Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Role of the Knower: An Exercise in Contrast

For Friday, please reflect on the text below.  Your writing should include—though not be limited to—answers to the four questions that follow the excerpt.  Check back Friday afternoon for a second text on which to write, including as always your take on others’ thoughts from the first round.

“If when we learn new things we can see the world differently, then as we learn new things we react to it differently.  We are then living in a different world, a world with different possibilities, different impossibilities.  Which world is the right one, the real one?  Is it the new world or the old?  What do we mean by this question?  And, ultimately the question, if this is true, what new things should we try to learn so as to live in a different world?” (Lawrence LeShan, Alternate Realities: The Search for the Whole Human Being. New York: Ballantine Books, 1987, 8.)

1. What happens to us when we learn?
2. What happens to the world when we learn?
3. Do human beings, living in the same society, live in different worlds because of what they know?             
4. How does the following quote, from Emerson's Self-Reliance, affect your thinking on the previous question? “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius."

Friday Update:
Please continue your conversation in the context of the following ideas and questions.

"Fact and truth really don't have much to do with each other"
-William Faulkner

"Every knowledge system is shaped by the characteristics of the society that produced it.  We are accustomed to considering the flow in the opposite direction, seeing how scientific and technological advances have shaped modern society.  But it is of critical importance to recognize both flows.  We have the kind of society we have in part because of the fruits of science and technology.  But the converse is also true: we have the kind of science we have in part because of the particular nature of the society in which it was developed."  (Willis Harman, Global Mind Change: The Promise of the Last Years of the Twentieth Century.  Indianapolis: Knowledge Systems, Inc., 1988, 27.)

1.  How has your knowledge system been shaped by your society?  For example, how has science been shaped by your society?
2.  Can different societies have different sciences, histories, etc.?

And speaking of decoding, check this out.