The Pellucid Perspective - February 2014 - (Page 7)
Philosophy, sociology and epistemology
lessons for Hackgolf
Learned thinkers - and we - applaud Mark King's initiative
By Stuart Lindsay
he place of the father in the modern suburban family
is a very small one - particularly if he plays golf, which
he usually does," Bertrand Russell, The New Generation, 1930.
This comment was sarcastic on many levels. The term "suburban" was a relatively new sociological term in 1930 and golf
was enjoying a worldwide boom riding the wave of Bobby Jones'
international successes. As probably the foremost philosopher of
that time and a dedicated student of the theories of knowledge
(epistemology), Lord Russell (an English Earl, no less) was also
a firm believer in the need for scientific fact to support what is
accepted as knowledge. Apparently his desire for sarcastic humor
trumped his knowledge of the facts - if most suburban fathers in
1930 played golf, it would not have taken until 1961 to reach 5
million golfers in the US.
One of Russell's fundamental questions for his students was,
"When is a table not a table?" If you "know" a table has four legs
and a top and you see an object that has those characteristics, is
it still a table when you close your eyes? Even though Einstein
and Russell became friends in their later years, Einstein's theory
of relativity proved that my toe will still hurt when it meets a
table leg in the dark.
Precise use of language is usually a prerequisite for good
philosophical debate and becomes even more important in
epistemology which traverses multiple intellectual disciplines. I
wonder what Russell would have thought about "hackgolf ?" In
journalism and politics, hack, when used as a noun, is generally
interpreted as a derogatory term. Even in equestrian events "the
hack" is used to describe a warm-up round of lesser importance.
As a verb, hack is associated with strenuous, even valiant effort,
such as was seen when Errol Flynn fought his way through the
swamps of Panama in "The Sea Hawk." So, our question for all
you golf philosophers out there - is hack a derogatory term or a
reflection of valiant effort? Some might make a Quixotic comment by adding futility to the mix - after all, the Spaniards were
waiting when Flynn got through the swamp.
So " hack" becomes what linguists might call a mixed metaphor. Throw in the fact that terms considered derogatory can
become affectionate when used in a self-deprecating context,
you really have a dilemma. The week prior to the PGA Show,
Madonna was called on the carpet for using a derivation of the
"n" word referring to her 15 year old daughter and justified it
by saying that it was a common term of endearment in current
rap lyrics. While discussing this with my 11 year old daughter,
she commented that two of her older friends (both blond) affectionately used that word all the time. I explained that just
because some members within a community might use a term
affectionately does not mean that they won't take offense when
it is used by someone outside the community. I have many times
accurately described myself as a hacker, but if someone else refers to me as such, I usually don't think they are referring to my
strenuous and valiant efforts on the golf course, but merely to the
futile results. In short, I may not like the name, but the concept
is a different story.
At the heart of Mark King's decision to walk out on the plank
in an attempt to energize an industry to start thinking outside
the box is a desire to thoroughly study our current theories of
golf knowledge and figure out what we can do to expand our
ability to attract and keep more golfers. Even though he showed
disdain for golf, Mr. Russell and other epistemologists would
be proud - their ultimate goal has always been the expansion of
our base of knowledge and even Russell referred to himself as a
walking contradiction, as when he befriended Einstein after his
theory of relativity proved that a table is still a table in the dark.
Mr. King is also reacting to some principles of another epistemologist, noted economist Frederick A. Hayek. "Hayek was
a major political thinker of the twentieth century; and his account of how changing prices communicate information which
enables individuals to coordinate their plans is widely regarded
as an important achievement in economics. In 2011, his article
The Use of Knowledge in Society was selected as one of the top
20 articles published in the American Economic Review during
its first 100 years," Wikipedia, 2014.
What would Hayek think when a situation of over-supply
creates the discounting that would naturally follow according to
Adam Smith's law governing the price elasticity of supply and
demand, but demand does not respond accordingly? Professor
Hayek would probably tell us to study the product and find out
What would Hayek think when a situation of over-supply creates the discounting
that would naturally follow according to Adam Smith's law governing the price
elasticity of supply and demand, but demand does not respond accordingly?
The Pellucid PersPecTive
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - February 2014
The 2014 solution to Barter is… NGCOANow?
PGA Merchandise Show from 35,000 feet
Philosophy, sociology and epistemology lessons for Hackgolf
The way Keiser rolls
Scottsdale National owner to low-spending members: 'Go, Daddy!'
January golf weather impact: Downward trajectory from '13 continues
Developers' past excess plague DC area courses
ClubLink adds TPC course to Florida portfolio
USGA responsibility not to grow the game. Really?
The Pellucid Perspective - February 2014