8
   

What is the value of obscure academic text?

 
 
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 06:03 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

I've recently used the "rejection of the ether" scenario to illustrate how cohesion of systems (electro-dynamics say) even in physics can still "work" even if the axioms on which they are based are discarded. A definition of "obscure" might be considered to involve "opaque axioms" which may or may not leave a comprehensive system ( vocabulary and principles) intact. Their "value" is obviously subject to social negotiation.


Thanks Fresco. I've been trying hard recently to unearth my own axioms, so to speak. They come to light quite a lot when I meet people from other disciplines and we can't communicate very well. Could you please elaborate on the 'rejection of the ether' scenario for me? Or perhaps a scenario that I'd be able to understand? (arts student).
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 06:59 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
Google Einstein and ether!
His point is not about ether but rather about what is central and what is discardable...
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 07:51 am
@JLNobody,
My objection to Plato is not just his lack of nutrition. While one cannot personally fault him for this, the problem is much the same as it is with young men and Nietzsche. They say they have read him, and express their enthusiam, and then you find out that all they've read is Thus Spake Zarathustra, which is twaddle. With Plato, they enthuse about The Republic. In this they show historical ignorance and naïveté. Plato was writing about Lakonia (usually ineptly referred to as Sparta), arguably the greatest slave state in history. People argue that the helots were not chattel slaves, which to me is a difference without a distinction. That Plato would praise a slave state may not seem so unusual given the ethos of his times, but the young men whom i have encounter who enthuse about Plato and The Republic seem universally ignorant both of the fact that Plato was praising Lakonia, and that Lakonia was a slave state. Finally, they seem to be uncertain what constitutes a republic. A republic is simply a government of laws, as opposed to the fiats of an autocrat or an oligarchy. How the laws of a republic are fomulated is as important, perhaps more important, than the mere fact that it is a republic. Even leaving aside the fact that powerful states such as Athens, Sparta and Rome were slave states, the means by which their laws were formulated is significant. None were democracies, despite the pro-Athenian propaganda machine. The franchise in Athens was very restricted, and the voter had an up or down choice--yes or no, and no other input was possible. The Romans were even worse. They no only voted up or down, they voted by tribes. To use an example from the earliest days, when there were only three tribes in the city, it would be possible to bribe or suborn the voters of two tribes, and a 51% vote in those two tribes would pass a measure (offered by the Patrician oligarchy of the Senate), even though those voting against the measure in those two tribes and in the third tribe which did not approve the measure could represent an overwhelming majority against the measure. With three tribes, 34% of the population could pass a measure over the objection of 66% of the population. As the number of tribes expanded, the situation only deteriorated.

Ignorance of these things means that the young enthusiasts have learned nothing useful by reading Plato, and in fact imbibe a lot of pernicious nonsense. That's not necessarily Plato's fault, but it appals me that he exercises such great influence for such silly, ill-informed reasons. He was also very likely a gross hypocrite, for example advocating an asecticism, athleticism and militarism which he did not personally practice. Of course, hypocrisy is common enough that if we gave it much weight, we'd have no one left to admire.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 08:36 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
Clerk-Maxwell's equations (1862) for electromagnetism were based on the assumption of vibrations in an elastic medium termed "the luminiferous ether". The Michelson-Morley experiment (1887) to measure the speed of light "disproved" the existence of the ether by equal results irrespective of the Earths transit direction. Despite that, Clerk-Maxwell equations remain empirically valid to this day.
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 08:44 am
@fresco,
I was deeply interested in the dustup between Derrida and Richard Wolin during the 90's. I was searching for some understanding that either may have had of a subject that interested me. I was more convinced that both were employing language in search of a discipline to exploit.

Sometimes a painting is just a painting
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 09:46 am
@farmerman,
A particular subject interested you ?.....or you had no interested in their focus ?
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 09:54 am
@fresco,
They tangentially lingered on a subject that interested me. I tried not to make a run-on sentence. Sorry.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 10:08 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
Plato was writing about Lakonia (usually ineptly referred to as Sparta), arguably the greatest slave state in history. People argue that the helots were not chattel slaves, which to me is a difference without a distinction. That Plato would praise a slave state may not seem so unusual given the ethos of his times, but the young men whom i have encounter who enthuse about Plato and The Republic seem universally ignorant both of the fact that Plato was praising Lakonia, and that Lakonia was a slave state.


Plato's Republic has always annoyed me with its promotion of a class system. Plato has Socrates saying things that contradicted what Socrates said in other accounts. This probably led some historians to conclude that Socrates was a fiction created by Plato.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 10:26 am
Shopenhauer´s intuition is not that different from Hegel´s Dialectics just much better explained and placed in the right context...the interesting thing that comes to mind to wonder about is what would Shopenhauer make for a proper justification of causality itself in the process of intuition...the phenomenological experience of dynamics, of motion, is no other then memory and reason...and sensation is already representation...the correlation between events which the brains understands as causality through time and space given a priori ends up ironically justifying Hegels odd´s abstraction which is Dialectics and still so poorly understood today...quantum entanglement or fractal looping patterns give a more contemporary account on Hegel´s lucky strike...
...that said, I **** on Hegel´s critics ! Laughing
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 10:31 am
@wandeljw,
Both interesting posts.
0 Replies
 
High Seas
 
  0  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 10:37 am
@wandeljw,
wandeljw wrote:

....... This probably led some historians to conclude that Socrates was a fiction created by Plato.


