Re: Riddles (was: Lateral Thinking)

Date: Tue Jan 02 2001 - 07:11:37 MST

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
> of it,
> > though their embrace is zestful, but as a tool. A tool is used for a
> 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
> > 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
> > a job done, emphasises the pragmatic dimension which is always part of
> > 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

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