-ism

-ism is a suffix in many English words, originally derived from the Ancient Greek suffix -ισμός(-ismós), and reaching English through the Latin -ismus, and the French -isme. It means “taking side with” or “imitation of”, and is often used to describe philosophies, theories, religions, social movements, artistic movements and behaviors. The suffix “-ism” is neutral and therefore bears no connotations associated with any of the many ideologies it identifies; such determinations can only be informed by public opinion regarding specific ideologies.

The concept of an -ism may resemble that of a grand narrative.

via wikipedia

First ones I thought of:
capitalism
marxism
alcoholism
fundamentalism
extremism
miserablism
terrorism
antagonism
denialism
escapism

Nancy Drew’s Moral Universe

From the “Series Bible” for Nancy Drew, a syndicated television program based on the Nancy Drew mystery novels. The show, which premiered this fall, is being produced by New Line Cinema, Nelvana Limited, and Marathon. The guide, which is used by the Nancy Drew staff, describes the show’s characters, themes, and tone; the section excerpted below is titled “Style.”

Nancy has a unique ability to make clear choices. She lives in a moral universe that is simple and straightforward. When we are in her world, those values will be reflected. It is something she cannot escape from, nor would she want to-it is her quintessential “Drewness.” This quality is expressed in her wardrobe. She chooses clear, saturated colors that reflect her moral certainty. When Nancy wears green, it’s not olive or sea foam or celadon. It’s green. And the design is always deceptively simple, regardless of how au courant the particular outfit may be.

Even at her young age, Nancy brings order to chaos. The objects in her apartment radiate a feeling of security; they have a timeless quality that is impossible to date. This creates a sense of heightened reality: a sofa is a sofa, not art deco or faux country or Seventies chrome and leather. It has a pure design that reflects a sofa’s essence, its truth. Visually, Nancy’s world will make sense.

The world outside her apartment will have a very different look. It is the world’ of unsolved mysteries, a place filled with cold, glaring light and turbulent disorder, where colors are always garish or muddy. It is a world expressed in harsh angles and exaggerated perspectives, because it is totally lacking in moral certainty. Basically, it can best be described as a world without Drewness.

HARPER’S MAGAZINE/NOVEMBER 1995, page 28

Book Review Bingo

BookReviewBingo

“Happiness,” the French novelist Henry de Montherlant observed, “writes in white ink on a white page.” No one wants to read about contented people leading untroubled lives. Characters in novels must want something if they are to hold our interest, and they mustn’t get it without a fight. Contentment, in fiction, is almost always boring. But does this law extend beyond fiction itself? Does it encompass not just the fates of characters but those of books themselves? Is it possible, in other words, for a critic to say nice things in ways that don’t make you want to gnaw through your own wrists?

Paraic O’Donnell via Irish Times

Searle’s Chinese Room

Chinese room thought experiment

“Searle’s thought experiment begins with this hypothetical premise: suppose that artificial intelligence research has succeeded in constructing a computer that behaves as if it understands Chinese. It takes Chinese characters as input and, by following the instructions of a computer program, produces other Chinese characters, which it presents as output. Suppose, says Searle, that this computer performs its task so convincingly that it comfortably passes the Turing test: it convinces a human Chinese speaker that the program is itself a live Chinese speaker. To all of the questions that the person asks, it makes appropriate responses, such that any Chinese speaker would be convinced that they are talking to another Chinese-speaking human being.

The question Searle wants to answer is this: does the machine literally “understand” Chinese? Or is it merely simulating the ability to understand Chinese? Searle calls the first position “strong AI” and the latter “weak AI”.

Searle then supposes that he is in a closed room and has a book with an English version of the computer program, along with sufficient paper, pencils, erasers, and filing cabinets. Searle could receive Chinese characters through a slot in the door, process them according to the program’s instructions, and produce Chinese characters as output. If the computer had passed the Turing test this way, it follows, says Searle, that he would do so as well, simply by running the program manually.

Searle asserts that there is no essential difference between the roles of the computer and himself in the experiment. Each simply follows a program, step-by-step, producing a behavior which is then interpreted as demonstrating intelligent conversation. However, Searle would not be able to understand the conversation. (“I don’t speak a word of Chinese,” he points out.) Therefore, he argues, it follows that the computer would not be able to understand the conversation either.

Searle argues that, without “understanding” (or “intentionality“), we cannot describe what the machine is doing as “thinking” and, since it does not think, it does not have a “mind” in anything like the normal sense of the word. Therefore, he concludes that “strong AI” is false.

wikipedia