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Passions in Poetry

The Turn to Language: Philosophy in the 20th Century

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Brad
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0 posted 12-24-2000 08:20 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

We have certainly touched on this in certain places here but I like this succinct quote:

"I refer to what has been called the interpretive turn, or the turn to language. It involves a reversal of the relationsip that was traditionally held to obtain between descriptive vocabularies and their objects. The usual and common sense assumption is that objects are prior and therefore at once constrain and judge the descriptions made of them.  Language is said to be subordinate to and in the service of the world of fact.  But in recent years language has been promoted to a constitutive role and declared by theorists of various stripes (poststructuralists, postmodernerists, feminists, Bakhtinians, New Historicists, Lacanians, among others) to bring fact into being rather than simply report on them.  No longer is it taken for granted that poems come first and interpretations of them second, or that historical events come first and historical accounts of these events come second, or that molecules and quarks come first and scientists' models of molecules and quarks come second; in discipline after discipline the reverse argument has been powerfully made, the argument that the vocabulary a practitioner finds ready to hand -- the vocabulary that precedes his or her entrance into the practice and constitutes its prism -- limits, and by limiting shapes what can be seen.  If the categories available to you as a literary critic are lyric, drama, epic, and novel, you will see something identified as a literary work as one of these and the details of the work -- from large structural patterns to the smallest stylistic feature -- will be produced by your sense of what is appropriate to that category. And if the language of historical description is informed by concepts of progress, decline, consolidation, and dispersion, historical inquiry will prduce events that display those characteristics rather than the very different characteristics that might emerge in the wake of an alternative description."

Stanley Fish, "The Empire Strikes Back" in There's No Such Thing As Free Speech, and it's a good thing too" p. 56-57

Note: this does not mean that individuals create what they see, nor really does it imply any kind of solipsism or relativism; it means that the way we think is determined by linguistic factors in terms of a spectrum or matrix. It isn't saying that language is telling you what you can say at any given moment but that you do not have infinite choice from the start; you are limited by the historical, social, and linguistic factors present in your situation.

Okay, it that is all it is saying, then why is it so controversial?

Brad
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1 posted 12-25-2000 02:02 PM       View Profile for Swamp了aeryie   Email Swamp了aeryie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Swamp了aeryie

hmmm i'm not sure i got the whole idea of the above,BUT what i did get out of it is that indeed,free speech does not exist. I thouroghly agree with that. No matter how much one may rebel against 'the norm',no matter how free you want to make yourself one way or another we are always limited,the human brain is like a room with no doors or windows and you can put a rubber ball in that room and it will bounce back and forth off the walls,but never succeed in exiting "the room". i beleive the above is a similar thought. We have great resources we can use to express ourselves,and although those resources are vast,there is always a point at which we must stop,always a limit. Question is why?

"All art is an expression of pain."~John Lennon
jbouder
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2 posted 12-26-2000 01:12 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Brad:

Generally speaking, I agree with Fish's quote.  There are instances (and I think Fish might agree with me here, from you commentary) when a degree of precision is necessary in conveying a specific idea or message (as in medicine or the law) and, as a result, interpretive liberty is even further restricted.

"... you are limited by the historical, social, and linguistic factors present in your situation." could have come straight from Skinner, btw.    This is as true with human behavior as it is with language ... and just as complicated.  An example I heard recently was concerning bread.

When I say "bread", it is generally accepted that my saying "bread" is expressive and your reading of "bread" is receptive..  But if only if it was that simple.  If I hold my hand out and say "Bread?", I am manding or requesting bread.  If I point to the loaf on the counter and say "Bread", I am tacting or labeling something as being bread.  If you ask me what I want to eat and I answer, "Bread", we are engaging in intraverbal activity in our communication.  If you ask, "What is it that you eat, is soft, and is made from baked flour, water and yeast", and I answer, "Bread", I am drawing that conclusion based on the function (food), feature (soft and composition) and class (something edible) of bread.   So, as you can see, language is not merely receptive (taking in stimuli from our environment) and expressive (communicating it verbally or in print) but it is indeed limited (and even determined) by the social and linguistical factors present (hunger, the presence of bread, knowledge of the properties or components of bread, etc.).

