This is one of several papers by the author that seek to throw light on the psychology of philosophers. In this paper, certain of the defining properties of clinical narcissism are discussed in their application to the ideological position-taking character of many philosophers and the philosophies they propound.
In the past few decades, peer review has come to dominate virtually all professionally respectable academic and scientific publications. However, despite its near-universal acceptance, no code of conduct has been developed to which peer reviewers and their editors are encouraged to adhere. This paper proposes such a code of conduct.
An essay that weighs the main factors that lead authors of academic and scientific books to consider conventional publication of their work, with realistic and practical recommendations for these authors so they may avoid the contractual “imprisonment” of their books after the period of initial active sales has passed.
A book review of _Free Choice: A Self-referential Argument_ by J. M. Boyle, Jr., G. Grisez, and O. Tollefsen. The review concerns the pragmatical self-referential argument employed in the book, and points to the fact that the argument is itself self-referentially inconsistent, but on the level of metalogical self-reference.
This essay revisits the topic of how we should measure the things that matter, at a time when we continue to mismeasure our lives, as we hold fast to outworn myths of usefulness, popularity, and the desire to influence others. /// Three central, unquestioned presumptions have come to govern much of contemporary society, education, and the professions. They are: the high value placed on usefulness, on the passion to achieve popularity, and on the desire to influence others. In this essay, (...) the psychologist-philosopher author makes the case against these presumptions, presumptions which lead to exclusionary commitments that stand in the way of human cultural development. (shrink)
Theism and its cousins, atheism and agnosticism, are seldom taken to task for logical-epistemological incoherence. This paper provides a condensed proof that not only theism, but atheism and agnosticism as well, are all of them conceptually self-undermining, and for the same reason: All attempt to make use of the concept of “transcendent reality,” which here is shown not only to lack meaning, but to preclude the very possibility of meaning. In doing this, the incoherence of theism, atheism, and agnosticism is (...) secondary to the more general incoherence of any attempts to refer to so-called “transcendent realities.” -/- A recognition of the conceptually fundamental incoherence of theism, atheism, and agnosticism compels our rational assent to a position the author names “paratheism.”. (shrink)
THE CASE FOR GOVERNMENT BY ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. Tired of election madness? The rhetoric of politicians? Their unreliable promises? And less than good government? -/- Until recently, it hasn’t been hard for people to give up control to computers. Not very many people miss the effort and time required to do calculations by hand, to keep track of their finances, or to complete their tax returns manually. But relinquishing direct human control to self-driving cars is expected to be more of a (...) challenge, despite the predicted decrease in vehicle accidents thanks to artificial intelligence that isn’t subject to human distractions and errors of judgment. -/- If turning vehicle control over to artificial intelligence is a challenge, it is a very mild one compared with the idea that we might one day recognize and want to implement the advantages of human government by AI. But, like autonomous vehicle control, government by AI is likely to offer decided benefits. -/- In other publications, the author has studied a variety of widespread human limitations that, throughout human history, have led to much human suffering as well as ecological destruction. For the first time, these psychological and cognitive human shortcomings are taken into account in an essay that makes the case for government by artificial intelligence. (shrink)
Two fundamentally distinct approaches to the teaching of philosophy are contrasted: On the one hand, there is the “information-oriented” approach which has dominated classrooms and which emphasizes the understanding of historically important philosophical works. On the other hand, there is the “cognitive skills” approach. The two approaches may be distinguished under the headings of ‘knowing that’ as opposed to ‘knowing how’. This paper describes and discusses four perspectives relating to the teaching of cognitive skills: (i) the discovery-oriented approach, (ii) Piagetian (...) learning cycles, (iii) protocol analysis, and (iv) conceptual therapy. The latter approach reflects the author’s interest in helping students to develop “therapeutic” skills that enable them to identify and eliminate concepts which they employ in their thinking and which are incompatible with their own presuppositional bases and are therefore self-refuting. (shrink)
The monograph’s twofold purpose is to recognize epistemological intelligence as a distinguishable variety of human intelligence, one that is especially important to philosophers, and to understand the challenges posed by the psychological profile of philosophers that can impede the development and cultivation of the skills associated with epistemological intelligence.
A combined psychological-epistemological study of the blocks that stand in the way of the human recognition of the sentience and legal rights of non-human animals. Originally published in the Lewis and Clark law journal, Animal Law, and subsequently translated into German and into Portuguese.
