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[Xmca-l] Re: Brandom Extended


It wasn't my metaphor, actually: it was Brandom's. Here's the context:


Brandom (not to be confused with Richard Bransom!) is pretty dense for me;
I found it easier to print out Brandom's speech and read it:


But that misses out on the Q & A which would also be worth reading. My
complaint is that it's all a little bloodless: it doesn't give me the sense
that cities are full of struggle, and that even the disagreements we have
about what things are thus and so and why, the things which Brandom claims
are "downtown", are often, when we look more closely, about how things WILL
be or SHOULD be rather than how they actually are, and involve conflicts of
material interests. It seems to me that if you want to get from the suburbs
to downtown, that is the way to go. Brandom's "downtown" is really an ivory
tower; a material walled city. Mine is more like the "downtown" of that
moped song:

She has her arms around your waist
With a balance that could keep us safe
Downtown, downtown

It's all about getting from the suburbs (that is, the areas where language
and non-language exists side by side, as in everyday conversation) into the
downtown of language (where one is confronted by pure text, as in the case
of this 'discussion' list) and back to the burbs, safely, and with the
least possible expenditure of intellectual resources on the means of
transportation so that you can expend at least some of that energy on your

And that brings me to your quote. As you can see, I'm really a painter and
not an intellectual at all: I find it very hard to think in abstractions,
and I can't even figure out the grammar of the first sentence: "Arguments
for relativism and sometimes transcendental idealism often make the
mistake, the mistake of thinking of thought or horizons of sense or modes
of sense-making or conceptual schemes in this third person way *as if*
something one can get trapped inside of unless something exogenous can
*break* through it."

This is the kind of thing that slows me down, Larry; when philosophers talk
about language they really make no more sense than when linguists talk
about philosophy. What does it mean to think of modes of sense making '"as
if" (it is?) something one can get trapped inside of'? Isn't making sense
precisely NOT being trapped inside of the mode of sense making? How can you
make sense WITHOUT breaking  through to something or somebody "exogenous"
(presumably this means exogenous to language, although it's pretty hard to

Ruqaiya Hasan argues a lot for an "internal" view of language, where
meaning is essentially within language itself and not a relation with
material reality, including sapient minds and sentient meat. This
internalist view too is a walled city to me; I can see no gate to its
downtown that isn't triply portcullised. It is like saying that the meaning
of a painting is in the paint (Jackson Pollack might have thought that was
true, but he is dead and his paintings are now selling for millions of
dollars to people who appear to completely disagree).

I think I prefer to think of language as a moped, a means of communication
that you can pedal (as when we use language in an ancillary way, to access
goods and services which are not irreducibly language) or which pedals
itself (as when we use language to exchange 'information' in the form of
more language). Sure, most of us will use the motor most of the time;
that's what modernity means these days, and besides that's the only way to
access MY downtown, which is not how things are but rather how they would
be and how they could be and how they should be. But it would
nevertheless be a mistake to assume that the motor is all there is, because
then there's no way to start the damn thing up.

David Kellogg
Macquarie University

On Mon, Apr 18, 2016 at 1:54 AM, Lplarry <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

> David,
> Your metaphor of downtown city and architecture not being picture frames I
> found intriguing but I will require more con/text to follow in more than
> an impressionistic way.
> I happen to be reading an article by Robert Pippin that is exploring
> similar themes. Pippin says that he is making a case for a Hegelian
> shareable *I-We* relation extending beyond Bransom’s *I-Thou* relation of
> idiodects. Is this the contrast between dwelling within architectural
> places rather than within picture frames?
> Now for the con/text in which this claim is embedded is this quote:
> “ Arguments for relativism and sometimes transcendental idealism often
> make the mistake, the mistake of thinking of thought or horizons of sense
> or modes of sense-making or conceptual schemes in this third person way *as
> if* something one can get trapped inside of unless something exogenous can
> *break* through it.  As it has been put in many contemporary contexts, one
> source of the confusion is the temptation to think in terms of conceptual
> schemes and a separable, otherwise neutral, non-conceptual content that is
> conceptualized by such a scheme. The temptation is to think of an in
> principal neutral or indeterminate content or world in itself the
> accessibility of which is a matter of applying a scheme to such a content
> and so ending up with something *less* than the world in itself, but rather
> the world only as so finitely appropriated.  Hegel is among the parties
> denying such a scheme-content distinction, although he is certainly not
> denying that there can be different, sometimes quite different, aspectual
> takes on the world. The point of this self-negating language is to
> distinguish this possible partiality of a *shape of spirit* from the idea
> of some putatively radical, alternative conceptual scheme, and this view
> about the *inherently* possible self-negating aspect of such a *shape* is
> meant to stress what Gadamer calls the *openness* of linguistic horizons to
> each other.”
> Pippin at this point adds a footnote # 7
> “Besides being right (in my view anyway) about the set of Friedman,
> Gadamer, and Davidson issues, McDowell also broaches the question of what
> we need to say is *shareable* by a linguistic community in order for this
> mutual intelligibility and integration to succeed and suggests the
> beginning of what I would regard as a Hegelian case for the
> indispensability of an *I-We* relation beyond the *I-Thou* priority argued
> for by Bransom and, in effect, by Davidson on the priority of idiolects.”
> If asked I can send the article.
> Larry
> Sent from my Windows 10 phone