un-measurable | measurable

In response to The Garbo:



Like your example of the dancer. As you said: 

"One dancer may be athletic but not at all graceful, and their dance partner graceful but not at all athletic. Chalk and cheese. The only measurable comparison possible is that they both have the same number of legs. Finding a scale other than that, on which they both fit is impossible, therefore judgment of their performance is impossible. We are dealing here with what philosophers call the incommensurate."

I'd like to offer up here the example of dance sport, and any other sporting contest that commensurates what is ordinality thought of as qualitative. It's all the sports where judges and judgement are involved: synchronised swimming, figure skating, aerial acrobatic skiing, dressage, dance sports and ball room dancing competitions, Olympic diving. I'm talking about sports where it's more than just a referee or umpire making a judgement call as to where to draw the line (ie, the simple judgements of whether the weight-lifter held up the weight long enough, or whether the ball hitting the pads was going on to hit the stumps, or whether the two bike riders did or did not interfere with each other through the sprint etc). Rather, I'm talking about sports with panels of judges making complex aesthetic decisions of matters of style as well as and technical assessments (which are aesthetic too, actually). Actually, all of them are versions of dancing, turned into commensurate competition: Dancing with horses (dressage), in the water (synchronised swimming), on the way to the water (diving), on ice (figure skating), on snow (moguls), on the way to the snow (ski jumping, aerial skiing), and with bodies on floors (ballroom dancing, dance sports). 

Also, note that you give the example of number of legs as a measurable comparison. You could and should of course extend that to many other body parts, and it is in this vein that I would re-introduce the idea that negative difference exists in nature, before human measurement. Our bodies, with organs, are metricised, striated spaces. Extensive. Able to therefore become measured (in useful and also highly damaging ways).


You also said: "Historically this problem has had such dimensions that traditions of commensuration have emerged in almost all societies, traditions of giving an agreed weight to various considerations, to manage unmanageable distinctions. See Fred D'Agostino. See my own work." I've talked about this in terms of the Double Life (life of positive and negative difference) -- and I think this is one area we could together think and write a lot about.


And linked to this is what you said about situations where it seems we need to both manage and un-manage, both control and lose control. 

Like looking after children, where we manage something of their interactions with the environment (at the very least for issues of basic survival and safety). That's the double life -- the art of living both, in ways that don't suck. As I've said, it could be 'evil' or as you say 'harmful' to treat the un-manageable in managed ways, but I'm also now thinking about the case of treating the manageable in unmanaged ways - is that evil/harmful too, or some other form of bad living?