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Thread: The Dualist Lie

  1. #11
    Homo siderius Sistamatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lurker View Post
    Touchy subject?
    I read Architect's reply and see no emotional escalation whatsoever. An apt, though not quite perfect, example of the elephant and blind men parable. Which of us is correct...only the elephant can say.
    Insults are effective only where emotion is present. -- Spock, "Who Mourns for Adonais?" Stardate 3468.1.

    I'm not avoiding socializing I'm helping socializing avoid me! --MoneyJungle

  2. #12
    Senior Member Lurker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sistamatic View Post
    Perhaps dualism is an artifact of the use of language to express ideas.
    I have this abstraction I want to describe...this concept about how language can streamline our ability to convey ideas and can give us the ability to convey ideas that would be damned near impossible without language, but it also puts a wall around some of our concepts.
    I've not fully formed the thoughts I'm attempting to express. Maybe this thread will help fix that. So...without further adieu, my attempt to explain what words can't explain using words:
    .
    This is a fantastic post. I'm not articulate enough to respond at length right now.

    This topic is hard to articulate because it is enormous!

    Everything we are and everything we think we know is predicated on this arbitrary foundation. So, how we think and perceive is determined for us. Our experience is filtered.

    Heavy shit, man.

    Okay, that's all I can muster right now.


  3. #13
    Senior Member Lurker's Avatar
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    Okay. I'm outsourcing.

    https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/08/


    Post-Structuralism, Deconstruction, Postmodernism (1966-present)

    Structuralism, semiotics, and post-structuralism are some of the most complex literary theories to understand. Please be patient.

    The Center Cannot Hold

    This approach concerns itself with the ways and places where systems, frameworks, definitions, and certainties break down. Post-structuralism maintains that frameworks and systems, for example the structuralist systems explained in the Structuralist area, are merely fictitious constructs and that they cannot be trusted to develop meaning or to give order. In fact, the very act of seeking order or a singular Truth (with a capital T) is absurd because there exists no unified truth.
    Post-structuralism holds that there are many truths, that frameworks must bleed, and that structures must become unstable or decentered. Moreover, post-structuralism is also concerned with the power structures or hegemonies and power and how these elements contribute to and/or maintain structures to enforce hierarchy. Therefore, post-structural theory carries implications far beyond literary criticism.

    What Does Your Meaning Mean?

    By questioning the process of developing meaning, post-structural theory strikes at the very heart of philosophy and reality and throws knowledge making into what Jacques Derrida called "freeplay": "The concept of centered structure...is contradictorily coherent...the concept of centered structure is in fact the concept of a freeplay which is constituted upon a fundamental immobility and a reassuring certitude, which is itself beyond the reach of the freeplay" (qtd. in Richter, 878-879).
    Derrida first posited these ideas in 1966 at Johns Hopkins University, when he delivered “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences”: "Perhaps something has occurred in the history of the concept of structure that could be called an 'event,' if this loaded word did not entail a meaning which it is precisely the function of structural-or structuralist-thought to reduce or to suspect. But let me use the term “event” anyway, employing it with caution and as if in quotation marks. In this sense, this event will have the exterior form of a rupture and a redoubling” (qtd. in Richter, 878). In his presentation, Derrida challenged structuralism's most basic ideas.

    Can Language Do That?

    Post-structural theory can be tied to a move against Modernist/Enlightenment ideas (philosophers: Immanuel Kant, Réne Descartes, John Locke, etc.) and Western religious beliefs (neo-Platonism, Catholicism, etc.). An early pioneer of this resistance was philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. In his essay, “On Truth and Lies in an Extra-moral Sense” (1873), Nietzsche rejects even the very basis of our knowledge making, language, as a reliable system of communication: “The various languages, juxtaposed, show that words are never concerned with truth, never with adequate expression...” (248).
    Below is an example, adapted from the Tyson text, of some language freeplay and a simple form of deconstruction:
    Time (noun) flies (verb) like an arrow (adverb clause) = Time passes quickly.

    Time (verb) flies (object) like an arrow (adverb clause) = Get out your stopwatch and time the speed of flies as you would time an arrow's flight.

    Time flies (noun) like (verb) an arrow (object) = Time flies are fond of arrows (or at least of one particular arrow).

