On Sat, 21 Oct 1995 JOHNWFIELD@aol.com wrote:
> >From the new science of Mentomology:
> Mindbug H3. Affinity to All-Encompassing Dichotomies:
> "The necessity of the academic propensity among philosophers to create
> dichotomies, and to choose one member of the dichotomy as superior to
> another, not recognizing the possibility that there is a continuum of
> which the two members may be at best end points.
This speaks volumes. Somebody once said a qualification for philosophy
was the ability to hold mutually incompatible views in your head for
decades while you analysed them -- the ability, as it were, to not make up
your mind. I subscribe to that view myself, and would be inclined to
disenfranchise anyone who, confronted with dichotomy, chose something.
Your second model has been mine for a long time: a continuum, splayed out
between two polar concepts along some dimensional reference. The concepts
provide a kind of frame-of-reference. In a complex discourse there may be
many such dimensions, in an an ideal discourse they would all be
What's interesting is that on this model, that continuum is the world,
while the polar references are -- well -- concepts, human artifacts, and
so are under our control and definition. We can control how we speak of
the world and how we think about it, but nothing more.
For me, a big part of understanding someone else's view of the world is to
a) listen how he uses his words
b) identify a couple of the big polar concept-pairs in his working vocabulary
c) see how _his_ experience splays out along those dimensions
Some of this can be done surreptitiously, in conversation; some has to be
done explicitly, by dialog.
Every simple concept _is_ a partitioning of the world: LO/nonLO.
"Birth", to a newborn, is a _very_ simple concept: BEFORE/AFTER.
The understanding business is _not_ just "different names for the same
thing". Anybody who speaks two or more languages knows that you can't
make one-to-one translations. This is all the more true in the
micro-languages: _my_ version of English, _your_ version of English. Even
if we use the same set of words, exactly, we do not use them of the same
things in the world. If I put before ten people a set of increasingly
misshapen chairs, the last being really a blob of silicone putty, and
invite them to identify the threshold beyond which "it's not longer a
chair", are any two of them likely to position that threshold at the same
item in the series? And if this is what would happen with "chair", what
about the human emotions? What about those dizzy realms (this group is
often one of them) in which concepts are built upon concepts upon
Well, a long post in response to a short one is fair pay, I guess. Thanks
for helping me get around to this.
-- Regards Jim Michmerhuizen email@example.com web residence at http://world.std.com/~jamzen/ ........................................................................... . . . . There are far *fewer* things in heaven and earth, Horatio, . . . . . . . . . than are dreamt of in your philosophy... . . | _ .