Thursday, May 15, 2014

Reality is relative to language?
Comment rejected 
I've said it before: you can't translate Mallarmé or Pushkin. There is no "disenchantment of the world" in the world as sense. Translation is required in order to function, but the resulting world, of mechanics qua mechanics, is a vulgarization, a low common denominator of experience. Bureaucratic form is universal and faceless bureaucrats may be a necessity, but only because banality is a part of life. It's not that there's a god in the details, or anything metaphysical, it's just the finest subtleties are available only in the grey areas between personal experience and the desire to communicate it. Any Platonism of language is bunk.

The paradox of anthropology is that you can't understand a culture fully if you're a part of it, and yet you can't understand it fully if you're not.
Max Weber was not Proust. Is my language that fucking oblique?

Claire Messud
One of the most widely read French novels of the twentieth century, Albert Camus’s L’Étranger, carries, for American readers, enormous significance in our cultural understanding of midcentury French identity. It is considered—to what would have been Camus’s irritation—the exemplary existentialist novel.

Yet most readers on this continent (and indeed, most of Camus’s readers worldwide) approach him not directly, but in translation. For many years, Stuart Gilbert’s 1946 version was the standard English text. In the 1980s, it was supplanted by two new translations—by Joseph Laredo in the UK and Commonwealth, and by Matthew Ward in the US. Ward’s highly respected version rendered the idiom of the novel more contemporary and more American, and an examination of his choices reveals considerable thoughtfulness and intuition.

Each translation is, perforce, a reenvisioning of the novel: a translator will determine which Meursault we encounter, and in what light we understand him. Sandra Smith—an American scholar and translator at Cambridge University, whose previous work includes the acclaimed translation of Irène Némirovsky’s Suite Française—published in the UK in 2012 an excellent and, in important ways, new version of L’Étranger.
Technocratic instrumentalism  requires that we ignore the obvious

Another response to Neil deGrasse Tyson. The earlier one here, with my comments. (mentioned below)

This time it's Massimo Pigliucci
Contra popular perception, philosophy makes progress, though it does so in a different sense from progress in science. You can think of philosophy as an exploration of conceptual, as opposed to empirical, space, concerning all sorts of questions ranging from ethics to politics, from epistemology to the nature of science. Imagine a highly dimensional landscape of ways of thinking about a given question (such as: do scientific theories describe the world as it is, or should we think of them rather as simply being empirically adequate?). The philosopher explores that landscape by constructing arguments, entertaining counter-arguments, and either discarding or refining a certain view. The process does not usually lead to one final answer (though it does eliminate a number of bad ones), because conceptual space is much broader than its empirical counterpart, which means that there may be more than one good way of looking at a particular question (but, again, also a number of bad ways). Progress, then, consists in identifying and “climbing” these peaks in c-space. If you’d like, I’ll send you the draft of a book I’m finishing for Chicago Press that expands on this way of looking at philosophy, provides a number of specific examples, and compares and differentiates progress in philosophy from progress in a number of allied disciplines, including science, mathematics and logic.
The real kicker is that he separates philosophy from logic, seeing them only as "allied", but then tries to square the circle, defending philosophy grounded both in itself and in the world. He defends it all by saying he's a scientist as well as a philosopher but he could just as well be a scientist and priest. "C-space" is the space of the imagination. When all that is solid melts into air, hot air becomes substance. When nouns become verbs, verbs become nouns. And now we have conceptual architects and financial engineers. All repeats.

Sean Carroll, philosopher physicist.
“Does God exist?” is the easy question; the hard question is, “Given that God isn’t here to give us instructions, how are we going to live our lives?”

I think most of the participants would agree that we didn’t answer our questions in any definitive way, but it was incredibly useful to hear the variety of thoughtful opinions among a group of smart people who agree on the basic ontology.
As if there were no history of secular intellectualism. Argument from/within an intellectual bubble economy: a ghetto. repeats, repeats, repeats.
The role of belief in religion is greatly overstated, as anthropologists have long known. In 1912, Émile Durkheim, one of the founders of modern social science, argued that religion arose as a way for social groups to experience themselves as groups. He thought that when people experienced themselves in social groups they felt bigger than themselves, better, more alive — and that they identified that aliveness as something supernatural. Religious ideas arose to make sense of this experience of being part of something greater. Durkheim thought that belief was more like a flag than a philosophical position: You don’t go to church because you believe in God; rather, you believe in God because you go to church.

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