Re: Riddles (was: Lateral Thinking)

From: Brian Atkins (
Date: Tue Jan 02 2001 - 09:52:34 MST

Well I think Damien and others should take into account the user interface
requirements of their readers when attempting to "bridge the divide". I
mean, it's no good if it's so obfuscated (for the eggheads) that they can't
even understand it, or want to go to the trouble to do so. Speak more plainly
is my plea. wrote:
> In a message dated 1/1/01 11:02:27 PM Central Standard Time,
> writes:
> > Damien Broderick wrote:
> > >
> > > We do not embrace either paradox or ordered structure for the
> zest
> > of it,
> > > though their embrace is zestful, but as a tool. A tool is used for a
> job.
> > A
> > > job is a practice in our twinned world: the empirical world of the Real,
> > > which is what we bark our shins on however we care to describe it, and
> the
> > > symbolic world of culture and subjectivity. Knowing that we call upon
> > > paradox to do a job, or try to resolve what appears to be a paradox to
> get
> > > a job done, emphasises the pragmatic dimension which is always part of
> any
> > > analysis.
> >
> > Damien, I cannot make out *what* the heck you are talking about. And
> > consider the source.
> Eliezer, I find this an interesting comment in light of a discussion that
> Barbara Lamar, Natasha and I have been having off-list regarding "the Two
> Cultures", i.e. the famous divide between the humanities and arts on the one
> hand and the cultural world of science and technology on the other. The
> passage from Damien's post you quote above is perfectly clear to me. Perhaps
> this is because of which side of the "Two Cultures" divide I come from.
> Having spent a lifetime in study of literature, philosophy and history, I am
> used to thinking in the terms with which Damien expresses himself here.
> In this passage Damien is expressing himself in terms of (really very slight)
> metaphor and analogy ("barking our shins"), two powerful tools in the kit of
> people who work on "our" side of the divide. Interestingly, and apropos of
> the discussion we've been having off-list, Damien is actually addressing the
> subject of the divide itself in this passage, i.e. he is talking about the
> interaction of the empirical world with which science and technology is
> concerned ("the Real") and the world of subjective experience which is the
> main object of works of "symbol and culture". Ironically, I think the point
> that Damien was making was that clever self-reference - which he took the
> solution to your riddle to be - is in fact corrosive of the value of
> grounding dialogue in the empirical world of barked shins and repeatable
> experiment. I think his larger point (the whole book from he quotes is
> making its way to the top of my list) is that a pragmatic judgment from
> utility in the empirical world ultimately drains the quagmire of self-doubt
> and self-reference to which so much of modern "culture" has been reduced by
> the practice of post-modernist "deconstruction". Ultimately, Damien is
> working to bridge the chasm between "the Two Cultures". So I think you
> should try again to make out what he's talking about.
> Greg Burch <>----<>
> Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide
> -or-
> ICQ # 61112550
> "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
> enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
> question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
> -- Desmond Morris

Brian Atkins
Director, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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