New Courseworks Columbia Educacion

The Reality of the Derivatives Market

Instructor:Elie Ayache
Program: Social & Political Thought
Credit(s): 1
Date: Sunday, March 11, 18, 25, April 1
Time: 11 AM EST

1. We present the Black-Scholes-Merton model of derivative pricing, the problem it has solved and the problem it has created (known as ‘the volatility smile problem’). This problem is very challenging, not only computationally but also theoretically and philosophically. It is the reason why critical thinkers of finance who are not familiar with it have a narrow view of the derivatives market and its meaning, especially in relation with the future.
2. We investigate the foundations of abstract probability theory. The concept or ‘random variable’, introduced by Kolmogorov in 1933, and its success in formally showing the strong law of large numbers, point to a conception of randomness that lies deeper than the intuitive view of randomness and random generators. It shows distinctions that thought has to make, when it thinks the world, between what we call the ‘concrete’ and the ‘real’. It is at this level of the archaeology of thinking that the category of money emerges. Money is an alternative way of wiring the logic of the concrete and the real, hence an alternative way of introducing the matter of contingency inside the formalism of possibility and probability.
3. We extend the argument from money to the material exchange of derivatives and their pricing technology. When the advent of the Black-Scholes-Merton model is interpreted as a technological revolution which involves actors (market-makers) and technological means (writing of derivatives), it is shown that the market, thus understood in its full writing capacity, recaptures the full concreteness of the world, and hence of the future, in ways that escape abstract probability theory. The consequence, however, is to give a new meaning to the word ‘reality’, which may be incompatible with the one issuing from possibility and probability.

Image: Luc Tuymans, Sniper, 2009, Oil on canvas

Layers of Generativity:
Axial Age, Modernity, Technological Civilization, (Reconstructing Futures II)

Instructor:Davor Löffler
Program: Media & Technology
Credit(s): 1
Date: TBA
Time: 2:00 - 4:30 PM EST

When, where, and why did the mode of abstraction “philosophy”, esp. “the universal” as a relational point of collective commensurabilization appear? Why are there distinct epochal structures of mathematical renderings of the world? What causes time regimes such as the cyclical, oscillatory, absolute or linear to emerge and what are the differences in their ontogenerative potentialities? How does the cumulative increase of depths of abstraction relate to historical types of aesthetics, subjectivity, and cognition? How can the apparent coevolutionary relation between media, economy, metaphysics and world-relations be conceptualized? These questions can be answered through the formalization of the evolution of culture and mind. The examination of the “Early Expansion of Cultural Capacities” (Haidle et al.) surfaced a formal pattern of macroevolution: each historical stage of reality structure appears as the abstraction and operative recursion of the previous reality structure. The pattern of recursion continues beyond early evolution and unfolds as civilizational history. This course will examine history under the notion that stages in cultural complexity can be conceptualized as matrices of event-realization, wherein each stage forms a layer of generativity which is recursively integrated by the following one, unfolding a new continuum of events and relations. The Greek Axial Age is characterized as the “Zenon-Matrix” of event-realization, which is recursively integrated in Modernity, and which is defined as the “Laplace-Matrix” of event-realization. With the emergence of the technological civilization, we are witnessing another recursion in which the “Laplace-Matrix” of Modernity is abstracted and recursively integrated, rendering genetic spaces into objects within the “Conway-Wolfram-Matrix”. The extrapolation of the ontogenerative pattern of recursion not only allows for a “deep futurology” as the macroevolutionary informed derivation of future temporalities and world-relations, but also for asking the question whether the force that chiseled history through humankind into the world will at some point detach from its medium again, instantiating another major evolutionary transition.