    So, post-structuralists assert that if we cannot trust language systems to convey truth, the very bases of truth are unreliable and the universe - or at least the universe we have constructed - becomes unraveled or de-centered. Nietzsche uses language slip as a base to move into the slip and shift of truth as a whole: “What is truth? …truths are an illusion about which it has been forgotten that they are illusions...” (On Truth and Lies 250).
    This returns us to the discussion in the Structuralist area regarding signs, signifiers, and signified. Essentially, post-structuralism holds that we cannot trust the sign = signifier + signified formula, that there is a breakdown of certainty between sign/signifier, which leaves language systems hopelessly inadequate for relaying meaning so that we are (returning to Derrida) in eternal freeplay or instability.

    What's Left?

    Important to note, however, is that deconstruction is not just about tearing down - this is a common misconception. Derrida, in "Signature Event Context," addressed this limited view of post-structural theory: "Deconstruction cannot limit or proceed immediately to a neutralization: it must…practice an overturning of the classical opposition and a general displacement of the system. It is only on this condition that deconstruction will provide itself the means with which to intervene in the field of oppositions that it criticizes, which is also a field of nondiscursive forces" (328).
    Derrida reminds us that through deconstruction we can identify the in-betweens and the marginalized to begin interstitial knowledge building.

    Modernism vs Postmodernism

    With the resistance to traditional forms of knowledge making (science, religion, language), inquiry, communication, and building meaning take on different forms to the post-structuralist. We can look at this difference as a split between Modernism and Postmodernism. The table below, excerpted from theorist Ihab Hassan's The Dismemberment of Orpheus(1998), offers us a way to make sense of some differences between modernism, dominated by Enlightenment ideas, and postmodernism, a space of freeplay and discourse.
    Keep in mind that even the author, Hassan, "...is quick to point out how the dichotomies are themselves insecure, equivocal" (Harvey 42). Though post-structuralism is uncomfortable with binaries, Hassan provides us with some interesting contrasts to consider:
    Modernism vs Postmodernism
    Modernism Postmodernism
    romanticism/symbolism paraphysics/Dadaism
    form (conjunctive, closed) antiform (disjunctive, open)
    purpose play
    design chance
    hierarchy anarchy
    mastery/logos exhaustion/silence
    art object/finished work/logos process/performance/antithesis
    centering absence
    genre/boundary text/intertext
    semantics rhetoric
    metaphor metonymy
    root/depth rhizome/surface
    signified signifier
    narrative/grande histoire anti-narrative/petite histoire
    genital/phallic polymorphous/androgynous
    paranoia schizophrenia
    origin/cause difference-difference/trace
    God the Father The Holy Ghost
    determinacy interdeterminacy
    transcendence immanence

    Post-Structuralism and Literature

    If we are questioning/resisting the methods we use to build knowledge (science, religion, language), then traditional literary notions are also thrown into freeplay. These include the narrative and the author:
    Narrative
    The narrative is a fiction that locks readers into interpreting text in a single, chronological manner that does not reflect our experiences. Postmodern texts may not adhere to traditional notions of narrative. For example, in his seminal work, Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs explodes the traditional narrative structure and critiques almost everything Modern: modern government, modern medicine, modern law-enforcement. Other examples of authors playing with narrative include John Fowles; in the final sections of The French Lieutenant's Woman, Fowles steps outside his narrative to speak with the reader directly.
    Moreover, grand narratives are resisted. For example, the belief that through science the human race will improve is questioned. In addition, metaphysics is questioned. Instead, postmodern knowledge building is local, situated, slippery, and self-critical (i.e. it questions itself and its role). Because post-structural work is self-critical, post-structural critics even look for ways texts contradict themselves (see typical questions below).
    Author
    The author is displaced as absolute author(ity), and the reader plays a role in interpreting the text and developing meaning (as best as possible) from the text. In “The Death of the Author,” Roland Barthes argues that the idea of singular authorship is a recent phenomenon. Barthes explains that the death of the author shatters Modernist notions of authority and knowledge building (145).
    Lastly, he states that once the author is dead and the Modernist idea of singular narrative (and thus authority) is overturned, texts become plural, and the interpretation of texts becomes a collaborative process between author and audience: “...a text is made of multiple writings, drawn from many cultures and entering into mutual relations of dialogue...but there is one place where this multiplicity is focused and that place is the reader” (148). Barthes ends his essay by empowering the reader: “Classical criticism has never paid any attention to the reader...the writer is the only person in literature…it is necessary to overthrow the myth: the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author” (148).
    Typical questions:

