misdirected motivation
Friday, January 28, 2005
  I just did it. I applied for Au Sable Institute's summer sessions I and II. Courses hopefully include Biosphere Science (biol/ geol/ soc 489), an investigation of the earth's attributes that support life on a regenerable, sustainable basis. Applications of the earth systems science, environmental biology, and eco-psychology to understanding the earth as home. Set in the context of biology and behaviour of human beings and other organisms at extremes of temperature, pressure, altitude and gravity within sub-marine, near-earth and lunar space. Includes high altitude and sub-surface field work. Prerequisites: swimming competence; SCUBA not required, but beneficial.

Summer session II: Marine Mammals (bio 359), Biology, behaviour, ecology, identification and conservation of the marine mammals of the Pacific Rim. This study area includes some major habitats in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea, with attention of the diving physiology, social behaviour, and communications of whales and seals. The course aims to develop a stewardship perspecitve rooted in biological principles and directed at the global conservation of marine mammals and their ecosystems. Special attention is given to their use by cultures of the region in order to understand current issues.
Global Development and Ecological Sustainability (bio/ geog 317) Environmental analysis and natural resources in relation to society and developmental issues. The focus is on ecological sustainability and sustainable society in the context of various factors that are bringing environmental degradation and impoverishment of people and cultures. It deals with topics of tropical agriculture, hunger, poverty, international debt, appropriate technology, relief programs, missionary earthkeeping, conservation of wild nature, land tenure, and land stewardship. It employs a discussion format both in classroom and field settings. Its emphasis is on grappling with difficult practical and ethical problems and issues that require deep and presistent thought.

More to come.
Monday, January 10, 2005
  Living with a Crippled Intellect From "Evolution as a Religion" by Mary Midgley (p. 104-105)

"It is not surprising, however, that Monod's story has had so much success, especially among scientists. In its lively, existentially coloured package, it offers a way of combining the general scepticism and acceptance of confusion about moral questions which is widely professed today with a firm, saving exception for confidence in the value of science. This fits the world-picture acquired by very many people in the course of a scientific education, an education which trains them in scientific thinking, and greatly exaggerates the precision possible to it, while doing very little to teach them the ways of thinking which they will need for other purposes- personal, political, psychological, historical, metaphysical and all the rest.
Since these purposes are central to life and call for a great deal of though, especially in changing times, those whose intellect has been cramped by this kind of foot-binding process into a specialized use experience a very painful sense of confusion when other issues come before them. The discrepency between their confident use of highly trained intelligence in their work and their helplessness on other issues threatens to tear them apart and attacks the roots of their self-respect. (Scholars in general are of course to some extent subject to this trouble, but the physical sciences tend to have a method and a subjext-matter even more remote from everyday problems than the rest.)
In this emergency, Monod appears with the balm of a metaphysical proof that their plight is inescapable. He declares that science is indeed the only field where thought is possible. Everything else must be left to choice: not reasonable choice, but choice in the Existentialist sense of a blind, inarticulate act of will. For those who may still hesitate, he stands ready with a bracing draught of dogmatic puritan morality to enforce this mortification of the intellect:

Cold and austere, proposing no explanation but imposing an ascetic renunciation of all other spiritual fare, this idea could not allay anxiety; it aggravated it instead. It claimed to sweep away at a stroke the tradition of a hundred thousand years... With nothing to recomend it but a certain puritan arrogance, how could such an idea be accepted? It was not; it still is not."

Here's to liberal arts education and great friends who helped me develop an interest in disciplines outside of the constrictions of science. Bear in mind, these are not my sentiments. I happen to disagree with much of what Monod is arguing. There were/are many unbalanced people who would suggest that science is limiting, or that science is the only way to live, but have I mentioned that these people were unbalanced? I suppose that every tradition has their own fanatics who would claim such a thing to their discipline respectively, but I suspect they are few and far between (and unbalanced). Really, I'm grateful that Redeemer offers courses like history and philosophy that are mandatory for all students so that hopefully we can avoid such elitist exclusivist ideas. Or maybe I'm just a geek who loves learning about more than just the program I signed up for.

a form of procrastination


rob joustra
brian d
steve dykstra
02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 /

Powered by Blogger

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com