Social Networks:
From Metaphor to Diagram to Machine

Instructors:Tiziana Terranova & Mohammad Salemy
Program: Media & Technology
Credit(s): 1
Date: March 6, 13, 20, 27
Time: 1 PM EST

What difference does the 'social' make to the network and the network to the 'social'? Social Network Analysis is usually considered by critical media studies as a regressive ontology of the social, which it reduces to quantifiable relations between individuals and which can be then dismissed to a material enactment of the ideology of neoliberalism. The course proposes a different interpretation of SNS which combines a media archaeology of the stratifications of Internet protocols (from TCP/IP to HTTP to the Open Graph) with a genealogy of social network analysis as a model of society according to a genealogy of the descent (herkunkf) and emergence (entstheung) of the social network as model and medium. The course traces the genealogy of the social network from structural anthropology and sociometry to mathematical studies of the spread of 'contacts and influence' in populations towards the more recent turn towards big-data based network science and social physics.

It considers the ways in which this genealogy/archaeology can be seen to produce a shift from the deployment of the social network as metaphor to diagram and finally machine in contemporary hypersocial media assemblages. Is it possible to force an interpretation of the social network which does not reduce it to a manifestation of an underlying neoliberal ideology but also as diagram of relationality inducing a widespread experimental and speculative form of reasoning transversal to humans and machines? Can the networked social be seen as less a collection of individual and more like an entangled milieu entailing the proliferation of 'differences without separability' in Denise Ferreira de Silva terms?

Image: HANNE DARBOVEN Ein Jahrhundert-ABC, 1970-2004

Introduction to Forensic Audio

Instructor: Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Program: Art & Curatorial Practice
Credit(s): 1
Date: March 31, April 7, 14, 21
Time: 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM EST

The seminar focuses on my research & practice as an artist: the architectural aesthetics of sound and voice and its application to politics and law. The seminar will focus on new methodologies and novel forms that can potentially be developed to respond to the prevalence of surveillance technologies. Through the exploration of listening practices the participants will focuses on the forensic use of acoustics, language and phonetic dimensions of legal or political issues. The seminar will also explore the changing role of the image and its proximity to sound in the age of the Internet and mass distribution of signal.

Image: View of Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Contra Diction (speech against itself) at Kunsthalle St Gallen, 2015. Mixed media. Photo: Stefan Jaggi. Courtesy of the artist.

Theory & Object:
Philosophy of Science in the twentieth century, from Carnap to Grünbaum

Instructor: Reza Negarestani
Program: Critical Philosophy
Credit(s): 3
Date: Sundays, April 8, 15, 22, 29, May 6, 13, 20, 27, June 3, 10, 17, 24
Time: 12:00 PM EST

This course provides a survey of motivations, trends and directions in the philosophy of science in the twentieth century. During twelve sessions, we shall engage with both introductory materials and in-depth issues when necessary. In addition to underlining the pertinence of philosophy of science today, we shall focus on trajectories which specifically engage with the problems of modern philosophy from Hume and Kant to Wittgenstein and Russell and in doing so, they also point to new problems and conceptual territories hitherto hidden to or ignored by general philosophy. To this end, we will closely examine the works of such leading figures as Carnap, Hempel, Reichenbach, Stegmüller, Putnam and Grünbaum.

Image: The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even; Marcel Duchamp, 1923

Improbable Noise:
A Multilevel Account of Randomness and Unpredictability

Instructor: Inigo Wilkins
Program: Critical Philosophy
Credit(s): 2
Date: April 28, May 5, 12, 19, June 9, 16, 23, 30
Time: 10 AM EST


This seminar develops a multi-level account of noise, exploring the associated notions of randomness and unpredictability across different disciplinary contexts. This will include its scientific conception in information theory and cybernetics, and its relation to thermodynamics, dynamic systems theory, evolutionary biology, and complexity theory. It will show how noise can be understood within a functionalist-computationalist philosophical framework, drawing on Hume and Kant via Sellars’s inferentialist account of reason, and elaborating its pertinence to the project of Artificial General Intelligence. It will examine the dynamics underlying the neurophenomenological experience of noise, and how it is understood within the predictive processing architecture postulated by contemporary cognitive science. We’ll then look at how noise can be understood in economic theory, before exploring the particularly sonic aspect of noise and its use in music. The aim is to demystify noise - to counter the neo-liberal politics of self-organising randomness and the tendency to fetishize indeterminacy in contemporary art - by showing how constrained randomness is intrinsic to the functional organisation of complex dynamic systems, including higher cognition, and how the navigation of noise is a necessary condition of reason and consequently of freedom.

