Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

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MrStakhanovite
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Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

Post by MrStakhanovite »

What follows is an account that was prepared without consultation of anyone. Any errors are mine alone and those posters mentioned (Kishkumen, Doctor Scratch, Doctor CamNC4Me, Gadianton) are welcome to confirm or deny anything mentioned herein.

Part 1: A Stoic Prelude

Reverend Kishkumen watched Alfonsy collapse into a wingback leather chair with some concern. The young man looked positively exhausted yet his odd mannerisms indicated the presence of frenetic energy. Assuming a pastoral role Kishkumen handed Alfonsy a sherry glass and advised him to drink its contents. He had seen this before, students at the final phases of their terminal degree often came apart at the seams several times just before the looming date of their defense. He didn’t envy Alfonsy at all. Cassius University was quite progressive in many respects and the forward thinking policies that Dr. Scratch implemented from his formidable perch upon the B.H. Roberts Chair were positively brilliant, yet the administration and some of the faculty still perpetuated draconian traditions of the past. No doubt the conditions of the current pandemic, a full online teaching load, and demanding preparations for what would no doubt be a grueling oral defense, were weighing heavily on the slender shoulders of Alfonsy.

Kishkumen took a seat opposite of Alfonsy. By this time Alfonsy had drained his refreshment and had begun to set the empty glassware down. The Reverend leapt into action and slid a bamboo coaster underneath the drink before it made contact with his favorite chabudai; it had been a charming gift from the late President of Keio University Tadao Ishikawa. Kishkumen quite liked the table and wanted to preserve it and the memory of their friendship. With the integrity of his furniture maintained Kishkumen voiced his concern for Alfonsy.

“You simply look afright Alfonsy, have you been getting much rest? I know this COVID business has made things particularly stressful for us all. Look, I can connect you to some of the University’s resources that can help you. If you don’t take care of yourself then all of this has been for nothing…”

Alfonsy looked perplexed for a moment before interrupting with a gesture and saying, “Oh no no. I was just at open mat and Dr.Cam is coaching us for an upcoming tournament against the Machodos. He had me in a cross side mount for about 30 minutes and nearly suffocated me. I’m still trying to get oxygen back.”

Kishkumen was pleased to see that Alfonsy was staying physically active, though he knew it was not by choice. Dean Robbers insists on maintaining a certain physical culture at Cassius. The Reverend could see his point, strong minds needed strong bodies to house them after all. Yet Kishkumen preferred his elliptical to the grappling mats or the rowing oars and liked green tea much more than protein bars.

“So what brings you here to my office? Surely it isn’t for my thoughts on pankration. I must admit to a few instances when I had to lay hands on some unruly louts, but what do I know about such contests?”

Alfonsy struggled for the words and after a moment he simply recited a distich.

O si tacuisses,
Philosophus mansisses.”

If you had kept quiet, you would have remained a philosopher. The Reverend leaned back into his chair; he was now heading into familiar territory with Alfonsy and understood the nature of this visit. For some time Alfonsy has been expressing his guilt to Kishkumen over how he had chosen to express his disagreements with Mopologists. Not just disagreements, but also displays of public contempt for Mopologists themselves. Those draconian traditions of Cassius fostered an atmosphere of intellectual rigor that often instilled in students high expectations which are never met. The most legendary of Mopologists are often presented to the public as scholars of the highest pedigree who possess charm, wit, and an uncanny ability to synthesize Mormonism with the towering figures and great ideas of the Western canon. Mopologists never rise to the occasion because Mopologetics at its best is often pedestrian and at its worst disturbingly sexist, predictably racist, and palpably homophobic. The usual medium is a consistency of culture war rants by uninspired teachers railing against Darwin, Freud, and Higher Criticism with the less abled Mopologists targeting Evangelicals and Cult Ministries.

The Reverend knew how Alfonsy often struggled to initiate a train of thought and he could already see the young man hopelessly searching for a way to articulate himself. The Reverend opted to give his charge a prompt to aid him.

“I must confess that I was genuinely horrified you were going to drop a Lorenzo Snow couplet on me just then. Can I hazard that this has something to do with your calling and your inability to hold your pen when it comes to judging the merits of mopologetics?”

A sense of relief briefly flashed across Alfonsy’s face and Kishkumen immediately recognized it as a sign that his friend had gotten his mental bearings.

“I’ll start from the beginning. I was helping Professor Symmachus with his 'Latin for Nibley' course and we ended up having a disagreement concerning translation.”

The Reverend couldn’t help but chuckle. “Latin for Nibley” was a euphemism for the Freshman course of Classical Latin. To be admitted to the undergraduate program of Mopologetics, all students must pass a written Latin examination that requires a translation of two different pieces from antiquity with no lexical or grammatical aids. Typically only those who took Latin in a prepschool or took several semesters of Latin at another institution could stand a chance passing it.

Still, Symmachus was a BYU alum and Cassius’ foremost Grammarian. Kishkumen had to know what could have motivated Alfonsy to disagree with him.

“Disagreement you say? Over what?”

Alfonsy reached into a backpack and produced a spiral notebook and pencil. Opening to a clean sheet he wrote out a sentence in bold block letters and placed it before Kishkumen.

It read: “quis philosophum aut ullum liberale respicit studium, nisi cum ludi intercalantur, cum aliquis pluuius interuenti dies quem perdere libet?

Alfonsy continued with his explanation while the Reverend studied the sentence patiently.

“It comes from Seneca and his ‘Naturales Quaestiones’. Professor Symmachus translated it as ‘Who takes any notice of a philosopher, or that of the liberal arts except when the games are delayed or when there is a rain and they feel like whiling away the hours?’. I guess I felt impelled to voice an objection.”

Kishkumen smiled to himself and heaved a small sigh. Seneca was dangerously underrated these days and the Reverend was pleased to see that Symmachus was doing his part to counter that. Kishkumen glanced up from the paper to make eye contact with Alfonsy and handed him the sheet back.

“What was your objection? Aside from some quibbles, I don’t see what would compel you to speak up.”

Alfonsy underlined the word philosophum several times before handing the sheet back, meeting the Reverend’s gaze.

“Why is philosophum assumed to be a noun? Why not adjectival? ”

Kishkumen sat back for a moment perplexed. Alfonsy filled the silence.

“Think back to the couplet: ‘Philosophus mansisses’. It is preserved in Medieval Latin.”

It was if the air around Kishkumen had become electrified. Thoughts were suddenly flooding his conscious and he began to make connections faster than he could properly understand them. He began to speak aloud and worked his way through the flurry of ideas.

“Well philosophus is a Greek loan word. Seneca would of course describe himself as pursuing philosophia or philosophy, and he would certainly use the verb philosophari, to philosophize, in describing what he and his companions did. Did Seneca ever use philosophus to describe himself or a contemporary?”

Kishkumen put the sheet on the table between them and Alfonsy’s eyes glanced down for a brief moment.

