Wednesday, February 15, 2006

On allegory and meaning

I have been accused, and probably quite rightly, of things along the lines of being to damn mystical, a bloody day dreamer, or a useless hippy loony. These accusations have speued from my interest in literature. But here is my question; if meaning is so unsure as Kripky seems to argue, then why is there any trouble speaking in stories rather than whatever that which is not spoken in stories is spoken in? Surely the practice of saying one thing to mean another was brought in as an attempt to produce clarity. Maybe it is similar to the mathematicians insistence on 'elegance' rather than brevity or simplicity.

Anyway, I like stories, and am intrigued by Camus' use of the sun and the sea as antitheses that have very strong crossovers in their nature. Both give and take life, and make on feel alive and jealous of their life. So they cannot really be true antitheses in the logical sense, but nonetheless, this is how they are held up. So i object to the claim that speaking in stories means a lack of logical rigourand instead claim that it is useful still once logic has ceased to be. It is said that philosophy began in wonder, and I think tis is where it should stay, as a means of framing questions, and only answering tem in order to ask a different question. Anyway, that's my story; what do you think?


Pete said...

I'm assuming that there are a few issues that you have raised here. Correct me if I'm wrong in separating them like this but: first of all I don't have a problem with stories either. If the story can make the required explanation possible then I say that there is no advantage to keeping to the language and rigour of logic. I'd even suggest the possibility that the story might be better (more people are likely to understand it).
Now, secondly I don't think that Kripke is particularly saying that meaning is unsure. Rather he is pointing out that we can be sure of one thing about meaning, that is we can be sure about one thing that it is not.
Thirdly, the closing claim that you make about philosophy is questionable but perhaps not so dubious. I think that while it is possible to make these comments about philosophy, there is also a lot more to it and a lot more to be said (especially regarding the results we might expect from it).

michael said...

No problem separating.

Yes, the Kripke comment was flippant and inaccurate.

If the first will go uncontested then the last, the claim about questions is the interesting one, for it will certainly not go uncontested. My thought is that most often when philosophers try to answer a question they do not frame the answer as a question, but it is generally along the lines of 'that's my story, what do you think?' This is certainly true for all positions that are not falsifiable, for these must needs be nothing more than stories. And I'd say more true for all falsifiable positions as well since these are able to be refuted in their own terms but only have not been yet.