research] group had a prototype for this. Useful for the deaf and blind?). Other ways to convey ideas digitally, and somewhat efficiently?

Organizing People

Though autodidacts were probably historically secluded, it doesn’t have to be so anymore. With ideas such as public spaces and public education more prevalent in cities, it’s not so difficult to organize a class (aka workshop?) or a meetup. And even if not, surely one has the guts to publicly talk to anyone, anywhere.

On the tech side, public spaces appear the form in hackerspaces and fablabs, with the appropriate tools and spaces. I happen to know these spaces because I know a bit about tech, but I wonder of the billions of public spaces people convene for whatever their interests are. Taiqi and squaredancing in neighborhood parks, neighborhood development meetups in meeting halls, crafting next to the Han river, illustrating on Yangmingshan mountain, and so on. These spaces really need to be mapped out and thrown on a pretty website. Or should it? Perhaps these past few weeks of seclusion has made me more digitally oriented, and missing out on my physical orientation. If a group wants to be physically inviting, there will be an inviting physical sign. Otherwise, it requires the individual to be active to find and butt into the group.

Just yesterday while hunting Semiotext(e) books on the web, I stumbled upon The Public School, and a group had a curriculum that took place at a different location in the city every day. A side thought: It’s nice to see such communities being created in cities across the world, with the community as the core of their philosophies. Anyway, I’ve thought of this idea before, but it’s nice that there is a website for this kind of stuff, as opposed to a messy mix of Facebook, Meetup, Twitter, Google Docs, and whatever else. Though, I’m sure this website has it’s limitations too. Kunal is working on a tool for organizing “pop-up collaboration spaces” too. Actually this kind of tool doubles as a tool for disorganizing, for ad hoc activism.

Any space can work in theory: one’s own apartment, a friend’s apartment, a gazebo in a park, a public library, a subway station, a trains. Any space with a door fee goes against my values. From personal experience, this can be practically difficult, as landlords may not like it, roommates may not like it, or my air conditioner is not strong enough and outside is unbearable (Taipei problems), the space is too far from the center of the city. To have a calming space in such a loud city really is a commodity, one that people would pay an over-priced coffee. Ah, I miss those small towns I’ve travelled through. When a town is comfortable, every space has so much more potential.

The heat of Taipei really does force people to go indoors for such activities. It led me to think about designing some kind of physical pop up space. For example, find a few benches in the public, then setup a plastic physical, clear, box, with a portable air conditioner. Boom! A public space that is comfortable. Taipei has enough public bathrooms and cheap foodstuffs, so that part is covered. But then, electricity is missing. Oh the woes of digital work.

Though, in practice, if the content is valuable, people will come, and people will eventually figure out how to organize themselves, even if it means stuffing themselves in a small room just to be together and talk, or dance.

But that leads to the problem of people moving far distances for finding like-minded peoples, as opposed to staying put in their own neighborhood (or town or even city[!]) and organizing, and teaching, and inspiring people more local to participate. Ah, such idealism.

Eh, well, this part of the post kind of diverted a bit into perhaps a post I will title the Ideal Public Space, which will come later.

But I feel that these thoughts make it apparent that the tools for organizing information are, at the moment, better than tools for organizing people. Hah, doesn’t that singularly summarize a major problem with humans?

Leave a comment | Categories: Media, Philosophy of Education, Social Philosophy, Urban Philosophy

The Speed of Ideas

15 August 2015

I believe this was thought around the time of writing my first post when I went home after my long travels, which was in the form of an illustration because I felt no reason to write as the time to took to record an idea and the speed it conveyed it was so much slower than reality. The following posts were MS Paint quality illustrations of new media ideas, and even that, I felt, was too slow, or not worthwhile, as opposed to executing an idea to reality. Though, in retrospect, the illustrations were quite efficient, in both ways: recording and conveying.

Update 9/3/15:
Hmm, seems to rehash old ideas: Information, Media, and EducationInformation Organization, Mediums, Creativity, and ExperienceThe Obsolescence of Literature and the Future of Education.


I never liked books, and in the digital age, it’s rare one ever needs to resort to one.

I think the reason, in addition it simply being slow at displaying information, is that is it slow at conveying ideas [or perhaps I’m dyslexic?].

Poetry is a step up [I thought of Calvino’s Invisible Cities]. Within a few words, new settings and new ideas form. Though, it requires substantial experience for merely a few words to convey an idea.

Other media is a bit more difficult to compare, because there’s far more experience to it.


Films are an experience. There’s infinite information to take in, nearing reality. Whereas reading a Wikipedia is not an experience, assuming one has read an article in the past.

