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BEYOND (AND BELOW) INCOMMENSURABILITY: The Aesthetics of the Postcard

BEYOND (AND BELOW) INCOMMENSURABILITY: The Aesthetics of the Postcard These Venetian streets decidedly remind me of the East, clearly because I have never been to the East, or of the Middle Ages for perhaps the same reason. ˇ —Karel Capek, Letters from Italy The Argument: An Abstract: Incommensurability—the mutual incompatibility and untranslatability of theories and, by extension, cultures—is taken by many philosophers, most statesmen, and all practitioners of conflict resolution as (to quote Ian Hacking citing Donald Davidson) an “evil.”1 The missed understandings that occur when translation fails, the missed opportunities when admixtures come apart, the wars—the violent deaths—that can and do ensue, are simply not, we can perhaps agree, good. But Davidson’s argument (as summarized and tweaked by Hacking) that there is “an immense amount of agreement about chickens and blades of grass and what’s wet” points to a dilemma that specialists in conflict resolution tend to evade or miss.2 Even given the best of motives The author wishes to acknowledge research support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Singapore Archives, the Asia-Pacific Foundation, and the Killam Foundation, and to acknowledge Donald R. Knight and Alan D. Sabey for permission to reproduce two illustrations from their book, The Lion Roars at http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Common Knowledge Duke University Press

BEYOND (AND BELOW) INCOMMENSURABILITY: The Aesthetics of the Postcard

Common Knowledge , Volume 8 (2) – Apr 1, 2002

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2002 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0961-754X
eISSN
1538-4578
DOI
10.1215/0961754X-8-2-333
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

These Venetian streets decidedly remind me of the East, clearly because I have never been to the East, or of the Middle Ages for perhaps the same reason. ˇ —Karel Capek, Letters from Italy The Argument: An Abstract: Incommensurability—the mutual incompatibility and untranslatability of theories and, by extension, cultures—is taken by many philosophers, most statesmen, and all practitioners of conflict resolution as (to quote Ian Hacking citing Donald Davidson) an “evil.”1 The missed understandings that occur when translation fails, the missed opportunities when admixtures come apart, the wars—the violent deaths—that can and do ensue, are simply not, we can perhaps agree, good. But Davidson’s argument (as summarized and tweaked by Hacking) that there is “an immense amount of agreement about chickens and blades of grass and what’s wet” points to a dilemma that specialists in conflict resolution tend to evade or miss.2 Even given the best of motives The author wishes to acknowledge research support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Singapore Archives, the Asia-Pacific Foundation, and the Killam Foundation, and to acknowledge Donald R. Knight and Alan D. Sabey for permission to reproduce two illustrations from their book, The Lion Roars at

Journal

Common KnowledgeDuke University Press

Published: Apr 1, 2002

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