forum 11: week of 26 March - knowledge and accomplishment
Your definition of accomplishment seems to be "An event that is the consequence of X's actions, where X is the one who accomplishes". With this definition X does not have to be aware of what they accomplish they just have to have be one of the reasons the even takes place. However, for X to accomplish their accomplishment they must actively strive for a certain event to take place and thus be the cause of that events existence. I feel like saying accomplishing an accomplishment is confusing, just like how saying knowing you know seems confusing. I would say directly accomplish and indirectly accomplish would better capture the meaning (if I even understand it). Once it is seen in those terms it seem clear to me that an indirect accomplishment is not really an accomplishment since you cannot take credit for its completion. If someone wildly throws a dart and it happens to hit a bulls-eye on a nearby wall people would pat her on the back for her luck, whereas if she had been practicing throwing darts all morning in order to accomplish the same thing purposely people would praise her for different her skill and effort. In this case the difference seems to be skill and effort, without which I do not believe you can call something an accomplishment. But maybe this is just turning into an argument about language and I'm missing the point...thoughts?
To consider an individual to be one who has accomplished something is to give them credit for it. The credit is due to the degree that they have moved beyond the influence of other persons or contextual influences on their claimed success.Only to that extent,which it seems to me would be difficult to estimate,could it be truly said to be an effort based on free will.Take the case of Churchill mentioned by Jim above for instance:His biographer William Manchester mentions a little known fact in "The Last Lion" (the official biog.) concerning Churchill's decision to oppose Hitler.A minor Soviet diplomat residing in England on the eve of Britain's involvement in hostilities approached Churchill and convinced the staunchly conservative Brit,who at one point referred to the Soviet Union as a "jewish empire,"to reconsider his neutral stance.Ultimately,as we now know,Sir Winston abandoned his neutrality and the rest,as they say,is history.The official(whose name,I'm embarrassed to say,I don't recall,and have so far failed to google)returned to the USSR a short time later and disappeared,a victim of Stalin's paranoia.By way of this example,I think it can be said that Churchill's accomplishment was,to some degree creditable to another,and was not therefore entirely of his own making.It was therefore a conditioned response to the problem before him,and was one to which he significantly contributed to solving.I used to get into some heated rows with a friend who was a great fan of the great man view of history,I would take great delight in pointing to Tolstoy's portrait of Napoleon in "War and Peace."Contrary to a portrayal of Napoleon as a great accomplisher,Tolstoy likens the conquering general to a chip of wood carried along on the great river of history,and further to this as a helpless prisoner of massive forces surrounding him and of which he is largely unaware.Indeed,Tolstoy presents him as the least free of individuals.This seems to connect with Quine's theory of established (i.e.locked-in)truths as those closest to the centre of an interlocking web of current opinions.Conversely,the'truths'most subject to change are at the outer edge where current experience is most directly or immediately encountered.In Tolstoy's great novel,the accomplishing heroes tend to be humble,almost comic figures who have no sure guides in their attempts to come up with solutions to perplexing,because novel,problems.In a word,they must innovate,thus accomplishing accomplishment.
Rob, Your reference to a minor Soviet diplomat is of interest. I have not read Manchester's book. The second edition appears to be dated 1988. Five Days in London May 1940, by historian John Lukacs, 236 pages, was printed 1999, Yale University Press. Lukacs calls himself an uncategorized historian, with one advantage over many British historians, Lukacs's familiarity with documents and other materials relating to Hitler, in this case especially in 1940. Any further information you can think of to relate Manchester's discussion of Churchill's decision to fight against Hitler's Nazi forces will be appreciated.
I agree that the difference seems to be skill and effort, without which I do not believe you can call something an accomplishment, at least in some cases. But how does this difference turn into an argument about language? And the element of luck is what makes something that seems like an accomplishment not an accomplishment. Or am I wrong about what makes something an accomplishment?
It is necessarily a discussion about language since a common understanding of the term itself,one we can agree on for the sake of discussion and clarity,is required.Luck,skill and effort are important ingredients of accomplishment, but another term needs to be added to complete that list:attribution.Accomplishment implies a claim,it is someone's accomplishment.This someone can be an individual or a group,but ownership is implied,because accomplishment is a particularizing and polar term and concept,further implying competition.Success is opposed to failure.This is also true of negative accomplishments,as in crimes,where blame is attributed to someone.Blame is placed on a designated accomplisher,just as credit is given in cases of positive attainment.These concepts are firmly established,even foundational,in our language and culture,to the degree that they function as unquestioned norms.Inflated claims of expertise and to celebrity on one side,or to scapegoating on the other,raise further questions around how we understand and then define personal identity,and whether reputation can really be regarded as a discrete,private property.We live in the culture of the signed work.Who accomplished the great cathedrals of the Middle Ages?Who accomplished the pyramids.Trout would undoubtedly credit the chrono-synclastic Infindibulum:-)
To me,in Dr. Morton’s paper titled Accomplishing Accomplishment, page two, last paragraph, on success, the definition “I have in mind getting what you want because of your efforts” has a clarity, and a concrete connotation. Brute effort. The online dictionary defines accomplish to succeed in doing, and Merriam-Webster, to bring about by effort.