“Professor Symmachus argued he does not and would not have., though there was a possible counter example in ‘Naturales Quaestiones’ where Seneca compares himself to Anaxagoras. Professor Symmachus said I might have missed the joke in that particular passage.”

Kishkumen admitted to himself that Alfonsy had very much piqued his intellectual interest much more strongly than he did his pastoral concerns. He didn’t want to lose track of what was important, but he couldn’t help getting swept up in the intoxication of philology.

“So Professor Symmachus detects a semantic shift at some point after Seneca. Assuming you correct Alfonsy, what would be your proposed translation?”

Alfonsy quickly scribbled on the same paper that contained the Seneca pericope and handed it over to the Reverend. It read, ‘Who takes any notice of the study philosophy or of any of the liberal arts’. Kishkumen wasn’t convinced, but the aspiring scholar across from him wasn’t without ability; no student of Cassius ever is without. The faculty made sure of that. The couplet was still interesting to Kishkumen but Alfonsy never mentioned its origin.

“I’m not one to spend long hours in the Scholastics, but isn’t that couplet a crib on Boethius? He was a significant part of the Medieval curriculum.”

Alfonsy reached back into his backpack and pulled out a hardcover book that looked particularly old to be a textbook. Kishkumen instinctively moved closer to inspect the text and Alfonsy simply handed it to him. The dimensions of the book made it compact, but it felt dense in his hands. Upon inspection of the binding the Reverend let out a cry of surprise and delight. This book was part of the ‘Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum’ out of Vienna in the first half of the 20th century. This was none other than William Weinberger’s critical addition of Boethius’ ‘Consolation of Philosophy’. Say what you will about the high level of academic standards at Cassius, Kishkumen never ceased to be impressed by the University’s ability to put the best books in the hands of their students.

“Many suspect it to be a paraphrase from Book II Prose 7. I have a translation here from Richard Green that I’ll read to you.”

The Reverend quickly found the passage and his eye immediately detected the presence of philosophum. Alfonsy cleared his throat and began reading.

“Did you ever hear the joke about the folly of such arrogance? One man was ridiculing another who falsely called himself a philosopher; he called himself this not because he practiced true virtue, but because of vanity. The first man claimed that he would find whether or not the other was a philosopher by the way the other humbly and patiently put up with insults. The would-be philosopher bore the insults patiently for a while and then said, ‘Now do you think that I am a philosopher?’ His tormentor laughed and replied, ‘I would have thought so, if you had kept silent.’”

The Reverend listened carefully as Alfonsy read, only setting the Weinberger book down when the student had finished. He was always filled with a sense of reverence when ancient philosophy was being discussed and not just by Hellenic Pagans either; Christians, Jews, Muslims, all had recourse to mine the wisdom of the ancients. Especially when it was being read aloud, it almost felt like sacrilege to do anything else but listen closely.

Alfonsy allowed a brief period of silence to dominate the room, he knew the Reverend preferred to have periods of reflection after a reading. He counted to sixty in his head before continuing.

“Professor Symmachus asserted that adjectival use of philosophus may be established in Christian Latin but not for Seneca. I noted Boethius and asked does this mean his father must follow the example?”

Kishkumen snorted. Boethius’ adopted father was Quintus Aurelius Memmius Symmachus, one of the many Symmachi of the Late Roman Empire. Alfonsy must have baited Professor Symmachus with that remark. The Reverend stood up and walked over to a bay window on the east wall of his office, it offered a picturesque view of the river that wound its way through this side of the Cassius campus, especially now that the horde of hostile Geese that usually occupied its banks had fled south for the winter. During the last part of the spring semester the Reverend often had recourse to defend himself with an umbrella just to make it pass the creatures on his way home.

“It is like Seneca states my dear Mr. Stakhanovite, ‘illud autem te, mi Lucili, rogo atque hortor, Utah philosophism in praecordia ima demittas. This is what I ask and urge, Lucilius, that you should let philosophy sink deep into your heart.’ A quarrel with Professor Symmachus is never a serious matter and I think you’ll find his humor to be in good balance. I’ll bet you a second glass of sherry that he has already forgiven you.”

Alfonsy immediately replied.

“I didn’t quarrel with Professor Symmachus, he seemed to welcome my objection. My only regret in bringing it up was his insistence that we now give Seneca a close reading. No, my actual predicament arose from what happened after my discussion. I was eating a sandwich for lunch and I pulled up the blog ‘Sic et Non’ on my tablet to read. There was something Daniel Peterson posted that bothered me.”

The Right Reverend Kishkumen gave a full body shudder. All the energy that had seeped into his bones from talking philology and philosophy had suddenly vanished and was replaced with a small twinge in his gut.
Last edited by MrStakhanovite on Sat Oct 17, 2020 3:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Gadianton
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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

Post by Gadianton »

What a dark turn to a lighthearted story. I assume there is more to come or did I miss something?
Lou Midgley 08/20/2020: "...meat wad," and "cockroach" are pithy descriptions of human beings used by gemli? They were not fashioned by Professor Peterson.

LM 11/23/2018: one can explain away the soul of human beings...as...a Meat Unit, to use Professor Peterson's clever derogatory description of gemli's ideology.

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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

Post by Doctor Scratch »

The two best parts of this (IMO) are: (1) the title, and (2) this passage:
“Did you ever hear the joke about the folly of such arrogance? One man was ridiculing another who falsely called himself a philosopher; he called himself this not because he practiced true virtue, but because of vanity. The first man claimed that he would find whether or not the other was a philosopher by the way the other humbly and patiently put up with insults. The would-be philosopher bore the insults patiently for a while and then said, ‘Now do you think that I am a philosopher?’ His tormentor laughed and replied, ‘I would have thought so, if you had kept silent.’”
There are some faucets that you simply cannot turn off.

And like Dean Robbers, I also hope there is a sequel to this.
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14

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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

Post by Everybody Wang Chung »

Very interesting story. The Dean is correct about the dark turn it suddenly took towards the end. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

I just finished watching the movie Grizzly Man. The ending of the movie was devastating and left me feeling sad and a little angry. How could Treadwell be so ignorant of the dangers living with grizzly bears would bring?

Much like Treadwell, DCP has been metaphorically devoured by his pride, racism and arrogance. I feel true sadness watching DCP spend his waning days wallowing in anger, loneliness and ignorance.

His life is truly a cautionary tale.
"I'm on paid sabbatical from BYU in exchange for my promise to use this time to finish two books."

Daniel C. Peterson, 2014

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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

Post by Temp. Admin. »

Everybody Wang Chung wrote: I feel true sadness watching DCP spend his waning days wallowing in anger, loneliness and ignorance.
DCP? I see your DCP and raise you a Lou Midgley!

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Kishkumen
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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

Post by Kishkumen »

Bravo, Mr. Stak! You have done a fabulous job depicting my Cassius persona in such a manner that I hardly want to return to reality. There are some bits where the transcription has gone awry, but overall the verisimilitude and humor are quite invigorating for the soul. Would that I were Kishkumen as you imagine him to be!