Yet, films (or any other media) can be a learning experience, in which several ideas can be derived from it. During my film-heavy education, I would watch a film, sit, think, read a bunch of Wikipedia articles, maybe see what Ebert says, and write in my thoughts file. Nowadays, I just write thoughts directly to my thoughts file while watching the film, or pause to check some historical information.

If learning is about learning [the gist of] ideas, not content, then the speed of the transmission of ideas should be maximized. But when does one have enough experience to create or understand an idea? That is up to the person. People should experience life as is, only opting to verbalize at their own pace, at their own interest. That is life. Forget the books. Verbalizing everything would requires several lifetimes.

A curriculum should focus on giving experience which would lead to certain ideas without ever using a language.

Films (videos and animations) can be clipped to convey an idea with an experience.

Real experience, however, is much more difficult to make into a curriculum, but could be quite fun to create using travel (including locally) and guided activities (including games).

Though, a preferred method is to verbalize (and perhaps read more) about what one experiences, mixing the two (thank goodness for Wikipedia!), I wonder about comparing walking through a chaotic city and reading several books from a library.

It is possible to walk through a chaotic city and think about nothing, or almost nothing (i.e. what to eat and drink). It’s also possible to think about everything, questioning every human action of every inhabitant and of the organization of all material. The information is infinite.

During the reading of several books, words invoke meaning which may invoke a memory or experience. It all depends on past experiences. The information is finite, and if one does not have enough experience, especially of social related things, things may not make sense. The information is finite.

It also depends on interest of what one reads. The mind hones in on what is interesting, also depending on past interests. Then again, the same process happens in reality. Unless one just allows the world to pass and consume everything that comes by. Still, it requires attention.

A great strength of written work is big history. Mapping time to events. But many other medias can convey this too, so it’s not limited to writing. So, it isn’t a comparison between reading and experiencing, rather, media and experience.

So, to update the question, let’s compare walking through a chaotic city with consuming media.

Cities are organized though, like media. People choose to go to some place based on physical organization.

Let’s update the question to walking through a city without intention and consuming media, also without intention. Which will grasp ideas faster?

Formal knowledge can be entirely learned through written language. Social knowledge (anything with humans) requires a lot of experience. Physical knowledge doesn’t require much experience. And that is the order of speeds that people can grasp ideas from media.

Hmm, when walking through a city, one could think about many things rarely written about, say, how neighborhoods seem to attract people with similar values, or what components make a good public space. Sure, there’s an urban planning book now about these things, but in the past there wasn’t. So there’s this problem of lack of awareness, knowledge (in case of books: words), and the loss of information from artist to medium. Compare an [good] old media to a new one. The new one is likely to be aware of a lot more things going on. In books, this comes in words. In film, it’s in complexity, realism comes to mind.

Rereading the first sentence: when walking through a city, one could think about many things never written about. This is how ideas are created.

Ugh, a bit tired for now, and still haven’t answered this question, and diverted slightly from the main topic, the speed of ideas.

I initially thought I could gauge the speeds of each medium (book, film, game, new media), and experience, attacking books again in favor of newer media.

Ah an attack! When I say reading, I was thinking of non-fiction, because I don’t read literature. I don’t read for experience, if it counts as such. The largest difference is between the length of a book and a film. Two hours or six hours, or more in my case (I’m a slow reader). This is why I always choose reality and film over literature. I have not read any literature since Harry Potter (which was a slog, forced by school, and read between playing video games). Only philosophical fiction and maybe fiction about philosophy are as far as I go from non-fiction.

With a film, I can pause, think (say, question the social reality of the film), continue, just as I do with a book. But it still goes far faster than a book, because all of descriptions are visually displayed. Same goes for comics.

So, films, just as reality, visually display infinite information, therefore offer infinitely more experience  — I remember being so focused on films, but could never a flip through book. But experience isn’t ideas, and the speed of ideas, the speed of transmitting ideas from medium to persons, perhaps cannot be gauged after all…

[adventure time ending, to be continued?]

Leave a comment | Categories: Communication, Epistemology, Media, Philosophy of Education

A Curriculum of Experience

14 August 2015

In the recent past, I read pretty widely, it was an experience itself — learning English again, learning about a history of knowledge (philosophy), traveling through books, comparing reality, arguing — not so much passive reading. Now that I’m a bit more focused, my readings have become focused too, chosen based on past experiences and interests, before I began reading.