Whether truth, morality, and beauty have an objective basis has been a perennial question for philosophy, ethics, and aesthetics, while for a great many relativists and skeptics it poses a problem without a solution. In this essay, the author proposes an innovative approach that shows how cognitive intelligence, moral intelligence, and aesthetic intelligence provide the basis needed for objective judgments about truth, morality, and beauty.
The paper begins by acknowledging that weakened systematic precision in phenomenology has made its application in philosophy of science obscure and ineffective. The defining aspirations of early transcendental phenomenology are, however, believed to be important ones. A path is therefore explored that attempts to show how certain recent developments in the logic of self-reference fulfill in a clear and more rigorous fashion in the context of philosophy of science certain of the early hopes of phenomenologists. The resulting dual approach is (...) applied to several problems in the philosophy of science: on the one hand, to proposed rejections of scientific objectivity, to the doctrine of radical meaning variance, and to the Quine-Duhem thesis, and or. the other, to an analysis of hidden variable theory in quantum mechanics. (shrink)
For more than fifty years, taxonomists have proposed numerous alternative definitions of species while they searched for a unique, comprehensive, and persuasive definition. This monograph shows that these efforts have been unnecessary, and indeed have provably been a pursuit of a will o’ the wisp because they have failed to recognize the theoretical impossibility of what they seek to accomplish. A clear and rigorous understanding of the logic underlying species definition leads both to a recognition of the inescapable ambiguity that (...) affects the definition of species, and to a framework-relative approach to species definition that is logically compelling, i.e., cannot not be accepted without inconsistency. An appendix reflects upon the conclusions reached, applying them in an intellectually whimsical taxonomic thought experiment that conjectures the possibility of an emerging new human species. (shrink)
Normality Does Not Equal Mental Health: The Need to Look Elsewhere for Standards of Good Mental Health is the first book to question the equation of psychological normality and mental health. It is also the first book to take contemporary psychiatry and clinical psychology to task for deeply flawed thinking when they accept the diagnostic system propounded by the DSM, which reifies syndromes into alleged “mental disorders.” Where Thomas Szasz argued that “mental disorders” are myths, Bartlett makes the much more (...) damaging charge that reifying mental disorders involves a provable form of fallacious thinking, producing a variety of epistemological nonsense. /// -/- -/- The author weighs the evidence, and with strict logic, compelling evidence, and careful analysis, challenges the current paradigm of mental health theorists and practitioners. Never has the case against the standard of psychological normality and against the non-scientific creation of “mental disorders” been made with such boldness, multidisciplinary knowledge, solid scholarship, and clarity of language. /// -/- -/- Normality Does Not Equal Mental HealthAlthough the need to question psychological normality as a satisfactory standard of good mental health has been staring us in the face for a long time, no one, clinical professional or scholar, has had the courage or the intellectual willingness to face with unflinching honesty the shortcomings and disappointments of psychological normality and to propose that we should look elsewhere for standards of good psychological health. /// -/- -/- Contemporary psychiatry and clinical psychology, on the contrary, base their conception of mental health on the standard of psychological normality. This supposition has come to be accepted uncritically and without question, and yet it has become fundamental to current clinical theory and practice, and forms the core of the psychiatric classification system of the DSM, which has become today’s diagnostic authority. /// -/- -/- While touting today’s scientific gold standard of “evidence-based” research, DSM’s authoritative classification of “mental disorders” is itself hardly “evidence-based,” for it is recognized, but seldom emphasized, that the majority of DSM’s “mental disorders” have no known empirical, organic basis. /// -/- -/- Normality Does Not Equal Mental Health takes DSM to task not only for its failure to adhere to today’s evidence-based standard, but for its failure to rein in its highly speculative diagnostic labeling, in accordance with the modern paradigm of rigorous science, which repudiates metaphorical reifications whose alleged validity rests only on the voting preferences of a professional membership. /// -/- -/- The book is a carefully argued critique of the dominant assumption in current psychiatry and clinical psychology that psychological normality is fundamental to mental health and therefore good. In place of this unsatisfactory presumption, Normality Does Not Equal Mental Health proposes a positive and constructive revision in our understanding of mental health and of our conception of mental disorders. (shrink)
There has been a general failure among mental health theorists and social psychologists to understand the etiology of work-engendered depression. Yet the condition is increasingly prevalent in highly industrialized societies, where an exclusionary focus upon work, money, and the things that money can buy has displaced values that traditionally exerted a liberating and humanizing influence. Social critics have called the result an impoverishment of the spirit, a state of cultural bankruptcy, and an incapacity for genuine leisure. From a clinical perspective, (...) the condition has been diagnosed as widespread narcissism and obsessive work. -/- Acedia, a concept developed by the Scholastics, throws clarifying light on the origin of this form of depression. (shrink)
A study of the psychology of demoralization affecting university faculty in the liberal arts. This form of demoralization is not adequately understood in terms of the concept of career burnout. Instead, demoralization that affects university faculty in the liberal arts requires a broadened understanding of the historical and psychological situation in which these professors find themselves today.