Please tell me this will continue, and we will learn what the fictional counterpart to our Sic et Non is up to in the next installment.
"Petition wasn’t meant to start a witch hunt as I’ve said 6000 times." ~ Hanna Seariac, LDS apologist

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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

Post by Lemmie »

Doctor Scratch wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:35 pm
The two best parts of this (IMO) are: (1) the title, and (2) this passage:
“Did you ever hear the joke about the folly of such arrogance? One man was ridiculing another who falsely called himself a philosopher; he called himself this not because he practiced true virtue, but because of vanity. The first man claimed that he would find whether or not the other was a philosopher by the way the other humbly and patiently put up with insults. The would-be philosopher bore the insults patiently for a while and then said, ‘Now do you think that I am a philosopher?’ His tormentor laughed and replied, ‘I would have thought so, if you had kept silent.’”
There are some faucets that you simply cannot turn off.

And like Dean Robbers, I also hope there is a sequel to this.
My favorite was the subtle adjustment to Seneca:

“It is like Seneca states my dear Mr. Stakhanovite, ‘illud autem te, mi Lucili, rogo atque hortor, Utah philosophism in praecordia ima demittas
Utah philosophism. What a phrase.
Last edited by Lemmie on Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

Post by Physics Guy »

Ne mo me impune la cessit.

It only seems to work with Utah. Hmm.

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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

Post by Gadianton »

Mr. Stak,

It seems like this story has been brewing for a while. What triggered the boiling point? Why now? was it this statement?

'I hate to always have this combative rhetoric--but I've described it as 'my little hand grenade to be tossed into the camp of the unbelievers.' Or, to put it another way, to cause them doubts about their doubts.'

I think I saw philo quoting it shortly before your thread.
Lou Midgley 08/20/2020: "...meat wad," and "cockroach" are pithy descriptions of human beings used by gemli? They were not fashioned by Professor Peterson.

LM 11/23/2018: one can explain away the soul of human beings...as...a Meat Unit, to use Professor Peterson's clever derogatory description of gemli's ideology.

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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

Post by MrStakhanovite »

Part 2(a): Epistle to The North African

Dearest Blixa,

I’m pleased you finally have access to the internet again. When people ask what you are getting up to these days they are often surprised to hear that you are no longer stateside, but instead found in Tangiers spearheading a joint venture between Cassius and the State Department. I’m not sure how you managed to secure such generous funding for the study and preservation of Berber languages, but it was an impressive feat. Captain Burton himself would be impressed.

I’ve taken your advice and decided to consult the Reverend Kishkumen on my current crisis with Mopologetics. The latest flashpoint is a blogpost from Daniel Peterson’s blog ‘Can the Study of History Yield Genuine Knowledge’ wherein he approvingly quotes Heidegger’s disciple Hans-George Gadamer’s ‘Truth and Method’; even Louis Midgley slithers into the comments and manages to get things assbackwards.

Truthfully I must admit with some sense of shame that this e-mail serves a dual purpose. I doubt the good Reverend has much familiarity with Gadamer or with ‘Truth and Method’ and will no doubt ask for details not only about the author, but also about the thesis of the work. I am meeting with him later today and I thought an e-mail to you would help organize my thoughts. I know Gadamer isn’t exactly the kind of philosopher that appeals to you, but I know you must have some sense of familiarity with him since he so publicly disputed with that villain Jurgen Habermas.

Please forgive this missive for seeking to explain issues to you as if you knew little about them. Think of this as more of a dress rehearsal on my part and you are sitting in the theater as a favor to me. You did after all ask me what had been on my mind since we last spoke and this has been at the forefront of it for the past 48 hours or so.

Daniel begins his post with the usual canard about the specter of scientism haunting his footsteps. I imagine this is another salvo targeted at a person known as “gemli” who frequents the wastelands of Disqus’ commenting software. I’m uncertain as to the beliefs of this gemli or know much about their conduct other than they seem to have this weird parasitic relationship with Daniel wherein gemli plays the villain and this allows Daniel and the other Mopologists the chance to dunk on gemli with all the fanfare that their amateur hour at Patheos usually has; a simplistic refutation or rhetorical question followed up by talk of victory. A great example can be seen from this comment that was lovingly crafted by Midgely:
Louis Midgely wrote:You may recall that I have asked a certain dogmatist, who I expected would be posting up a storm on this blog item, if science is inductive or deductive or both. This fellow has never responded.
Forgetting momentarily the circus that is Daniel’s comments section, he goes on to handily dismantle the position “...that science is the only valid kind of knowledge, and that anything that isn’t scientific isn’t really knowledge” by quoting a paragraph from ‘Truth and Method’ but only after he provides his own exposition on Gadamer first. Predictably Daniel is so incompetent with texts that he completely misses Gadamer’s thesis and ends up reaffirming the very idea that Gadamer seeks to discredit. Surprise! Surprise! Midgely does the same but is able to pack in more egregious errors with less words. (The man can make his illiteracy manifest with the most economic use of space I’ve ever seen).

What Daniel failed to appreciate is that the entire project of Gadamer actually undermines a lot of work Daniel has put into his Mopologetics and not only introducing this “great German philosopher” but approvingly citing him actually creates a liability. To fully appreciate this requires one to actually read ‘Truth and Method’ and I highly doubt that Daniel Peterson or Louis Midgely have exerted any effort in doing so above and beyond purchasing the book.

My purpose then appears to be communicating to others what Gadamer was actually trying to accomplish while staying faithful to Gadamer’s actual words. The vast majority of people don’t have the time and inclination to read ‘Truth and Method’ (indeed not even Daniel Peterson or Louis Midgely could be bothered to do so) and perhaps this explains why the expected “dogmatist” never showed up. I don’t think it is actually that difficult to do, if I may be honest. There are many legendary texts in the humanities that have a reputation for being difficult, but I’ve come to discover that if one makes a good faith and concerted effort, these texts end up being quite manageable and even enjoyable. I only hope I’ve expended enough effort towards Gadamer to make his project understandable to others. So let me set Daniel Peterson aside for the moment and actually turn to ‘Truth and Method’.

The very first sentence of the introduction is probably the best place to start. If Daniel Peterson and Louis Midgely had bothered to read it for themselves, they might have had second thoughts. It begins thus (bolding mine):

Gadamer wrote:These studies are concerned with the problem of hermeneutics. The phenomenon of understanding and of the correct interpretation of what has been understood is not a problem specific to the methodology of the human sciences alone. (p.xx)
While the term “hermeneutics” is usually confined to the academic study of texts, it can be broadly applied to any act of interpretation done by a human. Trying to extract religious doctrines from the Book of Mormon or a Judge deciding on a legal matter are obvious instances of hermeneutics, but other activities such as a physicist looking over a data set and coming to a conclusion is equally a hermeneutic act. A parent watching their misbehaving toddler and trying to figure out if they need food or a nap is just as much a hermeneutical activity as anything else previously mentioned.

