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Old 08-28-2009, 09:04 PM   #24
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Re: How To Teach Power & Harmony?

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Post #21 was very interesting. I have three comments.

1. I think that I A Richards was probably an influence on a movement called New Criticism, which in turn was perhaps an influence on deconstructionism, but I do not think that his criticism can be identified with the latter.
An acorn looks nothing like an oak, either, but if you sow acorns, you get oaks.

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
2. You have supplied your own summary of the relations holding between Hugh of St Victor, MacIntyre, Rawls (who was one of my teachers at Harvard). There was another one, which you termed, "established categories of more purely philosophical thought", which you appear to have missed. As with Miura Baien and St Bonaventure, your view of the relations might be satisfactory for you, but it is not for me, and I think this has nothing to do with any 'linear-lateral' distinction.
No, it does not, however, purely philosophical inquiry appeals more to the linear approach. Wittgenstein like Nietzche got himself stuck in a intellectual/emotional alley, where he could see little else. Long-suffering friends were his saving grace, from the bleakness of his mental isolation.

That is not a criticism, but an acknowledgment of a spectrum of types with their respective strengths and weaknesses -- along one transect of the human experience with these as their extremes, of which some examples closer to one end or the other lie. The problems of linear and non-linear thought as means of explanation (vice discovery or understanding) are inverts: "N" cannot persuasively or simpy explain what he has discovered is indeed correct and true; and "L" can straightforwardly and convincingly explain a pleasing but ultimately false idea. Both attributes are necessary to adequate seeking of truth.

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
3. The linear - lateral distinction is too sharply drawn, and I do not think it is robust enough to bear the weight you have put on it. In your thinking it appears to be yet another category, delineated in black and white and admitting of no shades of grey.
Well, this is not a Tolstoy novel... I had thought the mention of a spectrum and L & N as outlier types would have communicated otherwise. Never mind that I am attempting to illustrate a nonlinear mode in an expressly linear construct. Misunderstandings abound, as I said, and case in point, I suppose.

As for Rawls, his effort is remarkable and admirable. He is very much on point in the discussion of Power and Harmony. However, as I have come to understand it, his approach fails to adequately acknowledge the truth of differential and contingent development of societies, internally and externally and the ways in which they must grow, differentiate and yet remain intelligibly unified in a humane way.

It is a problem so deep that the concept of "original position" as a starting point is not useful. In organic development Old leaves fall way, buggy whip producers MUST fail as economic entities when cars arrive or the society is not merely becoming unjust, but moribund.

The distinction between state of nature and society is a beautiful falsehood. Being in society is in our nature, from birth in the instantaneous sense and from what ever dawn of "human" you choose to select. Is the original position at a stage of Cromagnon cave art and flint goods or at the stage of Blake's "dark satanic mills?" Nor are we ever out of the state of our nature thus understood, and with every likelihood of brutal possibility that presents.

History, any history, personal, collective, large or small, is not reducible, nor indeed even computable, as contingency is a feature -- not a bug. Contingency is not just, and upends every manner of justice that is attempted from any position, original or otherwise -- and as a practitioner in explicit arts of justice, I will claim a point of privilege in stating its present nature, never mind citing Job for its enduring character.

Society IS power -- that is at least part of why humans seek company in a hostile world; and yet society is also threat, because it is also capable of destroying much when not in harmony. That is why when challenges to ways of knowing come along, -- MacIntyre's epistemological crises -- the careful intellectual history which you relate is so critical.

That crisis has come to Aikido, without question. But also critical is Aikido's place in relation to other ways of knowing with which it is both interacting and being challenged -- which is where I see my efforts, such as they are, being directed. By its nature that effort is more diffuse, and, well, not linear.

There is a movement that speaks seriously, and they do speak of it, of changing the way Aikido IS presently. They do so with a claim to "restore" a "lost knowledge." Leaving aside the exact meaning of or presumptive merits of the premises -- this a project MacIntyre has explicitly shown doomed to fail in the terms they present it, whatever other salutary benefits consideration of the challenge may produce. And they do not speak as those who are charged with the duty of the tradition in which practice is occurring. There are goods within the tradition too valuable and promising of future value to place in jeopardy of well-meaning but misguided "restorationist" sentiment -- of any kind.

There is no going back, EVER; there is no restoration. There is only further development from the present circumstance and the history that has brought us here. That is the fundamental reason why Rawls "original position" and maximin seem to me just another (very sophisticated, and highly abstracted) version of "golden age" ideals we have all known and loved at some pooint in our own histories. It has innate appeal and always has, and is now in postmodern dress in the Theory of Justice. But it was sterile fantasy then, as it is now.

Justice is not so simple, and more valuable for all of that. Aikido develops in a place where power and harmony meet in common purpose in its tradition and in its practice. This is the realm of justice, and practice in it. Power and Harmony are are seen to need to work together, in practical and demonstrably physical ways. As example alone in an age of empirical fetish, the value of this cannot be underestimated. Keeping those developing practices in power and harmony from being severed from one another is very important. If they are, then the baby will drown in the bathwater before we ever get around to throwing it out.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 08-28-2009 at 09:14 PM.


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