The computer revolution is a revolution in the way we think and in the way we express what we think. The essence of this change is the emergence of what might best be called procedural epistemology-the study of the structure of knowledge from an imperative point of view, as opposed to the more declarative point of view taken by classical mathematical subjects.
Most artists, or at least most of the ones I know, deny having a philosophical outlook that they try to translate into their works. Some had thought of the work of Cezanne and others as being a 'painted epistemology.' But Cezanne himself denied this and Daniel-Henri Kahnwiler, the art critic and art dealer, insisted that none of the many painters he had known had a philosophical culture.
Because those who hold conspiracy theories typically suffer from a crippled epistemology, in accordance with which it is rational to hold such theories, the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups. Various policy dilemmas, such as the question whether it is better for government to rebut conspiracy theories or to ignore them, are explored in this light.
The authority of science ... promotes and encourages the activity of observing, comparing, measuring and ordering the physical characteristics of human bodies.... Cartesian epistemology and classical ideals produced forms of rationality, scientificity and objectivity that, though efficacious in the quest for truth and knowledge, prohibited the intelligibility and legitimacy of black equality.... In fact, to "think" such an idea was to be deemed irrational, barbaric or mad.
[... ] intelligent people only have a certain amount of time (measured in subjective time spent thinking about religion) to become atheists. After a certain point, if you're smart, have spent time thinking about and defending your religion, and still haven't escaped the grip of Dark Side Epistemology, the inside of your mind ends up as an Escher painting.
[...] intelligent people only have a certain amount of time (measured in subjective time spent thinking about religion) to become atheists. After a certain point, if you're smart, have spent time thinking about and defending your religion, and still haven't escaped the grip of Dark Side Epistemology, the inside of your mind ends up as an Escher painting.
The world of physics is essentially the real world construed by mathematical abstractions, and the world of sense is the real world construed by the abstractions which the sense-organs immediately furnish. To suppose that the "material mode" is a primitive and groping attempt at physical conception is a fatal error in epistemology.
Susanne Katherina Langer
Paul Otremba's remarkable first book, The Currency, is an intriguing foray into lyric epistemology that tries to come to ter ms with the implacable, paradox-ridden nature of knowledge and experience. These are deeply felt, deeply meditated poems guided by a sensibility highly attenuated to the physical world. In their openness to friendship and love and in their fearless directness, they remind me of the work of Larry Levis and Jon Anderson. Like Levis and Anderson, Otremba promises to be an influential and important voice for his generation.
Underlying our approach to this subject is our conviction that "computer science" is not a science and that its significance has little to do with computers. The computer revolution is a revolution in the way we think and in the way we express what we think. The essence of this change is the emergence of what might best be called procedural epistemology-the study of the structure of knowledge from an imperative point of view, as opposed to the more declarative point of view taken by classical mathematical subjects. Mathematics provides a framework for dealing precisely with notions of "what is". Computation provides a framework for dealing precisely with notions of "how to".
In order to live, man must act; in order to act, he must make choices; in order to make choices, he must define a code of values; in order to define a code of values, he must know what he is and where he is "" i.e. he must know his own nature (including his means of knowledge) and the nature of the universe in which he acts "" i.e. he needs metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, which means: philosophy. He cannot escape from this need; his only alternative is whether the philosophy guiding him is to be chosen by his mind or by chance.
In its quest to discover how the patterns of reality are organised, the story of modern science hints at a picture of a set of Chinese puzzle boxes, each one more intricately structured and wondrous than the last. Every time the final box appears to have been reached, a key has been found which has opened up another, revealing a new universe even more breathtakingly improbable in its conception. We are now forced to suspect that, for human reason, there is no last box, that in some deeply mysterious, virtually unfathomable, self-reflective way, every time we open a still smaller box, we are actually being brought closer to the box with which we started, the box which contains our own conscious experience of the world. This is why no theory of knowledge, no epistemology, can ever escape being consumed by its own self-generated paradoxes. And this is why we must consider the universe to be irredeemably mystical.
One salutary development in recent ethical theorizing is the widespread recognition that no short argument will serve to eliminate any of the major metaethical positions. Such theories have to weave together views in semantics, epistemology, moral psychology and metaphysics. The comprehensive, holistic character of much recent theorizing suggests the futility of fastening on just a single sort of argument to refute a developed version of realism or antirealism. No one any longer thinks that ethical naturalism can be undermined in a single stroke by the open question argument, or that appeal to the descriptive semantics of moral discourse is sufficient to refute noncognitivism.