The American system of education makes important and sometimes unjustified assumptions that were questioned and criticized nearly a hundred years ago by author and educational theorist Albert Jay Nock. This essay discusses Nock’s theory of American education and finds that certain of these assumptions stand greatly in need of the support of evidence.
The Introduction to the collection of papers, _Reflexivity: A Source-book in Self-reference_. The Introduction studies the limits of our understanding that we carry unavoidably with us. We are perpetually confined within the horizons of our conceptual structure. When this structure grows or expands, the breadth of our comprehensions enlarges, but we are forever barred from the wished-for glimpse beyond its boundaries, no matter how hard we try, no matter how much credence we invest in the substance of our learning and (...) mist of speculation. (shrink)
An invited High Table Address given before the students and faculty of Raymond College, University of the Pacific, Stockton, California, December 10, 1969. An impressionistic and idealistic paper from the author’s youth suggesting how his _de-projective approach to phenomenology_ could lead to an actual, lived, worldview.
A short paper presented before the Fellows of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions during the academic year 1969-70, with an Introductory Note written nearly 50 years later. The paper describes the author's enduring personal philosophical precept; it is also an implicit encomium to individuals whose psychology establishes a dependable bridge between their rational convictions and their conduct.
This paper sought to state in a concise and comparatively informal, unsystematic, and more accessible form the more technical approach the author developed during a research fellowship in 1974-75 at the Max-Planck-Institut in Starnberg, Germany. The ideas presented in this paper are more fully developed in later publications by the author which are listed in the two-page addendum to this paper.
The paper identifies defining characteristics of the principal models of problem-solving behavior which are useful in developing a general theory of problem-solving. An attempt is made both to make explicit those disagreements between theorists of different persuasions which have served as obstacles to an integrated approach, and to show that these disagreements have arisen from a number of conceptual confusions: The conflict between information processors and behavioral analysts has resulted from a common failure to understand theoretical sufficiency, and hence these (...) theorists have been at a loss to understand one another. Two directions of research in problem-solving, mechanical algorithmic problem-solving and the psychology of invention, have been thought to be divergent, but in fact complement one another once it is clear that problem-solving involves neither discovery nor invention, but rather is a matter of perceptual encoding and processing. Successful problem-solving behavior can be described as adaptive, learning behavior in which organization skills are effectively associated with situationally determined perceptual encoding processes of the individual mechanical or biological problem-solver. (shrink)
The author distinguishes between the “information-oriented” approach of conservative, traditional philosophy, and an approach to philosophy as “conceptual therapy.” The former emphasizes scholarship, textual explication and criticism, and, in general, a knowledge of the views of traditional thinkers. Philosophy as conceptual therapy, on the other hand, seeks an improvement of intellectual skills, and fosters a therapy for concepts and, by inference, a therapy for thinkers. The major concern of the paper is to argue that the traditional information-oriented approach to philosophy (...) does not help its students effectively to develop intellectual skills, and that a conception of philosophy as conceptual therapy can provide a valuable contribution to the teaching and to the subject-matter of philosophy. (shrink)
Pre-publication certification through peer review stands in need of philosophical examination. In this paper, philosopher-psychologist Steven James Bartlett recalls the arguments marshalled four hundred years ago by English poet John Milton against restraint of publication by the "gatekeepers of publication," AKA today's peer reviewers.
