[CPE] Cosmos, Paradigm, Education

11 06 2013

I haven’t stopped chewing over the topic of my last post; it opens onto quite a few topics that I would like to write about here. Rather than try to cram all of those topics into a single post, though, I have decided to break them out into a loose series of posts that will all be identified with the [CPE] tag you see above. As you might guess, all of these posts will be united around issues of cosmos, paradigm, and education. Education may seem like the odd-man-out in this equation, but it occupies an essential place in the discussion. This series began in what I thought would be a single post on the failures of contemporary education, but in proceeding to trace that I found myself involved in a much larger series of topics.

The failures of contemporary education have deep roots that extend back into the roots of European modernity itself. It is surely easy to be cynical about the state of contemporary education (and I am sometimes), but I don’t want to get stuck in cynicism. Rather, I want to examine the failures of education by vieiwing them as a sort of higher order ‘interesting errors.’ Like interesting errors, they are worthy of study so that we can see more clearly the way in which those failures reveal useful truths as an ill-fitting pair of clothes reveals something of how we move. One of the more important failures is the failure to integrate cosmos and paradigm.

By cosmos I mean a totality organized according to unified principles and the sense of enclosure it gives to human society. The sense of a cosmos gives members of society a set of ideals through which they are able to regulate themselves and their society. A paradigm, by contrast, is partial. It refers to a specific set of phenomena and proceeds to provide an explanation of the phenomena’s behavior. On a purely conceptual level, these two patterns do not appear to be in conflict. In fact, there seems to be a complementarity to the way in which the phenomena described by a paradigm can be integrated into a bigger picture, cosmological model. However, in historical terms, these two modes of approaching the world are deeply at odds with each other and efforts to resolve those tensions are part of what structures the failure of education.

The subsequent [CPE] posts will all be centered at getting at this historical conundrum and thinking (i.e., speculating) about how we might get beyond it.

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How to be Wrong

8 03 2013

I can’t remember when I first heard Dudley Hersbach’s bit about error, but it’s a good one to repeat and discuss in Hegelian terms:

And often, the key thing, if you’re going to be wrong, is to be wrong in an interesting way-because you tried some excursion in thought that took you over somewhere and gave you a new perspective. That’s the kind of thing to try to emphasize.

This plea for a broader notion of science and scientific endeavor applies equally well as a description of the Hegelian vision of specualtive philosophy’s relationship to knowledge in general. It is also, like Hegel, frustratingly vague on the matter of what it means to be ‘wrong in an interesting way.’ What does a ‘new perspective’ entail and why does it even matter?

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Chains, Webs, and Soups

12 09 2012

A few weeks ago, a friend forwarded this article about a bacterial infection spreading through the water pipes of a hospital. It is eye-opening on a lot of levels, not the least of which includes the increasing danger hospitals may pose to health as more and more antibiotic resistant forms of bacteria develop. I’ll leave that particular issue for others, though, and focus on something else.

In response to the article, another friend grimly joked that this was just bacteria reminding us who was at the top of the food chain. The food chain bit was just a joke, but it made me realize how deeply embedded that concept of the food chain was and how poorly it captured what was going on. It’s a soup, I thought. It’s the bacteria reminding us that our food chain is in their soup.

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[Religious Types 15] Archetype vs. Pattern

17 06 2012

[Previous Post in the Series]

I want to focus on the difference between Jung’s typological work and his archetypal work, contrasting the flexibility of the former against the rigidness of the latter. To understand that, we’ll need to focus on how they differ in their conceptions of human cognition. From there, we’ll be in a good position to think about whether or not we can salvage the archetypal work and, if so, how.

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