Posts Tagged ‘experience


Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding

John Locke
Essay Concerning Human Understanding
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies

•    Abstract General Ideas→ general terms
o    AGIs rather than anything in the world
o    Form AGIs by noticing similarities between ideas
•    Cartesians calls AGIs essence
•    Corpuscular Hypothesis: “new mechanistic science”
o    All events and states in the natural world can be explained with reference to the size, shape, and motion of corpuscules (reality)
•    Boyle
•    Demonstration is reasoning out a proof
o    Each step must be an intuition—depends on intuitive knowledge
•    Essence: quality of something that made is so (knife’s essence = ability to cut)
o    Descartes: 2 essences in the world: thought (essence of mind) and extension (essence of body)
•    Intuition is the highest form of knowledge: mind perceives connections
•    New Mechanistic Science: all explanation can be given in terms of matter and motion
•    Sensitive knowledge: lowest form of knowledge—doesn’t even count
•    Transparency of the Mental: nothing can be in our mind without our being aware of it
•    Veil of Perception: out perception of the world is indirect, filtered through a medium of ideas
•    Essay responds to two schools of thought
o    Aristotelian-influences Scholasticism (“nothing in the intellect, not first in the senses)
o    Cartesian Rationalism (“no trusting the senses until they have been verified by the intellect”)
•    “Of innate ideas” = against he possibility of innate propositional knowledge (whatever is, is) and argues against the possibility of innate ideas (idea of God)
•    Origins of Knowledge are from experience
•    Everything in our mind is an idea that takes one of two routes:
o    Come through senses
o    Come through the mind’s reflection on its own operation
•    Ideas: simple or complex (simple → complex)
•    Knowledge is the perception of strong internal relations that hold among the ideas themselves, without any reference to the external world
•    Four sorts of relations between ideas that would count as knowledge:
o    Identity/diversity
o    Relation
o    Coexistence
o    Actual existence
•    Warns: as good as our opinions becomes, never going to reach the level of knowledge
•    Primary Qualities: ideas which resemble their causes
o    Texture, number, size, shape, motion
•    Secondary Qualities: Ideas which don’t resemble their causes
o    Color, sound, taste, odor
•    Regarding memory: which ideas are best remembered—names the defects of memory
o    Since all mental items must be conscious, there isn’t much room allowed for memory
o    For Locke, memory isn’t literally a place where ideas are stored, but refers ot a power of the mind to revive perceptions it once had
•    Contrary to popular belief, we don’t know bodies better than we know the mind—we only know the observable qualities
•    Knowledge is “the perception by reason of the connection and agreement or repulsion and disagreement between any two or more ideas.”
o    To count as knowledge, connection between ideas must be very strong
•    Knowledge of existence in three parts:
o    Ourselves by intuition
o    God by demonstration
o    External world by resembling the world as we think it is
•    Judgment is a faculty concerned with identifying the truth/falsehoods of propositions
o    Based on probability (≠ knowledge based on intuition and demonstration)

(Thanks to Spark Notes for some invaluable assistance!)


Gadamer’s Truth and Method

Hans-Georg Gadamer
Truth and Method
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies

•    Bildung: “the properly human way of developing one’s natural talents and capacities
•    Erlebuisse: “experiences”: enduring residue of moments lived in their full immediacy
o    Universal significance which goes beyond history
•    Two words for “experience”: erfahrund and erlebnis (used most by Gadamer)
•    Erlebnis: overturns exisiting perspective
o    Have ≠ erfahrung: undergo
•    Re-presenting: ‘total mediation’ made fully available again
•    Consciousness open to the effects of history: Ricoeur
•    Tradition is not automatic
o    Task, required to make even though no one compels us’ precludes complacency and passivity
•    Sache: Subject matter
•    Language becomes an event, something historical
•    Experience of truth that transcends scientific method
o    Can’t be verified by methodological means
•    The incorporation of experience within
•    Understanding belongs to the being of that which is understood
•    Legal historian v. practicing lawyer
•    Mediation between past and present: application
•    Play is more than the consciousness of the player
o    More than a subjective act
•    Language is more than the consciousness of the speaker (Also subjective act)
•    Development of human sciences is modeled after the natural sciences
•    Experiential universals are not concerned with how things evolve, but how it got to this point (how it happened that it is so)
•    Helmholtz: humans arrive at conclusions by an unconscious process—not logical, but psychological
•    Human sciences: true representations of humanism? Contra natural sciences?
•    Bildung (via Herder): raising up to humanity through culture
o    Developing one’s natural talents
•    Kant: cultivating a capacity
•    Bildung represents result of process of becoming
o    Not process itself
•    Man is characterized by break with the immediate/natural that the intellectual/rational side of his nature demands
•    Working consciousness = independent consciousness
o    Restrained desire
•    By forming the thing it forms itself
•    Theoretical Bildung is not immediate, but alien
o    Beyond what is immediately known
o    Different from oneself
•    Returning to oneself from what is other
•    Memory as talent/faculty is misunderstood
o    Must be formed
•    Vico: Rhetoric is based on true and right/evident
•    Aristotle: phronesis = intellectual venture
•    Probability operates on historical fact
•    Le bon sens avoids mistakes of scientific dogmatism and is the law of the metaphysical utopianists (Bergson)
•    Detinger: rational truths ≠ common/sensible truths
•    Judgment requires a principle to guide its application
•    Kant: appeal to common sense when science fails
o    Sensus communis: public sense: judgment with collective reason
•    Good taste = good society
o    Not through birth/rank, but shared judgments
•    Taste isn’t demonstrated
•    Beauty: an objective idea with subjective pleasure: Socrates
•    Taste is the supreme consummation of moral judgment
•    Taste ≠ knowledge
o    Pleasure, instead
•    Beauty is fixed by the concept of purposiveness (an end)
•    Taste must be guided by beauty
•    Perfection of taste (possibility of its being cultivated and perfected) assumes a definite unchangeable form
o    But taste is mutable
•    Experience can be traced back to consciousness
•    Dilthey: life is productivity
•    Husserl: experience = consciousness = intentionality
•    Experience is constituted in a memory
•    Every experience is taken out of the continuity of life and related to the whole of one’s life
•    Allegory and symbol: not the same but both refers to something whose meaning doesn’t consist in its external appearance, but to something beyond it
•    Symbol creates link between visible and invisible
•    Symbol: inward unity
•    Allegory: points to something else
•    Schlegel: all beauty is allegory
•    Art: supplement and fill in gaps left by nature
o    Fine arts perfect reality, not veil or mask it
•    Aesthetic differentation: are existing in its own right
o    Selects on the basis of aesthetic quality
•    Seeing means articulating => articulating
•    Is there a knowledge in art?
•    Play and disguise: holds on to continuity for self along
•    The players no longer exist, only what they’re playing
•    Ontological difference between the likeness and its resemblance
•    Contemporaneity: bringing the two moments together that aren’t concurrent
o    Kirkegaard
•    How is the picture different from the copy?
o    Problem of the original
•    The picture has an autonomy that affects the original
•    Hermeneutics: classical discipline of understanding
o    Rise of historical consciousness
•    Reading with understanding is always a kind of reproduction
o    Speaks to us in the present
•    Writing can mean something unintentional
•    Schlermacher: hermeneutics => avoiding misunderstandings
•    Trojan War exists within Homer’s poem
•    The artist doesn’t set the standard for his own work
•    Something interior is immediately present
•    Historical experience and idealistic heritage
•    Dilthey: how historical experience can become science
•    Experience: fusion of memory and expectation
o    ≠ a living historical process