This is the introduction to Self-reference: Reflections on Reflexivity, edited by Steven James Bartlett and Peter Suber. The introduction identifies and describes a wide range of varieties of self-reference, some which have become important topics of investigation in philosophy, and others which are of significance in other disciplines. /// The anthology is the first published collection of essays to give a sense of depth and breadth of current work on this fascinating and important set of issues. The volume contains 13 (...) essays by well-known authors in this field, written on special invitation for this collection. In addition, the book includes the first general bibliography of works on self-reference, comprising more than 1,200 citations. (shrink)
The Pathology of Man is the first comprehensive study of the psychology and epistemology of human evil, long urged by leading psychiatrists and psychologists, including Freud, Jung, Menninger, Fromm, and Peck. The book breaks new ground by offering a clear, empirically based, and theoretically sound understanding of human evil as a widespread, real, non-metaphorical pathology. With deliberate and thorough scholarship the author proposes a new framework-relative theory of disease and justifies the provocative thesis that human evil should be classified as (...) a pathology which is not a deviation from an accepted norm, but rather is a normal state. This break with tradition provides the necessary psychological foundation for the familiar concept of the banality of human evil, a foundation which in the past it has lacked. (shrink)
This paper examines a largely unrecognized mental disorder that is essentially a disability of values. It is their daily contact with this pathology that leads many university liberal arts faculty to demoralization. The deeply rooted disparity between the world of the traditional liberal arts scholar and today’s college students is not simply a gulf across which communication is difficult, but rather involves a pathological impairment in the majority of students that stems from an exclusionary focus on work, money, and the (...) acquisition of things. It is argued that this state of mind constitutes a self-disabling mental illness, which for a society becomes pathological ideology, and for the individual takes the form of clinical narcissism. (shrink)
This paper describes a logically compelling criterion of meaning — that is, a necessary condition of meaning, one which is non-arbitrary and compelling. One cannot _not_ accept the proposed criterion without self-referential inconsistency. This “metalogical” variety of self-referential inconsistency is new, opening a third category beyond semantical and pragmatical forms of self-referential inconsistency. -/- It is argued that such a criterion of meaning can serve as an instrument of internal criticism for any theoretical framework that permits reference to a class (...) of objects. The paper combines the concern of the logical empiricists to formulate a rigorous meaning criterion, with the analytical interest in identifying and eliminating self-defeating statements through an analysis of the referential structure of theories. -/- The paper is followed by a list of other publications by the author that further develop and extend the ideas presented here. -/- Note to the Reader: After a long period of time devoted to research in other areas, the author has returned to the subject of this paper in a book-length study, Horizons of Possibility and Meaning: The Metalogic of Reference, currently in progress. In this forthcoming book (Chapter 11, “The Metalogic of Meaning”), the position developed in the 1982 paper that follows is substantively revised and several important corrections made. – May, 2018 . (shrink)
When taken as a serious and dispassionate object of study from the standpoint of the science of pathology, the human species is easily recognized as a global pathogen. Incontrovertible evidence on all sides tells us this, and yet we have steadfastly avoided an honest look in the mirror. We so often choose—willfully and with strong convictions sustained by homocentric prejudice—to hide the facts from ourselves, and to proceed with untroubled ignorance to overlook the worldwide human and natural devastation for which (...) our species is responsible. (shrink)
This review article provides a brief descriptive overview of past efforts to use self-referential argumentation, distinguishing pragmatical from metalogical self-referential approaches. The reviewer claims that the pragmatical self-referential argument proposed in this book is itself metalogically self-referentially inconsistent, and directs the reader to other relevant published works by the reviewer.
Hundreds of evaluative studies of psychotherapy still leave the issue of its effectiveness unsettled. The author argues that such studies have ignored the major determinant of therapeutic effectiveness, the role of a patient’s belief in the successful outcome in therapy. Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, one of the foremost critics of psychiatry, wrote of this paper: "It is one of the best, if not the best, that I have read on this subject.” It makes little sense to claim that a certain therapy (...) is effective or ineffective in itself; rather, there is a relation of mutual interaction among three terms: a patient’s ability to learn in a psychological context, a therapist’s ability to teach, and the capacity of an approach to therapy to engender in the patient the necessary belief in its effectiveness. -/- The paper is followed by a 4-page 2014 Afterword. (shrink)
The elimination of ambiguity and redundancy are unquestioned goals in the exact sciences, and yet, as this paper shows, there are inescapable lower bounds that constrain our wish to eliminate them. The author discusses contributions by Richard Hamming (inventor of the Hamming code) and Satosi Watanabe (originator of the Theorems of the Ugly Duckling). Utilizing certain of their results, the author leads readers to recognize the unavoidable, central roles in effective communication, of redundancy, and of ambiguity of meaning, reference, and (...) identification. (shrink)
A combined psychological-epistemological study of the human blocks that stand in the way of the recognition of the sentience and legal rights of non-human animals. This is a German translation of the original paper, "Roots of Human Resistance to Animal Rights: Psychological and Conceptual Blocks," published by the Lewis and Clark law journal, Animal Rights, in 2002.