While hermeneutics might be a universal human activity, how a person goes about hermeneutics is infinitely varied with little uniformity. This brings us to the issue of method because even though there might just be one thing being subject to interpretation (book, film, speech, etc) there will likely be multiple interpretations, some of which will be mutually exclusive. Thus there is often a desire to establish a formal method of interpretation that brings a certain sense of conformity to the practice of hermeneutics.

The problem of hermeneutics that Gadamer references in the very first sentence is multifaceted. Since there are so many different ways of doing hermeneutics, how do we go about trying to determine which method is better than another? Perhaps even more urgent is the gnawing concern that hermeneutics is nothing more than one big exercise in circular reasoning. When a scientist looks at a data set it often takes the form of an abstraction: dots on a Cartesian graph connected by a line for example. Taken as a whole the abstraction tells us something, but the whole can’t be understood without reference to each individual dot and each individual dot cannot be readily understood itself without reference to the whole.

Before moving on I’d like to address the term ‘human sciences’ because to an American audience that phrase can be misleading. Allow me to quote from the Translator’s Preface:
Weinsheimer & Marshall wrote:The German Wissenschaft suggests thorough, comprehensive and systematic knowledge of something on a self-consciously rational basis. Gadamer certainly contrasts what we would call the “the sciences” with the “humanities”...(p.xviii)
When reading Gadamer we will often come across the term “science” which is a generic term for a subject that has a body knowledge that can be reasoned about, it is not being used in the same sense as Bill Nye or Neil DeGrasse Tyson use it; it does not mean the modern scientific method. There will be qualifiers employed by the translators when something more specific is being intended.

When we read the term “human sciences” we should understand it to mean something that approximates what “Humanities” are in the English speaking world of higher education, exemplars being the disciplines of Philosophy, History, and Literature. The text will use the more familiar phrase “natural sciences” when Gadamer is speaking about that approximates the fields of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.

Now let us consider a full paragraph:
Gadamer wrote:Even from its historical beginnings, the problem of hermeneutics goes beyond the limits of the concept of method as set by modern science. The understanding and interpretation of texts is not merely a concern of science, but obviously belongs to human experience of the world in general. The hermeneutic phenomenon is basically not a problem at all. It is not concerned with a method of understanding by means of which texts are subjected to scientific investigation like all other objects of experience. It is not concerned primarily with amassing verified knowledge, such as would satisfy the methodological ideal of science—yet it too is concerned with knowledge and with truth. In understanding tradition not only are texts understood, but insights are acquired and truths known. But what kind of knowledge and what kind of truth? (p.xx)
Not to belabor the point, but the term “scientific investigation” means a rational and systematic investigation in a broad sense, not the narrow sense of the popular conception of the scientific method. Notice what Gadamer is telling us here, this project of his is not primarily about method. He doesn’t think the philosophical problems posed by hermeneutics can profitably be addressed by appeals to methods that are typically concerned with the accumulation of knowledge and the justification of beliefs. Gadamer is expressing his belief that the human sciences (i.e. humanities) are poised to deal with the problem of hermeneutics by other means. Gadamer claims that this other means is also concerned with ideas of knowledge and truth, but how?
Gadamer wrote:Given the dominance of modern science in the philosophical elucidation and justification of the concept of knowledge and the concept of truth, this question does not appear legitimate. Yet it is unavoidable, even within the sciences. The phenomenon of understanding not only pervades all human relations to the world. It also has an independent validity within science, and it resists any attempt to reinterpret it in terms of scientific method. The following investigations start with resistance in modern science itself to the universal claim of scientific method. They are concerned to seek the experience of truth that transcends the domain of scientific method. Whatever that experience is to be found, and to inquire into its legitimacy. Hence the human sciences are connected to modes of experience that lie outside science: with the experience of philosophy, of art, and of history itself. These are all modes of experience in which a truth is communicated that cannot be verified by the methodological means proper to science. (p. xx-xxi)
You’ll notice the bolded phrase “phenomenon of understanding” above also appeared in the second sentence of the introduction, getting a grip on what Gadamr is trying to communicate will require me to return to the translator’s preface:
Weinsheimer & Marshall wrote:The central question of Gadamer’s investigation is the nature of “understanding,” particularly as this is revealed in humanistic study. The German term is Verstehen, and Gadamer stresses its close connection with Verständigung, “coming to an understanding with someone,” “coming to an agreement with someone,” and Einverständnis, “understanding, agreement, consent.” Instead of the binary implication of “understanding” (a person understands something), Gadamer pushes toward a three-way relation: one person comes to an understanding with another about something they thus both understand. (p.xvi)
The takeaway here is that Gadamer believes that what the human sciences actually do is facilitate an experience/encounter with their object of study that goes above and beyond method. Okay, but what does that even look like and where does it happen? Gadamer answering that question is actually what the bulk of ‘Truth and Method’ is about. There are three parts to ‘Truth and Method’ that receive lengthy treatment: aesthetics, history, and language.
Gadamer wrote:Hence the following investigation starts with a critique of aesthetic consciousness in order to defend the experience of truth that comes to us through the work of art against the aesthetic theory that lets itself be restricted to a scientific conception of truth. But the book does not rest content with justifying the truth of art; instead, it tries to develop from this starting point a conception of knowledge and of truth that corresponds to the whole of our hermeneutic experience. (p.xxii)
The passage Daniel quotes is on page 4 under a section titled ‘Transcending the Aesthetic Dimension’ which means he isn’t even drawing on the nearly 300 pages dedicated to History, but at the very beginning of the section dedicated to Aesthetics. Gadamer has barely begun his analysis by page 4 and is in the midst of trying to explain the historical background of the problem at hand; so when Daniel speaks about what Gadamer “insists” about “History” is not even Gadamer’s view! Much more on that to come.
Gadamer wrote:Hence these studies on hermeneutics, which start from the experience of art and historical tradition, try to present the hermeneutic phenomenon in its full extent. It is a question of recognizing in it an experience of truth that not only needs to be justified philosophically, but which is itself a way of doing philosophy. The hermeneutics developed here is not, therefore, a methodology of the human sciences, but an attempt to understand what the human sciences truly are, beyond their methodological self-consciousness, and what connects them with the totality of our experience of world. (p.xxii)
This passage best encapsulates Gadamer’s project in ‘Truth and Method’ and will be my final citation from the ‘Introduction’. From here I’d like to move on the portion that Daniel quotes from and do my best to capture how Gadamer develops his thesis.

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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

Post by Gadianton »

Thanks Stack, it sounds like contrary LM, Gadamer doesn't equate "political science" to science as science.

Good thing for the proprietor he's off of Gadamer and onto Bill Dembski. Gemli is ready as ever as that's right up his alley. Billy Shears pulls off a single sniper round and Dan's grenade fizzles. lol. Might be worth mentioning BD himself is no longer affiliated with BD.
Lou Midgley 08/20/2020: "...meat wad," and "cockroach" are pithy descriptions of human beings used by gemli? They were not fashioned by Professor Peterson.

LM 11/23/2018: one can explain away the soul of human beings...as...a Meat Unit, to use Professor Peterson's clever derogatory description of gemli's ideology.

