Saturday, March 25, 2006

[[IMMERSIVE]] martin heideggerNow online, the fourth part of my notes on Being and Time: Part 1 Division II. As always, if you have any comments or questions about the text, please submit them by commenting on this post. .

link: Heidegger's Being and Time, an explication and commentary

Sunday, March 05, 2006

[[IMMERSIVE]] Technologies of knowledge creation

Recently my wife and I have been retiling our bathroom. I am also writing my doctorate. These two experiences means that I speak with some conviction about the following…

If I saw a tile by hand it takes all day. If I buy a tile cutter it takes a matter of minutes. This makes one appreciate the tile cutter as one of a miracle of industrialisation.

If one reads a book, it takes all day. In that day maybe a few important connections will be made. If one reads Wikipedia you can gain the same information in a matter of minutes. This make one appreciate Wikipedia as one of the miracles of the knowledge revolution.

However with both miracles something is lost - with the former in terms of craft and with the latter what might be called a craft of scholarship.

Let me indulge you in a little myth spinning. Before the industrial revolution, objects were produced by craftsmen. They were not uniform or particularly perfect creations but they had what might be called "soul". Is the soul a by product of the time it took to create them? It possibly is For example I wonder if the modern preference--of some of us--for rough hews earthy furniture (see treehugger for details) a nostalgic throwback to the days of craft? What thoughts does one have when one spends all one's days making furniture?

If you agree that some soul is lost in the mass production of goods. Is this because perhaps the "soul" of education is lost in the information revolution? In terms of value, people tend to value most what is for them hardest to obtain. Does the value of knowledge then get defined in the struggle to obtain it?

While it is true that we certainly do not value stuggle for its own sake. But it also goes without saying that some of us (me) do value the products of struggle. For instance if I confessed a preference I'd have to say that I prefer Beethoven's music to Mozart's, and it I were asked why. I think it is because Beethoven's music has more stuggle in it - and therefore more soul. A propos, Wittgenstein said something to the effect that you can measure the value of anything piece of work in terms of what it cost you. Which reminds me...what exactly does one think about when one is reading a books all day?

Cutting and pasting one's doctorate from the pages of Wikipedia seems like a duplicitous thing to do. After all how much of a contribution to knowledge can a piece of work make when it was produced like that? Why do I really want to do it then? I have several theories....

If knowledge increases exponentially, then the contribution a scholar can make is in the analysis not the gathering of knowledge. However, if knowledge is increasing then the categories for analysis are also increasing and one needs to find short cuts to be able to refine those categories so that the real work can be done.

Why is it that you don’t produce anything meaningful without a struggle? Is it in fact the struggle itself that defines what is meaningful and what is not? I think perhaps it is. There is much toil in the production of anything, but it does not make the results of that toil necessarily worthwhile. On the other hand, there hasto be toil in the productions of things worthwhile, or else they would lack the sufficient meaning.

I do not want to do without the struggle, but at the same time I do not want to be outdistance by the subject before I have finished writing about it, which can happen when one's subject is tehnological innovation.

As a scholar I think I have to find ways to work faster to really get inside a problem, Is this the solution? What do you think?