Wednesday, February 2, 2011

FLG Isn't Quite Sure Why

...but he saw that Ned Resnikoff was on Phoebe's blogroll. Yes, the same Ned Resnikoff who tried to blow FLG up. And he clicked through.

The first post FLG came across was interesting, specifically the quotation he posted:
One central concern for the critics is that a single question can inspire totally different, and mutually contradictory, intuitions in different people. Personally, I’ve often been amazed at how completely I disagree with what a philosopher claims is “intuitively” the case. For example, I disagree with Moore’s intuition that it would be better for a beautiful planet to exist than an ugly one even if there were no one around to see it. I can’t understand what the words “better” and “worse,” let alone “beautiful” and “ugly,” could possibly mean outside the domain of the experiences of conscious beings. I know I’m not alone in my disagreement with Moore, yet I’ve also talked to other well-respected professional philosophers who claim to share his intuition.

Don't get FLG wrong. The post still left FLG vaguely nauseous, as did the one the excerpt was from, but still interesting nonetheless.


Miss Self-Important said...

I was thinking more of the parallel between things that are very now--regressions, and text on the internet. The point isn't that regression or text on the internet is wrong in some way--they're neither right nor wrong. They're just things we do now because we think they solve problems, but we didn't do them much 20 years ago, and there is no reason to believe that regressions (at least as a means of social science data analysis) or blogs will dominate 20 years from now.

The basic question is really Arendt's from the essay, "The Crisis in Education"--what should we teach new children born into an old world, children whose newness will bring unknown and unpredictable changes to that old world in the future? Her answer is that the best thing we can do to nurture the new in them is to teach them what we know now about the world (that we, after all, made) and leave it to them to decide what must be known in the future.

All this speculative pedagogy ("21st century skills" and all that) actually undermines children's freedom because it attempts to lock them into a future of our present making. But while it's in our power to teach them, say, Stata coding instead of long division, it's not in our power to make Stata relevant to the world 40 years from now. And teaching to an imagined future comes at the expense of teaching the knowledge of the world that we actually have now but have decided isn't worth teaching anymore.

FLG said...


We know long division isn't relevant. Unless there is some massive technological reversal.

Also, regressions only became plausible once computers were widely distributed. It's to damn horrible to do by hand.

The Ancient said...

And here I thought the reason we needed how to do such things as long division -- even when some cheap thing we can now stick in our wallets will do it more quickly -- is that we don't want to be infantilized by machines. Machines break, machines malfunction, machines get lost. We need to be able to do things ourselves -- if only to know that our machines are working properly.

(Oh, yes, I forgot. When someone gets around to setting off EMP blasts in our upper atmosphere, none of those things will work anymore -- ever. It would be nice to be able to work our way back.)

((And we would want to get back, right? Because who would want to stay stuck in the seventh century?))

Withywindle said...

Chosroes I.

Andrew Stevens said...

FLG would be horrified to hear that I used to do regressions by hand as well (calculator-aided, but not a statistical calculator). However, I do agree with his characterization of them as horrible.

He's right though that this is why regressions weren't popular 30 years ago, but are now.

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