A combined psychological-epistemological study of the human blocks that stand in the way of the recognition of non-human animal sentience and legal rights. This is a Portuguese translation of the author's paper, "Roots of Human Resistance to Animal Rights: Psychological and Conceptual Blcoks," originally published in the Lewis and Clark law review, Animal Righs, in 2002. The Portuguese version was presented in conjunction with the International Congress on Animal Rights, Salvador, Brazil, Oct. 8-11, 2008, and published in the Revista Brasileira (...) de Direito Animal. (shrink)
[A Polish translation of Steven James Bartlett, “Phenomenology of the Implicit,” Dialectica: Revue international de philosophie de la connaissance, Vol. 29, Nos. 2-3, 1975, pp. 173-188.] -/- This paper marks a juncture between the author’s studies in phenomenology and the transition he made to a study of what he has called a “metalogic of reference.” Published in 1974 in Polish translation, followed by its publication in English in 1975, “Phenomenology of the Implicit” describes the author’s “translation schema” that permits certain (...) of the central goals of Husserlian transcendental philosophy to be transposed to a framework that studies the preconditions of valid reference. The result of this translation was the development of the author’s “de-projective” approach to phenomenology, which he later dissociated from phenomenology in the form of a pure metalogic of reference. (shrink)
This is a study of the relativity of facts in relation to the frameworks of reference in terms of which those facts are established. In this early paper from 1975, intended for a less technical audience, the author proposes an understanding of facts and their associated frameworks in terms of complementarity. This understanding of facts leads to an integrated yet pluralistic concept of reality. In the Addendum, readers will find a partial listing of related publications by the author that extend (...) the research described in this paper. (shrink)
From the Editor’s Introduction: -/- THE INTERNAL LIMITATIONS OF HUMAN UNDERSTANDING -/- We carry, unavoidably, the limits of our understanding with us. We are perpetually confined within the horizons of our conceptual structure. When this structure grows or expands, the breadth of our comprehensions enlarges, but we are forever barred from the wished-for glimpse beyond its boundaries, no matter how hard we try, no matter how much credence we invest in the substance of our learning and mist of speculation. -/- (...) The limitations in view here are not due to the mere finitude of our understanding of ourselves and of the world in which we live. They are limitations that come automatically and necessarily with any form of understanding. They are, as we shall see, part and parcel of any organization or ordering of data that we call information. -/- The consequences of these limitations are varied: As a result of them, hermeneutics cannot help but be hermetic; scientific theories of necessity are circumscribed by the boundaries of the ideas that define them; formal systems must choose between consistency and comprehensiveness; philosophical study, because it includes itself within its own proper subject matter, is forced to be reflexive in its self-enclosure. The fundamental dynamic shared by all forms of understanding testifies to an internal limitative keystone. (shrink)
Philosophers have not resisted temptation to transgress against the logic of their own conceptual structures. Self-undermining position-taking is an occupational hazard. Philosophy stands in need of conceptual therapy. The author describes three conceptions of philosophy: the narcissistic, disputatious, and therapeutic. (i) Narcissistic philosophy is hermetic, believing itself to contain all evidence that can possibly be relevant to it. Philosophy undertaken in this spirit has led to defensive, monadically isolated positions. (ii) Disputatious philosophies are fundamentally question-begging, animated by assumptions that philosophical (...) adversaries reject. (iii) The intention of therapeutic philosophy is to study philosophical positions from the standpoint of their internal consistency, or lack of it. In particular, its interest is in positions that either compel assent, because they cannot be rejected without self-referential inconsistency, or self-destruct because self-referential inconsistency cannot be avoided. The article's focus is on the latter. Several examples of self-undermining positions are drawn from the history of philosophy, exemplifying two main varieties of self-referential inconsistency: pragmatical and projective. (shrink)
This monograph has three purposes. It attempts first to describe in general terms methods of investigation proper to strict phenomenology and to new rhetoric. Second, it describes certain recent developments by the author that lead to a de-projective approach to phenomenology and which are of potential significance in a variety of areas of study, including new rhetoric. Finally, suggestions are made with a view to bringing portions of rigorous phenomenology into close connection with certain of the basic concerns of new (...) rhetoric. (shrink)
The author considers the model-theoretic character of proofs and disproofs by means of attempted counterexample constructions, distinguishes this proof format from formal derivations, then contrasts two approaches to semantic tableaux proposed by Beth and Lambert-van Fraassen. It is noted that Beth's original approach has not as yet been provided with a precisely formulated rule of closure for detecting tableau sequences terminating in contradiction. To remedy this deficiency, a technique is proposed to clarify tableau operations.
