[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [xmca] Bransom's Inferentialism Further Reflections

Very well explained, Larry, thank you! In your exposition, I find myself sympathising with Charles Taylor's position. Interesting observation about the value of narrowing the context to reason-giving as a route to resolving differences. I remain convinced that "project" is the key concept in this area of theory, but your presentation of this discussion is very engaging. "Form of life" is clearly a concept worth dwelling upon.


Larry Purss wrote:
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 symbolic 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 "metaphysical". 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 acts. 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" Larry Larry On Sun, Aug 21, 2011 at 11:45 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto: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.


    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
        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
        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
        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
        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
        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
        through reference and prediction we focus on determinate
        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
        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
        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
        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
        states of things and also in this family of games the drawing
        ABOUT what to do.  These practices are a family or set of
        language games.
        set this
        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

        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
        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 ABOUT
        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 CANONS
        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]

        xmca mailing list
        xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>

-- ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    *Andy Blunden*
    Joint Editor MCA:
    Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>
    Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857

    xmca mailing list
    xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>

*Andy Blunden*
Joint Editor MCA: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~db=all~content=g932564744
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857

xmca mailing list