    • How is language thrown into freeplay or questioned in the work? For example, note how Anthony Burgess plays with language (Russian vs English) in A Clockwork Orange, or how Burroughs plays with names and language in Naked Lunch.
    • How does the work undermine or contradict generally accepted truths?
    • How does the author (or a character) omit, change, or reconstruct memory and identity?
    • How does a work fulfill or move outside the established conventions of its genre?
    • How does the work deal with the separation (or lack thereof) between writer, work, and reader?
    • What ideology does the text seem to promote?
    • What is left out of the text that if included might undermine the goal of the work?
    • If we changed the point of view of the text - say from one character to another, or multiple characters - how would the story change? Whose story is not told in the text? Who is left out and why might the author have omitted this character's tale?

    Here is a list of scholars we encourage you to explore to further your understanding of this theory:
    Theorists

    • Immanuel Kant - "An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?", 1784 (as a baseline to understand what Nietzsche was resisting)
    • Friedrich Nietzsche - “On Truth and Lies in an Extra-moral Sense," 1873; The Gay Science, 1882; Thus Spoke Zarathustra, A Book for All and None, 1885
    • Jacques Derrida - "Structure Sign and Play in the Discourse of Human Sciences," 1966; Of Grammatology, 1967; "Signature Event Context," 1972
    • Roland Barthes - "The Death of the Author," 1967
    • Deleuze and Guattari - "Rhizome," 1976
    • Jean-François Lyotard - The Postmodern Condition, 1979
    • Michele Foucault - The Foucault Reader, 1984
    • Stephen Toulmin - Cosmopolis, 1990
    • Martin Heidegger - Basic Writings, 1993
    • Paul Cilliers - Complexity and Postmodernity, 1998
    • Ihab Hassan - The Dismemberment of Orpheus, 1998; From Postmodernism to Postmodernity: The Local/Global Context, 2001

    Postmodern Literature

    • William S. Burroughs - Naked Lunch, 1959
    • Angela Carter - Burning Your Boats, stories from 1962-1993 (first published as a collection in 1995)
    • Kathy Acker - Blood and Guts in High School, 1978
    • Paul Auster - City of Glass (volume one of the New York City Trilogy), 1985 (as a graphic novel published by Neon Lit, a division of Avon Books, 1994)
    • Lynne Tillman - Haunted Houses, 1987
    • David Wojnarowicz - The Waterfront Journals, 1996


  4. #14
    Zombie Jesus Bloody School Daze's Avatar
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    @Lurker

    So how do you want to apply this to the mind/body duality? I can think of a few ways, but most of them don't strictly follow what you're talking about.

    For instance, when we say something "Exists only in the mind", we are at times using the term to dismiss a concept--"justice only exists in the mind". But most of the time we view things that are mental as "higher" in some way. "Love is just a chemical reaction" is used as a way to dismiss the idea of love, despite the fact that every experience we ever have is also a chemical reaction.

    I mean, in a larger sense, dualities can sometimes be used fallaciously to try and attack someone, f'r ex "Bernie wants to socialize medicine, communists want to socialize medicine, BERNIE IS A COMMUNIST!" or whatever. Or just broad dismissals of "isms" with no real thought to the implementation that ruined the ism. Point is, tell me where you're going with this. :P
    If I'm so wonderful then why am I so misunderstood?
    Everybody has a reason for it except me

    -Mindless Self Indulgence

    When one's life is in your hands, you become their god.
    -One of the villains from the Abraxas Wren series.

  5. #15
    Pull the strings! Architect's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lurker View Post
    Touchy subject?
    Not at all. My avatar plus my general writing style comes off this way, I need to remember to go in the opposite direction. I did an experiment once where I changed my avatar to this



    You see I was getting reactions that I was being uptight, arrogant, etc. After the avatar change they flipped. An interesting result that shows the mental framework we construct of people from a single image and a few words.

    I should put it back, but the problem is I like the Architect too much. Maybe I can photoshop rabbit ears on him or something, but I had hoped the "blah blah" would be sufficient.

  6. #16
    Senior Member Lurker's Avatar
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    Kitten


  7. #17
    Homo siderius Sistamatic's Avatar
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    Post-structuralism is too impractical to be of much use to anyone but writers, philosophers, and people like us who just enjoy thinking about these things. It's value, perhaps, is in that it causes us to pay attention to the alternative ways things can be taken and makes us strive to find better ways to convey meaning with the meager tools at our disposal.

