How do we advance?...

#1
After re-reading some of the threads in this forum, and while thinking on the subject of historical inquiry, a few questions came to mind:

Is there a difference between seeking to understand something and seeking to proof something? Which one are we pursuing?

How do we move forward?

What makes a hunch worth pursuing?

What needs to happen for us to know that the time for dropping a hunch as come?

When is it really justified to go beyond the simpler explanations? Why?

How many times is worthy to go back and revisit those things on which there is some consensus? Why?


Your thoughts will be appreciated.


Thanks in advance,


EE
What’s honeymoon salad? Lettuce alone
Don’t look now, mayonnaise is dressing!

Re: How do we advance?...

#2
EnriqueEnriquez wrote:After re-reading some of the threads in this forum, and while thinking on the subject of historical inquiry, a few questions came to mind:

Is there a difference between seeking to understand something and seeking to proof something? Which one are we pursuing?
Need there be a dichotomy, can't we do both?
How do we move forward?
One step at a time (sweet jesus)...
What makes a hunch worth pursuing?
When everyone else says it isn't...
What needs to happen for us to know that the time for dropping a hunch as come?
When you you have a better one to replace it ...
When is it really justified to go beyond the simpler explanations?
When you wish to go beyond simple validation of your own (or others) expectations...
Why?
Because life isn't simple, and puzzles are fun ( and were in the past as much if not more so as now) ...
How many times is worthy to go back and revisit those things on which there is some consensus?
As often as there is someone who doesn't share in the consensus? ('Consensus' can be a powerful road block on the path of truth).
Why?
Becaue sometimes one can be right, and many can be wrong...
Your thoughts will be appreciated.
I doubt it...
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: How do we advance?...

#5
Hi mj,

Enrique's questions are valid. And I am sure that he and you and any number of other people would prefer not to revisit these questions once again. If that is the case, neither you nor they need do so. This, however, is a forum; and those of us who remain unconvinced of conclusions drawn by others do have a right to voice our reservations.

If we made it a point to never revisit foregone conclusions, we would still be stuffing our faces with the partially hydrogenated fat of margarine that was so heavily sold as healthy during my youth, we would still be fogging our streets with DDT to control mosquitos, and we would still believe the earth is 6,000 years old—all conclusions of those who honestly thought they had the answers.

What I notice about Enrique is that he manages to raise a question in a way that may be pointed but is still respectful of others. He states his opinion without attack or insult. I like that.

Re: How do we advance?...

#6
Reading Enrique's opening post, it seems to me that there are vast differences between investigations that seek to follow an 'uneducated' hunch and investigating a hunch following a reasonable amount of study.

Also, and unlike even thirty years ago, there is a wealth of readily available material from which to begin some form of pertinent historical study. Thirty years ago, though Dummett's magnus opus had been published, it remained (as it does still) virtually impossible for most people to easily access... and his later collaborative works, as also the works of O'Neill, Payne-Towler, and indeed a host of others were not yet written. Kaplan's vol. 1 Encyclopedia was about the extent of easily available material, and his very important vol. 2 would soon appear.

Nor were historical decks readily available. Basically, apart from the 1jj as well as the Grimaud Tarot de Marseille and other post 19th century decks was about all there was unless one had access to the British Museum or the Bibliotheque Nationale... or indeed major libraries in which D'Allemagne's book may be stored.

So to get back to the point... at the very least, Kaplan's Encyclopedia of Tarot vol 2, O'Neill's Tarot Symbolism, and Dummett & co's Wicked Pack of Cards, together with some reproductions from early decks such as a Visconti Sforza and the Noblet (ideally more, but at least these can begin to be compared using the Encyclopedia and online - and that's another thing, the internet, that did not really exist outside of Universities 30 years ago) are first-port-of-call in order to 'instruct' and ground the 'hunch'.

A 'hunch' can only be as good as the hard work that goes into the hunch's preparation...

If there is 'consensus' on something, it may be no more than the un-analysed repeat of past work - as appears to have been the case with some of Eteilla's and then Levi's and then Waite's endeavours.