I think this is only controversial when an arbitrary premise is inserted as a "social" or "linguistical" factor and this results in a change in the conventional interpretation (assuming here that the conventional interpretations resulted from a careful examination of the pertinent facts in proper historical contexts).  If there is no evidence to support the insertion of the controversial premise, the validity of the resulting conclusion is questionable (at best) or flat wrong (at worst).

Jim
fractal007
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3 posted 12-27-2000 03:03 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

I didn't really pay much attention to the note, but I will throw in my 2 cents here Sorry, lol, I'm in a hurry, so I couldn't read it and understand it)

Beliefs in society seem to be a major limiting factor in free speech.  I'm not just talking about religious beliefs.  I am religious, but I'm not afraid to voice my own opinions on a social issue if I don't agree with what's being said in my church.  It seems to be a phenomenon that has likely persisted since the beginning of civilized mankind(although it quite possibly took place among early humans, as it has been found that there may have been some form of belief in a "mother goddess" type entity, amongst early humans - judging from various documentaries on cavemen paintings).  But even in non-religious circles, there seems to be certain limitations.  For example, there are circles that would find it proposterous to suggest the notion of any sort of spirituality, because mankind evolved on its own, and it's so smart that it only thinks it has a spirit.  

But on the other hand, we have religious circles(ESPECIALLY Christian ones) which interpret the creation accounts in their holy books SOOOOO  literally that they shun everybody who even suggests the notion of evolution, whether theastic or random evolution.

So, I come to the crux of my statement here:
Freedom of speech, or lack thereof, depends upon the current ethos and ideal presented in the age/era in which we live.  In our society's case, there seems to be a bit of a resentment toward order and authority, and anything else that has to do with an afterlife or spirituality.
Craig
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4 posted 12-30-2000 09:40 AM       View Profile for Craig   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Craig


Im not sure that it is all that controversial, the main premise that poetry is somehow constrained by its evolutionary nature and so bound to recognizable types, labels or forms is a sound deduction. However to then extrapolate a cart before the horse argument from entirely different spheres of life and use that as a basis to argue that some kind of quantum poetic potential exists seems a little weak.

If you walk through the quote slowly and look at the mechanics of the idea in simple terms the smoke and mirrors become a little clearer.

The usual and common sense assumption is that objects are prior and therefore at once constrain and judge the descriptions made of them. Language is said to be subordinate to and in the service of the world of fact.

Here the horse before the cart scenario is laid out, an apple exists and the language describing the apple is a consequence of the apples existence.

But in recent years language has been promoted to a constitutive role and declared by theorists of various stripes (poststructuralists, postmodernerists, feminists, Bakhtinians, New Historicists, Lacanians, among others) to bring fact into being rather than simply report on them.

Heres the reversal along with a long list of supposed supporters to add a little weight. With this statement we are introduced to the possibility that the description of the apple could precede the knowledge of the apples existence.

No longer is it taken for granted that poems come first and interpretations of them second, or that historical events come first and historical accounts of these events come second, or that molecules and quarks come first and scientists' models of molecules and quarks come second.

Enter the first wisps of smoke; an apple exists and then the language that describes it; a description of an apple is put forward and then the existence of the apple is discovered. Both scenarios are well documented in the realms of science.  Leonardo describing a flying device with lateral spinning blades before the existence of the helicopter is a good example of the second statement. As is the theoretical descriptions of molecules and quarks, but to take these and other examples of this principle and attach them piecemeal to poetry is a decidedly sandy foundation on which to build.

. If the categories available to you as a literary critic are lyric, drama, epic, and novel, you will see something identified as a literary work as one of these and the details of the work -- from large structural patterns to the smallest stylistic feature -- will be produced by your sense of what is appropriate to that category.

Yep, I agree 100% with this statement, we are bound by categories and judge everything against a touchstone of historical and evolutionary understanding, but isnt that normally the way things work? In fact isnt it the use of those very same processes and categories that produce the seemingly inspirational horse cart discoveries? It could be argued that far from being quantum leaps of faith into uncharted territories the examples of descriptions preceding the objects could be taken as the heuristic application of existing rules and knowledge. Knowing that flowering trees generally produce fruit places you firmly on the path towards the description of an apple.


