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