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Re: On Socrates, Prodicus and the maidservant

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  • Jim Stuart
    Dear Willy, I generally dislike posts which respond to other posts by copying and pasting chunks of the original post, and then commenting on each chunk.
    Message 1 of 10 , Feb 1, 2006
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      Dear Willy,

      I generally dislike posts which respond to other posts by copying and
      pasting chunks of the original post, and then commenting on each chunk.
      However, that is what I am going to do here, in my response to your post
      #2546 because I feel you make a number of unrelated, or only slightly
      related, points which can be best responded to separately. So let me start
      with your first paragraph:

      >>JimS, I have not the slightest notion what your difference between direct
      and indirect communication is, which is to say that I don't understand what
      you are saying in that respect. The only meaning I have is the meaning I see
      SK putting to that difference, and that ties to what I see him meaning by a
      transferred language, where self-reflexive terms have acquired a second
      meaning because of a shift in the meaning of self engendered in the
      transition, which is to say that the transition is defined by that shift in
      the meaning of self, not abstractly, but as capable of being reflected
      upon.<<

      I'm rather surprised by what you write here, as everyone else who has
      responded to my posts in this thread (Don, Ben, Jim R. and Nick) seems at
      least to understand what I have written, even if they disagree with what I
      say.

      I'm not to go into great detail about how I see direct communication being
      different from indirect communication, or list the many varieties of
      indirect communication K discusses or displays. I feel that I have done that
      in my recent posts. I'll just say that I take Socrates to be a prime
      exponent of indirect communication, and that the pages 11 to 13 of PF give a
      clear account of how, and for what purpose, Socrates used indirect
      communication.

      I can understand your eagerness to relate the direct communication /
      indirect communication distinction to K's notion of a transferred language,
      as this notion of a transferred language dominates everything K writes,
      according to you.

      I nearly responded to one of your direct questions to me about the
      transferred language a while ago - only lack of time prevented me - so I'll
      say now what I was going to say then.

      I can agree with you that an individual's conception of herself changes in
      her transition from the aesthetic sphere to the ethical sphere. She will
      have a different conception of the term "self" in the light of her new
      subjectivity. But as both you and I are ethical individuals (or, at least,
      we claim to be), we should, in theory, agree in our use of Kierkegaardian
      terms, so the issue of the transferred language should not lead to
      misunderstandings between us.

      I think an account of the direct communication / indirect communication
      distinction can be given without any reference to talk of the transferred
      language, though I agree that Johannes Climacus does think that the
      aesthetic individual just won't understand indirect communication. I take
      this to be the point JC is making in your third quote in your post #2529.

      However I do have a problem with your third quote. It is this: Part of the
      point of using indirect communication is to get the aesthetic individual to
      make the leap to become an ethical individual. But if, as the third quote
      states, the aesthetic individual will not understand the indirect
      communication, then how can an indirect communication be the occasion of a
      change in the subjectivity of the aesthetic individual? Can you answer this
      puzzle?

      Your second paragraph goes as follows:

      >>Anyway, I am going to guess that what you mean by direct communication is
      what I am about to indulge in. My vehicle will be the question posed as to
      why we post here in the group, which I will now pose to myself.<<

      I take it that you are giving your own answer to Don's question "What is the
      purpose of this Kierkegaardian forum?" Your own phrase "the question posed
      as to why we post here in the group" is ambiguous. Are you considering the
      normative question "For what reason ought we to post to the group?" or the
      descriptive/explanatory question "For what reason do we actually post to the
      group?"

      In your third paragraph, you seem to be answering the
      descriptive/explanatory question. You are saying why you actually post to
      this group. But Don was asking the normative question: "Why should we post
      to this group?"

      This is what you wrote in your third paragraph:

      >>All groups that I have contributed to have one thing in common; the
      central theme has to do with one's grasp of oneself as oneself and have been
      limited to Eastern religions (Buddhism and Taoism), J. Krishnamurti, and
      Kierkegaard. That theme became my focus in the late '60's with what might be
      called a seminal insight that the root of the search for truth, or
      understanding, or peace of mind, or whatever else one wished to call it, was
      a desire to escape being who I was (editorially: SUD is all about that
      escape).<<

      I think your last sentence here points to a significant difference between
      us. I read you as saying that the transition from the aesthetic sphere to
      the ethical sphere involves the individual "escaping" his old self, and this
      flight from the old self implies that the new self is not responsible for
      the misdeeds of the old self. For me the transition from the aesthetic
      sphere to the ethical sphere involves the individual taking responsibility
      for the old self for the first time. It is in this transition, that the
      individual becomes a moral being for the first time. He accepts
      responsibility for his past misdeeds and recognises with sorrow that he has
      chosen to do wrong. Your aesthetic to ethical transition involves none of
      the recognition of responsibility and guilt which I find in Kierkegaard's
      discussion of this transition.

