"The way in which a person discovers his own long-term motives is the same as the way in which he discovers those of others. The quantity and quality of the information accessible to him differ in the two inquiries, but its items are in general of the same sort." G. Ryle, The Concept of Mind, Penguin Books, 2000, p. 88.

'Ha-ha, just what I discovered all on my own!' I find this regularly &, although it may well be a trick played by my brain confusing short term recognitions with a long term privately held memory, I'm sure (in this case as in others) that I did discover this on my own. One of the reasons in support of this specific belief of mine would be that I wrote a dissertation featuring this thought (alongside others) well before I ever read this book or heard this quote. To be more precise and skip the 'believing'-bit: I can assure you that this is a fact as I can assure you I had a discussion with a professor that, on hearing this thought expressed by me (quite less perfectly than above), did answer, rather dismayed, that 'I had to be one of the last Mohicans of sophisticated behaviourism'.  His answer (better: the tone of voice & facial expression with which it was expressed) stopped me in my tracks. He gave lectures on 'Philosophy of Mind' - if I ever re-read this I will have to go trhough my notes to add precision - but Ryle if mentioned was only mentioned cursorily.

So why do I all of a sudden get all autobiographical on you? The truth of course is: I don't know: the set-up of these writings is not one that starts from premeditating on what I want to think in the context of a particular quote. It may therefore be best for me as well as for you not to read too much into it with respect to my personality & to read a great deal more into it regarding the personality of the thought. Let me help: insofar as it is crucial - to me or to you (& at least to me it is) - that I discovered the above on my own, the only reliable evidence for it is evidence that's available to the both of us. Now, it may well be that no-one ever reads this (not even myself at later points of time given I do not seem to have a propensity to reread anything, whether from my own hand or that of another) but this oddly enough isn't crucial even if it is featuring inside the clause that establishes something purportedly crucial -available is enough; 'actually inspected' is superfluous however much this is at odds with what is commonly held to be the case in an era where inspection is everything (and where expression is consequently almost nothing).

But I stray from the plan that I 'think I' had in my head last night before sleep took over (allowing me now to type this being rather refreshed). The plan, as I remember reciting it to myself, struggling against my sleepiness, was to reflect on: whether it is of any consequence whatever that I discovered such-and-such on my own. Whether, to be more honest, the emotion ('thrill' is the word, I believe) I registered in reading the above was anything more than one of those human reflexes that keep up one's self-esteem in order to remain functional in absence of external praise.

Fortunately enough for the structure of this piece of writing, there are 2 sides to this that need to be considered.

No doubt I could boast about my originality uncritically in absence of a live (or other audience) criticizing my boasting. But that won't do because - even if left to my own devices - I am not uncritical of myself. The values of criticism have been established in me quite regardless of the present momentary absence of external watchers-on & they are a defining characteristic of what it is to be me (if that is anything at all - but that's best left for another contribution). Thusly the boasting starts to be silenced as it has to be conceded that - whatever the extent of my previous & direct exposure to Ryle - his thing was 'out there' before my thought was 'in here'. Even more prudence gets in the way of my little thrill knowing that I read quite some Wittgenstein as well as Dennett even before starting to even think of my dissertation. I can try to dig an earlier trench because obviously I started thinking of these things long before I had even the remotest idea of ever writing a dissertation but this will do little good as far as saving my little warm fuzzy feeling; behaviourism is one of my 1st private hypes, not long after the religious phase that Kierkegaard had to cure me of - indoctrinated as many of us are by the modern soft appearance of this age-old form of fascism.

That's that it seems: the unbearable lightness of originality & authenticity. But here is the second side in need of consideration: whatever the antecedents, I did have it as a thought (and certainly nobody ordained that this was the only thought that was to be had, in fact Chomsky and Fodor have made the opposite thought rather more of the measure - at least with the scientistically-minded individuals that are at least on the thinking-front doing a tad better numerically). In fact, the fact that there are antecedents does not discredit my merit at all but rather enhances it as long as it is not my interest to 'claim' the thought but to do something with it. I think I quoted a bit of Carnap elsewhere here on the vritue of building on rather than revolutionizing thought (and, after all, the tale of the tower of Bable doesn't show it's impossible to build high towers but only that it's impossible to continue to build together when we have become unable to speak with each other).