Though it does seem quite useless, impractical, lacking good use of working memory, and surely doing this out of current poor habit, over-organizing because I’m not in an active city, space, or social area, I’ve found that in the past, during downtime or simultaneously with work I end up consuming what media I do have most conveniently available — my smartphone — and so having some interesting media, is sometimes worth the trouble.

After writing down a few books of interest, it seems the theme of my interest is experience. If one is not experiencing, perhaps in a situation where creating experience is difficult, or one is simply in a lazy mode, perhaps books about experience will make one want to experience again, or remind oneself of one’s past experiences. Contrarily, if one is experiencing, then the books can be read simultaneously, and actually learn something from a book.

Hahahaha jk, books suck. If you must, let it be a practical handbooks and Wikipedia articles.

Update 17/9/15

It seems that this post, like the organized things I’ve written, is ever evolving. It started with creating a library related to experience, but as I used Wikipedia to attach words to ideas I’ve previously thought of, I’ve created an endless library of things I’ll never read. Though paradoxical, again, like the organized things I’ve written post, it turns out to be seemingly useful. Useful in the organization of ideas, but, as I often previously fought against during more active times in life, organization of ideas is not useful, it only seems so. 1) There is no need. The ideas exist, and always have since their inception. Instead of using time reading Wikipedia to map ideas to words as I just did here, I could be having experiences, creating new ideas, affecting the world, being a part of society. 2) It is uncreative. I could be creating my own words, which is an experience itself. 3) The use of vocabulary is limited to academics, making it inaccessible to the public. 4) The use of vocabulary influences others to conform to it, leading to the creation of a singular language… It’s circular logic, and it wastes real social time. It’s passive learning. One doesn’t need to know the political term or history of autonomism to understand it; If one can imagine an autonomous society, for example, most towns in Japanese role-playing video games, it is enough. Furthermore, along with the mapping of words to ideas, a useless history of philosophy often comes about. Only the mapping is what was seemingly important, nothing else. One should spend no further time on it. A google search of the description of an idea and appending “Wikipedia” to it usually suffices. If not, make a word up for it.

Update 27/11/15

It seems much of readings have shifted from experience toward critical theory, probably first as a result of wanting to describe the world, then later from being lazy and not experiencing and over-organizing.

Update 23/12/15

The People, Place, and Space Reader may be the closest description of the world and mind to my mind. Just a look at Simmel’s “Metropolis and the Mental Life” harks my early philosophy, which I wrote after much city experience. Previously, I thought David Harvey came closest, and before that, more classical critical theorists, but a glance at Harvey’s books one quickly learns that he relies on past human geographers and critical theorists and quotes them a lot to build a philosophy of human geography, and a glance at classical critical theorists one gets lost in the critiques of everything, failing to synthesize it with the contemporaneous world, especially the modern city. Forget classic philosophy canons (epistemology [maybe even pragmatism!] and political philosophy); Forget written language (save these essays). In the search of talking to someone about somethings, I’ve been distracted and misled by philosophy, distracted during the search for subjects that I wanted to talk about, misled by people who use past philosophers to help them write in a kind of infinite regression, and to larger forms of writings, which are more frequently mentioned in Wikipedia and sometimes even more easier to download (problem with digitization of essays and journals?), as opposed to contemporary concise essays and journal articles. God damn it. What a waste of time. Perhaps reading one essay from this book per week is enough. So glad the weather is warm now.

Still, this is only a small portion of my mind; It’s merely only the passive side. It’s missing the entire creative, active portion: creating public spaces, new media political city art, tools for society, urban material ideas, and so on, for that political end of increasing the freedom for others. I’m happy that such a book exists, but such an academic organization is quite useless compared to an active social organization that continuously deals with society, and the things that come out of the process — the realization of ideas with the aforementioned political ends.

writings on reading

Why Did I Read?
The Kinds of Literature and the Extraction of Ideas

currently interested in

From my ebook playlist:

towards social change via geography:
Society in Time and Space: A Geographical Perspective on Change by Robert Dodgshon
– provides a good overview of the social change debate. The last chapter is the main social change reading, though, the history chapter looks fun too. Other chapters include how culture (and symbolization), built environment, and organization affect social change.

environmental social science:
1.***** The People, Place, and Space Reader
– see this recent thought which was a reaction to the discovery of this selection of essays, which notes the like-mindedness and importance of these essays to my mind
further recommended readings, though there are enough in the introductions to each section of the book
possibly affiliated programs, journals, and organizations
– possible further readings from a school department affiliated with the editors: student and faculty favorites of recommended readings by CUNY environmental psychology program, seems like a great selection, including things like Harvey’s The Condition of Postmodernism, Life a User’s Manual, “The Child in the City”, “The Power of Maps”, Illuminations by Walter Benjamin, and “Nature’s Metropolis”!
– Anthropology of Space and Place: Locating Culture by one of the editors of this book, is another collection

cultural theory readings:
2.*** culture and society: contemporary debates edited by Alexander and Seidman
– seems like a canonical set of essays on culture from sociology, anthropology, critical theorists, Frankfurt School, etc. Easy reads. Should be able to read completely as the essays are quite popular.

