21.510 experience and communication

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2008 08:25:51 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 21, No. 510.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2008 08:17:26 +0000
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: experience and communication

In the Introduction to his wonderful Essays in Experimental Logic
(1916), American pragmatist philosopher John Dewey speaks of the
problems caused by the view that experience only exhibits ideas but
has nothing essential to do with having them -- the belief that "the
natural scene and operations of our life are lacking in ideal import,
[with] the consequent tendency to flee for the lacking ideal factors
to some other world inhabited exclusively by ideals."

>That such a cut-off, ideal world is impotent for direction and
>control and change of the natural world follows as a matter of
>course.... If philosophers could aid in making it clear to a
>troubled humanity that ideals are continuous with natural events,
>that they but represent their possibilities, and that recognized
>possibilities form methods for a conduct which may realize them in
>fact, philosophers would enforce the sense of a social calling and

He goes on.

>Much may be said about that other great rupture of continuity which
>[such] analytic realism would maintain: that between the world and
>the knower as something outside of it, engaged in otiose
>contemplative survey of it. I can understand the social conditions
>which generated this conception of an aloof knower.... Above all, I
>can see how seclusion and the absence of the pressure of immediate
>action developed a more varied curiosity, greater impartiality, and
>a more generous outlook. But all this is no reason for continuing
>the idealization of a remote and separate mind or knower now that
>the method of intelligence is perfected, and changed social
>conditions not only permit but demand that intelligence be placed
>within the procession of events.... To place knowledge where it
>arises and operates in experience is to know that, as it arose
>because of the troubles of man, it is confirmed in reconstructing
>the conditions which occasioned those troubles. Genuine intellectual
>integrity is found in experimental knowing. Until this lesson is
>fully learned, it is not safe to disassociate knowledge from
>experiment nor experiment from experience.

With the readjusted mixture of ideation, experiment and experience of
the world that has come about with computing, is there not the
opportunity to do somewhat better, esp with communicating to a
troubled and troubling public the role of what we do in the life of society?



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 Thu Jan 31 2008 - 04:14:52 EST

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