Not only do I want to do something with it but I have done something with it & more still: I am doing something with it (to wit: this). That fact doesn't establish that what I did and do has any merit but it does establish that my emotion wasn't uncalled for and that I should not be ashamed to boast about it. It may not be very good to do what I do with it but it is certainly good enough if people do the things I try to do. It is not the success of the individual that is a measure of progress but an individual's inspiration of other individuals to grasp, redistribute or build on former successes (I fear that last thought is still half-baked - the correct balance between individual and social is the challenge that keeps me going in this since I first started thinking on it all - it is not met, I am just in the phase where I need to shed some toxic attributes of individualism).

Whilst writing this I was listening to 'handel arias', Danielle de Niese, Decca.

14:09 Gepost door Guido Nius in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: language, self, learning, tones, ryle |  Facebook |


Joe's Garage

"JOE: (somewhat exhausted)
These executives have plooked the fuck out of me
And there's still a long time to go before I've
Paid my debt to society
And all I ever really wanted to do was
Play the guitar 'n bend the string like
I've got it
I'll be sullen and withdrawn
I'll dwindle off into the twilight realm
Of my own secret thoughts
I'll lay on my back here 'til dawn
In a semi-catatonic state
And dream of guitar notes
That would irritate
An executive kinda guy..."

Frank Zappa, Joe's Garage Acts I, II, III, Act II Scene Fourteen Outside Now.

'Nah, it was funny while it lasted - but it won't be something that endures', say those who go for classical music preferring classical to music. I say: let 'em have the opera created by the classical equivalent of "executive kinda guys". It clearly makes them feel better than the rest of us & if that's what it takes to be rid of them, so be it. Let us enjoy their serious connoiseuring faces whilst watching these pot-pourri's of over-the-topness, this attempt at creating art via the military strategy of shock & awe. Let them listen to music that was composed to achieve the popular effect of fireworks so we can be free to associate creativity with something a tad more original than nudity on stage & in front of a classicial orchestra playing bombastic.

Left to ourselves we opt for a bit of independence in taste and creativity. Sure! - this will last because it has had its knock-on effect. Once the knock-on effect realized, it can't be stopped anymore. We listen to more F. Zappa nowadays than he could ever have imagined &, better still, there are a great many dwindling off into the twilight to think their secret thoughts. There is no need for executives to build palaces of 'OK'-scrutinized music in an attempt to make this music the everlasting classic standard, at least to make it the only serious music such as to allow the easiest identification of serious people i.e. the people in the palaces of 'OK'-scrutinized music.

'But,' so say the ones that sincerely believe people can only be trusted if they buy in to their type of exclusivity, 'modern music is mostly popular music controlled by that type of marketing executive decried by Mr. Zappa.' It is not. Modern music is mostly what is being invented all over the place by semi-catatonic Joe's trying to pay a debt to society in ways allowing them to irritatingly fuck over those bastards that insist on them paying debts to society at the expense of the time they can put into the secret thoughts they love to have. Even the marketing executive music (as if "their" music, the "OK"-scrutinized music did not survive because of publicly funded, or millionaire funded which comes to the same, marketing executives) is not controlled because - in the very worst case - it sparks new Joe's to invent new Joe's that'll blow the stale-mate away. There is after all not the protection of central scrutiny in popular music, less & less at least and that, my dears, is our fight: to break more & more a central scrutiny & leave it go, dynamically as it should.

The combination of independence & mainstream is what makes the case for rational optimism. Independence to be allowed to be original - even if (specifically if) it does annoy the scrutinizing non-motherfuckers trying to control taste into their static, safe status quo. Mainstream to ensure many people get it because what isn't understood doestn't get noticed & therefore doesn't mean a thing. If sufficiently mainstream - it will knock-on & once knocked-on it'll always be there in what it knocked on.

Independent & mainstream, what could possibly be a worse combination for those happy cocksucking few executive kinda guys?

