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Re: [xmca] Bransom's Inferentialism Further Reflections

As I read Taylor's article I was reading his version of context as how
perspectives on phenomena [in this case speech acts]  are understood from
particular frameworks.  Speech acts, when viewed from an atomistic
perspective START with words and then build up to sentences.  Bransom and
Taylor criticize this form of analysis. Bransom privleges the assertive
aspects of language [the giving and receiving of reasons] as the foundation
of language.  This giving and receiving of reasons is produced within
specific practical forms of activity.
Charles Taylor suggests this is a profound move to locate language use
within practices and involves embedding language use in a more inclusive
context exploring multiple uses of language.  However, Taylor is cautious
that Bransom does not make a move to an even more expansive context which
Taylor refers to as a "form of life"  What Taylor is pointing to is the
recognition that the particular assertoric language uses are generated
within particular historically constituted forms of life.  Taylor is
suggesting that Bransom's privileging the assertoric language use [REASON
ALONE] as adequate to explain language  is itself a position embedded within
a particular historically constructed "form of life"  Taylor is suggesting
Bransom's position on language use can only emerge within a particular
historical context. Taylor uses the term context to suggest Bransom is
working within a particular context which is  narrower than "form of life".
Bransom's narrower context of language use as judgements and assertions  is
too restrictive. Taylor is suggesting that to make sense Bransom's position
must be embedded within a wider context of the whole range of ymbolic forms
[which includes gestures, music, etc] Taylor references Wittgenstein for the
suggestion that particular perspectives and actions such as assuming "reason
alone" is sufficient to solve our predicaments are assumed within a
particular way of life.  Taylor is trying to make the point that Bransom's
position CANNOT exist within Bransom's own self-imposed boundaries.  We need
to look to "ways of life" to situate Bransom's position as making "sense".
 Andy, Taylor returns to the central question, Is reason ALONE adequate to
solve predicaments.  Bransom brilliantly articulates the pragmatic
processes of  giving and askinf for  reasons. But for Taylor, Bransom has
not moved far enough into the more inclusive "form of life" without which
Bransom's more narrower perspective would NOT make sense and Bransom's
reasons ALONE could not exist on their own.  Taylor is pointing out that
each form of life makes particular "cuts" or uses "scissors" to make
particular distinctions.  For Taylor the "assertoric/disclosive" cut [from
withIN his theoretical perspective] is a central distinction. Reason ALONE
is not a self-sufficient language use. In our particular historical period
we may narrow the range of operations we include as language and the reason
Taylor suggests for embracing this narrower context [reasons as
self-sufficient] is to FACILITATE finding common conclusions. By focusing on
reasons alone, using neutral terms to explain phenomena and predicaments we
move to a stance of disengagement from the disclosive forms of language use
[dismissed as merely private and subjective]  This form of practice of
dismissing the disclosive dimension is accomplished by stating that the
disclosive realm is without any "real object" and is therefore

 Andy, Taylor's explanation of how our current "form of life" as dismissing
certain language uses as merely metaphysical does seem to be a boundary
marker or a particular way of "cutting" the world [making distinctions]  For
Taylor the disclosive realm is what "moves us" in our predicaments and
language use  is central within this disclosive realm. Taylor is suggesting
that Bransom may be "ontologizing" a particular METHOD of giving and asking
for reasons as a "form of life" and as THE method to resolve all our
predicaments. This reductive move may segregate the disclosive realm into
being merely within the private sphere and separate it from the public
sphere [in our historically situated form of life]. As I understand Taylor
this form of demarcation is a boundary marker [form of cutting] that
separates the disclosive from the assertoric speech acts. Taylor's question
to Bransom is,
"Is there more contextualization we have to make?"
The answer for Taylor is that the practice of giving and receiving answers
only makes sense within a broader contextualization which views the
assertoric and disclosive language uses as intetwined within a particular
form of life.  To narrow the context to "reason alone" is to confuse a
"method" for an "ontology"  The disclosive realm is the ESSENTIAL background
for our most immediately practical discourse. The disclosive cannot be
excluded from the public giving of and asking for reasons. Even within
science, mathematics, and logic "there is a continuing and irremovable
presence of the articulative-disclosive".  The kind of person who attempts
to operate under the ethic of using reason alone  "is inseparable from the
development of a particular kind of self-consciousness and self-examination
and self-scrutiny. For Taylor THIS points to a "way of life" [context]
Within THIS way of life your words may be disqualified if you are violating
the "reason alone" precepts. For Taylor THIS particular KIND of language
game can only be operationalized within a particular way of life [broader
context] that includes disqualifying articulative-disclosive considerations
in the giving and asking for particular kinds of reasons. This particular
way of life is understood within a particular ethic of how we should
proceed.  Science when following this kind of narrowed language use
is participating in "science-fiction"  For Taylor we are not capable of
being guided by reason alone.

