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Re: [Habermas] *Emotional* Communication

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  • Tommy Beavitt
    Hi Matthew, ... I think that the reason why emotivism is sometimes seen as the enemy of rational communication is because of the need for axioms in any
    Message 1 of 10 , Apr 1, 2005
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      Hi Matthew,

      On 1 Apr 2005, at 07:18, matthew_piscioneri wrote:

      > Is there no place for emotion in ethical/political communication?
      >
      >> Emotivism is about feeling-based
      >> opinion without evident interest in facts or the
      >> reality of the case.
      >
      > I know Habermas wants to play down the passions in favour of reason-
      > giving, as it were, yet in the practice of communication this seems
      > to be too unrealistic an ideal...it's not how many people undertake
      > everyday ethical or political discourse, although in academic
      > discourse more vigorous expressions of *passion* (polemic, diatribe)
      > are muted as a convention.

      I think that the reason why emotivism is sometimes seen as the enemy of
      rational communication is because of the need for axioms in any
      rational (i.e. logical) argument.

      All axioms are *arbitrary* starting points, which are, however,
      necessary to get the discussion going in the first place.

      A skilled communicator can quickly spot which axioms are being used in
      a way that he or she considers more or less appropriate to the subject
      matter under discussion. It is irrational, in my opinion, for anyone to
      seek to prohibit the reassessment and re-negotiation of the use of any
      axioms in any discussion.

      In other words, I assume that rationality is a two-way process, that
      there are no "high priests" of rationality and that anyone who is human
      possesses an equal measure of rational understanding (even though there
      is obviously a very wide variation in the command of the particular
      languages used in particular rational communications.)

      > Feeling-based opinion is as valid a starting place as any other
      > surely for discourse: "I feel X" as against "I think X". Both
      > feeling-opinion and thought-opinion can be validated eg. "I feel X,
      > because [I think]Y" even. A splitting-off of feelings and thoughts
      > seems arbitrary to me.

      I agree that for every axiom there is a concomitant *feeling* (which
      stems from a natural resistance to the sensation of one's position
      coming under attack) and that, likewise, all feelings are generated by
      an identification with a situation, which is itself capable of rational
      formulation.

      However, the "arbitrary" splitting off of feelings and thoughts is
      necessary for rational communication because a feeling cannot be
      subject to the same kind of explicit re-negotiation as an axiom.

      It is vitally important to true communication, in my opinion, that this
      possibility of reassessment and re-negotiation of all axioms remains on
      the table. For a convened (in real time) meeting this may mean that all
      parties may have to leave the discussion without having achieved any
      agreement. But the overall discussion, of which the meeting in question
      was just a stage, continues, having now taken into account the failure
      at the occasion of the last meeting to reach any agreement.

      regards

      Tommy
    • matthew_piscioneri
      Tommy, ... this ... remains on ... all ... any ... question ... failure ... Marx looked for the magical unifying/enlightening *something-in- common* in
      Message 2 of 10 , Apr 1, 2005
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        Tommy,

        I DO take your point re- the following:

        > It is vitally important to true communication, in my opinion, that
        this
        > possibility of reassessment and re-negotiation of all axioms
        remains on
        > the table. For a convened (in real time) meeting this may mean that
        all
        > parties may have to leave the discussion without having achieved
        any
        > agreement. But the overall discussion, of which the meeting in
        question
        > was just a stage, continues, having now taken into account the
        failure
        > at the occasion of the last meeting to reach any agreement.

        Marx looked for the magical unifying/enlightening *something-in-
        common* in labor-as-species being. Habermas seeks species-being in
        the structural presuppositions of communication. Perhaps the only
        *good* of globalization may be the gradual constitution of a hyper-
        real and solidarity-forming species-being (a circuit breaking
        something-in-common) via McDonalds or a "Finding Nemo" *something-in-
        common*.

        There does not appear to be a *something-in-common* in a morally
        affronted sensibility to letting someone starve to death. Why should
        there be? The "systematic" infliction of death is such a historical
        something-in-common that it probably never has had much moral
        currency anyway :-).

        > But the overall discussion, of which the meeting in question
        > was just a stage, continues, having now taken into account the
        >failure
        > at the occasion of the last meeting to reach any agreement.

        Yes, and the band plays "Waltzing Matilda" and hope springs eternal..
        Perhaps we should relish the structural futility of it all. However,
        it all suggests an enlightenment-as-death social psychosis whereby
        present day power players, whose social and personal existential
        reckoning depends on the base survivalist motive (whether as
        secretary of state or CEO or bus driver), cannot imagine the future
        without themselves in their present state of being.

