[Humanist] 23.132 from 'as if' to 'is'

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Jul 6 11:02:25 CEST 2009


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 132.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    "Michael S. Hart" <hart at pglaf.org>                        (69)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] Re: 23.131 from 'as if' to 'is'

  [2]   From:    James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>                      (25)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] Re: 23.131 from 'as if' to 'is'


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sun, 5 Jul 2009 04:35:08 -0800 (AKDT)
        From: "Michael S. Hart" <hart at pglaf.org>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] Re: 23.131 from 'as if' to 'is'
        In-Reply-To: <4A5060AA.4010801 at mccarty.org.uk>


On Sun, 5 Jul 2009, Willard McCarty wrote:

> No argument from me against Gray Kochhar-Lindgren's galloping as-if. But I ask
> again: does computing speed the journey, make it harder for us to think that
> one of the waystations is the end of the road?
>
> There's no question that we're incapable of construing some state of the
> machine as final (e.g. as if putting up a static website were basically the
> same as publishing a book on paper, however cheaper and less prestigious). But
> the physical characteristics of the form we use affect us; they constitute a
> difference that makes a difference. Is our grip on  finality loosening as a
> result?
>
> Let me ask a further question. If our grip is loosening, then how now are we
> going wrong?
>
> Yours,
> WM

As the inventor of eBooks I must heartily challenge "finality,"
as a goal in electronic publications, and I wish paper printing
has less of an attachment to it as well, as I tire of reading a
series of errors again and again in later editions, that should
have been corrected if the publishers would make the effort.

"A grip on finality" presumes perfection.

"How now we are going wrong?" is presuming that finaily lacking
is a wrong that should be corrected.

In my own professional opinion, since that first eBook in 1971,
I refused to engage Project Gutenberg in this behavior, with an
elementary series of editions from 0.1 to 0.9 before the eBooks
were even considered as finished in a "first edition."

Yes, some people complained that the early works, done by hand,
needed too many revisions to get them up to proper levels of an
acceptable accuracy, but this is obviously true of any invented
process as it gets started, and no one seems to complain that a
"finality" doesn't exist when new versions of other items come.
[Well, not "no one," but they are generally accepted.]

Why, in this age when it would be so easy and simple to correct
errors, add notes and commentaries, etc., should be not?

What is this fixation on "finality" as a goal, in the face of a
most absolute knowledge that our previous work is imperfect?

There is absolutely no reason electronic editions should pass a
standard set by paper editions, give the ease with which a host
of readers can simply send in a note with an error, suggestion,
or what have you.

We would/shold/could get closer to perfection.

However, I say it is hubris to say we have achieved it.

Thanks!!!

Michael S. Hart
Founder
Project Gutenberg
Inventor of ebooks

Recommended Books:

Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury:  For The Right Brain
Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand:  For The Left Brain [or both]
Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson:  To Understand The Internet
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster:  Lesson of Life. . .

If you ever do not get a prompt response, please resend, then
keep resending, I won't mind getting several copies per week.

     

--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sun, 5 Jul 2009 09:24:34 -0400
        From: James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] Re: 23.131 from 'as if' to 'is'
        In-Reply-To: <4A5060AA.4010801 at mccarty.org.uk>

If a grip on finality is a bad thing, how can you possibly ask this
question?  How is it possible to "go wrong" so long as you continually
change.

So much of this discussion reminds me of Kierkegaard's critique of
German Romanticism in On the Concept of Irony and Either/Or 1 and 2.
In the former work, Kierkegaard compares Socratic irony to German
Romantic irony.  Socratic irony makes space for a self differentiated
from her environment but is still oriented toward some notion of the
"good" as an absolute.  German Romantic irony is ironic for irony's
own sake, so there is no sense of "finality" or even the remote
possibility of it, just a series of waystations on a road that
ultimately leads nowhere.

Postmodern thinking tends to indistinguishable from the thinking of
German Romantics as Kierkegaard described them.  It's this fundamental
assumption about finality vs. progress that needs to be questioned
first.

Jim R

On Sun, Jul 5, 2009 at 4:13 AM, Willard
McCarty<willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:
>
> Let me ask a further question. If our grip is loosening, then how now are we
> going wrong?
>
> Yours,
> WM





More information about the Humanist mailing list