The Direction of Time

David Albert (Columbia University)

David Albert will outline a large philosophical-scientific project which aims at understanding the difference between the past and the future as a mechanical phenomenon of nature, rather than as a feature of the fundamental metaphysical structure of the world.

Ukrainian Institute of America, 2nd floor, Concert Hall, 7 pm

Are There Any Legitimate States?

Christopher Morris (University of Maryland)

Modern states claim a number of powers, often summarized by the notion of sovereignty. These powers include the right to rule, namely the right to make, adjudicate, and enforce laws on citizens and other subjects. And the latter are supposed to be obligated to obey these laws unless excused or exempted by the state. An important question is whether these claims of states are credible. Legitimate states are thought to possess these powers, but Morris shall suggest that states are not legitimate in the relevant sense of the term. Consequently states may not be sovereign and their just powers are considerably weaker than we usually think.

Ukrainian Institute of America, 2nd floor, Library Room, 7:30 pm

E Pluribus Unum: Understanding Biological Individuality

Thomas Pradeu (CIRID, CNRS and University of Bordeaux)

Biologically speaking, each of us is a “we.” In fact, every living thing is a complex ecosystem, constituted of billions of cells belonging to many different species, and even to different kingdoms. A human being, for instance, is made up of 90% of bacterial cells, most of them having a symbiotic relationship with the host. How is such an ecosystem constituted? How do these “influential passengers” that we host in our bodies (bacteria, viruses, etc.) impact our development and our daily functioning? And how can the body make of such a plurality of constituents, in the end, one entity? In this talk, Pradeu will raise the issue of biological identity, and he will suggest that one particular body system, namely the immune system, plays a pivotal role in the unification process mentioned above. The immune system does not delineate a homogeneous “self,” but, rather, a heterogeneous organism. Pradeu will conclude that, thus conceived, the organism looks like Salvador Dalí’s famous painting Galatea of the Spheres.

Ukrainian Institute of America, 3rd floor, East Room, 8 pm

Boltzmann Brains

Barry Loewer (Rutgers University)

Recently a number of physicists and cosmologists have been discussing what they call “the problem of Boltzmann Brains.” The problem is that certain physical theories and cosmologies which seem to be supported by a great deal of scientific evidence apparently entail that it is far more likely that brains (and their current mental contents) arise as a result of random processes in an otherwise empty or chaotic universe, rather than resulting from what we believe to be the usual causal processes. If so, a Boltzmann Brain’s beliefs and thoughts about its environment are mostly false. It also seems more likely that on the basis of your present brain state you are likely to be a Boltzmann Brain. Thus these theories lead to a kind of skeptical dilemma that arises from scientific inquiry. In his talk, Loewer will explain why the Boltzmann Brain problem should be taken seriously, and he will discuss ways in which philosophical reflection on explanation and probability may help resolve it.

Ukrainian Institute of America, 2nd floor, Concert Hall, 8:30 pm

Rising Awareness

By Eve Bailey

Duration: 20’

Could one succeed in raising the level of awareness by sharpening one’s perception rather than raising awareness, quote that has become the motto of an ever growing raising-money industry that fails to improve our condition in a substantive way? Eve Bailey will assemble a kinetic structure made of large wooden beams and ladders that she will then balance on, 8 feet off the ground. Bailey’s sculpture-performances speak of risk-taking and express finite moments of equilibrium.

Cultural Services of French Embassy, 2nd Floor, Marble Room, 8:55 pm

The Particular Elements of Perceptual Experience

Susanna Schellenberg (Rutgers University)

Perception grounds demonstrative reference, yields singular thoughts, and fixes the reference of singular terms. Moreover, perception provides us with knowledge of particulars in our environment and justifies singular thoughts about particulars. How does perception play these cognitive and epistemic roles in our lives? Schellenberg addresses this question by exploring the fundamental nature of perceptual experience. She argues that perceptual states are individuated by particulars and explore epistemic, ontological, psychologistic, and semantic approaches to account for perceptual particularity.

Ukrainian Institute of America, 2nd floor, Concert Hall, 9:30 pm

What Is Music?