Is there any controversy in the statement as far as poetry is concerned? I dont think so, it lends some weight to the argument that critical analysis of poetry is restricted by the critics knowledge of the subject, but I think we already knew that. It tries to prove that an original thought or new form could be lost or dismissed because of our use of classification or labeling. This could be true but the history of poetry shows us that anything with merit generally survives to become part of mainstream and in doing so expands the touchstone knowledge base.

If one were to sum up the developments of poetry throughout history borrowing a catchphrase from a well-known motorcycle manufacturer would seem apt:

Evolution not revolution


Thanks for the chance to read and reply

fractal007
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5 posted 12-30-2000 05:59 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

Craig:

I know this may be a little funny, but here goes:

It sounds a lot like this discussion on language is similar to quantum mechanics.  At least some of the interpretations of it - namely those that say "a thing cannot exist unless it is percieved to exist".  Sorta like the "if a tree falls in the forest..." debate.  What we would call the sound of the tree falling in the forest is only the consequence of air molecules being bashed around by the shockwaves from the tree falling.  But does the "sound" exist if there is no one around to hear it, or do the basic mechanics of the "sound" only exist?  

Tying this into the evolutionary model of poetry, is it possible then, that all forms are the result of someone percieving something that another did not?  For example, [and I know this probably does not have much historical basis]suppose joe writes an epic called Smirnof.  Along comes Mike, who reads Smirnof, and notices that the descriptions of the fields of battle in Smirnof could be elaborated on.  So Mike writes "Battlefield of Glory", and gets criticized at first.  But he gains a following none the less.  

I'm not saying that all forms of poetry come from the perception of something on the outside.  I mean, Smirnof had to come from somewhere, right?
Brad
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6 posted 12-30-2000 11:38 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Fractal007,

It's an interesting comparison but I don't want people to think he means that thought, somehow magically, creates the world. That's not what Fish (or any other thinker in this tradition that I know of) is saying.  Language, in this case, determines the world (and poetry) that we see, that we react to, that we adapt to -- this "we" is problematic as well but I'll leave it for now. It follows from the belief that we can't get out of this thing we call body/mind, that all we can see is contingent on where and when we are (it's amazing that so many people -- not you personally -- accept this as common sense but don't apply it to philosophical questions). Fish is not against truth but against TRUTH -- undebatable, mystical, eternal, pure. Actually, he's not even against mystical or religious truths; he simply argues that he has never experienced these truths.

It's not that there are no absolutes, moral or otherwise, it's just that we can't get to them -- we can't know them -- because we are stuck in a situational world.

This is not a particularly new insight. Kant is the most famous to pronounce this but he also gives the key: transcendal idealism or God.

This quote is what you get if you drop God or transcendentalism or the Platonic reality out of the equation.

As a result, it doesn't really change anything much. It's not a proof against God (an impossible thing) but it's not a proof for God either. It's an explanation of how things work (Craig is right here) as Fish sees them.

It's a way of thinking that is often associated with the Left (which has a tendency of offer hyperbolic explanations of what such an insight could actually do -- utopianism still exists) because it opens the ground to more discussion, more politics, more contestations of how the world works and how the world should be run.

Specifically, Fish argues that truth comes from multiple interpretive communities (an abstraction that doesn't do justice to the actual complexity of what he means); truth isn't natural or organic or obvious or universal, it is historically determined within language groups.

For example, Shakespeare is one of the greatest writers in the English language.

Okay, nothing particularly controversial here but no longer can we call it a universal truth. No longer can I, who believes this, simply appeal to your ideal of universality or transcendental truth and convince you by a kind of brute force -- it just is and only when you understand it will you understand it. Teachers can do this by the way because they give grades, not because it's TRUE.

Nevertheless, the chances are that I can persuade you, given the time, to a certain agreement because we probably share certain historical, social affinities (we both speak English; we have an interest in literature; we had teachers who told us this and so forth).

On the other hand, if you say Shakespeare is a hack, you would probably have a very difficult time trying to persuade me of the value of this statement (it's not impossible). I don't believe it now and I don't know of a vocabulary that would persuade me in such a way that I would act on such a conviction. Indeed, you might say something that makes me see your point, might make me laugh,but I don't think I would stop returning to Shakespeare as a source of entertainment or of insight into writing.