natural societies:

towards an ideal society using cases of real societies:
1. anarchism
– Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology by David Graeber
– contains possible contemporary political directions in a straightforward way
— leads to other books by Graeber
— synthesizes autonomous societies and anthropology
?. The Structure of World History: From Modes of Production to Modes of Exchange by Kojin Karatani
– whoa

1. existing autonomous societies / anarchist anthropology
– Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity and Meaningful Work and Play by James C. Scott
– The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia by James C. Scott
– Society Against the State: Essays in Political Anthropology by Pierre Clastres
– Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey
– not really autonomous, maybe even dependent, but super interesting

1. The Nature of Order series by Christopher Alexander
1. essays that involve “spontaneous order” by Michael Polanyi

classic anthropology cannon:
1. anthropology
– especially The Protestant Ethic, The Gift, and Debt

1. anything by Dewey

1. fun in critical theory
– especially The Society of the Spectacle

1. aesthetics in critical theory
– especially Walter Benjamin, Marshal McLuhan

1. core critical theory

1. critical theory list mostly influenced by my desire to understand cities and the world from my experience, most of which happened to capitalistic
?. Figures of Dissent by Terry Eagleton
– cannot find :(
1. Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Stephen Bronner
1. “Traditional and Critical Theory” from Critical Theory: Selected Essays by Max Horkheimer
2. “The Right to the City” by David Harvey (2008, Henri Lefebvre’s in in 1968)
3. The Life and Death of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs (1961)
4. the political portion of Habermas: A Very Short Introduction by James Finlayson
– the rest of his work is limited to spoken and written language
4. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere by Jurgen Habermas (1962)
5. Social Justice and the City by David Harvey (1973)
– almost requires Marx
5. State, Space, World: Selected Essays by Henri Lefebvre
6. Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey
7. Marx: A Very Short Introduction by Peter Singer
7. The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx by Alex Callinicos
8. The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
9. Place: A Short Introduction
10. How Nonviolent Struggle Works by Gene Sharp

practical handbooks

WARNING: stop, think, do, repeat.

– in what public spaces do people participate for this in Taiwan?
*. Cypherpunks by Julian Assange
1. How Nonviolent Struggle Works by Gene Sharp
– leads to The Politics of Nonviolent Action series by Gene Sharp
Swarmwise by Rick Falkvinge

design and technology:
– probably better to regular hackerspaces and workshops in the city
Make series by Charles Platt
Practical Electronics for Inventors by Paul Scherz
The Art of Electronics by Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill
MIT Press’s Essential Knowledge series
– Wikipedia is probably better than this

values and ideals

WARNING: perhaps you’re just unable to do things. No, that’s paradoxical. How about comparing your values and ideals with Wikipedia, in hopes of practically doing things to achieve them?

Wikipedia articles:
values and ideals:






—- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_innovation










WARNING: remind yourself not to read before reading.

1. Having an Experience [essay] by John Dewey, the philosopher-king of experience
– leads to pragmatism
2. Art as Experience by John Dewey
– can continue to aesthetics in critical theory
3. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by Hume
– can try other British empericists

urban experience (also urban semiotics):
0. these essays
– also The People, Place, and Space Reader, though probably impossible to find, table of contents is available online and seems amazing, covering many urban topics
1. Image and the City by Kevin Lynch
2. Walkable City by Jeff Speck
?. Baudelaire’s Media Aesthetics: The Gaze of the Flâneur and 19th-Century Media

urban experience and early marxist geography?:
1. Urban Experience (combines Consciousness and the Urban Experience, and The Urbanization of Capital) by David Harvey
– leads to marxist geography?

marxist geography (aka David Harvey):
-1. watch his lectures first!
0. “Right to the City” by David Harvey
1. Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey
– most recent overview, containing many old ideas
1. State, Space, World: Selected Essays by Henri Lefebvre
2. Social Justice and the City by David Harvey
Antipode journal
[The Condition of Post-Modernity is elsewhere]
[Limits to Capital and Companion to Marx’s Capital is elsewhere]

human geography:
1. Place: A Short Introduction
For Space by Doreen Massey

urban experience and urban planning:
1. The Life and Death of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
– leads to The Economy of Cities
?. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces by William H. Whyte


