File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2000/bhaskar.0002, message 49

Subject: BHA: RE: Re: How is New York Today-  fate of [Social Science]?
Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000 10:38:57 -0500

Right you are, Tobin. My mistake. Sorry, my mind has been elsewhere the past
few weeks.

	Marsh Feldman

BTW, the terminology does not change the question. Human practice involves a
double or even triple hermeneutic in that human practices and institutions
depend on the transitive understandings of people. Nonetheless, once those
institutions are in place they take on features similar to the intransitive
dimension of natural science in that they "act behind the backs" of the
people who create, participate in, and rely on them.

In this way I find Brian Fay's notion of "quasi-laws" useful and think we
can speak of a quasi-intransitive dimension. I also think discussions of
Marx's method from the 1970's are, in some senses, richer than this. Marx,
for example, speaks of levels of abstraction, and in a certain sense that's
what we're talking about. For example, at the highest level of abstraction
we can speak of people as being creatures needing food, clothing, and
shelter. At a lower level, we can speak of humans as creating permanent, or
at least long-lasting, human settlements which are instrumental in
satisfying these needs. At still a lower level, we can speak of capitalist
cities, with their specific features such as land and labor markets, local
state apparatuses, etc. At still a lower level, we can speak of "Los
Angeles" in the year 2000 and such things as the local economy, race
relations, gender relations, etc. While certain features of "human nature"
at the highest level of abstraction may be intransitive, clearly the
historically and geographically specific practices of contemporary
city-building are transitive not only in a geographical and historical
sense, but also in an epistemological sense because both how we understand
city-building is transitive and the understandings implicated in
city-building are too. (E.g., look at how "sustainability" is in vogue

The whole point is that epistemology belongs to human practice and therefore
is not only how we study but also what we study.

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of Tobin
Sent: Friday, February 25, 2000 4:03 PM
Subject: BHA: Re: How is New York Today- fate of [Social Science]?

Marsh wrote:

> I'm a bit confused by your comment. I don't equate transient with
> Science is a material practice (just consider Los Alamos), but by my
> of RB's work it's in the transient side of things.

Sorry if I seem nitpicky, but the terms are actually
transitive/intransitive, not transient/intransient.  I bring this up because
I suspect that it's causing some unclarity.  The transitive dimension (TD)
is roughly equivalent to the epistemological sphere, and the intransitive
dimension (ID) more or less the ontological sphere.  I have to admit I've
never completely understood Bhaskar's choice of terminology here, but as
near as I can make out, the idea is that the TD is the "subject's" side of
knowledge ("I think about X," which is a transitive situation), and the ID
is the "object's" side ("the thing that's being thought about"), except that
thoughts and ideas can always themselves become objects of investigation.
So materiality is an entirely separate matter.  But perhaps someone has a
better grasp of the terminological choice.

Tobin Nellhaus
"Faith requires us to be materialists without flinching": C.S. Peirce

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