Sigmund Freud is a controversial figure. Beside his theories of the unconscious and Oedipus’s complex, many people don’t know that he played a large role in how Christian perceived homosexuality in the 1980s and 1990s.
The classic argument on learning/experience: what has a bigger influence over an individual’s life, his genetics, or his up-bringing? In Sigmund Freud’s “Outline of Psychoanalysis”, he seems to favor the latter.
Within one’s brain, Freud feels that there is different “psychical agencies” that control ourselves. This includes the id, a primal desire that drives us to achieve basic urges; the super-ego, a sort of moral compass; and the ego, a development from the id that analyzes the simultaneous needs of the id, superego, and the stimuli of reality in order to synthesis choices.
In Chapter 1, Continue reading
Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire explains the issue with education presently is the concept he explains as “banking”. “Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiqués and makes deposits which the students patiently receive…” (72). In other words, no one is really learning anything from education, for the teacher teaches subjects that are hollow and have no relevancy, and the students eagerly take it, trusting in the knowledge of the teacher.
The problem with Education, Freire explains, is the polarization between the student-teacher relationships. He draws from Hegel in the bottom of page 72, stating that, “…students, alien Continue reading
Upon entering the city, Rapture, “No Gods or Kings Only Man.”
“No Gods or Kings, only Man”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s work, “Emile, or On Education”, is a piece regarding his opinion on social institutions and how they affect the education of a person. Within the first sentences, he gives his two cents on the role of humans: “…everything degenerates in the hands of Man…” (37). He feels that there is a disparity between those who live in “…the abyss of the human species” (59), or, cities, are placed with a huge disadvantage to education when compared to those who live in the country. “Men are made not to be crowded in Continue reading
I stumbled upon a philosophy joke a few weeks ago, and I think most people know this one already. The joke goes:
Rene Descartes walks into a bar and orders a drink. When he finishes his drink, the bartender asks him if he would like another. Descartes replies, “No, I think not,” and disappears in a puff of logic.
The conventional school is a dictatorship. Students enter their classrooms, sit in their assigned seats, obey the teacher, memorize a bunch of facts, and take exams testing their knowledge of those facts. This model of schooling has been used for centuries now. This model produces children who are capable of following and obeying rules; however, the children do not develop sufficient creativity and problem-solving skills to make the world a better place. True democracy can only exist when the people are active, collaborative, confident, and creative citizens. The conventional model does not offer that; however, Escuela Nueva may provide a better schooling model.
The Escuela Nueva (New School) model, first adopted in rural Colombia, employs a different approach to education. Students actively shape their own curriculum, work on their own projects, gain hands-on experience, and participate in class-wide discussions. In Escuela Nueva, students are no longer passive learners. They become active learners applying the concepts they learn in the real world. In his NY Times article Make School a Democracy, David Kirp argues that the Escuela Nueva model of schooling can help foster democracy in a country. This is because kids are taught to become active and participating students. These attributes are necessary for the success of democracy. Studies have shown that students who go through the Escuela Nueva model are more likely to be active members of their communities.
In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle argues that experience is extremely important in the education process. Escuela Nueva takes that into account. Students do not just learn abstract concepts; they apply them in their everyday lives. Students learn to write short stories, grow and garden plants, run their own experiments to explore their early scientific enquiries. This way school appears to be more relevant rather than a tedious and forced process. The conventional model for schooling is ancient; it is time for a drastic reform that adopts the Escuela Nueva style.
Here is the link to the article.
A common theme among the readings is the concept of the senses and how they relate to knowledge. In Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel coins the term sense-certainty as something that “immediately appears as the richest kind of knowledge” and as “a knowledge of infinite wealth for which no bounds can be found,” (I.91). The way I interpreted this statement was by noting how important our senses are in determining what things are and therefore gaining knowledge. Knowledge gained through the senses (i.e., sight, smell, touch, taste, feel) provides the most natural and most hands-on experience in an attempt to identity and later understand an object.
Another quote that stands out to me is the one when Hegel says “But, in the event, this very certainly proves itself the most abstract and poorest truth” (I.91). I think this means that within the known factors, such as what we feel or see, we still have yet to delve into the true meaning of the object beyond merely identifying the object alone. It seems to be that sense-certainty is very important in the eyes of Hegel as the “richest knowledge” because it enhances our deductive reasoning. It forces us to use our senses to determine what we might think we know.
The idea of sense-certainty is still very complex in its meaning and by the way it encapsulates other sub-forms of knowledge and thought such as consciousness for example. Its perplexity makes sense in a complicated way by the way that the acquisition of knowledge can be reached in a multitude of ways, including how some knowledge is taught and how some is developed through the use of our senses.
Immanuel Kant is a complex philosopher to interpret. In his famous work Critique of Pure Reason, he seeks to answer the question of how to approach the act of learning through your senses. Kant likes to make his own words such as “apperception” to describe self-consciousness. He writes that “presentation that can be given prior to all thought is called intuition” (B132). Apperception according to Kant produces self-consciousness by recognizing the individual as a person who can make decisions. This is similar to Rene Descartes’s famous quote “I think, therefore I am” due to their assumptions that a thinking person is alive and is self-conscious of their existence.
Kant also touches on the topic of how the human body obtains knowledge and gains information about the world. He says that “our understanding can only think, and must seek intuition in the senses” (B135). This means that in our brain capacity we can process and interpret information but we get that information through our senses. This makes sense because we first need a source of information (the taste, smell, feel, look, and sounds of our environment) before we can process that information and gain ideas about the environment.
Kant is a difficult philosopher to read, as the introduction warned us. His use of philosophical jargon is difficult to decipher sometimes as it seems like he is making up a new term every line. He critiques pure reason by asking about epistemology (where and how do we obtain knowledge) and recognizes that our senses provide the first way of learning about the world. If our senses are wrong, it would be difficult to provide a proper interpretation of the world that everyone agrees on.
I was warned that Kant is difficult to read, but I was skeptical of these claims. Turns out, the warnings were pretty well founded. Here’s what I got from reading the first few pages of his Critique of Pure Reason. Continue reading
Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason illustrates the inevitable limitations of our ability to discover “reality”. Kant asserts that what we perceive to be “real” is not absolutely “real”. The brain receives stimuli from the “real” world; it organizes, processes, and shapes the stimuli in a certain fashion before feeding it back to the person. As a result, the person only perceives the already processed and shaped information. To Kant, the brain is constantly changing “reality”. His assertion is further explained as he introduces two vital terms, “phenomena” and “noumena”. Our knowledge of phenomenal objects is merely the processed information that our brain comes up with. On the other hand, noumenal objects are the “real” objects that are not processed by the mind. Because noumennal objects are not processed by the mind, it is impossible to learn about them. Consequently, our knowledge and reason is only restricted to the phenomenal universe.
The implications of Kant’s assertion are revolutionary. According to Kant, the characteristics of the universe (such as space and time), which we thought are built into nature, could be mere illusions of the mind. Most people believe that space and time are external truths of the universe, and using reason one can decipher their nature. However, if they are noumenal objects it is impossible to gain knowledge on their nature. Kant argues that we are able to learn about space and time because they are phenomenal objects, productions of our own mind. Kant’s argument is similar to a concept recently developed by American scientist Robert Lanza. This concept is biocentrism, which essentially asserts that our universe did not create life but rather life created the universe. Lanza even utilizes Kant’s arguments about space and time to illustrate his idea. It is a counter-intuitive idea but still remains a potential solution to the mystery of the universe.