More on (Moron ?) reference.

Another thing that I struggle with is the idea of having to refer to someone to gain validity or credence in what I might say.

Typically we refer to other authors of the modern era Or contemporary authors, because we are in the process of developing a kind of argumentative community, towards some sort of theoretical ground upon which we can implement some sort of activity that we all generally direct as a solution.

But the a epitome of reference is when we refer to ancient authors, other languages, for example and especially, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

What perplexes me is why I would need to refer what I’m saying to some originaria Greek term.

And I don’t necessarily mean this in the sense that it doesn’t help with the clarity that I am trying to communicate; I mean it in the sense of why don’t we refer even further back to what the Greek word might have its roots in?

And then also I don’t even mean to suggest that the people prior to the Greeks or prior to the Hebrews etc.. might have had a better way of putting things into terms.

What I mean is what is happening with me, and what is happening to the person that is reading what I’m writing? In so much is I might refer to Greek, say, or even it’s Proto languages, what is really striking me that I might route my discourse is in these Proto languages?

And I think the most basic question that I come to in this Perplexity of why, is do these Proto languages have a more substantial or original airy position with reference to what it is to be human or what it is we might be talking about in actuality?

Because I tend to think that this thing that’s going on inside of me, and I feel that is going on inside the reader, in so much as we both feel really great about being able to bring up these Greek, Latin, or Proto Greek or Proto Latin terms which mean something original, I guess, is that somehow when I do this I feel I’m getting more closer to some “natural” way that the human being actually should or actually does exist in the world.

What do you think?





10 responses to “More on (Moron ?) reference.”

  1. Hesiod Avatar

    The importance of language is undeniably essential in philosophy, hence all the requirements for any serious grad-work at a respectable university. Let us take examples in Greek. Lack of knowledge of Greek is a barrier to more deeply understanding Plato or Aristotle, etc.

    For instance, Thrasymachus in Greek means savage fighter. Without that knowledge of Greek an English reader or non-Greek reader doesn’t pick up on the reality of irony and satire in Plato (which I have written on academically). Thrasymachus is a savage beast, a savage fighter, in the Republic. His very thesis on justice is savage and the language he uses is savage, especially when compared to the beautiful and persuasive language of Socrates. Glaucon, too, is symbolic. In Greek his name means “grey-eyed.” That is a clear allusion to Athena, Goddess of Wisdom. Yet Glaucon says nothing wise at all!

    German, say, with Hegel is equally important. Sittlichkeit vs. Moralität are essential to know which is lost to English speakers since we use ethics and morality rather interchangeably. For Hegel, Sittlichkeit denotes the concrete and duty/community realities to “ethical life.” Duties, responsibilities, etc. Moralität is abstract and individualistic, hence demeaned in Hegel. Moral individuals are inferior to participator dwellers in sittlichkeit. Forgetting this or not knowing this really alters The Phenomenology and Elements of the Philosophy of Right.

    I can go on. But it is difficult to teach in English sometimes because of how our language is vaguer than the specificity of Greek, Latin, or German. I catch myself, for instance, teaching Hegel and using the term “morality” or “moral order” when meaning to describe Sittlichkeit. I then have to backtrack, use the German term, explain what it means, and then make clear “that’s what I mean when saying “moral order” when discussing Hegel. Because “Morality” is more associated with Moralität in Hegel’s German.

    I doubt you will find, save a few hardliners, that knowledge of the original languages are the only way to know what you’re dealing with. Certainly one can grasp the basics of Greek or Hebraic or Latin or German philosophy without language knowledge. But without the language you will invariably reach a limit.

    Speaking from experience, the language knowledge allows one to go deeper. Not to mention being able to reader all the scholarship and source material that has not been translated! It allows for more comprehension and at a deeper level. Lack of language understanding might allow for basic and modest comprehension, good enough for most people when dealing with the subject matter. But since most people aren’t going to be scholars or academics, why thrust it on them? As long as you have a good teacher or a good translation with explanatory notes dealing with language, that can resolve itself. But then again, you’re still at a ceiling because that deeper knowledge is entirely contingent on what was passed down to you second hand. If you had a great Plato teacher explaining irony and satire in the Greek language in the Republic you will know how it is used in the Republic, but if you didn’t get the teacher to explain that in other dialogues you will not know it in the other dialogues. Etc.

    My own feelings are as such: One doesn’t need to know the original languages to get a good understanding. But if one doesn’t know the original languages, one will never understand the rhetorical aesthetic, depth, and subtleties, that come with language comprehension. But my converse feeling holds true. Unless one is going to be a Hegel or Plato aficionado, then there really is no reason to need to know the language.