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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

Post by Physics Guy »

If the case for the humanities offering knowledge as science were to cite a philosopher who told us they offer such knowledge, that would be kind of poignant. If people doubt science we say things like, Yo, your computer works.

In fairness to Peterson, though, he doesn't really seem to be trying to make that case that way, at least not in his blog post itself, linked above. I haven't read his follow-up comments. When I read his post I don't see him quoting Gadamer to make the point that history gives knowledge. Instead Gadamer seems to be quoted to concede a way in which humanities and natural sciences are indeed different, namely that the humanities study individual cases for their own sakes rather than attempting to induce general laws that apply to all cases, as natural science does. Peterson doesn't seem to offer any argument at all for why the humanities do nonetheless also yield knowledge. He just says twice that to him it's obvious that they do.

That makes his post lamely structured, I guess, giving build-up and a dense quotation to conceding a side issue and merely begging the main point. I'm not sure I actually disagree with Peterson's position on that main point, however. I have a couple of shelves of history books and they're separate from my fiction collection. Sure, a lot of what they present may be somewhat conjectural, but scientific data has error bars, too. I have one brashly iconoclastic book on the Battle of Waterloo that impressed me when I first read it but that turns out to have been written by a crackpot amateur who (a) made a point of identifying himself on the book cover as a baronet and (b) wasn't a baronet. Scientific frauds and follies also occur.

I can be skeptical of particular conclusions in the humanities, just as in science. And since my historical reading has all been popular books, I've read all these assertions about past situations with no indication of how those conclusions about the past have been reached, and that bugs me a bit. In my own field I know what's behind the conclusions, so I know that conclusions have to have a lot behind them, but in history I don't know what that stuff is. History is only a hobby for me, though. I don't have time to do another Ph.D.. If I find a historian I like to ask basic questions about how they think they know what they think they know, but I ask those from genuine curiosity, expecting good answers, not out of a general skepticism about history. On the contrary I've never really doubted that we learn things from history. And I'm not motivated to defend this view any more than I'm motivated to argue that the world isn't flat. So I'm not sure I could write a better blog post than Peterson on this point.

I might disagree with him and Gadamer, though, about the concession that the humanities are case studies whereas science is general. This idea may well have something to it, because it sounds kind of sensible, but when I think about it, it doesn't completely make sense. Plenty of work in natural science is narrowly focused on specific subjects. Biology especially tends to be like that, but even in physics plenty of people simply gather all the data they can about some particular thing. It's true that science as a collective enterprise does try to fit things into a bigger picture, usually by reducing them to simple rules. It might be that science does that more than the humanities do. But on the other hand that impression might be an illusion fostered by reading popular science books that present conclusions and omit explanations, like my popular history books. And conversely some work in the humanities does seem to me to be pretty darn general. Didn't Gadamer write about Truth and Method?

But that's a long book I'm probably not going to read. I shouldn't presume that it says what I imagine it must say from its title. Maybe Gadamer's take on the differences between sciences and humanities is more accurate than I'm guessing just from one quoted paragraph. I read up a bit about Gadamer on Wikipedia just now, and his stuff about fusing horizons sounds like a good way to express something important. Maybe I even learned something from him, then, just now.

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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

Post by Gadianton »

I thought the altercation went something like this:

G: "Political science doesn't tell us anything about physical reality"

D: "But "Hans Gadamer" is an obscure source who said something wordy and profound about history and knowledge in a book I've never read, but I got this from greatquotes.com!"

Gemli never said political science doesn't give us knowledge. He basically said political science doesn't give us knowledge about the physical world, therefore, it isn't "science" per se. I think Gemli is closer to the mark than the apologists are.
Lou Midgley 08/20/2020: "...meat wad," and "cockroach" are pithy descriptions of human beings used by gemli? They were not fashioned by Professor Peterson.

LM 11/23/2018: one can explain away the soul of human beings...as...a Meat Unit, to use Professor Peterson's clever derogatory description of gemli's ideology.

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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

Post by Physics Guy »

I haven’t followed the Sic et Non discussion. Peterson’s introduction of Gadamer, whom I admit was completely obscure to me, may well have been a non sequitur.

Gemli’s remark might have been, too, though. I mean, who cares whether political science tells us about the physical world? Is it a telling point against particle physics that it tells us nothing about cellular biology?

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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

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"Gemli’s remark might have been, too, though. I mean, who cares whether political science tells us about the physical world?"

Possibly, but I think DCP was opportunistic and missed important context. The backstory is Midgley is always getting bent out of shape, unable to answer Gemli's arguments. I'm not saying Gemli is unanswerable, but Midgley doesn't appear to have what it takes to answer him, and so he responds with insults. He calls Gemli a failure as Gemli is not himself a "scientist" and never published scientific papers. Well, I think during this last round, Midgley stepped it up a notch and tooted his own horn, claiming to be a "scientist" himself and therefore having the wherewith to speak as an authority on science, as he's a "political scientist".
Lou Midgley 08/20/2020: "...meat wad," and "cockroach" are pithy descriptions of human beings used by gemli? They were not fashioned by Professor Peterson.

LM 11/23/2018: one can explain away the soul of human beings...as...a Meat Unit, to use Professor Peterson's clever derogatory description of gemli's ideology.

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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

Post by Physics Guy »

Sigh. I'm starting to feel about the whole Sic et Non crowd a bit like how I think I would feel if I guessed that some work acquaintances were into S&M. They can do what they like but my goal is shifting from trying to understand them to trying to know as little as possible.

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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

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Part 2(b): Epistle to The North African

I can’t imagine, dearest Blixa, a style of philosophy more hostile to the being of Daniel Peterson than the likes of Gadamer. What Gadamer offers is a radical critique, but in typical German fashion this critique doesn’t just present itself to the reader. Rather the critique builds slowly and only after several lengthy detours does it begin to take shape. By carefully following Gadamer’s train of thought over the course of hundreds of pages does the radical nature truly reveal itself to you. I wonder if that was Gadamer’s intent? That earnest readers are to have a confrontation with the words on the page, be met with confusion and forced to reread entire passages again as if you were in conversation with a friend or mentor and were struggling to understand what they were saying so you make them go back and repeat themselves. One must invest time into ‘Truth and Method’ as one would invest in a friendship, with no expectation of gain outside of the pleasure of their company.

Is Daniel Peterson capable of that kind of sustained effort? I’m doubtful. He strikes me as the kind of person who only views relationships in purely transactional terms, maybe this is why he is such a great fundraiser? He doesn’t have the constitution for a sustained effort, his oeuvre is really nothing more than lurching from one popular work to another. You know the kind I speak of, churned out by the likes Simon and Schuster or Penguin, written by “experts” of some field and heavily edited to make them readable and given snappy titles to generate interest. Kept at a few hundred pages and shorn clean of any technical apparatus with reduced bibliographies. You see them lining the shelves at Barnes and Noble neatly packed with glossy jackets proclaiming that God is a delusion, Jesus was misquoted, or Darwin should be doubted.