Image: Victor Morillo, Weightless, Digital painting, 2016

Kant’s Circle of Revenge:
A close encounter with Critique of Pure Reason

Instructor: Reza Negarestani
Program: Critical Philosophy
Credit(s): 3
Date: October 15, 22, 29, November 5, 12, 19, 26, December 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
Time: 1:00 – 3:30pm EST

Throughout this course, Jay Rosenberg's succinct yet fairly accurate observation that "Kant is hard to access" shall be our presupposition in engaging with the work of Immanuel Kant.

This seminar promises a close reading and engagement with one of the most significant works in the history of philosophy. Over the course of twelve sessions, we shall tackle the hydra of philosophy which is the Critique of Pure Reason. In our engagement with Kant's magnum opus, we will investigate the historical context within which it has been written. Using Marburg School's motto 'Back to Kant' as our guiding principle, this course offers a syncretic perspective on Critique of Pure Reason through commentaries of neo-Kantian figures such as Hermann Cohen and Paul Natorp as well as more contemporary exegeses by the likes of Wilfrid Sellars, John Niemeyer Findlay, Jay Rosenberg and Sebastian Rödl.

Image: Martin Isaac, 2016

Collapse & Reconfiguration I & II:
Introduction to Alt-Woke Praxis

Instructor: Alexandra Hedako Mason
Program: Social & Political Thought
Credit(s): 2
Date: Saturdays, October 7 – November 25
Time: 1 PM EST

Social relations are determined by economic forces. Agrarian surplus sustained nation states, necessitated labor, and bore the development of innovative tools, which contributed to migration and collective learning across the planetary social sphere. Acceleration describes economic forces as a levelling process and this process as the primary driver for dynamic social transformation. Acceleration emphasizes the role that capitalism plays as a revolutionary-historical force, intensifies this process, and forces it to transcend the threshold of its monopolist barriers, to fulfill its imperative:the crisis of its self-destructive enclosure. As articulated most explicitly in Marx’s Capital Vol. III, acceleration is the process itself: capitalism- creates the conditions necessary for its collapse.

Acceleration-ism is a theoretical orientation, a political epistemology, and a post-vitalist topography of this unbound process of accelerated, self-destructive capital that flows through the nodes of economics, technology, culture/society, and politics in intersecting and intensifying feedback; the fractal-complex of these correlational and codependent domains propels history toward novel, alien plateaus: futurity. The fundamental tenet of accelerationism, the article of faith which underpins the discourse, is an understanding of history in which productive relations determine social and political relations.

Futurism is a misnomer as it implies an anticipation of futurity, when in reality the “future” has already arrived. Etymologists disagree over the exact origins of the polygenetic word “hip” within AAVE lexicon. Most chart its origins to the Wolof word “xipi”, which means: “to have your eyes open, to be aware.”

Cybernetics derives from the Greek κυβερνητική (kybernetikos) -- meaning “good at navigating” or “good at steering.” “Hip,” “hep,” and “woke” speak to a tendency to navigate the contours of this process through the lens of Blackness out of necessity -- to be aware so that one can survive. “Stay woke” implied that this tendency was an implicit, intuitive mode of existing.

“Woke” - a term we’ve always hated and have come to hate even more - represents an epistemology limited in scope as it only processes a time-space where there are no true futurities, due to the ways a capital-driven economy operates and all notions of a future are compressed into the present. “Woke” informs a reactivity and a nomadic entity connected to this modern mode of reactionary politics.