Wolff Francis (École Normale Supérieure, Paris, France; PSL Research University)

When I was a child, I learnt with delight that “music is the art of sounds”. I think it was my first contact with philosophical problems! For I rapidly discovered the trap of definitions: they seem to give us an acceptable answer to one “what is?” but they actually force us to new unanswered “what is?”: “What is an art?” and “What is a sound?” Philosophers are usually tempted by the first (misleading) question. We will follow the second one: “What is a sound?” And through the definition of a sound as a “sign of an event”, we will suggest that music is the “representation of an ideal world of pure events”.

Ukrainian Institute of America, 2nd floor, Concert Hall, 10 pm


By Karol Beffa

Duration: 30’

Karol Beffa, pianist and composer, will improvise on themes suggested by the audience: words, notions, philosophers’ names, anecdotes from the history of philosophy, such as “solitary walks in Königsberg”, “being and nothingness”, “joy”…

Ukrainian Institute of America, 2nd Floor, Concert Hall, 10:30 pm

Body Text

By Trisha Bauman

Duration: 15’

Trisha Bauman has performed as a dancer and actor with international companies in France and the U.S. This piece creates a dialogue between the performing body and a recorded discussion with Jacques Derrida and Maurizio Ferraris.

Cultural Services of the French Embassy, 2nd Floor, Marble Room, 10:55 pm

A 15-Minute Proof That the World Is Bizarre

Tim Maudlin (New York University)

Maudlin will present a simple version of John Bell’s proof that certain experimental results can only be explained if there are physical connections between systems that are arbitrarily far apart. The proof of this physical non-locality is arguably the greatest shock to our understanding of the physical world produced in the history of physics.

Ukrainian Institute of America, 2nd floor, Concert Hall, 11 pm

Why Is Our Language Vague?

Paul Egré (École Normale Supérieure, Paris, France; PSL Research University*; CNRS**, France)

Most of the words we use in everyday language, such as “tall,” “expensive,” or “young,” are vague words. Such words are called “vague” because our use fails to delineate a sharp boundary between objects to which they apply and objects to which they do not apply. To say someone is tall is to say something less precise than to say that he or she is taller than 187cm. Likewise, to say that someone is young is not to communicate any precise age or even age range. Yet vague words can be used informatively, and most of what we communicate in ordinary conversation relies on vague expressions. In this talk, Egré will try to explain why our language is vague in the way it is, and whether this is a defect or an advantage. A related issue he will consider is whether the phenomenon of vagueness in language originates from a single source, or from several different sources.

Ukrainian Institute of America, 2nd floor, Concert Hall, 12 am

Say “Hello” and Say “Thank You”. What Language Does to Humans

Etienne Bimbenet (Université Jean Moulin Lyon III, France)

It is impossible, 150 years after Darwin, to continue philosophizing as if we had never been animals or were not radically and strangely transformed animals. The introduction of the “animal point of view” into philosophy implies a new kind of question. For example, what changes does conventional language produce in our ways of acting, perceiving, and thinking? What is it like to be human, that is, a being who speaks?

Ukrainian Institute of America, 2nd floor, Concert Hall, 00:30 am

Spinoza in Kiev

Text by Mériam Korichi based on Bernard Malamud’s novel The Fixer, with Karol Beffa and Trisha Bauman and Mimi Cohen

Duration: 45’

A melodrama for two actresses with piano improvisations. Kiev 1911. Yakov Bok decides to leave the Shtetl (a small, exclusively Jewish town), to learn more about the world. After he manages to find a real job in Kiev, he is un­justly accused of the ritual murder of a 12 year old boy. When Bok is imprisoned, a book by Spinoza is found in his possession. B. A. Bibikov, the Investigating Magistrate for Cases of Extraordinary Importance, is intrigued by this…

Ukrainian Institute of America, 2nd Floor, Concert Hall, 1 am

An Adventure in Flatland

Achille Varzi (Columbia University)

Can a Flatlander figure out whether they live on a sphere or on a donut? Varzi will present an exercise in philosophical imagination to test our sense of possibility and our capacity to overcome the limits of our superficiality.

