Sunday, August 27, 2006

intimations on the existence of “Truth”


Your posting today suggests that you're working toward representation of your general philosophical position, expressed today inasmuch as anything brief can be fair to oneself. It's important to venture these kinds of things.

I wonder how strongly you would support your own phrasing today, in the sense that your terms chosen may be (or not) exactly the ones you stand by (contrasted with rough sketching that you'd dismiss beyond its private usefulness), such that explication, elaboration, and deepening is a matter of, at least, standing by that phrasing. I doubt you'd want someone to parse today's posting very finely, but the importance here is that a philosopher should come to the point where s/he nears phrasing things exactly as they "should" (for one's work) be phrased and welcomes further discussion relative to exactly those terms/phrasings. I hope you're working toward your basic formulations of your chosen vocabulary.

Over the years, I've tacitly prompted that by sometimes addressing others' postings line by line, which is apparently not appreciated (like recording a party conversation and publishing an analysis of it), but I enjoyed the surreality of it all, in complement to non-surreally doing the same with passages by Habermas-in-English (cf. the Spoon Collective list, e.g., October, 2003: postings 5-6, 10, 2-15, 18-19, 24, 58, and 108).

Some of your other postings have been in the vein of generalizing your position, too, particularly as you were leading up to completion of your dissertation (I should lament that I remember these things and get a life?). Suppose you died tomorrow and people sought to know what you think by drawing together all your best postings and dissertation. What would they find?

For starters, they'd find (relative to the general archives) that the group discussion medium is a pasttime, rather than an opportunity, and that's interesting unto itself, as a matter of Internet life, but also relative to the economy of intellectual property. The young academic covets one's own ideas for use via standard journals because it's peer-reviewed, thus good for the tenure track, and the journal protects copyright because that's what academic writing is all about: intellectual property for career advancement. People who populate discussion lists (at Yahoo!, of all places) can't be one's proper peers, of course. (I haven't tried peer-reviewed publication, but I don't believe it would be difficult, given the degree of forgettable material that normally turns up to fulfill so many editors' publishing deadlines—and O, the dust on the shelves where those journals are stored).

But one might also find that "you" are really present, across time of many discussions. "Your" actual philosophical views show (unstated) over time via discussion as conceptual isomorphisms across postings that may together be "diagnosed" to tend toward a particular implicature of conceptuality, more so than through the relatively displaced attention of focusing on others' given discursive [con]texts. In the extended time of philosophical discussion, the inescapable desire for the overall coherence of one's thinking is interestingly evident, albeit not yet with the terminological rigor that's ultimately required for enduring stature (clearly evident in the canonical pragmatist's love of ordinary idiom). A kind of psychoanalytical criticism is tenable relative to the long term of spontaneous discussion (borne especially by a correlate silence of the audience, as if one's freely exposing oneself without witness). Ha!, maybe that prospect was evident in my "dialogal" form of posting, and therefore emperors had to dismiss the court, leaving me to my own freedom (a pathos among competing emperors?).

Anyway (as my fondness for tangents goes free in a non-peer-reviewed medium—very useful for developing themes), generally for academic philosophy, concern for ultimate coherence and—for the philosopher—that kind of prospect backgrounds hermeneutical parsing of canonical texts and Analytical philosophy's and Ordinary Language philosophy's concern for linguistic analysis—typified by tortuous expositions of deflationary senses of truth, which comes to mind because I was reading Albrecht Wellmer on this last night ("The Debate About Truth:..,").

I'm amazed, as I read Wellmer, to see how obviously is concern for the theory of truth-proper confused with concern for theory of validity (which entails a contained theory of truth-proper)—or else I'm a very bad reader (may be); or, more likely, Wellmer's target of critique is making such a confusion (I didn't read beyond the first 3 sections of his lecture, but will later). In any case, one has to surrender hope for a coherence theory of truth-proper (i.e., theory of evidential/empirical "truth conditionality" as basically a matter of coherence modeling), but the classical search for Truth is what Habermasians would now identify as the search for overall coherence, and a coherence theory of validity is at least what Habermas' career is about. One can, in principle, say what is essentially Habermasian, which is a stance on the ultimate coherence of his work that makes him singularly "Habermasian" beyond the sense in which any other writer could be Habermasian. And you might hope for the day when it's clear what's distinctively Piscionerian!—a happy day to work toward, as long as you don't expect of yourself—as I don't for myself (future Davisian?)—the rarity of stature that Habermas has achieved (comparable to anyone in the second half of the 20th century).

It puzzled me sometimes, 2005, that, in your postings relating to Habermas, Adorno, etc, you didn't refer to parts of your dissertation as backdrop or extension of your points (which would have been good service for readers, as well as deserved self-promotion). It was a great opportunity for discussion. I regret to say I haven't read most of it because (1) pressed for free time, end of 2004, I'd expected to focus on parts relative to direction from you in particular discussions; (2) skimming it, I sensed a discussion largely directed to readers unfamiliar with Critical Theory and Habermas; and (3) I found its basic argument (abstracted in the beginning) implausible, but was eager to eventually address that finding (my mistake?) relative to specific discussions initiated by you. I located parts of the dissertation that I did focus on, as I sought the philosophical claims at the basis of your project to be in those sections discussing "ontology" and "naturalism" (I worked from searches of your document for all instances of 'ontolog' and 'natural' and focused on those contexts that involved substantive claims, rather than mere mention of the concepts.) You didn't defend your views, if I recall correctly (or did so only briefly, and I've forgotten)—or was it that you resented that I worked from extracted contexts, rather than having read the entire work? The discursive challenge was to show how my tacit claim was wrong: that your basic explicit claims were argued in sections that had to stand on their own, despite what you said about other topics elsewhere, and there I took you at your word (and disagreed in terms of what Habermas wrote). The compliment to you is that I took your arguments that seriously, and what I got in return wasn't useful for my own critical learning.

Inasmuch as the dissertation is being left behind, I suppose you'd wish for the monographic work that you can refer to comfortably for that backgrounding and extension that might serve short postings. (I do so for myself, ha!, way down the road.)

I'm not suggesting a return to discussing your dissertation now, but, in going for your own basic philosophical formulations, one might wonder how that relates to your largest existing work, as an opportunity to advance your sense of ultimate coherence relative to the best parts (in your estimation) of that work. I encourage the search for clarity on ultimate concerns here by writing (somewhat floridly, I know) about the dimension of that which is the continuity of career, which one inevitably is (even when that's not yet overtly self-understood autobiographically).

The above discussion seems to me (at the moment) to emblemize my own interest in understanding how the holism of the so-called search for truth ("Truth"?) is also an existential search for one's place (self-understanding) in ultimacy (which is clearly the keynote of Matt's posting today, pretext for my own excursion, to be sure), which is always a matter of one's ultimate sense of validity (or sense of ultimate validity: Validity) implied, if not overtly addressed. Whatever one thinks of "God" talk, the concern for ultimacy remains—or haunts, as perhaps in his " dust" (end of posting), with which I sympathize, but can't empathize, as I live in the Pacific zone.

I should emphasize that none of this today is about my own self-understanding (since I'm quite overtly preoccupied with that via a different idiom), but all this is certainly dramatizing my actual approach to the interest in the "existence" of—the existentiality of one's living relation with— "Truth" (or, in Matt's case, "Being"—for him, without quote marks).