Wednesday, October 20, 2010

note taking. comments posted at Leiter
Joseph Streeter: "As a historian, I find it interesting that Rosenberg avoids Williamson's point about history, which is surely a discipline with a good claim to intellectual rigour, and a discipline productive of knowledge."

Rosenberg has already stated: "History is bunk"
Having come this far, scientism has the resources to explain the frustrations and the failure of the social sciences and history, and it provides a firm basis on which to establish reasonable expectations about the prospects for the human sciences, qua sciences.

The nature of meaning and its at-best merely instrumental grasp on real events in our brains and in the world gives scientism manifold reasons not to expect history and the historical versions of the social sciences to provide anything more than diverting stories, post hoc explanations and very short term expectations about the human future. But there is a much deeper reason to be pessimistic about the uses of history: reason enough to conclude that Santayana’s or Churchill’s reasons for taking history seriously—to know the future–will never be borne out.
As I've said in the past, I'm never sure what philosophers mean by the terms "humanism" and "naturalism." To a historian, Humanism originates in the renaissance with a reengagement with the past. To a philosopher it centers on the Enlightenment and an optimistic sense that the past is something that can be left behind. Similarly, naturalism has become synonymous with scientism, while Santayana was once considered to be a naturalist. Is he still?
A recent example of why history is useful [Crooked Timber on Graeber]
comments posted at NewApps on the same subject
Cogburn: "Where to begin on how awful this is? O.K. Let us start here. Arthur Danto and Noel Carroll are two of the greatest living analytic philosophers, and it's an insult both to theorists of art and naturalists to a priori dismiss the labors of Danto and Carroll and those of us who cherish them. It's just ridiculous. "

Regarding Carroll and Danto, I'm as disgusted by them as you are by Rosenberg. I'm disgusted by him as well, for other reasons. At the link to [Leiter] you'll find another, to a discussion of David Graeber on the history of money.

Danto's arguments about art, and Duchamp in particular, are founded as much on wishful thinking as the rationalist fantasies of economists that Graeber mocks. The genesis of Duchamp's art is as clear as day to anyone who pays more attention to history than philosophy. For the image [linked in my comment]: 2 paintings/2 porcelain figures- 2 works for public view/2 for "private".

The relation of professional philosophers to the arts is condescension and then fandom.
[fandom by definition is unanalytical]
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Robin James: "It strikes me that these styles of theorizing--lit crit, hermeneutics, existentialism, etc--are all being branded as "soft" and "trivial" as compared to the "hard" and "serious" sciences. Think about that verb, "flout": teenagers flout the authority of their parents; some might argue that Celiene Dion flauts in the face of good taste. "Flauting" is a sort of immature, baseless sort of opposition. It's _girly_. Even dictionary.com notes that it comes from flute-playing (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/flout), which is a feminized activity. "

You're using all the terms that Rosenberg objects to since as he says explicitly, in the link I posted at Leiter: the study of history is pointless. But you're also using term to discuss art that Jon Cogburn and Noel Carroll would belittle as secondary to the objective[!] analysis of intent. I'll point out again that such arguments are perfectly in line with the claims of Antonin Scalia regarding the Constitution.

What was Shakespeare's intent in giving us Shylock? Can one prove objectively and absolutely that Celiene Dion's vocalizations are pat, shallow, and an expression of condescension towards her audience? No. But If I wanted to try I'd have to go through the history the study of vocal patterns in speech and perhaps even facial expression. She's a faker and a formalist, but then so were Sinatra and the Rolling Stones.

Language in use is form, text, and subtext. There is no univocality in practice. If I say "I love you, baby!" not only are you under no obligation to accept, you are under no obligation even to agree. "No, you don't" is the appropriate response as often as not. Philosophy has come so far in the denial of subtext as a category in philosophical speech that the "cafe revolutionary" is no longer simply a hypocrite but something that cannot logically exist.

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