On the other hand, there may also be consensus as various people actually look at the work in question and find that in large part their insights are not based on oversights.

We all inevitably make errors, and the 'consensus' also acts as a brake on wilder speculations that may not have as much grounding in the historical mire in which development inevitably rests. Thing is, the hard work of others in that mire have uncovered much that is now brought to light, and to discard that for the sake of a 'hunch' based on a preferred pet theory is asking to not be taken seriously.

(PS - looks like I missed a reply somewhere judging from Marcei's post above??)
Image
&
Image
association.tarotstudies.org

Re: How do we advance?...

#7
Hi, Enrique,
EnriqueEnriquez wrote:After re-reading some of the threads in this forum, and while thinking on the subject of historical inquiry, a few questions came to mind:

Is there a difference between seeking to understand something and seeking to proof something? Which one are we pursuing?
Your question is a good one, Enrique. If we seek to understand history, then we are inclined to find whatever facts are available and assemble hypothetical explanations for that body of facts. We will usually find several possible explanations, and evaluate them in comparison to each other. If one is strikingly better, that becomes our tentative conclusion. If others come to that same conclusion, it becomes established as a consensus view. However, because we are seeking to understand rather than prove, any conclusion is always subject to revision when either significant new evidence is found or a better explanation is invented.

If we seek to prove some theory or other, then we are likely to focus on that single explanation, ignoring conflicting evidence and alternative theories... this gets into the matter of "crackpot theories", cherry-picking evidence, and so on. It helps to begin with by accepting that history doesn't really matter much, and therefore it's okay to follow the evidence rather than forcing it to fit preconceived theories.
EnriqueEnriquez wrote: How do we move forward?
That is another good question, or actually several good questions. In negative terms, i.e., obstacles to making progress, time and again in Tarot forums one sees old subjects rehashed as if they had never been considered before. This is largely a question of prerequisites. Most of the people who want to play the game and pretend to do "historical research" don't have sufficient interest to actually do the most basic homework. The introductory booklist for Tarot studies is pretty short, but many people spend years and even decades of their adult lives pretending to study Tarot history without bothering to read even that. It is silly to think that you can make progress if you don't know what the status quo is.

As an example, someone might ask why the Tarot trump cards were added to a regular deck. If they really don't know a good answer to that, then the person is obviously not in a position to debate the subject, and if they have some opinions or theories, they should be directed to Dummett's 1980 book and told to try again after they can correctly present his position and explain why they think he's mistaken. That is building on the past, either accepting a good explanation or explicitly rebutting and replacing it. A huge amount of Tarot history has been done, and to move forward absolutely requires knowing what has already been discovered. More than anything else, a trip to the library to read Dummett is THE prerequisite for discussing Tarot history. Different people come up with different reading lists, but here is one I posted about a year ago.

A Short List
http://pre-gebelin.blogspot.com/2008/04/short-list.html

Another aspect of the negative side, i.e., obstacles to progress, is blather. There are many recent examples where a poster has no idea whether he wants to say something or ask a question, and effectively does neither. They may post a picture and says, "Discuss", without any suggestion of what the topic is. This is insulting as well as a waste of time, and the kind of obstacle to making progress that one finds at every turn. If we have access to Professor Caldwell and squander that gift with childish questions like, "What do you think of these colors/lines/dots?", then that is a certain measure of time in which clearly no one is gaining any benefit. Children, newbies, and those who act like brats are a common problem in the online Tarot community.

Then there is the positive side of moving forward... for another day.
EnriqueEnriquez wrote: What makes a hunch worth pursuing?
The short answer, IMO, is that you can't tell in advance. You have to check it out. That's one of the reasons why Eugim's recent posts are so worthless, (except as bad examples). He doesn't think, much less read, before posting.

Most things that seem like good ideas turn out to have already been considered, to already have been checked out, and to have already been dismissed for good reason. There are endless bad answers to any question, and usually very few good ones.
EnriqueEnriquez wrote: What needs to happen for us to know that the time for dropping a hunch as come?
Simply comparing hunches, as if we had no recourse to various kinds of direct, indirect, and contextual evidence and the analyses and arguments (findings and conclusions) of playing-card historians and the like, is typical for the online Tarot community. That's one of the primary ways to avoid making progress.

