15.638 cultural divisions

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty (w.mccarty@btinternet.com)
Date: Mon May 06 2002 - 05:57:50 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 638.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Mon, 06 May 2002 10:55:36 +0100
             From: Willard McCarty <w.mccarty@btinternet.com>
             Subject: division by culture

    The following mutatis mutandis applies, I think, to more than the two
    countries named:

    "England and France have been divided by more than the Channel: there have
    been radically different cultural traditions regarding the relations
    between theory and practice in the humanities; on the significance of
    philosophy, logic and linguistics; and more recently on the application of
    expert systems tools and ideas. Translating the literature and
    interpretations of one research community to the other involves far more
    than merely linguistic skills. The frontiers of understanding are located
    -- Richard Ennals, "Interpretation and codebreaking", in Interpretation in
    the Humanities: Perspectives from Artificial Intelligence, ed. Richard
    Ennals and Jean-Claude Gardin, Library and Information Research Report 71
    (British Library Board, 1990): 62.

    The differences can be great indeed -- so great that, as a colleague
    remarked to me recently, one may question making the effort at all. Let us
    say, for example, that the work of an obviously intelligent and very
    learned scholar from another cultural tradition seems utterly wrongheaded
    -- not opaque, not just strange or unfamiliar, but seriously, perhaps even
    dangerously WRONG in its goals and methods. And, to make the situation more
    interesting, let us say that this scholar's work is widely respected and
    clearly mainstream within his or her own tradition. What happens then?

    Are there similar problems in comparative literature, for example? This
    would seem a core problem in ethnography.



    Dr Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer,
    Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London,
    Strand, London WC2R 2LS, U.K.,
    +44 (0)20 7848-2784, ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/,
    willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk, w.mccarty@btinternet.com

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