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Progression of Existentialism

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  • Mary Jo
    Not only must Existentialism incorporate relevant scientific progress, it must also synthesize politics, using the dialectical process which is only possible
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2004
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      Not only must Existentialism incorporate relevant scientific
      progress, it must also synthesize politics, using the dialectical
      process which is only possible through communication.

      <This general position, which may be termed the Communicationalist
      position, can be used to finally reconcile the distinction between
      idealism and realism. An idealist may have an idea of how the world
      is or should be, but his position may be legitimately criticised by a
      realist to the extent that there is a gap between his idea and how
      the world "actually is". However, he can reformulate this reality gap
      to become the extent to which any subject is communicatively engaged
      with other beings-in-the-world. To the extent that politics is
      communicationalism - and, clearly, the to the extent that
      representative democracy coincides with the reality of politics
      (realpolitik) it is - we can also say that the reality gap is
      determined by anyone's failure to engage in politics, and not just
      any politics, but all politics.> Tommy Beavitt

      Tommy, this is clearly lucid and lays out the fundamental purpose of
      communication in the human experience, precisely, reformulation unto
      success. We probably will all define 'success' differently, but there
      are some general problems we can agree must be solved. This is my
      particular passion, and I see communicationalism as the logical heir
      or natural progression of existentialism. Mary

      -----------

      Here is the relevant existentialism from Tommy`s post at
      the `Communicationalism' group:

      <The world appears to me according to my projects (Sartre). I
      perceive this world through my sense apparatus, but my mental
      representation of it differs from the world-as-it-is-in-itself (Kant)
      to the extent that my projects are not "the world's projects", in
      other words, to the extent that I am unable to be "objective".

      When the aspect of the world that currently engages my attention is a
      solid material object, like the proverbial table, there is very
      little stress laid on the extent of my objectivity - nobody would
      argue that I was wrong when I thumped my fist upon it and
      declared "this is a table". But, empirical psychological experiment
      has confirmed what several epistemologies have known all along: some
      material objects are interpreted differently according-to-their-
      projects by different people. For example, a person from a "Third
      World" cultural tradition might observe a golf-buggy and
      exclaim, "what a useful rice cart". They might be well aware that
      there would be other potential uses for the object than carrying
      rice - but it might take a great deal of explanation, together with
      some, (perhaps nearly insurmountable) linguistic translation issues,
      to explain the role of the golf buggy in the game of golf, and its
      relevance to a certain Western cultural tradition.

      Clearly, this distinction between perceptions of objects acquires a
      great deal more significance the more political (and therefore less
      objective) we become. For example, a helicopter gunship might be a
      reassuring security device to an Israeli citizen whereas to a
      Palestinian it might well appear to be an instrument of oppression.

      When engaging an Other person in communication there is always the
      potential that a symbolic entity which has been "agreed" by the two
      parties, eg. a helicopter gunship, means two quite distinct things in
      the minds of the two co-communicators. Continued communication will,
      to a certain extent, reveal this distinction, but only through more
      verbal communication, itself entailing the same category of
      communicative "error".

      Clearly, neither party has any monopoly over what the bject "actually
      is"; both interpretations in the helicopter gunship example are
      equally correct. So, what is the conclusion? Does contact
      with/interpretation of (objects within) the world increase our
      knowledge in any way? Would any such increase in knowledge
      automatically be a function of an increase in the quality of
      communication we were able to engage the Other in? I believe the
      answer to both questions is yes, but we will clearly need to quite
      rapidly move away from the question of whether the representations of
      objects by our mental apparatus correspond with things-in-themselves
      (ding an sich, Heidegger) and equally swiftly move towards an
      examination of whether, through communication, our interpretation of
      our mental representations of objects can be made to coincide with
      those of the Other. When these "things-as-themselves" are the
      products of previous communications and reifications, eg. monetary
      policy or a Mongolian folk song, then the problem becomes clearer:
      there is no direct correspondance between the thing-in-itself and our
      mental representation of it that is not a product of of our
      communication with the Other.

      This general position, which may be termed the Communicationalist
      position, can be used to finally reconcile the distinction between
      idealism and realism. An idealist may have an idea of how the world
      is or should be, but his position may be legitimately criticised by a
      realist to the extent that there is a gap between his idea and how
      the world "actually is". However, he can reformulate this reality gap
      to become the extent to which any subject is communicatively engaged
      with other beings-in-the-world. To the extent that politics is
      communicationalism - and, clearly, the to the extent that
      representative democracy coincides with the reality of politics
      (realpolitik) it is - we can also say that the reality gap is
      determined by anyone's failure to engage in politics, and not just
      any politics, but all politics.> Tommy Beavitt
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