      I'll be more brief with regard to the rest of your post. Your Finders and
      Losers description hints at a distinction I see in Kierkegaard between those
      who embrace objectivity and those who embrace subjectivity. However the
      detail of your story doesn't really resonate with me. You suggest I'm one of
      the Finders, though if I am, I see myself as a Finder who has not found.

      I appreciate that the Losers like to skip and dart and tread lightly, mixing
      earnestness with humour and jest, whilst by comparison the Finders plod and
      trudge with no grace or dexterity. However, like Don, I find your humour
      mainly to be either incomprehensible or shallow, but maybe that's just my
      lack of perception and sensitivity.

      Our conversation has stretched beyond the narrow question of the pros and
      cons of indirect communication. My response here seems more in the direct
      communication mould.

      I feel, Willy, that most of the time what we say to each other passes the
      other by, but hopefully all the key tapping we both do is of some benefit.

      Yours,

      Jim Stuart
    • Will Brown
      ... copying and pasting chunks of the original post, and then commenting on each chunk. However, that is what I am going to do here, in my response to your
      Message 2 of 10 , Feb 1, 2006
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        >Dear Willy, I generally dislike posts which respond to other posts by
        copying and pasting chunks of the original post, and then commenting
        on each chunk. However, that is what I am going to do here, in my
        response to your post #2546 because I feel you make a number of
        unrelated, or only slightly related, points which can be best
        responded to separately. So let me start with your first paragraph:<

        Hey, I like the chunk style just as well as the mushy general
        response. Both have attributes to commend them. I'll respond chunky
        and you can see if it's worth it.

        = = == === ===== ======== (my favorite series)

        >>JimS, I have not the slightest notion what your difference between
        direct and indirect communication is, which is to say that I don't
        understand what you are saying in that respect. The only meaning I
        have is the meaning I see SK putting to that difference, and that ties
        to what I see him meaning by a transferred language, where
        self-reflexive terms have acquired a second meaning because of a shift
        in the meaning of self engendered in the transition, which is to say
        that the transition is defined by that shift in the meaning of self,
        not abstractly, but as capable of being reflected upon.<<

        >I'm rather surprised by what you write here, as everyone else who has
        responded to my posts in this thread (Don, Ben, Jim R. and Nick) seems
        at least to understand what I have written, even if they disagree with
        what I say.<

        I am at a loss as to why my response surprises you. The only
        explanation I can see is that you do not see our difference as I see
        our difference. But maybe you do, so I don't know either.

        = = == === ===== ========

        > I'm not to go into great detail about how I see direct communication
        being different from indirect communication, or list the many
        varieties of indirect communication K discusses or displays. I feel
        that I have done that in my recent posts. I'll just say that I take
        Socrates to be a prime exponent of indirect communication, and that
        the pages 11 to 13 of PF give a clear account of how, and for what
        purpose, Socrates used indirect communication. <

        I would ask you, if you so desire, to expand a bit on what you see. We
        do tend to see things differently. Are you referring to the maieutic?
        If so, isn't that a way also of showing that one does not know what
        one thinks they know?

        = = == === ===== ========

        >I can understand your eagerness to relate the direct communication
        /indirect communication distinction to K's notion of a transferred
        language, as this notion of a transferred language dominates
        everything K writes, according to you.

        >I nearly responded to one of your direct questions to me about the
        transferred language a while ago - only lack of time prevented me - so
        I'll say now what I was going to say then.

        >I can agree with you that an individual's conception of herself
        changes in her transition from the aesthetic sphere to the ethical
        sphere. She will have a different conception of the term "self" in the
        light of her new subjectivity. But as both you and I are ethical
        individuals (or, at least, we claim to be), we should, in theory,
        agree in our use of Kierkegaardian terms, so the issue of the
        transferred language should not lead to misunderstandings between us. <

        Here is where we come a cropper. You say that we are both ethical
        individuals. But the transferred language allows for a difference
        between the ethical and the ethical, and since I do not see you using
        the term 'ethical' as in the ethical sphere in the same way that I use
        the term, the transferred language is still alive in respect to our
        meaning of self-reflexive terms.

        I would ask you questions concerning your ethical. In the change in
        your conception of self, how did your concept of the ethical change if
        the ethical is to signify the change? I ask this not to put you on any
        spot, but merely to make a point.

        = = == === ===== ========

        > I think an account of the direct communication / indirect
        communication distinction can be given without any reference to talk
        of the transferred language, though I agree that Johannes Climacus
        does think that the aesthetic individual just won't understand
        indirect communication. I take this to be the point JC is making in
        your third quote in your post #2529.