Andy, this extended answer may be "too general" and too repetitive or may be
so obvious and "common sense" within the CHAT community. However, I continue
to be engaged by John Shotter's perspective of speech acts as "con-scientia"
[knowing with].  If this is "merely" metaphysical "ideality" I am willing to
consider other perspectives.  However, I sense a common thread between
Taylor and Shotter's understanding of speech acts as intertwining reasoning
and the disclosive.  When reading Ingold's development of his themes from
"production" to "history" to "dwelling" and now exploring "lines" as paths
of wayfaring I also see an exploration of the disclosive dimension of speech
I'm willing to concede that Taylor's use of the term "contexts" may be too
fuzzy and indistinct and needs further articulation.[or use a different
phrase.  However the theme which Taylor, Shotter, Rey, Ingold, Merleau-Ponty
and others are exploring of "ways of life" or "dwelling in the world" seems
to have some merit.  Boundary demarcation seems to have a place in these
ways of observing and participating in the world and what is considered
important to notice and observe.  Everyday expressions within  communicative
practices  need from Taylor's perspective can only be understood within
particular "ways of life"


On Sun, Aug 21, 2011 at 11:45 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Larry, I think the issue which the debate you are reporting fail to examine
> is *what is meant by context*? And the talk about boundaries, and whether
> they should be soft or hard points to the problem with this vagueness. The
> point is to conceive of the interaction, be it dialogic or mediated, in the
> same concept with the context (and vice versa); only then can these
> conundrums be unravelled, in my view.
> Andy
> Larry Purss wrote:
>>  Hi Arthur and Andy
>> Arthur, Your mentioning Bransom's theory of inferentialism left me curious
>> to know more.  I found on Google an edited book titled "Reading Bransom
>> -On
>> Making it Explicit"   In the book numerous authors have responded to
>> Bransom
>> and then Bransom replies in the 4th section of the book.  One particular
>> chapter was written by Charles Taylor and I believe it has relevance to
>> the
>> discussion on Fernando Rey's article for discussion [in a round about way]
>> It also has relevance for reading John Shotter's article on interpreting
>> Vygotsky through analyzing speech acts and the multiple uses of language.
>> This is the reason I'm going to summarize Taylor's perspective on the
>> multiple contexts of language use.
>> Taylor agrees with Bransom's basic premise that concepts are relevant
>> within
>> situated contexts and those concepts justify MULTIPLE inferences. What is
>> crucial in thought and language is these multiple possible and potential
>> inferences within activity. Taylor points out Bransom's notion of holism
>> [grasping the whole of things through the unity of apperception shares
>> Merleau-Ponty's notion of holism.]
>> Taylor then reads Bransom as sharing Wittgenstein's perspective that
>> meaningful language always requires a context of practices and actions.
>> Taylor suggests THIS form of consciousness has been historically
>> developing
>> for the last 2 hundred years gradually undoing the "abstracting"
>> epistemology of Descartes and Hobbes.  In this development of awareness of
>> the primacy of practices and actions within language use "judgements" and
>> "inferences" are central concepts.  However, at this point Taylor draws
>> our
>> attention to Wittgenstein's notion that "judgements" are only ONE
>> KIND of language game.  There are a family of such language games that put
>> in play combinations of reference and prediction which are used to make
>> "empirical claims", "to ask how things are" "to give commands". Bransom
>> articulates this family of language games with clarity and illumination.
>> It
>> is at this point that Taylor opens up a new line of inquiry which supports
>> Shotter's exploration of the uses of speech acts.
>> For Taylor lots of other language games are going on. For example we use
>> language to establish intimacy or distance. To open contact or close it
>> off.
>> To cry for, and give or withhold sympathy, and in multiple ways DISCLOSE
>> the
>> world.  We disclose the depths of our feelings, we disclose the beauty of
>> the world, we disclose the virtues of the good [ethics]. Taylor suggests
>> we
>> won't grasp these disclosive aspects of language if we only focus on
>> reference and prediction of judgements.  By FIXING CLEARLY AND DISTINCTLY
>> through reference and prediction we focus on determinate illumination.
>> However, Taylor suggests that disclosive uses of language sometimes depend
>> on the uncertainty and indeterminancy of disclosures.
>> Taylor is pointing to the boundaries we construct to help us determne how
>> we
>> understand the uses of language. To see language use as only ASSERTIVE is
>> too restrictive a boundary marker.  To understand the centrality of the
>> disclosive uses of language Taylor suggests it is analogous to the other
>> disclosive symbol forms such as music, painting, dance, and gesture.
