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RE: [xmca] The Ubiquity of Unicorns

But Michael,
Isn't this taking something of a realist approach to words?  That is that certain words mean certain things, which the reader can actually know and therefore use to help interpret of the meaning of the text around them.  This means that there are certain words that can be known and can't be known, based on experience.  I am thinking of Wittgenstein's observation of the chess game, where if you saw two people playing from a distance you would think they were playing the same game with the same rules you were playing, but this is only an assumption, because they do not share the community's understanding of the rules.  But I am thinking that Wittgenstein saw this more as an issue of cultural capital rather than absolute knowledge.  If it is important to teach an individual the rules of the game you can teach them.  I think somebody like Rorty might argue that this was inevitable as long as the players, those reading the text, were interested and active in the understanding.  When an individual writes a text he is writing at least to some degree to teach what all the meanings of the word are.  So somebody reading a text reads the word Bildung in the text, he or she is confused, but is interested in understanding.  They return to the text again as they attempt to get their horizon to meet with the author's (hat tip to Gadamer).  In the end the reader may not be able to describe Bildung outside of the text, outside of the authors specific vision.  And may not be able to describe it to somebody who is not sharing that particular horizon.  But they understand the meaning and the role that word is playing in the text in an important way.


From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of Wolff-Michael Roth
Sent: Fri 10/23/2009 2:04 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] The Ubiquity of Unicorns


On 23-Oct-09, at 10:51 AM, ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org wrote:

consciousness has developed.  David Kellogg has provided numerous 
of how native Korean speaking people do not grasp basic concepts of the
english language.  Some of the low achieving students I work with have

I think, with Heidegger, Derrida, Rorty, Wittgenstein, Davidson, 
Deleuze, and others, that the difference between knowing a language 
and knowing one's way around the (cultural) world is undecidable. 
Concepts are not just concepts of English language, they are 
irreducibly interwoven with the way of life.

This is why Anglo-Saxons tend to have difficulties with activity 
(Tätigkeit, deyate'nost) and activity (Aktivität, aktivnost'). This 
is why there is no concept like Bildung, because in the conduct of 
life of Anglo-Saxons, there is no equivalent segmentation to which 
the concept could refer, and there is no inter-concept relation where 
such a distinction would be useful.

I do find the concept of "concept" problematic, because it is being 
used on this list without working out just what it stands for. (in 
general use, it appears like meaning that is somehow related to words.)

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