Whilst writing this I was listening to Frank Zappa, Joe's Garage Acts I, II, III  

& Yes, it was great fun to listen on the bus to 'On The Bus' instructing my son to leave his seat to an elderly woman ;-)

14:49 Gepost door Guido Nius in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: decadence, dynamics, pop culture, tones |  Facebook |


Erläuterungen zur Diskursethik

"Die(se) Differenzierung zwischen einem modernen und einem traditionalen Weltverständnis ist nur möglich, wenn konkurrierende Weltauslegungen nicht überhaupt inkomensurabel sind, wenn wir (..) die Übersetzungen von einem Kontext in in den anderen überhaupt zulassen. Genau das bestreitet der starke Kontextualismus. Ihm zufolge gibt es keine 'Rationalität' in der Einzahl. Nach dieser Auffassung wohnen verschiedene Kulturen, Weltbildern, Traditionen oder Lebensformen je besondere 'Rationalitäten' inne. Jede von ihnen soll mit dem Kontext eines besonderen Weltverständnisses intern verschränkt sein." J. Habermas, Erläuterungen zur Diskursethik, suhrkamp taschenbuch (1991), p. 208.

Amateuristic English translation below.

There are those who believe having a 'strong' moral view lies in strongly holding - a great many - moral views to be absolutely true. But nothing can be farther from the truth;  the more moral absolutes sneak into one's position the less one is open to a discussion with others - & the ultimate moral view is that one should be open to this discussion with others. Better & more concise: any moral view is about openness. To other's point of view but also to what might transpire in the future based on facts we do not know yet or on forms of living not discovered yet.

The problem people strongly collecting a great many moral absolutes see in this can be summed up in their exclamationary reply cry 'Moral Relativist!', or, a bit further in the debate 'You're so hopelessly naïve!". The former reply can serve as symptom to diagnose this type of immoral view, named by Rawls 'comprehensive doctrine', as it will be shouted regardless of the adversary merely by virtue of someone being seen as an adversary of one of the many moral absolutes held. When someone accuses you of moral relativism despite the fact you have given examples of situations that can only be seen one way, universally, she/he is on his/her way to radicalize her/his comprehensive doctrine into a stagnant pool of being right regardless of argument. Discussion will cease, pushed sufficiently the argument will become violent.

At that time, more or less, the insult of naïveté will be thrown in the arena. After all, if discussion has to go on, "what defense against totalitarianism or fundamentalism remains?" Here is a fundamental error: it is not because the potential for discussion is seen as the highest value that there are only cases in which discussion is the only possible response. This is obvious: if the other refuses to discuss (either literally or de facto, by reverting to rhetoric devices) there is no discussion & hence the answer cannot be to discuss. Whether the answer is violence is another matter alltogether - but one thing is clear: it can be violence if violence is the only way to restore value, i.e. open discussion.

In a nuclear metaphor: first strike is illegal but retaliation a no-brainer. It is a main characteristic of moral absolutists to buy into the right of first strike when facing the assumed moral adversary. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that fulfills itself as well for those who vehemently (& rightly so) oppose the notion of prophecy.

So yes, there is a moral absolute or better, a moral universal: rational discussion - we should not be tricked by the fact its discovery is relatively recent & hence it's not yet very widespread or well understood by many to believe it's naïve to restrict moral truth to discussion as the highest value. In fact, the opposite can only lead to moral relativism because it will presuppose that sometimes the value of debate is trumped by geographically and/or historically coincidental rationalities.

The convergence between linguistic philosophy (Davidson et al.) and moral/political philosophy (Rawls, Habermas, et al.) is where we can discover new creative ground - as is clear from the recent future, rational discussion may seem naïve but has rather a lot of force in overcoming coincidental roadblocks. The reason is simple: to live as a human is to talk with other humans - & to talk with other humans lis only possible in triangulating what they intend.

(to be improved, a lot)

"This distinction between a modern and a traditional world view is only then possible, when competing interpretations of the world are not simply incompatible, (..) when we admit at all translations from one context into another. That's precisely what strong contextualism denies. Following strong contextualism there is no 'rationality' in singular. According to this point of view different 'rationalitues' are inherent in different cultures, conceptions of the world, traditions or life forms. Each of these would be inherently locked up in the context of a specific world view."

Whilst writing this I was listening to Beethoven, Piano Sonatas (complete), Friedrich Gulda, Brilliant Classics - "Pastoral" & "Sturm".

21:06 Gepost door Guido Nius in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: language, habermas, convergence, universals |  Facebook |