Epistemology/How of Knowing

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Citations related to EPISTEMOLOGY and the HOW OF KNOWING (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. p. 406.


"'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. 859.


"...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 use?...

"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. 67.


“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. pp. 195-6.


“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. 127.


“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, Pantheon, 1982.


"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. 217, 221-2.


“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. 231-2.


“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. 139-140.


“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. 174.


“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. 150.
 

“The great 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.
 

"The 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.
 

"(1) The 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. Pp. 27-8.


“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. P. 77.


“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. P. 132.


“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. 274.]


“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. 257.


“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 non-acoustic information.

“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. 317.


“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. 5.


“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.


Authors & Works cited in Epistemology:

Alcoff, Linda & Elizabeth Potter, Feminist Epistemologies
Allen, T.F.H. & Valerie Ahl. Hierarchy Theory: A Vision, Vocabulary, and Epistemology
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 Design
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

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