These books are edited in such a way that allows for skimming, coupled with frequent restatements of the author’s beliefs so as to reduce ambiguity. Ideal for a plane ride or as an activity before bed, these are works that don’t demand much from the reader because for the reader this is an activity of distraction that just happens to include learning. The non-fiction equivalent of Stephen King or John Grisham as it were. We all read them and I’m quite happy that they are there and sell in large volume. It is exactly these types of books that make up Daniel’s diet and the consequence is that he has imbibed some very bad habits.

I think this is why Daniel thought he found a clear expression from Gadamer on the nature of historical knowledge within the first few paragraphs of a large section obviously and ostensibly concerned with the topic of aesthetics. He was looking to be spoon fed talking points and the momented his eyes fluttered across that paragraph he thought he saw his own ideas being reflected back at him. I’m getting ahead of myself, let us get back to the text!

Now what I’m about to do may come across as pedantic and unnecessary, (and in all honesty it ought to be) but I’m going to employ some basic skills in critical reading to establish the context of the passage Daniel quoted in his blogpost. I have to do this because Daniel did not employ any reading strategies by way of not even reading this section before posting his citation and his incredibly hot take on Gadamer’s “unassailably sound” point.

Once we move past the ‘Introduction’ and get to the point where the book properly begins it does so under a subsection titled ‘(A) The Problem of Method’. The very first sentence reads as follows:
Gadamer wrote:The logical self-reflection that accompanied the development of the human sciences in the nineteenth century is wholly governed by the model of the natural sciences. (p.3)
I’m also going to reproduce two passages from the ‘Introduction’ we read earlier to jog reader’s memories of what Gadamer told us he was going to do within the pages of ‘Truth and Method’:
Gadamer wrote:Hence the following investigation starts with a critique of aesthetic consciousness in order to defend the experience of truth that comes to us through the work of art against the aesthetic theory that lets itself be restricted to a scientific conception of truth.(p.xxii)
Gadamer wrote:The hermeneutics developed here is not, therefore, a methodology of the human sciences, but an attempt to understand what the human sciences truly are, beyond their methodological self-consciousness...(p.xxii)
Now to summarize:

(i) We know from the ‘Introduction’ that Gadamer isn’t trying to set up an ideal method for the humanities, he makes it clear he feels what the humanities are trying to accomplish is of a completely different order than the natural sciences.

(ii) We also know from the ‘Introduction’ that Gadamer is going to start his thesis on the topic of aesthetics before moving on to history, thus whatever comments he makes concerning the topic of history might not actually reflect his actual beliefs. One should only feel confident about that after reading ‘Part II’ and comparing it to the relevant sections of ‘Part I’.

(iii) The subsection header reads ‘The Problem of Method’ which indicates that Gadamer is going to explain/demonstrate why the idea and practice of using a method in the humanities is a mistaken venture.

(iv) The very first sentence unambiguously declares that the state of the humanities in the 19th century was dominated by the example of the natural sciences.

I want to state that ‘The Problem of Method’ begins on page 3 and the section Daniel quoted is found on page 4; the prospects that Gadamer is gearing up to tell us why the study of history is decidedly different from modern scientific methods are rather dim. What comes next is a practice in contemporary philosophy made popular by Nietzsche and used to great effect by not only Gadamer’s mentor Heidegger, but also by Michel Foucault. The practice dates back to Antiquity and can best be described as “philology” (the study of ancient languages and texts) where the history of a word and how it has been used is carefully analyzed in order to reveal things about people and texts.
Gadamer wrote: A glance at the history of the word Geisteswissenschaften shows this, although only in its plural form does this word acquire the meaning familiar to us. The human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften) so obviously understand themselves by analogy to the natural sciences that the idealistic echo implied in the idea of Geist (“spirit”) and of a science of Geist fades into the background. (p.3)
The term that came to designate the human sciences in the German language (i.e. humanities), Geisteswissenschaften, was heavily influenced in a fairly interesting way. By the Englishman John Stuart Mill, of all people!
Gadamer wrote:The word Geisteswissenschaften was made popular chiefly by the translator of John Stuart Mill’s ‘Logic’. In the supplement to his work Mill seeks to outline the possibilities of applying inductive logic to the “moral sciences.” The translator calls these Geisteswissenschaften. (p.3)
For those with a particular interest in Richard Carrier, his particular views on Jesus Mythicism, and the application of Bayes to modern Historical methods, they can see now the idea has been around for a few hundred years.
Gadamer wrote:Even in the context of Mill’s ‘Logic’ it is apparent that there is no question of acknowledging that the human sciences have their own logic but, on the contrary, of showing that the inductive method, basic to all experimental science, is the only method valid in this field too. In this respect Mill stands in an English tradition of which Hume has given the most effective formulation in the introduction to his ‘Treatise’. Human science too is concerned with establishing similarities, regularities, and conformities to law which would make it possible to predict individual phenomena and processes. In the field of natural phenomena this goal cannot always be reached everywhere to the same extent, but the reason for this variation is only that sufficient data on which similarities are to be established cannot always be obtained. Thus the method of meteorology is just the same as that of physics, but its data is incomplete and therefore its predictions are more uncertain. The same is true in the field of moral and social phenomena. (p.3-4)
Since we’ve been paying attention to the context of what Gadamer is trying to develop and keeping in mind the explicit goals he articulates in the ‘Introduction’ we can quickly determine that Gadamer is merely articulating a position held by the likes of David Hume and John Stuart Mill.
Gadamer wrote:The use of the inductive method is also free from all metaphysical assumptions and remains perfectly independent of how one conceives of the phenomena that one is observing. One does not ascertain causes for particular effects, but simply establishes regularities. Thus it is quite unimportant whether one believes, say, in the freedom of will or not—one can still make predictions in the sphere of social life. To make deductions from regularities concerning the phenomena to be expected implies no assumptions about the kind of connection whose regularity makes prediction possible...What is pragmatically developed here is a science of society, and research has followed this program with success in many fields. One only has to think of social psychology. (p.4)
The development of the mindset of Hume and Mill continues apace and we have finally come to the paragraph that Daniel provided in his blogpost.
Gadamer wrote: But the specific problem that the human sciences present to thought is that one has not rightly grasped their nature if one measures them by the yardstick of a progressive knowledge of regularity. The experience of the sociohistorical world cannot be raised to a science by the inductive procedure of the natural sciences. Whatever “science” may mean here, and even if all historical knowledge includes the application of experiential universals to the particular object of investigation, historical research does not endeavor to grasp the concrete phenomenon as an instance of a universal rule. The individual case does not serve only to confirm a law from which practical predictions can be made. Its ideal is rather to understand the phenomenon itself in its unique and historical concreteness. However much experiential universals are involved, the aim is not to confirm and extend these universalized experiences in order to attain knowledge of a law—e.g., how men, peoples, and states evolve—but to understand how this man, this people, or this state is what it has become or, more generally, how it happened that it is so. (p.4)
So Gadamer introduces a problem to the viewpoint of Hume and Mill, but is this a problem from outside, injected into the thought process being elucidated by Gadamer or rather is the problem organic to the view of Hume and Mill? Recall what Gadamer said about ‘Logic’ on the previous page:
Gadamer wrote:Even in the context of Mill’s ‘Logic’ it is apparent that there is no question of acknowledging that the human sciences have their own logic but, on the contrary, of showing that the inductive method, basic to all experimental science, is the only method valid in this field too.
In addition to the above passage consider how the next paragraph following the one Daniel so helpfully quoted begins:
Gadamer wrote:What kind of knowledge is it that understands that something is so because it understands that it has come about so? What does “science” mean here?
Gadamer immediately asks two questions of the paragraph Daniel provided. Pay attention to how he uses these two (very relevant) questions:
Gadamer wrote:Even if one acknowledges that the ideal of this knowledge is fundamentally different in kind and intention from the natural sciences, one will still be tempted to describe the human sciences in a merely negative way as the “inexact sciences.” Although Hermann Helmholtz’s important and just comparison in his famous speech of 1862 between the natural and the human sciences laid great emphasis on the superior and humane significance of the human sciences, he still gave them a negative logical description based on the methodological ideal of the natural sciences. (p.4-5)
Gadamer didn’t answer them, rather he left them unanswered and continued to articulate a view that is not his own, but a view that is important to understand. Why? Think about the very first sentence of this subsection:
Gadamer wrote:The logical self-reflection that accompanied the development of the human sciences in the nineteenth century is wholly governed by the model of the natural sciences. (p.3)
Gadamer is recreating that logical self-reflection and those questions are going to naturally occur to people who hold Mill’s or Helmholtz’s views. They are not idiots and they understand that the discipline of history doesn’t neatly fold into the inductive method, they acknowledge the problem and try to deal with it:
Gadamer wrote:Helmholtz distinguished between two kinds of induction: logical and artistic-instinctive induction. That means, however, that his distinction was basically not logical but psychological. Both kinds of science make use of the inductive conclusion, but the human sciences arrive at their conclusions by an unconscious process. Hence the practice of induction in the human sciences is tied to particular psychological conditions. (p.5)
Gadamer isn’t pointing this out in the hopes of refuting Helmholtz or as way of refuting those “who appear to argue that science is the only valid kind of knowledge, and that anything that isn’t scientific isn’t really knowledge” (neither Mill nor Helmholtz held such a view), but a demonstration of a persistent problem. He continues:
Gadamer wrote:Even if one acknowledges that this great natural scientist has resisted the temptation of making his own scientific practice a universally binding norm, he obviously had no other logical terms in which to characterize the procedure of the human sciences than the concept of induction, familiar to him from Mill’s ‘Logic’. (p.5)
For Gadamer this is just one small example of the ‘Problem of Method’ and exactly why he seeks to distance himself from it. Yet as we keep working through a bit more of Gadamer, Daniel’s sins of intellectual sloth compound themselves.