You will not convince me by saying he is a dead white male.

Even if Shakespeare turned out to be a plagiarist, it wouldn't convince me that the plays were somehow less interesting. This is my bias and my interest in aesthetics. I think I'm right, I think it's true, but I won't say it's universal.

Because a hundred years from now it might be different.

This has happened by the way. Not with Shakespeare (at least not to my knowledge) with the fortunes of Donne, Shelly, and Milton. Before the coming of T.S. Eliot, Shelly and Milton were well respected by poets and critics alike (the Romantic movement can be see as an attempt to do Milton better than Milton himself). Donne was not. Eliot didn't like Milton and Shelly and for a time, their status in the academy (and with poets) was deflated for a time.  Eliot liked Donne and so his status was upgraded.

This changed and now all three are considered to be great poets.

Well, I'm still not completely convinced of Shelly.  

Brad

PS Sorry for the ramble. Got carried away. Try again later.  

Craig
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7 posted 12-31-2000 11:06 AM       View Profile for Craig   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Craig

Fractal007

If you take one of the often-quoted ideas from the study of quantum mechanics i.e. that measurement creates reality then yes this discussion on language is similar. The tree in the forest would need a little tweaking to bring it into the debate but Ill have a go:

A poet writes a work that describes something that has never before been written about in a form that has never previously been used is it a poem?

The evolutionary model of poetry would mean that we would refer to our touchstone to make a comparison judgement or measure whether the work was a poem. The argument put forward, as I see it, is that we might be wrong, our perception of what is and isnt poetry could be restricted by our historical understanding of what a poem is. Put simply our touchstone or basis of measurement is incomplete and so flawed.

Back to the forest:

If a tree fell while you had your eyes closed and you heard a quacking sound would you equate that to a falling tree or a passing duck? Your touchstone perception of the world would imply a passing duck, however when you opened your eyes to see the fallen tree your options would be to believe that either a passing duck masked the sound of the fallen tree or that the tree quacked as it fell. If the second option is chosen then quacking trees are added to your personal touchstone.

Back to our poet:

If the work created is a poem then our touchstone recognition process is enhanced by the new work, if the work is rejected our touchstone is still enhanced with another example of what a poem isnt.

These touchstones arent used solely in the realm of poetry though, everybody has them and uses them everyday to create pictures from descriptions, try this:

Close your eyes and picture a car the chances are youll have a vehicle with four wheels, right?
Now close your eyes and picture a racing car has the image changed? Has the original car become a little sleeker?
Now picture a Ferrari racing car- is the car now sleek and red?

Each picture was created from a touchstone template based upon the evidence you were provided with, its how you recognize a car and how you know a poem is a poem. The argument here is based on the fact that our touchstone is never complete and so our perceptions are equally incomplete, or in fact downright flawed.

If Joe created Smirnof in his mind he used the touchstone in the same way you used it to create the picture of the car, a basic template of a battle was elaborated on by Joe supplying himself through his imagination with more evidence or information about the battle. Each picture and enhancement would be created from a touchstone template. Mike would pick up where Joe left off and use his touchstone templates to further elaborate on the original idea. There is no necessity for Smirnof to have existed the only requirement is a touchstone template of a battle.


Brad

At first glance the touchstone explanation may seem at odds with debate on truth versus TRUTH, I think this is probably due to that little word with the big meaning UNIVERSAL. The touchstone is an amalgamation of everything we know or have been told or understand to be true on a personal level, in some cases it can be no more than a best guess based upon the information we have at that time. Time is an important factor that Ill try to come back to, it has some relevance to your Milton and co. example. Universal truth would work in a similar way (and as you have pointed out be equally flawed), the difference is that instead of a single personal touchstone this truth is arrived at by the comparison of multiple touchstones through debate. An explanation is in order here to keep things simple Id like go back to the tree and duck example  