>> Taylor's broader boundary marking suggests the notion of language as
>> "speech
>> in words" as assertive [giving reasons] is too narrow a boundary marker.
>> Speech must relate to the broader field of the whole range of symbolic
>> disclosive forms.
>> Wittgenstein also points out that to take language as judgements [speech
>> in
>> words] is too narrow a boundary and he recognizes this form as a
>> specific type of practice or language game. Wittgenstein suggests
>> embedding
>> this narrower context in the wider frame of multiple practices withIN the
>> all-encompassing frame OF a form of life. A form of life IS the broader
>> context. Wittgenstein also emphasizes these language games can only be
>> played as games of EXCHANGE. They can only be played with others. [what
>> Bransom calls "giving and asking for reasons"].  Bransom brilliantly
>> illuminates the dialogical perspective of language in his explicating
>> using
>> language for the giving and asking for reasons.
>> However, though Taylor agrees with Bransom's positions rejecting
>> monological
>> representationalist epistemology [up to a point] Taylor  asks, How far
>> does
>> this embedding in contexts have to go?  There is a context where  the goal
>> of language games is to make, exchange, and check claims ABOUT factual
>> states of things and also in this family of games the drawing inferences
>> ABOUT what to do.  These practices are a family or set of language games.
>> family of assertive approaches withIN a broader context of symbolic forms
>> of
>> disclosure such as music, gesture, painting, and dance?  WE also give and
>> ask for reasons to do with beauty, ethics, and deep feelings in dialogical
>> contexts.
>> What Taylor is drawing our attention to and attempting to illuminate is
>> the
>> ASSERTORIC/DISCLOSIVE DISTINCTION!  as a way of marking a wider more
>> inclusive understanding of the uses of language. Language sometimes is
>> used
>> to make accessible to us [show us] some phenomenon without making
>> assertions. The SENSE of this disclosive use of language can be
>> INDETERMINATE AND INDEFINABLE. The use of language is to draw us into the
>> phenomenon without clarity or determinate boundaries as part of our
>> disclosive world of symbolic form.
>> Taylor points out that for an immense range of language use BOTH assertion
>> and disclosure are expressed. As Shotter emphasizes we can speak of the
>> disclosive DIMENSION of speech acts. The speaker might be articulating a
>> disclosive stance towards language use and we the listener may respond
>> with
>> an assertive judgement by DEFINING its ESSENTIAL features. These are two
>> different dimensions of language use.  But this assertoric response was
>> NOT
>> the description the speaker was expressing withIN his speech acts.
>> The contexts we create by boundary marking what are the legitimate uses of
>> language [legitimate language games] extend to our notions of scientific
>> discourse. Today there is a common sense zone of assertoric language use
>> around our explanations of science and everyday practices.  This zone or
>> context can have harder or softer boundaries. Hard line materialists
>> reduce
>> all human phenomena to "natural" physical explanations [minds reduced to
>> brains, feelings reduced to endocrinology]  Moving to softer more
>> inclusive
>> boundaries certain philosophers want to fence in and contain reasoning
>> ethics and morals. [they explain and justify morals on the basis of
>> reasons
>> alone independently of disclosive uses of language.]  They stay within the
>> normative rules of particular practices or language games.
>> For Taylor a key question is What are the reasons for defining and
>> DETERMINING such a bounded and marked frame for fact-establishing
>> assertoric
>> discourse?  The crucial boundary marker is asserting that REASON ALONE is
>> the way we use language and leaving the disclosive uses of language
>> outside
>> the boundary. This "reason alone" use of language without recourse to the
>> more inclusive context which also includes disclosive language use has a
>> particular attraction. With the disclosive outside the boundary then
>> OF ARGUMENT can be made much more RIGOUROUS [rigid] and CONCLUSIVE and
>> DETERMINATE.  Then we can more easily AGREE on the conclusions of
>> assertoric
>> science, and leave the disclosive use of language in our speech acts
>> aside.
>> Differences on the nature of deep feelings, beauty, and ethics can be put
>> aside as outside the boundaries of language use. By narrowing its boundary
>> and range of operations, speech acts as reasons become effective in
>> reaching
>> common conclusions by leaving behind the expressive as disclosive.
>> I believe Rey's article on sense& meaning, and John Shotter's article on
>> speech acts as disclosive contexts is attempting to broaden the context
>> beyond the assertoric to include the INTERTWINING of BOTH the assertoric
>> and
>> disclosive uses of language.
>> I apologize for the length of this post but I'm struggling to "show" the
>> othe dimension of language use that is analogus to music, gesture, dance,
>> and painting as EXPRESSING ways of life or ways to dwell in the world
>> [Ingold & Merleau-Ponty]
>> Larry
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> --
> ------------------------------**------------------------------**
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> *Andy Blunden*
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