WARNING: okay, so you’re not feeling so practical. Perhaps you’re just unable to create an experience at the moment, out of creative energy, and just need media to push you to be more active. Well, for that, it’s better to just watch a film. Don’t you dare go further!

fun in critical theory

contemporary fun:
game philosophy and design:
0. Babycastles Zine Reading Lounge
1. Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga
2. Rules of Play by Katie Sellen and Eric Zimmerman
Art of Game Design by Jessie Schell
MIT Press’s Playful Thinking series
– Play Matters by Miguel Sicart
MIT Press’s Game Histories series

magical realism fiction:
*. Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
*. Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman
1. Collected Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borjes
1. The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino?

travel books:
current travel books, especially for the country I am in
Book of the Marvels of the World by Marco Polo
?/Italian Journey by Goethe
The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson

*. The Essays by Francis Bacon
1. The Complete Essays by Montaigne and translated by Donald A. Frame
2. Essays and Letters by Seneca
– leads to Montaigne
3. Essays by Emerson
4. The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell
?. The Nature of Order series by Christopher Alexander
?. Consequences Of Pragmatism: Essays 1972-1980 by Richard Rorty
– leads to Philosophy and Social Hope by Richard Rorty

formal system (to help express ideas within a formal system):
1. Euclid’s Elements (might as well learn some geometry too?)
2. Spinoza’s Ethics (just to glance at an application)

vocabulary / glossaries:
Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society by Raymond Williams
A Glossary of Cultural Theory by Peter Brooker
– saw at NTU’s library, seems like a great way to gain ideas through words which should help express ideas in a human language
– mentions influence of Keywords in the beginning

games and math:
On Numbers and Games by John Conway


WARNING: maybe you just traveled a bunch via scooter and have visions of utopia. Emblazon them onto a medium quickly! Etch out those crazy ideas. Don’t you dare compare your visions with other’s. You will lose the memory of it soon.

city history:
The City in History by Lewis Mumford

Design and Planning:
urban design (especially ideal designs):
1. A Pattern Language and Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander (read together)
– leads to SimCity 2000
2. Design with Nature – Ian McHarg
– “ecological design” that may go well with A Pattern Language
?/3. City as Landscape – Tom Turner
– “post-postmodern” design

urban design and public spaces:
1. Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space by Jan Gehl
– leads to many well-received books of his, culminating in Cities for People

“land ethic”:
A Sand Country Almanac by Aldo Leopold (referenced in A Pattern Language, listed under Columbia’s 2015 syllabus, and fits Taiwan’s ideology)
post-scarcity economy and other utopias

contemporary philosophy

WARNING: if the thought of reading one of these occurs, you must either be suffering from sensory deprivation, or, nearly completely lost all sensational experience and social connections from the real world.

Dialectic (the opposite of experience?):
1. The Great Conversation: The Substance Of A Liberal Education by Mortimer J. Adler
– leads to The Great Ideas: A Lexicon of Western Thought
2. Dialectic by Mortimer J. Adler
3. Dialogues by Plato
– particularly those involving Socrates
4. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea by Arthur O. Lovejoy

*. Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky
– alternative: The Essential Chomsky

philosophy of mind / cognition / cognitive science:
1. Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman
Metaphors We Live By George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

media theory:
aesthetics in critical theory

contemporary anthropology:
*. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
1. Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology by David Graeber
– leads to Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire
– leads to Revolutions in Reverse: Essays on Politics, Violence, Art, and Imagination
– leads to Debt
– leads to important things to think about related to anarchism
4. Debt: The First 5000 Years by David Graeber
5. The Western Illusion of Human Nature by Marshall Sahlins
6. The Structure of World History: From Modes of Production to Modes of Exchange by Kojin Karatani
?. Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti

classic anthropology:
1. The Gift by Marcel Mauss
– leads to Debt
1. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber
– part of Columbia Curriculum
2. The Interpretation Of Cultures by Geertz
3. Tristes Tropiques by Claude Levi-Strauss
Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga
– also listed under game philosophy
The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond

“political economy”, “comparative politics”:
x. classic ecnomists (Smith, Malthus, Mill, etc.)
– eh
?. Montesquieu
1. Tocqueville
2. Marx

contemporary sociology:
Sociology: A Very Short Introduction by Steve Bruce
Central Problems in Social Theory by Anthony Giddens

critique of technology:
The Technological Society by Jacques Ellul
Technics and Civilization by Lewis Mumford

critical theory

1. A Very Short Introduction to Critical Theory
Introducing Critical Theory
2. Culture and Materialism by Raymond Williams
– intro to Verso Books Radical Thinkers series
Critical Theory Today by Lois Tyson
Left Hemisphere: Mapping Contemporary Theory by Verso Books
*. ideas of Marx, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud, Lacan, and more?

