hi - just a brief thought about two paragraphs . . .
On Sat, 7 Jun 1997 kjkhoo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
> Go agonize about the truth of that, for surely the very act
> of typing those messages speaks of holding science in the highest esteem
> and constitutes an act of faith for all those who wish to agonize over
> scientific truths.
> Even more remarkable is the confession that the belief in the roundness of
> the earth derives from seeing pictures from outer space -- empiricism? or
> another act of faith in science, for the pictures which serve to convince
> Lubna are the product of a sequence of scientific links.... Truly
> inter-textual, but with consequences quite different from the
> inter-textuality of this list.
to me questioning "truth" might lead to different kinds of worries -
a) print shows up on my monitor in email, but email is not always
dependable, its privacy is certainly not always dependable, and most
importantly, to me at least, is how that raw data - the phenomenon
of the characters on my screen - often do not hold fast to one reality.
what i mean is, whether on a mailing list like this one, or in a bitter
exchange of private email, it can often be very difficult, sometimes
seemingly hopeless, to agree on the "meaning" of what has been said.
even on a list like this, where we have "references" like the titles
of books, page numbers, etc, to fall back on, debates about meaning
go round and round. and i've been in a few private email exchanges where
we didn't even have that - where we would end up disagreeing about the
same quoted material over and over, the meaning of the same two
or three groups of words.
b) the earth is round, not just b/c the pictures show it to be round,
but b/c by mathematical and physical definition it is "round". but
again, that definition is caught up within a system of signification.
it can be re-presented as not round in a useful way (for example, in a
world map) and the nature of our senses and our articulation of physical
space affects the construction too. for example, there's that book
- what was it called, _flatland_, or something? i don't remember the
author. and then, the question of whether or not it is round becomes
completely irrelevant to a mind with different sensory apparatus -
what is the point of defining the earth as "round" to a bee, or to
a jellyfish? about as much point as me asking you to study the
contents of my jacket pocket, based on my assertion that the contents of
my pocket can be empirically defined. in other words, the important
thing is not that something exists, but what meaning one makes of it.