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91
Method In Theology / Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Last post by Catherine B. King on February 01, 2013, 11:30:04 AM »
Hello Dick:

I only want to address the meaning of general empirical method here that you mention in your note (I have copied the relevant sections below).

Of course you can assign any meaning to any terms that you want. However, for this technical-theoretical meaning, Lonergan' means two things:

(1) to give a generalized theory of cognition as a basis for an epistemology, ethics, and a metaphysics, and later for the ground of the functional specialties; and

(2) to ask that the reader CHECK THEIR OWN EVIDENCE that the theory is or is not correct--it's not exhaustive, but correct.

So that the theory will remain identified with your own meaning and beliefs, or  "just another theory," as you seem to imply, only if you don't want to ask yourself the questions, like, DO I ASK SUCH QUESTIONS as, for instance, of the general type:  WHAT IS IT?  Further, you can do that in whatever language you like--and it's still a "what is it" type question, or not.

You have my book--I give detailed instructions about one way to go about that. But if you don't want to understand the difference between a self-styled meaning of GEM (common, or your own) and a technical-theoretical meaning, and further, that the technical meaning has a real-referent that is in your own experience of yourself, then there is no point in going further discussing philosophical issues, or whether or not the functional specialties are grounded in what we find when we CHECK THE EVIDENCE and appropriate/affirm the activities that so commonly occur in our interior domain. They do and it is. As Oscar Hammerstein says, without that, the rest is all piffle.

You are really stuck in a kind of halfway house of language: "what we SAY" about general empirical method as our "covert experiences constitutes valid data."   You can SAY that you are wondering and then asking questions; and then you can recognize that, in fact, you are raising them. It seems we've used the fact that we have language to constitute and then systematize an extreme subjectivism/relativism.  It must be difficult to live in that kind of bifurcated philosophical "gap." The material point is, of course, that we don't.

Regardless, my best to you and your students,

Catherine

 
THE BELOW IS COPIED FROM YOUR NOTE:

 I use "generalized empirical method," but by that phrase I simply mean that I regard what you and I (and others) say about our covert experiences constitutes valid data.  It is a rejection of the behaviorists attempts to eliminate from scientific discourse all "mentalistic language."  I don't use the acronym "GEM" because I believe that you (and others) mean much more by it than I mean by "generalized empirical method."  More specifically, using "GEM" as you do seems to entail total agreement with the way Lonergan has described the eight functional specialties.  I have some disagreements, and have not been persuaded that I am wrong.

92
Method In Theology / Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Last post by mounce on February 01, 2013, 10:44:04 AM »
Hi Dick, in your first steps with Lakoff and making reasonable assumptions, have you reflected much on the two important modifiers in commitment "a)"?  Why do you need to modify your commitment to, "the world", with, "existence", and, "real"?  In other areas of study (Thomas, for example) the meaning of existence and reality are supported by an entire corpus of work, and I wouldn't think they are therefore words you can assume everyone uses in the same way.  Who doesn't have an existence, for example, or what is unreal?  I'm fond of saying (as another example) that money is unreal, but we believe it is real because it is logical.  I importantly mean quite a bit by that, but I expect most people to be as confused as I was the first time I heard it.

PS - hey cool, html commands are recognized.  Let's <em>say</em> something <strong>stupid</strong for practice.  Oops, looks-like the designers went with deprecated style, oh well.
93
Method In Theology / Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Last post by Richard Moodey on January 31, 2013, 09:18:34 AM »
Hi John,

I will be interested in the answers you find to the questions you are asking about Lakoff's references to other great students of language.  I have explained what I mean by "data," and how it differs from what I mean by "experience."  I don't regard my experiences to be data until I have represented them symbolically -- put my experiences into words or other kinds of symbols.  This is how I interpret Lonergan's "objectification," but I am open to being corrected on that interpretation. 

I use "generalized empirical method," but by that phrase I simply mean that I regard what you and I (and others) say about our covert experiences constitutes valid data.  It is a rejection of the behaviorists attempts to eliminate from scientific discourse all "mentalistic language."  I don't use the acronym "GEM" because I believe that you (and others) mean much more by it than I mean by "generalized empirical method."  More specifically, using "GEM" as you do seems to entail total agreement with the way Lonergan has described the eight functional specialties.  I have some disagreements, and have not been persuaded that I am wrong.