    My biology students struggled in writing lab reports because they had no experience in trying to be unambiguous with language. We immerse ourselves daily in writing designed to sway rather than convey and there is little opportunity in our daily lives to practice language as a pure conveyance of factual information.

    Somehow I think advising my students to write as if they meant to falsify post-structuralism would have gone over like a lead balloon.
    Last edited by Sistamatic; 09-03-2017 at 08:01 PM.
    Insults are effective only where emotion is present. -- Spock, "Who Mourns for Adonais?" Stardate 3468.1.

    I'm not avoiding socializing I'm helping socializing avoid me! --MoneyJungle

  8. #18
    Curious Conlanger epistemophiliac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sistamatic View Post
    Perhaps dualism is an artifact of the use of language to express ideas.
    Quote Originally Posted by KOI View Post
    I think dualities are a natural byproduct of the way people think: by comparison of two things for contrast.
    Well, look at the noun classification systems in many languages (most of them are based off of dualisms): feminine vs. masculine, animate vs. inanimate, human vs. non-human, strong vs. weak, etc. Of course there are other trialistic systems or languages with more than three grammatical genders, but by far the majority are either genderless or dualistic. But what exactly is the purpose of assigning a gender to nouns? Basically for redundancy and contrast - to help distinguish what exactly one is referring to when they're speaking in vague terms and to group nouns into categories. When using pronouns, it sort of splits the possible number of nouns it can refer to in half, and even if the whole noun isn't caught by the listener, if they catch the gender of the noun then they might be able to figure it out. Maybe the reason most noun classification systems are dualistic is because anything beyond that becomes too much for our cognition or too unnatural for humans? Look at grammatical number systems as well for languages: most languages have a singular vs. plural distinction, then the next most abundant is a singular vs. dual vs. plural distinction. Some languages also distinguish trial and paucal (a few of something as opposed to many), but the vast majority are singular vs. plural. Why? Because it's the easiest and most basic for humans to use/understand. Our brain can instantly process only a small number of something before it automatically groups it into "a lot of something" - point to a group of three sheep and I can instantly tell you there are three, but point to a group of eight sheep and I'll probably have to take a second or two to count them. But imagine how this shapes language and how we understand the world. I casually tell you "There are dogs in the field"... okay? but how many dogs? You'd probably have to ask if you wanted the answer to that and the person might not have even bothered to notice how many. While someone speaking a language with a trial form of nouns would casually tell you "There are three dogs in the field" without any questions asked.

    So in this case, I think @KOI might be right that dualities are a natural byproduct of the way people think or are rather a byproduct of our "passive cognitive limit" (which further shapes our languages and how they can or are likely to develop).

    Heck, what if there was a (natural) language that classified nouns as introverted vs. extroverted? hahaha...

    Edit: Check out this conlang - it's pretty fascinating and presents some interesting ideas/questions - http://www.ithkuil.net/00_intro.html
    Pedin i phith in aníron, a nin ú-cheniog.
    Kup tar-tor n'zhitlar ik istau - eh ri ken-tor du nash-veh.
    Sa's drisa tonabhiala tomuñ s'eph de'imal'il, sa se lodhe togal'n.
    B'lir inus vorbilim bi mek inus, hiam gi b'ek ilimlimr.

  9. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by epistemophiliac
    Heck, what if there was a (natural) language that classified nouns as introverted vs. extroverted? hahaha...
    Shit, I was actually working on this a while ago.

    But use the words "subjective" and "objective", and don't just limit it to nouns.

    So, if the word has the presence of a subject as implicit, it is subjective, and if not, it is objective.

    It really does work, but like, I only got started on it, so use your imagination to elaborate on what the system may look like.

  10. #20
    Senior Member Starjots's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Architect View Post
    there is a thing out there we call reality, and we all necessarily build models on it. Models are better or worse, we can have a discussion as to what makes them one or the other, but you need at least one. Pick your poison.
    Quote Originally Posted by stuck View Post
    Dualities are useful but not true, they're the easiest way to bootstrap some objectivity out of the slurry which surrounds us.
    Agree. The idea that 'all things are connected' has truth, but wtf do you do with it. Appreciate it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Architect View Post


    You see I was getting reactions that I was being uptight, arrogant, etc. After the avatar change they flipped. An interesting result that shows the mental framework we construct of people from a single image and a few words..
    This is very funny and I believe you with 98% certainty. We must have a model of everything.

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