Re: [xmca] Epistemic hospitability

From: Juan Felipe Espinosa Cristià <jfespino who-is-at>
Date: Sun Oct 21 2007 - 06:23:50 PDT

Dear Professor,

Thanks for show me an interesting point for the development of this discussion.

Is it possible that some attacks to Watson's remarks been also violations of
epistemic or cognitive hospitability?


Kai Hakkarainen escribió:
> Dear friends,
> I have just joined this list and do not know the earlier discussion.
> Nevertheless I wanted to share with you some quotations that I found from
> Peirre Levy's (1997) Collective Intelligence book, quotations that may get
> discussion toward a more positive trajectory than mere focusing on Watson's
> remarks appear to do. From Pierre Levy's perspective Watson's remark and all
> other corresponding remarks are violations of epistemic or cognitive
> hospitability. Just like any other kind of human activity, epistemic affairs
> require us to provide hospitability to our fellow human beings. When we fail
> to acknowledge someone's intelligence because he does not have our own
> cognitive socialization or our kind of "proper" education, it is violation
> of epistemic hospitability. Racism implies, of course, an extreme lack of
> such epistemic desirability.
> "My initial premise is based on the notion of a universally distributed
> intelligence. No one knows everything, everyone knows something, all
> knowledge resides in humanity. . The light of mind shines even where we
> attempt to persuade other that no intelligence exists: "educational
> failure", "rote execution", "underdevelopment". The overarching judgment of
> ignorance turns against the judges. If you are tempted to judge someone as
> ignorant, look for the context in which his knowledge can be turned into
> gold." (Levy, 1997, p. 14)
> "Regardless of my temporary social position, regardless of the judgment of
> an educational institution about my abilities, I can also become an
> opportunity for learning to someone else. Through my experience of life, my
> professional career, my social and cultural habits, I can - since knowledge
> is coextensive with life - provide knowledge resources for community. Even
> if I am unemployed, or without money or a diploma, condemned to life in
> ghetto, illiterate, I am not useless. I am not interchangeable. I have an
> image, a position, dignity, a personal and positive value within the
> knowledge space. All of us have the right to be acknowledged as a knowledge
> identity." (Levy, 1997, P. 13)
> As Levy argued, "in the age of knowledge, failure to recognize the other as
> an intelligent being is to deny his true social identity" (Levy, 1997, p.
> 15).
> I have used the epistemic-hospitability metaphor in many public talks in
> Finland; it appears to make people to question at least some of their
> presuppositions concerning intelligence. As psychologist, I consider talking
> about these issues to be very important. Together with my colleagues I have
> investigated conceptions of intelligence of students and teachers of my
> country that revealed a strong gender and age effect: Males (both students
> and teachers) appear to think that inherited and fixed abilities determine
> what you may intellectually achieve whereas females tend to think that your
> own epistemic efforts are crucial. Perhaps this is one of reason for the
> female students becoming a large majority in high schools and universities.
> Further, older generations of teachers represent the fixed-abilities view
> much more strongly than younger generations (the latter ones are likely to
> be used to surpass themselves). Watson is clearly a representative of his
> own gender & generation in terms of having a non-dynamic view of
> intelligence as a fixed and given entity.
> I am bringing these issues up because I feel that not only racism is at
> stake here but also assumptions concerning the very nature of human
> intelligence that make it hard to overcome racist tendencies. Together with
> my colleagues, I have developed a framework of networked intelligence so as
> to contribute to problematizing the received conceptions of intelligence
> (see
> It
> is just a preliminary sketch based on premises probably well known in this
> circle about relevant issues; I am interested in parallel and, perhaps, more
> mature cultural-psychological reconceptualizations concerning what
> intelligence is all about.
> Sincerely yours,
> Kai
> Kai Hakkarainen, Ph.D.
> Professor (Learning and Learning Environments)
> Savonlinna Department of Teacher Education
> University of Joensuu
> Kuninkaankartanonkatu 5, P.O. Box 55
> FIN-57101 Savonlinna, Finland
> GSM +358 50 4129572
> Tel +358-15-5117686
> Fax +358 15 53 1060
> Email:
> Director, Centre for Research on Networked Learning and Knowledge Building,
> Department of Psychology
> Address: P.O. Box 9 (Siltavuorenpenger 20D),
> FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
> GSM: +358-50-4129572
> Fax: +358-9-19129443
> e-mail:
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of E. Knutsson
> Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2007 12:31 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Nobel prize talks stupid things about human intelligence
> This is highly irrelevant and biased, Andy, a special case of irrelevant
> conclusion, a so-called fallacy of relevance: Argumentum ad populum and
> argumentum ad hominem (speaking "against the man" rather than to the issue).
> Attacking the premises of an argument by casting aspersions on the character
> of
> the proponent of the argument, would usually be characterized as committing
> an
> ad hominem fallacy. The (supposed) character of the proponent of an argument
> has no relevance to the validity of the argument.
> ------------------------------------------
> On 2007-10-21, at 10:42, Andy Blunden wrote:
>> Eric, I was not following this debate closely. This post clearly explains
>> where you are coming from, so my "What's the problem?" response was
>> uncalled for. I guess I was not reacting to Watson as a "grand old man"
> and
>> "non-conformist" who "made a mistake" but rather as one of many people who
>> follow unthinkingly in the trend of which Watson was a contributor, to the
>> effect that it is "all in the genes." So of course in his "correction" he
>> only repeats what caused offence: "Africans aren't inferior, just
> different
>> ... because of their genes."
>> I should apologise for using derogatory words about anyone on this list, I
>> suppose, but any specialist who thinks that their own particular
> specialism
>> explains everything is not in my humble opinion worthy of very much
> praise.
>> Andy
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Juan Felipe Espinosa Cristià
095325675 / 3624774
xmca mailing list
Received on Sun Oct 21 06:26 PDT 2007

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