If Davidson denies that there are mental events, then I judge him to be mistaken.  Moreover, I consider his denial to be an overt linguistic act that expresses his covert judgment, and that covert judgment is an example of what I mean by a mental event.  His denial that there are mental events also leads me to deny that he is a good philosopher of language, despite the opinions of other philosophers. 

I don't rely much on Lakoff for my understanding of rules.  I think Stephen Turner in Explaining the Normative clarifies the issues better than anything else I have read.  I rely on Lakoff and Johnson for my understanding of metaphors and radial categories, and upon Turner for understanding the normative dimension of rules.  I don't either pretend or aspire to giving a complete exegesis of the thinking and writing of either Lakoff or Turner.  I use them to help me develop my own thinking.  There is a sense in which I use Lonergan and Polanyi in the same way, but I read them in a way that has been much more formative of my whole way of thinking.  My reading of Lakoff and Turner has been more recent, and my reading of them much more selective.

I think that Lakoff and Johnson do think and write theoretically, even though they often take common sense as the object of their theoretical thinking.  Lonergan also wrote about common sense as object, and this constitutes a very large part of sociological theory.

Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things appeared in 1987, and Lakoff has published quite a bit since then.  I don't think, however that he has given up the following four commitments, which he sets forth on p. xv: "(a) a commitment to the existence of the real world, (b) a recognition that reality places constraints on concepts, (c) a conception of truth that goes beyond mere internal coherence, and (d) a commitment to the existence of stable knowledge of the world."  I have been committed to these four things since I began reading Lonergan and Polanyi in 1957 and 1958.

The authority you quote says: "Lakoff's approach of developing a general model of cognition on the basis of semantics has certain inherent weaknesses, in spite of its spectacular results. It cannot be taken for granted that semantic categories accurately represent cognitive domains--language may have access only to the output of other cognitive modules, and their domain-specificity may be partly elided by linguistic categories. For this reason, evidence for cognitive domains must be sought and demonstrated independently of language. However, semantics can be utilized as a way of generating hypotheses about domain-specificity, which can then be independently verified."

Lakoff does not develop his model of cognition on the basis of semantics alone.  In Philosophy in the Flesh(p. 96) he and Johnson say:
"The research paradigm of the Neural Theory of Language Group at Berkeley (the NTL paradigm) is a multilevel paradigm, in which each level contributes something necessary to explanation in cognitive science. That is, such a model implicitly claims that in an explanatorily adequate cognitive science there are truths at each level that cannot be stated adequately at some other level. The NTL paradigm is an instance of a common paradigm that most cognitive scientists share, at least in principle."
They elaborate the three levels of the paradigm further on p. 110.  The top level is "cognitive," middle is "neurocomputational," and bottom is "neurobiological."  They say:

"In this paradigm, the top level is a description of cognitive structures and mechanisms in functional terms. It includes such notions as phonemes, verbs, and concepts. The bottom level is a description of the neural system of the brain in biological terms. It includes notions of ion channels, axons, dendrites, synapses, and so on. The role of the neurocomputational level is to link the two—to model the neural structure of the brain or some aspect of it, while using that model to account for aspects of thought, language, and other cognitive functions."

That, ISTM, goes far beyond a merely "semantic" approach to developing a model of cognition.  Your authority's assumption about Lakoff's approach makes me skeptical of his criticisms of Lakoff's assumptions.  I think he or she uses a misinterpretation of Lakoff as a point of departure to promote his/her own theories.  I have nothing at all against people presenting their theories.  I do have something against using misinterpretations of others as "straw men." 

Best regards

Dick
94
Method In Theology / Data of sense and of consciousness in modern thinkers
« Last post by jraymaker on January 31, 2013, 02:11:18 AM »
Dick,

 Some questions I have as to Lakoff is to what extent does he refer to such great students of language as Saussure, Helmjev, Wittgenstein, Jakobson etc. or into the modern problematical areas of poststructuralism, deconstructionism, postmodernism.
 
