Making It Explicit in Israel


Anat Biletzki in the NYT's The Stone:

Twenty years ago, the philosopher Robert Brandom, in his momentous book, “Making It Explicit,” presented us with a new way of looking at language and meaning. Using the work of a number of philosophers — from Kant and Hegel, to 20th-century thinkers like Ludwig Wittgenstein, Gottlob Frege, W.V. Quine, Michael Dummett and many others — he showed us how to move the fulcrum of our attention from representation to inference, from the molecular to the holistic, from the individual to the social, and from the factual-descriptive to the normative. In short: Brandom explained that it is through social, communal norms that we give meaning to our words.

According to Brandom, we, as rational beings looking for reasons, make assertions that commit us to the connections (through inference) between the things we say, yet this is actually part of a game of making explicit what is already there, in our social, moral and political norms.

In Israel, the unambiguous move to explicitness began in July 2014 — more exactly between July 8 and August 27 of last year — when Israel engaged in the military operation called Tsuk Eitan. That means “Firm Cliff,” not “Protective Edge,” as translated by the army spokesperson, a phrase expressing implicit defensiveness. The precise goals of the operation were never clearly articulated, moving from the reported objective of stopping Hamas rockets from falling on Israeli territory to that of destroying the tunnels to weakening Hamas to returning quiet and security for Israeli communities in the South to achieving a responsible, militarily weakened sovereign in Gaza.

More here.