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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

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MrStakhanovite wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 10:20 pm
What Gadamer offers is a radical critique, but in typical German fashion this critique doesn’t just present itself to the reader. Rather the critique builds slowly and only after several lengthy detours does it begin to take shape. By carefully following Gadamer’s train of thought over the course of hundreds of pages does the radical nature truly reveal itself to you. … [E]arnest readers are to have a confrontation with the words on the page, be met with confusion and forced to reread entire passages again as if you were in conversation with a friend or mentor and were struggling to understand what they were saying so you make them go back and repeat themselves. One must invest time into ‘Truth and Method’ as one would invest in a friendship, with no expectation of gain outside of the pleasure of their company.
I’m sure this is true about Gadamer’s writing but I have a hard time seeing it as anything but bad. This just sounds like the kind of rambling you do in a zeroth draft when you’re trying to figure out what you have to say. Dumping all that on the public seems to me like mental flabbiness, lazily skipping the huge step of paring down that meandering tome into a clear, concise book.

I don’t think it’s a harmless flabbiness, either. If everyone just accepts that philosophy is like this then opportunities are permanently ripe for shallow and even stupid ideas to get passed off—and passed on—as deep thoughts. Anyone who struggles through all the rambling becomes invested in the emperor’s clothes. People may even get used to mistaking obscurity for profundity.

I’m not a fan of dumbed-down thinking but I’m a big fan of dumbed-down writing. It’s the truly smart writing. For what little it’s worth my cursory impression is that Gadamer had some good ideas that could have stood the acid test of concise expression. I don’t know why Gadamer couldn’t have invested more time in putting those ideas more simply and clearly.

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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

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This is one of those threads that Temp Admin should list in his HALL OF FAME.
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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

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Part 2(c): Epistle to The North African

Before leaving Helmholtz for a moment, Gadamer offers this assessment:
Gadamer wrote:For Helmholtz, the methodological ideal of the natural sciences needed neither to be historically derived nor epistemologically restricted, and that is why he could not understand the way the human sciences work as logically different. (p.5)
The logical self-reflection that Gadamer speaks of starts with John Stuart Mill (with a whisper of Hume’s influence), then transitions to the German polymath Hermann von Helmholtz. Next Gadamer introduces us to none other than Johann Gustav Droysen; a pioneer in the development of historical method and the man who introduced the term “hellenistic” into the vocabulary of Western academia.
Gadamer wrote:At the same time there was the pressing task of raising one branch of knowledge—namely that of the “historical school,” which was in fact in full flower—to logical self-consciousness. (p.5)
The bolding is mine and I hate to sound like a broken record here, but once again I would like to point out there hasn’t been a shift from one theme to another thus far. Mill, Helmholtz, and now Droysen, are all part of this process—this movement — towards a logical self-consciousness. There has been nothing but a continuity from one historical personage to the next.
Gadamer wrote:As early as 1843 J.G. Droysen, the author and founder of the history of Hellenism, wrote, “there is, I suppose, no field of knowledge that is so far from being theoretically justified, defined, and articulated as history.” Droysen called for a Kant who, in a categorical imperative of history, “would show the living source from which the historical life of mankind flowed.” He expressed the hope “that the more profoundly grasped idea of history will be the center of gravity in which the chaotic movement of the human sciences will gain stability and the possibility of further progress. (p.6)
This “problem of method” began with a philosopher, moved on to a scientist, and now has come to settle on to a historian in the modern sense. Droysen expresses a certain anxiety any historian (amateur or professional) today feels at one time or another; how much confidence can we have that past events played like we think they did? For someone like Droysen who was living during a time when the critical methods so familiar to us today were just being articulated, you can get a sense of frustration but also hope. The hope that there will be a methodological breakthrough that is something akin to a Newton, that can push the discipline of history into new possibilities while inspiring confidence in its practitioners that the conclusions they have generated are solid.

