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Re: [xmca] The Ubiquity of Unicorns

Hi Michael,
you must have misunderstood me. We have two interconnected orders, one of sound patterns, which we hear or read as words, the other one some world generally. I didn't write about "meaning" because I don't (try to) use it, because it is overused and abused. The two orders are interwoven, and a sound can change the other order, "Step aside" may get a person to move and therefore the world changes, but it also may earn you a fist on the nose, and the two effects are different.

I think Wittgenstein and especially later philosophers would agree that there is NO system of rules sufficient to explain language in use, which was precisely the point in the discussion between Derrida and Searle on speech act theory, and the various interpreters of the exchange, as people like Culler and Habermas subsequently further elaborate.

The rules themselves are made as we go, and this is what I attempt to capture (at least in part) with the notion of con/texture and con/ texting, where text not only "means" but also establishes the very context within which it definitively "means" (to use your verb). (See I can mention use, thereby also use, and the difference between mention and use becomes undecidable, in the very sentence preceding this parenthesis.)

I have no idea in which sense you use "meaning". What does someone understand when they understand the "meaning". What is "meaning"? The trouble is with the word that users point to something obliquely. What is the "meaning" of Bildung?


On 23-Oct-09, at 11:23 AM, Michael Glassman wrote:

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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