Could you name one of these historians? Surprised you bother discussing opinions of people so clueless they don't even know how their subjects are spelled - Laconia, for instance, or Schopenhauer. And anyone so opposed to slavery could travel to sub-Saharan Africa where it exists to this day - have you?
JLNobody
 
  3  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 10:43 am
I'm assuming that our criticisms of "obscurantism" do not apply to the esoteric appearance of "technical" conversation within specialized disciplines. The jargon WITHIN one field promotes a useful conceptual economy that looks like obscurantism to the uninitated WITHOUT the field.
I do perceive, however, that sometimes a discipline's jargon encourages a degree of rigidity and narrowness of thought and perception--making interdisciplinary efforts very difficult.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 10:51 am
@JLNobody,
...what you said is the best second half explanation so far, its never lost time keep reminding that...nevertheless the excess of technicality still mostly works as an aesthetic inflation upon the actual message in many academics...
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 11:06 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
...the worst it can be said upon Hegel´s "alien" is that it is so vain to praise it as it is vain to criticise it...
...now I am just wondering how much obscurity such reasoning can provoke ?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 11:46 am
@High Seas,
If this bullshit of yours is a slam at me, might i point out to you that there was no "c" in the Greek alphabet. Therefore, Lakonia is not only a good way, but the best way to transcribe Λακωνία into Roman letters.
Cyracuz
 
  2  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 11:56 am
"My feelings of unease aside, there are certain aspects of this that prompts the consideration that if we do proceed, there may be implications further down the line that would make us regret our present course of action and cause us to revise our selected path towards our final fulfillment of this objective."

This is just an example of an obscure way to say: I am not sure this is a good idea. Smile
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 12:05 pm
@Setanta,
From "Thegreektravel-dot-com" site:

Lakonia, the ancient territory of the Spartans

But hell, what would they know, they're just a bunch of dumb Greeks.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 12:51 pm
@JLNobody,
Ha, I found it. It's in with a group of papers our lab published, the only one not by us that I kept all these years. A quick scan shows me that I still would think it's funny -

Principles and Methods of Obscurantism
Alexander Kohn, Ph.D.

"Dr. Kohn is Associate Professor, Department of Human Microbiology, Medical School, Tel Avie University, and Editor, Journal of Irreproducible Results, Ness-Ziona, Israel. Reprinted from New Scientist 45: 212-214, 1970."

Found this on google - didn't look further -

http://www.jir.com/history.html

JIR in History

Virologist Alexander Kohn and physicist Harry J. Lipkin founded The Journal of Irreproducible Results in 1955 in Ness Ziona, Israel. Kohn remained editor until 1989, and died in 1994. Lipkin remained an editor until volume 16, number 1, August 1967, when Kohn became Editor-in-Chief, and Lipkin became one of the associate editors. S. A. Rudin because an editor with volume 12, number 1, and similarly became an associate editor with volume 16, number 1. The number of associate editors (later called Editorial Board members) has fluctuated greatly over succeeding years.

Medical researcher George H. Scherr was publisher from 1964 to volume 34, number 4, 1989. From 1990 to 1994, JIR was published by Blackwell Scientific Publications. Under Blackwell, James A. Krosschell was editor and publisher starting with volume 35, number 1, 1990, and remained publisher throughout the Blackwell ownership. Marc Abrahams was editor from volume 36, number 1, 1991, to the next-to-last Blackwell issue, volume 39, number 2, 1994. The final Blackwell issue, volume 39, number 3, was edited by Leslie A. Gaffney.

Blackwell returned JIR to George Scherr in 1994, and Scherr was both publisher and editor from then until 2003. Astronomer Norman Sperling became editor and publisher in 2004.

As far as we know:

volume 1 was a joke and never existed volumes 2-3 had 1 issue each volumes 4-6 had 2 issues each volumes 7-18 had 3 issues each volumes 19-30 had 4 issues each volumes 31 and 32 had 5 issues each volume 33 had 6 issues volume 34 had 4 issues volumes 35-42 had 6 issues each volumes 43-48 had 5 issues each, with the last issue double-length
volume 49 and on have 6 issues each
end/clip

Even the ads amuse me. Well, hey.


Did also find this, which has some snippets of the original article:

http://legalhistoryblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/kohn-on-principles-and-methods-of.html
JLNobody
 
  2  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 01:23 pm
@ossobuco,
Very good. Thanks for the effort.
It does seem to me that A. Kohn's example of obscurantism
i.e.,
"Obscurantism in science has often be come a goal in itself. But it is not enough to confuse the reader; one has to know what it is that one intends to confuse the reader about. Because most concepts of science are relatively simple (once one understands them) any ambitious scientist must, in self-defense, prevent his colleagues from discovering that his ideas are simple too. All he has to do is to write for publication obscurely so that no one will really attempt to read them but will be awed by erudition. As somebody once said, "Research suffers from perfervid superexuberance of assertive volubility accompanied by a concomitant irresponsibility of deductive ratiocination."

is absolutely lucid compared to much of what appears in the philosophy threads of A2K (including some of my posts).
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Dec, 2011 01:40 pm
That was pretty damned amusing.
 

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