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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: November ::
Re: Politics
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0805.  Monday, 11 November 1996.

(1)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Saturday, 09 Nov 1996 13:28:38 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0799  Re: Politics

(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Saturday, 09 Nov 1996 13:55:34 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0799  Re: Politics

(3)     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Saturday, 09 Nov 1996 19:53:55 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0799  Re: Politics


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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Date:           Saturday, 09 Nov 1996 13:28:38 -0500
Subject: 7.0799  Re: Politics
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0799  Re: Politics

Norm Holland writes:

>The
>distinction between datum and fact, then, is in the kinds of interpretation
>each is involved in.  Commonly, we distinguish low-level interpretations from
>high-level interpretations, and it would make good usage sense to speak of data
>as involving low-level interpretations and facts as involving higher-level
>interpretations. But both have the same ontological and epistemoligcal status.
>Their difference is one of degree, not kind.

I believe that Norm is correct, and he convinced me of this years ago when I
read his book _The I_.  For us humans there is no unmediated data.

As Norm has pointed out, Dr. Johnson's kicking the rock proves two things: (1)
there's something there, and (2) it has to be experienced and interpreted
through our sensory systems.  In my use of "data," I was referring to (1) and
trying to isolate (1) from (2).  Perhaps that's impossible.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 09 Nov 1996 13:55:34 -0500
Subject: 7.0799  Re: Politics
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0799  Re: Politics

"Politics initiates, ideology determines, and culture constructs all that
humans think, do, and make."  That seems (for me) to encapsulate the basic
position of Cultural Materialists.  And they seem to believe that this position
is universally valid, for Shakespeare, for Socrates, for Confucius, for any
human living at any time on this planet.  When we were discussing human
universals some time ago,  I was given to understand that Cultural Materialists
did not think such universal positions to be valid.

For reasons unknown, many of us feel that it goes without argument that humans
are dominated by politics, ideology, and culture.  We find the nineteenth
century concept of the "free and natural Shakespeare" to be totally incorrect,
and we substitute the "political, ideological, and cultural Shakespeare."  May
I suggest that in 200 years our vision will seem as quaint and wrong-headed as
the nineteenth century view?

We seem to be in a time when personified abstractions have been given all the
power.  The trinity of politics, ideology, and culture does all that humans
used to do, and, of course, history joins them in displacing our agency.  The
writer is replaced by an Author-Function. We no longer act; we are mere
automata. Despair and die!

Yours, Bill Godshalk

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Saturday, 09 Nov 1996 19:53:55 -0800
Subject: 7.0799  Re: Politics
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0799  Re: Politics

Tom Bishop writes

> Gabriel Egan will now take his stand on the following proposition,
> as phrased  by me, but agreed to by him: that "facts" can only ever
> exist in relation to some framework of knowledge that constitutes
> them, and not otherwise, that is that they have -no- independent
> existence.

I don't want to be awkward, but we really exhausted this one about a year
ago on SHAKSPER, didn't we? Norm Holland's comment:

> The psychologists tell us that even the most rudimentary data of our
> senses, such as shapes or colors, have already gone thru a good deal
> of brain processing, hence, interpretation.  This does not mean that
> there are no data (or no facts), simply that they are always embedded
> in interpretation.

strikes me as useful, however.

Tom Bishop again:

>I think this is true:
>human langauges do -in fact- display an innate ability to construct narratives,
>even of such a basic kind as "I visited my mother yesterday, but now I'm back".
>It would appear that Mr. Egan thinks so too. I am glad.

A symbolic system in which a narrative cannot be constructed would not be a
language, so again this fact ("languages do -in fact- display an innate ability
to construct narratives") is a tautology. A symbolic system limited to mere
assertion (eg "fish like water", or "e=mcc") or denotation ("LET X =
WINDSPEED", or "RED = STOP, GREEN = GO") is not a language, is it?

Gabriel Egan
 

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