        "Ordinary communication, objective thinking, has no secrets; only
        doubly reflected subjective thinking has secrets; that is, all its
        essential content is essentially a secret, because it cannot be
        communicated directly. This is the significance of the secrecy. That
        this knowledge cannot be stated directly, because the essential in
        this knowledge is the appropriation itself, means that it remains a
        secret for everyone who is not through himself doubly reflected in the
        same way, but that this is the essential form of the truth means that
        this cannot be said in any other way. " (Ibid., p. 79; Ibid., p. 73)

        > However I do have a problem with your third quote. It is this: Part
        of the point of using indirect communication is to get the aesthetic
        individual to make the leap to become an ethical individual. But if,
        as the third quote states, the aesthetic individual will not
        understand the indirect communication, then how can an indirect
        communication be the occasion of a change in the subjectivity of the
        aesthetic individual? Can you answer this puzzle? <

        I think the difference is that the occasion for the change in
        subjectivity comes by the way of the negative, when the subjective
        error is shown, and showing that directly is not possible. Like, here
        is the error one makes, look and see if you are also making it. The
        truth cannot be shown, but in showing the error, if that error is
        /our/ error, then one communicates the truth.

        I have just seen JimR's answer to that question, and I would say that
        he is more or less describing in poetic terms what I am saying.

        = = == === ===== ========

        > Your second paragraph goes as follows:

        >>Anyway, I am going to guess that what you mean by direct
        communication is what I am about to indulge in. My vehicle will be the
        question posed as to why we post here in the group, which I will now
        pose to myself.<<

        > I take it that you are giving your own answer to Don's question
        "What is the purpose of this Kierkegaardian forum?" Your own phrase
        "the question posed as to why we post here in the group" is ambiguous.
        Are you considering the normative question "For what reason ought we
        to post to the group?" or the descriptive/explanatory question "For
        what reason do we actually post to the group?"

        > In your third paragraph, you seem to be answering the
        descriptive/explanatory question. You are saying why you actually post
        to this group. But Don was asking the normative question: "Why should
        we post to this group?" <

        I have no idea of what I had in mind other than reflecting upon the
        history of what I post. Perhaps I saw the thread as a vehicle to say
        something I wanted to say?

        = = == === ===== ========

        > This is what you wrote in your third paragraph:

        >>All groups that I have contributed to have one thing in common; the
        central theme has to do with one's grasp of oneself as oneself and
        have been limited to Eastern religions (Buddhism and Taoism), J.
        Krishnamurti, and Kierkegaard. That theme became my focus in the late
        '60's with what might be called a seminal insight that the root of the
        search for truth, or understanding, or peace of mind, or whatever else
        one wished to call it, was a desire to escape being who I was
        (editorially: SUD is all about that escape).<<

        > I think your last sentence here points to a significant difference
        between us. I read you as saying that the transition from the
        aesthetic sphere to the ethical sphere involves the individual
        "escaping" his old self, and this flight from the old self implies
        that the new self is not responsible for the misdeeds of the old self.
        For me the transition from the aesthetic sphere to the ethical sphere
        involves the individual taking responsibility for the old self for the
        first time. It is in this transition, that the individual becomes a
        moral being for the first time. He accepts responsibility for his past
        misdeeds and recognises with sorrow that he has chosen to do wrong.
        Your aesthetic to ethical transition involves none of the recognition
        of responsibility and guilt which I find in Kierkegaard's discussion
        of this transition. <

        Aha! Ah! The difference between us has been caught, and you have
        caught it. Bravo, and I mean that only in the most positive sense; no
        hidden zapping of any sort is behind it. Yes, that is our difference.
        The difference is in the form. You have misunderstood what I have said.

        > I read you as saying that the transition from the aesthetic sphere
        to the ethical sphere involves the individual "escaping" his old selfÂ…<

        No, I am saying that the first insight revealed that 'try to escape'
        as the esthetic movement, the movement of the self signifying the
        esthetic. This may be classified as the movement of avoiding
        self-responsibility. It is in the name of this movement that harm is
        done to others. This the awakening of remorse, as SK lays it out in
        /Purity/. Repentance has not made its appearance, but the remorse is
        there. Since the first insight reveals that there is no escape, the
        movement is left spinning in place, as it were. That spinning is
        suffering in its most basic sense; it's future has been taken from it
        and it is left to be itself with no escape. The condition is set for
        the transition to occur, and when it occurs, the spinning stops, or
        again, when the spinning stops, the transition occurs. Here is where I
        place the movement from the esthetic to the ethical.