    1. landzek Avatar

      Yes, I get all that. I’m not arguing really that it is not useful.
      I am arguing why it is needed.

      I’m not sure that I am not able to fully grasp the extent of my existence without having to refer to any history whatsoever. I am positive that everything that I need to know about my existence and how to get along it it is presented to me as required.

      I’m just saying that if I come up with the idea that most people are stupid cattle, and then one person comes upon some thing that is truly significant to him or herself, and then attempt to tell other people about it, and that person gets reprimanded or shunned because all the “cattle people” can’t understand what he saying. I don’t need Plato’s allegory of the cave. It is quite a regular human experience. As well I’m not sure that I need to learn about the allegory of the cave in order for my personal experience in that same situation to have significance. If anything it shows me that Plato and myself are human. As well, I’m not sure it really says anything in a larger context of philosophy that Plato set it to 2500 years ago. I could equally say something quite similar if not the same and we could have the same type of analytical philosophical discussions. Similarly, I’m not sure that I need to say that 200 years ago such and such a person had this to say about it. I am not sure that any students are learning anything more or less about philosophy because thousands of people have said such and such how about sew and sew at whatever time.

      But also, I’m not sure why it is needed for me to say that the root word of “idiot” the Greeks said it was such and such. I could just as easily say “I am using the word idiot in this manner. And so I ask why it should have more significance to my definition if someone said at 2500 years ago?

      Why does the word idiot as it was use 2500 years ago broaden or in large in or make more significant my use of the word idiot in the same way that they did. That is, more than if I just said that “idiot means X in this particular essay” ?

      I’m not questioning what you’re saying. I am asking why it matters?

      Because for as large of scope that I would wish my philosophy to encompass, or that I would want Hegel to encompass, or Kant, No one ever grasps really what they were saying. And the people who say that they fully understand or grasp the significance or the context of any particular philosopher, I really just selecting various slices of experience and which sentences for that particular person meant something more, and then assembling it together as if it’s this “whole discourse” about what they really meant.

      I do not think that there is any full proof way of understanding what Hegel really meant. It doesn’t matter if I read all of his works entirely and spent my whole life time studying them. Because ultimately any context I wouldn’t I would have for his meeting would be based on similarly partial grasps of the whole context.

      And so my question goes to why it gives veracity to my thinking that might have said the same thing as someone 500 years ago?

      My point is that I have just as much as grasp and availability to experience and the truth, whatever that might mean, of reality and the ability and capacity for thinking and knowledge as they did 2500 years ago. Or as any academic could have known 1000 miles away from me.

      I’m not arguing that indeed this is how we work. I am asking why it works that way.

      Do you know it’s an interesting example:

      I’ve conveyed this in a couple of my posts one recent and one a little while ago.

      When I picked up Kierkegaard’s either or I knew nothing about philosophy at all. Maybe just a rudimentary kind of gleanings of junior college logic course may be. But I have no appetite nor aptitude to read the density of really any philosopher. Despite that I wanted to know what they were talking about. But my kind of limited ability to read quickly prevented me from engaging with the philosophers.

      So one day when I was 30 years old I was living with a graduate student while I was in undergraduate. And she had on the kitchen table there either or. And I was somewhat knowledgeable enough To have at least heard of the name Kierkegaard, and I knew he was a philosopher of some sort. I had no context. I didn’t know he was an existentialist. I didn’t know that search had referenced him. Literally I knew nothing about him. And I picked up that book just kind of like hey, I think I’m a philosopher so maybe I’ll try and read this guy. And I immediately understood right from the beginning, without reading any introduction by hung and Hong. I started from the first page of Kierkegaard script right at the beginning. And after reading like two or three paragraphs of the problem omega gentler whatever it’s called, I knew exactly what he was talking about. And I sat back and I thought to myself “this is totally ridiculous. There’s no way I could possibly understand what this guy is saying”. And so then I lean forward again and open the book randomly and start reading again. And within a couple sentences I knew not only the point he was making, but why he was making the point. And why he was using that particular analogy that he was using. I think it was the seducers diary or something. And as I read for a couple few pages it just confirmed to me what I already knew. And so I close the book again and I sat back and I literally thought I was insane. And so then I opened up the book again to a totally different part and I thought about what I had read at the beginning, where I had opened it before, judged the amount of thickness between those two sections, opened up randomly somewhere between those two sections, thought to myself what point could he possibly be making right at this point in the book, and opened the book and started reading and again I knew exactly what he was talking about.

      Now, despite all that other strangeness about my experience, the point I’m really making is that after I did that for about 45 minutes just jumping around the book, I literally thought Kierkegaard had died like five years prior to when I was reading him. I thought he was some philosopher that was alive while I was in high school and that died a few years after in the 90s.

