Notation and Its Limits

Adam B. Seligman and Robert P. Weller

in Rethinking Pluralism

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199915262
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199980215 | DOI:
Notation and Its Limits

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This chapter examines various attempts in myth, history, and law to remove ambiguity. It argues that all such attempts are ultimately vain. The paradigmatic method for trying to remove ambiguity today, and through much of history, has been notation-the attempt to clarify ambiguous zones by defining new categories or agreeing on new rules. This effort can never fully succeed, because it is always plagued by new ambiguities. An anxious dialectic between ambiguity and notation characterizes all human thought and social life. This chapter argues that building structures of trust and empathy requires recognizing and dealing with ambiguity, rather than trying to notate it away.

Keywords: law; trust; myth; history; ambiguity; human thought; social life; empathy

Chapter.  11294 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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