  GEM turns on the data of consciousness as integrated with the data of sense and it suggests how "the development of language fuses with the development of knowledge" (Insight 1958, p. 555).
 
  Even a rather good philosopher of language such as Donald Davidson rejects the idea of mental events in. his truth-conditional semantics. He also rejected the conception of linguistic understanding as having to do with conventions or rules. Where does Lakoff stand on that?
 
  I have downloaded Lakoff and Johnson's book but did not see them going deeply into such issues. They seem to address themselves less to an schema of explanatory knowledge (as theory) and more to commonsense life processes. Others on the Lonerganforum have asked such questions.
 
  Already in Verbum, e. g. p. 185, Lonergan went deep into the habits of human intellect as "NOUS, grasping the point, EPISTEME, grasping its implications; reflective SOPHIA and PHRONESIS, understanding what is and what is to be done, and finally TEKNE, grasping how to do it."
 
  While some praise Lakoff's latest book, "Women, Fire and Dangerous Things", they also caution that his
approach has certain inherent weaknesses such as the assumptions he makes. See this site 
 
http://cogweb.ucla.edu/CogSci/Lakoff.html
 from which I here quote:
 
 "Lakoff's approach of developing a general model of cognition on the basis of semantics has certain inherent weaknesses, in spite of its spectacular results. It cannot be taken for granted that semantic categories accurately represent cognitive domains--language may have access only to the output of other cognitive modules, and their domain-specificity may be partly elided by linguistic categories. For this reason, evidence for cognitive domains must be sought and demonstrated independently of language. However, semantics can be utilized as a way of generating hypotheses about domain-specificity, which can then be independently verified.
    The presence of cognitive domains also raises the question of how these came about. Lakoff assumes they flow out of our physical constitution and the nature of the world; a more precise way of speaking about this is evolutionary psychology. A consideration of the environment in which humans evolved would permit us to map the source domain onto a proper domain, and thus generate a more detailed list of properties and entailments. Such historical considerations would also allow us to provide principled answers to which domains do not have their own preconceptual structure: namely, domains that either did not exist in the ancestral environment (agriculture, most forms of technology, civilization) or domains that were not available or significant to survival (microbiology, quantum physics, chemistry).
     Moreover, Lakoff's notion of metaphor as a mapping from one cognitive domain to another as "one of the great imaginative triumphs of the human mind" has been echoed by the British paleo- anthropologist Steven Mithen (1996), who has suggested that the transition from Neanderthal man to Cro Magnon is marked precisely by the ability to "switch cognitive frames": the paleolithic blossoming in art may be correlated with the ability to think metaphorically.
     Lakoff's proposal on metaphor is a particularly pregnant one for literary studies-- not because ordinary speech is mainly literal (it clearly is not), but because literature is a deliberate forefronting of linguistic devices, a cultivation of special effects. Clarifying what is the source and proper domains of a metaphor promises to throw light on the way meaning is constructed in reading".
 
   This latter phrase brings us into the issues of Constructivism in science, ethics, mathematics and also into Gödel's theory of the constructible universe and the foundations of logic which BL does not ignore,
 
John
95
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Thursday, February 28, at 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. (A reception will follow the lecture).
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96
Method In Theology / Inner dynamics of insight and functional specialization
« Last post by jraymaker on January 30, 2013, 03:56:23 AM »
Catherine, Dick

  I would like to comment and give brief references to the issue of Lonergan and Lakoff you address.  I will first instance a quote from a paper to be found at

http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/journal/volumes/03/wildgen/

The "dynamic turn" in cognitive linguistics
Wolfgang Wildgen, Faculty 10: Languages and Literary Studies, Universität Breme

  In his abstract Wilgen asks:  Why did linguistic structuralism fail as an explanatory endeavour? Why is the understanding of the dynamics of language a primordial goal of linguistic theory? In order to give an explanation of the notion "dynamics" basic notions of dynamic systems theory are introduced informally. Following these questions the paper considers major proposals by Talmy, Lakoff and Langacker and asks how they account for the dynamic aspects of causing/enabling (Talmy's force dynamics), for iterated metaphorical mapping (Lakoff) and for syntactic composition ("construal" in Langacker's terminology). The ad-hoc pictorial models proposed by these authors are compared to mathematically controlled models in dynamic semantics (based on catastrophe, bifurcation and chaos theory). Shortcomings and advantages of the informal and pictorial versus the mathematical description are discussed. The dynamics of phrasal and sentential composition is currently one of the central topics of neurodynamic models based on ERP and fMRI brain scanning. This perspective must be further developed in order to specify the possibilities of future dynamic semantics of natural languages.