s/1. Marx: A Very Short Introduction by Peter Singer
– skipped
s/1. Engels: A Very Short Introduction by Tarrell Carver
– skipped
s/2. The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx by Alex Callinicos
– skipped
3. Marx-Engels Reader
– use this beginner list from the Marxists Internet Archive for ordered and selected readings, and furthermore a selection from the people who created that website
— started here with the beginner list
4. Capital, Volume 1 by Karl Marx
– can read with A Companion to Marx’s Capital by David Harvey
– leads to Marxist autonomism
– leads to The Limits to Capital by David Harvey
– leads to Deciphering Capital: Marx’s Capital and Its Destiny by Alex Callinicos
– required for most of critical theory
5. Deciphering Capital: Marx’s Capital and Its Destiny by Alex Callinicos
– includes David Harvey and other contemporaries
6. The Limits to Capital by David Harvey
?. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy by Joseph Schumpeter
– “creative destruction”
?. Prison Notebooks by Antonio Gramsci
?. History and Class Consciousness by Lukacs

core critical theory:
*. an interview with Rick Roderick
*. The Self Under Siege: Philosophy In The Twentieth Century by Rick Roderick (also available through The Great Courses)
1. Critical Theory: Selected Essays by Max Horkheimer
– especially “Traditional and Critical Theory”
2. Habermas: A Very Short Introduction by James Finlayson
3. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere by Jurgen Habermas
4?. Eclipse of Reason by Max Horkheimer
– leads to Dialectic of Enlightenment, but maybe not needed
4. Dialectic of Enlightenment by Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer
– leads to Habermas
5. Critique of Instrumental Reason: Lectures and Essays Since the End of World War II (Verso Books Radical Thinkers) by Max Horkheimer
– more simple material
5. One-Dimensional Man by Herbert Marcuse
6. The Culture Industry [essays] by Theodore Adorno
– maybe should read Tocqueville: A Very Short Introduction first
?. Minima Moralia by Theodore Adorno
New Left Review journal
?. On the Logic of the Social Sciences by Jurgen Habermas
?. MIT Press’s Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought series
– seems to continue elaborating around Habermas’s subjects: some combination of critical theory, pragmatism, communication, and public life

Responses to Dialectic of Enlightenment, One-Dimensional Man, instrumental rationality and whatever that opposes it (nature? individual self-organization?):
Rick Roderick’s’ lectures on Marcuse and Habermas
Alan Watts: The Discipline of Zen
Alan Watts: Buddhism and Science

Freudo-Marxism in critical theory:
1. The Art of Being by Erich Fromm
– out of interest, and out of order
2. Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm
3. Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud by Herbert Marcuse
4. The Sane Society by Erich Fromm

Post-Marxism and contemporary critical theorists:
it includes Althusser, David Harvey, Slavoj Zizek, Jameson, Derrida, Baudrillard, Badiou, Hardt and Negri, some of whom are elsewhere on this page, and if it is too large thrown under contemporary totalities, also the wiki for Post-Marxism for a longer list of Post-Marxists
Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses by Louis Althusser
– leads to Sublime Object of Ideology, though the idea of ideology is probably enough
1. The Sublime Object of Ideology Slavoj Zizek
– leads to Parallax View by Slavoj Zizek
– which then leads to MIT Press’s Short Circuits series
1. “Culture” by Fredric Jameson

fun in critical theory:
1. The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord
x/2. Critique of Everyday Life by Henri Lefebvre
– 900 pages, no thanks
3. Revolution of Everyday Life by Raoul Vaneigem

aesthetics in critical theory:
1. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin
– leads to Understanding Media by Herbert Marshall McLuhan
– which in turn leads to The System of Objects, The Ecstasy of Communication, Simulations by Jean Baudrillard
2. Aesthetics and Politics (Verso Books Radical Thinkers series) by people from the The Frankfurt School
3. Walter Benjamin’s Archive: Images, Texts, Signs (Verso Books) by Walter Benjamin
4. Aesthetic Theory by Theodor Adorno

other critical things:
The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
– part of the Columbia Curriculum
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Friere
Dialogues by Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet

philosophy of social science:
?. On the Logic of the Social Sciences by Jurgen Habermas
?. The New Science by Giambattista Vico
– the following three are from Googling the above two books:
?. Prospects for a Theory of Radical History chapter of Interpretation Radical but Not Unruly by Joseph Margolis
?. Interpretive Social Science: A Second Look by Paul Rabinow
?. Surviving the Twentieth Century: Social Philosophy from the Frankfurt School to the Columbia Faculty Seminars by Judith Marcus
?. [Rorty fits here too]

