JiscMail Logo
Email discussion lists for the UK Education and Research communities

Help for PHD-DESIGN Archives


PHD-DESIGN Archives

PHD-DESIGN Archives


PHD-DESIGN@JISCMAIL.AC.UK


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

PHD-DESIGN Home

PHD-DESIGN Home

PHD-DESIGN  August 2009

PHD-DESIGN August 2009

Options

Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password

Subject:

Re: Who Designs?

From:

jeremy hunsinger <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

jeremy hunsinger <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 17 Aug 2009 16:41:51 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (298 lines)

On Aug 17, 2009, at 3:53 PM, Ben Matthews wrote:

> Dear Jeremy,
>
> Thanks for your quick and clear response. Perhaps David is right,
> this is
> well-trodden ground on PhD-design, but I wasn't able to resist the
> temptation to cross swords with you.
>
> On 8/17/09 1:41 PM, "jeremy hunsinger" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
<--snip-->
>>
> I had been thinking of the Mosaic Law (c.1400-1000 BC), into which
> was built
> clear distinctions with respect to punishments for intentional vs.
> unintentional commissions. The English translations I have at hand
> render
> e.g. Numbers 15 in terms of intention. Nevertheless, a concept very
> similar
> to the one that that we use today by 'intention' is clearly built
> into the
> different practices stipulated in ancient law.

I'm not familiar with this basic text, but the history of the concept
of intention doesn't seem to go back that far.  So I'd be suspicious
of the translation.  I don't read ancient Hebrew, but i might find the
Ancient Greek if you give the paragraph number.  which looks to be say
22?  in the latinate bible, which is likely where the origin of the
mistranslation comes from, intentio for 'mind'  again, or something
similar.  hmm.  interesting.   Still looking for the original
paragraph that mentions intention in the pre-latinate text, dunno if
i'll find it.
>
>>>
>>
> I struggle to imagine how linguistics could demonstrate such a
> claim: that
> the 'structure' of language contains a 'theory' of persons.

it is part of reference and how one refers to people, and their
relations to each other.   Almost all languages have a built in model
of person or group of people/family'  In english, the structure i/me/
you/they, etc. indicate elements of the theory of the person embedded
in the language.  The system of reference beyond referring to people
also has implications for what a person is, so I'd say yes, the
structure of a language has an implicit theory of a person.  Now there
is probably debate, as there always is, but people don't have to
believe this for it to be the case, nor does disbelief seem to
disprove it, the evidence either fits into your model of language and
people or it doesn't.

Seems to be part of the basis of linguistic anthropology doesn't it?


> That theories of
> persons can be constructed from the grammar(s) of concepts in
> language is
> undeniable--this is the problem. But the claim that those theories
> somehow
> inhere in language I can't quite buy.

don't have to buy it, but i'm thinking that this is one of the major
twists and turns that led from the linguistic turn to the practice turn.

> I would also differentiate here between language containing the
> concepts of
> subject and subjectivity, versus it containing *models* of those
> concepts.
> Models are philosophical constructions. Language is for use.

Language is not just for use.   language is part of identity and
subjectivity.  some languages can likely be used only for use, but
I've never seen one.  some people also think primarily in their own
languages or in a plurality of languages, as opposed to other modes of
thought.
>
>>
>>> It is not about the business of making empirical claims, or
>>> hypotheses about phenomena that we as yet have no way of testing.
>>
>> umm?   generally, tons of people speak about such things quite often.
>> we have a whole category of myth, supplemented with a category of
>> religion, etc.
>
> When I say something like 'Harry thinks Whitehead was a genius', I'm
> not
> making an empirical claim that has anything to do with Harry's brain
> states
> or processes.

I'd think you are making an empirical claim there.

> My claim about what Harry thinks about Whitehead will be
> confirmed or refuted by Harry's actions, expressed opinions, authored
> publications and other such criteria, not by the empirical results of
> neuroscientific tests.

I tend to doubt that the neuroscientific tests are any more or less
empirical than harries expressions.


> We use terms like intend and think, and they have
> very ordinary and public criteria for their ratifiability. They aren't
> indexing hidden states or processes that we may one day know more
> about.

actually they are, they are pointing at something people likely
believe.  some people will claim up and down that intention exists and
matters, because it is the basis of their work, and that's fine, but
we shouldn't deny that if it isn't the basis of people's work and if
the concept need do little or no work in the analysis or research that
it needs to exist.  That is the problem with the debate on agency.
People have to have it there, but they don't need it for any part of
their analysis or research, it is just an axiom they point to, that
they don't necessarily need.


> Myth and religion are red herrings here. Neither are variants of
> empirical
> science, nor do they respect anything like the same criteria for
> establishing 'truth'.

here i would disagree... because it depends very much on what you
think truth is, and that varies.  most people are foundationalists,
some are coherentists, some are pragmatists, and there are likely
others.  I tend to think that religion and myth are varieties of
science, not very successful varieties, but they point to the same
basic thing, which is a systematized pursuit of knowledge and
description of the world.  Now, today we do it differently and we find
more success on our terms with it, but before our time and elsewhere
in the world there may be people that have success with other models
too.


> They, too, are far from making empirical claims of a
> scientific sort that await future experimental confirmation.

Actually i think most myths i've heard are about empirical claims.  X
happened to Y causing Z, etc.  perhaps more literary, but  when i look
at Works and Days for instance, i see quite a few claims about how
things in the world are and how they can be explained.


