File spoon-archives/habermas.archive/habermas_2001/habermas.0101, message 40


Date: Sat, 13 Jan 2001 12:03:59 -0800 (PST)
Subject: HAB: re: Brave New Conditionality



Matthew, you indicate that:

M:... you find me guilty of an excessive instrumentality in my
engagement with Habermas.

G: But this isn’t the case. In the passage below by me, ‘your’ (in
“your dissertation”) is in quotation marks, in my original email (as
the HAB archive shows: “...”your” dissertation....”---one’s cherished
accomplishment, one’s baby), but the quotation marks were absent in
the copy received in my mailbox (in fact, all single and double
quotation marks were absent), and evidently in yours, too (belches in
the Spoons listserv?).

G: >Anyway, we cant tenably expect any one philosopher to work
through all avenues of applicability of their work, such that their
finitude becomes their failure and your dissertation at their expense
(philosopher as foil and scapegoat in the sojourn toward tenure).

M: For what it's worth NOT everyone undertakes doctorate research in
search of that holy grail of tenure. 

G: Agreed. (I see the apostrope in 'can't' is missing, too). But most
do search for the holy grail, and most published academic critique of
major writers is done under pressure of, first, normatve time, then
annual review cycles within one’s department that require multiple
annual publication for advancement, and this causes a lot of hasty
misreading for the sake of publication (I suppose; this is a
cheritable interpretation of the bad readings of philosophers that is
so common, presuming a lack of malice on the readers' part). A common
strategy in critique of Habermas, in order to have one’s own Position
(I suppose), is to underread, overread, and/or antiread in order to
justify a position (remediating JH’s blindness) that is really just a
development of the blind side of one’s own reading (or one's reading
exhibits a project different from Habermas’, inattention to which JH
is held accountable). With all due respect to Ken, his postings of
the past several years are filled with examples of this (much less so
recently!), and I have sometimes indicated this, in terms of his
using Habermas as a “foil” or scapegoat for the formation of his
(Ken’s) own positions. However, my comment above wasn’t directed at
Ken. Again, misreading is common, I believe. I have silently lamented
“readings” of Habermas in journals (and books) for a long time, not
that I pose myself as some great exception (but in fact, I do believe
I’m a non-great exception; I go my own way *thanks* greatly to JH’s
work, posing (to myself) my difference from him as a complement to
"his" kind of work which he exemplifies, ultimately as a participant,
*too*--in solidarity with his present and future fellow travelers). 

M: I undertook my Ph.D in philosophy with an initial research
interest in a critical sociology of the discipline of philosophy
firstly, ....

G: There’s some Canadian sociologist who published a tome in the
mid-’90s that was supposed to be an intellectual history of the world
as a sociology of philosophy. It’s a heavy book (just begging to be
integrated with JH’s Project, though not at all influenced by JH, if
I recall--while not recalling the author’s name or the title of his
magnum opus!).

....

>G>The postmodernist critique of cyborgian dreams is an industry.
>
>M: Again I don't believe the main thrust of these postmodernist
>critiques of cyborgian dreams is ethical.
>
>G: I disagree. I see ethics everywhere. Depends, of course, on what
>one means by the ethical, which is the larger point.

M: I may be misanalogising badly here, but I think your original
critical comment is akin to holding that - for example - Lyotard's
critique of JH's modernist fantasies....

G: JH’s sense of the Project of modernity (beginning in the 18th
century--I would argue: a Project beginning in the civic humanism of
the 15th C Italian-English Renaissance) is very different from
modernism (beginning after WWI). I've long admired Paul de Man's
sense of modernity as a principle of regeneration of the sense of
contemporaneity, which is applicable through modernity in JH's sense
(not that de Man was aware of JH), which provides for a sense of
modernity as evolutionary generative principle, rather as Project.

M: ...[as if L's critique] somehow makes redundant, or obviates the
need for, or diminishes the worth of a discourse over CA. 

G: What?

M: Different language games are being played here (1) the PM critique
of cyborgian fantasies (2) an inquiry into the need for an ethical
framework to cover AI development.

G: What *is* the need for an ethical framework to cover “the Age of
Spiritual Machines” (Kurzweil, 1999), if not to avoid actualizing the
cyborgian dream thoughtlessly, such that critique of this dream is
the basis for *making sense* of an ethical framework for “when
computers exceed human intelligence” (Kurzweil)? 

By the way, is it not the *communicative* nature of mind that
fundamentally confounds the dream of the successful Turing machine? 

Anyway, my question isn’t rhetorical; I’m asking: What *is* the need
for an ethical framework to cover AI development? What is the need
that is importantly different from being clear about the cyborgian
dream, at this point, given that (1) there are no AIs to make sense
of, in an ethical framework--sort of like seeking an ethic for
interacting with extraterrestrials; and (2) genetic engineering is
likely to contribute to the cyborgian dream of “remaking Eden”
(Silver, 1998) before “the robot in the garden” (Goldberg, 2000)
becomes a child of the Churchlands (Paul and Patricia)? In other
words: genomics has the upper hand, so worries about AI are less
credible than worries about hypercloning. 
____________________________________________________________________

G: I have trouble making sense of your following comment, so I’ve
inserted an “[A]” and “[B]” and made some editorial guesses in
brackets.

M: One of my persistent [risks of] misunderstandings of Habermas is
[my endeavor] to connect [A] his restoration of the normative basis
of CT by positing communication as equiprimordial with labour to [B]
the [basing of the] reproduction of [our] species ( _CES_ 1979,
pp131-38 & esp. p 137) [in] a quasi-foundational commitment to [...]
a process of inherent value [in this reproduction] (or something like
that).

G: Uhhhh.... So, you want to see (in your own thinking or / and to
see in JH’s work) such equiprimordiality as an inherent feature of
our evolutionarity? A keynote here (in my paraphrase, at least) is
homology of threefold interactivities of world relations across a
scale of reflectivity that goes (discursively) from formal pragmatics
(validity relations that are subjective, intersubjective, and
objectivating) to an evolutionarity that is personal, cultural, and
social-systemic ("going" *really* from ontogeny to history).

Cheers,

Gary





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