Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Kung Fu Panda and the notion of being

Had fun yesterday and the day before in my philosophy of knowing class - I must say classes, because I had 3 each per day. The topic was uninviting: The Notion of Being. But it turned out well. What did I do? Not even sure I can remember. But I remember it flowed. The two poles: constantly appealing to experience - inviting the students to identify their experience, of curiosity, of the desire to know, of the eros of the mind - and to stories.

The stories were interesting: what came to mind was Kung Fu Panda. Why KFP? I was trying to explain how the notion of being is the fundamental heuristic notion. I remembered also how Thomas and Lonergan call it an inchoate wisdom. So: particular wisdoms - knowing 'everything' about carpentry, or electricity - and just wisdom: knowing 'everything about everything' - or at least a strategic knowledge of everything about everything.  But of course in a commonsense way we regard wise those who are masters of commonsense, or or 'life' as we call it. That's where KFP came in: the obviously wise Master Oogway. And our students, though they might not have seen KFP, are sensitive to this kind of talk: "There are no accidents in life." "Unless you believe you will never change him." "Your anxiety to avoid problems will itself cause problems." And so on.

The Notion of Objectivity: I decided that the problem had to be raised. So the reading of Descartes came in handy. What was the problem left us by Descartes? And how might we attempt to get out of it? - Only by rejecting that manner of posing the problem. Thus Heidegger: not that I know myself, and then have to know the world; but always already I am being-in-the-world. And Lonergan: the pseudo-problem of transcendence, becasue we are always heading for being, within which we learn to make distinctions between subject and objects, and some objects which are also subjects.

And the loud reading was interesting: slowing down the pace, so as to attend, give a chance to attend to the phantasm. And writing out, for the same reason. The importance then of attending to the data. And then: asking questions. "We have earlier considered..." Where? "We have earlier considered the problem of method in knowing." What is the problem of method in knowing? Und so weiter....

Rewarding to see the sparkle in the eyes...

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