1. Why did linguistic structuralism fail as an explanatory endeavour?
Cognitive linguistics has inherited basic orientations and delimitations from structuralism as it was programmatically stated by de Saussure and Hjelmslev. This dependence is obscured by the fact that both the Chomsky and the Langacker/Lackoff line seem to descend from later "revolutions". The Chomsky revolution against the classificatory and taxonomic trends in postwar American linguistics (Harris, Pike) programmatically introduced creativity, generativity and transformation into the static world of the patterns of usage uncovered by descriptive techniques (discovery procedures and classification based on distributions). In reality, the rather informal nature of discovery procedures and classificatory methods has been replaced by a much more rigid algebraic formalism. For Chomsky (1957) language was considered as a non-finite, but denumerable set, which could be defined via an algorithm, whereas his teacher Harris rather had tried to give a mathematical shape to the methods of linguistic research. The major arguments for the necessity of Chomsky's rigour derived from Bar-Hillel's (1950) proof that a distributional (purely algebraic) definition of classical notions like word classes was not feasible.  One could say that by a strange parallel fate the formalization of Saussure's structuralisms by Hjelmslev was repeated by Chomsky/Bar-Hillel vis à vis American structuralism (in the tradition of Bloomfield, Bloch, Trager, Pike). Lakoff's and Fillmore's second "revolution" turned against the formal language analogy, but it also returned to post-Saussurean developments like those in the German "inhaltsbezogene Grammatik" of Leo Weisgerber and to a Whorfian view on language and cognition (Weisgerber had preferred to label it "Humboldtian"). All these turns and revolutions did not really abolish the Saussurean verdict against historical dynamics and against the consideration of language to be dependent from variations in social contexts and individual ontogenesis. The rejection of evolutionary considerations had already been banished by pre-Saussurean verdicts in Europe after 1850. END quote

   It seems to me that relating Lakoff to Lonergan is in need of the historical contexts and aims that led to their respective works. As Catherine argues, Lonergan took great pains to address the philosophical issues and contexts. Lakoff's work seems to address itself to common sense usage of language with a smattering of references to how he began to differ with his teacher Chomsky. Lakoff enlisted such collaborators as John R.  "Haj" Ross and Jim McCawley in his programme.

  Language and linguistic theories have their own dynamics as the above quote argues.  Lakoff is concerned with these dynamics. Lonergan is concerned with the inner dynamics of the human mind as operative in the human mind, in insight and functional specialiyation. These dynamics also underly the study and applications of  conceptual metaphors

John
97
Method In Theology / Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Last post by Catherine B. King on January 28, 2013, 09:35:05 AM »
Hello Dick:

Well, let me say first that underneath such communications as this is the question of “What do you mean by knowing?” And then by "the real." and then we have the question about whether such knowing has any objective status, which brings us to the question: “What do you mean by objectivity?”
 
All of those questions, and their different answers, and the philosophical comportment they leave us with, inform the notions of such statements as yours below: 

(You say) “When you assert that we share meanings, I am never sure whether or not you mean it in the strong sense of ‘absolutely identical meanings in your mind and mine,’ or the weaker sense of ‘very similar meanings in your mind and mine.’"

But here is a question for you:  If I refer here to President Obama, do you think I mean by my reference “some very similar meanings in your mind” held together by the concept or analogue: President Obama? Or do I mean some clear and "strong" identity of the man who is our president?


The above brings out the prior questions about knowing, the real, and the objective status of your and my knowledge--that is of course informed by meaning.  Certainly, I don't mean merely a vague imaginary picture of the president, but also an intelligible person who holds an intelligible office in an intelligible country--objectively and about which we can both know "strongly."  Nor by "President Obama" do I mean "Martin Luther King."  And just as certainly, by "strong" I mean you already know the difference; and I do not mean that either of us knows or wants to know everything there is to know about Obama, the US, or the presidency.  If you mean by "strong," to know everything about everything, I would still not think that our shared or limited or even different meanings and knowledge about Obama are "weak." 

