Monday, March 26, 2012

Misinterpretations and Misunderstandings


Tom at Plastic Bodies has this to say on philosophical style as prompted by Levi Bryant at Larval Subjects.  Many have responded, including Jon Cogburn and Graham Harman.  For those just tuning in, the topic is how some interlocutors convert disagreements into misunderstandings as a rhetorical maneuver to defeat supposed opponents.  This is widely seen as a fallacious move.

I like a lot of Tom's and Harman's points, especially the admission by Harman that analytic culture is much better about converting disagreements into misunderstandings, although I would add that I believe that analytic philosophy is far more circumspect about having a definite and circumscribed technical vocabulary on the whole.  For those


I broached the question at Cogburn's site: how applicable are the points about converting disagreements when the conversation crosses traditions?  I asked and ask the question again because I think we should be careful about attributing this fallacy to an interlocutor, especially to one outside of one's own specialty or even tradition.  That said, this is yet another reason why I think philosophers should be conversant in many traditions and be encouraged to specialize or gain competency in more than one.  As my mentor said so many years ago, it allows you to talk to many great people.



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