Our forest listener faced with the fallen tree and associated quaking decides to add quacking trees to his/her touchstone. For that person quacking trees are a reality based upon their perceived experience, but for quacking trees to become a widespread truth quacking trees must be accepted by other people and added to their touchstone of knowledge. Lets say for the moment that ten people make up the social group that our listener belongs to, for quacking trees to become part of the groups belief our listener needs to convince a large proportion of the other nine members that they are indeed a reality. This is where it gets complicated, every individual has a touchstone but not all touchstones are equal, if for instance if the listener is the resident tree expert its likely that his/her claims would carry more weight (which is what happened in the Milton and co. example). Another deciding factor would be the social standing of the listener within the group, if the listener is the chief or head of the group, or s/he would carry more sway than the village fool.
This can throw up some strange results, whole groups of people can end up with seriously flawed touchstones, convinced into believing the strangest things by one or two individuals (the Shelly principle), cults of all kinds are born this way.

Why arent all touchstones the same? It would seem to make sense, the collective knowledge base should be expanded and enhanced for everyone by each revelation of accepted truth. It should but it doesnt, what we have is a result similar to a voting system, on occasion the votes are split, a schism exists and both camps wander off with differing touchstones. In the real world we can see the evidence in this in the belief or disbelief of God, each group holding a belief that is equally true for each group but at the same time creating the paradox that only one of them can be right. So how do we find out which one is right? Thats where time comes in, the knowledge base from which our collective touchstone is generated is forever growing over time, truth does, as you say change, after all our touchstones once contained the truth that the earth was flat. That truth was changed over time as our collective knowledge increased and a round earth was added to more and more touchstones. Ultimately every truth will be known, God will either turn up one day and prove he exists or a meteor will hit the earth and leave only one man alive who will deny his existence, either way the truth will out.

(Unless of course the last man standing has a flawed touchstone enter the Shelly principle   )


Thanks for the chance to read and ramble


[This message has been edited by Craig (edited 12-31-2000).]
Brad
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8 posted 12-31-2000 11:59 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

How do we read this differently?
Brad

PS What did I say wrong?
Craig
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9 posted 12-31-2000 12:36 PM       View Profile for Craig   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Craig

You read it differently by comparison to your own touchstone.

The strange thing is that on a personal level you cant be WRONG, at least up until the time that you change your touchstone view and even then you end up being right at least for a while.  

I think we may have a slight problem with this debate on truth, namely that we are both arguing the same points. Im banging away at the mechanics while you are busy with the consequences, the general consensus seems to be:

Truth is a transient entity that changes to match the available knowledge (or collective touchstone). Moreover truth exists on different levels allowing individuals to recognise differing versions of truth.

Ultimately this discussion becomes self-defeating, the ultimate truth is unobtainable due to the changing nature of the beast. What we are left with is a truth based on consensus with perhaps a few dissenting tree-quakers, (who may ultimately be right), or two diametrical views that could be equally true.

There is however an enigmatic offshoot to the touchstone theory that deserves some thought and that is how people use it to discern quality. Unlike truth quality is an unchanging entity, it exists or it doesnt exist and the strange thing is that most people can recognise it by comparison to the touchstone templates they posses but nobody can describe exactly what it is. Another phenomenon associated with quality is that it cant be taught it just is.

More?



[This message has been edited by Craig (edited 12-31-2000).]
Ron
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10 posted 12-31-2000 03:25 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Whoa!

I've been trying to find time to respond to this thread (I disagree with both Brad and Craig), but probably won't find that time until after the New Year (deadlines suck, btw). Still, while I can't yet pursue my own thoughts, I can't let that last premise slip by without some clarification.

Craig, if Truth is a moving target, how can Quality be any less so? Isn't quality just a reflection of truth? The closer something comes to our perceived truth, the more quality we assign to it?

I'll be back   
Brad
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11 posted 01-03-2001 01:35 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Yeah,
I don't understand this use of quality either.  Craig, what do you mean by that?  

And someone can be wrong because each individual actually has multiple touchstones that shift their priorities depending on the situation. Furthermore, touchstones are intersubjective -- the individual becomes a matrix of different priorities depending on the multiple language games we use.

But the only thing that follows from this is a pragmatic certainty as opposed to some kind of objective certainty.  Now, I think this pragmatic certainty opens up the possibility of more conversation, not less.  It allows the opportunity to question those catch phrases that no one questions.  At least, I hope it makes people think twice about a quest for permanence.