————- (end of critical theory)

selected contemporary political philosophy


an anti-state communism curriculum
Semiotext(e) / Interventions series

1. AK Press Working Classics series
2. Reddit’s anarchy101 canon
3. a goodreads list
– On Anarchism by Noam Chomsky
– Anarchism by Emma Goldman
– Direct Action: An Ethnography by David Graeber
?. Wikipedia list of books about anarchism
– What is Property? by Proudhon
– Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
– The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy
– etc.

1. Autonomia: Post-Political Politics by Sylvère Lotringer
Empire by Negri and Hardt
– leads to two more books in the series
1. The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy by Franco Bifo Berardi
– seems especially interesting

anarchist anthropology and cases of autonomous societies, especially in Asia-Pacific:
1. The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia by James C. Scott
– also Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance
– also Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts
– also Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity and Meaningful Work and Play
1. Society Against the State: Essays in Political Anthropology by Pierre Clastres
2. Chronicle of the Guayaki Indians by Pierre Clastres

self-organization (the philosophy of organization?):
1. The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander
– leads to A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander
– leads to The Nature of Order series by Christopher Alexander
1. essays that involve “spontaneous order” by Michael Polanyi

post-scarcity economy and other utopias

1. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degrowth
2. The Ascent of Humanity by Charles Eisenstein
– leads to Sacred Economics, lived in Taiwan
3. The Zeitgeist Movement Defined: Realizing a New Train of Thought
4. The Best That Money Can’t Buy: Beyond Politics, Poverty & War
Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition by Charles Eisenstein

contemporary totalities

WARNING: for use in prison only
0. The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt
– looks great, but can probably skip to Harvey
1. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change by David Harvey
2. Architecture as Metaphor by Kojin Karatini
3. Parallax View by Slavoj Zizek
4. Transcritique: On Kant and Marx by Kojin Karatini

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro

classic philosophy

WARNING: aside from Hume, Kant, Dewey, and maybe an intro to Roy Bhasker, these may be useless

classic (and some contemporary):
history of philosophy:
*The Great Ideas of Philosophy by Daniel N. Robinson a la The Great Courses
A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton
*A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
*A New History of Western Philosophy by Anthony Kenny
A Short History of Chinese Philosophy by Feng YouLan
– use as a guide to his larger History of Chinese Philosophy

Philosophy: The Classics published by Nigel Warburton (Routledge)
– good to skim over ideas from classics and choose the pertinent ones

The epistemological readings from Contemporary Civilization class syllabus (a part of Columbia’s Core Curriculum) and the epistemology section of reddit’s philosophy reading list
*. The Problems of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
– introduction up to analytic epistomology
– from Descartes to Hume, possibly stopping before Kant, and ignoring analytic logic, especially Scottish Enlightenment (Reid and Hume)
– leads to pragmatism
a possible source: MIT Press’s Readers in Contemporary Philosophy

1. On the Nature of Things by Lucretius

rationalism, [British] empiricism, direct realism, and Kant:
*. Discourse on the Method and Meditations on the First Philosophy by Descartes [rationalism]
?. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by Locke [empiricism]
?. Berkeley [empiricism]
1. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume empiricism]
– maybe need to read Locke’s essay first, but try this first anyway
?. Inquiry into the Human Mind by Thomas Reid [direct realism]
2. The Critique of Pure Reason by Kant
– the Wikipedia article seems to suffice: the historical bits, Transcendental Aesthetic, and Transcendental Analytic
?. Mill

1. Having an Experience [essay] by John Dewey
– leads to Experience and Nature, Art as Experience, Experience and Education, Democracy and Education (though, these are super obvious ideas)
– personal choice
2. Art as Experience by John Dewey
– personal choice
3. “How to Make Our Ideas Clear” by Charles Pierce
– foundation of canon, maybe from some essay collection
4. Pragmatism by William James
– concise lecture on the main concept
5. this excellent Wikipedia article on Instrumentalism contains Dewey and Popper debate
6. Pragmatism: An Introduction by Michael Bacon
– surveys pragmatism and the future of it (neo-pragmatism, etc.)
– can’t find
6. American Philosophy before Pragmatism by Russell B. Goodman
– possible alternative?
?. The Social Psychology of George Herbert Mead edited by Anselm Strauss
?. Mind, Self, and Society by George Herbert Mead
?. Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness
– precursor to process philosophy
?. An Introduction to Metaphysics by Henri Bergson
?. Matter and Memory by Henri Bergson
– Bergson’s best, doubles as film theory

