“Little Boxes: (Il)logic(s) of Truth-Room(s)”

Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

দেবপ্রসাদ বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়

Indian Statistical Institute

January 9, 2006

International Conference on “Methodology and Science”. Visva Bharati University, January 9-11, 2006.

Abstract: 
“And the people in the houses/All went to the university/Where they were put in boxes/And they came out all the same…Little boxes all the same, ” — Malvina Reynolds (sung by Pete Seeger, 1962) . 

In connection with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, this interdisciplinary paper on method tries to show that the relativity of language is not only cultural, but also epistemological. Here I was reiterating Nietzsche – truth-seeking is a disease – will to know leads to will to power. Even then, we have truth rooms (TR) and we are celebrating our truth claims. We are following, either in our life-spaces/statist-space or in academic spaces, different “original/fundamental” TRs. When I am branding one TR as fundamentalist, I do not consider my TR as fundamentalist, though it is “fundamental original” piece of work. Following Malvina Reynolds, I want to call all these TRs as little boxes. Within this little box or TR of one vegetarian, all the animal proteins, onion are prohibited and another vegetarian thinks s/he can consume onion and egg and still preserves vegetarian status. In case of determining the semantic status of the term ‘vegetarian’, how do we incorporate two TRs of two vegetarians? On the other hand, the ‘meaning’ of the term might be decided positively by terminating one of them. Where are the entry-points and closures of such TRs? Or, they “all look just the same”? My Little Box gives me security and provides me with discomfort. This very much claustrophobic dependence on a single TR makes me remember of a giant, Damastes or otherwise Prokrustes, who laid all human beings on his bed and then “lop them or rack them out to make fit it.” Are these TRs Procrustean Bed? Let us scrutinize some TRs in reference to different academic disciplines. M. Rouget argued (cited in Hollis, 1994: 55) that scientific statements are often “as if” “true”. As sometimes in Classical Physics, we presume such vacuum to continue our agenda for model-theoretic approach. In case of Linguistic TR, Chomsky’s “ideal” speaking subject stands in a vacuum. Chomsky’s TR is like this: “Context free ideal creative speaking subject with zero history”, on the other hand in another TR, one may postulate, “Context-sensitive creative speaking corporeal with history (childhood configuration etc.)”. In science, we generally idealize a formula by considering “other” variables as non-existent entities. In Cricket , we can say, without any hesitation that Shane Warne is continuing his 6.5 over. What is the status of .5 in six-balls’ over? If Wittgenstein is to be believed, mathematics is a practice, performance of a community. For Wittgenstein, communalism of mathematics is determined by the communities’ convenience and necessity. In case of economics, I can write “3 goats=1 cow or “one apartment= $ 200000” by adding some sufficient causes. How do I put the sign= in between two unequal things? Questioning the equalizing effect of a sign as a dangerous supplement, a properly signed signifier called money, is prohibited within economics TR. I am representing the presentations of a priori, though it is neither analytical a priori, nor the synthetic one, but something called historical a priori — an a priori approximated by the historical incidences and they get epistemic status within a ghetto of a TR. I had then switched over to some problems of ordinary language, the problem of fuzzy numerals in Bangla, which, from Logical Positivist perspective, is illogical. If I do not like one TR, let me take it as a legitimate possibility without any commitment and on the other hand, if I feel comfort in one of these TRs, let me commit myself to that particular TR. Alternatively, we may swing from one TR to another TR. What I was paraphrasing here is nothing but the re-reading of Jaina pluralism by Krishnachandra and Kalidas Bhattacharya.

