In his book Treatises on Truth and Interpretation, Donald Davidson developed what he called the Principle of Charity, which states that "this insightful assumption of the human mind can also be in vain": "disagreement, like compromise, can only be plausible if there is tremendous agreement in the background" – that is: "the fact that makes it possible for us to interpret anything is that we can priorially exclude the possibility of committing enormous errors." As Davidson emphasizes, this assumption is not something we choose or don't choose, it is a priori principle of speech, a prerequisite that we quietly adopt and abide by when we deal with others:Since understanding is not an option but a prerequisite for a functioning theory, it is pointless to suggest that adopting it brings an enormous risk of error... Understanding is imposed on us; Whether we want to or not, if we want to understand others, we have to consider them right in many things. (Davidson)Davidson's Principle of Understanding is then another name for the Lacanian "great Other" who is the ultimate guarantor of Truth, and it is necessary to refer to it even when lying or when the interlocutor is being deceived, precisely for the trick to work.
(From the Fragile Absolute)
In addition to Donald Davidson's 'principle of understanding', it can be argued that there is also the Freudian principle of understanding on which psychoanalytic treatment is based: everything the patient has to say, even the most complex free associations, is meaningful, interpretable.
(From the Fear of True Tears)Notes:
Turkish: Işık Barış Fidaner
And by a prudent flight and cunning save A life which valour could not, from the grave. A better buckler I can soon regain, But who can get another life again? Archilochus
Thursday, June 2, 2022
Slavoj Žižek, "Principle of charity"