1. Consequences Of Pragmatism: Essays 1972-1980 by Richard Rorty
– leads to Philosophy and Social Hope (essays) by Richard Rorty

critical realism:
1. Critical Realism: An Introduction to Roy Bhaskar’s Philosophy by Andrew Collier
2. Structure, Agency and the Internal Conversation by Margaret Scotford Archer
– could not find

1. Meaning by Michael Polanyi
2. Personal Knowledge by Michael Polanyi
3. Tacit Dimension by Michael Polanyi

political philosophy:
The political readings from Contemporary Civilization class syllabus (a part of Columbia’s Core Curriculum) and the political section of reddit’s philosophy reading list
– from Plato to Nozick, especially those related to idealism, anarchism, and autonomy for the development of an autonomous state. Or simply skip to contemporary political philosophy. Or just skip to Marx, [because] the rest of this is ideal bullshit. Or skip entirely and rely on personal experience.
*. Marx and Engels
1. Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel
– covers most of things things below, except Habermas
1. The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas by Lawrence Cahoone a la The Great Courses
– covers all and beyond Habermas
2. political theory sections of Habermas: A Very Short Introduction by James Finlayson
?. The Republic by Plato
?. Politics by Aristotle
?. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
– only read summary of ideas
?. the second treatise of Two Treatises of Government by John Locke
– for property and slavery related things
?. Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract by Rousseau
?. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
*. “Answering the Question: What Is Enlightenment?” by Kant
*. “Perpetual Peace” by Kant
?. Theory of Justice by John Rawls
– use Wikipedia instead. “Justice as Fairness” is listed under recommended readings in the Columbia Curriculum
?. Anarchy, State, and Utopia by Robert Nozick

moral philosophy (aka [normative] ethics):
– from Aristotle to Scanlon, especially Kant’s idealism for public space ethics. May be better to ignore it all and rely on my own ideals.
*. Philosophy and Human Values lecture by Rick Roderick (also available through The Great Courses)
1. Quest for Meaning: Values, Ethics, and the Modern Experience by Robert H. Kane a la The Great Courses
– covers most, not including Habermas
1. “discourse ethics” section of Habermas: A Very Short Introduction by James Finlayson
2. Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle
3. Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals by Kant

Philosophy of Life, Existentialism, etc.:
– “Inspired by the critique of rationalism in the works of Arthur Schopenhauer, Søren Kierkegaard, and Friedrich Nietzsche, it emerged in 19th-century Germany as a reaction to the rise of positivism and the theoretical focus prominent in much of post-Kantian philosophy”
– Probably should avoid and stick to pragmatism.
x. Friedrich Nietzsche
– On the Genealogy of Morals, 200 pages, includes ascetism, but seems very simple
x. Arthur Schopenhauer
– The World as Will and Representation is huge, only read Wikipedia article or some kind of summary of ideas
x. Søren Kierkegaard
– The World as Will and Representation is huge, only read Wikipedia article or some kind of summary of ideas
?. Henri Bergson
?. The Philosophy of Life and Death: Ludwig Klages and the Rise of a Nazi Biopolitics by Nitzan Lebovic
1. Simmel on Culture: Selected Writings by George Simmel
– “Simmel was a precursor of urban sociology, symbolic interactionism and social network analysis.”
?. Wilhelm Dilthey

resources for general contemporary Left politics:
a very good goodreads list

resources for urban planning:

resources for critical theory:
1. a goodreads list
– great list, unorganized

reddit reading list for critical theory
– great list to go along Wikipedia article

The Verso Undergraduate Reading List
goodreads list

list of radical left publications
Verso Books Radical Thinkers series

Critical Theory for beginners reading list
– Very Short Introduction series by Oxford University Press
– Routledge Critical Thinkers series
Introducing… series
– Left Hemisphere: Mapping Contemporary Theory by Verso Books

The School of Life
– youtube videos
– book of life

5 critical theory lecture series blog post
– EGS youtube including Manuel De Landa, Wes Cecil, Paul Fry, Rick Roderick, David Harvey

MIT book series

goodreads list to frame thinking

1000 little hammers, contains some ebooks on critical theory, especially Situationist International

resources for art and aesthetics:

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