Sunday, May 25, 2014

facing desire for Truth

Let me start off frivolously, fun; then get into worthwhile things.

Since I hadn’t posted to the Facebook/Habermas Page for a couple of weeks, I’ve been getting a daily e-mail from the software indicating in the subject line that “Habermas fans want to hear from you.”

We know what this is: educing the reader to put a face on algorithmic interaction. Face the text. We so want to personify things. [Insert monograph: from toys to Literature…Phenomenology lives. Pygmalion finds True Love. A movie moves one. The trees know.]

There’s no programmed assessment of what “fans” want (but you, too, can be a fan of philosophical venturing!). There’s a Facebook algorithm that either [1] automatically generates an e-mail if a Page with relatively high content has no activity (I have a Facebook Page with little activity, no posting for months, and I get no reminder); or [2] folks are checking the Habermas Page at X rate, causing a software widget to be triggered. I hope for the latter (2), but I presume it’s the former. Anyway, Facebook is less about connectivity than about “eyeballs” for ads. “It’s a business, honey, just like everything.”

So, we have a software-generated posture of seeming to personally text/speak for a group, which is an “insect” level of artificial intelligence whose mammalian form is Siri, assembling pieces of a woman’s voice into targeted responses to a speech-recognizable query (with sweet responses to failures of recognition, beyond the almost rude “I do not understand that response” or the more courteous woman’s “Please try again”).

So it goes with the evolution of disembodied robotics in the market. We’re supposed to enjoy the prospect of an “Internet of things” “responding” to us everywhere. It’s not difficult to imagine that our “sociality” becomes pretty literally an incalculable recursivity of current networking (critiquing this prospect is no longer novel); and the 20th century anticipation of bionics (relating to tangible bodies) will have its evolution outstripped by intangible “extended mind.”

We’re evolving ourselves to be thoroughly planetized. Just what it is “to be”—what We are to become—is in our hands, in an anthropological sense: We’re learning how to live in “the Anthropocene,” as we are designing what that is to be.

Like climate change, there’s great inertia in Our emergent planetarity. One doesn’t have to be a Luddite to want to struggle against The Inertia. One doesn’t have to become a simulacrum to be friended. A correlate of struggling against climate change is working to enable and sustain nearness in our lives: intimacy, friendship, and solidarity.

After decades of environmentalism, we’re seeing some little effect on that Inertia (as It would have been much worse without alternative energy industries, etc.). But what is becoming of the tiresome questions of our lives? “Don’t worry; the market loves you—especially the medication industry” (which includes junk food marketing). “Keep the ‘climate’ of environmental engineering about what’s far away in the big horizon!”

In the discursive venture of theorizing “truth,” we find first of all a bricolage of notions for a lexical sense of ‘truth’. (That definition is less detailed than the Unabridged definition—a subscription service—which is the basis for my discussion of the lexical item.) So, we ask, implicitly at least, what we want from a theory of truth.

Refining distinctions relative to scales of interest (domains of science, domains of humanities, interdomainal discourse that promotes inquiry, whatever) is a normal part of “doing theory.” It’s not a matter of preserving the bricolage as such, rather of finding a theoretical approach in which the historical bricolage can be best appropriated. There’s no divine rationale for the bricolage as such that we’ve unwittingly evolved, though there’s sometimes great reason for the versions of ‘truth’ that we have. An appropriate Theory (philosophy) of ‘truth’ would constellate “truth”s in a way that fairly appreciates the anthropological background (thus etymological meaning; cf. “notes on Truth”) of the desire for truth (or Truth) in light of desire to advance what’s more truly worthwhile that may be proffered, for there is truth in there being values more worthwhile than others. (Philosopher Hilary Putnam argues for a convergence of interest in value and truth, which I’ve recently sought to defend.) The most appropriate philosophy of truth may well be a “philosophy of Truth” that is appropriative in conception.

At a Critical Theory Page today, I responded to a “note on Habermas” that was enchanted with his early consensus theory of truth, by writing:
Understand the difference between Truth (capped) and factuality. TruthT as a conception of the holism of validity does provide a tenable theory of Truth, just not a theory of truth. In that sense, Habermas developed a consensus theory of Truth beyond the conception of a consensus theory of truth in “Wahrheitstheorie.” That’s why he left the 1973 conception behind. TruthT is embodied in the entirety of his theory of validity.

More exactly, he provided basic features for a coherence meta-theory of TruthT which is partially fleshed out by his career. Relative to Habermas, I call this an appropriative pragmatics of Truth, but not relative to Habermas, I think differently.
Of course, what I think doesn’t matter, except inasmuch as Truth itself is comprehended…as what? What’s the appropriate modifier here?: “in reality”? “truly”? “as such”? What do We want from a philosophy of Truth?

Concordantly, as a species that is increasingly evolving itself, it’s cogent to ask: What do We want from a philosophy of mind? Is the alleged “concord” here apples vis-à-vis oranges? What’s “the” relation between interest in truth and mind? (It’s too much to ask!) The biological evolution of what we are now is increasingly integrating itself with “extended mind” because We want that. What’s the truth of what we truly want? Who is the “We,” and who are you, who am I, in [relation to] that? What are we to make of “What” we are? What can you exemplify of the venture of questioning? It’s All so much, expressed in desire for comprehension.

A good philosophy of mind, I think, is homologous with a good comprehension of the “mind” of Our presence altogether. This is at least about the coherency of Our anthropological Pathmaking, if you will, and about possible comprehensiveness in Our understanding of inquiry, creativity, etc. Of course, this is a mind-boggling kind of context. (There is no software program that is integrating all of the contents of a Google data farm.) Yet, the Library is finite, the planet is finite. In any case, philosophy of mind is appropriately about what we want from theories of mind in light of the recursively evolving Internet toward intimations of The Singularity. [I recognize the apparent unmanageability—quixotic, romantic, utopian (synonyms...hmmm)—that I'm implying. It's all not so bad: The university curriculum is susceptible to integration. The conceptuality of research domains tend toward paradigmatic ways of inquiry. Conceptuality across domains is comprehensible. Pursuing notions like consilience is constructive.]

Last night, I added a lot to my discussion of “philosophy after Habermas” (link below). I had a one-paragraph ending in August, 2013; made it two paragraphs last week; and it’s ten paragraphs now—a closure (though I may tweak it a bit) on a brief discussion, a furtherance of a kind of interest that I’ll develop elsewhere. The second half there (below the mid-line) documents where I’m “at” now, given an endeavor to be brief. I need to let it be, which is the ironical position of increasingly differential identification with one night in May, 2014.

By the way, my comment at the Critical Theory Page linked to my 2003 discussion of “Habermas and Truth,” almost impishly, because it’s very dense (June 3: especially now, because it’s been amplified a lot.)