Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus, Darwinand Bohr

From: Martin Packer <packer who-is-at>
Date: Tue Jun 26 2007 - 12:34:08 PDT


I think you've hijacked the thread!


On 6/26/07 1:36 PM, "Michael Glassman" <> wrote:

> Martin
> Why this distinction between expert and novice? What does it really buy us?
> And who gets to make the distinction? It seems to me in an expert/novice
> scenario all power lies in the hands of those who get to make this distinction
> on whatever level, and get to define the two classes. Take a look at the
> political class in the United States, we define experts as those who have the
> right cultural capital, wear the right type of ties and suits, who speak in
> somber, modulated voices with a weary sigh of resignation, suggesting "of
> course you cannot see what I can see, but trust me."
> This is not to say every generation starts from scratch. Every generation
> starts with the tools that they have, but then they figure out how to use
> those tools to solve what invariably must be new problems, or they develop new
> tools out of the old tools. Let's say we have a set of spears we use to hunt
> food. There are great spear throwers who use those spears and teach others to
> use them as well. Their "expertise" in spear throwing gives them great power
> within the community. But things change, and the spears that were once used
> on larger animals are not as good for smaller animals. Are the spear throwers
> going to give up their place in the community as "experts?" Or are they going
> to say, well if we just wait, or if we use the spear in a different way, or it
> is the fault of our lazy children who do not train in spear throwing the way
> previous generations did. Meanwhile the food supply dwindles for the
> community. A young person examines the spear and says, hmmm, the arrow head
> pierces the skin but it cannot reach the skin with these new animals that we
> hunt. Perhaps I can create something else - a bow and arrow perhaps. But she
> is not an expert. Who, in a hierarchical system of knowledge development
> would listen and adopt the work of this young innovator? This is always the
> danger of a heirarchical system of knowledge development.
> In a more lateral system of development information is everything. As a
> species were are problem solvers, but our problem solving is based on the easy
> access and flow of information. I just read the most fascinating article by
> the economist Amriyat (sp?) Sen. In it he talks about famine. He makes a
> really good argument that famine is almost never about food. There is always
> enough food even in some of the major famines of the twentieth century. It is
> about the lack of capability for getting to the food. At its core the lack of
> information as a tool in obtaining this basic human function. What else is
> there other than information. When we define information as static and give
> it value separate from the problems we are working on, isn't that when we find
> the most trouble, have the most difficulties in problems solving?
> I watch my son play his World of Warcraft game. I wish I knew more about it.
> But I see him adapting and recalibrating constantly, developing strategies and
> processes that see incredible to me. It is a virtual world in which there are
> no "experts." The world and my son and the other players co-exist.
> I don't know if I've done such a good job trying to explore this. Perhaps a
> problem that needs greater consideration.
> Michael
> ________________________________
> From: on behalf of Martin Packer
> Sent: Tue 6/26/2007 2:04 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus, Darwinand
> Bohr
> Michael, you would have each generation start on their own, from scratch? No
> experts, just novices? That really is a post-apocalyptic vision!
> My point was there is more to life (and education) than "functioning" and
> "information." The danger with the tool metaphor, and the emphasis on
> artifacts as tools, is that they reduce all of life to the production
> process. That is not just a conceptual mistake, it is a political agenda. To
> argue that thinking is not important, only tool use, is not to argue against
> formalization, it is to promote a purely instrumental conception of human
> action and interaction. It is to promote an extreme version of the division
> of labor, in which only a tiny elite get to think about the nature of
> thinking, and everyone else is simply using tools skillfully but
> thoughtlessly.
> On 6/26/07 12:40 PM, "Michael Glassman" <> wrote:
>> But if this information is so important, and it exists as part of the problem
>> solving tools of humanity, don't we trust humans to discover it through their
>> own activities?
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Received on Tue Jun 26 12:34 PDT 2007

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