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Re: Theory

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  • Raf
    Dear Jayant, Please allow me to partially answer your questions, and also ask some myself. You first ask whether the natural sciences are also an EI-account?
    Message 1 of 43 , Mar 2, 2005
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      Dear Jayant,

      Please allow me to partially answer your questions, and also ask some
      myself. You first ask whether the natural sciences are also an
      EI-account?

      An EI-account is an explanatory intelligible account of the cosmos and
      hence, also of itself. As an account, it fuses two kinds of
      explanation: those that refer to the causes of something and those
      that make an event, an action, something, intelligible by referring to
      the intentions of the actor. In "The Heathen..." these two methods of
      explanation are referred to as the natural and the social sciences
      respectively.

      Religion fuses both accounts, in Balu's hypothesis, for it explains
      the cosmos with reference to the Will of God. As such, it makes the
      cosmos into an explanatory intelligible entity. The natural sciences
      cannot be an EI-account for the simple reason that they do not take
      recourse to both types of explanation: the natural sciences do not
      explain the movement of the planets in terms of the intentions of an
      agent; neither do they explain the evolution of life in such terms.

      But there is more. An EI-account is an account of everything that was,
      is, and shall be, for the cosmos is everything that was, is, and shall
      be. In other words, it is an account of everything. For us human
      beings, with cognitive limitations, it is fairly impossible to produce
      this kind of knowledge. We cannot have an EI-account unless some
      omniscient entity, outside the cosmos, has given it to us. Religion
      claims it has this knowledge - religion is an EI-account - because God
      has revealed himself and his purposes to humanity. Hence, the
      necessary notion of God's Revelation. (As religion also explains
      itself, religion says it is this message of God.) Again, the natural
      sciences cannot be an EI-account, this time because of that which they
      focus upon: they do not explain the entire cosmos but provide
      fragmentary accounts. In the theory about religion we have on our
      hands, religion is the only EI-account.

      I am curious about your speculations with reference to learning
      configuration (LC). You ask whether a switch is possible from a
      predominantly performative-knowledge-LC to a predominantly
      theoretical-knowledge-LC, and vice versa. I have to say that I find
      that a very difficult question. Are you referring to the differences
      people have noticed in a country like, say, India over the past 150
      years? If so, do you think that this is what people mean when they
      say, either happily or very remorsefully, that India has become
      Westernised? I do not think that India became Westernised - far from,
      I would say. India did change, of course. Most of the Indians I know -
      "Westernised" or not - are quite unlike my friends in the West, for
      instance. The way they go-about with inter-personal relationships is
      the domain in which I experience it most - where I can experience
      cultural difference most.

      On a more abstract level, I think that Balu writes that the dominant
      form of knowledge in a given LC highly influences the subordinate
      forms of knowledge. That means to say, in the LC of India, the
      subordinate form of knowledge is influenced by the dominant form of
      knowledge. This influence of performative knowledge upon the manner in
      which theoretical knowledge is understood or experienced is absent in
      the West. In the West, we find the opposite: the influence of
      theoretical knowledge upon our experience of performative knowledge,
      which will be absent in the LC of India. All this to say that the
      notion of transformation to which you refer is not as straightforward
      as it may seem. If India, as a predominantly-performative-knowledge-LC
      changes, it will not change towards the theoretical-knowledge-LC of
      the West. India changes in an Indian way.

      You refer to the political state, its openness, and the LC. I think
      the direction in which you conceptualise all this is upside down, as
      you seem to say that the political state influences the LC. Though I
      am not versed in political philosophy, I imagine that the political
      state has to do with the manner in which people live together. This
      has to do with performative knowledge, for performative knowledge is
      the knowledge that tells us how to build societies. As such, the LC
      will influence the manner in which a group lives together, and not
      vice versa. In other words, a specific political state does not find
      itself outside the ambit of culture. The LC determines the form of the
      political state. A highly centralized political state, as we know from
      Western history, for instance, will be the result of a given LC.

      It is here, I think, that we could find the most interesting
      questions. What, for instance, is the relationship between the LC and
      the production of different centralized authorities in the West?

      In addition, look at what happened in the West - we have known various
      revolutions. Most of them were based on a theoretical understanding of
      the manner in which a society ought to be organised. The last example,
      if I remember well, was communism; yet another way to transform and to
      plan our way of living together. In Balu's story, performative
      knowledge is a real, existent form of knowledge, and it is the
      performative knowledge that structures how we live together. All the
      revolutions in the West were within the ambit of the very same LC and
      resulted from the very same performative knowledge. They resulted from
      the same culturally defined way of living together, in which to plan
      all of this seems to be a feasible affair.

      Friendly greetings,

      Raf
    • ananth_sethuraman
      The Heathen makes considerable use of the phrase ostenstive definition . So does this message board. For example, Paragraph 9 of Message 724 says: Of
      Message 43 of 43 , Aug 28, 2015
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        The Heathen makes considerable use of the phrase "ostenstive definition".  So does this message board.  For example, Paragraph 9 of Message 724 says:
        Of course, Balu start out with ostensive definition: by pointing out that Christianity is a religion in the way pointing out at a cat.

        Because I have no background in philosophy, "ostensive definition" was a new phrase to me.  Then I came across this quote:
        Suppse you want to teach the "cat" concept to a very young child.  Do you explain that a cat is a relatively small, primarily carnivorous mammal with retractile claws, a distinctive sonic output, etc.?  I'll bet not.  You probably show the kid a lot of different cats, saying "kitty" each time, until it gets the idea.

        The citation for this quote is:
        R.P. Boas
        Can We Make Mathematics Intelligble?
        The American Mathematical Monthly 88(10) 727--731 Dec 1981

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