Tapping Highlights: Promises
- Definition: A few different things were suggested as constituting the promise as such. One necessary component to the promise was a sincere intention, in other words that the promising party means to fulfill his promise. We determined that if someone makes a promise lacking in sincerity, that they would be guilty of dishonesty, and therefore a liar. We also talked about the shared context necessary in order for a promise to occur as a communicative act, and that part of this shared context would be some system that allows for determining the judgments true and false.
- Contracts: We also compared contracts and promises, and I wanted to posit the notion that contracts are simply a written version of promises backed up by the shared context of the government as law. The promise, in my interpretation, is the more foundational act than the contract, as it provides essentially the same structure. There was some dissension regarding the status of a contract as related to a promise, as promises seem to lack that specifically legal character, but I would argue that is a question of content, and not of structure or function.
- Speech acts: I wanted to argue for the semantic content of a promise being inseparable from the particular event of the promise itself, its utterance as a promise, especially due to the notion of shared context. In this way the promise differs from a statement such as “The cup is on the table,” which is something that is empirically verifiable at that given moment, whereas a statement such as “I promise this topic will be good,” can really only be answered ex post facto, which occurs AFTER the promise is made.
- Impossibility: Bracketing questions of intentionality, we can talk about unforeseen events influencing the outcome of a promise, also then asserting a certain futural character to the act of promising. Impossibility itself actually came about because Rory suggested art as a sort of completed promise within itself. Art does not fit within the model of an intelligible communicable speech act, and therefore it also is not going to fit within the shared context of being able to judge statements as true or false. So then the hermeneutic question would be, what then does this art mean? Rory wanted to attribute a certain ambiguity to the art’s meaning, not so much that a SPECIFIC meaning was UNCLEAR, but rather that the ambiguity suggests an overabundance of meaning that points towards the infinite. Rory and I both seem to subscribe to this ideology of art (very broad definition of art) in a way being the definitive foundation of human existence, and so I took it a step further in saying that this ambiguity of art’s fulfilled promise extends to all promises as such.
- Faith: So how does one cope with this fundamental impossibility of a promise, at the moment of its utterance? We already determined that the promise is not empirically verifiable at that point, which is a fairly acceptable model for making truth claims, so how does one accept a promise? It seems then there has to be a shared context of good faith with both parties, in order for the promise to perform its function. Examples in which there might be this shared context of good faith, or trust, would be instances where friendship or love is present between the two parties.
- Everydayness: Separate from all this speech act business, are the way promises function in everyday life. I wanted to argue that throughout the day people are implicitly participating in promises with their government and their fellow citizens in order to maintain civil society as such. The notion of money specifically came up as a promise that carried a lot of weight today in society. Therefore if someone considers themselves to be a reasonable human being today there are many promises that they have to implicitly accept, and if these promises have the character of futural acts of faith that are fundamentally impossible, there is a certain extent to which the domains of faith and reason are co constitutive.
Love and Peace,