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CLASSICS-L  February 2006, Week 1

CLASSICS-L February 2006, Week 1

Subject:

Re: Meaning and obfuscation

From:

"Hunsucker, R.L." <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Classical Greek and Latin Discussion Group <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 5 Feb 2006 17:33:13 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (37 lines)

John Given, quite appropriately, brought the modern philosopher Donald Davidson into the picture as an antidote to the view on which you (and I, more or less) agree, citing his ["The emergence of thought", 1999, in his] _Subjective, intersubjective, objective_, 2001. Already much earlier there appeared a particularly relevant publication of his along these lines: the 1975 article entitled "Thought and talk", published in _Mind and language_ (Wolfson College lectures), where he argues, if I follow him right (nicely concluding with a citation of Ulysses from Shakespeare's _Troilus & Cressida_), that one cannot even have a belief if there is no shared language in which that belief can be shown to be true or false.


I tend myself toward a less analytic and more anthropological view of the phenomenon belief. That seems to *work* better, and in saying this I would seek support especially in the thinking of the French scholar Dan Sperber -- whom I warmly recommend to anyone (and not least of all to classicists) really interested in this matter. My favorite is "Les croyances apparemment irrationnelles" in his _Le savoir des anthropologues : trois essais_ (Paris, Hermann, 1982), but also published in English versions in _Rationality and relativism_ / ed. by Martin Hollis and Steven Lukes (Oxford : Blackwell, 1982) and in the 1985 translation of his above-mentioned book.


- L. Hunsucker

_____________________

Bob Bethune  wrote : 

I think I agree. Upon introspection, I know that I believe things I have never communicated to anyone, and I have no way to be confident that someone else would understand them, since I don't think I really understand them myself. Consider the poems Rilke didn't write. 

-----Original Message----- 

From: Yvonne Rathbone [SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Friday, February 03, 2006 11:33 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CLASSICS-L] Meaning and obfuscation


> For (to simplify greatly), in order to form a belief that one's own
> beliefs and meanings are true, one must have verification that they can
> be communicated successfully to others. Without communication,
> subjective meaning is empty.


I've never like this argument. Other than flying in the face of most of human existence, it relegates those beliefs that are most important to people, their religious and spiritual beliefs, to a bizarre kind of non-existence. It also seems based in the misperception that language=thought. 

Overall, this kind of argument strikes me as being more compelling to people who devote their lives to communicating their inner world through language than it would be to people who spend their lives simply living their empty subjective lives. 

This argument seem to me more about dealing with the problem of the unprovable subjective - it's an empty set unless we move it into the observable world. 

-Yvonne 

 

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