Ukrainian Institute of America, 2nd floor, Concert Hall, 2:20 am

In Defense of Scientism

Alexander Rosenberg (Duke University)

Rosenberg will argue that most of the persistent questions of philosophy can be answered by the resources of physics, biology, and neuroscience and that the answers are largely negative: no god, no soul, no free will, no objective moral values, no meaning—linguistic, cognitive, or otherwise original, and intrinsic. He will briefly treat the challenges that scientism as a philosophy must overcome.

Ukrainian Institute of America, 2nd floor, Concert Hall, 2:50 am

A Medley: 5 Performance Art Scores

By Clifford Owens

Duration: 30’

Clifford Owens’ A Medley: 5 Performance Art Scores is an audience-sensitive presentation composed of five performance art scores drawn from his project “Anthology,” a longer work comprised of scores solicited from a select multigenerational group of African-American artists.

Cultural Services of the French Embassy, 2nd Floor, Marble Room, 3 am

Performance Art: Three Ways of Being Serious

Rossen Ventzislavov (Woodbury University, Bulgaria)

In his presentation, Ventzislavov will explore three fundamental dimensions of performance art—the affective, the performative, and the political. Each of these dimensions presupposes a different concept of seriousness. Affectively, a serious work of art is one that retains a level of solemnity. Performatively, seriousness is measured by the correspondence between intent and final product. Politically, a serious work of art is one that hazards a social critique. By exploring the distinction between these dimensions and the different ways of being serious that correspond to them, Ventzislavov will try to advance our common understanding of performance art.

Ukrainian Institute of America, 2nd floor, Concert Hall, 3:20 am

On the Beach, Frank Heath, 2014

Video, color, sound

Duration: 20’

Courtesy of Simone Subal Gallery and the artist.

Questions of permanence of information, immateriality of technology, and extreme projections of the future provide the starting point for this video. The film focuses on an interview with two physicists from CERN, home to the Large Hadron Collider. Scenes in which scientists discuss their desire to learn about the origins of matter, as well as possible transmissions to the future, blend together with scenes of the film crew attempting to assemble material for a kind of time capsule or ark that will record our civilzation for a post-human future. Loosely adapted from the post-apocalyptic novel by Nevil Shute.

Ukrainian Institute of America, 3rd Floor, Library Room, 4 am and 5:45 am

Philosophy as Practical Wisdom: The Case for Stoicism

Massimo Pigliucci (City University of New York)

Philosophy is now a highly specialized academic field, comparable to the natural and social sciences, or to other disciplines in the humanities. But it started out, in part, as a very practical endeavor to help people figure out how to best live their lives. From Socrates and Plato to Diogenes, from Epicurus to Seneca, the ancient Greco-Romans in particular sought to understand what makes for a flourishing existence. In this talk, Pigliucci will address one approach to practical philosophy: Stoicism, a school of thought begun by Zeno of Citium around 300 BCE that is undergoing a remarkable renaissance in modern times.

Ukrainian Institute of America, 2nd floor, Concert Hall, 4:20 am

Méthane, Nicolas Moulin, 1999

Video, color, sound

Duration: 32’

CNAP, Paris, France and courtesy of the artist.

Nicolas Moulin excerpts images that could evoke a planet with similar geology to Mars, or more specifically Iceland, with three dominant geological elements: fields of lava, valleys of basalt, and fields eroded by glaciers: ““What interests me when creating a work is how it will be perceived as an unclassified object, possessing its own reality, independent of its conception and fabrication.”” He invites viewers to navigate a sort of innerworld and to disorient themselves.