Within this seminar, we plan on exploring the concept of what it means to be "altwoke," through a series of readings and guest lecturers. Each invited speaker will help advance the coordinates that works together to construct a larger framework.

The first module will describe the nature of Collapse, the event horizon of this process, its origins, how we facilitate it further, and why anyone would advocate “accelerating the process” at all. Here we dispel the notion that the process is entirely blind as it can’t really function without the actors in its network who determine the interrelational causes which determine its direction over time. Instead our focus is more about aiding abetting the process via specific agents.

The second module will center around Reconstruction after the debris settles. Swapping out old frameworks for new ones, these are some potential new ways of thinking and being that we propose.

Art & Meaning I:
Mood, Vibe, System, and Data Geometry

Instructor: Peli Grietzer
Program: Art & Curatorial Practice
Credit(s): 1
Date: January 24, 31, February 7, 14
Time: 4 PM EST

This seminar constructs a mathematically informed interpretation of a classically romantic literary-theoretic thesis: that a work of art can aesthetically communicate an ineffably complex holistic understanding of the real world, which we might call the work’s ‘aesthetic meaning.’ Drawing on a generalization of ‘deep learning’ (“artificial intuition”) systems and on elementary algorithmic information theory, we describe a kind or aspect of aesthetic meaning—‘ambient meaning’—that may have a special resonance with Modernist and avant-garde approaches to aesthetic meaning, as well as with the concepts of aesthetically sophisticated cultural-materialist thought of the kind that theorist like Sianne Ngai, Jacques Rancière, or Raymond Williams practice.

‘Ambient Meaning,’ as we’ll call it, is the sensible ('sensate') representation of a virtual, diffused, immanent structure -- the representation, by a work of art, of some systemic real-world structure akin to a mood (Heidegger), cultural logic (Jameson), sensorium (Rancière) or even ideology (Althusser/Ngai). In part I of this seminar, we will familiarize ourselves with the fundamentals of deep learning theory and information theory, and offer the hypothesis that the ‘ambient meaning’ of a work of art is, mathematically, the lower-dimensional manifold structure of the work's imaginative landscape in intersubjective input-space.

(The seminar requires no prior mathematics or computer science background, but patience for deductive reasoning is recommended.)'

Image: Endogen Depression 2013 (The Box, La) Installation View Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Theory & method for a non-curatorial exhibition practice

Instructor: Stefan Heidenreich
Program: Art & Curatorial Practice
Credit(s): 1
Date: Monday, December 18 and January 8, 15, 22.
Time: 3:30 - 6:00 EST

The goal of the seminar is to prepare an uncurated, collaboratively organized art exhibition, to be held in 2018. The discussions about my text "Against Curating" led to the decision to set up a platform infrastructure for a new type of art exhibition. It includes social media, public participation in the selection process, collaborative and open discussions, and a globally distributed geo-located form of display. The research for the show will take a look at historical examples of non-curated exhibitions, namely the salon des refusés, the salon des indépendants, and artists' societies and Künstlervereine of the 19 century. Results of the research will help to launch a crowdfunding campaign and inform the design of the infrastructure and the display.

Structuralism, Poststructuralism & the Pure Form of the Subject

Instructor: Katerina Kolozova
Program: Critical Philosophy
Credit(s): 1
Date: Saturday, November 25, December 2, 9, 16
Time: 1 PM EST

DESCRIPTION: The course will revisit some of the themes present in my publication from 2014, The Cut of the Real: Subjectivity in Poststructuralist Philosophy (New York: Columbia University Press). We will focus mostly on the question of subjectivation. It will be based on a close reading of Judith Butler and Michel Foucault, and in particular of what I see as the amalgamation of their theses, namely Psychic Life of Power (1997) by Butler. We will do so through the lenses of de Saussure’s structuralism, Marx’s objectivism and Irigaray’s critique of the speculative reason. The crisis of the poststructuralist theory of the subject is tackled in The Cut of the Real

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