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Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2003 19:58:25 -0700
Subject: Re: (urth) Generic Considerations
From: Jason Ingram 

I don't recognize many of my opinions in the arguments against which 
Blattid responds.  Perhaps that's because I was unclear and hasty in my 
earlier posts.  Rather than exacerbating the risk of seriously 
misunderstanding each other's positions, I'll try to present a general 

We're using ambiguous terms (reality, truth, fact) to distinguish other 
ambiguous terms (fiction, ?,?).  I like ambiguity, and don't 
particularly want to draw clear delineations between fact and reality.  
Blattid's distinctions make sense--but there's also some slippage.  
Delirium, for instance, is a fact that expresses truths but is also a 
fiction that expresses falsehoods: delirious visions are subjectively 
real, and are factual occurrences, but their contents are fictitious 
and non-factual.

Empirical verifiability is nice, and can challenge common sense (e.g. 
dropping an apple and a ball of iron to see which falls faster).  
Fetishizing empirical verifiability is, to be simplistic, bad.  So far 
I don't think Blattid would disagree.  Fact, truth, reality . . . ok; 
whichever is fine with me.

I'm comfortable remaining silent about that which we cannot speak.

To extend the Wittgensteinian trope, Wolfe's characters present a 
variety of language-games that challenge defenders of a continuum of 
objectivity.  That is, the indeterminacy of the gaps in Latro's 
narratives aspire to different ideal of objectivity (this terminology 
is an arbitrary imposition) than the objectivity at issue with Horn or 
the text of 5HC.  Objectivity could mean, to use what I interpret to be 
Blattid's terminology, "truthfulness" for some, "factualness" for 
others, and "realness" for a third group.  Each should aspire to attain 
their ideals of objectivity, but each will be playing a different 
language-game with different standards.

Three specific replies:

> Since all reporters are, willy-nilly, biassed, I prefer a reporter
> who is open about her bias.

yes, I agree, and I think this is perfectly consistent with my earlier 
viewpoint.  Apologies if I was misleading in my exposition.

> Unless one were to create a language with an infinite vocabulary,
> it's not merely a straw-dog but a chimera. I have little truck with
> positivism, but that doesn't mean we need to throw objectivity out
> the window.

The problems with positivism are even more serious than that; see the 
above on objectivity.

> I guess the question I want to ask of this view is, what was there
> before language existed to construct "reality" from?

Flippant answer: Severian

Serious answer: Silence

Academic answer: It's hard to talk about the non-discursive.  I think 
there are problems with Kantian approaches to reality (there is a 
really real real out there, but we can't know anything for certain 
about it; we can only know about the conditions of possibility of 
knowledge and sense-perception), but don't want to get into that 
discussion.  It's not so much *language* as *subjects* that construct 
realities.  This doesn't mean that anything and everything is up for 
grabs; there are always constraints.  However, absent foundationalist 
arguments, it's hard to specify what those constraints are.  Solution: 
Experimentation to test limits?




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