RE: MD NAZIs and Pragmatism

From: Matt the Enraged Endorphin (
Date: Sun Feb 16 2003 - 03:37:14 GMT

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    DMB, all,

    Platt asked me recently what "betterness" is for pragmatists like myself
    and Rorty. I said it was the same for Rorty as it was for Pirsig:
    undefined. Platt kinda' pressured me for a better answer and I was a
    little confused by it all. Here's a main point of commensurability between
    Pirsig and Rorty: for Pirsig, "betterness" is Dynamic Quality and any
    attempt to define Dynamic Quality outside of "betterness" or any other
    vague hint will lead to the second line of definition for Dynamic Quality:
    it is undefinable. I take Pirsig's reason for leaving it undefined to be
    the same pragmatist reason that Rorty says, "normative terms like 'true'
    and 'better' are not susceptible to definition." ("Hilary Putnam and the
    Relativist Menace")

    So, when Scott says, "you [Matt] are using an incorrect definition of
    metaphysics," I translate it into "Matt, by following Rorty, Dewey,
    Heidegger, Derrida, and Nietzsche, you are using a definition of
    metaphysics that isn't as useful as the one I am using." You would agree
    with Scott on this point and there is good reason to take Pirsig as
    agreeing with this also. When you say, "That is really what it comes down
    to, isn't it? The ferocity and rigidity with which we believe our beleifs?"
    I can only agree. Rorty conflates the traditional philosophical
    absolutisms of metaphysics with the psychological doubts of skeptics in his
    explication of the difference between a metaphysician's and ironist's
    relation to their final vocabulary. (see footnote 58 of my "Confessions"
    essay for a short explanation of metaphysician, ironist, and final
    vocabulary) However, I still don't think retaining the title "metaphysics"
    as what we are doing when figuring out how our assumptions all hang
    together in the widest sense and calling these assumptions "metaphysical"
    is better than not. I think "philosophy" is a better moniker for what we
    are doing and "final vocabulary" a better moniker for what we are fiddling
    with. I think this because, when looking at the history of philosophy,
    most of the people who thought themselves to be actively doing metaphysics
    thought of themselves as looking for an absolute ground zero. The attacks
    on metaphysics have been attacks on this attempt to find a foundation. I
    simply find it exceedingly more convienient to call it an attack on
    metaphysics than an attack on something else.


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