Reading The Waste Land, then, is in part reading about reading in the early twentieth century. The crisis in epistemology brought on by the discrediting of objectivity is especially relevant to understanding the poem, because the problem of knowledge is itself one of its major subjects. Like Joyce, Valery, and other contemporary writers, Eliot consciously adds a dimension in which his work is self-reflexive, a dimension in which it refers to itself and its nature as a linguistic structure, a dimension which incorporates the larger subject of the crisis in Western culture into the process of reading. The Waste Land contains, in addition to its many other gifts, a partial set of instructions on how to read in the twentieth century. We believe and shall try to demonstrate that Eliot's poem, in one of its aspects, is a brief and striking primer, a McGuffey's Eclectic Reader for the twentieth century.
Jewel Spears Brooker
The concept of divine revelation was central to Augustine's epistemology, or theory of knowledge. The metaphor of light is instructive. In our present earthly state we are equipped with the faculty of sight. We have eyes, optic nerves, and so forth- all the equipment needed for sight. But a man with the keenest eyesight can see nothing if he is locked in a totally dark room. So just as an external source of light is needed for seeing, so an external revelation from God is needed for knowing. When Augustine speaks of revelation, he is not speaking of Biblical revelation alone. He is also concerned with "general" or "natural" revelation. Not only are the truths in Scripture dependent on God's revelation, but all truth, including scientific truth, is dependent on divine revelation. This is why Augustine encouraged students to learn as much as possible about as many things as possible. For him, all truth is God's truth, and when one encounters truth, one encounters the God whose truth it is.
Eliot's understanding of poetic epistemology is a version of Bradley's theory, outlined in our second chapter, that knowing involves immediate, relational, and transcendent stages or levels. The poetic mind, like the ordinary mind, has at least two types of experience: The first consists largely of feeling (falling in love, smelling the cooking, hearing the noise of the typewriter), the second largely of thought (reading Spinoza). The first type of experience is sensuous, and it is also to a great extent monistic or immediate, for it does not require mediation through the mind; it exists before intellectual analysis, before the falling apart of experience into experiencer and experienced. The second type of experience, in contrast, is intellectual (to be known at all, it must be mediated through the mind) and sharply dualistic, in that it involves a breaking down of experience into subject and object. In the mind of the ordinary person, these two types of experience are and remain disparate. In the mind of the poet, these disparate experiences are somehow transcended and amalgamated into a new whole, a whole beyond and yet including subject and object, mind and matter. Eliot illustrates his explanation of poetic epistemology by saying that John Donne did not simply feel his feelings and think his thoughts; he felt his thoughts and thought his feelings. He was able to "feel his thought as immediately as the odour of a rose." Immediately" in this famous simile is a technical term in philosophy, used with precision; it means unmediated through mind, unshattered into subject and object. Falling in love and reading Spinoza typify Eliot's own experiences in the years in which he was writing The Waste Land. These were the exciting and exhausting years in which he met Vivien Haigh-Wood and consummated a disastrous marriage, the years in which he was deeply involved in reading F. H. Bradley, the years in which he was torn between the professions of philosophy and poetry and in which he was in close and frequent contact with such brilliant and stimulating figures as Bertrand Russell and Ezra Pound, the years of the break from his family and homeland, the years in which in every area of his life he seemed to be between broken worlds. The experiences of these years constitute the material of The Waste Land. The relevant biographical details need not be reviewed here, for they are presented in the introduction to The Waste Land Facsimile. For our purposes, it is only necessary to acknowledge what Eliot himself acknowledged: the material of art is always actual life. At the same time, it should also be noted that material in itself is not art. As Eliot argued in his review of Ulysses, "in creation you are responsible for what you can do with material which you must simply accept." For Eliot, the given material included relations with and observations of women, in particular, of his bright but seemingly incurably ill wife Vivien(ne).
Jewel Spears Brooker
Lies propagate, that's what I'm saying. You've got to tell more lies to cover them up, lie about every fact that's connected to the first lie. And if you kept on lying, and you kept on trying to cover it up, sooner or later you'd even have to start lying about the general laws of thought. Like, someone is selling you some kind of alternative medicine that doesn't work, and any double-blind experimental study will confirm that it doesn't work. So if someone wants to go on defending the lie, they've got to get you to disbelieve in the experimental method. Like, the experimental method is just for merely scientific kinds of medicine, not amazing alternative medicine like theirs. Or a good and virtuous person should believe as strongly as they can, no matter what the evidence says. Or truth doesn't exist and there's no such thing as objective reality. A lot of common wisdom like that isn't just mistaken, it's anti-epistemology, it's systematically wrong. Every rule of rationality that tells you how to find the truth, there's someone out there who needs you to believe the opposite. If you once tell a lie, the truth is ever after your enemy; and there's a lot of people out there telling lies.
