Citations related to EPISTEMOLOGY and the HOW OF
(works cited listed at bottom):
“The preliminary processing of information through perceptual screens is a
necessary but not sufficient condition of knowledge. Contrary to popular
opinion and many philosophical epistemologies, knowledge does not involve
the union or synthesis of an already existing subject and an independent
object. To the contrary, knowing is an ongoing adaptive process in and
through which subjectivity and objectivity actually emerge and continue to
evolve. Knowledge is constituted when subject and object fit together.”
Taylor, Mark C. The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture.
University of Chicago. 2001. p. 208.
"Dynamic objectivity aims at a form of knowledge that grants to the world
around us its independent integrity but does so in a way that remains
cognizant of, indeed relies on, our connectivity with that world. In this,
dynamic objectivity is not unlike empathy, a form of knowledge of other
persons that draws explicitly on the commonality of feelings and
experience in order to enrich one's understanding of another in his or her
own right. ... Dynamic objectivity is thus a pursuit of knowledge that
makes use of subjective experience (Piaget calls it consciousness of self)
in the interests of a more effective objectivity." Fox Keller, Evelyn,
Reflections on Gender and Science, Yale, 1985, p. 117.
“As Donna Haraway has recently argued, rationalists speak as if they were
‘nowhere while claiming to see comprehensively.’ Instead, she sees
relativism as ‘a way of being nowhere while claiming to be everywhere
equally.’ As she puts it, both stances are ‘god tricks’: one claims not to
be speaking from a specific, identifiable place and pretends, instead, to
be able to evaluate the matter globally–either by being everywhere or by
seeing everything. Haraway’s proposal for avoiding both ‘god tricks’ is to
think in terms of situated, partial knowledges.” Biagioli, Mario. “From
Relativism to Contingentism” in Galison, Peter & David Stump, ed. The
Disunity of Science: Boundaries, Contexts and Power. 1996. Stanford
University Press. p. 193.
“The importance of dialogical action in human life shows the utter
inadequacy of the monological subject of representations which emerges
from the epistemological tradition. We can’t understand human life merely
in terms of individual subjects who frame representations about and
respond to others, because a great deal of human action happens only
insofar as the agent understands and constitutes him or herself as an
integral part of a ‘we.’” Taylor, Charles. “To Follow a Rule...” Bourdieu:
Critical Perspectives. University of Chicago Press. Edited by Calhoun,
Craig, Edward LiPuma and Moishe Postone. 1993. p.52.
“This shows the whole epistemological construal of knowledge to be
mistaken. It doesn’t just consist of inner pictures of outer reality, but
grounds in something quite other. And in this ‘foundation,’ the crucial
move of the epistemological construal–distinguishing states of the subject
(our ‘ideas’) from features of the external world–can’t be effected. We
can draw a neat line between my picture of an object and that object, but
not between my dealing with the object and that object. It may make sense
to ask us to focus on what we believe about something, say a football,
even in the absence of that thing; but when it comes to playing football,
the corresponding suggestion would be absurd. The actions involved in the
game can’t be done without the object; they include the object. Take it
away and we have something quite different–people miming a game on the
stage, perhaps.” Taylor, Charles. Philosophical Arguments, Harvard
University Press, 1995, p. 12.
"Why then is it so easily assumed that sociological reflexivity undermines
the truth of whatever socially produced knowledge it focuses upon?"
"The widespread assumption is that truth is determined by reality; a
statement is true because it meets the criteria of truth, not because of
any other reason. If truth is socially determined, then it cannot be
determined by truth itself. This is like saying that one sees things
accurately only if one sees without eyeballs, as if knowing must take
place without any human apparatus for knowing."
"If a brain flickers and brightens with statements which are true, this
happens only because that brain is pulsing in connection with the past and
anticipated future of a social network. Truth arises in social networks;
it could not possibly arise anywhere else." Collins, Randall. The
Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change," The
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, p. 877.
“I trust, however, that this litany will seem less obscure once we have
considered how we might understand knowledge as likewise [to power per
Foucault] dynamic, disseminated, strategically linked, contested,
analytical and productive.” Rouse, Joseph. “Beyond Epistemic Sovereignty”
pps. 398-416 in Peter Galison & David Stump, editors. The Disunity of
Science: Boundaries, Contexts and Power. 1996. Stanford University Press.
"'We [scientists] believe that the world is knowable, that there are
simple rules governing the behavior of matter and the evolution of the
universe. We affirm that there are eternal, objective, extrahistorical,
socially neutral, external and universal truths, and that the assemblage
of these truths is what we call physical science. Natural laws can be
discovered that are universal, invariable, inviolate, genderless and
verifiable .... This statement I cannot prove. This statement I cannot
justify. This is my faith' [Glashow] ...
"The paradox in Glashow's position is this: he clearly does not think
anything goes in the realm of intellectual commitments. Yet he is locked
into a view that does not give him the intellectual space within which he
can defend that view....
"The view of evidence I am alluding to is very different from Glashow's
(and from any theory that places similar demands on 'knowledge') in at
least three ways. First, it construes evidence as communal; second, it
accepts coherence (and with it explanatory power) as a measure of
reasonableness; and third, it holds that communities, not individuals, are
the primary loci of knowledge." Alcoff, Linda & Elizabeth Potter, Feminist
Epistemologies, Nelson, Routledge, 1993, p. 130-1.
"What is a word? The image of a nerve stimulus, a cause outside us, that
is already the result of a false and unjustified application of the
principle of reason.... The different languages, set side by side, show
that what matters with words is never the truth, never an adequate
expression; else there would not be so many languages. The 'thing in
itself' (for that is what pure truth, without consequences, would be) is
quite incomprehensible to the creators of language and not at all worth
aiming for. One designates only the relations of things to man, and to
express them one calls on the boldest metaphors. A nerve stimulus, first
transposed into an image--first metaphor. The image, in turn, imitated by
a sound--second metaphor....
"What then is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and
anthropomorphisms--in short, a sum of human relations, which have been
enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and
which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people:
truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they
are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which
have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as
coins." Nietzsche, Frederick, On Truth and Lie in an Extra-moral Sense,
The Portable Nietzsche, Penguin, 1968, pps. 45-7.
"It is characteristic of that older form of knowing which Dewey located in
the household and the neighborhood that one learns, not through
accumulating tested propositions about the objective world, but through
participation in social practices, by assuming social roles, by becoming
familiar with exemplary narratives and with typical characters who
illustrate a variety of patterns of behavior. One does not feel like an
autonomous subject learning specific facts about an objective world out
there. One becomes what one knows.... Harvard philosopher Josiah Royce,
who saw not only science but the whole moral life of mankind as
necessarily carried on by what he called "a community of interpreters,"
reconsidering the heritage of the past in the light of present reality in
a continuing conversation about spiritual truth and moral good. - Bellah,
Robert et al, The Good Society, Vintage, 1992, pps. 158, 164.
"Thus nature gets credit which should in truth be reserved for ourselves:
the rose for its scent, the nightingale for its song, and the sun for its
radiance... Nature is a dull affair, soundless, scentless, colorless,
merely the hurrying of material, endlessly, meaninglessly." A. N.
Whitehead, quoted in "Toward an Ecology of Communication," Barnlund,
Richard, Rigor & Imagination, 1980, p.93.
"What is wrong with the notion of objects existing 'independently' of
conceptual schemes is that there are no standards for the use of even the
logical notions apart from conceptual choices." Putnam, Hilary,
Representation and Reality, Bradford of MIT Press, 1988, p.114.
“The existence of universals implies the existence of society. A concept
carries with it a social stance: not merely of some one other person, but
an open and universalizing viewpoint of a plurality of other persons.”
Collins, Randall. The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of
Intellectual Change. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 1999. p.
"...it must be stated that 'identity', defined as 'absolute sameness',
necessitates 'absolute sameness' in 'all' aspects, never to be found in
this world, nor in our heads. Anything with which we deal on the objective
levels represents a process, different all the 'time', no matter how slow
or fast the process might be; therefore, a principle or a premise that
'everything is identical with itself' is invariably false to facts. From a
structural point of view, it represents a foundation for a linguistic
system non-similar in sructure to the world or ourselves. All world
pictures, speculations and [semantic reactions] based on such premises
must build for us delusional worlds, and an optimum adjustment to an
actual world, so fundamentally different from our fancies, must, in
principle, be impossible.
