various comments

Wed, 4 Oct 1995 11:29:05 EST

I am first replying to John McCreery, re my division of various
thinkers into Direct and Mediated. My categories are such that Direct
means to have an understanding that Truth exists, in itself, and that
it is accessible as such. Whether one accesses that Truth via one's
senses (positivist..and also empiricist) or one's reason (Plato,
Descartes..and also Kant) irrelevant. The point is - IT exists,
in itself and is accessible. As for any differentiation between Plato
and Descartes, I can't see much. Cartesian rationalism, to my
inadequate understanding, suggests that one can go through a Socratic
dialogic experience, 'purge' oneself of one's inadequacies, and then
experience, finally, of doubt. Ditto Plato. His Forms are
the architectonic 'guide' to the inadequate copies on earth/within
our mind. But they do exist, and one can, presumable, access them,
even if it has to be via the help of one's 'demiurge'.

But the Mediated concept of Truth, is that it first admits that there
is no such thing as absolute, pure Truth. there is a reality, which
may be abstract or sensual..but one cannot access it/know it ..'in-
itself'. One can only 'know' it within the socially constructed (or
species-constructed) 'mediative-habits' of one's particular
society/species/whatever. That is why I take Kant out of the Direct
list. Kan'ts knowledge was developed within mediation, his 'synthetic
a priori'..which I would compare with the 'active intellect' of
Aristotle/Aquinas, and of course, Peircean Thirdness. The
epistemology (the how) of accessing this Truth is not the is not relevant too these Two Categories of Direct and
Mediated, whether one uses the senses or reason to access Truth. I
differentiate analyses on the basis of whether they first, assume
that Truth-In-Itself exists..and then, whether they assume that one
can access it at all. The Direct says 'yes' both concerns; it
exists and it can be directly accessed/known; the Mediated says
'Maybe' to the first, and 'no' the cannot be
accessed and what we consider Truth/Knowledge is actually a mediated
transformation of 'out there'.

I don't quite agree with the 3 categories of
rationalist/empiricist/romantic (or intuitive?). Certainly, they are
valid, if one is simply talking about the 'means of accessing'
knowledge - via one's reason, via one's senses, via revelation. But I
think they are not enough. To only use these 3 categories, misses
that other assumption..which knowledge/Truth actually existent
in itself, and actually accessible as such? I think that this is a
better basis for categorization, and cuts across the above 3. After
all, Peirce, an empiricist, agreed with all three 'methods' of
dealing with sensual data (his terms of
deductive/inductive/ the same order as above). I think
the key is whether Truth exists in itself, and whether it, in its
delightful purity, can be accesses. One camp says 'yes' to both
concepts..and the other says 'no'. That's the division I find most

And I completely agree - quantum physics is not fuzzy thinking, and I
hope you are not finding my references to quantum to be in that mode.
The key factors of quantum physics (for me, a non-physicist) are its
emphasis on knowledge/entities as existent only within a dialogic and
therefore transformative interaction. This emphasis on the interction
moves knowledge from being thought of as existent-in-itself and
waiting for some bright person to come along and trip over it (the
hero) something that is being developed within the energy frames
of the interaction..And the interest on increasingly complex
organization of energy is also important.

I also very much appreciate the various comments by list members vs
the reductionism of people to groups. I am totally opposed to any
idea that any 'group' has an inherent ability to 'understand' an
idea. I may be a woman, but I have no inherent or even learned
ability to understand what it is to be a woman...and I find such a
isolate definition of 'being a woman'..totally illogical anyway.
First, that suggests that Being/Truth, is absolute, self-defined.
(ie.Being a Woman). And obviously, I would think that anyone reading
the few messages I've sent so far, would realize that I don't
subscribe to that view. There is no absolute truth of 'what it means
to be X'..and therefore, no-one is more privileged than another to
access that 'Truth'. I repeat..that 'Truth ' is an organized
formulation of energy, and is contextual, current,
flexible..according to the individual who does the formulation, the
group which does the formulation. (I realize this makes me sound
like a member of the discursive school, the ultimate
phenomenologists..and I am really not..because I 'insert' another
level of mediation into my concept fo cognition..that mediation
level, which stabilizes and 'grounds' immediate interaction. No time
to elaborate on that now.).

As for science being sexist! Wow. I agree with Allan Dunn - totally
ridiculous. It is a common enough statement..based on what I think is
a rather simplistic extrapolation of Marxist/Hegelian thought..and
suggesting that whatever is 'known' is also something that is
dominated over (cf Foucault). Inserts a false idea of knowledge as
'domination of' rather than 'transformation of'. Again, it is based
on this assumption that 'Truth' exists..(that Direct Access bit)..and
sees it, almost in a romantic something Pure,
Untouched..inviolate in its Platonic/Rousseau-ist Eden. then along
comes 'evil man (and yes..woman)'..and 'knows it'..and so, sullies
it. Sounds like something for Sheena as Queen of the Jungle. And takes this first assumption (that knowledge is something
that dominates) and tacks it onto the complete misunderstanding of
male/female relations. (At least, I consider it a
misunderstanding).Western Europe societies (rainfall agriculture)
were indeed set up with men as socially privileged. But as
anthropologists, I don't understand how we can ignore that all
societies differentiate gender, and it is primarily based on 'who
brings home the bacon'. So..if women are the prime sustenance
support..they will have social privileges that support that standing.
the late rainfall agricultural period in Europe (the source ofo our
conceptual heritage0 was heavily based around the labour of men..aand were socially privileged. So what? It doesn't imply an
'inherent agenda' in men. I don't understand how that
economic/conceptual heritage leads to a conclusion that 'science is
sexist'. Perhaps I have gone on too long with this, but I find such
statements infuriating, not merely for their conclusions, but above
all for their method of argumentation. It proceeds from inherent,
inaccessible assumptions (Plato's Forms?)..that are not amenable, not
open for critique. This method of 'argumentation' is in itself, a
power-trip, refusing access to is assumptions... Enough. I will stop
on that. And I will send shorter messages next's just that
there were a lot of great comments to react to.

Edwina Taborsky
Bishop's University Phone: (819)822.9600
Lennoxville, Quebec Fax: (819)822.9661
Canada JIM 1Z7