21.462 disentanglement

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard_at_mccarty.me.uk>
Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2008 14:57:10 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 21, No. 462.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Tue, 08 Jan 2008 13:54:52 +0000
         From: "Hunsucker, R.L." <R.L.Hunsucker_at_uva.nl>
         Subject: RE: 21.453 disentanglement

Stephen Ramsay (as I understand him) said "amen" to the passage
quoted from Rorty's 2004 article, and I -- nudged over the line by
Willard's earlier request for comments -- now say amen to Stephen's
characterization of "the disentangling" as "a great danger". And
I'd say that the danger lies not in any ultimate success which that
attempt to disentangle, as envisaged by Willard, may have. For to
my mind, the attempt is futile. The danger is one of much wasted
(or, at best, misdirected) effort, of misunderstandings, frustration
and probably disillusionment attendant upon trying to wind up
somewhere other than where we (as humanists =FCberhaupt) should
be wanting to go.

Perhaps this is more readily apparent to me because many practitoners
within my own current (after earlier stints in humanities teaching and
research, then in publishing) field, that of academic library/information
work, operate under a quite similar misconception regarding that field's
intellectual place in the world. (And its proper destiny, I dare say.)

- Laval Hunsucker
    U. Amsterdam

> -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
> Van: Humanist Discussion Group [mailto:humanist_at_Princeton.EDU]Namens
> Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty
> <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>)
> Verzonden: maandag 31 december 2007 9:05
> Aan: humanist_at_Princeton.EDU
> Onderwerp: 21.453 disentanglement
> Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 21, No. 453.
> Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
> www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/humanities/cch/research/publications/hum
> anist.html
> www.princeton.edu/humanist/
> Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu
> Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2007 08:02:33 +0000
> From: Stephen Ramsay <sramsay_at_unlserve.unl.edu>
> >
> On Dec 29, 2007, at 4:02 PM, Humanist Discussion Group (by way of
> Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>) wrote:
> >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?
> I'm moved to respond in part because I was student of Rorty's and was,
> even before that encounter, a hard-core Wittgensteinian (and
> therefore, perhaps, a dogmatic behaviorist when it comes to language
> as well). To the quoted passage, I say amen.
> I regard the disentangling of digital humanities from English,
> history, computer science, etc. as a great danger. Digital humanists
> naturally bristle at the suggestion that we are the handmaidens of
> these august disciplines, but I think that is perhaps more to do with
> the pejorative connotations of that mildly offensive designation than
> with the nature of the relationship expressed. On paper, I
> undoubtedly seem to some of my colleagues to be a specialist in
> something other than what they do (literary study), but I myself have
> never wanted to do anything but traditional literary criticism and
> theoretical work in English studies. Ideally, the computer gives us
> knowledge that is difficult to come by without the tools we have
> developed amidst our spirited debates, but to engage in this activity
> is, I think, to request more knowledge not "other forms of knowledge."
> I think Chomskian linguistics is facile nonsense, which obviously
> colors my view of their attempt to bring the procedures of natural
> science to bear on questions recently regarded as part of the
> philosophy of mind. Were it successful in describing language
> behavior on planet earth I might be more sympathetic. Perhaps it
> would be possible to affect the hermeneutical shift toward scientific
> reasoning with a different model, in which case I might welcome the
> knowledge created. But in the case of Chomskian linguistics, "other
> forms of knowledge" strikes me as a run around meant to hide the fact
> that what is being proposed is a different set of ground truths. This
> is a phenomenon also to be found in the New Age section of the local
> bookstore, where so many ideas are proposed as "alternative science."
> Surely we do not fancy ourselves as operating from a different set of
> ground truths which in turn will yield "other forms of knowledge?" In
> that case, we have no business calling ourselves humanities computing.
> Steve
> Steve
> --
> Stephen Ramsay
> Assistant Professor
> Department of English
> Center for Digital Research in the Humanities
> University of Nebraska at Lincoln
> PGP Public Key ID: 0xA38D7B11
> http://lenz.unl.edu/
Received on Tue Jan 08 2008 - 10:01:36 EST

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