"If we take even a symbolic expression 1 = 1, 'absolute sameness' in 'all'
aspects is equally impossible, although we may use in this connection
terms such as 'equal', 'equivalent'. 'Absolute sameness in all aspects'
would necessitate an identity of different nervous systems which produce
and use these symbols, an identity of the different states of the nervous
system of the person who wrote the above two symbols, an identity of the
surfaces [etc.], of different parts of the paper, in the distribution of
ink, and what not. To demand such impossible conditions is, of course,
absurd, but it is equally absurd and very harmful for sanity and
civilization to preserve until this day such delusional formulations as
standards of evaluation, and then spend a lifetime of suffering and toil
to evade the consequences. Korzybski, Alfred, Science and Sanity: An
Introduction to non-Aristotelian systems and General Semantics, Lakeville,
Conn., Institute of General Semantics, 1958, pp. 194-5, quoted from 1989
paper of Andy Hilgartner.
"To find the correct description of the building of knowledge out of
measurement is a difficult enterprise in my view but extremely important.
The process, I believe, has to be separated into two steps.
"The first is the elementary quantum phenomenon which Bohr stressed so
strongly. I try to put his point of view in this statement: 'No elementary
quantum phenomenon is a phenomenon until it's brought to a close by an
irreversible act of amplification by a detection such as the click of a
geiger counter or the blackening of a grain of photographic emulsion.'
This, as Bohr puts it, amounts to something that one person can speak
about to another in plain language. Which brings us to the second aspect
of this story. That is, putting the observation of quantum phenomenon to
use. The impact of the alpha particle on a screen of zinc sulphide will
create a flash which the eye can see. However, if this flash takes place
on the surface of the moon there's no one around to make use of it, so
that it's not used in the construction of knowledge. This is the most
mysterious part of the whole story: what happens when we put something to
"Wigner speaks of the elementary quantum phenomenon as not really having
happened unless it enters the consciousness of an observer. I would rather
say that the phenomenon may have just have happened but may not have been
put to use. And it's not enough for just one observer to put it to
use--you need a community."
"In the real world of quantum physics, no elementary phenomenon is a
phenomenon until it is a recorded phenomenon." Davies, P.C.W., and J.R.
Brown, The Ghost in the Atom, Interview with John (Archibald) Wheeler,
Cambridge University Press, 1986, pps. 61-3.
"The central problem with Objectivism is that it does not take embodied
understanding seriously enough. It assumes that words or sentences can map
directly onto objective reality because it regards understanding as more
or less transparent. But we have seen that understanding is actually quite
thick, rich, and imaginative. Because Objectivism leaves imaginative human
understanding out of the picture, it can only treat reference as a
relation between abstract symbols and objective states of affairs. We saw
that meaning and rationality do not work that way. Signs do not just map
onto objective reality all by themselves--they can relate to 'the world'
just because people understand both the symbols and their world and can
relate one to the other. Both cases of understanding involve
image-schematic and basic-level structures that can be the basis for
metaphoric and metonymic projections. Thus, it is not surprising that
those symbols, understood in that fashion, can be seen to pick out
objects, events, and persons in our experience as we understand it.
"Truth-as-correspondence is still a workable notion only if it is not
understood in the Objectivist fashion, as requiring a God's-Eye-View of an
external relation between words and the world. Of course, we can say true
things about our world, as we understand those words and that world. What
is true will depend upon how our reality is carved up, that is, how our
understanding is structured. And that, as we have observed, depends on
many things: the nature of our organism, the nature and structure of our
environment, our purposes, our conceptual systems, our language, our
metaphorical and metonymic projections, our values, and our standards of
accuracy. When all of these interrelated factors are put together, we have
the complex structure of our ongoing, ever-changing experience. But since
our experience does have structure and differentiation, we can make
statements that correspond, more or less adequately, to some part of that
structure. Some of the things we say will not correspond very well and
will be false. Many of our statements will, given our purposes and
interests, neither fit precisely, nor fail to fit, our understood
experience. These will be open to debate in further inquiry, in the course
of which we may even change our interests, standards, or basic concepts.
In short, given the nature of our bodies, our environment, our purposes,
and our conceptual systems, we will understand the world as carved up into
objects and kings of objects. And, based on our understanding of these, we
can make claims that correspond more or less accurately to our experience.
"The idea that standards of truth–that what counts as accurate
correspondence of statement to fact–depend on our systems of description
and our purposes for having descriptions is often very distressing to
people. To some philosophers it seems as though there must either be
absolute standards (specifying one correct view), or else no standards at
all. But we have seen that this is not so, that there is indeed a middle
ground between these two extremes. Fortunately, nothing important is lost
by the realization that truth is not an absolute notion. It doesn't really
matter that we can't see the world through God's Eyes; for we can see the
world through shared, public eyes that are given to us by our embodiment,
our history, our culture, our language, our institutions, etc. This does
not mean, of course, that we are obliged to be happy with our present
knowledge limitations. But it does mean that we can know that we are
partially in touch with reality, not in the 'one correct way' but in one
or more of the possible ways in which Nature can be described. Thus, we
can still preserve a notion of truth-as-correspondence, as long as it is
contextually situated." Johnson, Mark. The Body in the Mind; The Bodily
Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason. The University of Chicago
Press. 1987. Pps. 210-1.
“Abstraction today is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror or
the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential
being or substance. It is the generation by models of a real without
origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map,
nor survives it. Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the
territory–PRECESSION OF SIMULACRA–it is the map that engenders the
territory and if we were to revive the fable today, it would be the
territory whose shreds are slowly rotting across the map.” Baudrillard,
Jean. Simulations. Translated by Paul Foss, Paul Patton and Philip
Beitchman. Semiotexte. 1983. p. 2. quoted in: Taylor, Mark C. The Moment
of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture. University of Chicago. 2001. p.
“What, then, does a post-sovereign epistemology have to say about the
legitimation of knowledge? The crucial point is not that there is no
legitimacy, but rather that questions about legitimation are on the same
‘level’ as any other epistemic conflict, and are part of a struggle for
truth. In the circulation of contested heterogeneous knowledges, disputes
about legitimacy, and the criteria for legitimacy, are part of the
dynamics of that circulation. Understanding knowledge as ‘a strategical
situation’ rather than as a definitive outcome places epistemological
reflection in the midst of ongoing struggles to legitimate (and
delegitimate) various skills, practices, and assertions.” Rouse, Joseph.
“Beyond Epistemic Sovereignty” pps. 398-416 in Peter Galison & David
Stump, editors. The Disunity of Science: Boundaries, Contexts and Power.
1996. Stanford University Press. p. 412-3.
“To summarize, I suggest that by ‘locating’ the historians and
sociologists of science (and making explicit the partiality of their
perspective on scientific change and practices ) we may be able to address
three important and related issues. One is that the hesitations about
acknowledging ‘neo-whiggism’ and the boxing of reflexivity are strategies
aimed at covering a problem that does not exist–a problem that is caused
only by our insistence at playing god tricks. The second is that, by
dropping the relativists’ god trick of ‘being nowhere while claiming to be
everywhere equally’ we may also be able to avoid many of the
epistemological problems for which relativism is attacked by rationalists.
Third, playing relativistic god tricks is not just a harmless
self-deception. When played by relativist academic historians and social
scientists, god tricks help legitimize the university as the institution
where ‘scientific’ social knowledge is produced. In short, making explicit
the historians’ and sociologists’ location is both epistemologically
rewarding and politically critical.” Biagioli, Mario. “From Relativism to
Contingentism” in Peter Galison & David Stump, editors. The Disunity of
Science: Boundaries, Contexts and Power. 1996. Stanford University Press.
“Moving from a preliminary analogy between Darwin’s population-based
notion of species and Kuhn’s community-based view of paradigm, I suggested
an analogy between incommensurability and sterility. Just as a variety’s
inability to breed back with the original species marks the beginning of a
new species, the inability to communicate between an emerging paradigm and
the previous one (that is, of ‘breeding cognitively’) may be seen as the
sign of the establishment of a new ‘scientific species.’” Biagioli, Mario.
“From Relativism to Contingentism” in Peter Galison & David Stump,
editors. The Disunity of Science: Boundaries, Contexts and Power. 1996.
Stanford University Press. pp. 196.
“Rather than representations being the primary locus of understanding,
they are similarly islands in the sea of our unformulated practical grasp
on the world.”
“Seeing that our understanding resides first of all in our practices
involves attributing an inescapable role to the background. The connection
figures, in different ways, in virtually all the philosophies of the
contemporary counter-current to epistemology, and famously, for example,
in Heidegger and Wittgenstein.” Taylor, Charles. “To Follow a Rule...”
Bourdieu: Critical Perspectives. University of Chicago Press. 1993. p. 50.
"...knowledge is best conceived and studied as culture, and the various
types of social knowledges communicate and signal social meanings--such as
meanings about power and pleasure, beauty and death, goodness and danger."
McCarthy, E. Doyle, "Knowledge as Culture: The New Sociology of
Knowledge," Routledge, 1996, p. 1.
