Monday, November 05, 2007

Benthamite Utilitarianism is not the same as Mill. His linguistic line leads through Wittgenstein towards Derrida; his moral line leads to Foucault

### Monday, October 15, 2007 1:24 PM unamused scuttled animist M/38 UK
The Law is a specialised kind of writing. Just as biblical scholars can make great claims for their texts, so to can Lawyers. As a lawyer Bentham counselled close study of language. The theory of fictions was Bentham's answer to the question of sense and significance. Bentham's used a two-sided method of definition, by archetypation and by paraphrasis, which rooted the meaning of words in experience and found sense in propositional utterings rather than in isolated words. His main discovery being there is no sense outside of proposition. His claims are not quite the same as biblical scholars claims because he was a dull fellow who had no time for muses, inspirations or ghosts behind the words. When he goes towards a definition of rights (nonsense on stilts being my favourite phrase from himself) he defines it in such a manners as to be merely the meaning of the will of the legislator. That is, the whole of the law is Will through language. That is not precisely the same kind of basis as the Harry Potter Books, but it places legislation in a specialised kind of fiction.
Monday, October 15, 2007 2:51 PM Gareth M/66 Thunder Bay, , CA
Bentham used a two-sided method of definition, by archetypation and by paraphrasis. Yes, and I am working my way through that. Ogden alludes that it may be a method of doing philosophy. But in the meantime here are two more quotes:
From Ogden (pagexxxi):
But now that the linguistic foundations of jurisprudence are urgently in need of orthological scrutiny, while the profundities of philosophy are resolving themselves into grammatical and psychological misunderstandings, the time is ripe for a readjustment of historical values.
And from Bentham (page 70):

Language is the sign of thought, an instrument for the communication of thought from one mind to another.

Language is the sign of thought, of the thought which is in the mind of him by whom the discourse is uttered.

It may be the sign of other things and other objects in infinite variety, but of this object it is always a sign, and it is only through this that it becomes the sign of any other object.

These three statements by Bentham if interpreted as a gestalt provide for a unified view of Wittgenstein's early and later work. Wittgenstein's rigid concept of what is pervades the Tractatus. Having seen from the outside as it were (by looking at the text of the Tractatus and knowing from whence came the crystal clear clarity of it) he then began to look at text to discover the traces of mind displayed there. The little blue guy shows from his text that he remains a captive of the fiction that 'we hold these truths to be self evident'. His truth is self evident because he said it and there need be no 'fictional' entity other than his humanity for his self evident truth. I can see from his words where he is coming from.
### Tuesday, October 16, 2007 11:32 AM unamused scuttled animist
Benthamite Utilitarianism is not quite the same as Mill. As Gareth suggests, His linguistic line leads through Wittgenstein, in my opinion, towards Derrida while his moral line leads to Foucault. Bentham's examination of the Panopticon follows his linguistic enquiry, in some respects, by questioning where moral imperatives originate. Yes, he does derive a utilitarian calculus to calculate the goods and ills of the world based on a precept and that precept can be whatever you choose. In the Panopticon, he uses this principle to suggest that the incarcerted(prisoners, schoolchildren, asylum inmates) should develop a sense of being observed in their behaviour by being constantly watched. This will inculcate good behaviour through a purely humane and scientific approach. (I am being kind to Bentham, the Panopticon is mendacious, but I outline his notion without too much rhetoric).
This does not need you to believe in god or mortals but in a certain kind of science: that of experimenting and making note of the results. It is not a full blown Logical Positivism but it does lead that way.
His Theory of Fictions might not be up to the standard of Wittgenstein but it also leads that way. Certainly it motivated the intuitions of Ogden in a serious fashion. While Bluesmasterelf might seem to be in thrall to Fictions I suppose the situation to be a little more subtle on a Benthamites part. Bluesmasterelf can willingly suspend disbelief and so can choose to disobey the law in a way that makes the law mmore obviously a fiction. He can disobey the law by describing a law as wrong, silly, pointless or in any way negatively. Such an assertion clearly shows that the Law is something to be believed, or not as is the will of the individual.
At which point, along with the Panopticon, you can pick up your intellectual toys and go home shouting, "I have a morality identical to yours for no explicable reason." Because you have undermined the Authority of Law and Punishment by recognising that Human Nature is not the same as Fictional Nature.
### Tuesday, October 16, 2007 8:50 PM Gareth M/66 Thunder Bay, , CA
Alex and Animist we are getting a little off track here, in my view. I see the Theory of Fictions and Ogden's B.A.S.I.C English not as metaphysical systems but as models of a language in which statements that are metaphysical in nature are shown to be metaphysical in nature when the speaker claims that the statements are true in some sense of being real beyond the fact of being stated.
  • Lawyers claim that they are a part of a 'justice' system.
  • Disciples claim that they have received 'true' knowledge from their master.
  • Scientists claim that their methods lead to 'true' knowledge.
  • Teachers claim that they can actually 'teach' something.

These four claims are metaphysical claims and are based on 'fictions'

### Wednesday, October 17, 2007 11:53 AM unamused scuttled animist M/38 UK

I think it is not actually off track to place Bentham into his historical context. His ideas spread out to a good deal more than he is given credit for. I think Bentham makes an important claim that points towards "fiction" being more than a useful label for "a story". Such a claim might ground things in an "ontological fiction". If ontological bits and bobs are, in any way, discernable, then "ontological fiction" surely underpins fiction (in a general sense and a Benthamite sense) in a more powerful way than merely "made up stories". Which does point to Benthams line of enquiry as being central to some suprising descendants.

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