      It was not until I finished either or completely and by that time I thought I had completely lost my mind. And then I picked up “fear and trembling” in full doubt, telling myself that this book will show me that I was just completely misunderstanding Kierkegaard and I’m sure that this next book will prove to me that I have just lost my mind.

      And I started reading that book from the beginning and within the first sentence I knew how the two books related and I knew what he was going to say in the whole book. But it was that book that I actually kind of looked back to the introduction after about a quarter of the way into the book, and saw that Kirkey guard has lived 150 years ago.

      And I almost had to throw the book across the room because it made no sense to me at all how this guy could be saying this and from the 1860s or whatever it was.

      Likewise, when I finally picked up Plato about 10 years later maybe. At that, because Kierkegaard brought in Socrates so much. Plato was like reading something that I had written.

      Of course, all the nuances and all the play on language, and all the names and all the original Greek and all that stuff, sure, it does fill out an area of interest, say. But I’m not really sure that I need Plato to bring into context anything that I can come upon in my thoughts, which is to say, I’m not sure that I need Play-Doh existing 2500 years ago. He may have just as well died last year.

      So I’m wondering about the Proto Greek. What would it really matter if the word “ghhit” (Hypothetically) meant “food is good for you”. ?

      Or when Heidegger constantly refers to the original Greek about with the Greeks meant. I’m just not really sure why it has a significance for me. Since I can broaden my context of significance for any discourse any way that I wish to. I’m not sure why I’m just not sure why reference to words written 3000 years ago gives my words now more validity anymore than if I referenced you, say.

      Sorry that was very long. Because I’m walking my dog and I’m voice dictating. Lol.


    2. landzek Avatar

      You know on a different note. Perhaps that’s why Harman It’s not your cuppa tea. Because he explicitly decries the limiting of The domain of philosophy to language and discourse. I mean, of course, we have to use language. But better definition does not always clarity make. 🤣


      1. Hesiod Avatar

        My gripe with Harman has nothing to do with language. It has everything to do with him just repacking Anglo-French materialism with a post-Heideggerian disposition. There is nothing unique or novel in what he’s doing, not to mention the simple fact that it is a derivation of liberal materialist fetishism. From Hannah Arendt to Ray Brassier, I would regard many other philosophers who have already touched on the topic of “Tool-Being” as far superior to Harman and more worth reading. I have, therefore, two principal disdains toward him: 1) His philosophy is not new, even if his terminology is; 2) On philosophical principles I oppose what I consider his objectified/materialist fetishism the careens through his work.

        Concerning the issue I raised about language, it should be self evident. I didn’t critique the issue of references. I addressed your implicit dismissal of language.

        You’re a counselor. You would never speak a language that your patient doesn’t understand. The same holds true in philosophy and scholarship. The Greeks to the Germans, et al. wrote and spoke different languages where their words and phrases have very significant distinctions to our own in English. Hence why it is almost always the case that those who teach non-English philosophers make a point to reference the original words and try to explain why it’s important to know them.

        Let us return to counseling and psychology. You, no doubt, learned Freud, among others. I doubt you drop Freud to patients. Why would you? But if you were teaching Freud and using his language, I also suspect that you would be very careful in the language you use to explain it so not to cause confusion.

        My comment addressed precisely this problem: The importance of language for understanding each other or other writers/thinkers etc. in the context of wanting to understand them and or teach them. It had nothing to do with your concern of just name dropping people or phrases just to sound smart.

        Personally, on that note, I agree with you. Especially when I can detect people name referencing or word referencing without much knowledge on what they’re saying just to sound smart. Generally you can always tell by whether they use the name or phrase or word and then explain it to add to whatever they’re talking about. Just saying it to say it is just to showoff especially when one does so in a way that doesn’t help listeners or readers have further appreciation or comprehension of the subject matter. But when referencing is used for fuller understanding and comprehension of the subject matter, teasing out distinctions and nuances that come with the original languages, that is undeniably beneficial.


      2. landzek Avatar

        I feel like you are misinterpreting Harman.

        Or it could be that I see something in his philosophy that I have not encountered a potential for.

        Hey by the way, My essay was actually published in a journal. Perhaps you might have some time to read it, and then you could see maybe how I understand Harman. And how I think it is significant in approaching our current state of being.

        I’m actually presently developing a follow up to that essay which hopefully gets more particular and clear, where the “essay concerning“ is really just supplying nutrients to the soil, so to speak.


      3. Hesiod Avatar

        Congratulations! This is the essay you sent me a while back?

