c99: University or Technical school?
Yesterday, the following essay was posted, which raised a number of vexing questions. The article's main body were 6 issues or questions which has not only perplexes the author but many others. An extensive comment thread was generated. That's good. Good debates spawn either critical reasoning or emotion. That debate was, happy to report, intellectual. So, speaking of critical thinking, the article raised, not for the first time a valuable question. I hope to provide an explanation of a view which hopefully some of you may find valuable.
What are the principal uses for a book, treatise, essays, and poetry besides using up paper and ink?
Wrapping fish in old newspapers (or given today's preponderance of fake news, new newspapers can be substituted. But those are not the main intended use of paper and ink.
There are cautionary placards, banners and signs which may warn of sudden turn in the road, proneness to mudslides, no trespassing, chemical waste dump, etc. No, we are not talking about written signals immediately and directly affecting our well-being.
c99 is not a movie guide, provider of prurient pleasures, racing handicapper. Each of those things and more have their uses. But this is not the place for that. So why are we all together here, hopefully remaining attached to this site and its community for a long time?
Pretty obvious I should think. This site here is about several inextricably conjoined disciplines. The first and most obvious is politics. The second and essential copartner to the first is society (call it the environment of people if you'd rather have a more detached view of things).
When dealing with facts, many different uses for any individual fact may be placed as there are opinions. Opinions do not change the fact--but the use of a fact can be, and usually is, quite different depending upon opinion. Opinion is of two parts, also inextricably conjoined. The major component of opinion is emotions. No matter how rational we try to be, man is basically an emotional creature. Perhaps we are the most nuanced species regarding emotion but of the human neuroanatomy. So many fine gradations of emotion are available. Think of it as being a visual artist's paint palette.
The other part of opinion is the "cognitive". Think of this as a junior partner to emotion, a partner not gifted with a brush and fine colors, but as someone using a computer keyboard--black and white--to communicate with self or others.
These two aspects of opinion merge. Since communicates owes its replicability by virtue of agreed- upon language, which is loaded with ambiguities and inconsistencies. So can there be perfect communication using language to declaim something, anything? No, absolutely not. There never can be perfect understanding of anything. But that doesn't mean that attempts to communicate should cease. No, the best approach to misunderstanding is refinement of language.
Now to the crux of this essay. Is c99 a University or a Technical School--no disrespect at all for either type of institution?
I contend that c99 is a University incorporating high level factual information, rational interaction--and necessarily of course emotional satisfaction. Let's accept the fact that all who are here, whether writing or just reading, are here where we want to be. Factual deduction is the product of knowledge and appreciation that the views of others many often be incongruent with yours or mine.
The thing that sets universities apart from technical schools is that critical thinking requires inductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning requires a higher level of knowledge than you already posses. It is possible because of knowledge already attained and mental flexibility allowing for possibility. Possibility means that different outcomes may occur. Avoid statistics here, the consideration of which in this essay is a useless deflection. Same knowledge, same mental flexibility but two people can yield three different inductions.
How to get three from two? Easily. in fact that usually is the case. Person one's induction produces concept One. Person two's induction produces concept Two. Person one working with Person two in collaboration most often produces concept Three. Now imaging the multiplier effect of mutual collaboration. The conceptual refinement achieved is extraordinary to say the least.
Before continuing on the University Aspect of c99, let's quickly deal with Trade School.
Trade schools, especially one's of such refinement as watchmaking, require considerable knowledge of the various gears and wheels, excellent manual coordination combined with good vision. The ability to correct problems is deductive, based on years of trial and error. Trial and error produces an arsenal of facts for the watchmaker, enabling him to fix problems. Except for the rare instance of inventive watchmakers, induction is not part of the curriculum nor is it expected.
Some have argued about the futility of this enterprise, c99. Do they want c99 to become a factory producing activists? Activists need not have much knowledge at all, look at the KKK. Activists have a desire to physically engage with opponents as well as to convert the masses. That is fine. This is not the place. Nor do I believe Joe and JtC intended this to be such.
If any of you think of c99 as an activist factory, you're likely not going to acquire many willing to go along on a physical basis. Yes, we'll all cheer for you just as we might for our favorite football team. Our hearts are with you but that's not why we came to the stadium.
Can we analyze in the cognitive portion of University life, while temporarily not discussing the emotions fostered by being in college? The lower level cognitive skills obtained in University might be very simple indeed. Compared to a watchmaker's intricate knowledge of tiny things, undergraduates only slowly develop a comparable level of non-inductive skill.
So on this level, one might reasonably equate the early university career as being able to understand jigsaw puzzles, not that such is particularly intellectual exercise, but jig analysis involves both visual and tactile pattern recognition with an ability to reproduce an existing picture. Broken down into its component parts, as I have, reveals basic similarities between trade school discipline and learning how to learn. Learning how to learn provides the method by knowledge is acquired. Learning how to learn is deductive by use of facts previously attained plus an instructor's learned knowledge. From the professor's viewpoint, what he/she has done at this early stage is repletion of already acquired knowledge. What the professor's students get is not inductive. The lesson added to a fund of knowledge which must be co-assembled making a usable whole. But this does not require creativity although it might inspire creativity.
Obviously much higher level education requires not only new thoughts but higher levels of appreciation for concepts. Now, even at this level, the involvement of expressed emotion is limited--unless you are in the arts (music, dance, painting, etc.) But success in the arts is not an essential element which must be derived in college. In fact, many believe, along with myself, that the confines of an educational system stifles creativity.
Now any human exercise is almost always better when performed in groups (say 2 to 1,000). When amongst individuals concerned with getting an excellent education are commingled with others having the same intent, the output, if you will, improves. I am not going to place any definite value on something resistant to measure as desire to learn.
This is why genius almost always reveals itself from people who for at least part of their lives, were in a communal school environment.
The purpose of c99:
This is to do three basic things, mixing them well.
This mixture must be both intellectually and emotionally satisfying.
c99 needs to provide information. In this it excels without equal.
c99 stimulates and encourages critical and often inductive thinking.