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Date: Wed, 23 Apr 2003 17:33:36 -0700
Subject: Re: (urth) Generic Considerations
From: Jason Ingram 

Blattid raises some good points.  I'll try to address one.

> H'mmm. At this point I have to ask the questions I've been unasking
> throughout this discussion. I don't like these questions, I suspect
> them of being inherently unanswerable. But:
> Correspondence with ... what?
> And what does "correspond" mean in this context?
> Unless and until someone answers those questions, which I don't
> see anyone doing real soon, any "correspondence with reality test"
> seems to me not only misleading, but meaningless.

If I say that Texas is smaller than Rhode Island, my statement doesn't, 
on face, correspond with reality.  Similarly, stating that water boils 
at 30 degrees Centigrade doesn't correspond with reality.  This leaves 
unanswered the question of what "reality" is.

I think it's meaningful, useful, and often necessary to talk about 
historical accuracy even though I would argue that perspective and a 
host of other factors tend to make common-sense discussions of 
"objective facts" misleading, if not meaningless.  Different levels of 
analysis: objectivity is a myth, but I don't want news reporters to be 
excessively biased.

The bogeyman of positivism lurks in the background, along with early 
attempts to come up with a neutral language that could allow 
unambiguous communication.  The ideal was to develop a language with a 
one-to-one correspondence between words and things.  Possibly a 

I think I lean closer towards a view of reality as a construction than 
I do towards a notion that there is a really real reality out there, 
even if we can't attain true knowledge of it (Kant's approach).   So, 
I'm not partial to using "correspondence with reality" as a framework 
for cataloguing writing.  Prism/lens, I suppose.

I'll defer discussion of how different conceptions of "reality" might 
be more or less problematic.  One small reason I like Wolfe so much is 
that he leaves plenty of space open for interpretation, and yet also 
does a very good job of crafting a naturalistic style.  Many 
protagonists are also authors, who disseminate their work across the 
universe.  Their styles differ, and are appropriate to the situation.  
Horn conceals some information from the reader because his papers might 
be read by enemies, for instance.



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