Re: Manifesto for the militant middle.

Danny Yee (danny@STAFF.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Sat, 25 Feb 1995 17:32:31 +1000

John McCreery writes [ in response to Rick Wilk's manifesto]:
> First, to Rick Wilk: Bravo! Bravissimo!

I'll second that. Many years ago I would have thought that everything
Rick claimed was so manifestly obvious it was unnecessary to state it,
but experience (not least with anthro-l :-) has taught me otherwise.

John McCreery goes on:
> Second, a niggle. The word "truth" as in "logical and empirical truth" and
> "understanding and truth." I would suggest "value" instead. "Truth" is both
> too big and too small for me. Too big because it suggests an absolute
> standard; too small because there are tiny truths, mere facts that turn out
> to be trivial. "Value" forces me to assess why as well as how I pursue a
> particular research project; to confront the choices I have to make in world
> whose infinite interest will always transcend my limited means of understanding.
> "Truth" tempts me to verbal violence; to nyah,nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, I gotta
> gotta a counterexample, you are WRONG! "Value" asks me to be mindful of
> my priorities, and to ask first of an utterance, "What is important here, to
> the speaker?" instead of looking first for error in the interests of getting
> one-up.

I can understand John's concerns, but I feel that some words are
worth fighting over, and "truth" is one of them. Sure the word has
been given more meanings than one can count, and is so contested
I can see the flames already, but it also a word of power (*), and
we can ill afford to abandon those.

"Value" is another such word, of course...

Danny Yee.

(*) You know, the kind of word one uses for quelling dragons.