 

Number of Pages in PDF File: 9

Keywords: Truth Rooms, Anekantavada, Fuzzy Logic, Historical a priori

About Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

Debaprasad Bandyopdhyay (b. 1965), through his 25 years journey in the realm of institutionalized academics did 27 different types of works, which are someway different from the earlier paradigms or, one might say that those works are not only mere reproductions of his inherited institutionalized cultural capital or a mimicry of a colonially imposed model that leads to intellectual anorexia or rather a type falsification of earlier paradigms. However, that might be not only a lofty claim but it also hid the fact that all our information and knowledge are socially accumulated knowledge that was, it is matter of regret, posed as private property through the sign © and the wisdom is rarely available. Bandyopadhyay’s works and projects are the products of his social milieu. Bandyopadhyay is a local sub-altern public sphere academician, who avoids the technical intelligentsia (followers of Sahib’s models and they are not committed to the persons who are accommodating surplus work-time to them by performing surplus labour) or inorganic intellectuals and thus fails to be a part of academic tribe and its subsequent socialization process. Of course, that socialization process does not lead to legendary Socratic dialogue. He is also a political activist though he has not affiliated to any political parties as he was always talking about the corporatization of political parties within the money-sign-based democratic system. He is a regular participant in TV and radio talk-shows and documentary films, street-corners’ talks and International seminars on socio-political, psychological, linguistic, environmental and economic issues. He also writes editorial columns in newspapers. He is also a part of parallel academics as it is found in West Bengal’s Little Magazine Movement, though that was not counted as the part his academic pursuit by his parent institute. His parent institute justifiably does not believe in the domain of parallel academics as this unorganized sector does not directly contribute in the transactions of formal/organized print capitalist eco-enemy paper-publication. Though the dissemination of knowledge is also observed in this space of these parallel academics as all these writings in public sphere simultaneously influence the classroom-discourse and some of them are translated into English, French and Italian. Not only that, Bandyopadhyay also sought engagement with the people, who, by supplying their surplus labour, are sustaining his livelihood. Bandyopadhyay, a linguist by training and a Ph.D.-holder (1996), a junior lecturer (1999-2011) in an autonomous central government institute in India, tries his best for those from he has received and is receiving the manifestation of surplus labour by executing some self-funded projects on economic issues in West Bengal, India. Recently he has got a consolation promotion to the post of Assistant Professor. He has done following 27 research works: 1. Crippled Creativity: An inquiry into language, psyche, society: 2. VALENCY OF BANGLA VERB AND PROBLEM OF COMPOUND VERBS: 3. Archaeology of Bangla Grammar : 4. CAN COMPUTER SPEAK? 5. FUZZY LOGICAL EXPRESSION IN BANGLA : 6. FOLKLORE AND FOLK-LANGUAGE: MYTH OR REALITY? 7. HISTORICISM IN THE DISCOURSE OF BANGLA LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE 8. ABHABA, ECP, DELETION AND TRACE 9. SVATVA OR MY-NESS AND ECONOMIC ENTITLEMEMT 10. TRANSLATION STUDIES 11. MASCULINITY STUDIES 12. YAYATI & BABAR COMPLEX 13. SOCIO-ECONOMIC SURVEYS IN AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY IN WEST BENGAL 14. CONCEPT OF BODY IN INDIAN PHILOSOPHY AND ARCHITECTURE 15. THE CONCEPT OF ERROR (KHYATI) IN MAD-(WO)MEN’S LANGUAGE 16. THE CONCEPT OF PERCEPTUAL TIME AND GRAMMATICAL TIME IN BANGLA 17. BANGLA CALLIGRAPHY, LANGUAGE ART AND LINGUISTIC PEDAGOGY 18. WO(L)D SPACES: NON-EXISTENCE OF WORDS 19. ANEKANTA METHODS 20. SILENCEME: SILENT OTHER IN LINGUISTICS 21. IMAGINED BOUDARIES AND PRE-COLONIAL INDIAN IMAGI-NATION 22. MAKING OF THE INDIAN PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 23. SEGMENTING THE SUPRASEGMENTALS : MUSICKING IN SPEAKING 24. INTERPRETING GENETIC STRUCTURE BY DEPLOYING LINGUISTIC STRUCTURE 25. GLOTTOPOLITICS OF LINGUISTIC SUBALTERNITY OR AN AGENDA FOR PLANNING FROM BELOW 26. SEMIOTICS OF PHOTOGRAPHY 27. SOCIOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY ACADEMICS
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