Ukrainian Institute of America, 3rd Floor, Library Room, 4:20 am and 5:45 am

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102.11.4 _ 我最喜歡的 Google Doodles

10.9 烏干達國慶日

10.9 波蘭 音樂家誕辰紀念日

10.3 紀念柏林牆倒塌

9.29 奧地利選舉

9.18 阿塞拜疆音樂家 Uzeyir Hacibeyov 128週年誕辰

9.16 墨西哥國慶日

8.22 德彪西150週年誕辰

8.13 七夕節 --小遊戲,把鳥兒拖動到橋上、給情人搭橋

6.21 南半球冬至

6.10 童話作家 Maurice Sendak 85歲生日

5.23 Google Doodle US 比賽第一名--大兵回家

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102.7.28_Mid-night Reflections at Westerly, RI

It is a great weekend – though it’s only half way through. Everybody went to sleep, leaving me sitting by the dinner table, hearing the tides of Atlantic Ocean at this quiet house at Westerly, Rhode Island.

So far behind, can’t take more – starting today it’s gonna be a busy, productive, and well organized week.

0045 – 0300 Invasive Species paper, with prior to 0100 drafting the outlines

0900 – 1200 JUCCCE social space video discussion

when back to NYC – drafting the Policy paper

Mon. – meet Hydrology professor (lectures and readings required, discuss research topics), Climatology TA hopefully, and Toxicology TA (with prior email notice)


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Reflections on the Lost Interview with Steve Jobs, 1995


四個驚人的看法,在1995年--一年後 Jobs 的 NeXT 被蘋果收購,又數年他重裝上陣,把這些理念貫徹到第二喬布斯的蘋果時代,於是產生了屬於21世紀第一個十年的偉大作品: iPod iPhone iPad 和 Apple Store

1、10 years later the trend shall fall onto Web – primary commercial channel that reshaped the way we do business – sadly yet luckily Microsoft didn’t realize this trend.

微軟的確,至今都沒有把握住互聯網時代和電子商務的精髓,無論是 「網上鄰居」、.Net 戰略 還是今天的 Office 365,都沒有 catch the exact pulse ⋯⋯人們想起微軟,覺得它最大的貢獻還是桌面單機版的 Office、還有 Windows 的資源管理器、「開始」按鈕、「桌面」和上邊孤零零的一個「回收站」。

2、Microsoft has no taste.

喬布斯這句話很傷人,但是的確他打心底看不上微軟對於品牌的塑造。從四色窗格的 Windows logo 改到淺藍色方塊版本的 Windows 8 logo 更說明了微軟手足無措、一味附庸「平面」、「簡約」設計之風雅,而從來沒有自己的設計觀。

對於產品概念的把握能力也是虎頭蛇尾。從軟件強行遷移 focus 到硬件,試圖通吃打造自己的生態系統,試圖抓住 iPad 輸入能力的瓶頸不適用於商務的弱點,打造了一款成品高、用起來不知道該拿鼠標還是拿手指、界面高度違和的 Surface 以及 Win 8 系統。

Apple 自己、還有一些硬件產商如羅技,開發了外配藍牙鍵盤、還能夠兼做 iPad 保護殼,這個問題就解決了。

2b、怎樣培養 taste?答案:Liberal Arts. 蘋果公司裡有詩人、音樂家、歷史學家、zoologist,他們恰好又懂得電腦。這就是 great minds,當這些 great minds 碰撞的時候,設計的東西不是 nerd 能靠公式、常識能推演出來的。計算機軟硬件都是藝術品,Jobs 很榮幸站到了一個樹立 defining principle 的時代--他甚至為人類後怕,就像小小向量、方向差之毫釐、延展下去失之千里,Jobs 覺得他通過蘋果定義了 「computing arts」 的方向。

3、It’s always Sales and Marketing who ultimately took the lead, it might work for PepsiCo, but in especially IT industry, Sales and Marketing won’t compete with product design. They expand business, but this is misleading. Great companies focus on product. (However pure ideas won’t work, transforming ideas into products are exposed to tech./econ. constraints)

就像建築師不能隨心所欲地繪圖而要考慮結構計算,IT 行業的想法也會在實踐中不斷地被折衷,Jobs 對此保持相當高的警惕性。他要的是完美的產品,但完美的 idea 並不一定每一個都能繁衍出其理想的完美性。

而產品設計是如此的重要,因為它們會讓消費者愛上這個產品,並成為忠誠的粉絲。這勝過 marketing,因為本質上 marketing 就是把一個東西的優點突出、通過障眼法讓你實現購買,它假設消費者不會不請自來,必須要被遊說、說到一下子耳根子軟了,方能 make a purchase。

Tim Cook 時代蘋果銷售增長但品牌價值的衰落,不正是這個原因嗎?蘋果地圖對蘋果產品的簡約完美之感覺傷害多大?--比如,你能想象下無印良品開始促銷、買100元送匯源果汁一盒嗎?