        Well as far as i can tell the future is upon us. The first functional
        embodied bio-digital (machine readable) interface has been created
        (news article to follow). So the future is up for grabs again. It's
        the end of the (human) world as we know it... and I *feel* fine.

        mattp.
      • Gary E. Davis
        Matt, I do appreciate your interesting attention paid to Habermas in today’s response to me. M Part of the issue for Habermasians, IMO, concerns the
        Message 3 of 10 , Apr 1, 2005
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          Matt,

          I do appreciate your interesting attention paid to
          Habermas in today�s response to me.

          M> Part of the issue for Habermasians, IMO, concerns
          the affective basis for sincere engagement in
          super-rational as distinct from meaningful-rational
          (potential for the redemption of validity claims)
          communication.

          G: I believe that JH believes that affectivity is part
          of rationality, inasmuch as subjective genuineness is
          a validity claim and inasmuch as the lifeworld grounds
          communicative life. He wouldn�t reduce communicative
          life to rationalization. But *for social action* in a
          systemized world of norms, complex activities,
          knowledge-based projects, etc., the rationality of
          communication is focal. He doesn�t reduce
          communication to its capacity for accountability
          (rather, a rationality stance is already always
          implied by the nature of language, whose purpose is
          primarily constructive. I've argued widely). Expressed
          feeling implies a validity claim to genuineness, which
          can be questioned (i.e., the feelingness can be called
          to account for its pretext of sincerity). The
          *content* of passionate expressions have propositional
          content (as all 3 main modes of validity are implied
          in any communicative action). So, I would agree with
          you that:

          M> Habermas, understandably, wants to found his
          project with certainty on the always/already
          structural presuppositions of *meaningful-rational*
          dialogical communication�[etc.]

          G: I agree and believe that JH would agree that:

          M>...without an affective disposition ... the
          practical efficacy of a critical theory of
          communicative action is limited.

          G: But one should outgrow a simple aversion to
          strategical action. I�m quite tired of this theme.
          Life is project-oriented, be it one�s career or an
          organization. Strategical action is part of
          engineering life. Teaching is strategical action.
          Management is strategical action. Deception is a
          perversion of instrumental action, but instrumental
          action is pervasive in a well-running life (which is
          naturally so involved with communicative coordination
          of non-communicative action!)

          M> ... we can choose strategic action-qua-instrumental
          reason?

          G: Of course we can---and we must, if we�re to get
          anything done.

          M> ...Although in rigidly structured hierachical
          interactions what the boss says goes,as it were,

          G: But attending to prevention of that (or repair of
          that) is as old as management theory. Yet, one needs
          strong structures in precise systems, such as medicine
          and law. Knowing how to work with boundaries is part
          of being an expert in systematic work. (It�s na�ve to
          act/think as if most people in organizational life are
          as stupid as that which makes casual critique so
          spontaneous. Many people in powerful positions are
          very attuned to avoiding rigidity and hierarchy.
          Progressive thinking isn�t new, and *because of that*
          "organizational learning" is an old notion in
          management theory.)

          Indeed, your...

          M...disjuncture highlights the gap between the
          theoretical presupposition of communicative reason and
          the practical elaboration of communicative practice.

          G: Generally in the world, practice is beyond the
          afterthought of critical theorization that gets its
          critical ideas from ostensible good practices.
          (Concordantly, practice-based theory is beyond
          theory-based practice in the business of the world.)

          M> The gap is filled by the affective, volitional
          *desire* to partake not only in meaningful
          communication, but to partake in a sort of
          *super-rational* discussion whereby I/you WANT to hear
          what the other has to say...almost tragically
          (educationally?) look forward to having one's own
          p.o.v changed or at least challenged and/or moderated.

          G: That seems to be a verbose way of saying that
          openness is good for critical learning.

          M> So, what to do with...consideration [that] is not
          the price of milk but whether someone should be let
          starved to death.

          G: See, Matt, that�s ridiculous. Nobody is considering
          whether Terri Schiavo (the *person* who died in 1990,
          according to the facts of the matter) should be
          starved to death by letting the brainless body die 15
          years later. You insult the reality of a husband�s
          loss, medical reality, and due process determinations
          of facts and rights (upheld by years of due process
          appeals), apparently due to a na�ve doctrine of
          personhood deserving of fundamentalist physicalism.

          Regards,

          Gary



          .
        • Gary E. Davis
          M Perhaps the only *good* of globalization may be the gradual constitution of a hyper-real and solidarity-forming species-being (a circuit breaking
          Message 4 of 10 , Apr 1, 2005
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            M> Perhaps the only *good* of globalization may be the
            gradual constitution of a hyper-real and
            solidarity-forming species-being (a circuit breaking
            something-in-common) via McDonalds or a "Finding Nemo"
            *something-in-common*.