"... sociology of knowledge is closely linked to the philosophical
tradition of pragmatism identified with such figures as the philosophers
James, Peirce, Dewey, and Mead. What these thinkers share with sociology
of knowledge is a view of mental life as a facet of human action. The
human mind is conceived as an activity; mental attitudes and knowledge are
always linked with action. Forms of knowledge are not inherent in the
human mind but represent one of the many ways of being and thinking, one
of the ways human beings carve out a reality. Knowing is interested
activity. No knowledge of reality is possible or even conceivable that is
determined by things in themselves. Pragmatists borrowed from the
idealists the metaphor of knowing as 'carving': out of a world brimming
with indeterminacy, human actors carve determinate objects, thus enabling
action to proceed." "Knowledge as Culture: The New Sociology of
Knowledge," E. Doyle McCarthy, Routledge, 1996, p. 2.
“The Attic word for knowledge, episteme, affords a partial explanation why
Socrates should have chosen the skill of the craftsman as his model.
Unlike the Ionian words denoting knowledge and understanding, which refer
only to theoretical cognition, the Attic term also embraces practical
connotations. It signifies both knowledge and ability, and is used more
particularly to denote experience in manual skills.” Snell, Bruno. The
Discovery of the Mind in Greek Philosophy and Literature, p. 185.
“This new, ergetic ideal of knowing stood squarely against the old,
contemplative ideal. Common to most ancient and medieval epistemologies
was their receptive character: whether we gain knowledge by abstraction
from sense impressions, or by illumination, or again by introspection,
knowledge or truth is found, not constructed. Implicitly or explicitly,
most ‘new sciences’ of the seventeenth century assumed a constructive
theory of knowledge. Guelinex and Malebranche, I believe, rebelled first
and foremost against the implicit dangers of this new constructive ideal
of knowledge by confining it to the realm of ideas and their combination.
For the mechanical interpretation of nature could easily lead to the
presumption that we know the making of the universe in the manner of the
creator. The Occasionalist reserved knowledge by doing for God alone, and
he did so much more radically than any medieval author because they, too,
shared the admiration of the mathematical science of nature. Ancient and
medieval science confined the operation of machines to artifacts, and
conceded to us knowledge by doing at least of the latter. This distinction
collapsed with the ‘mechanical philosophy’ of the seventeenth century, and
the image of the machinelike universe in its modern guise threatened to
erode the wall between human and divine knowledge much more thoroughly than
any contemplative concept of knowledge could. The Occasionalists faced the
danger by conceding that, indeed, all knowledge or reality is through
acting, and by boldly asserting that, therefore, all knowledge of reality
is solely God’s.” Funkenstein, Amos. Theology and the Scientific
Imagination From the Middle Ages to the Seventeenth Century. Princeton
University Press. 1986. p. 298-9.
“After Ockham and largely due to his influence, epistemological
discussions shifted ground from an assimilatory to a causal account of
cognition: the act of cognition ceased to be seen as an identity with or a
becoming one of the forms of things with the intellect, a process mediated
by sensible and intelligible species. Rather, objects were now supposed to
cause in us intuitive and abstractive notions, which function as terms of
propositions.” Funkenstein, Amos. Theology and the Scientific Imagination
From the Middle Ages to the Seventeenth Century. Princeton University
Press. 1986. p. 309.
“First, participatory alludes to the fact that, after the break with
Cartesianism, transpersonal events–and the knowledge they usually
convey–can no longer be objective, neutral, or merely cognitive. On the
contrary, transpersonal events engage human beings in a participatory,
connected, and often passionate knowing that can involve not only the
opening of the mind, but also of the body, the heart, and the soul.
Although transpersonal events may involve only certain dimensions of human
nature, all dimensions can potentially come into play in the act of
participatory knowing, from somatic transfiguration to the awakening of
the heart, from erotic communion to visionary cocreation, and from
contemplative knowing to moral insight, to mention only a few.
“Second, participatory refers to the role that individual consciousness
plays during transpersonal events. This relation is not one of
appropriation, possession, or passive representation of knowledge, but of
communion and cocreative participation. As we will see, this participatory
character of transpersonal knowing has profound implications for spiritual
epistemology and metaphysics.
“Finally, participatory also refers to the fundamental ontological
predicament of human beings in relation to spiritual energies and
realities. Human beings are–whether they know it or not–always
participating in the self-disclosure of Spirit by virtue of their very
existence. This participatory predicament is not only the ontological
foundation of the other forms of participation, but also the epistemic
anchor of spiritual knowledge claims and the moral source of responsible
action. Ferrer, Jorge, N. Revisioning Transpersonal Theory: A
Participatory Vision of Human Spirituality. State University of New York
Press. 2002. p. 121.
“After all, most contemplative traditions–especially those spawned in
India–state the spiritual problem of humankind in essentially
epistemological terms: Existential and spiritual alienation are ultimately
rooted in ignorance (avidya), in misconceptions about the nature of self
and reality which lead to craving, attachment, self-centeredness, and other
unwholesome dispositions. Therefore, the attainment of final liberation (moksa,
nirvana, etc.) does not result from meditative experiences per se, but
from wisdom (prajna), from the direct knowledge of ‘things as they really
are’.” Ferrer, Jorge, N. Revisioning Transpersonal Theory: A Participatory
Vision of Human Spirituality. State University of New York Press. 2002. p.
“Therefore, a sharp distinction needs to be drawn between ‘knowledge that
is matched with a pregiven reality’ and ‘knowing that is grounded in,
aligned to, or coherent with the Mystery.’ As I see it, the former
expression inevitably catapults us into objectivist and representational
epistemologies in which there can exist, at least in theory, one single
most accurate representation. The latter expressions, in contrast, as well
as my understanding of truth as attunement to the unfolding of being,
emancipate us from these limitations and open us up to a potential
multiplicity of visions that can be firmly grounded in, and equally
coherent with, the Mystery. This is why there may be a variety of valid
ontologies which nonetheless can be equally harmonious with the Mystery
and, in the realm of human affairs, manifest through a similar ethics of
love, compassion, and commitment to the blooming of life in all its
constructive manifestations (human and nonhuman).” Ferrer, Jorge, N.
Revisioning Transpersonal Theory: A Participatory Vision of Human
Spirituality. State University of New York Press. 2002. p. 169-70
"The purpose of thinking is to find the familiar pattern and so remove the
need to think any more." De Bono, Edward, Thinking Course, Facts on File
publications, 1982, p.45.
"The objective mind has not yet been granted any scientific explanation of
any experience of any kind, or of experience as such. Its very existence
defeats our understanding." Laing, R.D., The Voice of Experience,
"What birds plunge through is not the intimate space
in which you see all forms intensified.
(Out in the Open, you would be denied
your self, would disappear into that vastness.)
"Space teaches from us and construes the world:
to know a tree, in its true element,
throw inner space around it, from that pure
abundance in you. Surround it with restraint.
It has no limits. Not till it is held
in your renouncing is it truly there." Mitchell, Stephen The Selected
Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, Vintage, New York, 1982, p. 263.
"As for the motive that compelled me, it was very simple. In the eyes of
some, I hope that it will suffice by itself. It was curiosity--the only
kind of curiosity, in any case, that merits the pain of being practiced
with a little obstinancy: not the kind that searches out in order to
digest whatever is agreeable to know, but rather the kind that permits one
to get free of oneself. What would be the value of the stubborn
determination to know if it merely insured the acquisition of
understanding, rather than the aberration, in a certain fashion and to the
extent possible, of he who understands." Foucault, Michel, quoted in
Miller, James, The Passion of Michel Foucault, Simon & Schuster, 1993,
quoted 1984, pp. 35-6.
"Emotional cruelty is more complicated. Its motives are often impossible
to understand, and it is sometimes committed by people who say they like
or even love you. Nearly always it's hard to know whether you played a
role in what happened, and, if so, what the role was. The experience
sticks to you. By the time I was raped I had seen enough emotional cruelty
to feel that the rape, although bad, was not especially traumatic.
"My response may seem strange to some, but my point is that pain can be an
experience that defies codification. If thousands of Americans say that
they are in psychic pain, I would not be so quick to write them off as
self-indulgent fools. A metaphor like 'the inner child' may be silly and
schematic, but it has a fluid subjectivity, especially when projected out
into the world by such a populist notion as 'recovery.' Ubiquitous
recovery-movement phrases like 'We're all victims' and 'We're all
co-dependent' may not seem to leave a lot of room for interpretation, but
they are actually so vague that they beg for interpretation and
projection. Such phrases may be fair game for ridicule, but it is shallow
to judge them on their face value, as if they hold the same meaning for
everyone. What is meant by an 'inner child' depends on the person
speaking, and not everyone will see it as a metaphor for helplessness. I
suspect that most inner-child enthusiasts use the image of themselves as
children not so that they can avoid being responsible but to learn
responsibility by going back to the point in time when they should have
been taught responsibility--the ability to think, choose, and stand up for
themselves--and were not....
