This memorable essay offers in lay language a profound criticism of the limitations of modern thought as based on Descartes, Darwin, and Freud. It highlights the decissive role of Peirce's approach to language and human activity in order to close the modern rift between matter and mind, between biology and grammar.
This paper explores ways in which experiential learning theories, in particular transformative learning theory, can inform farmer participatory research and extension (PR&E). I identify and discuss three key elements of experiential learning theory – second-order experiences, reflection, and dialogue – that are particularly pertinent to PR&E practice. I then turn to one experiential learning theorist – Mezirow, and examine his theory of transformative learning to assess how it may inform the PR&E process. I outline the basic components and stages of (...) transformative learning and summarize the main criticisms of the theory. Following this, parallels are drawn between transformative learning and what actually takes place in PR&E, and examples are given of the ways in which scientists and rural people may undergo transformative learning through the PR&E process. Ways in which transformative learning can be encouraged within the PR&E context are discussed. I conclude that Mezirow’s work can provide PR&E practitioners and theorists with additional insights into how adults learn and especially how they – researchers, extensionists and rural people – can transform their ways of thinking to accommodate a shift from conventional research and extension to PR&E. (shrink)
The American novelist Walker Percy (1916-90) considered himself a "thief of Peirce", because he found in the views of C.S. Peirce, the founder of pragmatism, an alternative approach to prevailing reductionist theories in order to understand what we human beings are and what the peculiar nature of our linguistic activity is. -/- This paper describes, quoting widely from Percy, how abduction is the spontaneous activity of our reason by which we couple meanings and experience in our linguistic expressions. (...) This coupling of personal creativity and cultural tradition makes it possible to bridge the gaps between persons and cultures. (shrink)
The technological transformation of the conduct of war, exemplified by the American employment of drones in Afghanistan and in Iraq, calls for a critical reflection about the fantasies that underpin, and are in turn animated by, the robotic revolution of the military. At play here is a fantasy of a “costless war" or a “sterile war", that is such act of military state violence against the other that is inconsequential for the self. In other words, the seductive appeal of the (...) “costless war’ fantasy rests on the desire to develop a self that is invulnerable in the face of violence. Importantly, it is a desire explicitly projected towards a particular American future (of an imagined warfare, or of a super-power status), but also one that is connected to a lacking critical reflection about the intersubjective aspects of violence in the debates about America’s post-9/11 military involvements. This article reflects critically about the fantasy of the “costless war" and about its underpinning politics of invulnerability from a perhaps unlikely angle of literature. In a close reading of a short story by Benjamin Percy called “Refresh, Refresh" (2008), it explores its narrative insights into how acts of violence, which are undertaken far from home, inevitably return to affect and damage, perhaps beyond repair, the subject at home. Importantly, the return of violence in Percy’s story occurs within the domain of the everyday and the mundane, not of the exceptional, and testifies to the despair experienced by young males “abandoned" by their military fathers. My interpretation draws also on theoretical explorations of the connection between violence, intersubjectivity and vulnerability, based on the ideas of Emmanuel Levinas on the subject's ethical captivity by the suffering of the other, and on Judith Butler's recent “uses" of the Levinasian ethical project in her writing about the post-9/11 America. (shrink)
In "The Problem with Percy: Epistemology, Understanding and Critical Thinking," Sharon Bailin argues that critical thinking skills do not generalize because students do not understand the larger epistemological picture in which to situate the importance of arguments and reasons. More plausible explanations are: (I) instructors across the disciplines do not give assignments requiring critical thinking (CT) skills, (2) single courses in CT have little effect, (3) pragmatic arguments showing the effectiveness of CT are more effective than epistemological arguments with (...) the average student. So to achieve the generalization of the logical skills and intellectual dispositions inherent in CT courses, CT thinking cannot be departmentalized. (shrink)
Most current conceptions of critical thinking conceive of critical thinking in terms of abilities and dispositions. In this paper I describe a common type of problem students experience with critical thinking and argue that conceptualizations in terms of abilities and dispositions do not provide a way to understand this problem. I argue, further, that a useful way to think about the problem is in terms of epistemological understanding, and that this way of thinking about the issue can provide both pedagogical (...) and conceptual grounding to efforts to foster critical thinking. (shrink)