            G: Or not. Largely, globalization is about valid
            development. Its dangerous side effects are a critical
            issue, but globalization isn't largely dangerous---or
            so I would argue. For example, the work of the World
            Bank and the UN generally, for the sake of
            development, is a keystone of globalization. It's a
            mistake to reduce globalization to the commodity
            market.

            I think that the alienation of the left has kept it
            ignorant of how much validity there is to the world.
            It's only on the basis of "standing" validity that
            dangerous trends can be averted (or repaired).

            Beasts must be transformed from within. It won't
            happen by vainly celebrating marginality. The poor of
            the world need "your" knowledge (within systems that
            can make progress structurally durable), not armchair
            cynicism. 19th century leftist rhetoric is so boring
            in the 21st century. People who make a difference have
            expertise in how to get things done.

            M> There does not appear to be a *something-in-common*
            in a morally affronted sensibility to letting someone
            starve to death.

            G: That truth applies to, say, Darfur, but not to the
            Schiavo case. Again, no one starved to death---no
            person is there starving---in the Schiavo case. You
            should become informed about what really happened
            (which was very peaceful, very common to hospices, and
            exactly predicted by specialists in hospice services).

            > The "systematic" infliction of death is such a
            historical something-in-common that it probably never
            has had much moral currency anyway :-).

            G: Your smilies are sometimes obscene, as in that
            case.

            M> Yes, and the band plays "Waltzing Matilda" and hope
            springs eternal..

            G: Yes, Matt, it does. Thank goodness.

            M> Perhaps we should relish the structural futility of
            it all.

            G: To quote the Jewish-American comic Joan Rivers: "O,
            grow up!" :-)

            Gary




            .
          • matthew_piscioneri
            Dear Gary, ... let s switch over to the FBI, CIA and other intelligence agency management cultures prior to 9/11. You re not going to tell me that: Many
            Message 5 of 10 , Apr 6, 2005
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              Dear Gary,

              thought this comment deserved critical attention:

              > G: (It's naïve to
              > act/think as if most people in organizational life are
              > as stupid as that which makes casual critique so
              > spontaneous. Many people in powerful positions are
              > very attuned to avoiding rigidity and hierarchy.
              > Progressive thinking isn't new, and *because of that*
              > "organizational learning" is an old notion in
              > management theory.)

              let's switch over to the FBI, CIA and other intelligence agency
              management cultures prior to 9/11. You're not going to tell me that:

              "Many people in powerful positions are
              very attuned to avoiding rigidity and hierarchy.
              Progressive thinking isn't new, and *because of that*
              "organizational learning" is an old notion in
              management theory.)"

              Last week I spoke with an ex-frontline Australian paratrooper who
              participated in East Timor stabilization. The stories of
              organizational incompetence and even indifference – let alone the
              background political deceit and duplicity – was shocking, to put it
              mildly. I think again of the U.S GI who had the temerity to confront
              Rumsfeld about armor plating for humvees (I think) in Iraq.

              Public and private management techniques are not always very good.
              Often incompetent and inefficient, at worst corrupt and dangerous.
              ---------------------
              Anyway, in the spirit of discursive freedom (and inspired by your
              advice):

              >G. Beasts must be transformed from within. It won't
              happen by vainly celebrating marginality. The poor of
              the world need "your" knowledge (within systems that
              can make progress structurally durable), not armchair
              cynicism. 19th century leftist rhetoric is so boring
              in the 21st century. People who make a difference have
              expertise in how to get things done.

              So unvainly I have put myself forward to the Vatican as a papal
              candidate on the platform of:

              liquidizing papal assets and feeding the poor
              annointing women as priests
              celebrating married men and women as appropriate candidates for
              priesthood
              rebuilding the Catholic flock on the basis of acceptance(especially
              acceptance of sexual difference)

              ummm, peace and love all round and loads of forgiveness. Is there
              anything or anyone I have forgotten? Yes, acceptance and celebration
              of other faiths and lifestyles. Happy C21.

              mattp
            • Gary E. Davis
              Matt, Let me use a public health analogy. I said that a lot of people are thriving. You reply that there s a lot of cancer. What s to be done about cancer?
              Message 6 of 10 , Apr 6, 2005
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                Matt,

                Let me use a public health analogy. I said that a lot
                of people are thriving. You reply that there's a lot
                of cancer.

                What's to be done about cancer? Treatment and
                prevention. People who are thriving can lead to
                insight about prevention. Good practices should be
                systemized and institutionalized. Research should be
                oriented by the interest in treatment, which research
                in diagnosis (critical practices) serve.

                M> So unvainly I have put myself forward to the
                Vatican as a papal candidate on the platform of:
                liquidizing papal assets and feeding the poor....

