Re: Foucault and Normativity

On Thu, 13 Apr 1995, Erik D Lindberg wrote:

> But this raises a question for me. Learning always involves some kind of
> translation of the unfamiliar into the familiar. As Joanna implied, in
> our culture the burden of doing the work is often put on the intellectual,
> rather than the
> "student." This is an interesting power relationship, especially because
> both intellectuals and their students feel disempowered. What do others
> think, either because of classroom experiences (from either end) or from
> research on this?

I remember reading a comment that Hobbes wrote somewhere that if a teacher
repeats an explanation (geometrical, I presume) a few
times and a student keep saying 'but I don't understand' the problem is
not a failure in the understanding but a case of disobediance.
In a sense learning requires a prior (social a-priori) acceptance
that the unfamiliar is worth translating. This is where the weight of the
power relation is. When the unfamiliar is Quantuum Mechanics the social
position of the knower is enough to make sure that the failing to
understand student will blame only herself. This is obviously not the
case with postmodern philosophy ( I'm not lamenting, it is only for the
good). Certain people are drawn enough to this philosophy to endure the
intiation process, others refuse and blame it of being a kind of
religion, because such an initiation process is required. The problem is
that any discourse requires an initiation process, including the
discourse of symbolic logic. If whatever requires initiation is religion,
than the difference between 'plain, simple, reasonned arguments' and
'obscure, untintelligible, jargon' amounts to a distinction between
otrhodoxy and heretics. Some people cannot be orthodox, it is not a
matter of understanding but of biography.


Gabriel Ash



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