Thoughtless people contradict as readily the statement of perceptions as of opinions, or rather much more readily; for, they do not distinguish between perception and notion. They fancy that I choose to see this or that thing. But perception is not whimsical, but fatal. If I see a trait, my children will see it after me, and in course of time, all mankind, — although it may chance that no one has seen it before me. For my perception of it is as much a fact as the sun.
From Richard Lanham, pointed out by Noise-in-Formation (some time after 1841):
...truth is determined by social dramas, some more formal than others but all man-made. Rhetoric in such a world is not ornamental but determinative, essentially creative. Truth once created in this way becomes referential, as in legal precedent. The Strong Defense implies a figure/ground shift between philosophy and rhetoric-in fact, as we shall see, a continued series of shifts.
It seems to me that Lanham is not distinguishing between perception and notion. Any comments? Either that, or I'm missing where he makes the distinction. Try to fill in the blank:
- Perception : notion :: Rhetoric : _______
Plagiarism issues aside, Lanham seems to be collapsing an important distinction... I certainly won't call him a "thoughtless person," but I would be interested in hearing how and when this collapse toook place, and I will further ask who wasn't looking? Wrangler you've said recently that there is no consciousness without language." Wishydig and I and Emerson disagree.
I do think we might say:
- Perception : notion :: Consciousness : Language
But you seem to be arguing for collapsing that distinction. You believe, for example, that a mosquito (a being without language) perceives, but that human perception can never be like a mosquito's, which is to say unmediated by language. I'm saying it can be. And I'm also saying that as Rhetoric tries to replace metaphysics at the foundation place in Western thought (once again?), it will have to articulate a clear and persuasive rationale for this collapse.
[As I'm starting to understand this argument, feel free to point out any unfair summaries or my use of any "skewed" definitions. This whole conversation seems WILDLY important to me. Here's how I feel: like I'm fourteen years old and I just walked into the kitchen and my mom and dad were talking and saying, "I think we should leave tomorrow." "No, I think we should leave Wednesday." And I ask, "What's this about leaving?" And they say, "Oh, yeah... we've been talking about it and we've decided to move to Hawaii and we're either leaving Tuesday or Wednesday," and then they try to get back to the debate about whether the departure is going to be Tuesday or Wednesday. Naturally, I'm about to say, "Wait a fucking minute. Nobody's going anywhere until Casey gets convinced this is a necessary and proper move." And that may just be a perfect explanation of how I feel, especially if it ends up being Rhetoric that makes the final decision: "Because I said so, that's why."]