Tuesday 8 June 2010

Little Lateral Realism Story

If not 'realism' then what? Anti-realism? Surely not! 'This statement is not true' is too pointless a waste of time to ever be more than silly and sophomoric; at worst it is simply moronic. Latour's position is clearly superior. Statement A is more or less universal, more or less true, more or less a fact depending on its associations; that is, on its relativity. If I whisper statement A and nobody hears it then it is extremely weak. If I pick up a megaphone and bellow it out then it could be stronger; then again, if the excessive volume annoys people who would, had I just whispered A closer to them, been receptive to it then it is counterproductive; volume - that is, raw power - doesn't necessarily equal 'strength'. Suppose I stand on Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park in London, soapbox under foot, and pontificate A to passers by. The fate of A is then dependent on my rhetorical skills, the weather, other speakers present at the same time, etc. Passers by and other onlookers may think me just another lunatic - they may immediately assume A is some weird conspiracy theory and not listen at all. If so, A remains weak - a fiction and a mere one at that. Then again, perhaps people will listen. Perhaps A is, under the right conditions, an unexpectedly powerful statement - a 'lure for feeling', indeed. Perhaps it is so powerful that it takes on a life quite of its own. Perhaps my listeners become stronger believers than myself. Perhaps then I become like Monty Python's 'Brian', terrorised by a mob that believes me to be the deliverer of the sublime A to the people. A, then has become strong - too strong! The stronger it becomes the more universal it is; the more people believe it to be true, the more entangled in all manner of heterogeneous human and non-human associations becomes the more truthful it becomes - the more real it becomes.

Critical realists call their realism (both critical and) 'depth realism'. I call mine 'lateral'; I could also call it 'breadth realism'.