4、You may actually redefine the trend by doing small 

這是 Jobs 第一桶金--通過鑽研 AT&T 的空子,發明了「藍盒子」(Blue Box)讓消費者可以模仿撥號音直接接入信道、免除國際通話費用的「外掛」機。那麼大的一個公司的弱點、就這麼被找到了,突破了,成為一個另其可以損失(或消費者可以受益)billion 級的 business。還有什麼做不成的呢?

當 Apple I 開始流水線生產,蘋果公司初具規模了,Jobs 發現我為啥不能準確地瞭解生產成本了?他勇於質疑 accounting 的方法--不要 guess 再 modify,而是通過提升物流和倉儲的管控直接精確瞭解成本並核算受益。

He said, “people stick to this way because that’s what they do yesterday, and the day before it." 而我們要做效用主義者,開動大腦來做 business,而不僅僅是 follow the practice.

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電影 1-白俄羅斯火車站-蘇聯(Andrei Smirnov),1970











想起了前些日子看得動畫短片《木搖椅》,木搖椅見證了主人家的繁華年景,後又因房舍廢棄而被丟棄到垃圾場,被新修的美術館所招募的管理員偶然看見,稍微整理、復成搖椅--每到晚上,搖椅總是回想起原先的繁華年代、party時光,整個美術館天旋地轉如萬花筒般在它的「睡夢」中展開。Oh the good old time, the best of the times!

昨日午前去亦莊同仁醫院探訪了爺爺。作為一個朝鮮戰爭的後勤醫療兵,他躺在病床上,待我們進來便坐起來、固然高興、但不覺傷懷自己「成了一個廢人」,什麼也做不了了。唯獨講話的時候神彩奕奕、手勢一個都不會少,頗有領導範兒,全家、連著我和我的萌丫頭、哪天不知都該有第四代了,就前前後後坐著、圍著、看著他,幫他重建那個黃金歲月的感受。探訪結束,我們一一握他的手,他很用力,很有那種接見、慰勞下屬的感覺。有的時候,我雖仍不能苟同貫穿共產黨造反取勝所信仰的價值,但這個為它奔命的軍隊之軍人,是有血有肉的--就好比一場戰爭如果我們非要找總能找出一方對一方錯,但是兩方的軍人之個體都是光榮的、為他們的篤信、懷著對未來的和平之憧憬,為國家兌現自己作為男兒的勇氣、力量和價值。我突然想起 Sheldon 在《生活大爆炸》裡的一句話,「(Papua New Guinea tribes aim to obtain enemy’s power through cannibalism –) superstition of course, but one can sense their spirit.」


因此,像台灣、韓國等國家,由於男性絕對數目相對少、國家施行強制兵役,而非像中國這樣的志願兵役,之前我覺得在男孩20~25歲最黃金的時代掏出一兩年來從軍實在是荒廢時間,但是現在感受到,軍旅生活能賦予人很多,認同感、使命感和責任心,且能培養一個牢固的畢生的 network。而中國的男孩子,不用強制從軍不說,更大多是獨生子女,且中國的文化講究家裡要為子女成長支付開銷,而不是鼓勵他們18歲後立即起飛--年輕人多尚誇誇其談、無責任心、不成熟亦不理性、甚至難能自立,原因也就昭然若揭了。

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Words of the Day – 0427 – Eternity by William Blake

He who binds to himself a joy,

Does a winged life destroy;

But he who kisses the joy as it flies,

Lives in eternity’s sun rise.

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Words of the Day – 0424 – Rudyard Kipling: If


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

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