Re: MD Individuality

From: Matt the Enraged Endorphin (
Date: Thu Nov 21 2002 - 23:05:58 GMT

  • Next message: Matt the Enraged Endorphin: "RE: Objectivity (RE: MD Individuality)"

    Hi Platt:

    You took issue with what I called an "intuition." That's fine, but you
    immediately begged the question in your favor on the larger issue of the
    appearance-reality distinction. You claim you don't use an
    appearance-reality distinction, but, as far as I can see, you do.

    >Intuitions are first-order reality; language is second-order reality
    pointing to the first.

    >Pirsig's hot stove example illustrates the point: Quality is a
    >preconceptual, prelinguistic reality. Words come after the direct
    >experience, symbolizing the experience but in no way the experience

    >I do make a distinction between language and reality

    >we're both talking about conceptions after perceptions, second
    >order realities of "good dog" and "Basset Hound."

    These are all examples of an appearance-reality split. Now, my question
    is, where do you get the notion that intuitions are first-order reality and
    language is second-order reality? How can you just say it and expect to be
    right? When you say, "You make 'appearance' and 'language' synonymous.
    They are not," I wonder where you get your assuredness. Obviously you
    don't question it, but you state it like it should be obvious to me, even
    though I've already stated that it isn't obvious to me. The difference in
    "obviousness" between various statements is what I'm calling the difference
    in intuitions. Now, at this point, the difference on what "intuitions"
    means is semantic, but I'm trying to impress upon you how _not_ obvious
    your statements are to me. If you understand that, the rest of what I
    originally wrote might begin to make more sense.

    >I know. To postmodernists, society dominants everything, that we're all
    >slaves to social values. That's scary.

    Actually, here you're more thinking of people like Rousseau (not a
    postmodernist) and Foucault (a postmodernist). These people thought we
    were slaves to social values. Rorty's suggests that we realize our
    contingency, but in that realization isn't anything about being a slave.
    Its more a fact of life that we have to deal with and cope with, in better
    or worse ways.

    >Troublesome? How troublesome? Why change? Is there some social
    >agenda "pragmatists" have? I fear so.

    I've been trying to point out the troubles for a while now, so don't try
    and pretend I haven't ;-) As for a social agenda, it is very important to
    understand that pragmatism does not entail a political or social position.
    It is a philosophical position. That's why we get ironists like Foucault
    who are not liberals (along with liberals like Habermas who are not ironists).

    The point about Nazis is an important one, though. You've played on this
    theme before when you quoted Rorty's Introduction in Consequences of
    Pragmatism and my response is the same: the fact that pragmatism doesn't
    punch up any particular political or social position doesn't detract from
    it. I mean, people are having trouble around here to get the MoQ to stand
    irrevocably for one or another political position and I don't think it can.
     The point about the Nazis, rather than detracting from pragmatism, points
    out that we have to remain ever vigilent, as liberals, for dictators like
    Hitler, Stalin, and O'Brien (from 1984). Its not postmodernism or
    pragmatism that informs our desire for "preserving individual freedom" and
    our desire to minimize cruelty. Its our liberlism that does that.

    What Pirsig wants to do is provide a knock-down argument against Nazist
    degeneracy, but I follow Rorty in not knowing what a knock-down argument
    would look like. What Pirsig supplies is a foundation, something that will
    "hold up" the arguments we do make against Nazis: "You're very, very bad
    people." Rorty replies that he isn't quite sure why we need a foundation.
    Pragmatists question what that foundation actually does.

    One clarification. You said that, contra Rorty, you deny the
    "all-pervasiveness of language in determining experience." Pragmatists
    don't think that language determines our experience. Our experiences are a
    causal affair and trees and rocks have a causal effect on us just the same
    as words do.


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