13.0515 open questions in the disciplines; older and better

From: Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Date: Tue Mar 28 2000 - 21:54:24 CUT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 515.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

       [1] From: "Fotis Jannidis" <Fotis.Jannidis@lrz.uni- (40)
             Subject: Re: 13.0512 open questions in the disciplines

       [2] From: "Osher Doctorow" <osher@ix.netcom.com> (17)
             Subject: Older and Better Conjecture

             Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 20:51:21 +0000
             From: "Fotis Jannidis" <Fotis.Jannidis@lrz.uni-muenchen.de>
             Subject: Re: 13.0512 open questions in the disciplines

    > Charles Faulhaber:
    > I took Matsuba's list somewhat differently--namely, as an attempt to show
    > that it is inherently impossible to provide a list of unsolved questions
    > in the study of literature because of the very nature of the
    > discipline. None of the questions that he listed can be "solved", in the
    > sense that one can solve a problem in the sciences.

    I agree: 'solution' is too definitive. But the discipline of literary
    studies has some key
    concepts like "author", "reader", "text", "interpretation", "sign". Each of
    these concepts
    has a history which adds typical arguments and counter arguments to it. Open
    questions would be the arguments and counter arguments concerning one of these
    concepts which are not resolved in the eyes of the contemporary humanists.
    If you take the concept 'author' as an example: the argument against the
    fallacy' was largely based on a very special model of literary
    communication which most
    people would have difficulties to share nowadays, but it also contains the
    argument, that
    literary texts are formulated in language and language is public, so there
    is no need to
    refer to inaccessible entities like 'intention'. Every proposal to use the
    author concept
    nonetheless has to have some argument against this and needs to model the
    between public language and private intention. For some time now the
    double verdict
    against the author concept (next to Wimsatt, Beardsley also Barthes and a
    misunderstood Foucault) seems to be questioned from different sides, some
    of them are
    using computers to aid there arguments like John Burrows or Colin Martindale.

    So I do think that there are open questions and there are no definitive
    solutions - but
    there are also a growing number of elements and aspects which every
    proposal for a
    solution has to include, because the problem has been solved far enough to
    see that
    these aspects are part of the problem.

    Fotis Jannidis

             Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 20:51:53 +0000
             From: "Osher Doctorow" <osher@ix.netcom.com>
             Subject: Older and Better Conjecture

    From: Osher Doctorow <mailto:osher@ix.netcom.com>osher@ix.netcom.com,
    3-25-00, 10:17PM

    Dear Colleagues:

    My wife, Marleen, tells me that my conjecture is wrong for the humanities,
    that is to say, I am wrong in thinking that the older universities are
    better for the humanities. Others have also indicated something like
    this. Since my wife is almost always correct, I withdraw my conjecture for
    the humanities, although I retain it for mathematics and
    physics. Marleen's argument is quite interesting in the direction of new
    conjectures. According to her, universities which are better in physical
    sciences often have less money and energy available for non-physical
    sciences. This is some sort of "conservation of money" idea, it seems to
    me. It reminds me of the fact that musical, artistic, and even scientific
    geniuses often have arisen in "insane societies". Perhaps there is
    "conservation of sanity"? Of course, there are other trends to think about
    as well.



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