        = = == === ===== ========

        > I'll be more brief with regard to the rest of your post. Your
        Finders and Losers description hints at a distinction I see in
        Kierkegaard between those who embrace objectivity and those who
        embrace subjectivity. However the detail of your story doesn't really
        resonate with me. You suggest I'm one of the Finders, though if I am,
        I see myself as a Finder who has not found. <

        I separated the Finders from the Losers because I cannot judge a
        Finder who has found. There are those who have found God, and who am I
        to say that they have not? I can't. Let go and let God is a
        Loser/Finder statement. Being nothing before God is a Loser/Finder
        statement. All I was saying was that maybe there are those of us who
        need to be a Loser first, then a Finder, not in a religious manner,
        but cognitively.. If you are a seeker, who am I to say which, or what,
        you are?

        = = == === ===== ========

        >I appreciate that the Losers like to skip and dart and tread lightly,
        mixing earnestness with humour and jest, whilst by comparison the
        Finders plod and trudge with no grace or dexterity. However, like Don,
        I find your humour mainly to be either incomprehensible or shallow,
        but maybe that's just my lack of perception and sensitivity. <

        You may well be right; I have often confessed that I am a one-trick
        dog & pony show who has learned to use words in a fashion that if one
        is gullible enough, they may read wisdom in them.

        = = == === ===== ========

        > Our conversation has stretched beyond the narrow question of the
        pros and cons of indirect communication. My response here seems more
        in the direct communication mould. <

        Ok, so now I know what you mean by direct communication, and I will
        not oppose your meaning; I can read the same meaning into it.

        = = == === ===== ========

        >I feel, Willy, that most of the time what we say to each other passes
        the other by, but hopefully all the key tapping we both do is of some
        benefit. <

        Well, if we are ships passing in the night, sooner or later, our wakes
        will cross, and when that happens, the boat may rock. ----willy
      • Jim Stuart
        Dear Willy, Thank you for your helpful reply to my post. I think you clarify some of the differences between us and what you write suggests that in some areas
        Message 3 of 10 , Feb 2, 2006
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          Dear Willy,

          Thank you for your helpful reply to my post.

          I think you clarify some of the differences between us and what you write
          suggests that in some areas we are not too far apart.

          I don't feel the necessity to respond directly to anything you say right
          now. I may come back to you at some later time, but for now I need to take a
          break from my Kierkegaardian contributions in order to catch up on some of
          my other commitments.

          Yours,

          Jim Stuart
        • Jim Stuart
          Dear Jim R., Yes, I think Kierkegaard did see anxiety as a component of the state of mind of the individual before she makes a leap to a higher sphere of
          Message 4 of 10 , Feb 2, 2006
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            Dear Jim R.,

            Yes, I think Kierkegaard did see anxiety as a component of the state of mind
            of the individual before she makes a leap to a higher sphere of existence.
            What you write seems to me to be on the right lines, and I don't have
            anything substantial to add.

            Whether anxiety, on its own, is enough to solve the puzzle I posed to Willy
            over his CUP quote (Hong, page 79), I'm not so sure. As you suggest, the
            pre-transition individual surely must understand something about the
            higher-level existence for the leap to count as an action of his, for which
            he is responsible. Aesthetic individuals don't become ethical individuals by
            accident, nor do ethical individuals become Christians by accident.

            Perhaps this is why Climacus introduces the "borderline" individuals - the
            ironist and the humorist - who understand the nature of the next
            higher-level of existence, but have not yet made the leap.

            Yours,

            Jim Stuart

            "Ordinary communication, objective thinking, has no secrets; only
            doubly reflected subjective thinking has secrets; that is, all its
            essential content is essentially a secret, because it cannot be
            communicated directly. This is the significance of the secrecy. That
            this knowledge cannot be stated directly, because the essential in
            this knowledge is the appropriation itself, means that it remains a
            secret for everyone who is not through himself doubly reflected in the
            same way, but that this is the essential form of the truth means that
            this cannot be said in any other way. " (CUP, Hong, p. 79; Lowrie, p. 73)
          • Will Brown
            You are quite welcome, kind sir -- later it is. ----willy ... write ... to take a ... some of
            Message 5 of 10 , Feb 2, 2006
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              You are quite welcome, kind sir -- later it is. ----willy

              --- In kierkegaardians@yahoogroups.com, "Jim Stuart" <jimstuart@...>
              wrote:
              >
              > Dear Willy,
              >
              > Thank you for your helpful reply to my post.
              >
              > I think you clarify some of the differences between us and what you
              write
              > suggests that in some areas we are not too far apart.
              >
              > I don't feel the necessity to respond directly to anything you say right
              > now. I may come back to you at some later time, but for now I need
              to take a
              > break from my Kierkegaardian contributions in order to catch up on
              some of
              > my other commitments.
              >
              > Yours,
              >
              > Jim Stuart
              >
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