"Many critics of the self-help culture argue against treating emotional or
metaphoric reality as if it were equivalent to objective reality. I agree
that they are not the same. But emotional truth is often bound up with
truth of a more objective kind and must be taken into account. This is
especially true of conundrums such as date rape and victimism, both of
which often are discussed in terms of unspoken assumptions about emotional
truth anyway. Sarah Crichton, in a cover story for Newsweek on 'Sexual
Correctness,' described the 'strange detour' taken by some feminists and
suggested that 'we're not creating a society of Angry Young Women. These
are Scared Little Girls.' The comment is both contemptuous and
superficial; it shows no interest in why girls might be scared. By such
logic, anger implicitly is deemed to be the more desirable emotional state
because it appears more potent, and 'scared' is used as a pejorative. It's
possible to shame a person into hiding his or her fear, but if you don't
address the cause of the fear, it won't go away. Crichton ends her piece
by saying, 'Those who are growing up in environments where they don't have
to figure out what the rules should be, but need only follow what's been
prescribed, are being robbed of the most important lesson there is to
learn. And that's how to live.' I couldn't agree more. But unless you've
been taught how to think for yourself, you'll have a hard time figuring
out your own rules, and you'll feel scared--especially when there is real
danger of sexual assault." Gaitskill, Mary, "On Not Being a Victim: Sex,
Rape, and the trouble with following rules," Harper's Magazine, March
1994, pp. 42-4.
“The give-and-take of thought stages a struggle for survival in which only
the fittest images, concepts, ideas, and schemata survive. Rather than a
matter of strength, fitness is measured by the capacity to connect and
interrelate effectively and creatively. Thinking appears to be a
constantly shifting puzzle in which forms, shapes, and patterns emerge
from pieces that often are irregular. What makes this puzzle so complex is
the way in which its pieces change in order to adapt to other pieces,
which, in turn, are adapting to them. The interactivity of thinking
complicates the moment of writing. The time of writing does not follow the
popular figure of a line because present, past, and future are caught in
strange loops governed by nonlinear dynamics. Past and future are knotted
in the present in such a way that each simultaneously conditions and
transforms the other.” Taylor, Mark C. The Moment of Complexity: Emerging
Network Culture. University of Chicago. 2001. pps. 197-8.
“Augustine finally concludes that cogito (to think, reflect) is, in
effect, cogo (to bring together, collect):
‘By the act of thought we are, as it were, collecting together things
which the memory did contain, though in a disorganized and scattered way,
and by giving them our close attention we are arranging for them to be as
it were stored up ready to hand in the same memory where previously they
lay hidden, neglected, and dispersed, so that now they will come forward
to the mind that has become familiar with them.... In fact what one is
doing is collecting them from their dispersal. Hence the derivation of the
word ‘to think.’ For cogo (to collect) and cogito (to think) are in the
same relation to each other as ago and agito, factio and factito. But the
mind has appropriated to itself this word (thinking), so that it is only
correct to say ‘think’ of things which are ‘re-collected’ in the mind, not
things re-collected elsewhere.’”
Taylor, Mark C. The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture.
University of Chicago. 2001. p. 201. Subquote is (adapted) from:
Augustine. Confessions. Trans. Rex Warner. New American Library. 1963. pps.
“Every prehension has both an objective datum and a subjective form. There
can be no ‘bare’ grasping of an object, devoid of subjective feeling.”
Griffin, David Ray. Unsnarling the World-Knot: Conscioiusness, Freedom,
and the Mind-Body Problem. University of California Press. 1998. p. 128.
“Consciousness is a biological, and hence physical, property of humans,
but its intentional properties allow a fundamental distinction to be
drawn. This is the distinction between ‘brute’ facts, such as the presence
of snow and ice near the summit of Mount Everest, and ‘institutional’
facts, which are dependent upon human intentionality and agreement. The
state of being married is one such institutional fact, a socially
constructed reality based on a whole set of agreements between people
about a variety of matters, ranging from entry into a contract of
marriage, including any rituals marking that act, to rights and privileges
relating to property, income, children and such like, which are the
consequences of entering into the contract. Now brute facts are totally
independent of human opinion. If humans did not exist, or existed but were
not conscious, there would still be snow and ice on Mount Everest. (True,
brute facts require the human facility of language for their stating, and
language is a particularly potent form of social fact. But that merely
forces the further distinction between the fact stated and the statement
of the fact. Mount Everest’s snow and ice exists whether we can talk of it
or not.) Brute facts are intrinsic to nature. Institutional facts,
however, are wholly dependent not just on humans but on human agreement.
If we did not exist, or if we did not agree on the state and consequences
of marriage, marriage would not exist. Institutional facts, unlike brute
facts, are intrinsic to human intentionality.” Plotkin, Henry. The
Imagined World Made Real: Towards a Natural Science of Culture. Rutgers
University Press. 2003. Pps. 251-2. [Speaking about John Searle’s book and
thesis, The Construction of Social Reality, 1995, Allen Lane]
“The assignment of function, collective intentionality and constitutive
rules are the essential elements of Searle’s analysis of social reality.
In a nutshell, Searle argues that these are the necessary ingredients for
the creation of social reality by the collective imposition of functions,
functions that can only be performed in virtue of collective agreement and
acceptance. At the heart of all social reality and institutional facts is
the structure ‘X counts as Y in C’.” Plotkin, Henry. The Imagined World
Made Real: Towards a Natural Science of Culture. Rutgers University Press.
2003. P. 256. [Speaking about John Searle’s book and thesis, The
Construction of Social Reality, 1995, Allen Lane]
“That does not mean that causation does not exist, that there are no
determining factors in the world. If one gives up the correspondence
theory of truth and adopts the experientialist account of truth as based
on embodied understanding, then there is a perfectly sensible view of
causation to be given. We do not claim to know whether the world, in
itself, contains ‘determining factors.’ But the world as we normally
conceptualize it certainly does. Those determining factors consist in all
the very different kinds of situations we call causal.” Johnson, Mark &
George Lakoff. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its
Challenge to Western Thought. Basic Books. 1999. P. 226.
“One important thing that cognitive science has revealed clearly is that
we have multiple conceptual means for understanding and thinking about
situations. What we take as ‘true’ depends on how we conceptualize the
situation at hand. From the perspective of our ordinary visual experience,
the sun does rise; it does move up from behind the horizon. From the
perspective of our scientific knowledge, it does not.
“Similarly, when we lift an object, we experience ourselves exerting a
force to overcome a force pulling the object down. From the standpoint of
our basic-level experience, the force of gravity does exist, no matter
what the general theory of relativity says. But if we are physicists
concerned with calculating how light will move in the presence of a large
mass, then it is advantageous to take the perspective of general
relativity, in which there is no gravitational force.
“It is not that one is objectively true while the other is not. Both are
human perspectives. One, the nonscientific one, is literal relative to
human, body-based conceptual systems. The other, the scientific one, is
metaphorical relative to human, body-based conceptual systems. From the
metaphorical scientific perspective of general relativity and superstring
theory, gravitational force does not exist as an entity–instead it is
space-time curvature. From the literal, non-scientific perspective, forces
exist.” Johnson, Mark & George Lakoff. Philosophy in the Flesh: The
Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. Basic Books. 1999. Pps.
“But it is not only our species that has somehow acquired knowledge of its
environment. The fish’s streamlined shape suggests functional knowledge of
the physical properties of water. The design of the eagle’s wings reveals
sophisticated knowledge of aerodynamics. The deadly effectiveness of the
cobra’s venom shows useful knowledge of the physiology of its prey. The
functioning of the bat’s remarkable echolocation system depends on
knowledge of the transmission, reflection, and speed of sound waves. In
all these instances we notice a puzzling fit between one system and
another, an adaptation of an organism to some aspect of its environment.
Indeed, knowledge itself may be broadly conceived as the fit of some
aspect of an organism to some aspect of its environment,...” Cziko, Gary.
Without Miracles: Universal Selection Theory and the Second Darwinian
Revolution. 1995. MIT Press. P. ix.
"Many years ago a researcher named Stuart Oskamp conducted a famous study
in which he gathered together a group of psychologists and asked each of
them to consider the case of a twenty-nine-year-old war veteran named
Joseph Kidd. In the first stage of the experiment, he gave them just basic
information about Kidd. Then he gave them one and a half single-spaced
pages about his childhood. In the third stage, he gave each person two
more pages of background on Kidd's high school and college years. Finally,
he gave them a detailed account of Kidd's time in the army and his later
activities. After each stage, the psychologists were asked to answer a
twenty-five-item multiple-choice test about Kidd. Oskamp found that as he
gave the psychologists more and more information about Kidd, their
confidence in the accuracy of their diagnoses increased dramatically. But
were they really getting more accurate? As it turns out, they weren't. With
each new round of data, they would go back over the test and change their
answers to eight or nine or ten of the questions, but their overall
accuracy remained pretty constant at about 30 percent."
