18.412 the virtues of resistance

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 8 Dec 2004 08:27:22 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 412.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: Norman Hinton <hinton_at_springnet1.com> (4)
         Subject: Re: 18.409 the virtues of resistance

   [2] From: lachance_at_origin.chass.utoronto.ca (Francois (55)
         Subject: Vine wood

         Date: Wed, 08 Dec 2004 07:33:00 +0000
         From: Norman Hinton <hinton_at_springnet1.com>
         Subject: Re: 18.409 the virtues of resistance

Willard, I can agree with Galileo (and you) on everything except the notion
that things are 'written in only one way' in the book of nature. I think
we know better now -- though I fear some people still think that way about

         Date: Wed, 08 Dec 2004 07:34:05 +0000
         From: lachance_at_origin.chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
         Subject: Vine wood


A text comes to mind when reflecting upon your quotation from Gallileo and
relative merits of various styles of thinking in Humanist18.409 "the
virtues of resistance". A concordance of the Vulgate Latin and the phrase
"ad utramque partem" leads one to Ezekiel 15:4 and the passage about the
outcast vine where the prophet asks about the twisted unfashionable wood:
"Behold it is cast into the fire for fuel; the fire devoureth both the
ends of it, and the midst of is burned. Is it meet for any work?" (KJV).
Interesting the Biblical text does not go on to suggest the leaching of
the ashes to make lye.

I point to a resistive reading of the text and the sly movement from
contemplating what can be done _to_ the object to imagining what can be
done _with_ its residue. The role of rhetoric in the nature of
intellectual inquiry may have nothing to do with alternating argumentation
from either end as in the scholastic exercise nor, as Galileo would want,
tracing a line of deduction from premises held to be true.

Take for example a given sign instance. A set of glyphs or a sequence of
sounds. The faith-based approach one world approach would ascribe an
ontological status to the sign instance. It (is) / (is not) a word. A more
skeptical and possible worlds approach would suggest that the sign
instance (could be) or (could not be) a word. The modalization is a
rhetorical move that shifts attention from entities to conditions: take x
to be y when z.

In passing, I remark that such a formula interiorizes a dialogue of
collaboration. The inquirer through the anticipation of an auditor bends
the rhetorical resources to the readiness to temporalize. There is a
preparedness to rework the question, to generalize tentatively and specify
appropriately. The operation very much like what Michael Polyani calls the
principle of managebility.

<quote>In the most general terms, the principle of manageability consists
in devising a representation of experience which reveals new aspects of
it. [...] These services of manageability to thought can all be described
as taking place in three stages:
1. Primary denotation.
2. Its reorganization.
3. The reading of the result.
[...] Furthermore, the process of reorganization may be taken to include
the transposition of the primary denotation into another set of symbols,
as when numerical observations are represented by graphs or verbal
statements by equations, a process which may require considerable
<bibl>Michael Polyani. Chapter 5 "Articulation" Part Two "The Tacit
Component" <title>Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical
Philosophy</title> Harper Torchbook Edition, 1964, pages 81-82</bibl>

To take lye which is used to make soap as the outcome of burning the
twisted wood of the dead vine is to contribute to the scouring of the
household containers fit to receive the new wine. Imbibe. Misread.
Transpose. In some dialogue of the dead, Ezekiel meets Confucius and
Galileo meets Hawking.

   -- Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large

A calendar is like a map. And just as maps have insets, calendars in the
21st century might have 'moments' expressed in flat local time fanning out
into "great circles" expressed in earth revolution time.
Received on Wed Dec 08 2004 - 03:40:41 EST

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