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Old 02-13-2010, 08:17 PM   #8
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 17

Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
1. My absolute is that the infliction of physical pain, the disruption of attachment at an early age, the witnessing and experiencing of horrific incidents affect character. Thus, they are a significant component in the development of Takeda's character. It is my belief that, combined with the innate character that he was born to have (nature AND nurture), that this is a key to his wandering - his parched relationships of close disciple, then either distance or rejection, AND he relationships with his own family. I am attempting to be an advocate for Takeda, who has been described as evil, as psychopathic, whereas I see the central endeavor of his life as a path towards morality and attempts to connect with others and bequeath something to them. Hence the sub-chapter heading "Sympathy for the Devil"
PAG. I do not doubt your advocacy of Takeda Sokaku: it comes across loudly and clearly. However, as I stated at the beginning of TIE 17, ‘the devil is in the details’ and this is where my focus lies in the review essay.

One of the problems I have here is the notion of an absolute. You appear to be using the term as a kind of category, one of the three concepts mentioned (there would be more) that you would use to explain someone’s character.

I certainly think that you could use such categories to explain someone’s actions. Thus, if you did a case study on Takeda and looked at all the supposed factors that caused him to do what he did, or could be cited as reasons for his actions, the infliction of physical pain would be one of these. Whether it is true that all of them were truly factors in explaining his actions is something that would have to be shown—it is not something that is even intuitively obvious, at least to me.

However, you go much further than this and state without qualification that it is some sort of absolute that three factors affect someone’s character, that they are factors in the development of this character, which, in addition, is something he is also born with. So your explanation of Takeda’s activities lies in his character, as in the phrase: ‘That’s the kind of person he is. He was born with this character and this character developed because of these factors.’ Thus the explanation becomes proactive and also predictive: Given Character C and factors X, Y and Z, which affect C in a particular way, it is an absolute that Person P will act in a certain predictable way.

You might be right; I cannot say. However, I would at least like to see more of the reasoning lying behind such statements. That said, the last time I studied these questions in depth was in graduate school. The main issues there were the origins of scientific knowledge, especially in the behavioral sciences, and the power of explanations concerning causes vs, reasons; actions vs. physical movements--and the ethical issues resulting. Borger and Cioffi was a favored text.

Best wishes,


I will respond to your other points in separate posts.

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 02-13-2010 at 08:20 PM.

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