        Apropos GH it may be a matter of relationality. As a teacher I’m inclined to teaching and drawing out what is. You might be utilizing for your own project as evidenced in Moment if Decisive Significance. Though my anti-H sentiment isn’t my own. Far more accomplished philosophers, Marxists, and Hegelians have all levied the same criticism. Needless to say I find them on point.


      4. landzek Avatar

        Thanks. It is the essay yes, Albeit, Come together, hopefully more cogent.

        And yes. The significance for harmon with me is ooo gives us a philosophical way to ground otherwise “disembodied” ideals. As I think I try to begin to present in the paper, it’s because Harmon talks about how knowledge is contained. Or at least that’s how I see it so far as I take up the object of the subject. He is talking about “out there“ objects. And, in that sense, I’m not really sure that he is able to make a convincing argument in that way.

        But he also says that he’s talking about all objects, including the human being. So I take that up in my work to say that I am more concerned about orientation upon objects, and particularly “the object of the subject”.

        Personally, so far is Harmons philosophy taken as it is, taken that he is a career philosopher and that’s all he’s really concerned with, I think that what he’s trying to do has obstacles built into it that he will not be able to overcome. And yet despite these inconsistencies and inherent contradictions, somehow he’s made a name for him self and he is a voice being circulated. So I think that significant also despite the particular arguments.


      5. Hesiod Avatar

        Every philosopher has been inconsistent and contradictory! :p

        Liked by 1 person

      6. landzek Avatar

        ….It’s kind of funny though how the two people that you mention I don’t think I really sang very much lol. Arendt and Brassier. To me they read on one hand to have missed significant issues, and then on the other hand to be supplying a Kind of pedestrian suggestion to move forward.

        Arendt appears to me to be speaking from a really superficial analysis of what’s going on. And brassiere just kind of ignores a major component of what he supposed to be talking about, in my view. I’m not sure if he’s just blind or if he’s purposely leaving it out.

        I like Harmon because he just kind of says here’s the line; come with me or don’t.

        lol. And honestly, I do not think there is this common thing called discourse that every human being has a potential to gain access to, nor that communication is a ubiquitous thing that occurs at all times.

        I think there are particular structures in place that cannot be resolved through mere argumentation. But that require a certain type of “conversion”.

        Innoway, it is kind of like counseling in a strange kind of manner.

        One of the first things that I heard when I started going to school, and I’ve heard it more than a few times, is that as counselors we learn all this theory and we are encouraged to kind of have some sort of reflection upon ourselves, get to know our biases, come to terms at least be willing to come to terms with our own issues, find some sort of theoretical approach that feels good with us, etc. But then when we get with the client we basically shelve it. lol. We basically leave all that theoretical shit at the door. And we are taught to just be present with that person, and our philosophy in general as counselors is that all the solutions are within the individual. And that our job is to facilitate this person to come to their own solution. There have been studies that have shown that theory plays a small part in effective counseling and for people coming to solutions for their mental issues. Something like 30% of the effect is actually Concerns the therapeutic approach, the theoretical grounding, if you well

        But you’re right, that’s one of the points I make philosophically. And actually it goes along with that philosophy only has to do with itself, it doesn’t have anything to do with some sort of real world: That when I go in with a client or a group, my job is not to bombard them with all the psychological theories of what’s going on with them. In fact I don’t tell them probably anything at all about the theoretical grounding that is being brought into the session. Pretty much all of The activity of counseling is the application, despite what the client thinks or knows about theory. And that’s why I say, philosophically, I’m not really sure that what “philosophy really says“ or if Harmon is being derivative or if other people have said things that harm and said, I’m not really sure that it matters. For the simple and same reason that I kind of bring into psychology and counseling. Namely, that most people on one hand could not comprehend this deep true philosophy Of who said what and the intricacies of argument, and then on the other hand, no one really gives a shit.

        And I think I’ve said this to you before, and not to knock your attitude or opinion because I feel I know where you’re coming from and for sure I have the same opinions on various other things that may or may not be about philosophy. I think Harmon has a very original and novel approach to philosophy by the sheer fact that I know of him. By the sheer fact that I find a practical application at hand. So there is a certain components about philosophy which arises contemporaneously with what is actually going on now. And, yes, I could pretty much say that there is not one single philosophical ideas since Plato that his new at all. That people are just rephrasing various components of what Play-Doh and then maybe Aristotle sad. If not Hesiod or the other philosophers in that whole Greek area. I could make an argument that every single philosophy that I read can be found in those early Greek philosophers. So why do I even need to Study any philosophers at all beyond the early Greeks, say?

        And so, yes everything comes down to context, and the filling out of context. But I guess kind of my approach is that context is what is happening and what we pursue for any moment and for any subjectivity.


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