This methodological breakthrough isn’t conceived of by Droysen as simply taking methods from the natural sciences and applying them to history:
Gadamer wrote:The model of the natural sciences invoked here by Droysen is not intended in terms of a specific content—that is, a theoretical model of science to which the human sciences must be assimilated; on the contrary he means that the human sciences must be firmly established as an equally autonomous and self-reliant group of sciences. Droysen’s ‘Historik’ attempts to carry out this task. (p.6)
For the curious, ‘Historik’ is a reference to Droysen’s book ‘Outlines of the Principles of History’ published in 1858 and wasn’t translated into English until 1893. The book itself has largely melted into obscurity and is rarely read nowadays, from what I’ve seen, it basically outlines a program for conducting what is roughly called “Social History” today.

Gadamer introduces the final figure for this section, Wilhelm Dilthey. Much like Helmholtz, Dilthey was a polymath and while primarily a philosopher, he also made contributions to the burgeoning fields of psychology, sociology, in addition to being a historian in his own right of the German intellectual tradition. He died in 1911 and was deeply influential on both philosophers and theologians trained on the continent of Europe during the first half of the 20th century:
Gadamer wrote:Even Dilthey, on whom the scientific method and the empiricism of Mill’s ‘Logic’ had a much stronger influence, retained the romantic, idealistic heritage in the concept of spirit (Geist). He always thought himself superior to English empiricism, because he vividly perceived what distinguished the historical school from all thinking in terms of the natural sciences and natural law. (p.6)
In remarkable display of familiarity with Dilthey, Gadamer reproduces some of the man’s own marginalia:
Gadamer wrote:“The real empirical procedure that can replace prejudiced dogmatic empiricism can come only from Germany. Mill is dogmatic because he lacks historical training”—this was a note Dilthey made in his own copy of Mill’s ‘Logic.’ In fact all the arduous work of decades that Dilthey devoted to laying the foundations of the human sciences was a constant debate with the logical demand that Mill’s famous last chapter made on the human sciences. (p.6)
I must admit this passage made me think perhaps Daniel might be better off leaving his commentary on the margins of the books he doesn’t read as opposed to his rather public blog.
Gadamer wrote:Nevertheless, Dilthey let himself be profoundly influenced by the model of the natural sciences, even when he was endeavoring to justify precisely the methodological independence of the human sciences. Two pieces of evidence make this clear and will, as it were, point the way for our own investigation. (p.6)
For his first piece of evidence Gadamer makes mention of a man named Wilhelm Scherer who was a contemporary of Dilthey. Scherer was a philologist and a scholar of German literature who died in 1886:
Gadamer wrote:In his obituary for Wilhelm Scherer, Dilthey emphasizes that the spirit of the natural sciences guided Scherer’s procedure, and he attempts to give the reason why Scherer let himself be so influenced by English empiricism: “He was a modern man, and the world of our forebears was no longer the home of his spirit and his heart, but his historical object.” The antithesis shows that for Dilthey scientific knowledge obliges one to sever one’s bond with life, to attain distance from one’s own history, which alone makes it possible for that history to become an object. (p.6)


The bolding is once again mine. This notion that one must obtain a certain kind of “distance” from the object of study is an important aspect of what Gadamer is going to develop in Part I of ‘Truth and Method’.
Gadamer wrote:We may indeed acknowledge that Scherer and Dilthey’s handling of the inductive and comparative methods was governed by genuine individual tact and that such tact presupposes a spiritual cultivation which indicates that the world of classical culture and the romantic belief in individuality survive in them. Nevertheless, it is the model of the natural sciences that guides their conception of themselves as sciences. (p.6)
The “comparative methods” spoken of here is a reference to various methods and strategies that once made up the practice of philology. Though many of these methods are ancient in their origin, today they are spread across various different domains of learning such as Linguistics, Biblical Studies, and Literary Criticism. Many readers of Bart Ehrman’s ‘Misquoting Jesus’ would be surprised to learn that much of the textual criticism discussed in that book was pioneered by Pagan scholars before Jesus was even born.
Gadamer wrote:A second reference makes this particularly clear: Dilthey refers to the independence of the methods of the human sciences and substantiates it by appeal to their object. At first blush, this sounds like good Aristotelianism and could indicate a genuine detachment from the scientific model. But in accounting for the independence of the methods of the human sciences Dilthey refers to the old Baconian aphorism, “to be conquered, nature must be obeyed,” a principle which practically flies in the face of the classical and romantic heritage that Dilthey seeks to retain. Though his historical training accounts for his superiority over contemporary neo-Kantianism, it must be said that in his logical endeavors Dilthey did not really progress very far beyond the simple statements of Helmholtz. (p.6-7)
I found it interesting (according to Gadamer) that despite all of Dilthey’s erudition and titanic efforts spread across the 77 years of his life that the man never got his project passed Helmholtz, that even despite his belief that the human sciences (i.e. humanities) were methodologically independent from the natural sciences, he still never clearly demonstrated what those methods could even be.
Gadamer wrote:However strongly Dilthey defended the epistemological independence of the human sciences, what is called “method” in modern science remains the same everywhere and is only displayed in an especially exemplary form in the natural sciences. The human sciences have no method of their own. Yet one might well ask, with Helmholtz, to what extent method is significant in this case and whether the other logical presuppositions of the human sciences are not perhaps far more important than inductive logic. (p.7)
The bolding is mine and for Gadamer, this is the most important takeaway from the logical self-reflection he just walked us through: The humanities don’t have a unique method that belongs to it. It isn’t just that induction is poorly suited as a method, there is no method to seek at all.
Gadamer wrote:Helmholtz had indicated this correctly when, in order to do justice to the human sciences, he emphasized memory and authority, and spoke of the psychological tact that here replaced the conscious drawing of inferences. What is the basis of this tact? How is it acquired? Does not what is scientific about the human sciences lie rather here than in their methodology? (p.7)
This idea of “psychological tact” is rooted in Kantian philosophy and in the Kantian study of aesthetics:
Gadamer wrote:Because the human sciences prompt this question and thus cannot be fitted into the modern concept of science, they remain a problem for philosophy itself. The answer that Helmholtz and his century gave cannot suffice. (p.7)
The explanation of why Helmholtz and company were wrong brings us to the final passages of this section.

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Re: Tales From The Reverend’s Office: Why Won’t Daniel Peterson STFU?

Post by Gadianton »

"The human sciences have no method of their own. Yet one might well ask, with Helmholtz, to what extent method is significant in this case and whether the other logical presuppositions of the human sciences are not perhaps far more important than inductive logic."

Pretty devastating to the apologist use of Gadamer. Some day we should create an index of all the ideas they've misused for their cause. It doesn't matter if the idea was right or wrong, but did the apologist understand the idea in the first place?

It's not necessarily irrational of them to misuse ideas. It's all for show, none of them care about really getting to the bottom of anything, just derailing, and so taking the time to properly understand something is a waste of time.
Lou Midgley 08/20/2020: "...meat wad," and "cockroach" are pithy descriptions of human beings used by gemli? They were not fashioned by Professor Peterson.

LM 11/23/2018: one can explain away the soul of human beings...as...a Meat Unit, to use Professor Peterson's clever derogatory description of gemli's ideology.

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