Friday, January 23, 2004

Keith M. Ellis, another comment writer from Crooked Timber [not a member as I had said previously] wrote me a note this evening. He was perfectly reasonable, though I had not been.
Here's what I wrote him in response. Sloppiness, Typos whatever:

I'm very tired. I'll respond in as much detail as I can later. People are rude in these arguments. To not take someone's ideas seriously is to insult them and that's all well and good. But I have a hatred of a sort of over determined intellectualism. 'designer's disease' I heard it called recently, maybe on CT. Linguistic analysis as a tool for the observation of and commentary upon the world, as opposed to merely upon itself, is something I find absurd. The study of internally consistent systems is not philosophy it is simply formal logic. The scientization [is that the word?] of all intellectual discourse frankly disgusts me. If you'll read my blog, however, you'll find I have no interest in religion or metaphysics. The truth of science, however, is used to reinforce the truth of the market and a technocratic ideal. Individuals become defined as unidirectional in their interests, and even choose to define themselves as such. This saddens me. Scientists who go to museums to see how the other half lives don't count for much.
My interest in legal argument as experience, as opposed to legal philosophy as idea -as science- comes from my interest in the inevitability of ambiguity in communication. I have no interest in systems or ideas as objects and quanta. I am interested in relations between and among those ideas and objects. I am interested in narrative: with all its limitations the basis of any and all understanding of the world AS WE EXPERIENCE IT. The curiosity basic to science- the search for concrete truths- is simple by comparison. A mathematician may by brilliant and 8 years old. A lawyer will not.

To equate consciousness with a clean functioning system, a model, as if to work towards an end is to make an argument from a teleology of mechanical process: it is rooted in history as much as in science. It also does not do a very good job of explaining how we actually behave. Create a computer with a desire- a need- to exist, to function. Create a program that learns by way of conditioned response Give that computer obstacles and threats to it's survival, and problems whose solutions contradict its reflexes, and it will become conscious. It will doubt.

It's never a matter of ideas and objects but the struggles between them. Designers hate that. They want their designs to be right. And they never are. Why is there never any discussion of an unconscious in designers' chatter? Because it implies that the designers are not in control of their own minds. Their taste for over determination is as good a demonstration of this as any. I find it frustrating that designers by their very nature can not know what 'over determinization' even means. Science does not recognize such a thing, nor should it, but any understanding of communication demands it.

I hate designers, I hate technocracy. I hate the twin ideologies of science and of markets. The world itself exists and people are greedy, but an awareness of both is not a 'belief' in either. My anger is ethical and logical, personal and political.

Well, I gave a long answer after all.

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