Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Quarter's almost over...

One paper down, one more paper and one exam to go.

Master's review is in the administrative works for the 2nd week of the Spring quarter.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Important philosophical questions addressed by 5th-11th grade ESL students in my Junior Writing III class.

Q: In what ways do knowledge and power serve to constitute the post-post-modern conception of the body-qua-material object?

A: I agree with this "knowledge is power," stament because, when I was little my mom and dad said that knowledge is as powerful as your body. Knowledge also helps you think focus and everything you do relys on knowledge.

Q: It's interesting that you give knowledge power equal to that of the physical body. Is this power subject to death in the same way? That is to say, is your conception of knowledge drawn from a revival of neo-Platonism (i.e., is knowledge the true form of the mind, pure knowledge, of which mind is just the epiphenomenon and knowledge the immortal soul?), or does knowledge ultimately bring paralysis in the face of death before being annihilated by death? Are knowledge and the physical body linked through the ineluctable fact of all knowledge being knowledge of mortality, an idea that would naturally lead us into an existentialist vein?

A: In a TV show called Tom and Jerry. Tom is a cat who wants to eat Jerry for snack. Jerry uses his knowledge to survive and do tricks on Tom.

Q: So you see prostitution as one site of resistance to the hegemonic conception of the death/knowledge dichotomy?

A: Because that if you had all the money in the world but didn't have the knowledge to spend it what would the point of being all the money in the world? I mean what would you do if you had not gone to class but had money with knowledge you could do anything. If you had brains but others had money they would look up to you for the knowldge of guldance. Like in the book Freak the Mighty a boy who had brains teams up with a bulky guy. They are more powerful togetherbut the one with brains is not stronger that the other one is stronger. They are more powerful together.

Q: I'm not sure I see the connection between economics and physical strength. Unless this is a radical Marxian view of the body as commodified means of production. Even then, you would have to sidestep the mind-body dualism debate to even consider the body as the site of production of knowledge, which, as far as I can tell, modern philosophy is unwilling to do. Current philosophy is behind psychology in this respect. Certainly, the economics of brain power is something that every tenure jockey has to deal with sooner or later, but what does this have to do with power for the reader not surrounded by high ivory walls? How does it help us solve the problem of knowledge/death?

A: Knowledge has more power than anything else, especially strength.

Q: So, you are saying that this dichotomy is a false dichotomy? That knowledge can transcend death? Is this an epistemology that denies death altogether, or is it one that coopts the presence of death and uses it to re-inscribe knowledge in differently constituted mental states--such as the state of mourning?

A: Knowledge can let you win, stay alive and happy and succeed in your tasks if you use it. In one series of funny Chinese stories, a clever boy becomes a high judge because he is intelligent and very smart. He was requested to get a stolon fan and a rebel to the king. Through his adventure he uses poems and readings to help others while figuring out where the stolon and where the rebel fan was. Soon he realizes thatthe rebel was among his protectors for the journey. Alsohe has to hunt down and great and brutal crook. He soon realizes that the crook was impersonating a great judge through that discovery the clever boy found who the rebel was but still had to retrieve the sacred fan.

Q: In other words, you see a connection between the intellectual community as the keepers of knowledge and the revolutionary community as those who punish the abusers of different forms of oppressive authority. Why does the boy still have to retrieve the sacred fan? Is religious power another form of power that can be transgressed against through this childlike community? If so, how do you feel about the refutation that certain students of history could make by citing the atrocities committed by Pol Pot's use of revolutionary child armies? Is the violence that is inherent to a childlike manipulation of knowledge and forms of control an acceptable violence in the face of unknowing power?

A: In the movie, Winnie the Pooh, Owl is very wise and has a love of knowledge. Everyone comes to him for advice. He gives good advice and he makes most of the decisions.

Q: I guess I'm not following. You seem to be presenting the philosopher's position as an ironic re-formulation of power. Owl was not smart. That's the whole point.

A: This shows that "knowledge is power" is not true.

Q: I think, rather, that it shows that false claims to knowledge can create a basis for power that is maintained by the community that is not committed to reason and accountability over authority and useless links to traditions.

A: ...

Q: Should I rephrase that in the form of a question?

A: Knowledge is power. It has been said for a while, but why knowledge is power? How could knowledge by powerful?

Q: Okay, now you're just fucking with me.

A: I agreee with the satment. I had once accidentally started a fight with my brother. I don't know what I said to get him that angry. We started fighting.

Q: Goddammit. Do you believe that knowledge is power or not?

A: For many years, people have agreed and disagreed on weather or not knowledge is power.

Q: And what about you? Where do you stand?

A: Finding out wather or not it is or not.

Q: So, you're like the Fisher King of the knowledge v. power debate. Forever questing? Or are you suggesting that the point of investigation is bad? That it leads into aporia and doubt and errance forever and ever in all directions?



A: In The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster, Milo, the main character, gets stuck with the doldrums and cannot get out of the place.

Q: Allow me to show you the door. Good day, sir.

A: You should be able to understand why you don't need knowledge really for everything.

Q: Okay, you stay. I'm leaving.