Thursday, September 30, 2010

note taking/posted elsewhere
As an outsider I found the assumptions that this paper questions much more disconcerting than the paper itself. But then I'm still shocked by the references to philosophy as science. Any defense of intuitions as doing more than describing the assumptions of the speaker, alone or as one of a group, is an argument from theology.
Some philosophers think that something’s having intuitive content is very inconclusive evidence in favor of it. I think it is very heavy evidence in favor of anything, myself. I really don’t know, in a way, what more conclusive evidence one can have about anything, ultimately speaking. (Kripke 1980, p. 42)
Is this really where Quine's reference to "the supposed[!] boundary between speculative metaphysics and natural science" gets us, to a reenactment 30 years later of the failures of "scientific" Freudianism and Marxism? You create a formal structure and try to give it a foundation, but then the ground shifts. The structure is intact, but what's it represent?

Ignoring the questions of sample size, intuitions show either or both of two things: the values of human beings socialized in various ways according to their cultures, and/or the structure of human consciousness and habit, as constructed by the biological attributes that separate us from other animals and perhaps to a lesser degree from each other.

It's bad enough listening to lectures from scientists and technocrats on the irrelevance of culture, but the "research model" has spread like the plague. I've read three defenses of the humanities today, all of them by philosophy professors. They weren't very good; the authors spent half their time distancing themselves from what they were trying to defend.

The great art historian Erwin Panofsky described the birth of modern humanism in the Renaissance in the separation of the sciences and the humanities that had been unified in the Middle Ages, under the Church. But... "If the anthropocentric civilization of the Renaissance is headed, as it seems to be, for a 'Middle Ages in reverse'... " He wrote that in 1955.

The arts are the most intimate empiricism. Specifics are prized over generalizations. The word "individual" is a mass noun. By the logic of the arts a written description of any single human being should seem as irreducible to you as you are to yourself. In the world of experience, ideas aren't the manifestation of the ideal they're the vulgarization of life lived. That's the contradiction between philosophy as you practice it and the humanities.

Politics is perspectival and feminism is politics. It seems to me the academic study of politics should be an adjunct to politics outside of the academy, not the other way around. I remember reading something once about the risks of aestheticization.


I'll repeat a comment I wrote elsewhere, though in response to this discussion and a third:

'The arts are the most intimate empiricism. Specifics are prized over generalizations. The word "individual" is a mass noun. By the logic of the arts a written description of any single human being should seem as irreducible to you as you are to yourself. In the world of experience, ideas aren't the manifestation of the ideal they're the vulgarization of life lived.'

That's the contradiction between philosophy as now practiced and the humanities. Defenses of the humanities by philosophy professors are defenses of generalities because it's the only language you know. That's a loss.

Reflection in and with the act of writing (writing as literature) is engaging with questions regarding your choices of terms as structure: It's a professor asking "Why does my writing read like an end of year financial report? What is the sensibility, what are the values made manifest in it?" Literature is the ironization and examination of intuition, of the sort Derrida does so gracelessly (at least in translation).

Literature is writing to describe the writer writing and his or her perceived relations to the world. Art isn't "creative" it's observational. Creativity is no more than "inventiveness". Inventiveness is the Cartesian model of art, the nature of the "I" is assumed. Cartesian art is illustration, describing assumptions.

"Science is the study of facts and philosophy the study of values. Conflating the two in favor of facts, values become assumed. Values assumed all questions are seen as those of expertise. Expertise as the goal terms of measurement are assumed. Curiosity is defined by the frame, values by the frame moral worth by the frame." [from a few years ago]

A philosopher engaged in the study of externalities ignores the observing observer, himself, imagining that he's on solid ground. His values become assumptions.
What does it mean that the language used to discuss rather than describe individual experience is now so bureaucratic in form? What are the values manifest in the architecture of contemporary academic language?

Grammar has no moral presence in the world, but every speech act has a moral aspect. The words "I love you" have a very specific very limited set meanings but the moment they're spoken meanings multiply towards infinity: tone, cadence, context. And the speaker's understanding of them may well be wrong, ask your ex. Literature catalogues those infinite possibilities. Philosophy ignores them in favor of grammar and "ideas".

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