[Fis] Book Presentation

Pedro C. Marijuán pedroc.marijuan at gmail.com
Tue Apr 5 14:01:56 CEST 2022

Dear Mariusz,

Many thanks for your summary of the book. Given that many chapter 
summaries are accessible via web, I would suggest fis parties to search 
for them in order to have a better understanding of the views sketched 
in the present summary. Overall, I think it is a brave exploration of 
one of the fundamental conceptual challenges of our time --information, 
information science, information studies, etc.-- which has been made 
starting form the arts, the visual arts concretely.

Taking contrast as the fundamental term does not look a bad idea, for it 
can be supported by different art related neuroscience views (e.g., 
Ramachandran, Leyton), art theorists, and philosophers.
The extent to which it really matches with cognitive science and 
artificial intelligence goes beyond my own; maybe it matches well with 
the approach that Yixin (e.g., "ontological versus epistemological 
information) has defended in our discussions. The contrast term is 
somehow germane of the use I make of "distinctions" (information as 
distinction on an adjacent difference) with the difference that I 
continue towards the biological world (via molecular recognition), or 
better that I arrive to that idea mostly from the familiarity with the 
molecular biological world.

In the present case, the approach to contrast stems from the visual 
arts, and this implies pros and cons. The approach becomes 
anthropocentric, being difficult (at least apparently) to transcend 
simpler nervous systems, living cells, etc. So reception or processing 
information would appear as a capability bound to humans, to human mind, 
and vicariously expanded toward different disciplines. Then, looking 
closely to the  term contrast, it appears itself a great discussion 
arena. Doesn't it need immediately the term "context"? If it essentially 
is "a tension between common and differentiating features of objects", 
even the simplest ordinary object such a chair, a stone, or a simplest 
living creature, may generate endless contrasts that we need to subsume 
into specialized areas of "domesticated" contrasts (be they scientific, 
technical, literary, visual, etc.).

I am not discussing again the term, but looking for more clarity on some 
of  its accompanying terms... these are just very preliminary reactions.

In any case, the book is really a great piece of work.


