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Re: VMs: Viola tricolor

Hi William,

At 11:07 25/05/2004 +0100, William Edmondson wrote:
Ignotum per ignotius

AKA "the unknown explained by the still more unknown" (i.e. "sorry, but your supposed explanation didn't move me forward one jot").

Short digression: here in VMsLand we discuss neither *episteme* ("that which can be known with certainty"), nor *the unknown* ("that which is not known at all") but instead *uncertain knowledge* ("unreliable [but possibly correct] knowledge").

Assuming that the plant pictures are there solely for identification purposes doesn't make that assumption true - it remains one of a large number of actively-backed VMs-related hypotheses and conjectures, none of which (despite strenuous efforts) has yet been confirmed or refuted. All of which is a bit of a pain, but there you go. :-o

The VMs has two main aspects - a cryptographic side and a historical side. I contend that we will have to understand both of them in order to resolve its mysteries - but this means we must integrate both certain and uncertain knowledges into our repertoires.

The "Ionian Enchantment" is Gerald Holton's term for the idea that everything is reducible to (the logic of) science: yet this only posits one type of knowledge - episteme, certain knowledge. Is it really the case that we can, for example, "do history" (where evidence is often fragmentary and deceptive), but relying only on certain knowledge? I think not.

You seem to be an expert at solving problems using cognitivist thinking and methodologies, and have decided to apply that skill to an intriguing historical mystery. Good for you - but please understand (a) that the kind of certainties this kind of mindset typically relies upon are in desperately short supply here (we're not even sure what the alphabet is, nor if our transcriptions capture all the nuances we'd need); and (b) that we are swimming in a sea of overlapping (ie, not all mutually exclusive) uncertainties.

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....

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