The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1376 Monday, 10 July 2000.
From: Clifford Stetner <
Date: Sunday, 9 Jul 2000 19:59:06 -0400
Subject: 11.1354 Re: Pedagogy: Course Structure
Comment: Re: SHK 11.1354 Re: Pedagogy: Course Structure
Sean points out:
"Actually, your approval of the historicity of language seems to itself
be your polemical agenda. I'm not sure that you can separate them nor,
I think, can someone with so totalizing a version of the political
declare (in good faith) anything to not be part of a 'polemical
It pains me that my impassioned defense against the incomprehensible
charge of "totalizing" leveled by an apparent monotheist seems to have
fallen on deaf ears, as I'm sure it would have during the Spanish
Inquisition, but such a charge is not, I hope, a refutation of the
original assertion that there is no such thing as a "simple translation"
as someone so versed in the biblical exegesis section of the library
>Whether there is anything "underneath" language is, of course, the
>central question of contemporary metaphysics, and it is difficult to
>answer this assertion without concrete examples of the things
>underneath, but the word "presently" is only an easy example of a symbol
>whose meaning in the context of the culture that mobilized it must be
>made clear for the work of art to be understood.
"Actually, the burden of evidence is on the other side--you must show
that there is nothing beneath history, that, in fact, all philosophy and
religion, all reference to any questions which are not altogether
matters of polemics or indoctrination, are simply lies spread by idiots.
Isn't it interesting how "language" in my assertion gets transmuted to
"history" in yours? Is this an unconscious acknowledgement that the two
are equivalent? I never said they were idiots: you don't get to be pope
or emperor of the known world by being an idiot (but for crying out
loud, admit for a moment that you usually don't get there by being
overly concerned with telling the people the truth, either). Finally,
the question of burden of proof is not a simple matter of proclamation
by those certain of their position. In empirical terms: the burden of
proof lies on the side of the claim to a substantial entity where such
is being questioned. Language in not, however, a purely empirical
matter, and because we are forced to use it to approach the question in
the first place, and that use demands that we accept (at least for the
moment) that our words are only vehicles for a truth they somehow
contain, rather than the end all and be all of truth, I will accept the
burden you assign me and hereby devote my life to showing that all that
you take as concrete presence is merely linguistic difference
masquerading as such.
" To make everything political does not seem an engagement with "the
central question of contemporary metaphysics," but a brushing aside of
metaphysics as such."
Please don't bore the readers of this thread by repeating the same
charges over again as though I had not gone to some trouble to answer
them. "Everything" "seems" "totalizing," etc. are rhetorical devices
which I have already answered as well as I may in previous posts. As to
the edifice of Western metaphysics, I'm afraid it needs more than a
brush as most of the history of modern philosophy demonstrates.
" It is also, I might add, to make an argument which is totalizing, and
which therefore should be rejected out of hand on that basis alone."
So you've abandoned monotheism?
"<snip> Perhaps there are actually
metaphysical, or, in any case, deeper reasons for the importance of
(say) a boar or a lion. Perhaps there is actually metaphysics. We
certainly won't find out by always already explaining away the question
Really this "always" stuff is starting to annoy me. You pretend to
refute the argument, but it's not the argument, but the fact that it is
"always" used that makes it invalid in your construction, and yet, I've
only used it once so far. I suppose that now that you've made your
perhapses, my burden of proof has grown heavier.
Sean's response to Mike Jensen:
"A: I would certainly hope that we can do both. But as Clifford's
invariable line of argument shows, historicism seems, <(sic)> as it
were, constitutionally incapable of seeing the aesthetic as anything
except what should be explained away, or of leaving an aesthetic or
ethical or religious or philosophical surplus, which is not explained
away. And explaining away is not explaining."
Here's a simple translation: Because I begin with the assumption of my
romantic notions of higher meaning and spiritual truth, anything said in
denial of their existence seems (i.e. to me) a simple dismissal of what
must be there. To examine the concept of aesthetics to discover why it
is so devoid of concrete properties must therefore not be explaining but
explaining away. And the invariability of the nature of responses to
the same assertions is proof of the invalidity of the response.
"Of course, we can recognize a place for politics beside ethics."
This is quite magnanimous, but in fact, please see my other posts
regarding who in the current debate is really shutting out relevant
"Politics isn't simply the opposite of ethics; it's amoral rather than
immoral. But what we must first do, I think, is proclaim the fact that
ethics makes an independent claim on us, one not reducible (or all too
reducible) to politics."
I agree. You must proclaim it, because it won't stand up to any rules