Jim,
Fish would agree that the Law requires a different vocabulary and he may even argue that it is more precise than everyday conversation (whatever that is) but I'm not sure he would consider it better. Better, for Fish, is defined as what works.

Brad
Craig
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12 posted 01-03-2001 04:45 PM       View Profile for Craig   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Craig


Ron/Brad

Im sorry I havent been back to offer an answer to any of your questions, a return to work and a bout of influenza have kept me pretty busy.


Ron, with regard to quality being bound to truth in some way I agree totally, quality is the main formulator of truth. Though I believe I can offer some evidence to prove their difference with regard to transience, unfortunately it will have to wait until my health improves. I do however have a quote, admittedly used out of context, that pointed squarely towards the notion of a non-transient truth may offer some illumination.

Evolution has shown that at any given moment out of all conceivable constructions a single one has always proved itself absolutely superior to the rest

Einstein


Brad, your claim of dual touchstones is appealing but I think a little flawed, probably due to my inept description, the touchstone I described is similar to a priori knowledge, here it is the sum total of all personal accumulated knowledge and belief. Two truths may exist in a social/collective touchstone but cannot exist in a personal one.

Any truth or judgement created by a person via reference to his or her own touchstone of knowledge or belief IS a total truth, at that time, to that person. It may be perceived to be an un-truth by another, referencing their touchstone, but that just brings us back to the notion that two or more truths can coexist in a collective touchstone system. That truth may be replaced within the persons touchstone with another truth and relegated to an un-truth, but the new emergent truth ensures that on a personal level by judgement of his/her own touchstone a person cannot be wrong.

This isnt to say that people cannot be wrong by reference to a social or collective touchstone, that would infer that anyone who stole from another was right to do so. The correct inference would seem to be that to that person, at that time, the right thing to do was steal.

Thats as much as I can manage right now, Ill try and get back later in the week.

Thanks again for the chance to read and reply.
Jamie
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13 posted 01-03-2001 07:07 PM       View Profile for Jamie   Email Jamie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Jamie's Home Page   View IP for Jamie

This has all been very interesting reading, but unless I have missed it there is one fact that has been overlooked or simply not mentioned. Nothing that is subjective can be accurately judged as either the truth or as being in error, however the truth in and of itself can not be submitted to subjectivity. Opinions can change but 2+2=4 is not debatable. A truth spoken before its time remains the truth. The character of truth will emerge unchanged from  any possible form of fair discussion, and there-in lies much of its glory and sublimity, for to unravel its mystery we would have to be as God.


Jamie

Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito. - Virgil.
"Yield thou not to adversity, but press on the more bravely".  



[This message has been edited by Prometheus (edited 01-03-2001).]
Brad
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14 posted 01-04-2001 10:53 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Craig,
I'll get back to you later.  

Jaime,
The distinction you're making is pretty much what many philosophers have been trying to dissolve. What is subjectivity? What is objectivity? How are they determined? I have no problems with 2+2=4 but my reasoning is that it is a very useful way to go about what we do -- it is a pragmatic truth; I don't rely or rather I see no reason to rely on a transcendental truth to see the value of the equation.  Even mathematics falls into the problem of language; it has the potential to be overturned by a superior (ie. more useful) form depending on the goals of a group.

This new group will use the same rhetoric as you are currently using now.  

I agree that knowing TRUTH is knowing something as if we were God and this is precisely what we can't do.

What exactly is a fair debate? It sound like what Habermas calls the 'ideal speech situation' and it is generally described as utopian.

What bothers me here is that both objectivity -- it's the truth -- and subjectivity -- it's my opinion, take it or leave it -- seem to limit conversation and debate. A way of ending the talk, of coming to a conclusion that is somehow final at least rhetorically. I'm not convinced that this is the best way to go.

Anecdote:
I was sitting in a Korean class a few years ago and a Korean American spoke up and argued that Korean was a more descriptive language than English. I should have kept quiet but I didn't; I responded that English has more words than any other language.

She replied that I should be more objective.

That is pretty much how I see the word 'objectivity' being used -- a ruse to cut off conversation and debate at precisely the moment where it endangers an opinion you don't want looked at too closely.

Thanks,
Brad
 
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