We continue to explore Langer’s delightful, weird book.
We are reading Chapter 7 and 8
- Nov 04: Chs, I, II, III
- Nov 18: Chs IV, V, VI
- Dec 02: Chs VII, VIII ←
- Dec 16: Chs IX, X
Langer says," Intelligence is a slippery customer; if one door is closed to it, it finds, or even breaks, another entrance to the world. If one symbolism is inadequate, it seizes another. So I will go with the logicians and linguists as far as they like, but do not promise to go no further. For there is an unexplored possibility of genuine semantic beyond the limits of discursive language. " p. 86
Langer, in chapters 7 and 8, attempts to perform the move from discursive ( English) to non-discursive symbol systems ( music, poetry, ritual and the arts). How successful is she? Discursive forms allow her to go from premises to conclusions in logical steps, but not so with non-discursive forms. Music and ritual performance, she claims, allows humanity to transcend the animal world.
But can you get to transcendence from within the positivist camp that she also claims she has sworn allegiance to? Can she hold these tensions until a shift in perception occurs that will open up the unexplored possibility?
And when does the slippery customer find another entrance to the world?
Or does the slippery customer have to break down the door?
And if she does enter into another semantic space, what happens to those other slippery customers (Carnap and the early Wittgenstein) who were her former mentors and companions?
And why does sad music sometimes make us feel good?
And why does Comedy make us enjoy the folly of others?
And why, during Tragedy, do we grow to admire the victims of folly?
And why do we love to hate the villains? And why do we miss them when they are gone?
And how does private joy or sorrow become public?
And when the intelligent slippery customer has to break down the door, what happens to the Culture within Mrs. Langer’s strange store?
At the back of the opening chapter from Langers texbook An Introduction to Symbolic Logic are an interesting list of questions she gives the student. Her questions gives us a glimpse for how her mind is working in a classroom. And how does her “style” change when she moves from a classroom on logic to a book on aesthetics and culture at large as she attempts to do in A New Key? What does she leave behind? What does she carry across? Can we enter into the weave of her world, 1943-1953, when her work was coming together, and contrast and compare her times with ours?
- What is the meant by “transformation”? Why is this notion important for science?
- What is the difference between knowledge of a thing and knowledge about it? Do you think a dog has both kinds of knowledge?
- What is a " logical picture"? How does it differ from an ordinary picture?
- What is a " construct"? Is it always something that has been put together? Is a cloud a " construct"?
- What is meant by " content"? What is its relation to form, to “stuff”? May two forms have the same content? May one form have different contents?
- What is meant by calling two things “analogous”? What is the importance of analogy?
- @achronon’s “introductory, bare-bones overview of the reading for the first session (as presented in the online session itself)”: 20211104_CCafe-PNK1_Intro.pdf