writings on math, logic, philosophy and art

How does knowledge work: using logic to model real-world communication

Hello and welcome to the moment that you (yes, all two of you) have been waiting for - the second installment of “How does knowledge work”. This is exciting right? Riight?

We all communicate, or at least we think we do. And I mean communicate in the broadest sense, from spoken communication to written to visual, from informal to formal (in the sense of logically-formal). We will look into all of that and we will present a whole theory of how communication happens that is based on the first installment of “How does knowledge work” where we basically established a logical framework for modeling how the human mind works.

You remember that, right? Right? Well, maybe the reason you fell asleep was that you actually were more interested in how people communicate with one another. Could this be it? Well, listen up, it’s actually interesting. Plus what better things you have to do? Communicate with actual people? But how would you know that you are actually communicating with them, if you are not familiar with the logical foundations of human communication?


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Human technology: Text files

It is a well-known engineering principle, that you should always use the weakest technology capable of solving your problem - the weakest technology is likely the cheapest, easiest to maintain, extend or replace and there are no sane arguments for using anything else.

The main problem with this principle is marketing - few people would sell you a 10$ product that can solve your problem for ever, when they can sell you a 1000$ product, with 10$ per month maintenance cost, that will become obsolete after 10 years. If you listen to the “experts” you would likely end up not with the simplest, but with the most advanced technology.

And with software the situation is particularly bad, because the simplest technologies often cost zero, and so they have zero marketing budget. And since nobody would be benefiting from convincing you to use something that does not cost anything, nobody is actively selling those. In this post, I will try to fill that gap by reviewing some technologies for web publishing that are based on plain text and putting forward their benefits. Read on to understand why and how you should write everything you write in plain text files and self-publish them on your own website.

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Where universality breaks: about Kant's triads and the dual to Laplace's demon

Hi. Let’s wait for more people to show up… Or it’s just us? OK. So listen up, I wrote this very cool post that gathers almost all my mathematical and philosophical interests in one place…

OK, whaterver, if you are not interested I will stop.

OK, let’s try again * clears throat * “The age-old mystery of Kant’s triads has baffled academics for centuries: what is the significance of the third element that finishes each of his triad. And is it possible that the categories were given to Kant by aliens?”

What, now it’s too dramatic? No, impossible, Kant never used any drugs! OK, whatever, I give up, no more introductions for these articles, let’s just get on with it!

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Structured programming: how to write proper if statements

The if statement (or if expression) is the cornerstone of every modern programming language - it is so pervasive that we rarely think about how exactly should we use it, or how it is meant to be used. But despite its popularity, if wasn’t always there, and it wasn’t as pervasive as nowadays, so its role is, I’d argue, still somewhat misunderstood. So in this article, I will examine some mistakes that we can easily avoid in order to improve on our code.

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Epistemology for you all: Was Gettier a fraud?

Yesterday, while browsing through the Wikipedia page on epistemology I came across the following excerpt:

Edmund Gettier is best known for his 1963 paper entitled “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?”, which called into question the theory of knowledge that had been dominant among philosophers for thousands of years.[19] This, in turn, called into question the actual value of philosophy if such an obvious and easy counterexample to a major theory could exist without anyone noticing it for thousands of years.

I did not know anything about either Edmund Gettier or the referred paper, but the way this paragraph attacked not only all philosophers but philosophy as a discipline left me infuriated, so without doing much research, I deleted it from the article, stating that “you can easily see many examples of philosophers claiming similar issues”. If I wanted to get into more detail, I would have added that I don’t think that there is such thing as a “dominant theory” in philosophy and especially such that has no counterexamples - philosophy, after all, is about arguments, so you really want to you can always construct arguments to support even the stupidest thesis (which was what I was planning to do if someone attacked me for messing with Wikipedia’s epistemology page).

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How does knowledge work: using logic to model real-world thinking

“Hello, and welcome to another episode of “Logic for Y’all”. Today we are going to tackle a rather controversial topic - “Using logic to model real-world thinking”. Asked to comment on it, most people went: “Pff, logic!” and our resident logicians prepared the following summary: “Pff, the real world!”. But still, among our listeners, there were some wannabe philosophers who insisted that this is the most important thing ever, so it appears that we have no choice but to get someone to talk about it (there will be booze at the end). So let’s give a warm welcome to the only guy who agreed to speak about this boring topic, Jencel Paniiic!”

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Booknotes - The critique of pure reason

Lately, I’ve been exploring this book, which I will refer to as simply “The critique” from now on, by following the lectures by Robert Paul Wolff and decided to put my notes here in case someone finds them useful. This is a summary. The ideas expressed in it belong to Immanuel Kant. The phrase “Kant thinks” can accompany each sentence from it, but it is omitted for brevity and ease of reading. But at the same time, it is not objective - I am interpreting the ideas in the book the way I understand them, which may or may not be the way your philosophy professor interprets them. Also, the text is not in any way a substitute of reading the book itself - rather my aim was for it to help people who read the book by providing an additional viewpoint into what is happening in it.

I put my original research in a separate article about Kant’s categories.

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Why is functional programming awesome

I really am not the best person to author such an article (I am not that into programming anymore, and I never was a real expert in it), however I am doing it, because I have been waiting for someone else to write it for years and kept noticing the following phenomena:

  1. People who understand functional programming, cannot make themselves understood by the general (programming) public.
  2. Many of the people who are able to make themselves understood by the public, don’t understand enough for them to be worth listening (all functional programming articles that are understandable don’t go much farther than “You should use pure functions, man!”.

Roughly the same thing has been called “the curse of the monad” by some people: “Once you understand it, you lose the ability to explain it”. It is clear now that monads are not something you get in an afternoon, but I think you can get some idea of what FP (functional programming) is. Or, you know, in a year or so. But in order to spend that time you need some motivation. You probably need someone to tell you why exactly do you need to know about FP? Why is it awesome, so to say. And so my article begins.

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Why is vim awesome

The title of this post sounds like a school essay and this is because I like it like that. This is, after all yet another post from yet another vim evangelist. But everything I say is true.

At times when software tools come and go faster than we can get used to them, vim is here for us to admire and to learn from. It is elegant and polished in a way that few software tools are. And oh, it can do so much. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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