Art, Meaning & History

Reilly Jones (
Sat, 1 Mar 1997 19:49:04 -0500

Damien Broderick wrote 2/28/97: <An interesting source that I've belatedly
discovered on these topics, blending cognitive science and informed
literary theory, is Mark Turner.>

A very good article by Turner, "Design for a Theory of Meaning", appeared
in the book "The Nature and Ontogenesis of Meaning", W. Overton and D.
Palermo, eds., (Erlbaum, 1994), pages 91-107. Turner productively draws on
the work of neuroscientist Gerald Edelman and cognitive scientist George
Lakoff to examine the imaginative mind in the light of genetics,
experience, biology and culture.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Lakoff, in publishing his latest book "Moral
Politics: What Conservatives Know that Liberals Don't" (1996) has revealed
himself to be yet another politically correct utopian pinko scientist, an
irredeemably "learned ignoramus." He should stick to his narrow field,
like most scientists should, and do something useful in it, expanding on
Vico's foundational axioms in cognitive science.

Damien: <A convenient summary of such errors, documented by Luc Ferry and
Alain Renaut, Andrew Scull, Erik Midelfort, Leon Radzinowicz, Michael
Ignatieff, Douglas Hay, and David Garland, is sketched in Keith
Windschuttle, The Killing of History (1994), pp. 145-54.>

"The Killing of History: How a Discipline is Being Murdered By Literary
Critics and Social Theorists", by Keith Windschuttle (2nd Ed. 1996) is a
highly recommended antidote to all the filthy compost-modern revisionist
history, nihilistic literary criticism, etc. of today (note I'm not
singling out just the French like Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, et al this
time; but I'm not going soft, honest).

My stylistic soulmate Roger Kimball, writing in the Sept. 96 issue of "The
New Criterion" regarded this book as the most important work of cultural
criticism to appear in many years. Kimball wrote: "at a time when what Mr.
Windschuttle calls 'the return of tribalism' threatens many parts of the
world with a descent into barbarism, to embrace cultural relativism is also
to embrace the 'charnal house politics' that have brought such misery and
destruction to Sri Lanka, the Sudan, Central Africa, the Balkans, and
elsewhere. This indeed is where the arcane theories of Derrida, Foucault,
and their epigoni collide with the real world. They abandon the
constraints of empirical truth in the name of liberation. But what they
wind up with is not freedom but a new and more terrible servitude." And
that is the truth, I'm certain of it. Gregory Houston, you might pick up
and peruse a copy of it.

<THEORY AND ITS DISCONTENTS, forthcoming 1997, by Damien Broderick>

My interest is piqued!

Reilly Jones | Philosophy of Technology: | The rational, moral and political relations
| between 'How we create' and 'Why we create'