[lit-ideas] Re: Valid-Some Thoughts

  • From: wokshevs@xxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 4 Jan 2008 16:03:34 -0330

I'm not clear why John McC asks for yet further articulation of the "logic"
underlying transcendental claims after all that has been said on this matter
over the past couple of weeks, at least. Most recently I offered as an example
of a transcendental claim the one Rorty makes in the quotation John offered us
... yesterday I think it was. I also briefly outlined the logic underlying
Rorty's claim. Part of that logic involves the performative self-contradiction
Rorty's claim displays - a feature which renders his claim false. 

For the record, I can't recall ever saying that I knew, or was confident in
knowing, the "Truth." Indeed I don't even understand what it means to say that,
either in attribution or self-description. (Religious views were always
unintelligible to me philosophically. Though I appreciate the aesthetics of
certain religious celebrations, narratives and liturgies.) And it should be
said that I have stood corrected many times; indeed some claim I only stand in
order to be corrected. 

John offers us an interesting biographical sketch, and I'm sure we are all
grateful to him for such convivial disclosure. But biography has no epistemic
relevance to philosophical argument, as far as I can see. It may help to
explain how one comes to hold a set of beliefs, but no justification of
judgement or action is possible via such description/recitation.

Walter O

Quoting John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>:

> On Jan 4, 2008 5:53 AM, <wokshevs@xxxxxx> wrote:
> > For some time now, I have wondered what exactly the allure of Rorty's
> > writing
> > was all about. He was a very articulate writer, no doubt, and very
> > well-versed
> > in the major texts of a number of philosophical fields. But it is
> > specifically
> > his attraction to people outside of philosophy that intrigues me -
> > students of
> > history, sociology and literature, for example. Is it that he is basically
> > saying what many of us intuitively believe to be the case, but rendering
> > it in
> > prose more rhetorically elegant and philosophically informed than we are
> > able
> > to produce ourselves?
> Consider the role of uncertainty in people's lives. I will use my own case
> as an example but suggest that it illustrates larger trends.
> I grew up in a pious Lutheran home where going to church was a fact of life.
> The only possible reason not to was being sick in bed. In our happy corner
> of the 50s, heroes were heroes and villains were villains. The United States
> of America was, no doubt about it, the greatest country in the world.
> My first taste of disillusionment was noticing the discrepancy between what
> was preached on Sunday and how people behaved the rest of the week,
> especially during a traumatic time when, contrary to such scriptures as
> "Blessed are the meek," "Turn the other cheek," "Love them that hate you,"
> my father was engaged in a nasty faction fight that split his church and
> left my mother repeatedly in tears. Like Walter, if only in this one
> respect, he was a man utterly confident that he knew the Truth and would
> never back down.
> I went off to college still hoping, however, that, while religion had failed
> me, I might still find Truth in philosophy. Instead, I found logic,
> analytical philosophy of science, and enough Aristotle and British
> Empiricism to persuade me that, far from finding the Truth, what I had
> learned to do was parse philosophical statements, identify their weaknesses,
> and continue an endless debate with no end in sight. Meanwhile, around me
> the world was changing. The Vietnam war, the Hippies, the assassinations of
> the Kennedys and King, the Civil Rights movement, feminism, the Great Leap
> Forward and the Cultural Revolution, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the
> collapse of the USSR. More and more of my friends had directly experienced
> divorce, single parenting, step-parents, step-siblings. Here and there the
> certainties with which I'd been raised endured, especially in my parents
> generation, in the South where most of them lived, in Bible-beaters and
> race-baiting politicians. Later, doing fieldwork in Taiwan and living and
> working in Japan, I found people every bit as nice (and as nasty) as my
> parents could be, whose fundamental assumptions were, in fact, dramatically
> different. But that, I suggest, was only confirmation of what our century
> has taught so many of us in so many different ways. Beware the man who tells
> you, "I know what the Truth is."
> Rorty speaks to that experience and persuasively tells stories with which I
> (and, it appears, many others) easily identify. To a man convinced that he
> knows what Truth is, we can only appear irrational, illogical, seduced
> instead of convinced. He can, as other Bible-beaters do, insist that he
> knows the Truth and that we can read it right here, pointing to his sacred
> texts. Why these? his audience asks. "Because they contain the Truth" he
> says. But, his interlocutor replies, that's what the people who want me to
> read the Bhagavad Ghita, the Lotus Sutra, the Koran, The Interpretation of
> Dreams or The Little Red Book also say. Why are you right, and they're
> wrong?
> Walter might, for example, having claimed that his transcendental
> demonstrations are convincing, offer a demonstration. I am very interested,
> indeed, to see how he gets from "Some such assumption is necessary" to "This
> assumption is always and everywhere true." But appeals to authority won't
> do. Let's see the logic.
> John
> John McCreery
> The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN
> Tel. +81-45-314-9324
> http://www.wordworks.jp/

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