Depression: an obstacle to learning LO11236

Durval Muniz de Castro (
Tue, 03 Dec 1996 10:54:40 -0800

Replying to LO11218 --

jack hirschfeld wrote:

> Julian, I'm not so sure I can "develop" this theme in a way that would fit
> into our ongoing conversation here. The basic idea is simple: Some
> components of knowledge (I would contend the most critical components,
> which make it "knowledge") cannot be expressed, in my opinion, in words.

Jack, this idea is fundamental for most philosophical studies of

For instance, C. I. Lewis, who had a big influence on Shewhart and Deming,
considered that all knowledge is based on our awareness of the present
moment, which cannot be expressed in words.

There is a famous statement in Wittgenstein's Logical Philosophical
Treaty, that the real purpose of philosophy is to detect any statement
with a metaphysical content and then show that it is meaningless. A
statement without metaphysical content is one that refers only to the
symbolic system it belongs to. This is the case of mathematical or
scientific statements: they are part of symbolic systems and their
usefulness depends on the unexpressed component like you mentioned. A
metaphysical statement is on that claims to have a meaning that lies
outside the symbolic system: something beyond the world of symbols and
appearances (or phenomena).

The real role of philosophy is to free people of the ilusion that a symbol
may be more than a symbol. This means that the way of knowledge, be it in
science, religion or anything, is without end: "the finger pointing at the
moon is not the moon". There is a corresponding element in the warning
about idols, in the christian tradition.

Thus, the importance of any kind of knowledge lies in its practice and not
in its content.

There are other things that can be done with words or other language
elements, for which what was stated above does not apply. For instance, in
poetry, words are not only symbols, they are things in themselves. This
means they are not just standing for something else, they are in the poem
for what they are. This is true for any other type of art. Thus, art can
express more than science.

A ritual incorporates symbolic and non symbolic elements. For instance, a
sacrament is the thing in itself and not only a symbol.

Thus a ritual may contain elements which are non-existent for science.
This does not mean that these elements are fictitious. Many things that
seemed fictitious for the science of the past seem very common to the
science of our days, and vice-versa, like gravity (see Kuhn, The Theory of
Scientific Revolutions).


Durval Muniz de Castro <>
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