Hunches need to be compared with facts, not with other guesses. Something like the 5x14 Theory, or Filipas' Abecedarium Theory are GREAT hunches. Even Rom's Code was a clever hunch. It is only after they have been tested against facts that they fail. After that point we have a choice to make, whether to follow the facts and abandon the failed hunch, or to distort the facts, rephrase the hunch, qualify our presentation, ignore more reasonable explanations, and do all those other things associated with crackpot theories.
EnriqueEnriquez wrote: When is it really justified to go beyond the simpler explanations?
If we want to do history as an objective and rational enterprise, rather than as esoteric blather, then we will be seeking explanatory power (sufficiency) and parsimony (necessity). The simplest (most parsimonious) answers are usually not very satisfying (sufficient). For example, Dummett offered the simplest explanation for the wings on Tarot de Marseille's figure of Temperance, as a mindless corruption from generations of woodcutting errors. Is that explanation adequate? It might be.

We have to balance parsimony against explanatory power. My explanation of winged Temperance in a number of posts last month is much more complex than Dummett's. These and other explanations need to be compared and weighed as to how well they balance explanatory power against parsimony in the context of an overall interpretation and our personal ideas of where such a balance should be.

On the other hand, if we are just fortune-tellers or New Age story-tellers, we may wish to accumulate as many explanations as possible, to build a storehouse of unnecessary redundant superfluous gratuitous and even bogus explanations, so that we have options available for our tales. We will collect alternative explanations the way a thesaurus collects related words. There's nothing wrong with that. It's only when we claim to be doing history that parsimony pertains, and even then we have to consider the possibility of intended ambiguity. Intentional ambiguity is difficult to support but again, depending on the facts and the predisposition of the analyst, it may be what we come up with.

This is a very difficult question, and one that has to be wrestled with again and again. However, by making some of the criteria explicit it may be easier to judge our own assessments, as well as those of others.
EnriqueEnriquez wrote: How many times is worthy to go back and revisit those things on which there is some consensus?
As often as someone comes up with a good reason for disputing the consensus. This gets back to the original question about understanding versus proof. As long as we're trying to understand the facts, new facts and new arguments explaining the facts may arise. This also gets back to the question of what makes a hunch worth pursuing.
EnriqueEnriquez wrote: Your thoughts will be appreciated.
Overall, Enrique, I would suggest that we advance by working at it and, more than anything else, I think that means taking the time to become familiar with what has already been done. If every day, every year, every decade, every generation, ignores what has gone before and wallows around "exploring" as if they were the first people to ask questions about Tarot, then there will be no advance. And generally speaking, outside a relative handful of people, there is very little progress in the online Tarot community. And, of course, people who simply want something to do with their free time will always be an obstacle on any forum that encourages bullshit.

Jean-Michel -- I deleted two previous posts. The first included the above, along with a point-by-point complaint about Kwaw's snarky and counter-productive bullshit. I also deleted a reply to Marcei, which I will repost in its entirety. There seems to be no point in responding to her insulting lies about me and what I've written.

Best regards,
Michael
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

Re: How do we advance?...

#8
Hi, Marcei,
Marcei wrote:Right on, Steve!

Good question, RAH. Sometimes you have to revisit something to realize a conclusion was reached prematurely.
Which no one has ever disputed. (But aren't those strawman positions fun to rebut?)

Enrique's questions were directed at how one moves forward, and how one might judge whether or not to review old conclusions.

Is there no way to ever answer any question about Tarot, and then to build on that, to move forward?

In most fields of inquiry, scientific or historical, it seems possible to advance from one generation to the next, but in Tarot it seems that the same ideas from the 1780s, the late 1900s, and the New Age movement of the 60s and 70s, just keep getting recycled over and over.

Best regards,
Michael
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 15 guests

cron