Friday, September 23, 2011


note taking. comment at Leiter, rejected
I wish Romano had done a better job, but there was more substance to his arguments than Stanley's. On Davidson and language, Romano should have been more direct. As any professional translator will tell you, translation is transliteration. Davidson would seem to think that word is empty.

To a humanist of Romano's tradition it seems as if philosophy in its search for universals as primary structures has given us no more than universals as surface generalizations, often useless, counterproductive, or reactionary. To use Stanley's example from his conversation with Ann Stoler, the question of whether a table is white or off-white,  reddish or bluish, (our sees color differently) is less interesting to me than whether a Greek man is white or not. [ethnicity] My regular response to anyone who claims the centrality of non-contradiction to 'serious' intellectualism is to ask that question about Jews. The answer is that whiteness depends on context.

The "extended mind" is only one example where a contextual reading of a philosophical project seems more interesting than the project itself. It's a truism to say that we use objects to orient ourselves in the world. But to say that we externalize ourselves rather than internalizing the world seems more a statement of ideological commitment than reason. I think immediately as I've said elsewhere of the philosopher dude and his angry girlfriend: "No baby... please... I understand you... you're a part of me! I have an extended mind!"

It's interesting, again thinking in and about context, that the transition from internationalization to externalization in philosophy of mind seems to mirror the conservative/neoliberal transition in politics. The arguments over the past century for the primacy of misreading, of bias, of subjectivity and "méconnaissance" (of internalization) have turned into claims for its opposite. [as if the answer to false humility were open arrogance] These claims when made elsewhere are the foundation of neoliberalism. Is this academic philosophical change based on reason or rebellion? Alex Rosenberg's argument is that philosophy works its way outside of history but it's only fair to read his claims in light of history. It's interesting that Jason Stanley's father, whose arguments come into some abuse from Stanley, is the author of "The Technological Conscience: Survival and Dignity in an Age of Expertise." [new link]

And given the long and short, only 100 year, history of futurism, what are we to make of the new vogue for arguments that refer to the body as a "biological skin-bag". [the phrase is Andy Clark's] Anyone with a reasonably wide range of historical knowledge will read that phrase spontaneously (without thinking) as much for subtext as for text. Is that reflex in error?
The link is to a short memorial by J. Stanley for his father. It's obvious the son is still fighting the same fights.

The question isn't whether or not formal logic is a waste of time but whether there can be a formal logic of behavior: of values, politics and economics. There will never be a formal philosophy of action that is not sharply prescriptive and authoritarian. If the world was not designed by authority there is no reason to think it can be well managed by it.

The formal philosophy of language is formal economics without the risk of having to run away from contradictory evidence.
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continued here.

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