<--snip-->
>
>>
>> and yes, they are, words like intend will likely eventually be
>> surpassed, but currently it is built into the models of law that we
>> have in the west.   it is going to take years to break that
>> tradition,
>> and the unfairnesses built into them, but i suspect intend and
>> intention will eventually become 'archaic'.
>
> I begin to see how differently you see things here. But I see much
> more
> hanging on the possible future abandonment of 'intention'. I don't
> deny that
> we could invent new concepts that give us different ways to explain
> human
> action. But a whole network of concepts we currently have would
> unravel at
> this point.

actually many of them are unraveling, then people reconstruct them if
they so desire, we go through this quite often actually.  Call it
conceptual analysis or theorizing, but this is not an uncommon
situation to have in academia where we are at once trying to describe
a very complicated chain of relations on the one hand, and trying to
make it interpretable by others on the other hand.  Those two values
the explaining/describing of empirical data and the construction of
ways to understand that data are frequently at odds.

> Our concept of what it is to be a person is bound up with other
> concepts: accountability, action, moral responsibility, individual
> choice,
> constraint, compulsion, justification...

Mine isn't so much most of those, i tend to strip the person pretty
bare.  I assume they have a mind and that has certain implications but
not all of the ones above, and that they can act in the world.


> If intention goes, a large part of
> our concept of human being goes with it.

Not really, certain things will go with it.  such as the concept of
Human Will, and likely certain constructions of freedom that are tied
to the same model, but other parts of freedom will likely stay.

I remember when I was in undergraduate ethics... My professor a recent
grad from UChicago told us to do a little experiment.  go around
campus and assume that everyone was robots, as complex as robots could
be imagined by you....  Do that for a week, then write down what you
think is different between you and the robots....  The idea is that
you of course are one of the robots and thus there should be no
difference, but that you can explain all actions as programmable
behavior if you really try.   Even randomness and pseudorandomness can
be modeled and considered.  The problem then becomes those people who
see that there are differences, fundamental differences, and those
differences usually centered around some 'spark' or 'will' or
'intent'... It was always something that you couldn't observe or
measure that made all the difference to some people.  Now don't get me
wrong, I believe in the Flying Spagetti Monster as much as the next
guy, but at a certain point when you are observing people being
ethical or not ethical in the world, you have to explain it and in the
end, you don't need intention to explain it, there are other models.

> These are not isolated concepts but
> are inextricably related to each other. This is not a 'theory' of
> human
> beings, it is rather our very concept of human being.

I'm not sure i share it, i share elements sure, but I think you might
have more commitments in that arena than I do, things that i likely do
not find necessary, nor likely real.

> We are not in danger
> of simply losing or abandoning that concept. The organisation of
> social
> life, raising children, learning language, etc. would first have to be
> wholly other than it is now before any injury came to the concept of
> human
> being.

don't see why, there are already a plurality of ways of doing that in
the world.  and believe me... most of the ones that exist are fairly
successful and many do not accept the same premises.


> The idea that it will 'take years to break that tradition' is hardly
> what is at stake. We're talking about a reinvention of human life, of
> society. If we encountered a humanoid colony who operated a society
> without
> personal accountability or anything like it, we would not consider
> them
> human, and could not recognise ourselves in what passed for their
> 'society'.

not really, we are just talking about describing the world and human
society as it seems to exist within one model, if that model proves
successful, grand,  it seems to be doing ok in some accounts.  I don't
see it as a threat to anything like the 'way of life'.  I'd hope
perhaps better decisions can be made when there are more models
available to consider.

Umm, there are people in this world that have no sense of the personal
in regards to accountability.  Seems like every year someone else says
this same thing... that we are a global individualistic
monoculture....  and i have to say that no, people elsewhere do
sometimes think differently about this system of relations.  They are
increasingly rare, but individualism and personal accountability
aren't 'human nature'  they are one culture.   There are plenty of
other possible ways of being without needing to demand the absolute
reality of one.    That said, the current western discourse and
culture seems to be either gaining in some respects or losing in some
respects its hegemony, there is much debate about this in the class of
cultures literature, fascinating stuff.


<--snip-->
>
>>
>
> I agree with what you say about the concept of intention here, and its
> pragmatic uses in our lives. I just fail to see how this is solving a
> theoretical problem. It appears to be solving a very practical one
> to me,
> and one that doesn't need a theory.

perhaps i studied too much jurisprudence....

>
> I've always found it helpful when people who represent different
> outlooks
> have direct exchanges on this list. I hope the PhD-design audience
> doesn't
> see this as too much of a diversion. I've enjoyed the dialogue.

It is a good discussion, i agree.  I don't know if it helps
necessarily on phd-design, but then again.  i originally came on this
list to study the list and the development of doctoral programs in
design as a cross-national phenomena, though i never did, as i got
distracted by other things.

Jeremy Hunsinger
Center for Digital Discourse and Culture
Virginia Tech
Information Ethics Fellow
Center for Information Policy Research


Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality.
-Jules de Gaultier

() ascii ribbon campaign - against html mail
/\ - against microsoft attachments

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

JiscMail Tools


RSS Feeds and Sharing


Advanced Options


Archives

November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
2001
2000
1999
1998


JiscMail is a Jisc service.

View our service policies at https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/policyandsecurity/ and Jisc's privacy policy at https://www.jisc.ac.uk/website/privacy-notice

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager