20.094 problematic metaphors

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Sun, 9 Jul 2006 21:49:30 +0100

                Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 94.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Fri, 07 Jul 2006 14:18:09 +0100
         From: Ryan Deschamps <Ryan.Deschamps_at_Dal.Ca>
         Subject: Re: 20.092 problematic metaphors


I remember complaining early on in my life how particular philosophers are used
also as metaphors. As some intone Sartre to represent an existentialist view,
even though most who do this have never read _Being and Nothingness_
cover-to-cover. And certainly, now, we can only access Sartre as a metaphor,
since we cannot ask the human being himself.

I'll have to read Reddy, but I wonder if he allows that our psychology does
weird things to us, often for good reasons (related to survival of the species,
and/or eventually for happiness). Of course, happiness never really stopped
your average humanist from questioning the fray. :)

I think the reason we prefer the flawed metaphors is that they are more stable
than humanists. I can keep track of Sartre via his books, whereas I have the
feeling that the real Sartre would have me confused because he would be full of
contradictions, extra desires.

Also, while I have always contended that librarians are messing with the minds
of scholars (via disciplines), we are quickly losing our hypnotic powers. Is
the _Humanist_ archive a metaphor in the same way as is idea/book/library? Is
it less or more valid because of it? Can a reader trust my views expressed
here, considering that they may be edited, drafted, re-drafted, infused with
rhetoric, inspired by a desire to be noticed online, composed only when sober
(for fear of an unfavorable public eye) etc.? And does the idea that
real-life "Ryanistic humanism" amounts to recitations of Monty Python, Joan
Rivers and eclectic toilet humor, change any of this?

Personally, I think metaphors are more natural than Reddy suggests. Even in
the radical constructivist view, perception is an association of self to
environment, and an association of "Humanist-to-self" or "Humanist-to-other" is
just as dangerous as "humanist-to-idea-to-book" or otherwise. Just ask other
humanists from Dostoevski to Thomas Mann to Oscar Wilde.

For me, I like to revel in my illusions, keeping a ratty old library of
paperbacks on my shelves just to show my company how well-read I am. Or at
least how respectful I am of the well-read.

Ryan. . .
Received on Sun Jul 09 2006 - 17:14:43 EDT

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