[lit-ideas] Re: Tittles--a change of title

  • From: "John McCreery" <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2008 13:23:52 +0900


Robert Paul was kind enough to send me a PDF of a fascinating review of
Geertz Available Light, his last collection of essays, in which he
acknowledges his debt to Wittgenstein. I'll be that if anyone here is
interested and asks politely, he will send it to them, too.


On Thu, Jun 12, 2008 at 1:21 PM, John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>

> On Thu, Jun 12, 2008 at 12:52 PM, Phil Enns <phil.enns@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>> "How do you see the purposes differing in accounts of the incest taboo?"
>> It depends on the particular purpose.  There is of course Freud on
>> taboo.  Then there is Levi Strauss on the incest taboo.  And then
>> there is Derrida writing about Levi Strauss on the incest taboo.  One
>> is making a psychological point, another an anthropological point, and
>> the other a philosophical point.  Following Wittgenstein, there is no
>> essential quality that makes a particular point psychological, or
>> anthropological, or philosophical but rather an affinity between the
>> various things psychologists, or anthropologists, or philosophers have
>> to say about the examples they give.  As to finding this affinity, I
>> would refer back to Robert's quote from Wittgenstein: 'Don't think,
>> but look!'
> I wonder, though, if there doesn't come a point at which pointers to this
> or that example and "Don't think, but look!" becomes evasion, what lawyers
> would call unresponsive to the question.
> I long ago decided, for example, that Wittgenstein's anthropological
> disciple Geertz* is problematic in this sense. He does a marvelous job, for
> example, of transmuting Gilbert Ryle's discussion of twitches, winks and
> simulated winks into an argument for what he labels "thick description, of
> which my attempt to describe grandson Keegan's use of "Mommy whoop-whoop"
> could be taken as a meagre example. So far, so good. But when we read his
> ethnographic work, e.g., his oft-cited and taught "Deep Play: Notes on the
> Balinese Cockfight," we find ourselves left with the same basic gesture that
> informs the example of the old Jew recovering his sheep from Berber
> sheep-stealers in his elaboration of Ryle. A bit of critical problem setting
> leads to a well-told story that always ends, in effect, "You do see, don't
> you?"  But what if you don't?
> Here it seems to me that my question is not whether philosophers,
> psychologists and anthropologists have their own purposes when examining the
> same events. It is, rather, what, if anything, distinguishes the
> philosophers' purposes from those of their colleagues in other disciplines?
> I am not, I hasten to add, insisting on black and white, necessary and
> sufficient conditions; prototypes that blur at the edges are fine by me as
> long as the core is sufficiently distinct to make the difference
> intelligible. ("A featherless biped," says the savant, when asked "What is
> man?" "A chicken plucked and ready for cooking?" asks the wit. The joke
> pushes prototype beyond its usual limits but does not substantially affect
> its felicity.)
> So, I press Phil a bit, if Freud, Levi-Strauss and Derrida are exemplary of
> the differences you see between psychology, anthropology and philosophy,
> could you please spell that out a bit?
> John
> --
> John McCreery
> The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN
> Tel. +81-45-314-9324
> http://www.wordworks.jp/

John McCreery
The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN
Tel. +81-45-314-9324

Other related posts: