I just finished re-reading The Myth of Sisyphus for my philosophy book club. It has been almost twenty years since I last read it. When I read it before I thought it was brilliant, a cri de coeur for everyone to go out and live an authentic life. Today it doesn’t feel nearly so effective. No doubt some of that is due to changes in myself but there are still some exogenous factors that seem worth exploring.
From John Dewey’s Pragmatic Technology by Larry A. Hickman “What, in Dewey’s view, constitutes responsible technology? This book is an attempt to suggest some answers to that question. By way of review and conclusion, it may be said that Dewey rejected what I have called “straight-line instrumentalism,” or the view that neutral tools are brought to bear on ends that are valued for reasons external to the situations within which those tools have been developed.
Cognition in Practice, by Jean Lave, 1998 “So far I have described a series of dichotomously polarized issues that have sustained limitations on debate between paradigms and disciplines over a considerable period of time. I have yet to describe the sources of the coherence with which the issues reinforce on another. They take their shape, the great divides formed, in terms of a positivist epistemology which specifies a series of assumptions on which they are based: rationality exists as the ideal canon of thought; experimentation can be thought of as the embodiment of this ideal in scientific practice; science is the value-free collection of factual knowledge about the world; factual knowledge about the world is the basis for the formation of scientific theory, not the other way around; science is the opposite of history, the one nomothetic the other ideographic; cognitive processes are general and fundamental, psychology, correspondingly, a nomothetic discipline; society and culture shape the particularities of cognition and give it content, thus sociocultural context is specific, its study ideographic; general laws of human behavior, therefore, must be dissected away from the historical and social obfuscations which give them particularity.
A quotation: From the movie My Dinner with Andre ANDRE: Well, I think that’s right! You know, it may be, Wally, that one of the reasons that we don’t know what’s going on is that when we’re there at a party, we’re all too busy performing. WALLY: Un-hunh. ANDRE: You know, that was one of the reasons that Grotowski gave up the theater. He just felt that people in their lives now were performing so well that performance in the theater was sort of superfluous, and in a way obscene.
I just want to juxtapose two recent readings by Charlie Stross and Timothy Burke on organizations and institutions. Burke sets up the problem as the key issue of the twenty-first century. but it really seems to me that the political problem of the 21st Century is not a problem of markets or capitalism, not of the state, not of ideologies or religions, but of institutions and organizations. Loosely speaking, what doesn’t work about government as a whole is also what doesn’t work about a local religious charity.
From an article on networking by John Seely Brown and John Hagel III at HBR. In the classical networking approach, the game is about presenting yourself in the most favorable light possible while flattering the other person into giving you their contact information. This approach quickly degenerates into a manipulative exchange where the real identities of both parties rapidly recede into the background, replaced by carefully staged presentations of an artificial self.
James Fallows published an interesting essay in the January/February 2010 Atlantic on “How America Can Rise Again.” I think it’s one of the best pieces I’ve read on the American penchant for declension narratives. He points out that Americans have been engaging in jeremiads about the decline of the nation since before there was a nation. The Puritans were complaining about the lost golden age of the colonies just six years after landing in the New World.
While reviewing my philosophy weblog news feeds I came across a link to the live webstream of a brain dissection on the internet. H.M., a famous neuroscience patient, died a year ago. He was famous in brain studies because a surgery to cure seizures resulted in his being unable to form new memories. “He loved to converse, for example, but within 15 minutes he would tell you the same story three times, with same words and intonation, without remembering that he’d just told it,” said Suzanne Corkin, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studied and followed Mr.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the problem of expertise. Alvin Goldman, a philosopher at Rutgers, has written some interesting papers on the interaction between novices and experts. Next week I’m going to be leading a discussion on the topic. I restarted my research on this topic after participating in some other recent discussions about economics and the reactions to the recent recession. How can economists propose such dramatically different explanations and remedies to the current crisis?
I wanted to like the new version of The Prisoner on AMC but so far it’s been a failure. A big part of the problem is the absence of Patrick McGoohan. He was the key to the success of the original series and Caviezel is an inadequate replacement. What made McGoohan so good was his anger and a sense of danger. You really felt like he wanted to destroy the whole village if he didn’t escape.