                G: But you wouldn't want to dissolve the institutional
                basis for generating means of helping the poor learn
                to feed themselves. To what degree is the church
                involved in community development, beyond mere
                short-term welfare services? How can those selfless
                practices (inasmuch as they really are)
                institionalizable independently of religious doctrine?
                Isn't the modern welfare state a secularization of the
                idea of social welfare services originated by early
                Christianity?

                M> annointing women as priests

                G: Lots of Catholics in the U.S. want to see that
                happen. What must happen in the church to make that
                theologically feasible to Rome? Or else: Why be
                Catholic at all? There are women ministers in other
                faiths. There is community service without religion.

                M> celebrating married men and women as appropriate
                candidates for priesthood.

                G: Presbyterianism is nice.

                M> Yes, acceptance and celebration of other faiths and
                lifestyles.

                G: It's said that John Paul II did more for the
                Catholic church in that regard than anyone ever had.
                The relevant context flowers out into why be religious
                about humanitarian universalism, rather than live
                humanitarian universalism as, say, an ethic of our
                species traceable to our nature (i.e., an approach to
                human nature that shows humanity to be primordially
                humanitarian)?

                M> Happy C21.

                Gary




                .
              • matthew_piscioneri
                Gary, ... and so the *learning* question-procedure as you say should be: Why are a lot of people thriving, and some others have cancer? ... [To break the
                Message 7 of 10 , Apr 6, 2005
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                  Gary,

                  it's a good analogy:

                  > I said that a lot
                  > of people are thriving. You reply that there's a lot
                  > of cancer.

                  and so the *learning* question-procedure as you say should be: "Why
                  are a lot of people thriving, and some others have cancer?"

                  > What's to be done about cancer? Treatment and
                  > prevention. People who are thriving can lead to
                  > insight about prevention. Good practices should be
                  > systemized and institutionalized. Research should be
                  > oriented by the interest in treatment, which research
                  > in diagnosis (critical practices) serve.

                  [To break the analogy briefly, I've heard health care specialists
                  speak of an "epidemic" of cancer - especially in children - over the
                  last two decades. I'd *like* to see the stats., and then as a
                  critical theorist attempt to ascertain what it is about our modern
                  lifestyles that is *literally* so pathological. I wonder if a
                  language-based critique would prove to be diagnostically useful
                  here? I doubt it.]
                  --------------
                  The idea of world-best-practice has been around for a long time.
                  Certainly pre-9/11, for example, and the institutional failure of
                  the U.S's intelligence. It's telling that whistle-blower legislation
                  is designed to *protect* the person who steps outside the
                  institutional culture (the game). The two times I have blown the
                  whistle I was rewarded with a demotion and not having my contract
                  renewed :-). So yes it is importance to recognize the thriving but
                  not to create a rosy smokescreen that suggests all is OK.

                  Institutions and collectives (sports teams even) *generally* breed
                  tacit rule based hierachial cultures that suppress rationalization.
                  It's another sad fact of life.

                  Of course, there are institutions which from the start limit the
                  range of potential speech acts and their validities. The Catholic
                  Church is one of a number. You won't hear the speech acts of women,
                  for example, uttered in the Cardinals' enclave, unless they are
                  serving the roast duck.

                  Talk about dysfunctional institutions. What other global institution
                  would appoint as CEO, as Il Papa, as the model Father of all earthly
                  fathers, a person who has probably never changed a diaper in his
                  life, tried to soothe a colicky baby at 3 a.m, or had a fight with
                  the missus. It's akin to appointing a shepherd of a huge flock that
                  doesn't know one end of a sheep from another. The Vatican is a big,
                  fat irrelevant joke IMO.

                  So:

                  > G: But you wouldn't want to dissolve the institutional
                  > basis for generating means of helping the poor learn
                  > to feed themselves.

                  Yes I would spend it all, and, God-willing, the coffers would be
                  replenished tenfold.
                  -----------------
                  > G: Lots of Catholics in the U.S. want to see that
                  > happen. What must happen in the church to make that
                  > theologically feasible to Rome?

                  Rome hasn't/doesn't want to hear and for nearly three decades the
                  legitimate calls for change from within the church fell on the deaf
                  ears of that congenial but incredibly conservative Cardinal from
                  Krakow. So many ask exactly this:

                  > Why be
                  > Catholic at all?
                  ---------------
                  > G: It's said that John Paul II did more for the
                  > Catholic church in that regard [inter-faith recognition and
                  > reconciliation] than anyone ever had.

                  Granted.
                  ---------------
                  Very nicely put:

                  > The relevant context flowers out into why be religious
                  > about humanitarian universalism, rather than live
                  > humanitarian universalism as, say, an ethic of our
                  > species traceable to our nature (i.e., an approach to
                  > human nature that shows humanity to be primordially
                  > humanitarian)?

                  even if not all our natures all the time manifest a humanitarian
                  universalism.

                  Regards,

                  MattP
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