--El 02/04/2022 a las 16:13, Mariusz Stanowski escribió:
> *Book Presentation*
> *“Theory and Practice of Contrast: Integrating Science, Art and 
> Philosophy.”*
> *Mariusz Stanowski*
> *Published June 10, 2021 by CRC Press (hardcover and eBook).*
> Dear FIS list members,
> Many thanks for the opportunity to present my recent book in this list.
> Our dispersed knowledge needs an underlying structure that allows it 
> to be organised into a coherent and complex system.
> I believe “Theory and Practice of Contrast” provides such a structure 
> by bringing the considerations to the most basic, general and abstract 
> level. At this level it is possible to define *contrast as a tension 
> between common and differentiating features of objects. It grows in 
> intensity as the number/strength of differentiating and common 
> features of contrasting structures/objects increases*. Contrast 
> understood in this way applies to any objects of reality (mental and 
> physical) and is also an impact (causal force) in the most general 
> sense. Contrast as a common principle organises (binds) our knowledge 
> into a coherent system. This is illustrated by a diagram of the 
> connections between the key concepts:
> Below are brief descriptions of these connections.
> *Contrast—Development *When observing a contrast, we also observe the 
> connection between contrasting objects/structures (resulting from 
> their common features) and the emergence of a new, more complex 
> structure possessing the common and differentiating features of 
> connected structures. In the general sense, the emergence of a new 
> structure is tantamount to development. Therefore, it may be stated 
> that contrast is a perception of structures/objects connections, or 
> experience of development. The association of contrast with 
> development brings a new quality to the understanding of many other 
> fundamental concepts, such as beauty, value, creativity, emergence. 
> (Similarly, /contrast as development /is understood in Whitehead’s 
> philosophy).
> *Contrast—Complexity *In accordance with the proposed definition, when 
> we consider the contrast between two or more objects/structures, it 
> grows in intensity as the number/strength of differentiating and 
> common features of contrasting structures/objects increases. Such an 
> understanding of contrast remain an intuitive criterion of complexity 
> that can be formulated as follows: *a system becomes more complex the 
> greater is the number of distinguishable elements and the greater the 
> number of connections among them*/. /If in definition of contrast we 
> substitute “differentiating features” for “distinguishable elements” 
> and “common features” for “connections”, we will be able to conclude 
> that *contrast is the perception and measure of complexity.*
> Note: Two types of contrasts can be distinguished: the sensual 
> (physical) contrast, which is determined only by the force of features 
> of contrasting objects and the mental (abstract) contrast which 
> depends primarily on the number of these features. (This contrast can 
> be equated with complexity). (The equation of contrast with complexity 
> is an important finding for the investigations in: cognitive sciences, 
> psychology, ontology, epistemology, aesthetics, axiology, biology, 
> information theory, complexity theory and indirectly in physics).
> *Complexity—Information Compression *Intuition says that the more 
> complex object with the same number of components (e.g. words) has 
> more features/information (i.e. more common and differentiating 
> features), which proves its better organization (assuming that all 
> components have the same or similar complexity). We can also say that 
> such an object has a higher degree of complexity. The degree of 
> complexity is in other words the brevity of the form or the 
> compression of information. Complexity understood intuitively (as 
> above) depends, however, not only on the complexity degree (that could 
> be defined as the ratio of the number of features to the number of 
> components) but also on the (total) number of features, because it is 
> more difficult to organize a larger number of elements/features. In 
> addition, the more features (with the same degree of complexity), the 
> greater the contrast. Therefore, in the proposed /Abstract Definition 
> of Complexity /(2011), we multiply the degree of complexity by the 
> number of features. This definition defines the complexity (C) of the 
> binary structure (general model of all structures/objects) as the 
> quotient of the square of features (regularities/substructures) number 
> (N) to the number of components or the number of zeros and ones (n). 
> It is expressed in a simple formula: C = N²/n and should be considered 
> the most general definition of complexity, among the existing ones, 
> which also fulfils the intuitive criterion. (This relation explains 
> what compression of information in general is and what role it plays 
> as a complexity factor. This allows to generalize the notion of 
> information compression and use it not only in computer science, but 
> also in other fields of knowledge, such as aesthetics, axiology, 
> cognitive science, biology, chemistry, physics).
> **
> *Information compression—Development *Our mind perceiving objects 
> (receiving information) more compressed, saves energy. 
> Compression/organization of information reduce energy of perception 
> while maintaining the same amount of information (in case of lossless 
> compression). Thanks to this, perception becomes easier (more 
> economical) and more enjoyable; for example, it can be compared to 
> faster and easier learning, acquiring knowledge (information), which 
> also contributes to our development. Compression of information as a 
> degree of complexity also affects its size. Complexity, in turn, is a 
> measure of contrast (and vice versa). Contrast, however, is identified 
> with development. Hence, complexity is also development. This sequence 
> of associations is the second way connecting the compression of 
> information with development. Similarly, one can trace all other 
> possibilities of connections in the diagram. (The association of 
> information compression with development brings a new, explanatory 
> knowledge to many fields including cognitive science, aesthetics, 
> axiology, information theory).
> **
> *Development—Value *Development is the essence of value, because all 
> values (ethical, material, intellectual, etc.) contribute to our 
> development which is their common feature. It follows that value is 
> also a contrast, complexity and compression of information because 
> they are synonymous with development. (The relation explains and 
> defines the notion of value fundamental to axiology).
> *Value—Abstract Value *About all kinds of values (with the exception 
> of aesthetic values) we can say, what they are useful for. Only 
> aesthetic values can be said to serve the development or be the 
> essence of values, values in general or abstract values. This is a 
> property of abstract concepts to express the general idea of something 
> (e.g. the concept of a chair includes all kinds of chairs and not a 
> specific one). It follows that *what is specific to aesthetic value is 
> that it is an abstract value* (although it is difficult to imagine). 
> (This is a new understanding of aesthetic value, crucial for 
> aesthetics and axiology).
> **
> *Contrast—Being *Contrast or interaction is a concept prior to the 
> concept of being because without interaction there is no existence. It 
> follows that the basic component of being must be two 
> objects/elements/components (creating a contrast) having common and 
> differentiating features. (Understanding of being as a contrast is 
> fundamental to ontology and metaphysics and worth considering in physics).
> **
> *Contrast—Cognition *The object of cognition and the subject (mind) 
> participate in the cognitive process. The object and the subject have 
> common and differentiating features, thus they create a contrast. 
> Cognition consists in attaching (through common features) 
> differentiating features of the object by the subject. In this way, 
> through the contrast, the subject develops. It can therefore be said 
> that cognition is a contrast of the object with the subject. (This is 
> a new definition of cognition important for epistemology and cognitive 
> science).
> **
> *Cognition—Subjectivity *The above understanding of cognition agrees 
> all disputable issues (present, among others, in psychology, cognitive 
> science and aesthetics) regarding the objectivity and subjectivity of 
> assessments (e.g. whether the source of beauty is the observer's mind, 
> whether it is a specific quality from the observer independent), 
> because it shows that they depend on both the subject and the object, 
> i.e. depend on their relationship—contrast.
> **
> *Compression of information—Beauty *Beautiful are objects with high 
> information compression (a large degree of complexity/organization). 
> Thanks to the compression of information, perceiving beauty, we save 
> energy, the perception becomes more economical and pleasant which 
> favours our development and is therefore a value for us. The example 
> is golden division. Counting features (information) in all possible 
> types of divisions (asymmetrical, symmetrical and golden) showed that 
> the golden division contains the most features/information (an 
> additional feature is well known golden proportion) and therefore 
> creates the greatest contrast, complexity and aesthetic value.(This 
> explains the previously unknown reasons for aesthetic preferences, key 
> to aesthetics, art theory, psychology, cognitive science and 
> neuroaesthetics).
> **
> *Development—Beauty *Beauty contributes to development thanks to the 
> economy of perception. Perception of beauty is accompanied by a sense 
> of development or ease and pleasure of perception. (This explains the 
> causes of aesthetic preferences).
> **
> *Abstract Value—Beauty, Art *Only beauty and art have no specific 
> value but they express/have value in general (an abstract value). The 
> objects that make up a work of art are not important, but their 
> contrast-interaction, which results from the complexity of the 
> artwork. (If we see a single object in the gallery, then the art is 
> its contrast with the context - as in the case of Duchamp's "Urinal" 
> or Malevich's "Black Square"). One can say that beauty and art are 
> distinguished (defined) by two elements: abstract value and a large 
> contrast.(This is a new and only definition of beauty/art that 
> indicates the distinctive common features of all aesthetic/artistic 
> objects, it is crucial for the theory of art, aesthetics, axiology and 
> epistemology).
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