•    Dilthey: triumph of hermeneutics—objectifications of art
•    Everything in history is intelligible because everything is a text
•    Life-world ≠ objectivism
•    What being is was determined by time
•    How can hermeneutics do justice to historicity of understanding?
•    Make the fore-structures work in terms of the things themselves—in the present => expectation only goes so far
•    Reading with expectation = reevaluating what’s there
•    What happens when understanding goes unnoticed?
•    Hermeneutics: becomes a question of things
•    “Unfounded judgment” => The whole debate!!
•    Have the courage to make use of your own understanding
•    Tendency of reconstruction = reclaiming the past
•    Poets have only an aesthetic effect: stimulate the imagination
•    Overcoming prejudices in itself prejudicial
•    Not knowing historical fate is very different from the way nature is alien to man: nature is knowable—not an in the future;
o    But historical fate is only a “guess: based on past experiences
•    What an authority says supposedly can be verified
•    Relation to the past isn’t characterized by distance
o    Always part of us: non-distance
•    One ‘does’ traditions without really understanding the experience
o    “I have always done this…but why…because that’s how it is… ‘makes’ me feel connected
•    The historical process must constantly re-prove itself
•    The classical is timeless
•    “Hermeneutic Rule”: whole in terms of detail, detail in terms of whole
•    Temporal distance is not something to overcome
•    Understanding = historically effected event
•    Hermeneutics divided in three ways: understanding, interpretation, and application
•    Understanding: applying something universal to particular
•    Man is not at his own disposal
•    Always already in the situation of having to act
•    Laws of agreement v. natural law
•    The work of interpretation is to concretize
•    Historically effected consciousness has the structure of experience
•    Husserl: uses scientific experience as the basis for all other experiences
•    Experience isn’t science itself, but a necessary condition of it
•    Hegel: experience is the experience that consciousness has of itself
•    A person called experienced has become so through experiences and also is open to new experiences
•    Return is an illusion
•    Knowledge always means considering opposites
•    Interpretation makes understanding explicit
•    Greek philosophy: a work is only a name
•    Being that can be understood as language
•    Beauty has the most important ontological function mediating between idea and appearance
Class notes
•    Historical overview of perspectives of hermeneutics
•    What’s the nature of the enterprise of rhetorical theory today?
•    Leading up to the present
•    Referring back to the classics without any consciousness of what they’re doing
•    Product of human activity
•    Question of human activity
o    Truth?
•    What’s the nature of any human construct?
•    How to we account for things and what is it that the accounting does?
•    How is it that a scientific rationality determines human (rationality)?
•    Kuhn—reversal: hermeneutics can help us understand humanness of scientific rationality
•    Things we do we aren’t aware of
•    Awareness of activities that are definitely human activities
•    Science: Reduce particulars to the universal
o    Example: laws of gravity
o    Subsumes all the particulars
o    Makes any event uneventful
•    Explains stuff away: Nietzsche
•    Human Sciences: Success of human science was extremely profound
•    Interconnected:
o    Not dissociated with being a person in the world
o    No account of my experience of falling
•    Experience and understanding not so divergent of each other
•    Manipulation of language was an intervention of ‘cosmic order’
o    Persuading to extra-sensory appeals
•    Ex: Gorgias
•    Seduction with words like drugs
•    Tap directly into will
•    Explain pretty well with accounts of experiences
•    What’s rhetoric in Enlightenment?
o    Logical consistency
•    Problem with science (for Gadamer) is that it has no way of accounting for itself
•    Gravity (ex.): how can we be confident that what I’m saying account for themselves
•    Science has problem of self-awareness and observation of empirical phenomenon
•    What happens when we apply this to human activity
•    Explaining away not explaining why
•    We want consequence in our experience
•    My experience tells me that there’s something else going on
•    Natural science aims at universal experience
o    ≠ human science: experience: understand value of particular
•    What is it about human activity that matters?
o    Different anticipation
•    How do we explain how things matter?
o    Memory and expectation
•    Something about the recollection and remembering is the event/that makes it meaningful
•    Any event fits into a universal
o    More of a pointedness to it
•    “my memory was something like that, too”
•    Particular into an instance of a universal
o    Ex.: Hamlet—creates its own world in which it represents own universal
•    How do we know our own narrative efforts are right?
•    If rhetoric is some kind of manipulation of signs and symbols, then how does that participate in our own
•    Created by common viewpoints
•    Politically aware
o    Understanding world in response to each other
•    Ex: it’s right not to steal
o    Accepted
•    How do you mediate between particular and universal?
•    How do I have an understanding of these particular things?
•    For Gadamer: the shadows are more than real
o    What is only is because we are aware of them
•    Rearticulation of universality
•    The aesthetic object gets prioritized as human value and significance
•    The sublimity of human experience
•    What is it that makes certain experiences more?
•    Experience isn’t scientific
o    255: structural continuity
•    In not comprehending, there’s no self-understanding
•    What’s the structure of human experience?
•    Reconstructing the construction for someone else
•    Experience occurs in the representation
o    Re-narritization
•    Defamiliarization: greater understanding but self-alienating
o    One hand given, on the other taken away
•    Using a collective language—the only words to describe belong to a universal
o    Make the words belong: altered and distorted
•    How something is described has everything to do with what it is
•    What to know first: method of obtaining truth? (but end already exists)
o    What method can we have for certainty?
•    Any indication of what method would be?
•    Value as humans?
•    Our understanding is contingent upon our historicity
•    Something we do with texts that allow us to have a reality within itself
•    Does human experience have a predictive value?
•    Make a particularly appropriate response
o    Satisfying
•    Can responsibility be a theory of rhetoric is there’s always an openendedness?
•    What’s the stopping point of rhetoric?
•    Hermeneutics: a form, an art of rhetoric
•    What is it that hermeneutics does?
•    It’s not a science of something out there (physics)
•    Universality of our experiences
•    Study of experiences: cultivation of culture
•    If things are only in the doing of them, what’s the truth
•    In the anticipation, I contribute to the event
•    Spatiality: what the text brings to me along with what I bring to the text
•    What does Gadamer mean by understanding?
o    More experiential
o    Emotional? Visceral response?
•    If understanding is an experience, then how do we creat them?
•    Projective awareness
•    Prejudices
o    Can’t change personal values
•    Common sense, common good
•    Bringing own understanding
•    What consequences does the speaker have if no one receives it?
•    Supreme faith in dialogue
•    That person loses sense of understanding: alter their language
•    As long as people continue talking, it will eventually “count” as truth
•    Can you have a private experience?
o    Relational
o    Understanding in particular context
•    Context specific understanding
o    Common, shared
•    Everything begins and ends in projection into an experience
•    Common sense: sense of something shared
•    Refutation model (Kuhn)
o    Affirm certan things about the theory
o    Once theory stops being affirmable, that’s when we change things
o    Throw it open to its refutation
o    Two things occurring at the same time
•    Genius robs the possibility for
•    One can talk around morals, but one cannot make positive (absolute) statements
•    Wittgenstein: Tractatus
o    Look at mathematical theories of science
o    Guide scientific developments
o    Take issue with aphoristic positivism
•    Can’t give you a method: need to figure out yourself
•    314-17: Learning by doing; techne
•    No one can tell you how to value language
•    Conversation leading the people
•    What is rhetorical studies/theory?
o    Is rhetorical theory a discipline?
•    What determines disciplinarity?
•    Look at the ways you’re working/being in the world
•    If it’s a discipline, what’s it a discipline of?
•    What’s the relation between critical and creative activities of rhetorical studies?


Lakoff and Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By

George Lakoff and Mark Johnson
Metaphors We Live By
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies

•    How people understand their language and their experience
•    Metaphor is for most people a device of the poetic imagination and rhetorical flourish
o    Words rather than action or thought
•    If our conceptual system is largely metaphorical, then the way we think, what we experience, and what we do everyday is very much a matter of metaphor
•    “Argument is War”
o    Many of the ways we argue are actual “doings” of war: verbal battle
o    Structures the actions we perform in arguing
•    What we do and how we understand what we’re doing when we argue
•    “The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another.”
o    Argument and war are different things, but argument is discussed in terms of war
•    Language of argument is literal
•    Human thought processes are largely metaphorical
•    Reddy’s Conduit Metaphor:
o    Ideas (or meanings) are objects
o    Linguistic expressions are containers
o    Communication is sending

July 2017
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