"'As they received more information,' Oskamp concluded, 'their certainty
about their own decisions became entirely out of proportion to the actual
correctness of those decisions.' This is the same thing that happens with
doctors in the ER. They gather and consider far more information than is
truly necessary because it makes them feel more confident-- and with
someone's life in the balance, they need to feel more confident. The
irony, though, is that that very desire for confidence is precisely what
ends up undermining the accuracy of their decision. They feed the extra
information into the already overcrowded equation they are building in
their heads, and they get even more muddled." Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink:
The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. 2005. Little, Brown and Co. Pp.
“Recent developments in philosophy of science and epistemology have led
many philosophers to conclude that we cannot draw a sharp line between
true and false theories. This is a problem as long as we claim that
reality exists in the world, and illusions exists only in our heads. If
there is a continuum between true and false theories, at what point
should we claim that a theory loses its grip on the world, and collapses
back into the head? The pragmatist answer to that question is: all
theories and experiences emerge from the relationships that constitute the
brain-body-world nexus. But some theories and experiences have an erratic
and unpredictable relationship with the world, and thus relate to the
world in an equivocal and confused manner. Because all of our theories are
imperfect, and none is completely useless, we don’t have to posit
subjective entities called illusions to explain why we make errors. We
just have to say that some theories have better relationships with the
world than others, and science and other forms of inquiry must help us
find the best theories we can.” Rockwell, W. Teed. Neither Brain nor
Ghost: A Nondualist Alternative to the Mind-Brain Identity Theory. 2005.
MIT Press. P. xvii-xviii.
“But no choice has ever produced a theory that enabled those who accepted
it to make no errors whatsoever. If that ever happens, such a theory would
be The Truth, and all other theories would be illusions. But in the real
world, the only choice we have is between theories whose acceptance leads
to varying amounts of errors, which means that the truth of a theoretical
system is a matter of degree.
“This is precisely what one would expect if the self arises from the
interactions of the brain-body-world, rather than residing entirely in the
brain. Cartesian materialism draws a sharp line between illusions, which
exist only in the mind-brain, and those perceptions and conceptions that
directly relate to the world. In the view I am advocating, there can be no
such line, because the human activities that constitute experience always
fall short of their goals at least occasionally. Some of the posits that
are the basis for certain activities lead their believers into so many
errors that only a fool would continue to cling to them. Others are so
effective that the few errors they produce can be easily ignored. But most
theories lie between these two extremes, and there is thus no principled
way of drawing a sharp line between illusions and reality.” Rockwell, W.
Teed. 2005. Neither Brain nor Ghost: A Nondualist Alternative to the
Mind-Brain Identity Theory. MIT Press. Pp. 166-7.
“If true and false theories are on a continuum with each other, they are
thus more like members of the same species, rather than opposites. We are
always in the truth of the world, but see it with varying degrees of
clarity. Reality is always present to us in some sense, but in varying
kinds of focus depending on our goals and projects, and how skillfully we
are striving toward them. No experience is veridical in the robust sense
beloved by atomistic empiricism, and no experience is an illusion in the
sense of being totally out of touch with reality. We are always right in
the middle of reality.” Rockwell, W. Teed. 2005. Neither Brain nor Ghost:
A Nondualist Alternative to the Mind-Brain Identity Theory. MIT Press. P.
“In scientific knowledge, the knower paradoxically disappears. The ideal
of scientific objectivity is based, in fact, on the interchangeability of
knowers. Sandra Harding has written about Baconian objectivity as
universal subjectivity – knowledge by anybody – and about the
corresponding scientific division of the world in the real (public,
shared) and the unreal (merely private). An influential contemporary
version of this division is the distinction between the biological
(objective, real, physical, and basic) and the merely psychological or
cultural (subjective, less real, evanescent, and arbitrary), and it is
biologists’ role as arbiters of the biologically real that lends them
special authority in today’s world.
“The disappearing knower supports the myth of the autonomy and
separateness of the world. That that separation may involve a degree of
discomfort and insecurity is a possibility explored by Susan Bordo’s
account of the rise of Cartesian rationalism. She compares this historical
development to the drama of separation in psychological development and
notes that one way of reducing the pain of separation is aggressively to
pursue separation; the pain is then ‘experienced as autonomy rather than
helplessness in the face of the discontinuity between self and mother.’ I
would read this, by the way, as Bordo herself does, not as a developmental
psychopathology of science, but as ‘a hermeneutic aid’ enabling us ‘to
recognize the thoroughly historical character of precisely those
categories of self and innerness that describe the modern sense of
relatedness to the world.’” Oyama, Susan. 2000. Evolution’s Eye: A Systems
View of the Biology-Culture Divide. Duke University Press. P. 146.
Subquotes are from Susan Bordo. The Flight to Objectivity: Essays on
Cartesianism and Culture. 1987. SUNY Press. Pp. 253, 259.
“We must take responsibility for the Nature (and the biology) we
construct. We do not, however, manufacture either our own natures or
Nature out there as detached, Godlike subjects. Our responsibility is not
the responsibility of unmoved movers, absolute originators bringing order
to chaos. Rather, the construction is mutual; it occurs through intimate
interaction. By the same token, we do not simply record facts about
external Nature, any more than we are simply manifestations of an internal
nature encoded in some genetic text. ‘Information,’ that is, is not
independent of us, and because this is so, we cannot disclaim a kind of
ownership. Our cognitive and ethical responsibilities are based on our
response-ability, our capacity to know and to do, our active involvement
in knowledge and reflection.
This is a productive ambiguity of subjects and objects, of multiple
perspectives, of ourselves as nature’s designers and as nature’s designs,
as designers of our designs of (and on) nature, of our own natures as
products of our lives in nature.” Oyama, Susan. 2000. Evolution’s Eye: A
Systems View of the Biology-Culture Divide. Duke University Press. P. 149.
“Our presence in our own knowledge, however, is not contamination, as some
may fear, but the very condition for the generation of that knowledge.”
Oyama, Susan. 2000. Evolution’s Eye: A Systems View of the Biology-Culture
Divide. Duke University Press. P. 150.
“To acknowledge our part in constructions of Nature is to accept
interaction as the generator of ourselves and of our interrelations, of
knowledge, and of the world we know.” Oyama, Susan. 2000. Evolution’s Eye:
A Systems View of the Biology-Culture Divide. Duke University Press. P.
challenge for psychoanalysis has always been the problem of the given and
the made. Somehow we must negotiate the dual claims that experience is
discovered, that it is structural and preexists our knowing of it, and
that it is entirely understandable in phenomenological terms, by means of
grasping the process of understanding itself.” Stern, Donnel. 1997.
Unformulated Experience: From Dissociation to Imagination in
Psychoanalysis. Analytic Press. P. 3.
“However else they may be different, constructivist and hermeneutic
accounts have in common the basic tenet that an individual’s experience
has no natural or intrinsic organization. It does not come prefigured.
Until it is organized, which is accomplished by interpreting it, or taking
a perspective on it, experience is ‘fundamentally ambiguous.’” Stern,
Donnel. 1997. Unformulated Experience: From Dissociation to Imagination in
Psychoanalysis. Analytic Press. P. 5. [Subquote is from Mitchell, S. 1993.
Hope and Dread in Psychoanalysis. Harvard Univ. Press. P. 57.]
“Language itself represents the joined voices and perspectives of those
who have come before us, and into whose world we are born (‘thrown,’ as
Heidegger puts it). In our turn, we will contribute, usually in ways we
cannot imagine and seldom come to know, to the ways our descendants know
life. Our ancestors’ social innovations are ‘sedimented’ (Foucault) in our
languages, and therefore in our individual lives, in ways we so take for
granted that we tend to accord them the status of objective, essential,
unchanging reality. They have become ‘normalized’ (Foucault, 1980), or
‘legitimized’ and ‘objectivated’ (Berger and Luckmann, 1967). Reality is a
social construction, though it feels so familiar and inevitable that we
can scarcely believe it is anything other than natural.” Stern, Donnel.
1997. Unformulated Experience: From Dissociation to Imagination in
Psychoanalysis. Analytic Press. Pp. 7-8.
“Despite the sharp differences between the two positions, there is an
important area of overlap, which is why poststructuralism and hermeneutics
can both be cited as postmodern, at least in the very broadest sense of
the term. It is this area of overlap I refer to as the postmodern critique
of language. Both poststructuralism and hermeneutics participate in the
view that understanding is inevitably linguistic, and that language is
historicized, perspectival, and socially constructed. The difference lies
in what the adherents of these two positions believe language represents.