There is nothing wrong with entertainment. As some psychiatrist once put it, we all build castles in the air. The problems come when we try to live in them. The communications media of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with telegraphy and photography at their center, called the peek-a-boo world into existence, but we did not come to live there until television. Television gave the epistemological biases of the telegraph and the photograph their most potent expression, raising the interplay of image and instancy to an exquisite and dangerous perfection. And it brought them into the home. We are by now well into a second generation of children for whom television has been their first and most accessible teacher and, for many, their most reliable companion and friend. To put it plainly, television is the command center of the new epistemology. There is no audience so young that it is barred from television. There is no poverty so abject that it must forgo television. There is no education so exalted that it is not modified by television. And most important of all, there is no subject of public interest-politics, news, education, religion, science, sports-that does not find its way to television. Which means that all public understanding of these subjects is shaped by the biases of television.
We commonly speak as though a single 'thing' could 'have' some characteristic. A stone, we say, is 'hard, ' 'small, ' 'heavy, ' 'yellow, ' 'dense, ' etc. That is how our language is made: 'The stone is hard.' And so on. And that way of talking is good enough for the marketplace: 'That is a new brand.' 'The potatoes are rotten.' 'The container is damaged.'... And so on. But this way of talking is not good enough in science or epistemology. To think straight, it is advisable to expect all qualities and attributes, adjectives, and so on to refer to at least -two- sets of interactions in time... Language continually asserts by the syntax of subject and predicate that 'things' somehow 'have' qualities and attributes. A more precise way of talking would insist that the 'things' are produced, are seen as separate from other 'things, ' and are made 'real' by their internal relations and by their behaviour in relationship with other things and with the speaker. It is necessary to be quite clear about the universal truth that whatever 'things' may be in their pleromatic and thingish world, they can only enter the world of communication and meaning by their names, their qualities and their attributes (i.e., by reports of their internal and external relations and interactions).
Eliot's own reflections on the primitive mind as a model for nondualistic thinking and on the nature and consequences of different modes of consciousness were informed by an excellent education in the social sciences and philosophy. As a prelude to our guided tour of the text of The Waste Land, we now turn to a brief survey of some of his intellectual preoccupations in the decade before he wrote it, preoccupations which in our view are enormously helpful in understanding the form of the poem. Eliot entered Harvard as a freshman in 1906 and finished his doctoral dissertation in 1916, with one of the academic years spent at the Sorbonne and one at Oxford. At Harvard and Oxford, he had as teachers some of modern philosophy's most distinguished individuals, including George Santayana, Josiah Royce, Bertrand Russell, and Harold Joachim; and while at the Sorbonne, he attended the lectures of Henri Bergson, a philosophic star in Paris in 1910-11. Under the supervision of Royce, Eliot wrote his dissertation on the epistemology of F. H. Bradley, a major voice in the late-nineteenth-, early-twentieth-century crisis in philosophy. Eliot extended this period of concentration on philosophical problems by devoting much of his time between 1915 and the early twenties to book reviewing. His education and early book reviewing occurred during the period of epistemological disorientation described in our first chapter, the period of "betweenness" described by Heidegger and Ortega y Gasset, the period of the revolt against dualism described by Lovejoy. 2 Eliot's personal awareness of the contemporary epistemological crisis was intensified by the fact that while he was writing his dissertation on Bradley he and his new wife were actually living with Bertrand Russell. Russell as the representative of neorealism and Bradley as the representative of neoidealism were perhaps the leading expositors of opposite responses to the crisis discussed in our first chapter. Eliot's situation was extraordinary. He was a close student of both Bradley and Russell; he had studied with Bradley's friend and disciple Harold Joachim and with Russell himself. And in 1915-16, while writing a dissertation explaining and in general defending Bradley against Russell, Eliot found himself face to face with Russell across the breakfast table. Moreover, as the husband of a fragile wife to whom both men (each in his own way) were devoted, Eliot must have found life to be a kaleidoscope of brilliant and fluctuating patterns.
Jewel Spears Brooker