21.445 what results?

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2007 22:02:11 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 21, No. 445.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2007 21:56:20 +0000
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: what results?

In "Brain as hardware, culture as software" (Inquiry 47.3, June 2004,
pp 219-35) -- read it tonight -- Richard Rorty writes,

>It is one thing to say that Chomskian linguistics and the other academic
>specialities that bill themselves as parts of 'cognitive science'
>are respectable
>disciplines -- arenas in which very bright people engage in spirited debates
>with one another. It is another thing to say that these disciplines have
>contributed to our knowledge. Many equally respectable disciplines have
>flourished and decayed without leaving such contributions behind them.
>Fifteenth century Aristotelianism, seventeenth century hermeticism, and
>twentieth century logical empiricism are familiar examples.
>Wittgensteinians think that it is an open question whether cognitive science
>will go down in history as a successful attempt to bring the procedures of
>natural science to bear on the study of mind and language or as yet another
>attempt to set philosophy on the secure path of a science -- one
>that eventually
>collapsed, like all the others, of its own weight. They suspect
that cognitive
>science may never be able to disentangle itself from philosophy in the way
>that chemistry did -- by exhibiting its ability to spin off new technologies.
>Whereas the fans of cognitive science view the Wittgensteinians as dogmatic
>behaviorists, the Wittgensteinians criticize the Chomskians in the same terms
>as Bacon criticized late scholasticism. They think of Chomsky and Fodor in
>the same way that he thought of Occam and Scotus: all their
beautiful theories
>and subtle arguments cannot be brought to bear on practice. They are building
>mechanisms in the air.

Quite apart from the question of cognitive science and alchemy,
pursued here before Christmas, Rorty's summary of the Wittgensteinian
view of cognitive science raises for us a useful question. There can
now be no question that in humanities computing "very bright people
engage in spirited debates
with one another" and that after many years of hard work other
externals are in place (academic departments, professorships,
journals, awards etc). But are we disentangling ourselves from
history, computer science, English, musicology et al. "in the way
that chemistry did [from philosophy] -- by exhibiting [our] ability
to spin off new technologies" -- and other forms of knowledge?



Willard McCarty | Professor of Humanities Computing | Centre for
Computing in the Humanities | King's College London |
http://staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/. Et sic in infinitum (Fludd 1617, p. 26).
Received on Sat Dec 29 2007 - 17:09:31 EST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : Sat Dec 29 2007 - 17:09:31 EST