For poststructuralists, language is not a means of representation, but is
an arbitrary circuit of symbols that serve compelling impersonal and
suprapersonal aims (e.g., power for Foucault, language for Derrida and
Lacan). Hermeneuticists take a less radical and more familiar view:
although language (and therefore all of experience) is highly vulnerable
to political and moral influences, it maintains a representational
function. Language offers a perspective on a reality, a means of engaging
a personal and social world that actually exists. For the hermeneuticist,
to take a linguistic perspective is to take one of the myriad valid (and
sometimes contradictory) views that might be taken, so that no single
person, and no historical epoch, can ever formulate anything like a full
picture of reality. But each perspective is a partial truth, and some
perspectives are better than others–more complete, more coherent, more
useful. At any particular moment, any single person’s perspective manages
to represent at least a sliver of reality. This is most particularly the
view of Gadamer, Heidegger’s most prominent student.” Stern, Donnel. 1997.
Unformulated Experience: From Dissociation to Imagination in
Psychoanalysis. Analytic Press. P. 11.
focus on order rather than law enlarges our vision of both nature and
science. It suggests a way of thinking of nature as neither bound by law
nor chaotic and unruly, and of science as neither objectivist nor
idiosyncratic. It suggests a science premised on respect rather than
domination, neither impotent nor coercive but, as knowledge always is,
inevitably empowering." Reflections on Gender and Science, Evelyn Fox
Keller, Yale, 1985, p. 135.
economics of knowledge is an important but underdeveloped branch of
epistemology. It is--or should be--evident that knowledge has its economic
aspect of benefits and costs. (2) The benefits of information are both
theoretical and applied. (3) Moreover, the management of information is
always a matter of costs. (4) Rationality itself has a characteristically
economic dimension in its insistence on a proper proportioning of
expenditures and benefits." Rescher, Nicholas. Cognitive Economy: the
Economic Dimension of the Theory of Knowledge. U. of Pittsburgh Press.
1989. P. 3.
"(1) Knowledge is power. But the hoarding of knowledge--monopolization,
secretiveness, collaboration avoidance--is generally counterproductive.
(2) In anything like ordinary circumstances, mutual aid in the development
and handling of information is highly cost effective. (3) The way in which
people build up epistemic credibility in cognitive contexts is
structurally the same as that in which they build up financial credit in
economic contexts. (4) Considerations of cost effectiveness--of economic
rationality, in short--operate to ensure that any group of rational
inquirers will in the end become a community of sorts, bound together by a
shared practice of trust and cooperation." Rescher, Nicholas. Cognitive
Economy: the Economic Dimension of the Theory of Knowledge. U. of
Pittsburgh Press. 1989. P. 33.
"(1) Importance is a key factor in the economics of cognition. For what is
important is by virtue of this very fact more deserving of attention and
effort than what is not. Importance is always comparative, a matter of the
relative share of resources due to one item in comparison with others in
the overall scheme of things." Rescher, Nicholas. Cognitive Economy: the
Economic Dimension of the Theory of Knowledge. U. of Pittsburgh Press.
1989. P. 69.
"(1) Induction is the methodology for effecting our best estimate of the
correct answers to various questions whose resolution transcends the sure
reach of the facts in hand. (2) The ideas of economy and simplicity are
the guiding principles of inductive reasoning, whose procedure is set by
the cardinal precept: Resolve your cognitive problems in the simplest,
most economical way compatible with an adequate use of the information at
your disposal." Rescher, Nicholas. Cognitive Economy: the Economic
Dimension of the Theory of Knowledge. U. of Pittsburgh Press. 1989. P. 82.
"Levy draws a
distinction between shared knowledge, information that is believed to be
true and held in common by the entire group, and collective intelligence,
the sum total of information held individually by the members of the group
that can be accessed in response to a specific question. He explains: 'The
knowledge of a thinking community is no longer a shared knowledge for it
is now impossible for a single human being, or even a group of people, to
master all knowledge, all skills. It is fundamentally collective
knowledge, impossible to gather together into a single creature.' Only
certain things are known by all - the things the community needs to
sustain its existence and fulfill its goals. Everything else is known by
individuals who are on call to share what they know when the occasion
arises. But communities must closely scrutinize any information that is
going to become part of their shared knowledge, since misinformation can
lead to more and more misconceptions as any new insight is read against
what the group believes to be core knowledge." Jenkins, Henry. Convergence
Culture; Where Old and New Media Collide. 2006. New York University Press.
“The expert paradigm requires a bounded body of knowledge, which an
individual can master. The types of questions that thrive in a collective
intelligence, however, are open ended and profoundly interdisciplinary;
they slip and slide across borders and draw on the combined knowledge of a
more diverse community.” Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture; Where Old
and New Media Collide. 2006. New York University Press. P. 52.
“Second, Walsh argues that the expert paradigm creates an ‘exterior’ and
‘interior’; there are some people who know things and others who don’t. A
collective intelligence, on the other hand, assumes that each person has
something to contribute, even if they will only be called upon on an ad
hoc basis.” Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture; Where Old and New Media
Collide. 2006. New York University Press. P. 53.
“The Matrix is also entertainment for the era of collective intelligence.
Pierre Levy speculates about what kind of aesthetic works would respond to
the demands of his knowledge cultures. First, he suggests that the
‘distinction between authors and readers, producers and spectators,
creators and interpreters will blend’ to form a ‘circuit’ (not quite a
matrix) of expression, with each participant working to ‘sustain the
activity’ of the others. The artwork will be what Levy calls a ‘cultural
attractor,’ drawing together and creating common ground between diverse
communities; we might also describe it as a cultural activator, setting
into motion their decipherment, speculation, and elaboration. The
challenge, he says, is to create works with enough depth that they can
justify such large-scale efforts: ‘Our primary goal should be to prevent
closure from occurring too quickly.’ The Matrix clearly functions both as
a cultural attractor and a cultural activator.” Jenkins, Henry.
Convergence Culture; Where Old and New Media Collide. 2006. New York
University Press. P. 95.
“You probably won’t believe in the Wikipedia unless you try it, but the
process works. The process works because more and more people are taking
seriously their obligation as participants to the community as a whole:
not everyone does so yet; we can see various flame wars as people with
very different politics and ethics interact within the same knowledge
communities. Such disputes often foreground those conflicting assumptions,
forcing people to reflect more deeply on their choices. What was once
taken for granted must now be articulated. What emerges might be called a
moral economy of information: that is, a sense of mutual obligations and
shared expectations about what constitutes good citizenship within a
knowledge community.” Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture; Where Old and
New Media Collide. 2006. New York University Press. P. 255.
“Later, upon replaying the wartime events in my memory as I formulated my
ideas on the perception of random events, I developed the governing
impression that our minds are wonderful explanation machines, capable of
making sense out of almost anything, capable of mounting explanations for
all manner of phenomena, and generally incapable of accepting the idea of
unpredictability. These events were unexplainable, but intelligent people
thought they were capable of providing convincing explanations for
them–after the fact. Furthermore, the more intelligent the person, the
better sounding the explanation. What’s more worrisome is that all these
beliefs and accounts appeared to be logically coherent and devoid of
inconsistencies.” Taleb, Nassim. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly
Improbable. 2007. Random House. P. 10.
“Many people confuse the statement ‘almost all terrorists are Moslems’
with ‘almost all Moslems are terrorists.’ Assume that the first statement
is true, that 99 percent of terrorists are Moslems. This would mean that
only about .001 percent of Moslems are terrorists, since there are more
than one billion Moslems and only, say, ten thousand terrorists, one in a
hundred thousand. So the logical mistake makes you overestimate the odds
of a randomly drawn individual Moslem person (between the age of, say,
fifteen and fifty) being a terrorist by close to fifty thousand times!”
Taleb, Nassim. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. 2007.
Random House. P. 52.
“Our inferential machinery, that which we use in daily life, is not made
for a complicated environment in which a statement changes markedly when
its wording is slightly modified. Consider that in a primitive environment
there is no consequential difference between the statements most killers
are wild animals and most wild animals are killers. There is an error
here, but it is almost inconsequential. Our statistical intuitions have
not evolved for a habitat in which these subtleties can make a big
difference.” Taleb, Nassim. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly
Improbable. 2007. Random House. Pp. 52-3.
“All zoogles are boogles. You saw a boogle. Is it a zoogle? Not
necessarily, since not all boogles are zoogles; adolescents who make a
mistake in answering this kind of question on their SAT test might not
make it to college. Yet another person can get very high scores on the
SATs and still feel a chill of fear when someone from the wrong side of
town steps into the elevator. This inability to automatically transfer
knowledge and sophistication from one situation to another, or from theory
to practice, is a quite disturbing attribute of human nature.
“Let us call it the domain specificity of our reactions. By
domain-specific I mean that our reactions, our mode of thinking, our
intuitions, depend on the context in which the matter is presented, what
evolutionary psychologists call the ‘domain’ of the object or the event.
