[lit-ideas] Re: Normal and Revolutionary Learning

  • From: wokshevs@xxxxxx
  • To: jlm@xxxxxxxxxxxx, John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 2 Sep 2007 14:39:23 -0230

Quoting John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>:

> On 8/16/07, wokshevs@xxxxxx <wokshevs@xxxxxx> wrote:

> Instead, when I look back, I
> see a series of moments, associated with particular texts that
> transformed me from the boy who went off to college looking for the
> Truth with a capital T, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth, to
> the grandfather who has learned that all human thought is partial, and
> the universe is a very big place of which we know, at best, only a
> small corner. 

But are not all these grandfatherly truths, "Truth with a capital T"? In
asserting them, aren't you claiming these truths to be universal (regardless of
whether anybody actually believes them to be true, since that is but an
empirical matter of belief?) Perhaps Donal is able to disabuse me of this
Habermasian take on valifity claims to truth. He came close last time.

I, too, have a list of texts and persons who have contributed incrementally
the years to my learning and individuation. But that list, like yours below, is
still but a moment of "normal" learning, not "revolutionary" learning. Hasn't
anybody had a distinct and memorable moment of insight, pedagogically inspired,
that altered the very "bounds of sense" and justification one hitherto operated

Yes, it is a kind of conversion, perhaps even in some "religious" sense, in
it is total, holistic. Nothing appears the way it used to. One's relations to
the world, oneself and others have been transformed from the ground up. One
doesn't even walk the same way, or treat questions posed as before. One's very
facial features and expressions are different. A moment in
which eros overcomes the mundane, and one sees for the first time that there is
a unifying, underlying yearning for completion animating and grounding one's
supposedly disparate projects and hopes. It's a bit like falling in love ....
very quickly, except that the "recipient" of one's love is the universe of
possible meaning and truth.

OK, enuff of this stuff. I'm on vacation, after all. Back to really imp.
creating a beef casserole in my new Russian baking pot. No, I can't tell you
where I got it from. (Are you supposed to
brown the beef in a pan *before* putting it into the casserole dish with the
potatoes, green beans, carrots, stroganoff sauce, and secret Russian herbs and
spices? Let me know sofort; ich bin hungrig.)

Walter O.
On vacation 
On the Rock
> Nietszche, the story comparing the Scientist and the Metaphysician to
> two men watching Salome perform the dance of the seven veils: one
> savoring being tantalized, the other wanting it all off, now.
> Warren McCulloch, the rebuttal to those who take the latest failure of
> machines to do everything that humans can do as evidence that no
> machine will ever equal or surpass a human being: "We build a better
> machine."
> Noam Chomsky, the concept of scientific method as an evaluation
> procedure instead of a discovery procedure.
> Michael Burt, on why a strict positivist should have rejected
> Copernicus's theory and accepted Ptolemy's instead.
> Stanley Cavell, the search for the good as multiple wagon trains
> headed across a plain to multiple destinations instead of a climb up
> Plato's mountain to the single Good at the top.
> Richard Rorty, pragmatic rejection of classical antinomies, the
> philosophy of social hope.
> George Lakoff, why thinking in terms of Aristotelian categories isn't
> natural at all.
> Howard Becker, Tricks of the Trade, how sociologist Everett Hughes got
> his students to stop trying to define ethnic groups and look at what
> people said about them instead.
> Pierre Bourdieu, the view that all distinctions are sites of struggle
> and how the battle goes may depend more on habitus than rational
> choice.
> Gary Klein, Sources of Power, on recognition-primed decision making
> and why experience counts.
> To which I would have to add my own academic efforts, a handful of
> published papers, one book, all projects that reminded me how little I
> actually know.
> All have nudged me along a path that has led, to borrow Hesse's
> metaphor, from the glass-bead games that intoxicated my youth, to the
> Benedictine's historicism that now feels right to me.
> John
> John McCreery
> The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN
> Tel. +81-45-314-9324
> http://www.wordworks.jp/

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