So if you notice, first, we are no longer talking about the functional specialties and, second, that we have drifted from a discussion about meaning (understanding) to truth (knowledge) and the real (metaphysics)--all of which are prone to be associated with certain counter-positions that are explored quite well, I think, in Insight.

I know I am sounding awfully much like a pedagogue, but I'll take that chance:  May I point you to those chapters in Insight?--on things, reflective understanding, and objectivity? And I would add that these are not arbitrary assertions albeit from a very smart philosopher/theologian, but rather afford us a "strong" depiction of the philosophical nature of human beings that accords with what we actually do when we are involved in the process that begins with wondering-about . . . . 

The irony is that, for instance, most of us harbor different understanding of terms like objectivity, meaning, knowledge and the real.  But if we didn't assume that we can know what someone else means by such terms and, further, that there is some touchstone to their reality, and a method through which we get there, then we should quit the field and go on our merry way, if we were to be honest about it.   I don't want weak, I want strong and, I think in fact, we have it.

The further point is that using all of the attributes of language does not mean that we have less meaning, knowledge, objectivity or reality. Rather, having language means we can ask the kinds of questions that we do in the first place. Language is not only that through which we express ourselves; rather it's also foundational to our being. So that it's through language that the strength of meaning comes.

Best,
Catherine
98
Method In Theology / Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Last post by Richard Moodey on January 27, 2013, 01:55:58 PM »
Hi Catherine,

I believe that the meanings we attribute to words, propositions, and other cultural symbols are analogous, rather than identical.  Analogues are similar in some respects and different in other respects.  The better our communication, the greater the similarities between our meanings, and the fewer and less important the differences.  Because our communication is never perfect, we can never know whether or not the differences between what's in your mind and what's in mine have completely disappeared.  If I were to agree to the proposition that we share meanings, I would be agreeing also to a belief in perfect communication.  For me to assert that we share meanings would be for me to claim to know something that I cannot know, because of the imperfection of all communication.  When you assert that we share meanings, I am never sure whether or not you mean it in the strong sense of "absolutely identical meanings in your mind and mine," or the weaker sense of "very similar meanings in your mind and mine."  If you mean it in the weaker sense, then we agree.  If you mean it in the stronger sense, then we disagree.

Best regards,

Dick
99
Calendar Events / Re: Conference
« Last post by mounce on January 24, 2013, 04:01:50 PM »
9 Feb 2013 Seattle University symposium hosted by Paul Kidder
100
Method In Theology / Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Last post by Catherine B. King on January 24, 2013, 09:41:03 AM »
Hi Doug:

Here is a relevant quote from Lonergan:

"Basically the issue is a transition from the abstract logic of classicism to the concreteness of method. On the former view what is basic is proof. On the latter view what is basic is conversion. Proof appeals to an abstraction named right reason. Conversion transforms the concrete individual to make him capable of grasping not merely conclusions but principles as well" (Method in Theology/1972/338).

From how I understand it, the tautology problem is based on the thinker not having made that historical and self-reflective turn.

The problem then concerns the reader's personal foundations as distinct from the objectification of them or of anything else; so that, from an already-entrenched classicism as the reader's foudandational lense, as it were, the reader of Lonergan's work itself  starts with that view and, thus, the only way to end is--you guessed it--a tautology wrapped up with conceptualism.  Without a hint of that turn, Lonergan is just another word-flapping philosopher dealing with what cannot possibly be real.

I guess we could refer to the problem as a philosophical surd--one that has been systematized in most communications in the western-influenced world and, thus, has reach gargantuan proportions. Critical-philosohical self-reflection is way-far off the horizon, but still throwing some light from below and behind the horizon?  The surd, if we can call it that, however, differs in commonsense and in academic communications. That is,  commonsense has some legitimacy in being involved in here-and-now extroversion; whereas, the academy has reflectively appropriated, in a half-cooked sort of way, several poorly wrought philosophical (counter) positions.

I like the poundstone reference.


Catherine
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