The classroom is a domain; real life is another. We react to a piece of
information not on its logical merit, but on the basis of which framework
surrounds it, and how it registers with our social-emotional system.”
Taleb, Nassim. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. 2007.
Random House. P. 53.
“Cognitive scientists have studied our natural tendency to look only for
corrob oration; they call this vulnerability to the corroboration error
the confirmation bias....
“The first experiment I know of concerning this phenomenon was done by the
psycholgist P.C. Wason. He presented subjects with the three-number
sequence 2, 4, 6, and asked them to try to guess the rule generating it.
Their method of guessing was to produce other three-number sequences, to
which the experimenter would respond ‘yes’ or ‘no’ depending on whether
the new sequences were consistent with the rule. Once confident with their
answers, the subjects would formulate the rule. The correct rule was
‘numbers in ascending order,’ nothing more. Very few subjects discovered
it because in order to do so they had to offer a series in descending
order. Wason noticed that the subjects had a rule in mind, but gave him
examples aimed at confirming it instead of trying to supply series that
were inconsistent with their hypothesis. Subjects tenaciously kept trying
to confirm the rules that they had made up.” Taleb, Nassim. The Black
Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. 2007. Random House. P. 58.
“The first question about the paradox of the perception of Black Swans is
as follows: How is it that some Black Swans are overblown in our minds
when the topic of this book is that we mainly neglect Black Swans?
“The answer is that there are two varieties of rare events: a) the
narrated Black Swans, those that are present in the current discourse and
that you are likely to hear about on television, and b) those nobody talks
about, since they escape models–those that you would feel ashamed
discussing in public because they do not seem plausible.” Taleb, Nassim.
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. 2007. Random House.
“Now, go read any of the classical thinkers who had something practical to
say about the subject of chance, such as Cicero, and you find something
different: a notion of probability that remains fuzzy throughout, as it
needs to be, since such fuzziness is the very nature of uncertainty.
Probability is a liberal art; it is a child of skepticism, not a tool for
people with calculators on their belts to satisfy their desire to produce
fancy calculations and certainties. Before Western thinking drowned in its
‘scientific’ mentality, what is arrogantly called the Enlightenment,
people prompted their brain to think–not compute. In a beautiful treatise
now vanished from our consciousness, Dissertation on the Search for Truth,
published in 1673, the polemist Simon Foucher exposed our psychological
predilection for certainties. He teaches us the art of doubting, how to
position ourselves between doubting and believing. He writes: ‘One needs
to exit doubt in order to produce science–but few people heed the
importance of not exiting from it prematurely .... It is a fact that one
usually exits doubt without realizing it.’ He warns us further: ‘We are
dogma-prone from our mother’s wombs.’” Taleb, Nassim. The Black Swan: The
Impact of the Highly Improbable. 2007. Random House. Pp. 128-9.
“Most of all we favor the narrated.
“Alas, we are not manufactured, in our current edition of the human race,
to understand abstract matters–we need context. Randomness and uncertainty
are abstractions. We respect what has happened, ignoring what could have
happened. In other words, we are naturally shallow and superficial–and we
do not know it. This is not a psychological problem; it comes from the
main property of information. The dark side of the moon is harder to see;
beaming light on it costs energy. In the same way, beaming light on the
unseen is costly in both computational and mental effort.” Taleb, Nassim.
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. 2007. Random House.
“True, our knowledge does grow, but it is threatened by greater increases
in confidence, which make our increase in knowledge at the same time an
increase in confusion, ignorance, and conceit.” Taleb, Nassim. The Black
Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. 2007. Random House. P. 138.
“A classical mental mechanism, called anchoring, seems to be at work here.
You lower your anxiety about uncertainty by producing a number, then you
‘anchor’ on it, like an object to hold on to in the middle of a vacuum.
This anchoring mechanism was discovered by the fathers of the psychology
of uncertainty, Danny Kahneman and Amos Tversky, early in their heuristics
and biases project. It operates as follows. Kahneman and Tversky had their
subjects spin a wheel of fortune. The subjects first looked at the number
on the wheel, which they knew was random, then they were asked to estimate
the number of African countries in the United Nations. Those who had a low
number on the wheel estimated a low number of African nations; those with
a high number produced a higher estimate.” Taleb, Nassim. The Black Swan:
The Impact of the Highly Improbable. 2007. Random House. P. 158.
“Human beings thus have a drive to classify – as we would understand a
scientist to do – but they also cannot help but assign cultural value.
Durkheim and Mauss’ argument is that classification is a process of
marking-off, of demarcating things that are related, but have distinct
point of difference to another. These systems of ideas of relation and
difference serve to connect and unify knowledge about the world. They
build up a hierarchical system where ideas form chains of meanings, and
where values can be assigned and competing discursive constructs weighed
up.” Woodward, Ian. Understanding Material Culture. 2007. Sage
Publications. P. 88.
“Hierarchies of classification develop as society develops – in fact, they
are the basis of forms of sociality. Systems of classifying people,
objects and things are thus linked to a collective consciousness – they
obtain meaning by reference to other socially sanctioned classifications
such that conceiving or classifying something is both learning its
essential elements better, and also locating it in its place. In making
such classifications, humans perform a commitment to the social, and bear
out that ‘society’ is deep within them:” Woodward, Ian. Understanding
Material Culture. 2007. Sage Publications. P. 90. [Description of the
insights of Durkheim]
“Consumption, then, is about
meaning-making. The world of goods becomes a world of possible meanings
for consumers. The attraction of consuming things, therefore, is only
partly that it (temporarily) satiates needs. The more important attraction
of consuming things is that it offers continuous opportunity to perform,
affirm and manage the self.” Woodward, Ian. Understanding Material
Culture. 2007. Sage Publications. P. 96.
“Nothing better illustrates this difference between the lines of the
sketch map and those of the cartographic map than our habit of drawing on
maps of each kind. To draw on a sketch map is merely to add the trace of
one further gesture to the traces of previous ones. Such a map may be the
conversational product of many hands, in which participants take turns to
add lines as they describe their various journeys. The map grows line by
line as the conversation proceeds, and there is no point at which it can
ever be said to be truly complete. For in every intervention, as Barbara
Belyea notes, ‘the gesture becomes part of the map’. To draw on a
cartographic map, however, is quite another matter. The marine navigator
may plot his course on a chart, using a ruler and pencil, but the ruled
line forms no part of the chart and should be rubbed out once the voyage
is completed. Were I, on the other hand, to take a pen and – while
recounting the story of a trip – to retrace in ink my path across the
surface of the map, I would be judged to have committed an offence
tantamount to writing all over the printed page of a book!” Ingold, Tim.
Lines: A Brief History. 2007. Routledge. P. 85.
“And this finally brings us to the crux of the difference between these
two knowledge systems, of habitation and occupation respectively. In the
first, a way of knowing is itself a path of movement through the world:
the wayfarer literally ‘knows as he goes’, along a line of travel. The
second, by contrast, is founded upon a categorical distinction between the
mechanics of movement and the formation of knowledge, or between
locomotion and cognition. Whereas the former cuts from point to point
across the world, the latter builds up, from the array of points and the
materials collected therefrom, into an integrated assembly.” Ingold, Tim.
Lines: A Brief History. 2007. Routledge. Pp. 89-90.
“In Western societies, straight lines are ubiquitous. We see them
everywhere, even when they do not really exist. Indeed the straight line
has emerged as a virtual icon of modernity, an index of the triumph of
rational, purposeful design over the vicissitudes of the natural world.
The relentlessly dichotomizing dialectic of modern thought has, at one
time or another, associated straightness with mind as against matter, with
rational thought as against sensory perception, with intellect as against
intuition, with science as against traditional knowledge, with male as
against female, with civilization as against primitiveness, and – on the
most general level – with culture as against nature. It is not difficult
to find examples of every one of these associations.”
“... But we imagine that, in the formation of interior mental
representations of the material world, the shapes of things are projected
onto the surface of the mind – much as in perspective drawing they are
projected onto the picture plane – along straight lines modelled on
rectilinear rays of light. And if the lines along which light travels are
straight, then so are the ways of enlightenment. The man of reason, wrote
Le Corbusier, the supreme architect of rectilinearity in modern urban
design, ‘walks in a straight line because he has a goal and knows where he
is going, he has made up his mind to reach some particular place and goes
straight to it’. As he walks, so he thinks, proceeding without hesitation
or deviation from point to point.” Ingold, Tim. Lines: A Brief History.
