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Old 05-22-2007, 09:33 AM   #65
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: Parsing ai ki do

Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
... hopefully I acknowledge my error, made note of the difference between what my emotions connect to, and the actual facts.

It is this continued obstinence in the face of all evidence that peeves me so.
Let me take a step back and parse the aiki and conflict in this thread a bit in the same spirit. I offered an observation directed to a specifically non-rational aspect of the language at issue, together with a collateral statement of assumption contradicted by some accepted authority. Given by Prof. Goldsbury, I expressly deferred on the point, which was, as I laid out, quite tangential to my essential point of discussion.

Not to point fingers, as that is not my point, but the accusation of "obfuscation" was the beginning in this discussion -- not of a change of topic -- but a change of tone and the initiation of an argument. While it may be taken as a personal criticism, it is just as much a self-accusation. I know that in other arenas I have done much the same thing, which is why I can speak with some small "authority" on the point. The form and progression of this discussion gives further opportunity for my purpose, which is why I go on at some length here.

What is interesting is that in response to more questions -- a more passionate and contrary discussion began, masking in assertions of "logical" argument a very non-rational sense of offense. The point made above by Ron is the same, but in a tone much more amenable to engagement, so I respond to him . Specifically, both share a dislike for questioning of an offered authority as a "fact." Authority is not "fact" that ends argument -- it is continuing of argument in another form -- and not a logical one. By definition it is not a resort to logic, but a fallacy in asserting a logical argument.

Accepting an authority as saying what it says, is not the end of argument, logical or otherwise, any more than a physical attack, even a well-executed one, is the end of the engagement when a conflict has arisen. Use of authority is not the harmonious resolution of conflict, because authority is not truth -- it is atemi. It may be ultimately decisive, but that does not in itself make it true.

As atemi may be engaged in aiki -- authority may be validly questioned (ki-musubi) in its premises and challenged in its foundations (kuzushi), without contesting it directly. That is the proper mode of response to address the logical fallacy inherent in the argument from authority. Never mind the fact I didn't start this particular argument, I am always happy to work to its conclusion as part of my "operative" aiki training.

As I said when I began, and pointed out again in the course of things, my point was never intended to be taken logically, but poetically. It was intended to hunt out the non-rational elements brought in by speaking about "aiki" and conflict in its historical development. Prof. Goldsbury made a related point about the term "aiki" in Western ears and our own idiosyncratic loadings that we may give it regardless of the historical antecedents of the word as a tool with other intent.

Prof. Goldsbury's response is the measure of engaging those points of correction (which needed to be made) without conflicting, and leaving the issues open for further questions. For this reason, (and more critically my trust in Prof. Goldsbury's reputation of interest in the truth on the point), I deferred on that trust in HIS OPINION, backing the previous assertion of authority. I generally do not lay my trust upon those who are attacking, except in the dojo. He has given an "aiki" lesson in this.

Resort to authority is not in and of itself a resort to truth without error. Authority, per se, does not primarily defend truth, it defends interest. NO authority solely defends truth because its first interest must always be in defending its own authority, even if it is otherwise interested in truth. Authority may not successfully be contested on grounds of truth, directly, (at least not in a spirit of aiki) because authority is about power -- of tradition or numerosity of opinion (as with dictionaries), of force, of reputation or any number of other controlling interests in a situation. Use of authoritiy is therefore primarily an appeal to power, not truth. Dictionaries are as much authoritative reflections of the true interests and prejudices of the times in which they are written (and often of the authors) as they are of truth of language in the abstract. The OED is being continually edited as we speak. What authority says is relevant and important but by no means conclusory on a legitimately contestable point.

The point was made here, that a system of classification that expressly acknowledges a class of widely accepted pronunciations (Kanyo-on) that are known to be erroneous in lineage, may legitimately be questioned as to its truth, by the mere fact that it acknowledges the actuality of, not merely the possibility of, embodied error. The question is whether the primary interest of the authority in question is in defending truth on a given point as such, or in legitimately defending some other interest -- such as accepted usage. Such bias or interest may always be questioned, especially when the bias is expressly admitted by that authority.

Aiki is one among many other modes of parsing a process of conflict, several of which are demonstrated in this discussion, if we take step back and ask the right questions about it. In parsing this as aikido, I note that the "logic of attack," found in many arenas of life, pursued in a spirit of passionate opposition, displays itself as dangerously non-rational in its premises even when claiming logical grounds or means. It is contrasted with a more dispassionate but engaged questioning or offering of more informed opinion (proper ki-musubi) finding areas of essential agreement in the context of isolating a disagreement, as distinct from creating more fronts of conflict.


Erick Mead
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