A RELATIVISTIC THEORY OF PHENOMENOLOCICAL CONSTITUTION: A SELF-REFERENTIAL, TRANSCENDENTAL APPROACH TO CONCEPTUAL PATHOLOGY. (Vol. I: French; Vol. II: English) -/- Steven James Bartlett -/- Doctoral dissertation director: Paul Ricoeur, Université de Paris Other doctoral committee members: Jean Ladrière and Alphonse de Waehlens, Université Catholique de Louvain Defended publically at the Université Catholique de Louvain, January, 1971. -/- Universite de Paris X (France), 1971. 797pp. -/- The principal objective of the work is to construct an analytically precise methodology which can serve (...) to identify, eliminate, and avoid a certain widespread _conceptual fault_ or _misconstruction_, called a "projective misconstruction" or "projection" by the author. It is argued that this variety of error in our thinking (i) infects a great number of our everyday, scientific, and philosophical concepts, claims, and theories, (ii) has largely been undetected, and (iii), when remedied, leads to a less controversial and more rigorous elucidation of the transcendental preconditions of human knowledge than has traditionally been possible. The dissertation identifies, perhaps for the first time, a _projective_ variety of self-referential inconsistency, and proposes an innovative, self-reflexive approach to transcendental argument in a logical and phenomenological context. The strength of the approach lies, it is claimed, in the fact that a rejection of the approach is possible only on pain of self-referential inconsistency. The argument is developed in the following stages: A general introduction identifies the central theme of the work, defines the scope of applicability of the results reached, and sketches the direction of the studies that follow. The preliminary discussion culminates in a recognition of the need for a _critique of impure reason_. The body of the work is divided into two parts: Section I seeks to develop a methodology, on a purely formal basis, which is, on the one hand, capable of being used to study the transcendental foundations of the special sciences, including its own proper transcendental foundation. On the other hand, the methodology proposed is intended as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool for dealing with _projective_ uses of concepts. The approach initiates an analysis of concepts from a perspective which views _knowledge as coordination_. Section I describes formal structures that possess the status of preconditions in such a coordinative account of knowledge. Special attention is given to the preconditions of _identifying reference_ to logical particulars. The first section attempts, then, to provide a self-referential, transcendental methodology which is essentially revisionary in that it is motivated by a concern for conceptual error-elimination. Phenomenology, considered in its unique capacity as a self-referential, transcendental discipline, is of special relevance to the study. Section II accordingly examines a group of concepts which come into question in connection with the central theme of _phenomenological constitution_. The "_de-projective methodology_" developed in Section I is applied to these concepts that have a foundational importance in transcendental phenomenology. A translation is, in effect, proposed from the language of consciousness to a language in which preconditions of referring are investigated. The result achieved is the elimination of self-defeating, projective concepts from a rigorous, phenomenological study of the constitutive foundations of science. The dissertation was presented in a two volume, double-language format for the convenience of French and English researchers. Each volume contains an analytical index. (shrink)
From the Editor’s Introduction: "The Internal Limitations of Human Understanding." We carry, unavoidably, the limits of our understanding with us. We are perpetually confined within the horizons of our conceptual structure. When this structure grows or expands, the breadth of our comprehensions enlarges, but we are forever barred from the wished-for glimpse beyond its boundaries, no matter how hard we try, no matter how much credence we invest in the substance of our learning and mist of speculation. -/- The limitations (...) in view here are not due to the mere finitude of our understanding of ourselves and of the world in which we live. They are limitations that come automatically and necessarily with any form of understanding. They are, as we shall see, part and parcel of any organization or ordering of data that we call information. -/- The consequences of these limitations are varied: As a result of them, hermeneutics cannot help but be hermetic; scientific theories of necessity are circumscribed by the boundaries of the ideas that define them; formal systems must choose between consistency and comprehensiveness; philosophical study, because it includes itself within its own proper subject matter, is forced to be reflexive in its self-enclosure. The fundamental dynamic shared by all forms of understanding testifies to an internal limitative keystone. (shrink)