2007. Routledge. P. 152-3. [LeCorbusier. Urbanisme. Editions Cres. P.
“By rights, there should be no such thing as a physics of sound. For as
there is no sound without an ear and a brain, the study of sound – that
is, acoustics – could be undertaken only by combining the physics of
vibratory motion with the physiology of the ear and the psychology of
aural perception. Yet physicists, anxious to reserve acoustics for
themselves, and not to get mixed up with subjective phenomena of mind and
perception, persist in equating the vibrations that induce in the listener
an experience of sound with the sound itself, thus perpetuating the error
that ‘sound is actually a physical, not a mental phenomenon’. Ingold, Tim.
The Perception of the Environment: Essays in livelihood, dwelling and
skill. 2000. Routledge. P. 257. Subquote is from Ronchi. V. Optics, the
Science of Vision. 1957. Dover. P. 17.
“Questions about the meaning of light, as of sound, are surely wrongly
posed if they force us to choose between regarding light and sound as
either physical or mental phenomena.” Ingold, Tim. The Perception of the
Environment: Essays in livelihood, dwelling and skill. 2000. Routledge. P.
“The distinctiveness of sight, for Jonas, lies in three properties that
are unique to this sensory modality: namely, simultaneity, neutralisation
and distance. The first refers to the ability to take in the world at a
glance, so that a manifold that is present all at once can likewise be
apprehended all at once. Neither hearing nor touch can achieve this.
Reiterating a well-established view that we have already encountered,
Jonas argues that whereas one can see things, one hears only sounds rather
than the entities whose activity gives rise to them. Thus one hears the
bark but not the dog, whose presence can only be inferred on the basis of
“The second property of sight, what Jonas calls neutralisation, lies in
the disengagement between the perceiver and the seen. Touching something
entails an action on your part, to which the object responds according to
its nature. Hearing presupposes an action on the part of the object which
generates the sound, to which you respond according to your sensibility.
Thus while the balance of agency shifts from the subject (in touch) to the
object (in hearing), there is in both an engagement between them, of a
kind that is entirely absent from vision.
“The third property of sight, spatial distance, is relatively
self-evident.” Ingold, Tim. The Perception of the Environment: Essays in
livelihood, dwelling and skill. 2000. Routledge. P. 258-9.
“As I contemplate the blue of the sky I am not set over against it as an
acosmic subject; I do not possess it in thought, or spread out towards it
some idea of blue such as might reveal the secret of it ... I am the sky
itself as it is drawn together and unified, and as it begins to exist for
itself; my consciousness is saturated with this limitless blue.”
Merleau-Ponty. Phenomenology of Perception. 1962. Routledge & Kegan. P.
214. Quoted in Ingold, Tim. The Perception of the Environment: Essays in
livelihood, dwelling and skill. 2000. Routledge. P. 264.
“On hearing thunder, or feeling the wind, it is as though one’s very being
mingles with the surrounding medium and resonates with its vibrations.
Likewise, sunlight and moonlight present themselves to vision, in
Merleau-Ponty’s words, as ‘kinds of symbiosis, certain ways the outside
has of invading us and certain ways we have of meeting this invasion.’”
Ingold, Tim. The Perception of the Environment: Essays in livelihood,
dwelling and skill. 2000. Routledge. P. 264. Subquote is from
Merleau-Ponty. Phenomenology of Perception. 1962. Routledge & Kegan. P.
“Observation never involves access to the value-free material system, for
scientists have access to only defined system behavior, which must involve
the value-laden observer. There is no such thing as objectivity in
science–only cognizance of biases, if you are lucky.” Allen, T.F.H. &
Valerie Ahl. Hierarchy Theory: A Vision, Vocabulary, and Epistemology.
1996. Columbia University Press. P. 36.
“‘In a sense the question is who owns the atmosphere: the people who
predict it every day or the people who predict it for the next 50 years?’
said Bob Henson, a science writer for the University Corporation for
Atmospheric Research, who trained as a meteorologist and has followed the
divide between the two groups.” Kaufman, Leslie. New York Times. March 29,
2010. “Scientists and Weathercasters at Odds on Warming.” [In discussing
the differences of opinion on global warming between climatologists and
weathermen with the former group believing in the phenomenon and in its
man-made origin much more strongly than the latter group.]
“However, as Ludwik Fleck observed in 1935, ‘every new finding raises at
least one new problem: namely an investigation of what has just been
found’. New knowledge, in turn, allows for new options without delivering
secure criteria for how these new options need to be handled.
“The contemporary explosion of knowledge or the observation that our
current age is the beginning of a knowledge society thus has a little
remarked on corollary: new knowledge also means more ignorance. Thus,
surprising events will occur more frequently and become more and more
likely. If this is the case, handling ignorance and surprise becomes one
of the distinctive features of decision making in contemporary society.”
Gross, Matthias. Ignorance and Surprise: Science, Society, and Ecological
Design. 2010. MIT Press. P. 1.
[Referring to the Precautionary Principle] “I believe that both
interpretations–the one that claims that precaution means paralysis and
the one that says that precaution must be a key feature in regulatory
politics–have not dealt seriously with the importance of ignorance and
surprise. The critics ascribe a ‘better safe than sorry’ attitude to the
precautionary principle and recommend turning back to cost-and-benefit
analyses and risk assessments based on known facts, thus ignoring the
inevitability of uncertainty and ignorance. Proponents of the
precautionary principle have not yet delivered any effective strategies
for determining what exactly is to be done when decisions have to be made
promptly and risk assessments or computer models cannot help in any
meaningful way.” Gross, Matthias. Ignorance and Surprise: Science,
Society, and Ecological Design. 2010. MIT Press. P. 4.
“Hans-Joerg Rheinberger has argued that what makes the physical,
technical, and procedural basis for an experiment work is that it is
deliberately arranged to generate surprises.” Gross, Matthias. Ignorance
and Surprise: Science, Society, and Ecological Design. 2010. MIT Press. P.
“Copies don’t count anymore; copies of isolated books, bound between inert
covers, soon won’t mean much. Copies of their texts, however, will gain in
meaning as they multiply by the millions and are flung around the world,
indexed, and copied again. What counts are the ways in which these common
copies of a creative work can be linked, manipulated, tagged, highlighted,
bookmarked, translated, enlivened by other media, and sewn together in the
universal library.” Shields, David. Reality Hunger: a Manifesto. 2010.
Alfred A. Knopf. P. 30.
Works cited in Epistemology:
Alcoff, Linda &
Elizabeth Potter, Feminist Epistemologies
Allen, T.F.H. & Valerie Ahl. Hierarchy Theory: A Vision, Vocabulary, and
Barnlund, Richard, Rigor & Imagination
Baudrillard, Jean. Simulations
Bellah, Robert et al, The Good Society
Collins, Randall. The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theor
Cziko, Gary. Without Miracles: Universal Selection Theory and
Davies, P.C.W., and J.R. Brown, The Ghost in the Atom
De Bono, Edward, Thinking Course
Ferrer, Jorge, N. Revisioning Transpersonal Theory: A Particip
Fox Keller, Evelyn, Reflections on Gender and Science
Funkenstein, Amos. Theology and the Scientific Imagination Fro
Gaitskill, Mary, "On Not Being a Victim: Sex, Rape, and the tr
Galison, Peter & David Stump, ed. The Disunity of Science: Bou
Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinki
Griffin, David Ray. Unsnarling the World-Knot: Conscioiusness,
Gross, Matthias. Ignorance and Surprise: Science, Society, and Ecological
Ingold, Tim. Lines: A Brief History.
Ingold, Tim. The Perception of the Environment: Essays in livelihood
Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture; Where Old and New Media Collide
Johnson, Mark & George Lakoff. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Em
Johnson, Mark. The Body in the Mind; The Bodily Basis of Meani
Kaufman, Leslie. “Scientists and Weathercasters at Odds on Warming.”
Korzybski, Alfred, Science and Sanity: An Introduction to non-A
Laing, R.D., The Voice of Experience
McCarthy, E. Doyle, "Knowledge as Culture: The New Sociology o
Miller, James, The Passion of Michel Foucault
Mitchell, Stephen The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke
Nietzsche, Frederick, On Truth and Lie in an Extra-moral Sens
Oyama, Susan. Evolution’s Eye: A Systems View of the Biology-Culture
Plotkin, Henry. The Imagined World Made Real: Towards a Natura
Putnam, Hilary, Representation and Reality
Rescher, Nicholas. Cognitive Economy: the Economic Dimension
Rockwell, W. Teed. Neither Brain nor Ghost: A Nondualist Alter
Shields, David. Reality Hunger: a Manifesto
Snell, Bruno. The Discovery of the Mind in Greek Philosophy an
Stern, Donnel. Unformulated Experience: From Dissociation to Imagination
Taleb, Nassim. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
Taylor, Charles. Philosophical Arguments
Taylor, Charles. “To Follow a Rule...” Bourdieu: Critical Per
Taylor, Mark C. The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture
Woodward, Ian. Understanding Material Culture