Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Proceedings from the 44th meeting (5 March) of the Philiosophical Foundaitons of Law and Finance

Dear all

Follow the proceedings from the 44th meeting of the Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance seminar:

1. In the first part of the class Joe introduced his groundbreaking work-in-progress on the application of Group Theory (GT) to law and finance.

2. Philosophy, the LOVE of wisdom, from ancient times has hunted the goose with truth, symmetria and beauty. (Plato's Philebus.) The model of truth for Plato came from the perfect forms of geometry which he tried very hard to apply to social issues. Understanding the 'perfect state' (The Republic) and 'God given laws' (The Laws) was built on tiny precise arguments--always hunting the elusive goose.

3. Modernly, since the early 19th century, symmetria have become Group Theory (GT). GT is the algebraic form of ALL geometric symmetries. That is, with GT you can calculate the quantity (measure the degree) of symmetry. This is a vast improvement over Plato's Euclidean machinery and the proof is in the pudding since GT now underpins most of physics, chemistry, biology and many of the arts, architecture, design, etc. But GT has not touched the theories of law at all. Not one article has been published which even tries to establish the link between GT and the law.

4. GT is extraordinarily simple. It starts with a definition of a group as a set (collection or system) of elements, where any two elements combined form another element of the group. This definition is sometimes called the Axiom of Closure, which can be written as {G, m}, G stands for the elements of the group and m stands for the binary operation. The concept of the group is further constrained by three other Axioms (Associativity, Identity and Vertibility [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_%28mathematics%29]) which act as conditions to the qualification of a group. So, for something (anything at all) to be a group, we need to find the appropriate elements and appropriate binary operator. This is what Joe is trying to do in his paper, "Group Theory of Law and Finance--Chasing the Goose".

5. Is all the effort worth the trouble? What is clear is that if GT can be applied to law then we would have a precise view of the entirety of laws, their "structure" would have objective meaning and instead of moanfully bleating about the "complexity" of laws (which many legal theorists do), we would have some means of calculating and predicting "its" (in the most general sense) and "their" (in the most particuliarized sense) order. So much could be imported from GT for free!

6. Hopefully the technology of GT may help us get beyond Platonic aporia.

7. In the second part of the class we continued reading Kierkegaard’s “Fear and Tremble”. This time we dived in chapter one, the Panegyric Upon Abraham. K. announces his intention to ‘recall’ the binding of Isaac by Abraham in order to uphold the memory of this profoundly religious episode which presents human despair and the consolation – and predicament – of faith.

8. One controversial interpretation of the text was that the torrential ode to faith is in fact parodistic. There is almost sarcasm in K’s pious declamation – in presenting devoted elegies the narrator is instead caught by doubts. “No, not one shall be forgotten who was great in the world. But each was great in his own way, and each in proportion to the greatness of that which he loved. For he who loved himself became great by himself, and he who loved other men became great by his selfless devotion, but he who loved God became greater than all… It is human to lament, human to weep with them that weep, but it is greater to believe, more blessed to contemplate the believer”. Really? The narrator is full of wonder for the appalling proof of faith demanded by God to Abraham. In the end the narrator, frenzied, seems to question its very questions and declares himself and his purpose belittled by the impenetrability of the very events he aimed at upholding: “Venerable Father Abraham! In marching home from Mount Moriah thou hadst no need of a panegyric which might console thee for thy loss; for thou didst gain all and didst retain Isaac… Thousands of years have run their course since those days, but thou hast need of no tardy lover to snatch the memorial of thee from the power of oblivion, for every language calls thee to remembrance”. It can be also recalled that in the prelude K. provides four alternative accounts of the binding of Isaac (and, for example, in tale no. 2 Abraham… “offered that and returned home. . . . From that time on Abraham became old, he could not forget that God had required this of him. Isaac throve as before, but Abraham’s eyes were darkened, and he knew joy no more”), or that he writes “Fear and Trembling” under pseudonym, or that the thesis was about Socrates’ irony, which he emulated throughout the same thesis…

8. Again, honour to our brave group this time starring Alex, Roman, Francisco, Cameron, Laura, Daniela, Angelina and Gavin.

9. Unfortunately, we can anticipate that Joe is travelling to Istanbul so there will be no class next Friday. The meetings will resume on Friday 19 March.

Kind regards, Joe and Laura

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