[lit-ideas] Re: Can U Read Kant?

  • From: wokshevs@xxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, Phil Enns <phil.enns@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 14 May 2008 13:59:18 -0230

A seminar room at an accredited university (das heist es gibt academic freedom
and tenure): 

Twelve grad students (well, ok, maybe 3 or 5 more) - principals,
supers, district personnel, governement wannabees, in-service teachers, along
with a few odd philosophy students intent on "bringing philosophy into the real
world" - pouring over texts laid out on the table. A very nice oak table, by
way, with a deep purple Beaujolais finish. You can actually smell the wood, as
if you were sitting in one of those old Jaguar XKE models. 

The chairs upon which we are seated are comfortably padded, reclining rockers
wheels. A very sensuous and soothing beige in colour. The time is 7 pm.
A time at which the frenzy and noise customary within the halls of the
Faculty has dissipated. There is little to disturb the deliberations and study.

The task: What does the justification of educational policy require under
Habermas's Discourse Ethics and how would such justification differ if pursued
under Rawls's Political Liberalism or Kant's moral theory? 

Shirley suggests that Habermas's account of "communicative/discursive"
justification is much more appropriate to matters of educational policy and
practice than either Kant's "monologism" or Rawls's naive constructivist sense
of "liberalism" and the "original position." 

Ivan, who in principle never agrees with anybody, replies that H's conflation
of moral rightness with justification under ideal discursive conditions of
rational justification begs the question. "Who, at the end of the day, has the
authority to stipulate what 'rationality' in public policy itself means." 

Shirley rebuts: "I'm not quite there in understanding the jist of your
Could you say a bit more on that?"  And so it goes .....

Indoctrination vs. teaching; socialization vs. education; parental freedom for
school choice vs. "the generalizable good"; students' rights under the Charter
vs. the school's duty to protect and promote a safe environment a la in locus
parentis; the right of a teacher to be a stripper off hours vs. professional
accountability; professional knowledge vs. democratic authority; the right of a
science teacher in her science classroom to teach "for belief" in evolution vs.
the simple exposure to a theory of evolution that is not itself fact;
Keegstra's right to deny the Holocaust vs. the truth of the Holocaust and what
this entails pedagogically. 

No university undergraduate student I have ever had, since 1984, believed that
my course should be done online or COULD be done online. Comments on the
meaning of this "COULD" are welcome. 

CUL8R,  Walter

Quoting Phil Enns <phil.enns@xxxxxxxxxxx>:

> John McCreery wrote:
> "The reviewer was competing for audience and, given your response, he
> appears to have succeeded, at least in Phil's case. That "U" caught
> your eye, disturbed you, drew you into the story?as a title/ad it
> worked. A review titled "Can You Read Kant?" would, my adman's
> instincts tell me, attract far fewer readers."
> This doesn't quite address my question.  The issue for me is not the
> 'U' but the reference to Kant.  If, as educators, we are supposed to
> adopt the ways and manners of our students, leaving behind canonical
> texts and big ideas, who cares whether you or 'U' can read Kant?  On
> this account, being able to read Kant would be like being able to read
> Phoenician, both equally pointless in this YouTube 'communication
> environment'.  However, if being able to read Kant is in any way
> worthwhile, which seems to be the implication of the title, then how
> are the recommendations given, new electronic devices and transforming
> universities into YouTube communication environments, relevant to the
> task?
> As to John's comments, does it matter that I now think the reviewer is
> an idiot?  Sure, we are always being told to dream up sexy titles for
> papers and courses, but it seems to me that it matters, in some way,
> whether the title coheres with whatever follows.  In this, as yet
> undefined, way, doesn't a book review differ from an ad, which can
> have only the most nebulous of connections between content and
> referent.
> John continues:
> "In information-theoretic terms, the signal may in fact be stronger;
> but the noise level has risen dramatically, so those trying to hear it
> feel more than ever drowned out."
> A helpful way of looking at the matter.  Thank you.
> Sincerely,
> Phil Enns
> Yogyakarta, Indonesia
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