... whether from rottenness or bad instruction, our students are getting very little out of the current core - judging by the students I get, including honors juniors & seniors, who ain't never dunno about Heisenberg, or string theory, or James Baldwin, or Cinco de Mayo... or anything, really. If the argument for our present core is that it is essentially remedial, I think it fails utterly in its task. I'd also ask whether the configuration of the core as it is, this tedious 15-chair rotation, doesn't itself produce the result, and isn't responsible for some of the stupidity. Courses in which lectures from 30 years ago are simply read aloud in monotonic blah, blah, blah, recital and regurgitation, blah, blah, blah - & wait! I'm like Paul, suddenly I'm in a John Hughes flick, mouth-breathing, gum-swallowing and all. At best, a smattering. Stuff 101. It's like this ridiculous required Convocation nonsense - we model, and so invite contempt.Blosser:
They say, guns don't kill, people do. I say the core doesn't fail students, teachers do. The other half of the problem is students who fail themselves. Whose contempt should we fear? Sophomoric students'? Eddie Izzard's?Colleague:
... As to the Reflections on the Revolution in... Hickory.Blosser:
My Dear Mr. Burke, hmm... but into "reductionism" you package an agenda - essentially the whole old anti-Enlightenment case - & borrow the unspecific pejorative aspect of the word, thus creating a "definition" that organizes the whole problem in a way that pre-duces a certain kind of answer. There are always "plenty of data," because data are rhetorical - everybody has plenty of it, and everybody is right. Including me.. How about that.
That we each have biases is hardly news. Neither is it news that all arguments are in some sense circular (Heidegger's "hermeneutical circle"). But if all arguments were viciously circular, what are we doing being teachers at a liberal arts college anyway ? C'mon, I have students who think they've formulated a refutation when they raise their hands with smug grins on their faces and say: "Well, that's ... YOUR opinion!" Oh, really? And so that makes all of us right? Both Socrates and Thrasymachus? I would like to see Plato construct that conversation and deliver it wearing heels.Colleague:
There are several things here - whether these 15 are reducible, and whether they are interchangeable, and therefore contingent & arbitrary (& historical), and therefore, in their historical and cultural variability echoes of something else - but then, of course, (& this is where Paul and I argue) this variability, this observed difference, however cleverly or rigorously gazed at, is itself the echo of a scripted laboratory process that tends to produce what it assumes is already there. Difference gives birth to itself - whereupon it is experienced - (along with its Moloch, similitude). One can't treat Text as something to be experienced, and at the same time argue that experience is merely Text. That's a palindrome. Or something. Like Ipswich.Blosser:
Granted. I don't know any other way of discovering anything but under the regulative ideal of the assumption that there is something intelligible to be discovered. (Have you read Michael Polanyi's The Tacit Dimension?) But how does the fact that biology and chemistry and sociology are cultural artifacts (constructs, if you will) in any way compromise the proposition that some things are irreducible to others? If I tried to understand what a book is only by examining and analyzing it as a composition of wood pulp and ink, would I not be missing the semantic dimension of the words formed by the ink on the pages? How does the fact that the Arabic numerals are cultural constructs compromise the integrity of arithmetic? If nothing prevents some constructs from being arbitrary and silly, what prevents some cultural constructs from being true?Colleague:
Of course one can reduce the biotic and the kinematic to string theory; and life to material; and the ethical and lingual to the psychical, and life and language to the Holy Spirit, and the historical to the lingual, and lingual to the biotic, and (indeed) as many poststructuralists are wont to do, all to the lingual (except the lingual). They are, after all, metaphors - as well as things. Hence what one might call, lumping reduction and transition together, their malleability -Blosser:
It would be more accurate to say, in my opinion, that they try to reduce these things in this way. They may say that they have succeeded in doing so, since, as you put it, these things are all only metaphors. But I would want to argue that this is quite simply nonsense. A physicist may say that a wall with the appearance of solidity is ultimately reducible to ("nothing but") sub-atomic particles, but let him try to walk through it. Q.E.D.Colleague:
Do we believe the Medical when he says the Body is just an amalgam of chemical reactions? How bout plastic surgery - more, the way our cultural fixation upon the Looky and the Healthy body seem to coincide - How bout the Hilarious History of Health, and the obscene & ridiculous ideas and procedures that for so long, in the face of some really bad data (= death), persisted? Lynn Hunt's stuff here.Blosser:
Let me respond with a quote from Thomas Howard:Colleague:"So, for the sailor, the businesman, the boy, and the old queen, another human body is by far the best means of getting a certain kind of pleasure. But it also happens that the human body is the epiphany of personhood. It cloaks and reveals a human individual. A doctor may probe it strictly as a complex of organs and tissue; a gymnastics coach may manipulate it as a pattern of muscles. But the sexual exploration of this mass of tissue puts the bread and wine on the altar: the real presence of the person must now be reckoned with." (Chance or the Dance? p. 125g.)Of course these dimensions--the biotic, the physiological, the personal--are culturally differentiated, just like the equations of the multiplication table. So what? Since when does fiction have to be false?
one cannot establish the irreducibility of experiential categories experientially; the question is the scheme of difference, the criteria by which the Numbers of Things are distinguished - how many, and how many Not? - and that (grossly and subtly) inculcated schema, immanent as it is in the very possibility of intersubjective & discursive experience, remains necessarily opaque, and can only be considered in its own terms - or? Here again I will argue with Paul, and suggest that experience plays with that scheme, giving rise to Other things - like deconstruction - and its Moloch, Levi-Strauss.Blosser:
How else could one possibly establish the irreducibility of experiential categories than by experience? What else is there but looking and seeing, and looking again to be sure? What alternative would there be but some a priori scheme, which one might assay to impose upon us? Blas-pho-me, blas-pho-you ...Colleague:
We need a prioris - and the criterion for selection of an a priori scheme is arbitrary - so, let's Play ...Blosser:
Exactly ... as I was saying ...Colleague:
"Art is worth more than truth."Blosser:
Depends what you mean. In the view of St. Thomas Aquinas, the beautiful and the true, together with the good, ultimately coincide with one another as inseparable 'transcendentals' in God. But I would agree with anyone who said that a picture is worth a thousand words.